Google Team Drives

Google recently added a new feature to Drive.  It’s called Team Drives, and it solves one of the big problems that we have had with using Google Suite for collaboration at Henderson ISD.

Here is the scenario:  A teacher uploads some files to Google Drive or creates some files in Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets and places them in a Google Drive folder.  She shares this folder with her co-workers.  Some time later, the teacher leaves the district and her Google account is deleted.  Since she was the owner of the shared folder of files, these items are deleted along with her account.  Her co-workers no longer have access to these unless they made copies of each and placed them in their own Google Drives prior to her account being deleted.

Team Drives allows you to establish a special Google Drive for each of your collaborative teams.  Here is an example of a special drive I set up for a team called Technology Committee:

First, create and name the drive.


Add members of the team who will need access to the drive.

The folder has several levels of permissions that you can assign to members of the team.  Those include Full access (a member can manage the team members and can upload, edit, and delete files; Edit access (a member can edit all files and upload files); Comment access (a member can comment on all files); View access (a member can only view files).

Once the drive is created, you have options, like adding more members, removing members, changing the theme, renaming, viewing the trash, or deleting the drive completely.  If a team member accidentally deletes a files, it can be restored from the trash by members who have the appropriate permissions.

Now, any file or folder that is added to the drive will be available to all members of the team.  No one member of the team owns any of the files and folders; all own the files.  Even if a member of a team leaves, the files stay exactly where they are- they do not leave if a member of the team leaves.

Google has resources in their learning center with full information about Team Drives at



Insert a Video Into Google Slides from Google Drive

One of the limitations of Google Slides has been the inability to insert videos directly from Google Drive. For a long time, you could only place a video on a slide by using a YouTube video.  Now, almost any video that you and your students upload to Google Drive can be placed in a Google Slide.  Watch the short tutorial below to learn how.

Using Quick Response Codes in Your Classroom

QR (Quick Response) codes are graphics that store information.  They were first used by Japanese auto makers in the 1990s to track vehicle components during the manufacturing process. A person can capture all types of data in a QR code, including text, links to web sites or videos, phone numbers, geolocations, and addresses.

QR Codes have become universal and are easier than ever to create and to share with your students.  Nothing makes getting people to places on the web easier than these funny-looking little boxes.  If you have a phone or a tablet handy, scan the QR code below to see what I mean.


To use these codes, the device that you or your students are using must have an app that is capable of scanning and interpreting the information contained within the boxes.  Here are a few QR code scanners that I recommend:

QR Reader by Scan 
iOS version (
Android version (

iOS version (
Android version (

Chrome devices will also scan QR codes, though its a bit more difficult to hold a laptop so that the camera reads the code correctly.

So now that you know what a QR code is and what it can do, how do you make a QR code?  You can…

Tip:  Leave extra white space around a QR code when inserting into a document or printing and cutting out to share.  The QR code reader will have an easier time scanning the code with this extra white space.


Ideas for Using QR Codes with Your Students

Gallery Walk – If your students have created content like artwork, posters, models, maps, charts, or diagrams, help them create videos in which they talk about their creation. Adobe Spark Video makes recording and storing the video online super easy.  If you want more control, you can use iMovie for recording this video and then upload to YouTube as an unlisted video and then create a QR code of the link to this video. Print and cut out QR codes and tape them to the walls of a hallway.  Have students, teachers, and parents walk the gallery with a device and scan the QR codes to see the videos.

Scavenger Hunt – Print out QR codes and place them around the room or around a building.  Have students visit and scan each code to “collect all the clues.”  Once students have all of the information, have them draw a conclusion to “solve the mystery.”

Student Teachers – Have a student explain a concept or teach a mini lesson.  Capture the explanations as video or audio recordings.  Apps like Adobe Spark Video, Educreations, Explain Everything, and ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard are good applications to use for this.  Create QR codes of the links to these videos and place them in stations.  Have students rotate to stations to see/hear all of the lessons.

Talking Classroom – Have students record the English words for common objects in your classroom, like door, window, desk, shelf, computer, etc.  Adobe Spark Video is an easy and free service that you can use to do this.  Voice Recorder by TapMedia is a good (free) app for doing this with an iPad.  If you choose to use Spark, the content is stored in the cloud automatically.  If you use Voice Recorder, upload these recordings to Google Drive.  Create QR codes for each of these audio files, print them, and paste them on the objects in your classroom so that your ESL students can scan and hear the names of the objects pronounced.


Google Slides as a Design Tool

Google Slides is my go-to application for most needs.  When I need to create a presentation, Slides is an obvious choice.  But I’ve even been using Google Slides to create graphics and diagrams where I need lots of control over the placement of items.  The same is true for newsletters and handouts.  Slides offers you lots of freedom over design when you’ve got to produce a project with text or graphics.  It also gives you lots of options for downloading the finished product, such as jpeg, png, and pdf file formats.

I’ve put together a three-minute tutorial to show you the basics of how to use Google Slides as a design tool.  Click below to view.  I also posted some basic instructions for document design in Google Slides in an earlier blog post at


Smarty Pins

Google has created a game called Smarty Pins that combines trivia with geography.  The game is geared to older students and all they need to play is a web browser.  Each session is made up of questions from various categories, including sports, arts and culture, science, geography, entertainment, history and current events.  Players are presented questions about an event, a food, a structure, or some other fact that connects with a point on the map.  Players are required to put a pin on the specific location that correctly identifies the answer to the trivia question.  Watch the short video below to see how it works.







Differentiation in Google Classroom

One of the things missing from Google Classroom has been a way to differentiate assignments for your students.  Until recently, you were forced to assign something to all students or none at all.  That has changed.  You are now able to develop assignments for students with specific modifications or needs and then share these modified assignments with just the students who need them.

It’s very easy to select specific individuals who will receive an activity.  First, create an assignment by clicking the plus sign in the lower right-hand corner of your class’s stream (home) page and select assignment from the choices.  Next, uncheck the All students option and then select the individual students to whom you want to make the assignment.  The video below demonstrates this process.

Matt Miller has put together a more extensive explanation of this feature in Google Classroom.  See his video at




Business for a Better World

Something important happened this past Saturday, and HMS career explorations teacher Sarah McManus deserves a lot of credit for making it happen.  In an effort to learn about entrepreneurship during the third six weeks, her students had to create a business, develop a business plan, research some of the rules of charitable organizations, and then create products, which they sold at their Business for a Better World fair on Saturday.  Shoppers bought tickets, which they traded for a variety of goods at the student vendors’ tables throughout the exhibit hall at the Henderson Civic Center.


Students had to do a substantial amount of research for their projects.  Since they worked in teams, they also had to collaborate with each other in the development of their businesses, their business plans, and their products.  Since each student at the middle school campus has his/her own Chromebook, the tasks involved in researching, drafting documents, and collaborating were easier to accomplish because of their devices.


Mrs. McManus’s class is made up of eighth grade students, and the course does have TEKS (See, but students who are not in her class actually teamed up with those who are to assist.


What a wealth of real-world learning opportunities our middle school students were able to experience through this project.  And to make a great project even better, each student chose a charity and the proceeds from the fair (which totaled over $1,700) will be donated to the charities of the students who earned the most tickets at Saturday’s fair.