Five Uses for Google Classroom’s New Feature

5-uses-for-new-featureWe’ve been asking for it so they gave it to us! Google Classroom’s new differentiation/assign feature allows for so many possibilities and is taking the G-Suite world by storm.  Below I’ve outline five uses for this new feature.  Enjoy!

Differentiate by Proficiency Level

This is a no -brainer really.  Some students need more practice in vocabulary or math problems. Some need accelerated work because they ‘got it’.  What ever the case may be Classroom now allows us to provide for student needs in a very personalized manner.

One to One Peer Editing of Assignments

Peer editing is easier now than it ever was. Students can be assigned or share the same Doc commenting on one another’s writing by making comments in the margains.


Along the same idea as one to one peer editing, students can work in partners to preview or review material while do an inclass activator or summarizer.

Small Group Projects

Want to assign small groups while at the same time pushing out project material? Google’s new feature allows this to happen with ease.

Makeup Work from Absences

If a student has missed a whole class discussion or video for example, simply post a question or link to that video in a ‘While you were out’ announcement.


When I started using Google Classroom over a year ago, it bacame a game changer for me.  This new feature bring the Classroom app up a level allowing for a multitude of activities. If you have an interesting, effective use for Google Classroom post your comments below. Happy Googling!

Using G-Suite to Innovate Vocabulary Study

I’m sure if you’re reading this you’re an education geek like me! I just cannot get enough how to up my game in the classroom. One way to to do this is for you to harness the power of G-Suite for Education.  Google Classroom is a great app to start with because it works as an interactive platform for the other G-Suite apps. A new and exciting feature of Classroom is the ability for a teacher to assign different assignments to individual students or groups of students. This week I had my first foray into using this feature. My AP Psychology students were reviewing for a test. Their task was to create five-sided flashcards for the concepts in the unit. If you’re curious about the Five-Sided Flash card here’s a great article.

I wanted students working in their groups/families/teams so I assigned each group a set of Slides with the definitions.  (I needed to create a set of slides for each group. This was the most time consuming part of the prep.)  Once I had 7 sets for my 7 groups, I went about assigning students in their groups, posting the slideshow for each group. Then the real learning began!

Each group went to work dividing the concepts among themselves.  Then they got to work creating the five sided flashcards. Students were engaged and working the entire period.  I walked the classroom looking over shoulders, answering questions and clarifying examples. After class I was able to ‘flip’ through each slide deck to make comments and encourage critical thinking using the comments feature. Here’s a copy of the assignment slideshow. Feel free to make a copy and modify as needed.

Innovation and Senior Project Greatness

kids-workingSeven years ago my colleagues and I were challenged to come up with an innovative course that would fit into the new 21st century high school the town had recently approved. We got some ‘basement time’ in the Superintendent’s office and thus the Senior Humanities course was born!  If only it was that easy….

(If you want to skip right to the resources for innovating in the classrooom click here to get a copy of Senior Project Greatness or enroll in my new course Inspiring Innovation.)

Over the last six years Senior Humanities, a course that all seniors must take for English credits, has grown and flourished under our auspice. In short the course works like this:

Seniors rotate through three teachers, having each of us for one term. During that term the teacher teaches whatever he/she wants to teach. Pretty great, huh? For the last three years I’ve taught the psychology of success. My colleagues have taught everything from Death of A Salesman to Media and Journalism literacy.  It’s been challenging and thrilling!  During the fourth term students work on the Senior Project – a project in which they really engage Dan Pink’s ideas of autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Ideas come from students and they have almost total control over their space, time and product. Each of us guides a section of students through this process.

The Senior Project is upon us as of this week…Students are struggling with ideas and proposal requirements. They are working towards that sense of purpose while getting used to autonomy they’ve never had before.  Did I mention they get to leave school to work on their project? A pretty good cure for that dreaded senioritis!

Innovation in schools is sweeping the nation right now. Twenty percent time, genius hour, autonomy, mastery and purpose – All advocate for students to explore passions and interests beyond the traditional high school curriculum. I’m proud of my colleagues and I to have been apart of such a cutting edge course. If you’re interested in the Senior Project or creating something like it click here to view or download an excerpt from Six Steps to Senior Project Greatness. Or if you’re interested I’ll be launching a course on Inspiring Innovation this spring. Click here to pre -enroll!

Happy innovating!

Project Based Learning: Preparing Students for a Lifetime of Creative Problem Solving

student-projetcsAny senior teacher can tell you that this time of year is one of the most stressful. My students are waiting to hear from college admissions with bated breath.   With our Humanities Capstone Seminar course we make a concerted effort to engage students in project based learning.  My two colleagues offer students the opportunity to give speeches and re-create a play into a modern production.  My section of Humanities offers students a study of success – the essential question is What does it take to be successful? A tough one, huh?! We read a variety of texts including Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset.  For an end of term project I wanted students to demonstrate their knowledge so I assigned them a Public Service Campaign with the specific goal of helping inspire 4th graders towards success.  Here’s the assignment.  What I found was that the assignment needed to be tweaked after I conferenced with my two co-teachers. Overall, the students did a great job in working together to come up with a common theme and message.  I was impressed with the earnest effort to help younger students.

Working with seniors is a blessing….although they are antsy to move on to the next phase of life, they still need guidance along the way.  Project based learning and assessments give them just one more tool to help them navigate their future.

Ask Questions with Google Forms, Grade Answers with Flubaroo

flubaroo_small_promo_440x280Flubaroo is a great tool for teachers to use even in schools that are not 1:1.  When assigning a flipped lesson I embed the YouTube video into a Google Form, craft questions and post it on Google Classroom. From there students complete the assignment. The responses can be funneled into a Google Sheet.   I enable Flubaroo as an add-on.  It quickly grades the assignment after I put in an answer key.  And there it is! I can then record those grades in my grade book online. Below is a video of the process. The first few times I tried this I had to work out the kinks, making sure that clicked all the right boxes, etc.  Now it’s like second nature.  Now that Forms has a quiz feature there’s even more flexibility. View the video below to see what a great tool this can be.

Happy Flubaroo-ing!

Resolutions Times Two

I’ve said for 20 years that teachers are some of the luckiest folks in the world – we get to celebrate the New Year twice, once in January and once in September. So that gives us an opportunity to make resolutions twice a year. My September resolution was to be more present in the classroom and with my family. I think I’ve done that.  I feel good about my relationships at work and at home….so what is a great resolution for the new calendar year….write an ebook of course! So I’m premeiring it in this blog post….5 Great Things to Do with Google Classroom. If you’re interested pleas click here to access it.  Further… has moved to Happy New Year!