Comments… comments everywhere!


One of the things we might lose when moving to digital tools is communicating with our students. Just like we can leave notes on physical assignments, we can also do this with our digital assignments in Google Classroom.

There are three basic kinds of comments you can leave students in Classroom.

Class Comments: These are comments that you add to your class stream on the โ€œoutsideโ€ of an assignment or announcement. This type of comment is visible to the entire class, and can be used to answer questions that anyone might have.

Example of Class Comment


Private comments: You can add these comments by viewing assignment results and clicking on an individual student. On the right, below the student submission there is a ย comment bar. Leave comments here that only the student can see. This is useful if it has sensitive grade or feedback information. You can also add a private comment to a number of students at once when returning an assignment. Check out our previous tech tip on managing private comments.

Example of a Private Comment


Example of a comment in a doc

Comments in a Doc/Slide/Sheet/Drawing: These comments are left on the studentโ€™s file that he/she submitted to you. Highlight something youโ€™d like to comment on, then click the black speech bubble icon. This adds a comment on specific items in student work.


Knowing how each of these comments works and when to use each kind will make giving student feedback more efficient and effective.

Power up Google Classroom with Private Comments


One of the most powerful elements of Google Classroom is the private comments feature, which works with assignments only.

Comments become conversations with students, allowing for more back and forth discussion than can happen with verbal feedback.ย Every student can have a voice and communicate their ideas or struggles with a task.

To use private comments, open an assignment in Classroom, and there you will find a space for private comments. Any comments left here will be seen only by you and the individual student.


One of the challenges to using private comments is knowing who the comments belong to. Hereโ€™s a workaround from Alice Keeler:

  • Students start all comments to you with your last name
  • You start all comments to students with your initials



This helps in filtering those comments in Gmail, or searching. It also lets you quickly see who responded last in the roster:


You can also use links in private comments to give students more information, share links to other assignments, etc. The trick here is to be sure and use the full URL, including the http:// or https:// part.


Using private comments allows us to have a trueย student-centered classroom, with an awesome method to hear from students!

Review your Google app permissions!


I just LOVE the Sign in with Google buttons that you find all over the web.

They are great because they use a protocol called OAUTH to securely log you in using your Google account. This means you donโ€™t have to remember yet another username and password.

We get so used to clicking these buttons to log in to sites and that means weโ€™re racking up a bunch of sites that have access to our Google accounts.

Today, Iโ€™m going to show you how to manage the connected apps and sites that youโ€™ve authorized with your Google account. We can use this tip to review these apps and sites to see if we really use them and if we want them to have access to our Google account.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Click your photo at the top right of any Google window, and select My Account.


  1. On the left side of the My Account window, click Connected apps & sites


  1. Then under the Apps connected to your account section, choose Manage apps.


  1. This will give you a list of apps and sites that have access to your account. To see what access a particular app or site has, click on it.


  1. You can click the Remove Access button to unlink that app or site from your account.


Itโ€™s a good practice to review your connected apps and sites periodically to ensure that youโ€™re still using them. When I did my review, I had over 160 apps and sites connected! I was able to go through and remove access to those which I do not use any longer.

You can also use the same steps to review any saved passwords and clear those out too. Look for the Saved Passwords section.

Save time with Gmail keyboard shortcuts


One of the best features of Gmail is the built-in keyboard shortcuts. They allow you to do everything from composing a message to quickly archiving messages.

In order to use keyboard shortcuts, they must be enabled in Gmail settings. To do this, first hit the gear icon at the top right of the Gmail screen, and then go to the Settings.

Scroll midway down the Settings, and make sure that Keyboard Shortcuts are turned ON. Be sure and scroll to the bottom and SAVE your settings.

Now, the keyboard shortcuts will be enabled for you. Try them out… hit the C on your keyboard to begin composing a new message. When you are done, hit Control-Enter to send your message. On a Mac, you’ll use the Command key instead of Control.

To see a full list of keyboard shortcuts, you can hit the ? (question mark) at any time. This will bring up a keyboard overlay as shown below.


This Google help link also has more info on the keyboard shortcuts:ย

Learn Google, get Certified, earn CEUs and more!


Our Instructional Servicesย team can provide PD for your district! ย If you are a full member, all training is included at no additional cost. ย If you’re not a full member, we have competitive rates for our training. Not sure if you’re a member? Check here.

Join us during the 2017-18 school year for our Google Certified Educator (GCE) Level 1 Online Cohort. This cohort will take an educator through all the preparation they will need for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam.

The cohort will take place beginning in October, 2017 and will run through the first week in June, 2018. The course will be blended, consisting of online and in-person meetings, as well as work on participantsโ€™ own. ย It will be facilitated by Google Certified Trainers Kristie Hughes and Chris Malanga using Google Classroom.

There is no additional cost for the cohort for teachers and staff from the 40 NWOCA member and 5 full service non-member districts. ย Click here to see if your district is eligible for free training.

The cost of the cohort is $150 for teachers and staff of other non-member schools or non-public schools.

If a teacher participates in the entire cohort, they can earn up to 20 seat hours of time (2 CEU) to be used toward licensure renewal.

Click here for more information on the cohort or to sign up.

Useful Google Classroom updates to start the school year!


Did you know that since Google Classroom launched three years ago, students have submitted more than 1 billion assignments?ย As the school year is quickly approaching, Google has announced 10 updates to Classroom and Forms designed to make teachersโ€™ lives easier this school year.

Here are six of the updates that make us here at NWOCA most excited.

1.ย Single view of student work: To help teachers track individual student progress, Classroom now has a dedicated page for each student that shows all of their work in a class. More on this feature.

2.ย Reorder classes: Teachers (and students) can now order their classes to organize them however they want. Learn More.

3.ย Decimal grading: As teachers know, grading is often more complicated than a simple point value. So, educators can now use decimal points when grading assignments in Google Classroom.

4.ย Transfer class ownership: Things can change a lot over the summer, including whoโ€™s teaching which class. Now, admins and teachers can transfer ownership of Google Classroom classes to other teachers, without the need to recreate the class. More details.

5.ย New Classroom integrations: Apps that integrate with Classroom allow teachers to to easily share information between Classroom and other tools they love. Nowย Quizizz, Edcite, Kami and (coming soon)ย code.orgย will officially integrate. More info.

6.ย Display class code: Joining Google Classroom classes is easier than ever thanks to this new update. Teachers can now display their class code in full screen so students can quickly join new classes.
Learn more about all 10 new features onย Google’s blog.Hopefully, these Google Classroom and Forms updates help you teach more efficiently and effectively this school year!

Welcome Back!


Google Classroom logoIt’s hard to believe that today is August 1st already! In just a few short weeks, your students will be returning to the classroom. Today’s Tuesday Tech Tips email has to do with Google Classroom. Whether you’re a seasoned user or a teacher who is planning to use Google Classroom for the first time, we’ve got you covered.

For those new to Google Classroom, be sure and visit our NWOCA Training website. There, you will find lots of information โ€“ two pieces stand out for new Google Classroom users. First, you can watch this archived webinarย (and accompanyingย presentation) that will provide an overview of the Google Classroom product. Then, use this handy checklist to build your skills. Each item on the checklist is linked to a very short tutorial video. The best advice we can give is just to dive right in!

For those more experienced with Google Classroom, use the checklist to see what skills you can improve on. Have you cleaned up your Classroom to get it ready for this coming school year? Want to go even further this year? Here are six tips to help you “level up” with Classroom. Check out the Classroom section on the Google Training Center for more advanced help. Finally, consider attending our #NWOCARoadShow17 in Bryan on August 9th. There will be multiple Google Classroom sessions to help you increase your knowledge of this awesome product.

If you get stuck or need help, feel free to schedule a virtual tech coaching sessionย with us.


FREE Summer PD Opportunity!


As the school year winds down, let us take this opportunity to THANK YOU for reading our Tuesday Tech Tips emails. ย We hope that they have been helpful to you. ย You can review all of our tips by going to our blog, and if you have an idea for a future tip, please don’t hesitate to submit it.

Our tip for today is a FREE summer professional development put on by NWOCA in conjunction with the Bryan City Schools. ย Come join us for our #NWOCARoadShow17 as we stop in Bryan on August 9th.

We’ll have a great mini-conference for you, with over 30 sessions to pick-your-own PD. We’ve got lots of opportunities to go more in-depth with the G Suite, but we also have non-Google topics such as:

  • VR in the Classroom
  • Coding for Elementary Students
  • Robotics
  • PowerTeacher Pro
  • CleverTouch Boards
  • Cool Tools for Teachers
  • and much more!
Be sure to check out the #NWOCARoadShow17 website for all the details and a link to register, and keep checking all summer as we add more sessions and topics. ย Again, this event is 100% free, even if you’re not a full member of NWOCA. ย Please join us on August 9th!


NWOCA Road Show 2017 – Bryan Stop

7:45 AM – 2:30 PM
Bryan Middle/High School


Websiteย ย | ย Registration