Asked & Answered: 2/24/21


I thought it may be helpful for you all to see some of the questions asked during my drop in PD. If you’re unfamiliar, I host these to help my colleagues with specific and individualized requests, but in a group setting over Zoom. It might sound weird, but some people just show up to hear others’ questions and learn; other people appear, ask their question and leave. It has resulted in some really awesome conversations and honest PD. So without being too long winded, here are today’s questions;

“I find the time it takes for me to scan documents [on his iPad] to Notability and share with students over Google Classroom to be too lengthy, with the files sometimes ending up too big and long for quick turn around. Can I change the file quality or something to make this go quicker?”


Not quite – but Notability has recently updated and allows for cloud sharing, PLUS I use Google Drive Backup for easy Google Integration that also takes less time over all so let me break both of those things down really quick for you.

  1. By clicking “Create Public Link” after tapping Share in Notability you will be asked to create account, one time, and will then be provided with a link for sharing purposes of this note.

It is important to know the following about this link sharing system:
📝 You can only share 10 at a time (not quite sure why still) but it isn’t a limit due to payment, we own the paid for app
📝Once shared the viewer will be brought to a web based version of the note with them option to download as a PDF or bring directly as a NOTE to Notability if they want to save or annotate over.
📝If you update the note over time you will have the option to say “share” and “update” or “stop sharing” – meaning the LINK will bring students to the updated web based version (it won’t change in Notability itself)

2. Google Backup in Notability’s Auto Back Up makes life easier for sharing in general.

As you can tell from the photo, by going into Settings and turning on Notability’s backup to Google Drive, a folder gets made in drive, and as long as you’re on the internet a Folder of your choosing receives all of your Notes in the format you choose.

This means now if you’re posting in Google Classroom and you want to add a note from the app, just find the folder and attach from Drive, instead of worrying about grabbing it from elsewhere!

“I assigned two options for an assignment in Google Classroom as separate assignments on accident, but students only need one graded. When I return something without a grade it goes to the students “To Do” list. How can I make it after the fact they aren’t penalized for not doing the assignment for one of them, but so that I know it’s graded and completed.”

Edit the assignment you don’t want for some students and click the students option in the top right once editing, deselect students from the option, and they will be exempt! For example if I wanted to deselect Amanda from below I would uncheck her name so she isn’t held responsible for it.

“My current Zoom set up is launching the meeting on my laptop & sharing my screen, then joining with my iPad and annotating over the screen that’s being shared with a pencil. How do I save the annotations if I want to provide the notes to students?”

This is tricky – when you are annotating on the iPad or the laptop the Annotation toolbar has a save button to the far right that will save to your camera roll or desktop!


Remote Learning Tips for iPads: save time & emphasize work quality with the Notability App

As a 1:1 iPad school Notability is one of the best workflow tools at our fingertips. Even more so I’ve found most of our students choose to use it daily, which is a huge deal! That being said, there are some features that as students and teachers we might not be utilizing that will save us a ton of time while creating better learning experiences in a virtual learning environment.

Here are some tips for you and your students that will create effective and efficient learning.

1. The Document Scan Tool

Pictures when dropped in to notability can lose quality and stay small on the page – making it hard to mark up and give feedback. An issue I often see is also that teachers wonder about grading time when an assignment is turned to in Google Classroom – and students submitting photos instead of documents is the #1 culprit of that concern. When using the Document Scan option at the + icon, notability creates smaller file sizes for grading in Google Classroom but makes the attachment large in size – and a PDF that they can in turn write over and ad to.

2. The Zoom to Write Tool

If a student is completing work with a stylus or their finger writing on the iPad in general can become cumbersome. Notability’s zoom to write feature is an amazing tool that allows you to mark up some spaces or write really clearly even with a finger or stylus.
When clicking on the plus button a zoomed in box appears at the bottom of the screen, and a small box is provided over the area that you would like to write. You can drag the box to continue writing or use the arrows to tab along the page. Tap the zoom button to exit the Zoom to Write Tool

3. Insert websites & Links with a preview

By choosing to insert a web clip you can take your links to the next level by providing a picture of that specific webpage as well as the ability to tap on it and open in safari.

To do this, copy & paste a link or drag and drop it from safari – if you want to navigate back to the website at any point make sure you are on the “T” for text tool and tap on the photo, choose edit and it will open a safari window!

I think this is a great way to gather research (especially the kind you are taking notes over) in one place and sharing that as a bibliography, ideas doc, or other. Additionally it’s just super helpful to have interactive screenshots. Selfishly I have a recipe version of this so I save the recipe on the doc, make my own notes, and if I ever want to go back to the website I just tap on it!

4. Split Screen Notes & the Note Switcher

Easily navigate back and forth between notes by pulling from the left side of your iPad’s black space around the screen, across the screen in line (see below photo). This will pull up a view of your other Notability notes to easily toggle back and forth. OR by tapping on the three dots open another note on the left or right side of the screen to view in split screen mode.

5. Turn Handwriting into Text

If you’re like me you LIVE with your Apple Pencil in your hand. I can’t put mine down and sometimes I just like handwriting better – but the outcome of my document should be text. Notability allows you to use the scissor tool and circle handwriting – then tap to get options to change the style (like a quick way to change the color) or “convert to text”.

6. Back up to Google Drive

Notability stores it’s documents on the iPad within the app. So on a bad day, if the app crashes, or needs to be deleted and reinstalled sometimes, you lose things. That’s why they’ve built in back up options like Dropbox & Google Drive. I LOVE the Google Drive Back Up because it saves all my notes to a folder in drive.
*Note about which file format to choose.
.PDF will be able to viewed in Drive, but you’ll lose aspects of the document like GIF’s & Audio Recording
.NOTE format won’t be able to be opened in drive but will work great if you download and send it to notability!
It all depends on what you need to work from the document. If you are mostly just writing and typing & coloring I would say save as a PDF – if you use the other features alot, stick with a .NOTE for your back up.

Asked & Answered: Google Classroom Notifications and Gmail Filters

I partially think the reason I haven’t written one of these posts in so long is because I’ve been dealing with those pesky Google Classroom notifications. It takes so much to delete them and organize them. I could just turn them off right? But in my job as Tech Coach, it’s important I see what the people I work with are doing so I can support if needed.

Beyond my own issues with these notifications, I’ve vowed to post these Asked & Answered features when I get a good question from a teacher, in regards to a tech issue or wonder. So….

Today I got a chat message from a coworker that asked this:

The answer to this specific question is simple – but can like many things with Google Classroom and it’s functioning, become complex if we do a deep dive so first and foremost.

Your Classroom Notifications Settings

Located within the three stacked lines in the top left of your overall Classroom list menu at the very bottom is your Settings, and this is where your notification controls live.

It actually makes up more than half of your Settings panel in Google Classroom, because there are so many options for customizing those alerts you get via email

In regard to the teacher’s question from before, he would have gone straight to classes he teaches, and makes sure that the Late Submissions of student work switch was toggled on – it sounds like at some point his notifications were turned off! You can also turn off some specific classes and leave others on.

For classes you’re enrolled in you also get your own settings along with the kinds of notifications you’d like to receive but ultimately this can even be controlled class to class by turning on and off the switch if you’d like to mute some entirely.

BUT Lauren, late Work:

If you’re comfortable with checking Google Classroom daily and want to nix all notifications, then so be it. I mean we are all becoming pretty intimate roommates with GC anyway, or is that just me? Anyway, sometimes you might find yourself grading assignments you didn’t realize were late or even not going back to look for submitted late work.

Hence the request from my colleague! So simply, he can toggle that “Late Submissions of Student Work” and get an email when that happens. Sure.

But Lauren, My Mailbox is Pristine

We can’t be talking about me here, but trust me I have seen some teachers with the cleanest of mailboxes in the universe. This is where the we digress to The Home Edit’s version of today’s Asked & Answered, but nevertheless a super useful option for sometime teachers.

Set a Filter/Label for it in Gmail!
Find an email from Google Classroom, any old email, and if not follow my below steps to replicate!

Filter the message

Delete the top line & Add Submitted Late as the Subject
(Or to filter all Google Classroom Emails type

Create Filter & Add to an Email Folder you Have Set up! In my case, Google Classroom – you might not want to Mark as Read like I did but either way!

There it is – a simple but potentially life changing practice that can mimics your inbox and stress level! Send me an asked & answered to my Facebook or Instagram pages!

Teacher Google Sites: Do you need one?

In the world of Google Classroom, what role does a Google Site play and should you add this to your beginning of the year checklist? We both know it’s a mile long.

Ever since Google Classroom rolled around, I often have teachers show up in my office with the question of what to do with their website, or if they need one?

Remote Learning & Covid-19’s ever evolving impact has something to say about this question and I have some advice on why & when to work this out.

But first, the NEW Google Sites Platform!

The platform itself is now located in your G-Suite for Schools and functions a lot like other Google Products. You can set one up by clicking here

The New Sites is an understated and simple web-based atmosphere that has pre-set themes that include your font and colors, we aren’t talking a ton of customization here for you web-site loving regulars. But if you are just looking for a place to host & post that is drag and drop and Google Friendly, it’s a great fit.

The hacks exist to make them colorful with your favorite fonts, like using Adobe, Powerpoint, Canva, etc. and saving your titles, headers, and other as pictures to drag and drop (A Primary Kind of Life has awesome tutorials for teachers on how to do this well). And I LOVE that I can show a Google Doc with my training Calendar, embed Google Drawings & other. Check out my school’s brief & simple Teacher Tech Site!

So the platform is simple, but do you need to use it at all?

I mean you’re already overloaded in places to put your content, assignments to post & more! So, why would you?

In my mind, Websites allow for a virtual Homeroom & Information Hub that Google Classroom can’t provide.

Even though Google Classroom has come a long way it still struggles to provide us with VISUAL queues for every learner and it definitely isn’t organized the way we might like it to be, even if you’re using Topics & Emojis in Google Classroom and doing the very best you can. Structurally speaking, Google Classroom isn’t intended to be a website, it’s supposed to be a means of assigning and collecting work through G-Suite itself.

Your site COULD BE

-a clear landing page for students to access your materials & links.

-an important place for students to learn more about you! Think about making a classroom tour to cure students of first day jitters, and providing the new way to share a link to join your Google Classroom here as well.

-a PORTFOLIO for exemplary student work from years past.

You might need a site especially if you are approaching this year feeling like students don’t know exactly where to go to access all of your online platforms.

We have our Online Gradebooks, Applications like Khan Academy, SeeSaw, Albert.iO, EdPuzzle, the list could go on and on, and on top of it we have school resources and announcements that kids need to consistently access. The “stream” quality of Google Classroom eliminates that as an option and even with a topic designated to important links, visually they may not stand out. If you had to make an assignment every-time you needed them to access one of these, our classrooms would be unbearable to scroll through.

Your need for Parent Communication may call for a Google Site too.

Depending on your current approach to parent communication (we don’t all do newsletters or use SeeSaw) a Site may be a great place to keep them up to date and informed.

Adding parents to Google Classroom as guardians gives them that Friday update, which is super valuable in terms of the what’s missing, what’s due aspects of our classrooms but it doesn’t answer the Whole Student or just Fun Updates that we might need. Using our sites to display exemplary work (especially since it works so well with all G-Suite to post slideshows, drawings, etc.) is a great way to shine a light on the learning! Even if you highlight one project or piece of work per quarter and only update it occasionally, parents might love that little bit of information.

I promise, I’m not adding one more thing to your list about just lookup the hashtag #googlesites on any social media platform and you’ll hear from teachers about how and why they love this tool!

Just look at the examples of @secondarycommentary on Instagram to see super appealing options. Most of all, let me know if you need any help in your Teaching with Tech Journey!

Asked & Answered: Jamboard

Teacher questions that may help you too!


“Hi Lauren,

Is there an app (like Google docs) that allows a student and teacher to collaborate on a whiteboard together?  Or that allows a teacher to write on a photo of student work while they watch?  I’m trying to think of how I can view student work and help them on a math problem while still maintaining distance.


8th Grade Math Teacher”


“Hi _____________

Have you ever heard of your used Google’s “Jamboard”? It is a part of Google’s Education Suite and it sounds like it could help with what you are searching for!

Think shared Google Doc, but whiteboard! You have the same sharing mechanisms as you do with other Google Docs but you can have one, two, three, or however many students on the board watching someone write, or adding to the writing as well.

In terms of collaboration practices there are other tools out there like the premium shared Explain Everything options, but I feel like Jamboard is simple and straight forward!


10 Ways to Use Jamboard in the Classroom