Canvas Announcements & Digital Social Contracts

The tip I have to share with you today is about the Announcements feature of Canvas. Announcements is a great place to be able to send a quick message or to-do list to your class.

Some examples for using Announcements include:

  • Reminding your students what they need to accomplish to stay on track

  • Point students to resources and links
  • Leave a message for the entire class with video or audio comments
  • Building community and routine

Food for thought:

What might a digital social contract look like for your students? Developing a digital social contract with students is a perfect activity to facilitate some discussion around digital citizenship.

Canvas Instructor Resources & Back to School Resources from Google

The Canvas Instructor Guide is a great resource to reference as you are getting comfortable with Canvas. There is a Canvas Teacher App for mobile devices, too.

Back to School resources from Google:

Closing out a roller coaster of a school year

This week, I wanted to share some end of year digital clean up tips with you. Just like wrapping up your physical classroom at the end of any school year, it is important to wrap up your digital work. These are suggestions of what you can do to tidy things up so that you return to an organized environment after summer break.


Google Classroom:

  1. Be sure to return all student work. This can be checked under the To-Do page of Google Classroom.
  2. Remove students from old classes, if you prefer not to have students accessing content from your class in the future.
  3. Remove old class calendars in Google Calendar (hide or delete them).
  4. !! DO NOT delete the folder called Classroom !! from your Google Drive. However, you can move or delete subfolders that it contains, as you tidy up your Google Drive.
  5. Archive old classes.

Google Drive/Files:

  1. Backup any files stored locally (ie: Downloads, desktop files, etc) on your device to Google Drive.
  2. When you are back in the district and on the network, save any files from your H: Drive to Google Drive.
  3. Tidy up your Google Drive. Put loose files away into folders/subfolders, address anything left in your priority workspaces, rename or recolor any old folders, etc. Tidying up your email is a good idea, too. Put away loose emails, address anything that may need responses, organize folders.
  4. If you are an exiting or retiring employee, to prevent loss of work, transfer ownership of files to others or add them to a shared drive. To take files with you, by using Google Takeout.

Distance Learning Week #10

How to subscribe to other Google Calendars:

When you open the link to a Google Calendar, in the bottom right hand corner you will see a +Google Calendar button. By clicking on that button, it will add the calendar to your own.

Summer learning/enrichment resources for students:
These resources below can be shared out with students and families for summer learning.

Summer learning/enrichment resources for staff:

These resources below are for your personal professional growth.  

Distance Learning Week #9

Photo Management:

Check out my photo management presentation. As you are creating end of year highlights of this school year, Google Photos can be a helpful tool to create collages, albums, and animations.


Accessibility is for everyone. Check out some of the resources are listed below.

Meaningful Feedback:

Use media to create multi-modal forms of feedback for students. Going beyond text comments can positively impact students’ perception of the quality of feedback. Feedback that feels personalized is more likely to inspire students to continue working to develop their skills.
  • Chrome Capture is a great tool that can help you create GIFs to use for student feedback
  • Using emojis, bitmojis, and badges can be a great way to make feedback more engaging
  • Previous tools I’ve shared including: Talk & comment, Kaizena, and Screencastify can also be leveraged for the purpose of feedback
  • Mote is another voice commenting tool for Google Docs


Gamification can help with student engagement. Many of you have been using Kahoot, Breakout EDU, and utilizing the game board template I shared with you last week. Blow are more resources to use for gamifying learning remotely.

Distance Learning Week #8

Collaboration tips with G Suite:

  • Clarity is key when it comes to collaboration. When working in Google Slides, let students know which slide numbers they are responsible for by labeling slides with student names.
  • Utilize version history to see how each group member has contributed to a project.
  • The table feature can be especially helpful to clearly outline and label which area of a document a particular student or group is responsible for. See example below.


How to be innovative in remote learning:

  • Create a game board for a self-paced guided lesson
  • When students are engaging and learning with low tech options, create a way to have them show and tell what they did so that you can still monitor the learning. This can be done on a video call the following day, a picture can be taken and a written reflection can be turned in, they can submit a quick video for a show and tell of what they did, etc.
  • Use these social media templates to engage students


Differentiation in Google Classroom:

Differentiation can and should still happen when you are teaching remotely. You can create multiple versions of an assignment or lesson. Then, you can assign particular versions of that assignment/lesson with specific students in Google Classroom. To assign to specific students in Google Classroom, click on the dropdown that says All Students and only select the ones you want that version of the assignment/lesson to go to.


eLearning best practices:

  • Templates provide consistency for students. Using the same template over and over can help establish routine and work flow.
  • The less clicks, the better. When you are providing links and videos, embed them directly into the google slide/doc/etc.
  • Providing a checklist can be a useful tool for students to make sure they got everything completed.

Distance Learning Week #7

Adding photos to a Google Form:

Google Forms gives you the option to include photos and/or videos. This can be helpful for flipped assignments. Photos can also be included in the answers. This can be especially helpful for emergent readers.


Verify students did their own work in Google Classroom:

When you are looking at student work and you feel like you’re reading the same responses over and over, copy a phrase from the student’s answer and paste it into your search bar in Google Drive. You are the co-owner of the documents, which makes them searchable. Students with the same responses will populate and you can take a closer look. You can also use Draftback or Version History to see if students did a quick copy and paste.


Reuse a comment for feedback:

When you are grading/giving feedback on an assignment in Google Classroom, add comments that you want to reuse to the comment bank. Anything you have added to your comment bank, you can reuse by starting with a # and type in a word from a saved comment in your comment bank. This eliminates the need for copying and pasting.


Curating videos:

Many of you have been looking for methods to curate videos. There are many creative ways to do this. Some options include: adding videos to a shared folder in Google Drive, adding videos to a slide deck with Google Slides, creating an unlisted Youtube playlist. With all of these methods, you only need to share a single link with students.


Edu Protocols:

There are free templates available from Edu Protocols. These protocols are frameworks for a lesson. These can be used for any subject area and grade level. The protocols foster the four C’s.


Distance Learning with Google Earth:

There are many mapping tools from Google. This blog post gives many ideas for using features of Google Earth for learning at home. For more ideas for using Google My Maps & Google Earth, check out my Map That presentation.


Michigan eLibrary:

Michigan eLibrary and MeL Kids have good resources for learning online. Some of my favorite resources are PebbleGo for younger students and Britannica for older students.


Google Educator Group of Michigan:

For those of you interested in connecting with other Google-using educators, check out GEG Michigan. Joining the Google Educator Group of Michigan is a great way to ask questions and learn about updates, news, best practices, and professional development opportunities.

Distance Learning Week #6

This week, I want to point out some tips that can help when you are working with Google Classroom and G Suite tools.


Make a copy for each student option in Google Classroom Assignments:

Google Classroom gives you 3 different options to attach documents in an assignment; Students can view file, Students can edit file, Make a copy for each student. When you choose “Make a copy for each student”, this mimics you running to the copier to run a full class set of an assignment. Choosing this option will prevent students from requesting access to a file and will prevent your original from being changed.


Talk & Comment extension:

This extension allows you to add voice to Google Classroom. You can record verbal directions to go along with your assignments. Add the extension, open up an assignment in Google Classroom, record your directions, copy the link and add it to the assignment, remove the “(voice note)”, click Assign.


Annotation tools in mobile app:

Did you know you can give annotated feedback in the mobile version of Google Classroom? Open the assignment in the Google Classroom app, tap on Student Work, Tap the student’s name and their attachment. Then, tap Edit to make any notes or drawings and tap Save.

*Note that this can only be done in the mobile app for Google Classroom, which is available on Android, Apple iOS, or Chrome OS.  That means this app cannot be installed on the WB teacher laptops because they have a Windows operating system.


Present trick for video meetings:

Simply grab the link of the file and change the end of the URL. Replace where it says “edit” and anything to the right of it with “present”. Take a look at the end of the URL below.

By doing this, you can still show a slide deck in presentation mode and it won’t take over your screen when you are screen sharing on a video call.

*Engagement tips: Having fun and being creative can keep students engaged. Keep things fun and personalize your assignments by being in them! I used to put myself into that presentation above but you can also use the Bitmoji extension for this. You can also use the Custom Cursor extension that allows you to change your cursor. This can help students with visual impairments when you share your screen by using a big colorful cursor to direct their attention.


Creating Templates in G Suite:

Simply grab the link of the file and change the end of the URL.  Replace where it says “edit” and anything to the right of it with “template/preview”. Take a look at the end of the URL below.

By doing this, you do not need to share the original file with others and when they click the “Use Template” button it adds a copy to their own drive.  Any changes they make will not appear in the owner’s original file.

This can be especially helpful when you want to share files with colleagues or students. It avoids having them request access to the file, they don’t need to open the file and click File > Make a copy. Now, others can have their own working file based off of a template you created.

Distance Learning Week #5

For families looking for more at home extension resources:

Choice Boards:
Choice boards can be a great way to elicit student voice and choice during distance learning. This is a great way to integrate no-internet remote learning activities. Some examples of unplugged activities include reading, exercising, making something, drawing, writing, etc. You can have your choice board include a blend of unplugged activities and activities with technology. Here is a simple template that you can edit to make your own.

Managing screen time:
I’m sure many of you are feeling the after effects of too much screen time. I want to remind you to use the 20/20/20 rule when you are spending extended periods of time in front of your devices. Here is how the 20/20/20 rule works: After spending 20 minutes staring at your screen, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away. This will relax your eye muscles. Set a timer (or try out one of these extensions: Timer & Stopwatch, Move It, or Water Reminder). Some other good habits for managing screen time is to not be on a screen an hour before bed, use dark mode for less blue light, take time to unplug and find balance.

Distance Learning Week #4

Check out these resources from Applied Digital Skills collections; Teach from Anywhere, Work from Anywhere, and Learn from Anywhere.

Some of you may have noticed that Google Classroom now has the ability to generate a Google Meet link. Here is a helpful guide on how you can generate a video meeting for education.

Resources for Accessibility:

Remember that accessibility is a benefit for everyone, not just students with an IEP.

Resources for digital wellbeing:

Resources for teaching digital citizenship:

Google Certified Educator

If you are interested in becoming a Google Certified Educator, check out the Google Teacher Center. This can be a great time to do this and brush up on your Google skills! For Level 1 certification, go through the Fundamentals training and then register for the exam. For Level 2, go through the Advanced training and then register for the exam. If you would like to meet for a study/tutor session prior to taking the exam, I’m happy to help you out.