Google Classroom: A Fresh Start

Click to go to Classroom!

Start the year with a fresh view and updates in Google Classroom! Here are some recommendations, enhancements, and reminders to make this a valuable tool for students and for you.

Clean Up Last Year – *DO NOT do this for ongoing IB classes!*

  1. Return student work – This makes the student the owner of her/his work. If you want some copies of exemplary work, make your own copies just in case the assignments shared with you are deleted by the owner(the student).
  2. Unenroll students – This will eliminate the class from the student’s view of Classroom.
  3. Archive Classes – This will remove the class from your current view in Classroom. This course and all assignments, announcements, and questions will be viewable and re-usable.

New Features – more detail here 

  • Rearrange courses in the main view
  • Display class code full screen
  • See all work from a single student

 Best Practices

  • Post all assignments, even non-digital, with enough description for students and parents to understand its objective(s). This allows students and parents to be better informed. Be sure that Guardian Email Summaries is activated for all classes.
  • Use Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, PDFs rather than Word, PPT, Excel. This makes workflow more efficient for the students and for you.
  • Keep things organized(and sortable) with Topics.
  • Use the About section strategically to provide students with access to things that they will need throughout the year. Perhaps a Google Doc syllabus or link list to connect to key resources or folders of materials.

New G Suite Features

In case you haven’t heard Google Apps for Education(GAFE) has had a name change. It is now called G Suite.

Not to worry, the name has changed but the new and improved features just keep coming!

Two new ones that have come out recently and are well worth reviewing are the new G Suite Training Chrome Extension and the new Google Keep integration.

Firstly, the Training Extension. You can read more here about this, but the gist of the article is that Google has added a handy training tool to all of their G Suite Apps. So once you download the extension from the Web Store, you will notice that in the top righthand corner you get this icon whenever you are in a Google app. If you click on it, it will take you on a detailed tour of that app and/or give you options to learn about different features. Think of this as having your own private tutor in the app that you are working in.

Secondly, Google Keep is now an part of the G Suite apps.

This means that you can now see your notes in a Google Doc. You can even bring them over into the doc by simply dragging. This means that students can use Google Keep as their note taking app and it will fully integrate into their doc for writing a final report, for example.

You can see more about this here.

Both of these updates can be very helpful to students and teachers!

Code Week! 5-9 December, 2016

MS/HS Teachers and Admin are invited to try out coding and integrate it into classes during the week of 5-9 December.

Hour of Code was started by to encourage schools to include computer programming and computational thinking throughout the curriculum. This year they have added many new resources for a wide variety of abilities and interests.

Computer Science is Changing Everything!

A variety of activities and resources will be available and on display in the student lounge throughout the week. We are also coordinating visits by representatives from Microsoft, Yandex, and Google, who will be talking with students and demonstrating coding applications. Feel free to stop by the student lounge and in 2069(MS Lab) with a class to join in.

Better yet, try to integrate some code into your class during this week. Below are some suggested websites with a variety of ways to get started. Check them out! And definitely contact Devin or Paul for support. We’re happy to help.

Art – Processing(a site dedicated to coding in Visual Arts), CodeHS(Graphic Design with JavaScript), Fashion Design(Made with Code)

Music – Sonic Pi, ScratchMade with Code

Science – Scratch, Snap, VidcodeKhan Academy(SQL for databases)

Humanities/English/Social Studies – Thimble, Codesters, Globaloria,

Math – Scratch, Codesters, Wolfram Programming Lab, Khan Academy(SQL for databases)

World Languages – MIT App Inventor, Scratch(This link shows Russian-related projects; search for Spanish and French to find more.), Globaloria(click on Spanish instructions and write game directions in Spanish), (The entire website can be translated/viewed in Russian, Spanish, or French.)

For anyone: App Creator StudioMIT App Inventor, Thimble(web design basics),

Additionally, you should be aware of an effort by Google to get more girls into coding because “less than 1% of high school girls study Computer Science”:

Get involved!

Twitter: Fantastic PD & PLN

I’m sure most people have heard of Twitter. Many teachers have created an account (it’s free) at a PD session or conference at some point. But often we forget about it or say that we are too busy to spend time sifting through streams of information for useful ideas.

The truth is that Twitter, like any social network, can be a major time drain. However, a few key strategies can help you ease into it and start to make it worth the time and effort.

Curate your PLN

Really, Twitter allows you to curate and collect only information that you will find useful. And MANY, MANY educators use it regularly to learn and to share their learning.

A good way to get started is to follow a few teachers, education professionals, gurus in your field, and organizations related to the subject you teach. Follow a few colleagues from AAS too. During PD days, tweet some of the thoughts that strike you, photos/videos of the images/scenes that inspire you, and the ideas you want to revisit or think about further. When you attend a conference or PD session, watch for posted hashtags or twitter IDs of presenters. Or look up any presenters and see if they are on Twitter. You might want to start by following @HeidiHayesJacob and her organization — @Curriculum21. Here are some others:

For Admin: Lead Up NowEric Sheninger, George Couros, Dan McCabeMike Crowley, Arnie Bieber

For Elementary: Kath Murdoch, Anne van Dam, Maria PopovaDonalyn Miller, Margie Myers-Culver, Amanda McCloskey

For Math: Dan Meyer, Dr. Math E Matics, Alice Keeler

For Science: Google Science Fair, The Association for Science Educators

For English: Jim Burke, Penny Kittle, NCTE, Poetry FoundationGrammar Girl

For Social Studies: Data Is Beautiful,, The Economist, Nick Dennis

For Art: Google Arts&Culture, Nicki Hambleton, The Art of Education

For EVERYONE: Edutopia, Eduporium, Mindshift, Common Sense EducationASCD, IBO, IB PYP, IB DP 

And if you are seeing irrelevant posts in your Twitter feed, simply unfollow those people or organizations.


What should I tweet?

First, you don’t need to tweet at all if you don’t want to. You can simply watch/listen/read to what others are saying/posting. It can be useful to retweet ideas, links, and sources that you want to collect and revisit at some point. In this way Twitter can be a microblog of thoughts and resources that you agree with and want to explore further. It doesn’t matter if you have followers. You can simply use Twitter to feed your own professional development.


Using hashtags(#) is a way to sift through Twitter to find out what people are saying about a topic and to join in if you want to. Inserting a hashtag into your tweets also will connect you to others having an asynchronous conversation. The great thing about #hashtags is that you don’t need to know some official list. You can make them up as you go. However, you will see common hashtags in others’ posts and then start to use them.

Here are some frequently used education hashtags: #pyp, #pypchat, #ibdp, #edtech, #edchat, #pbl, #UbD, #engchat, #scichat, #mathchat, #litchat.

To make tweeting at AAS more coherent,
we should use common hashtags:



AASMoscow Tweets List

Another possibility is to create a Twitter List based on a group or topic you would like to follow. I have created a public list called AASMoscow Tweets, containing connections to the AAS faculty who I know are at least occasional tweeters. You can subscribe to this list to follow the ideas and postings of other AAS faculty.

If you don’t see yourself on this list, please tweet to me @PaulJCarpenter so I can add you. And remember to use @AAS_Moscow when referring to AAS.


TweetDeck and other similar tools allow you to focus only on following specific streams. It allows you to follow a certain hashtag or a certain list of people, such as the AASMoscow Tweets list.


The Great Suspender

Are you someone who has lots and lots of tabs open in Chrome? Do you often have trouble with things loading at the speed that you would like them too? Then, The Great Suspender extension might be for you!

This extension will put your tabs to sleep when you are not using them. This frees up valuable bandwidth and processing speed.

As you can see in the image, this extension has only a few settings to play with so you do have a bit of customization if you want it. You can choose the number of minutes/hours the extension waits until it suspends tabs; you can set it to suspend when you are on battery;  it also allows you to choose the type of tab to be suspended (pinned or not).

screenshot-40If you like this extension for its usability, here are a few more of my favorites!

Crafty Text: This allows you to put a small bit of text (like a link or directions) over the top of what is on your screen. screenshot-41

Permanent Clipboard: Do you find yourself typing the same comment over and over when giving electronic feedback to students? Try Permanent Clipboard! It allows you to create a bank of comment statements and then insert them into your feedback with a simple right click of the mouse.

RSS Feed Reader: Do you have several blogs you follow? This simple RSS Feed Reader may be for you! It allows you to quickly see if there are any new posts on the blogs you read as well as quickly jump to the post in the blog.

And remember, when using Chrome, you should see your name in the upper right. If you don’t, sign in. This guarantees that your extensions (and bookmarks, passwords, and more) will be saved and available on any device when you log into Chrome again.

5 New Technologies To Try

Sometimes it’s nice to get some direction towards new programs and websites. Here are 5 new items that were released this summer. Each picture links to the site, so check them out when you have a few minutes of spare time.

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-11-56-pmYou can add it as an extension to Chrome so it’s available in your browser.


screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-18-44-pmIt’s not available yet, but the hype is huge. Swift Playgrounds will be available for free sometime this fall.

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-20-48-pmCould be a great tool to introduce to students as well, add valuable web resources that can be collected and read when there is time.

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-23-24-pmOnly available for Apple products right now, but they’re working on Android.

*Images and content pulled from

Google Classroom Parent/Guardian Email Summaries

Google has recently added a feature to Classroom that allows parents/guardians to receive a daily or weekly email summary of their student’s class details. It consolidates information from all classes into one message, and it is automated so that teachers do not have to send it manually.

The email will include:

  • Missing work—Work that’s late at the time the email was sent
  • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or work that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails)
  • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers

Teachers need to do two things: 

  1. After you have created all of your classes, in the Student section of Classroom, the teacher must activate the Guardian Email Summaries. After all of your students are enrolled, the parent email addresses will be added for you.
  2. Use Google Classroom often! Make announcements, post assignments, pose questions, and check to see that student work is turned in.

Here’s what parents/guardians will see:

Parents will receive instructions for subscribing from AAS soon. They can always choose to unsubscribe if they do not wish to receive so much information.

If you want more information, check out the links below.

Your Digital Departure

Saying “Goodbye” to people and places and packing up to move can be difficult and messy, but hopefully you will have some great celebrations and moments of closure before you leave.

The steps below are meant to help you spend as little time as possible sorting and packing up your AAS digital life so that you can be sure to leave important work here and take it with you as well. If you have files on the AAS server or on the hard drive of an AAS desktop computer, you can attach an external hard drive or upload files to a cloud-based account. Other than the Outlook portion just below, the bulk of this post is aimed at helping those who have principally used Google Drive for storage.

Outlook email

Since many of us use Outlook email regularly to receive and send attachments, you might want to review your message to look for anything you want to keep. The quickest way to review ONLY THOSE MESSAGES WITH ATTACHMENTS is to type HasAttachment:yes into the Search Mail and People field. You can learn more search shortcuts here.

attachment search





moreNotice that you might want to click Get more results at the bottom of the list to see further into your message history.



You can either forward messages to your personal email account, or if you have one at another school, send it there. Or you could also download the attachments and put them on a portable drive or upload into cloud storage to keep them.

Organize and sort your Google Drive

My Drive – If you are like me, you probably have some organized files/folders and others that are more scattered. So your first step to prepare to leave and move things is to get organized. Send unimportant stuff to the trash and sort key documents into folders. If you have been working in shared folders with department members or other colleagues, put everything in the logical place where it should remain. If you have files that are in many shared folders, jump down to Option 2 below.

To see all files/folders owned by you, type owner:me in the search bar at the top of Drive.

Shared with me – I sometimes hear people ask about cleaning up/deleting files/folders that they see in the Shared with me view. My response is always to simply LEAVE IT ALONE. There is no reason to try to organize or control this flow. From here you can add items to your own Drive if you need/want them. But otherwise Shared with me should be treated like a river that flows below as you view it from the shore or from a bridge above. Or maybe a sushi conveyor belt where you grab those things that you want. Controlling the river’s flow or eating all the sushi are impossible prospects, so just let things flow past.

Taking Google Drive files/folders with you

Option 1. Simply download Google Drive files in one folder

download drive folderIf you wish to simply download all of your Google Drive files/folders in one go so that you can put them onto a hard drive or upload them somewhere else, first put all of them into one folder. Name it “AAS To Go” or something similar. Then right click(Windows) or control-click(Mac) and choose Download.

This will save the folder and all its contents in a .zip format. This compressed folder will take up less storage and can be expanded again once you are ready to open and organize the files/folders elsewhere.

Option 2. Google Takeout

If you have lots of files and folders in many locations that will be tedious to organize, Google Takeout can be a better choice. This is also a better method for anyone who wants to download data from other Google Apps you have used at AAS, such as Chrome bookmarks, Blogger posts, Maps data, Google Photos images, and even YouTube videos.

To use Takeout, click on your image or initials in the circle at the top right corner of the Google Drive or Google Search window. Then click on My Account.accountOn the next page, click on Control your takeout

Then click on CREATE ARCHIVE.Create Archive

This will then open up a page with a list of all the possible Google apps/services you could have used with your account. Select the ones you want to archive. Google Drive, Blogger, Bookmarks, Maps, Photos, and YouTube will probably be the most common for AAS teachers. (Notice that this DOES NOT archive Google Classroom or Google Sites. Classroom cannot be transferred or downloaded, although all associated files can be. Your Google Sites can be copied out of the AAS domain in another way. See Paul for assistance.)

When you have selected the Google goodies you want to archive, click Next at the bottom of the list. Then you will get a choice of how and where you want your files to go. You can

  • have a link emailed to yourself, open it on your own device, and download everything there.
  • all data placed in your AAS Drive to download onto your own device, save on an external hard drive, or move it over to your own cloud storage.
  • send it to Dropbox or OneDrive if you already use those services personally or professionally.

send takeout

Option 3. Drive Migrator

One other option that is very useful if you are moving to another school that uses Google Drive is a tool called Drive Migrator. With this, you will prepare folders in your AAS Drive, and then it will create a copy in your new Drive. You must have the new account and password. This video will help.

FINAL STEP: Transfer Ownership

Lastly, before you go, you need to transfer ownership of all key curricular files/folders so that they will not disappear when your accounts are disabled. When you are fully prepared to transfer ownership, put everything to transfer into one folder. Name it something recognizable with a curricular label, e.g. G7 Humanities. Then you can use a Chrome tool to transfer ownership of that one folder and everything within it.

You must use Chrome. Click here to get Transfer Ownership.

Click Add to Chrometransfer ownership


Click Add app.add app





Open the app. transfer icon





Then select the folder you prepared, enter the email of the new owner — either an colleague or an AAS GAFE account ( for teachers), and hit Transfer folder. You will no longer be the owner of these files/folders but will continue to be an editor until your account is disabled.

transfer folder






We’ll miss you and wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Outlook mobile app


Because we are often moving around classrooms, traveling throughout the building, or maybe even working from home, having access to our AAS email, calendar, and files on the go is often handy, perhaps even essential.

Most of us have some kind of mail app set up to get our school mail on mobile phones and/or iPads/tablets, and this might be working well for you.

outlook mobile appBut if you aren’t already using it, today I’m suggesting that you take a look at the Outlook app because it offers a few helpful possibilities that you might not yet know about. calls Outlook “The Future of Email” and claims Outlook is “The best email app for the iPhone.”

Here’s a video overview:


Email/Calendar/Files/People all in one place!

On my iPhone, I once used the Mail app, and I liked the swipe to delete and the automatic connections with the Calendar and Contacts apps. However, I had to open/close these apps to maneuver back and forth between them.

In Outlook, all of these functions are tied into the same app. In the iOS(iPhone) view particularly, you can simply tab between them at the bottom of the screen.

Email messages in Outlook are sorted into 2 streams — Focused(generally all messages from addresses) and Other(messages from external addresses, and therefore probably not pressing items), which makes it easier to stay focused on the people you need to collaborate with and respond to more regularly.

The Files section gives you quick access to the documents that people have shared through attachments.

The Calendar integration is particularly convenient. When you receive a calendar invitation, you can RSVP from within the email. And when you need to propose meeting times with others, you can very easily send some options for when you are available — all without leaving this app.

Additionally, you can set the swipe left and swipe right to Archive, Mark as Read, Delete, Schedule(to arrive again later), Move(to a folder), or Flag messages. Your mail folders and rules and other various settings from Outlook on the desktop or laptop also carry over.

BTW, if you don’t have Outlook(and other Office apps) on your own laptop:
Download instructions & O365 FAQ 


Work life / Personal life separation


We can easily get overwhelmed with messages and information, so I generally like to keep my AAS email, calendar, etc. separate from my personal stuff. By using this separate app only for work, I am better able to make a clean break if I am not working at night or when I need to focus on other things. My mail and my calendars are not overlapping and are not competing for my attention.

You can read/learn more here and get links to the Apple Apps Store, Google Play, and a Windows phone download.


Adding your AAS account to the Outlook app

To add your AAS account to the Outlook app, here are a few specific details:

  1. In Settings touch Add Account and choose Exchange.
  2. Your Email Address here is, e. g., and your password is your regular school mail password.
  3. If you need to enter these, the Server is and your Username is lastnamefi, e. g. carpenterp.


****Nerdy sidenote – some of you might use Sunrise, the popular calendar app from Microsoft. It is being integrated into Outlook and will be abandon at some later date.

Google Forms

Google Forms provide an easy-to-use tool for gathering information, for organizing data, and for assessing students and providing feedback. Lately, more and more people at AAS have been using them, so I wanted to highlight the variety of uses and some of their benefits here.

Plus, recent updates to Forms make them look more professional and also offer very convenient ways to instantly visualize data and interpret responses, even without going to the accompanying spreadsheet.

Speaking of spreadsheets, first you should understand the way Google Forms work. Here are the basic steps and a couple important details for AAS use.

  1. You create a Form. You have a choice of whether to require AAS user login. This can be useful to limit use to only students and faculty at school. However, if you want to open up the form for others outside AAS, do not choose this. Also, plan your questions and craft them to get exactly the types of information and data you want to collect. You can add images, videos, and many types of questions. You can also organize the form into multiple pages with headers. If the form is a quiz for student assessment, you can enable a password and/or turn it on and off to keep it relatively secure and control who takes it and when they can access it.
  2. You send the Form and users complete it. A Form can be completed on any device with web access – any desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone = BYOD-friendly. The responses and data that users enter can be kept just in the form or can be sent to a Google Sheet(similar to Excel). Later you can also reuse a form by attaching it to a new Sheet.
  3. You easily organize and analyze the data. This allows you to make informed decisions. If you have collected written responses from people, reading them in a spreadsheet is not easy. However, a few Add-Ons for Google Sheets allow you to easily produce Google Docs or PDFs with the information from each Form user submission.
    • Save As Doc – This creates a Google Doc from each Form entry and saves them in your Drive. It is very easy to use but has limitations to the look of the Doc.
    • autoCrat – This one allows you to create a custom template — such as a achievement certificate, a special document with a letterhead and custom text, or a feedback rubric. It generates a Google Doc or a PDF from each form entry, which is saved and can also be emailed to whoever you designate.
    • Flubaroo – This allows teachers to use Forms as assessments — quizzes or tests. It processes the Form responses on the spreadsheet compared to an answer key you enter; then it produces a sheet with the grades. You can also mark written short answers or even paragraphs and provide comments. You can even share results and feedback with students in a variety ways with Flubaroo. More updates and additions are continually being made.

Finally, here is list of current uses of Forms here at AAS!

collecting and organizing information

  • PTO Enhancement Grant Applications – This Form is set up with autoCrat to automagically produce and save a PDF and share it with specific members of the PTO.
  • Move / Renovation Requests for the Housing Committee – This also uses autoCrat to save a Google Doc version of each Form submission into a folder that is shared with all the committee members.
  • Sign up for study rooms and extra help before examsMatt Groves, Joe Kahn, and Paul Lennon have used this recently. It is easy to share the info with other teachers and students and to check whether all students completed the Form.


  • Map and Geography quiz in Grade 7 Humanities – With Flubaroo, the marking of the quiz is quite quick and easy. This quiz included a map image, a variety of question types that are automatically graded, and short response questions that teachers mark manually. Amey Law is leading the way here!
  • Scientific Inquiry Rubric – This Science Department work-in-progress will allow teachers to assess students’ lab work and collect data longitudinally as they progress from lab to lab, from year to year.
  • Walk-through form for MS Admin to provide teachers with feedback and gather appraisal data – If an administrator drops by a classroom and takes some notes on an iPad or laptop, they are probably using a Form to collect that info. autoCrat then sends it to a Google Doc, which is filed in Drive and can be shared with the teacher to add his/her reflection as well. These notes can then provide a good starting point for feedback and further conversations for PD.
  • Student Intervention tracking in the HS admin/counselors/GLLs – When teachers are concerned about a student’s behavior or academic standing in class, they employ different strategies to help the student. These efforts are documented through the Form so that other teachers and counselors can be informed and further assistance for students can be determined. Some formulas and set-up in the accompanying spreadsheet makes the data easily searchable by student, by teacher, and by grade level.

visualizing data and responses

  • Time Management Survey of Grade 11 students – Katrina Senour wanted to quickly find out how students think about and employ time management strategies. The data is readily available for her to understand the student responses. image sample:

Please contact Devin or Paul if you want to try out any of these uses of Google Forms!