Google Classroom Training Center

With the start of school near, many teachers are looking for resources to use with their students.  One popular tech resource is Google Classroom, a free tool included with Google Suite for Education.  Google has put together this new training center for teachers in case they need a little help getting started.    There are some great resources here!

Google is constantly evolving and Google Classroom is as well.  They have put together this lists of 10 improvements in Classroom and Forms.


Calendar Within Gmail

Did you know that you can view your gmail calendar right inside your gmail window without having to open / close any additional tabs or sites.  It is done with a “google calendar” gadget.  I came across this a couple of weeks ago and have been piloting it on both my google accounts.  I certainly give it a thumbs up as something that I think is useful and a good fit.  Then I read about it in today’s Google Guru posting, so I thought I would blog about it and point you toward their “how to” video.

It is very easy to setup. Simply click on the little gear icon in the upper right of your gmail page and then down to settings.  Click on the tab labeled “labs” and search for one called google calendar.  Click “enable” and save the changes.  Then go back out to the gmail page.   At the bottom of the left hand column beneath all your folders are 3 small dots.  Click on the dots.  They represent your gadgets that are active.  You can grab the calendar at the bottom and resize it up and down.  As nearly as I can tell, it will only show events for your primary calendar but it still serves its purpose.


Shameless Google Classroom Plug

The October issue of the Google for Education Newsletter mentioned that Google Apps is now used by 50 million students and teachers around the world.  Even more impressive, in just over a year since it was introduced, Google Classroom is now used by 10 million of those students and teachers.  It is constantly evolving and being improved.  Just recently, they announced that you can attach a google form to your assignments directly in google classroom.  Google will grade the form / test and mark the assignment as completed when it is submitted.  Still not sold?  Take a look here to see some ways that teachers are using google classroom to help them connect with kids.  Oh, and yes, it is free for educators.

Keyrocket to learn Gmail shortcuts

We all have used some keyboard shortcuts and probably even have a few goto strokes such as ctrl-c or ctrl-v for copy / paste.  I know there are lots of others but seldom do I remember them when needed and stopping to look up the shortcut is rather self-defeating.  Enter a chrome extension called keyrocket to remind you of keystroke shortcuts every time you work in gmail.  Thanks to Dylan at The Google Gooru for posting this video and bringing Keyrocket to my attention.  The concept is simple.  Load the Keyrocket chrome extension, and begin working in gmail.  Every time you do something manually that also has a shortcut, Keyrocket will pop up a small window reminding you there is a keyboard shortcut for that.  Example: Click the compose an email button and a small window will pop up that reminds you Press C to Compose a message. It is an easy way to begin memorizing keystrokes.  If you have questions, hop on over to The Google Gooru and watch the video.

Google Keep: An Easy to use Google Checklist

I have dabbled with the built-in tasklist in gmail, but have never really liked it.  A couple of months ago I started using google keep for checklists.  It is very easy to use and ties with your google apps account.  It is very simple to setup and use.  Go to and login with your google apps account.  You can have multiple lists, share your lists with others, color code your lists, and view/edit on any mobile device (via app) or computer. You can delete your completed lists or you can archive them so you can reference them later.

Do you share calendars with other?  Why not share todo lists as well?  I have been using it with my family recently for grocery lists, projects, etc.  It is a great way to share progress and collaborate.  The share feature gives the other users edit options (view only is not an option).  It does send an email to the person you share with to let them know they can view the list.  All they need to do is go to google keep and login with their gmail address and the list will be viewable and editable.  You can even turn on notifications and have the program pop up a reminder when something is due.  It works seamlessly across multiple devices, just make sure to click “done” so the changes show up for everyone, including your other devices.  Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Google For Education Training

Whether you are a beginning Google for Education user or an experienced pro, you need to visit the new Google for Education page.  Click on the training / get trained link and you will see resources for all levels of users.  The page is broken down by categories such as Calendar, Classroom, Email, Drive, etc.  In each category there is a section on introduction, basics, and advanced so you can select your level.  There are videos, review materials, and practice tests.  This is a great place to go to learn more about an area of Google for Education that you are interested in developing.

Perhaps you are interested in learning even more and want to become google certified.  This is the place for you.  To get to these resources, from the home page click on training / get certified.  The basic level of certification is called google educator.  In order to reach this status, you have to pass 5 different tests.    The gmail, calendar, drive, and sites tests are mandatory but you can choose the 5th test from a list of options. This is a great place to start preparing for the tests and then progress right into taking the actual test.  You take the tests on your own time and each test must be completed online in a 2 hour window.  You have 90 days to take all 5 tests once you begin.  There is a fee of $15 for each test and you can retake it if you do not reach the 80% goal.

Google Search Tips

I have a 12 year old at home.  He is a typical, always-connected kid that has grown up in an instant gratification age of “googling” for questions and help.  But does he always use google in an effective way to get the best results for his question?  Probably not.  He is a bit too much like his dad – just shoot off a quick topic or question in the search box.  Truth be told, there are some tips for using google that can help you get to the core of your question.  Here is a link to a google cheat sheet that will show you some simple search commands that are easy to use and very effective.  Of course, you may have used the “_” command for exact words and the OR command for multiple words.  But google is very geographically biased.  Using the Site: modifier can get an entirely different perspective on your search.  It can be used as geographical modifier, like this – site: GB (for sites only in Great Britain) or for particular websites such as site: edu (for only educational sites).  The variation in your results will amaze you.  There are some other simple modifiers and uses for google listed on the link.  Do you want to practice your newly developed searching abilities?  Try this A Google a Day site for a daily google trivia search quiz.