By Kimberly Mattina

As educators, our minds are always turned on. We are always learning, and we are constantly thinking of new ways to help our students be successful. Let’s not forget, however, that as educators we also need guidance to be effective, efficient, organized and successful.

As a technology integration coach and a Google Certified Trainer, I wanted to share some tech tips and recommendations with you to help you get started this school year. Many of my recommendations revolve around G Suite for Education (GSFE).

Tips for Google Classroom

1. Instead of listing all of your classroom resources, websites, and so forth on the About page, list them in a Google document and attach that link to the About page. This will allow you to sort them in any order you choose, format them and manage them more easily. Be sure the setting permissions to the Google document are set appropriately. Additionally, you can insert this link onto your school webpage.

2. Title the assignment with a number and a description, and provide the same naming convention to any attachments for that assignment. This will allow you to easily associate files to the assignments in Google Drive. For example: “001 All About Me.”

3. Always include general directions and technology directions in all of your assignments. This will provide guidance to the students when the assignment is completed.

4. Install the Chrome extension “Open Side by Side” by Alice Keeler. This Chrome extension will split the screen and have the Google Classroom work page open on one side, and the student document open on the other side. This will allow you to easily navigate between the student document and Google Classroom grading page without having to tab back and forth between windows. It is available in the Chrome web store. If you cannot install it, contact your Google administrator or your IT department for assistance.

5. Use Topics on your posts to organize and filter your stream so that the information can be found easily. For example, create a topic called “Week of …”, and insert it on any assignment for that week. This will allow students to display all the posts for that specific week.

Tips for YouTube

1. Use your channel to upload screencasts and animations. This will help you flip your classroom and allow students to learn at their own pace.

2. Create playlists on your channel to organize your content.

3. Have your students subscribe to your channel so they get notifications when a new video has been uploaded.

4. Use Snagit, Screencastify or Screencast-O-Matic to create short tutorials of your content.

Tips for Google Forms

Here is a list of new features of Google Forms that may help improve your workflow:

1. All consumer users now have the ability to upload a file into Google Forms. Previously this option was only available to GSFE users. This can be helpful for parents and guardians to provide you with notes concerning their child.

2. Another update is having intelligent response validation. This feature will allow you to quickly add a validation to a Forms question, making your workflow quicker.

3. Another new feature to Forms is the ability to set up default values when creating new Forms. This is a huge time saver. This can be found in the Preference menu and can be applied to all new Forms that are created.

4. You have the option to rearrange header sections. Now you can quickly and easily rearrange sections in your Forms.

5. Finally, you now have the ability to use a checkbox grid question. This new question type will allow you to select multiple options in a category. One example use for this tool is scheduling.

Introducing Flipgrid

I recently learned about a tool called Flipgrid. When I realized how powerful and easy it is to use, I immediately fell in love with it. Flipgrid will allow you to create a video dialog or discussion with your students. Students use their device’s webcam to respond and participate in the discussion. This tool gives everyone a voice, and I recommend that you try it. I will be using this tool with my students as a reflection or exit ticket. The best part is, it’s free! Simply visit www.flipgrid.com for more information and to create an account.

I work with and train many educators, and most of them want easy and practical ways to implement and use technology in their classroom. With this article, I hope I was able to provide you with some information and guidance that can be helpful to you during the school year. 

Kimberly Mattina is a technology integration coach and social media advisor at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing. She is a Top Contributor in the G Suite for Education forum, a Google Certified Trainer and a Google Certified Educator.

Mattina is the co-founder and co-host of “The Suite Talk,” which is a talk show about G Suite for Education. In addition, she is technology consultant and the owner of at The Tech Lady, LLC, which is a computer repair and consulting business. Mattina manages a blog, “The Tech Lady,” which can be accessed at www.thetechlady-km.blogspot.com. Her website, The Tech Lady Express and be found at goo.gl/cGRpE8. You can also follow Mattina on Twitter. Her handle is @The_Tech_Lady.

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