(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Classroom debuted last year to help teachers and students save time and collaborate with each other, and since then we’ve been working on how to make sure it worked well with other products that educators love and use in their classes.

Starting today, developers can embed the Classroom share button and sign up for the developer preview of the Classroom API. These tools make it easy for developers to seamlessly integrate with Classroom in ways that help teachers and students — like letting teachers create assignments directly from Quizlet, Duolingo, PBS and many other favorites.

We’ve also got other updates to tell you about, including whitelisted domains and notifications in the Classroom mobile app.

Classroom API

The Classroom API allows admins to provision and manage classes at scale, and lets developers integrate their applications with Classroom. Until the end of July, we’ll be running a developer preview, during which interested admins and developers can sign up for early access. When the preview ends, all Apps for Education domains will be able to use the API, unless the admin has restricted access.

By using the API, admins will be able to provision and populate classes on behalf of their teachers, set up tools to sync their Student Information Systems with Classroom, and get basic visibility into which classes are being taught in their domain. The Classroom API also allows other apps to integrate with Classroom.

A few developers have been helping us test the API, and we’re excited to share a few examples of what they’ve built:
  • The New Visions CloudLab (makers of Doctopus) built rosterSync for Sheets, an add-on integrated with Classroom. Harnessing the power of Google Sheets, admins can sync data from any student information system with Classroom.
  • Alma, a hybrid student information and learning management platform, will let schools easily create and sync their class rosters directly to Classroom with just a few clicks. And if an admin adds a student to a class in Alma, that student will get automatically added in the Classroom class. See more in their demo video.
  • And if you use Pear Deck, it’s now easy to start an interactive Pear Deck session with any of your Classroom classes. Just click “Invite from Google Classroom,” choose a class and your students will automatically be invited. Pear Deck will always use your current roster of students from Classroom, so you don’t have to keep rosters up to date across apps.

In the Admin Console, admins will be able to restrict whether teachers and students in their domain can authorize apps to access their Google Classroom data. And we don’t permit other apps to use Classroom data from the API for any advertising purposes.

Classroom share button

Today we’re also introducing the Classroom share button, a simple way for developers – or schools – to allow teachers and students to seamlessly assign or turn-in links, videos and images from another webpage or product.

The share button only requires a few lines of JavaScript, and you can customize the button to meet the needs of your website. When teachers and students click the button, they can quickly share to Classroom without having to leave the site they’re on. More than 20 educational content and tool providers have already committed to integrating the Classroom share button, including:

To get started or learn more about either the API or integrating the share button, visit And let us know what you’re building using the #withclassroom hashtag on Twitter or G+. As always, we’re looking forward to hearing your feedback and making sure that we’re addressing top needs. We’ll use the developer community site Stack Overflow to field technical questions and feedback about the Classroom API. Please use the tag google-classroom.

Other new Classroom and Google Apps for Education features:
  • Whitelisted domains: The ability to whitelist domains will be rolling out over the next few weeks. We shared this with you in March; we’re excited that now you’ll be able to whitelist other Google Apps for Education domains so students, teachers or staff in different domains can effectively work together in Drive and Classroom.
  • Mobile Classroom notifications: In the next few weeks, we’ll be adding mobile notifications in our iOS and Android app. Students can immediately see when they’ve got a new assignment or grade, a note from their teacher or a comment from a fellow student.
  • Re-use previous posts: If you used Classroom this year and want to reuse your assignments or materials in future classes, we’ve got you covered. In August, we’re planning to roll out the ability for you to reuse assignments and posts from old classes. Stay tuned for more details.
  • Easier provisioning of Google Apps accounts for your domain: Creating a large number of Google Apps for Education accounts can be challenging. Last week we introduced a new API to generate available usernames and create Google Apps accounts in your domain: account provisioning for Google Apps. It can be used in a website where users create their own accounts or in a script that creates accounts in bulk.
We hope these additions will make it easy to use Classroom alongside all of your favorite educational tools.

Posted by Joshua Koen, Special Assistant for Technology, Newark Public Schools

(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Joshua Koen, Special Assistant for Technology at Newark Public Schools, which serves over 35,000 students across 66 schools. Thanks to his diverse background, Koen focuses on bringing together instruction and technology. Here he shares his reflections from this past school year and his continued focus to ensure IT always serves learning. He’s also sharing the great news that Newark is now using Google Apps for Education district-wide.

Some people worry about giving kids too much access to technology, but I’m worried we might not be providing enough. We know students today can use the Internet pretty much anywhere and anytime. So as educators, it’s our job to model effective use. At the Newark Public Schools, infusing technology in our instruction is helping us reach our goal of preparing all students for the college or career of their choice. When it comes to technology, we try to keep it simple by focusing on three very specific objectives that support our district goals: helping teachers check for understanding for all students in real-time, infusing digital learning experiences into the curriculum and helping students develop digital fluency (which is measured through assessments like PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

When I arrived at Newark a year and a half ago, I was pleased to see that the district had already invested in high-speed wireless access. To further this work, last year I organized a steering committee of students, teachers and administrators to help guide our new learning environment. As part of this work, we developed a digital learning initiative and introduced Google Apps for Education district-wide. Google Apps has since become our educational backbone, facilitating collaboration at the classroom-level, school level and district level.

For example, students at Benjamin Franklin School led by teacher coaches Tracy Blazquez and Amy Panitch implemented a Problem Based Learning unit aligned to our curriculum to explore how the toy industry shapes what careers students enter when they grow up. Students conducted a class and school survey identifying preferences using Forms, analyzed the results in real-time as they were being collected in Sheets, collaborated together to describe their ideas in Docs, and presented their findings via a Hangout on Air.
Students from Franklin Elementary school participate in a Hangout on Air. Watch the video.

In another school, Speedway Academies, a 5th grade class donned their press badges, put on their adventure gear and became journalists chronicling natural disasters across the world. Their teacher, Audra Chisolm (who had never used Google Apps before) and coach Damion Frye, used Google Classroom to facilitate students researching, editing and writing editorials and newspaper articles in Docs. They created an online student newspaper with their final product using Google Sites. During the entire eight-week unit, the students only used one piece of paper and practiced PARCC readiness by cutting and pasting, highlighting and editing each other's work.
Students collaborate on a problem based learning unit.
As a district team we've taken many steps to enable more digital learning. First and foremost, we focus on learning rather than IT. As IT teams, we need to be knowledgeable about the curriculum and needs of teachers if we're going to be able to help them. We also model the use of new tools. For example, at a recent principals’ leadership institute, we shared the agenda and activities through a Google Site with our attendees who could contribute to brainstorms using Google Docs. To help teachers infuse technology into daily practice we utilize the technological, pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK) framework to guide us in this. We find this to be a helpful framework. Finally, we’ve also introduced tech instructional leads in each school for on-the-job support.

In the next year, we plan to roll out more devices to give students even more access to learning. How will I know we're having success with digital learning? I’ll know when we spend less time talking about IT and gadgets and more time talking about learning.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Twenty thousand educators from around the world will share ideas, tips, and trends for the upcoming year when they gather at ISTE, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world. If you’ll be in Philadelphia, come visit us in the Expo Hall at #1808. You can learn more about the new Training Center and check out any of over 50 short sessions that will share more ways to engage and inspire students.

Technology can transform education, but only when it enables and supports amazing educators. Effective professional development is thus a crucial part of creating real positive change and preparing students for the future. For this reason, we’re proud to introduce the new Google for Education Training Center, a free, interactive, online platform that helps educators apply Google’s tools in the classroom and beyond.
Professional development has long been a challenge for educators and administrators. A 2015 survey by the American Federation of Teachers found that the "adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development" was the primary reason for workplace stress, with 71% of respondents citing it. This is why we worked closely alongside educators to design professional development tools that fit the needs of their peers.

“We didn’t need another help center with how-to articles; we needed to start where teachers start, with learning objectives, classroom tasks and teaching strategies,” said Jay Atwood, EdTech coordinator at Singapore American School and project lead for the Training Center’s lesson creation. “With the new Training Center, we do just that.”

The Training Center provides interactive lessons with a practical classroom focus, allowing educators and administrators to customize their learning paths by choosing fundamental or advanced courses. Each course is organized around three themes:
Educators can access different units and lessons in any order they prefer. After completing either the fundamentals or advanced course, educators can then distinguish themselves as Google Certified Educators, Level 1 or Level 2.

The lessons support different skill sets, grade levels, content specialties, capacities and interests. “I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about Google, but in each session I learned something new,” says Carla Jones, a teacher at Cook Elementary School in Chicago, IL who previewed the Training Center content. “I learned tips and strategies that I could immediately use in my classroom, and each session got me super excited about how to make my classroom more tech integrated.”

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest school district in the United States with more than 600 schools and 400,000 students, worked with Google for Education as a launch partner for the new Training Center. CPS will use the Training Center as an integral part of its technology professional development program, and teachers’ time spent on Training Center courses will count toward their professional development hours.

“The new Google for Education Training Center empowers teachers to drive their own learning and track their progress,” says Donna Román, EdTech instructional specialist at CPS. “It combines differentiated content, flexible pace and application with the collaborative magic of Google Apps for Education in a supportive learning environment.”

The Training Center reflects what we value most about education, focusing on the process of learning rather than the tools themselves. “The Training Center was carefully designed around good pedagogy and instructional practices,” explains Mark Hammons, EdTech coordinator at the Fresno County Office of Education and a contributor to the platform. “Not only will teachers learn how to use Google Apps, but they will also learn how to apply them meaningfully in the classroom.”

To learn more about the Training Center, visit and try out a lesson or two.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: As educators in North America begin to prepare for the 2015/16 school year, we thought this would be a good time to pull together the best tips we shared in the last year from schools using Chromebooks. If you’ll be at ISTE 2015 next week in Philly, come see us in the Expo Hall at space #1808. We’ll have a range of Chromebooks to demo and over 50 sessions in our teaching theater. If you won’t be there, you can follow along at #ISTE2015 and @GoogleforEdu for the highlights and news.

Schools across North America are choosing Chromebooks as devices to support teaching and learning. Districts continue to invest in Chromebooks, purchasing more devices as they continue to see success. A few examples: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina now use 83,000 devices, Milwaukee Public Schools now use 38,000 and we’re happy to announce that Arlington Independent School District in Texas recently purchased 17,000 Chromebooks. We gathered tips from experienced districts like these to help school leaders prepare for success in the upcoming school year.

1. Understand teachers’ needs 
Success begins with asking teachers what they need and truly listening to their answers. New York City Chief Information Officer Hal Friedlander shared the importance of listening to and understanding the needs of teachers. “We treat schools as customers and engage them as advocates of the technology,” Friedlander says. “The educators who live in the community and teach students every day have the best ideas about what they need in technology, not a guy like me who works at the 30,000-foot view.” It’s a logical place to start, but too often people rush this step.

2. Equip staff with advanced training
Fulfilling teachers’ needs also involves training — preparing them with the tools they need to use technology effectively. Back in November, in the midst of dispatching 32,000 Chromebooks, Chesterfield Public Schools Executive Director of Technology Adam Sedlow shared tips for a successful Chromebook deployment, emphasizing the importance of professional development. Interestingly, the district didn’t require every teacher to attend training — instead they created an optional two-day experience called Camp Chromebook. Because the training was crafted to be fun and engaging, the 300 spots filled up in minutes. Once school started, the trained teachers helped their colleagues who couldn’t attend Camp Chromebook.

3. Plan a phased rollout
Over the past year, school leaders have taught us that planning counts. During a panel at Education on Air, three leaders shared what they’ve learned about successful IT rollouts. A common theme: be thoughtful about planning each phase. Hillsborough Public Schools Director of Technology Joel Handler shared that for his New Jersey district, this meant organizing a pilot phase with outstanding teachers who were respected by their peers as instructional leaders. Valerie Truesdale, Chief of Technology, Personalization & Engagement at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, shared that her district used Chromebooks in middle school because data showed them this age group was the place with most need.

4. Encourage risk-taking and innovation 
Throughout the year, leaders echoed the importance of encouraging staff to take risks. Joel Handler put it well “if you aren’t failing, then you aren’t taking enough risks.” Outside experts agree. Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of HR, cited the need for risk-taking and failure as one of his four “work rules for school”  lessons included in his recent book "Work Rules." Laszlo shared that “failure actually isn’t failure, it’s the single best learning opportunity we have." Changing culture isn’t always easy, but many educators are doing it well. Ryan Bretag, Chief Innovation Officer at Glenbrook High School District 225 in Illinois, shared a few practical tips on how to create the conditions for change in schools.

What tips did we miss? Share your tips for success with Chromebooks by using #GoogleEdu. If you’re looking for support in preparing to deploy Chromebooks, check out our Google for Education trainer directory. Although Chromebooks are easy to set up and use, we know that many people like to engage a trainer to get started. On our site, you’ll find a range of organizations that make it their full-time job to support schools with edtech.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Leading up to ISTE, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we asked educators and administrators to reflect on the past school year and look ahead to 2015-16. Today we hear from John Krouskoff, manager of emerging technologies at the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center. If you’re coming to Philadelphia for ISTE, stop by and see us in the Expo Hall at #1808. You can check out any of over 50 short sessions that will share more ways to engage and inspire students. Read on for John’s take on the future of trends in education and technology.
John Krouskoff, Manager of Emerging Technologies, Lower Hudson Regional Information Center
This past school year our regional consortium created a team to provide professional development to teachers in eight of our school districts. Through this year-long training program, we’ve learned what makes a successful professional development program — including flexibility, careful planning, regular feedback and extensive communication. As we wrap up a successful first year, we’re looking at ways to build on this foundation. We spoke with our students, teachers and administrators to understand the technology trends shaping their districts, schools and classrooms. Here are the top four trends we’ve observed:
  1. Problem-solving through computer science. Google’s free CS-First program can help students learn computational thinking and problem solving as part of their classwork. As Google Education Trainer Amber Klebanoff writes, “The CS-First program is not only teaching students about coding but predominantly about how to problem solve while promoting self confidence and pride in the ability to create and succeed at a difficult task.”
  2. Passion based learning through 20 percent projects at school. Educators are encouraging passion-based student learning that fits with their curricula through 20 percent projects — allowing students to use an hour each week to explore the topic of their choice. As Clarkstown High School North Marine Biology Teacher and Google Education Trainer Heidi Bernasconi commented, “Twenty percent time in my class brought a needed energy back to my students.” Despite AP exams and other demands, Bernasconi blends “the 20 percent solution” into her classroom practice. “The projects are graded almost solely on students creating realistic and challenging goals,” she said. For more examples of this check out Kevin Brookhouser’s blog post.
  3. Exploring the world beyond the classroom. Now that more districts are focusing on real-world learning and interactive content, we’re seeing educators use technology to bring their lessons to life. Google Expeditions will play an interesting role in this exploration next year, by helping students visit far-away places from their classrooms and libraries using Google Cardboard. That chapter has yet to be written, but one thing is certain — technology continues to provide more student-driven learning opportunities.
  4. Access to technology and professional development. As more educators recognize the transformative power of technology in the classroom, districts are prioritizing technology in their budget decisions — whether it’s ubiquitous wireless access, improved Internet bandwidth, or increased access to devices. It’s heartening to see districts recognize the importance of sustainable professional development and invest in regional consortia, professional learning networks and school-based resources.
As technology enablers, we’re eager to see how these trends take shape in different districts with unique opportunities and challenges. We’re also excited to continue building the professional development opportunities that will help each district harness emerging technology to inspire new ideas, interests and ways to teach and learn.


Editor's note: Leading up to ISTE, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we asked educators and administrators to reflect on the past school year and look ahead to 2015-16. Today we hear from Adam Bellow, teacher turned entrepreneur, founder and CEO of social learning platforms EduClipper and WeLearnedIt

If you’re coming to Philadelphia for ISTE, stop by and see us in the Expo Hall at #1808. You can check out any of over 50 short sessions that will share more ways to engage and inspire students. Read on for Adam’s take on the future of trends in education and technology.

It’s an empowering time to be in education. Technology enables meaningful learning opportunities and helps us create and share great work and ideas. Many things are changing, but these are the three trends I see shaping education over the next year:

  1. Personalized learning. “Personalization” has been a buzzword for several years and is now coming into its own. More than ever before, educators can give students runway and resources to focus on projects that relate to their genuine passions, and potentially their future careers. The result is passion-based learning rather than recipe-based learning. This means students have the ability to do real work, share it, then get feedback from peers, outside educators and professionals in relevant industries. In doing so, they understand that their learning matters.
  2. Coding goes mainstream. The rise of maker-based projects is changing the perception of coding. Kids now have opportunities to learn how to code as young as first and second grade, giving them early exposure to what used to be considered a subject reserved for students in the computer science club. By introducing coding to students earlier and more frequently, we’re seeing a diversification of the the skill to a much broader set of kids.
  3. Sharing outside the classroom. The definition of community continues to evolve, both online and off. Students can now share their work in new and powerful ways, such as developing and publishing an app and getting reviews or sharing an art project on Google+. Educators are also more involved and finding their communities through social media, forums, and other tools and events. They’re sharing their ideas and best practices far beyond the walls of their classrooms.

These trends are inspiring curiosity, bold risk-taking and richer collaboration. They’re spreading good pedagogy farther and faster and changing the very way we think about education. It’s easy to forget that we’re living and teaching in amazing times. I encourage you to embrace the changes that are happening and remember the power of technology to help you shape the future.


Editor's note: Carrying on with a key theme from Education on Air, we continue our series of blog posts about student empowerment. Twenty thousand educators from around the world will share ideas for engaging students when they gather at ISTE, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world. If you’re coming to Philadelphia, stop by and see us in the Expo Hall at #1808. You can check out any of over 50 short sessions that will share more ways to engage and inspire students.

When I was a teacher I always looked for ideas about how to make my lessons more engaging for students. As summer officially begins for us in New York and many other parts of the world, it’s a good time to reflect on the best lessons from the past year to help inspire us as fall approaches. We asked students from around the world to think back on the past nine months and describe their favorite lessons and experiences at school. We quickly received submissions from six countries from students aged 5 to 18. Hearing their responses, three common themes quickly emerged — students enjoyed self-directed learning, educational games and learning through experimentation.

Student-directed learning 
Students love to lead lessons, especially when they involve a group activity. “The best lessons for me are open and filled with discussions,” said Jack, 16. “Revising or collaborating with my friends is so much more effective — bouncing ideas off of each other and speaking out loud with friends.” Similarly, Chloe, 16, enjoyed the chance to debate ideas with her peers. “Usually people are so caught up in the way they see the problem, but when someone else expresses their side, you understand them better,” she explained. “You understand the situation better. Your mind is opened up more.”

A number of students valued the ability to create their own learning experiences. For instance, Ty-Shia, 14, enjoyed making and sharing an online magazine about protein for health class. Ben, 15, made a film for English class and showcased his hard work on the big screen. Keona, 18, designed his own statistics project, then conducted the experiment and presented his findings. “It was nice to be in charge of something,” he said. “It forced us to excel and try our best, not just because of the project but because it was our own research and we felt very connected to it.”

Educational games
Technology is opening up new ways of creating, exploring and working together. Not everyone likes competition, but for many students games were a highlight. Students like 11-year-old Ashwath enjoy using tablets “to play educational games and learn all about a topic,” like history or math. “It’s competitive and a good way to enhance what we’ve learned,” he added. “The best time I ever had in a lesson was playing Kahoot in math class,” said Andrew, age 11. “It’s like an online Jeopardy — lots of fun.”

Learning through experimentation
The most frequent theme we heard was that students love to learn by doing. Eleven-year-old Aryan told us about her favorite lesson in science class. “We cooked a marshmallow on a heat plate so we could see how conduction and convection worked,” she said. Observing the radiation and differences in heating and cooling helped her understand the concepts. “It stays in your mind for a while,” she said.

This type of simulation excites high school students, too. Eighteen-year-old Sydney described an epic AP Physics lesson that involved launching rockets. Daniel, 17, described a math class that taught him about the limit of functions — and the best technique for reaching top speeds on a rolly office chair. “We had someone push us down the hallway, made our own functions and calculated our own limits on certain points and intervals,” he said. “It was really interesting and pretty entertaining.”

Sydney might have put it best when she said, “let's go actually discover and experiment what we're learning, be active in our learning and then from there take notes about why that happened the way it did.” Hear more about the favorite lessons of students around the world in this exclusive video from the Education on Air Student Voices series. Check out the Student Voices playlist to view them all.


(Cross-posted on the Google Docs blog.)

When you’re working with spreadsheets, it’s important to turn your raw data into a story. With today’s updates to Google Sheets on the web, you’ll find even more ways to visualize and analyze your data.

Customized charts, made easier 
Charts can make even the largest data sets digestible, so we’ve made a few improvements to help you highlight what’s most important.

Starting today, you can add data labels to display the exact value of bars or points. And when you’re using line or scatter charts, you can change the shapes of your data points. Choose from stars, triangles, pentagons and more.
Your data, your way
Today’s update also includes new tools for analyzing your spreadsheet data. For example, you can:
  • Preview formula results—instantly—as you type. This feature is especially useful for catching formula errors quickly and is unique to Sheets. 
  • Filter rows and columns by conditions, including “greater than” and “text contains.” This way you’ll only see the numbers, dates and text you need. 
  • Add calculated fields to pivot tables when you want to apply formulas to pivot table data. 
  • Use the GETPIVOTDATA function to more easily retrieve data from your pivot table. 
Collaborate, confidently 
The more the merrier when it comes to collaborating in Sheets, but sometimes you need to take extra steps to preserve your hard work from accidental edits. With Sheets, you’ve been able to restrict editing to a specific set of users and a specific range, but now you can also warn folks who try to edit certain cells. This way you can collaborate with others, and remind everyone (even yourself) to edit with care.
Try these updated Sheets features on the web today and start telling better stories with your data.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Remember back in 2008 when the Google for Education team road-tripped across the US, visiting universities using Google Apps for Education? We hardly do, either, which is why we were itching to get back out on the road. This time in the UK. And we brought along a pop-up classroom instead of a bio-fuel bus.

In four weeks, we visited seven schools in England, Wales and Scotland that are doing inspiring and creative things with education technology. We wanted to hear more about how Google for Education tools are helping them to transform their approach to teaching and learning, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for other educators nearby to hear and learn from them, too.
Our pop-up classroom at Wigan UTC

And we weren't disappointed. We heard from Cramlington Learning Village in Newcastle, where Physical Education students have become more engaged by doing their own real-time personalized fitness tracking with Google Sheets on their Chromebooks. That’s what we call healthy competition!

Students of GSCE Physics were getting a last-minute helping hand with their study thanks to revision videos created by the science department hosted on Youtube at The Streetly Academy in Birmingham. “What’s great about them is that we’re used to their style of teaching and their voices – and our teachers know how we learn best,” says Jack Webb, a student of The Streetly Academy.

City Heights E-Act Academy in London also gave media teachers some great ideas, by showing us how their students utilized Google Drive when creating their BBC School Report and giving us a demonstration of their HTML writing abilities.

Students at City Heights E-Act Academy showed off their HTML writing capabilities

We also loved how inquisitive students at the Horsforth Campus of Leeds City College used Google Draw to document and track changes to nearby wetland areas over time, based on their hypothesis about how a nearby motorway is affecting the surrounding ecosystem.

Students at Preston Lodge High School working collaboratively in our pop-up classroom

We toured the world’s first controlled-environment agricultural facility using a Vertical High Density Growing system in an educational institution at Wigan UTC. There, budding food technicians can get hands-on with technology that can help to combat current and future food production issues, working together to track production levels collaboratively with Google Sheets.

In East Lothian, the pipe band at Preston Lodge High School treated us to a roof-lifting performance to start the morning!

The Preston Lodge High School Pipe Band warming up

We heard lots of teacher tips along the way, but our favourite was from Assistant Headteacher David Beesley, who uses boomerang for Gmail to set his emails to send at times he knows his staff are at their desks.

Asst. Headteacher David Beesley sharing his favourite Gmail tips

Students at St. Julian's showed us their favourite apps on Google Play
One day Google for Education might pop up—or roll into—a town near you, but in the meantime you can check out a video of our pop-up classroom being built, captured by the impressive media students at St. Julian’s in Newport, Wales.


(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog.)

Google Slides helps you tell beautiful, meaningful stories. But sometimes, presenting these stories can be a hassle, especially when wires, cables and connectors are needed.

Now it’s even easier to share your presentations on big screens—whether you’re in a school board meeting, in charge of the slideshow at your best friend’s wedding or pitching your dream business idea.

With just your phone or tablet and the Slides app, you can present easily to any screen with Chromecast or AirPlay. So you can say goodbye to wires and set-up stress. When you’re up on the big screen, you can use your smaller screen to advance slides, view speaker notes and stay on track with a built-in timer. This way you can focus more on telling your story and engaging your audience...instead of on logistics.

Get the updated Slides app today for Android or iOS. And of course, if you want to cast from the web, you can do that, too. Let us know what you think!


(Cross-posted on the Google Student Blog.)

Editor's note: One of the main discussion points of Education on Air, the free online conference from Google on May 8th-9th, was how we can empower students in their learning. Our guest author today, Coby Parker, is one of the students who shared views as part of the student empowerment panel at the conference. Coby and his classmate and co-author Claire Liu are the Editors-in-Chief of the Campanile, the student-created, award-winning publication at Palo Alto High School. Today they share more insights about how the journalism program at his school, led by educator Esther Wojcicki, motivates students. We hope this provides ideas for teachers as they head into summer and next year.

One of the most vital pieces of an education is student empowerment. Here at Palo Alto High School, students are given the opportunity to take complete control over their academic and creative journey through the journalism program Esther Wojcicki (or “Woj”) has created.

The journalism program and publications that Woj has built over the last 30 years are incredibly appealing to our student body, as demonstrated by the hundreds of kids who choose to enroll in “Beginning Journalism” each year. High school is a challenging time – young people are faced with the obstacles presented by academic stress, extracurricular commitments and changing social norms. For me, it was difficult to find something to spend my time doing that provided both intellectual stimulation and creative escape.

Joining Paul Kandell’s “Beginning Journalism” class sophomore year, and then enrolling in The Campanile, a school newspaper that Woj advises, has granted me the space to grow my academic independence and leadership ability. Our entire publication is headed by students only. Student editors like me lead story ideas, and staff writers pick and choose the pieces they feel passionate about writing. There are no limitations on story ideas – as long as a proposal is relevant, we give it the green light.
If you like what you see in this highlight reel for the Education on Air student empowerment panel, check out the full session.

After students submit first drafts, peers make edits on Google Drive, suggesting changes, marking grammar and AP style errors, and more. When “production” begins, the entire staff stays on campus in the Media Arts Center until 9 P.M. each night to design the tangible, paper product. The entire process is run by students, meaning it is the high schoolers alone who create the complex and sophisticated end product. We even sell advertisements to pay the bills. If a student needs help, he or she asks a high school peer – not Woj. Woj leads very much from behind – an approach that may be challenging for many educators, but one that is truly beneficial to the strengthening of student initiative.

Essentially, the only time Woj intervenes is if she has a specific design suggestion, brief lesson, or if a specific story may contain libel or is unethical in some way – this happens pretty infrequently. In my three years on The Campanile, Woj has never forced us to do or publish anything we did not want to. Her approach provides students the room to take on big projects and develop a self-confidence and desire to test boundaries, both personal and societal.

My colleague Claire Liu, another Editor-in-Chief, explained the impact the course has had for her. “As a staff writer, I have pursued a range of stories, standard and provocative. Whether I was documenting a sports game, addressing race relations or discussing gender roles and sexuality through the paper, I have felt Woj’s subtle but ever present support. In this rare, fast-paced and invigorating environment, we are allowed to fail, and encouraged to take risks and challenge the norm, all while being supported by a teacher who consistently has our back (even when she’s feeling a bit hesitant, and even if we mess up big time!). Students join The Campanile expecting to learn how to design a newspaper page and write articles. They gain not only those things, but an entire toolbox of powerful character traits and skills that will last them a lifetime.”

In psychology class I recently learned the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Generally in the education system, students work hard to get good grades and please their teachers – extrinsic motivation. In The Campanile, the motivation is more intrinsic. The threshold to get an A is the bare minimum, and anything above and beyond that has to come from the individual student’s efforts. The reward is much more basic than an A on the report card; it’s being able to hold a newspaper and point to the real impact that he or she made.

Our advisor, Woj, truly plays the role of advisor and not teacher. She’s there for us when we need her, but when we don’t, she doesn’t impose on us or make us do anything we don’t want to. In the end, we are responsible for our actions, the dime stops with us. I hope more schools can implement programs like The Campanile and empower students to take charge of their own education.

If you’re interested in learning more about Esther Wojcicki’s approach to teaching check out this interview with her in which she talks about her recent book “Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom” or read more on her website.


Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Chris Harte, lead teacher for personalised learning at John Monash Science School (JMSS). Chris was a key member of the team that implemented Google Apps for Education for the school’s Emerging Sciences Victoria (ESV) initiative. ESV brings advanced science courses to students across the state of Victoria.

Emerging Sciences Victoria (ESV) is a virtual school that offers advanced science classes to students in Victoria, Australia. We developed our curriculum to include courses on astrophysics, quantum physics, biotechnology and nanotechnology in order to get students excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While ESV is based out of the John Monash Science School (JMSS) on the Monash University campus in Melbourne, our students are distributed throughout the state.

When we launched the program in 2014, we had the teachers, the technological know-how and the webcasting studio we needed to get started. What we still needed to figure out was how to deliver virtual lessons to students across Victoria, and how to coordinate with teachers operating on multiple devices and in schools with limited resources.

Google Apps for Education offered a number of benefits: a suite of products made for easy collaboration, unlimited free storage and an attractive price—$0! We knew we wanted collaboration and communication to be at the heart of ESV, and Google Apps gave us the incredible opportunity not only to connect students to expert teachers and working scientists, but also to each other.

Today, our ESV students can participate in live webcast lessons or view videos after the fact in a private-access YouTube account. They can then work with fellow students on experiments and reports using Google Apps, which allows them to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations, wherever they are and in real time. Teachers can review their work and give personalised, live feedback.
In one experiment, students modeled the decay of radioactive atoms by using M&M's® to explore the concept of half-life. They entered data in shared Google Sheets simultaneously, did homework in Google Docs, discussed findings via Gmail and Google Chat, and created and shared presentations in Google Slides.

We already have 156 Year 10 students at over 30 schools in our program, and we can easily expand our capacity to accommodate up to 250 students per semester. We’re extremely proud of ESV, but the best part about the program is how replicable it is. We believe the future of education lies in connecting students, teachers and experts together online, and we’d love to see other states and even other countries do what we’re doing so that more students can benefit from connected learning.

You can read full the full case study on ESV here.

(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog.)

Editor's note: Alice Keeler is a mother of five children, a Google Certified Teacher, and the author of the book “50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.” Recently we sat down with the self-proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets” to learn more about how she relies on (and pushes the boundaries of) Google Docs both in the classroom and in her busy everyday life. 

We want to know how you use the Google Docs family of products, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Tell us about yourself, the self proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets.” 
I am a mother of five children, have a master’s degree in educational media design and technology and am working on my doctorate in EdTech with an emphasis in games and simulation. While working on my masters degree in 2009, I realized the power of games to motivate students, so I’ve been working on applying gamification techniques and games in my instruction, built with Sheets

I’m extremely high energy and I really enjoy innovating and sharing with teachers. I also have a unique talent: I can make people love data and spreadsheets. When you can get the information you need in the format that you need it, it’s truly exciting.

How does Google Docs fit into your teaching? 
Google Docs is essential for my instruction. I’ve been paperless for years and Google Docs makes that possible. If I were to choose one word that is most important when choosing tools for student use, I would say collaboration. Google Docs transforms group work from one student doing most of the work to a truly collaborative endeavor. Each student is able contribute concurrently to a single document; enhancing, adding, and editing work.

Tell us about one unconventional way you’re using Google Docs to teach. 
I use gamification techniques to motivate students. Rather than assignments, students have quests they can choose from, in a Google Sheet. Once a student selects a quest, they use a Google Form, linked in the spreadsheet, to turn in their quests. The ability to collect quests and have it neatly organized in one place saves me hours and hours of time.

Collecting work this way allows me to give students choices in what they learn and to be more flexible with due dates, and grading and feedback become immensely easier. When having a classroom discussion, it’s important to give every student a chance to participate and have their voice heard. This is nearly impossible with a verbal discussion. Having students respond to discussion prompts in a spreadsheet not only allows me to hear from every student, but allows the entire class to hear from every student.

What are the three best tips you can suggest for teachers that are using Google Docs? 
First, give feedback via comments to students before they submit their work. I highly recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts for inserting a comment (Control Alt M) and closing a comment (Control Enter) as this significantly speeds up the feedback process.

Second, a kid’s best day is when they can teach you something. Don’t be afraid to try something you do not know, embrace and celebrate help from your students. Challenge them to teach you something new about using Google Docs.

And third, if you use Google Slides or Google Sheets as a collaborative document with all of your students, this gives you only one document that you have to assess. Look for opportunities to do collaborative activities using Sheets and Slides.
You have a big family and a ton of extracurricular activities—do you also use Google Docs to take care of things outside of school? 
I use Google Docs for everything. Woe to anyone standing next to me in the grocery line or driving me in a taxi—I will tell you all about Google Docs and how it will change your life. I have a passion for helping find creative solutions to whatever problem someone has—and educator or not, more often than not the solution is a Google Doc. I used to make wedding cakes and created a massive spreadsheet that calculates the number of servings, the supplies I need, how much to charge, creates the invoice and more. Really, what can you not do with Google Docs?

Do you have any handy docs to share?
Teachers may be interested in creating rubrics with Google Sheets. This template allows you to create a rubric on the second tab and set the percentages for each category. Insert your class roster on the first tab and use the “Create Rubrics” menu to create a copy of the rubric for each student in your class. This makes it easy to assess students using a rubric.