Google Classroom Gets Classier and Classier!

I only began using Google Classroom last year, and I instantly fell in love with it. It is easy to work with as a teacher: You can find things fast. There are convenient pathways to Google Drive, Youtube, and previous posts from other classrooms for assigning tasks. The format is simple enough for primary grades to navigate, but complex enough for older grades to utilize.

This blog is bubbling out of a realization from assessing an assignment that I administered this week. Rather than have all of my kiddos sitting on a carpet for too long and only partially engaged in the story that I was reading to them, I put the story into a Google slideshow and shared it with my class in Google Classroom. I made it so that the slideshow created a copy for each student in the class.

classroom rules
It was tricky to word the rules as a “Cause”. I had to erase the word “No” a couple of times.

Before having students begin the slideshow activity, I presented the classroom rules in a unique way. I did not tell the students, “No laying down in the classroom!” I wrote the words “laying down” on the board, and then, as a class, we discussed what could happen as a result of students laying down. The first student to volunteer information suggested that kids might fall asleep. I thought that was rather far-fetched, but we discussed not paying attention, the difference between actively working and passively producing work (just going through the motions). Through this students suggested that laying down would communicate “Disrespect”. I thought that was a great observation!

After writing several byproducts for laying down on the floor, one of which was “Being a trip hazard”, I drew a line between the action and what that action might bring about. Then I drew a solid line above both sides, creating a T Chart. I didn’t say anything as I wrote “CAUSE” above the left side of the chart. Kids only had to see the C-A-U before they were calling out (breaking one of the rules we were about to discuss;) “EFFECT!”

I barely had to mention the concept of “Cause & Effect” after that, and we easily came up with other rules and why we have them. This just came to me, while in front of the students, but it was by far the classiest rules discussion I have ever witnessed. I had to be careful to write the rules as though they were the cause, which was tricky at times, but even this made the concept of behaving appropriately seem less militaristic. Rather than “No Calling Out”, I wrote “Not raising your hand”. So, what happens when you don’t raise your hand? We discussed the feeling you get when you have an awesome answer that you would be proud to share, but someone else yells out a similar thought. Ugh! That person just stole my spotlight!!

Now, I have a story that I usually use to accompany the rules. It introduces the concept of consequences for breaking them. The students had been sitting on the carpet for several minutes, though, so I, within seconds, made through the “First Quarter ELA” Google Classroom that I had just created over lunch an assignment that provided the slideshow to everyone. Not only would each kid have access to it, but the classroom software made a copy for each student. In this way, I had the students open their individual copy in the Google Slides App, so that they could leave comments.

Cause and Effect slide one
This is the 2nd slide, the first with text, and I gave the students what to type as comments, so they could practice. Those links on the slide were active for the kids to go to websites I had vetted and linked to the story for them to deepen their understanding.

I walked them through accessing their slideshows, navigating the app, and reading the slides. I showed them where the button for “Adding a Comment” was and even gave them an example of “Cause & Effect” from the first slide for them to type. Then, some students read the text independently, seeking causes and their effects. Many students read the text to themselves, while I read it out loud from the interactive board. When we finally got to the rules that I had typed into the slideshow, I had the students engage with the slide, telling me which rule they thought would be the hardest to keep. They were to leave a comment about it.

Feedback plus grades for Google slideshow assignments in google classroom
I used to only leave comments within the slideshows. Now, I can leave feedback that summarizes the reason for the grade. Providing evidence is classy.

Here comes the truly amazing part. I am sitting down at my computer at home getting ready to assign some grades for this project. I plan to be gracious, giving high marks for kids who simply did anything. In addition to just a grade, Google Classroom has made it so that I can leave feedback for the whole assignment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was not available last year. I left comments throughout slideshows, but never one for the whole assignment. This is great! Thank you, Google. Very classy idea.  

Feedback for Reagan wow
Not only can I grade these slideshows, something I did last year, but I can provide feedback for why students received the grades.
Returning Reagan's wow work
If you connect accounts to parent emails or if you are using this with older students who have their own email addresses, they will be alerted that there is a grade with corresponding feedback that they can view.

Cloning Creativity Is Classy

Consider Cloning Your Creativity. It’s Classy.Cloning myself

A person is considered creative by others if he comes up with new and novel ideas. To use a cliche that’s been chopped down, chewed up, and spit out a billion times, in the Tree_Falling_Down_-_panoramiosame way a tree does not fall in a forest if no one is there to hear it, a person is only as creative as people recognize it. My suggestion: Cloning your creativity is classy.

This is classy because it helps you and others. It is helpful to you because it will make you feel meaningful and important. The greatest form of flattery is for someone to copy you. Sharing your ideas says, “Flatter me, please;)” Also, others may find ways to improve what you came up with. This shouldn’t make you feel badly. You invented the table. Others are simply lengthening the legs, sanding the rough edges, and polishing the finish. No one would be using it at all, had you never considered cloning your creative contribution to the culinary art! How classy.

Here is an issue: I came up with a lesson years ago that I hadn’t put together until just recently. I thought of having my students make “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories to make narrative writing fun and creative. (They can also explore multiple solutions to IMG_0037problems within plots.) In preparation for teaching a professional development class on using iPads in the classroom, I decided I’d finally try my hand at making one of these adventures. I created a planning paper, made a Google slideshow, hyperlinked slides together, and wrote a silly little story about the teachers that would be attending my iPad course. I even made a movie to show teachers how I did what I did, so that they could reproduce (clone) it.

I haven’t actually mentioned the “issue” yet. All this goes right along with the theme of this blog: Sharing your creativity is classy. Here is the issue: I just… just now, as I am in the middle of typing this blog, googled “Choose your own adventure lesson,” and do you know how many other people had the same idea as me? Well, it took Google half of a second to produce eighteen million hits. So, was my idea a creative one?

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? Have you ever excitedly told a colleague or friend about a grand idea you had, only to have your audience say, “Oh, (so and so) did that last year”? Talk about taking the wind out of your creative sails!

Here is a classy consolation: How many artists were appreciated during their lifetime? Additionally, do you think Edgar Degas was the only artist who painted ballerinas? Did Michelangelo invent sculpture? As creative as people may seem, they are building upon concepts that already exist. It is what’s done with the creativity that makes it classy. A creative idea that sits in the classroom, confined to 24 students, and never tried by other teachers, isn’t any more useful than a tree falling in the middle of a forest is beneficial to a carpenter. Yeah, people are building tables all over the place. So, your raised wooden platform that people place food on isn’t all that novel in a global market, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make one. Many people had painted portraits of women before the Mona Lisa. What if DaVinci thought, “That’s already been done. I don’t want to look lame, copying others.”IMG_0035

Not classy: Failing to give credit where credit is due. No explanation needed. Also, withholding compliments is not classy. A person can feel jealous when a colleague is getting attention for his creativity. Don’t let corrosive competitive feelings creep into your soul. They will kill your creativity. This is not a war or competition. Be congratulatory. That is classy. An attitude of admiration will boost you forward, usher you into a collection of collaborative creators, and fuel cogitation. A poor attitude will find you lying under a fallen tree in the middle of the forest, trapped, forgotten, and nonexistent.

Here is the lesson that I dreamed up, created, and found out already exists… millions of times over;)  https://tinyurl.com/y8pnpybmIMG_0039

Here is the movie that I made to show off how I did what millions of others have done before me.  https://youtu.be/xzi1Q0nAsBc

Although I am laughing at myself for thinking that I was soooo creative, coming up with this lesson, only to find out lots of others before me have done something similar, I remain please with my product, and encourage you… I would be flattered if you were to check it out and even use it. Let me know what you think, and if there were ways to improve upon it.

Final thought: Where would this lesson fall on the SAMR spectrum? Is the use of technology Substituting, Augmenting, Modifying, or Redefining teaching?