Google Classroom Updates & Reminders Aug 2019

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Google has made some changes to Google Classroom since we last worked with the tool in June. So to help make sure that everyone was on the same page, I shared out these changes, as well as included some did you know items, in my Welcome Back Tech Training to staff last week.

New Items:

  • Where students submit their work to their teacher has been relocated on the page.
  • Unable to remove Classworks page anymore
  • New sorting features when assessing student work
  • Ability to access menus in files while assessing student work
  • Adding comments to comment bank on the fly
  • Ability to use rubrics right through Google Classroom
  • Filter topics

Continue reading “Google Classroom Updates & Reminders Aug 2019”

Teachers are Students Too


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At the beginning of each school year, I am given two hours of training time with the staff at the high school to share new tech ideas, good to know tips and tricks tricks with existing tech resources, as well as helping set up that good ole’ grade book in Power School. Two hours can be a long time if you don’t set up the time appropriately. Teachers cannot just sit for two hours and absorb information. I know that I would want the presentation to be as interactive as possible, if I was the learner, so I keep that in mind when I deliver professional development.

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Using Google Maps in Airplane Mode

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For the past two weeks, I had an opportunity to explore Portugal with family. While this was my first time visiting the country, it was not the first time exploring Europe. This time around however, I discovered something extremely helpful with the mobile version of Google Maps. It was completely new to me, but I don’t think it is a new feature. Some of you will probably nod your head as you have utilized the feature before.

When I travel abroad, I do not get an international plan, especially for the short period of time that I am visiting. I plan ahead while on WiFi in the Airbnb that I am staying in. I take screenshots of things that I want to remember while out exploring. Well, not only did I do this again, I also discovered that you can download an offline map of an area through Google Maps. This allows you access to google maps on your phone while you are not on WiFi. The GPS signal from my phone still let me know exactly where I was. It was great!

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Book Bento

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Throughout the year, I co-teach several technology graduate level courses through Fitchburg State University with a friend, Mary Marotta. For the past two weeks, we taught two full one week courses. Without a doubt, there are always a couple take-aways from the classes for me. I am going to address one of them in this blog post: #bookbento.


It is very rare for us to not address the idea and concept of Hyperdocs in our courses. For those of you who have not heard of hyperdocs, click HERE to learn more about them. Well, during this particular unit, one of our students stumbled across with #BookBento. (Thank you Sam Burns – as she shared this resource from Lisa Highfill). I am going to be honest, I hadn’t heard of the word bento until a couple of weeks ago. So, I was very intrigued when #BookBento was shared with me.

What is #BookBento?

To get inspired you can find excellent examples of a book bento from Instagram or Pinterest. Here is the quick breakdown. Typically in the center, you will find a book. Then surrounding that book, you will find different items, typically five, that have some sort of meaning to the book, giving a quick window into what the story is all about. You will also notice that the background color may also help paint a picture explaining what the book is about.

To take the picture to the next level, students can then pull this picture into a Google Slides presentation and make each of the items launch to something helping explain why those items were selected.

Here is my example of a bento book. I did it around the book titled One Grain of Rice, a story that I used to read to my Algebra II students when we were in the exponential unit. (In fact, students loved this day because I would set up the room where we would have story time, like back in the day in elementary school).

Some Things to Know

  • Have students take picture in square mode.
  • When using Google Slides, customize the size of the slide (in page setup) to instagram size – 1080 x 1080 pixels.
  • Use shape icons or an image as a way to launch other applications for explanation of item or information about the book itself. Once icon or image is there, make sure it is selected so that you can hyper link it.
  • Keep in mind that other tools can be used for explanations: Google Docs, Screencastify, Flipgrid, audio recording, Jamboard, etc. Basically anything that has a link.
  • As a side note, I provided a QR code for one of my items. If you have flipgrid app on your phone, launch the app. Then select the QR code button on top left corner on the home screen of Flipgrid. Once scanned, you will see a video response done through Flipgrid of me speaking. However, this video will show up through Flipgrid’s Augmented Reality feature.
  • Don’t want to worry about physical objects? No worries, you can always use digital images.

I am intrigued with the concept of #BookBento. This could be a great alternative to students writing a paper about a book that they read. Someone else indicated that this could be great for when students are asked to do independent reading on a book of their choice. I can also see this being used in other ways as well, beyond books. The theme can be a math topic, or historical time period. As always, if you have any questions or want to talk things through with me, you know where to find me.

And that is my Spiel…