Moving on with Google Classroom

Google Classroom

In case you didn’t read my last post, Google Classroom got many new updates over the summer! While I’m still waiting for the ability to move items around on the About page, add sub groups, change ownership of items (so teacher retains ownership of tests, etc. after returning) and permanently pin items to the top of the stream page, I am even more excited about Google Classroom.

Today, I share with you those updates along with Kasey Bell’s fabulous resource on app integration into Google Classroom.  Did you know that was a thing?

In the independent school I work in, it is often difficult to declare one item that everyone most use. However, this year, I have been persuading teachers to use Google Classroom as the one consistent platform by which all students access their work. This is not to say a teacher much use this platform as a learning management system or content management system, but it does provide a starting point. If you think about the number of platforms we ask teachers to remember, you will release it is a lot. Now, add that to students who are still developing. Is that an added challenge that they need to master? For me, that answer is ‘no.’ And, what’s great about Google Classroom is it provides a custom start page for every student. All a teacher has to do is to link their materials into Google Classroom. We use Websites only for public information like a syllabus. Boom! Win-win for both students, teachers, and parents/guardians.

How are you using Google Classroom?

Check out Getting Automated with Google Classroom for all that you can be with Google Classroom. And, consult for all things Google.

NYC in Color

A few months ago, I bought into the adult coloring book craze. At the time, I found a book of NYC sketches that you could color. I fell in love instantly. Since my parents are NYC lovers, I decided to color the skyline for them. Though, I’ll admit — the project took longer than expected. I’m thankful for the opportunity to try something new still.

Become a Google search ninja & evaluator!

Fake news has become its own news story. Political and personal opinions aside, this election cycle has proven the perfect opportunity for teaching news and media evaluation. So, why aren’t we seizing the opportunity?!

Luckily for you, I’ve prepared a few resources for the classroom. I want to create a team of critical thinkers. To do so, it’s essential that we teach students (and adults) how to search and evaluate.

Check out for all things Google (including the Google Search presentation below).

This past year, as part of our digital citizenship initiatives, I started monthly “d-day” talks for our advisories. Each activity is 15 minutes or less. Each activity features a video and some sort of reflection. This month, we are featuring fake news. Check it out!

6-8th grade students:

9th-12th grade students:


Getting ready for Hour of Code!

Are you getting ready for the Hour of Code next week? If not, read below for some great resources to get you started! If you’re already prepared, check out some of the activities for making computer science a year-round commitment.

Check out for all things STEAM and CS!

Let’s Get Chromified – UPDATES!

We are almost halfway through the 2016-2017 school year. Can you believe it?! The new school year it’s underway and it’s time to beef up your Chrome game. Check out Let’s Get Chromified for tips and tricks for better managing your Chrome account as well as the best apps and extensions for your respective education role.

Check out for a directory of all things Chrome as well as Chrome-specific presentations on creativity and productivity.

*I’m working on migrating my Website over to the NEW GOOGLE SITES. If you’re curious about it, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for updates and a new sleek layout!

Enjoy and let’s get chromified!

New Google Sites Unveiled

Thanks to my co-worker, Brian Gray, we have the new Google Sites on our school domain. Over the past five months, I’ve had the opportunity to test it out and rebuild some of my old sites in the new version. Now, that version is live and ready to hit all school and work domains by November 21.

With that unveiling, I’ve started to transition to the New Google Sites. While it’s still a work in progress, I’m excited for the new, sleek look!

I’ve also created a handy Google Sites presentation and a Google Sites handout for making public splash pages.

While the new version still lacks some necessary features like being able to hide pages from the navigation bar (but still have them visible), remove header slots, control width of site, and control some of the font colors (limited options), the simplistic design is ideal for teachers. In fact, I would not want too many options. The more options, the more room for “ugly” Sites and…who wants that?

With the new Google Sites, you are guaranteed to have a more professional looking site.

In the meantime, check out the new version or our digital citizenship site as compared to the traditional Google Sites version.

I used Canva to create a header (public version so you can make a copy and edit it). I also used Canva to create circle icons on some of the pages (public version so you can make a copy and edit it).

And, because the Awesome table folks are so awesome, they have made Awesome tables accessible on the New Google Sites!

To use it, you can still create an existing Awesome Table (see my previous blog).

Once you have created one, you can see your creations from Awesome Tables. Since I already had them in my existing site, I was able to go to the old site and go to editing mode.

Then, I clicked on the Awesome Table & the gear.

From that menu, I clicked on the table name.

Then, I changed the URL from “edit” to “view.”

Next, I copied that URL.

Then, I went to the New Google Sites and, under “insert,” I clicked on “embed URL.” I pasted the link in the box and pressed “Apply.”

Finally, I resized the table to fit my Site. And, that’s it!

You can click on the preview button at any time to view the preview version of your site.

When you are ready to go, just press “Publish.” FYI – if you go back and edit your Site, you will need to press “Publish” for your changes to be live.

Stay tuned for more detailed presentations to come. In the meantime, try playing with the New Google Sites!

New Google Sites

I was happy when I saw the new Google Site come to my gsuite for work domain earlier this week (my beta test was on my school). So, in true Google-geek form, I immediately started redesigning my Fennovation site in the NEW Google Sites. I can’t wait for the project to be finalized!



Digital Citizenship Week is upon us!

This week is Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship week! Due to the nature of our school, we’ve elected to hold our digital citizenship week on November 7-11 (right over election day!). So, I hope this post finds you in time.

Last year, we stepped up our digital citizenship game. This year, we have streamlined it.

We started by revising our D-day program (or digital citizenship day). Last year, we asked teachers to pick an activity from our D-Day website on the first Wednesday of each month. Since it relied a lot of teachers figuring out discussion questions to go with it, it was not as well received. Though it was better than before, we knew it could be better. So, this year, we kept the same schedule, but created a presentation template. The template features a short 1-2 minute video, questions, and a reflection. Since starting this, we have received positive feedback. We also make sure we only give them one option to use. This helps with reducing the number of questions and potential confusion.

This year, we met with our boarding students to discuss issues students found relevant in regards to digital citizenship. After a 30 minute conversation, it was clear the most important topic to them was students’ brands – what brand are you online, in person? How do you protect that brand? Do you respect others’ brands? Etc..

With that in mind, we decided to focus our efforts on “defining your brand” for this year’s digital citizenship week.

To see how we will celebrate, check out our site dedicated to digital citizenship week.

And, for more information our our digital citizenship program, check out “Let’s get digital” citizenship.

Have examples of other activities? I’d love to hear them!

Hour of Code is coming up – what are you doing?

It’s hard to believe the Hour of Code is returning in less than two months. That means, it’s time to start planning!

This year, I doubled up on our computer science programming by offering two coding clubs after school. Due to scheduling, we did not have room during the school day for this programming. So, we added these clubs after school. As a result, some students had to make choices among their extracurricular activities. As an athlete myself, I know I would never have wanted to have to make that choice nor should I have had to.

We tried to make it as accommodating as possible. In our <body> builders club, we offer flexibility for the “over-committed” folks. Our second option, Hello World, is taught by a group of area developers at cost. It functions like a course and offers two unique events – a city-wide hackathon and student panel.

Going forward, we hope to incorporate some of the coding programming into our regular curriculum. As it stands, we offer Computer Science Level 1 and Advanced Computer Science to mainly 10-12 grade students. We offer an information literacy course to all 6th grade students, but there is no formal programming between 6th grade and 10th grade – the critical years.

So, as I plan for the Hour of Code, I think back to our dilemmas and the dilemmas of many schools. After school programs are a great start, but they should not be where it ends. We need to move beyond the Hour of Code and bring in the programming into our curriculum. While I am not always for mandatory computer science, I do believe it should be offered to all students with easy access. I don’t believe students should have to choose between it and another passion just as they do not have to choose between their other main courses.

With that in mind, this year, I have planned a full week of activities for our Hour of Code. We will kick off the week with a parent coding event, followed by a panel of area developers discussing the rules of the trade. On Wednesday, we will have a teacher coding lunch. And, on Thursday, we will have a family coding night, complete with over 15 booths! We will wrap it up on Friday with a challenge for all to complete at least one hour of code. Through this immersive approach, I hope to increase demand for these course and push the courses into the curriculum.

Check out or Hour of Code Website for more information or ideas. And, check out for a complete listing of coding help.

I challenge you to learn another computer language. In the past month, I have learned two (HTML5 and CSS3) and I am starting on my third (JavaScript). Do it!