Tag Archives: GAFE

Mr. Wise Featured in Modesto Bee Article

I am grateful to reporter Nan Austin and the Modesto Bee for featuring my students in a recent article about 1:1 student device use.

As I told Ms. Austin when she interviewed me for this article, I believe student devices (in our case, Chromebooks) are part of the biggest change in education since I started teaching two decades ago. Although I am happy to be saving some trees, we must be clear that we teachers are doing much more than replacing paper assignments with electronic ones.

We are changing the nature of the questions we ask our students. We are expecting students to learn more, and to express their understanding of deeper concepts than before. In the past, we felt we had done our jobs well if our students could arrive at the correct answers.

Now, thanks to the Internet, the “correct” answers are usually just a few clicks away. Our students need to pick the best information to solve problems. We want them to assess which sources of information are appropriate and reliable, which ones aren’t, and which ones are flat-out bogus.

We want them to express their ideas in many ways, from traditional academic writing to videos, blogs, and other means of communication that we probably haven’t even imagined yet. And, most importantly, we are asking them the kinds of questions that have more than one right answer.

Here is a link to the Modesto Bee article:


New Google Forms Preview

Google has announced that it will be revamping several Google Apps later this month, and one of the biggest changes will be to Google Forms. If you’re like me, your inner nerd probably got a little excited last week when Google changed the Forms icons from green to purple. Well, if you liked that little change, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Google has promised to roll out the revamped Google Forms during the week of September 21-25, 2015. Google promises that the new Forms will include:

  • A new interface that is much more mobile-friendly
  • A wider selection of themes, including the ability to customize a theme with your own graphics
  • New buttons that allow you to easily insert pictures and videos
  • The ability to view responses from the Form file itself, rather than opening the separate Responses spreadsheet

But you don’t have to take my word for it–you can take the new Forms for a spin right now:


NOTE: The above link will work ONLY if your Google domain administrator has allowed it. If your admin is like mine and hasn’t quite gotten around to enabling the preview yet, you will see a page that looks something like this:


This is not the preview!

This is a generic page that encourages you to “try again in a few weeks.” Fear not, fellow Googlers! Just log on using a private gmail account. When I did that, I immediately got to see the new Forms preview in all its purple splendor:


And don’t worry if you want to switch back to the “old” (current) Google Forms: see that little stick-figure person running off the page in the lower-left corner? Simply click on him/her to exit the preview. Once you do that, you’ll be sent back to the old Google Forms that you already know and love. (Although there will be a little purple stripe at the top with a button inviting you to look at the preview again, just in case.)

The mind starts to wander … How will the Flubaroo plug-in work with the new Forms? Stay tuned…


Streamline Your Grading with Google Classroom

The new Google Classroom update has a snazzy interface for grading your student’s assignments.



From this screen, you can click to open each student’s assignment, make comments, and enter a grade. Then you can ¨return¨ the assignments, either one at a time, or all at once when you have finished grading them.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful interface. All of my students can receive prompt, specific, personalized feedback, and they can get it when I am at home in my pajamas drinking coffee. Best of all, no trees had to die for this assignment.

But let’s be honest: Opening each assignment separately can be time consuming. Especially if you have over 150 students or your network connection isn’t very fast. As teachers, we all know the importance of prompt, specific feedback on student work. But sometimes we just need to scan the assignment and give credit for completion. Or maybe we don’t even need to grade the assignment at all.

There is a quick and easy way to view your students’ assignments. Before I tell you about it, I have to warn you. You will be traveling into the ¨Forbidden Land¨ (or, for you fellow Trekkies, the ¨Neutral Zone¨) of Google Classroom: The Classroom folder itself, located in My Drive. (If you want to unlock more secrets of this mysterious ¨Classroom¨ folder, I recommend reading Alice Keeler’s Blog.)


20150906cxFirst, locate the Classroom folder on My Drive. Ordinarily, you don’t really want to poke in here unless you know what you’re doing, because this folder contains all of the inner workings of your Google Classroom account. But don’t be afraid, as long as you don’t delete, rename, move, or edit any files in this folder, you should be fine.

Open the folder that contains your class. (This might be tricky if you have ever changed your class’s name, because the folder will still have the original name you used when you first created the class at the beginning of the year.

Inside, you should find a tidy set of shared folders, one folder for each assignment you have pushed out to your students. Find the folder for the assignment you want to look at, and open it.

Select all of the assignments you want to look at. Right-click (two-finger click on a Chromebook), and choose ¨Preview.¨


A dark Preview window should appear. You can now look at each student’s assignment. Use the small pointer buttons on the left and right sides of the window to switch between assignments. Remember, you’ll only be able to view your students’ work. From this window, you can neither add comments nor assign a grade.