Friday, April 27, 2018

G Suite Admins: How to enable the NEW Gmail experience

G Suite Admins: How to enable the new Gmail experience

Gmail has been resistant to Google's typical product tinkering and fiddling tendencies. Gmail has remained pretty much the same for the past 6+ years. 

That doesn't mean Google hasn't been thinking about the future of Gmail.  Inbox by Google was a smart way of trying out some new, experimental features without putting long-time Gmail users into a panic. Inbox is a fun experiment, but not for everyone.

Based on user feedback on Inbox, Google has begun moving some of the most useful and popular features from Inbox into regular Gmail.

Features of the NEW Gmail experience: 

  • A new clean, modern user interface
  • The ability to "snooze" an email
  • Smart replies based on email content
  • Better integration with Google Calendar and Google Keep
  • An updated Task manager
  • New security options for sensitive messages. 
  • Better offline support
You can view the full run down on all of the new features here

G Suite for Education and Business customers can not access the new Gmail experience until a domain administrator enables it. 

Enabling the new experience will NOT make it the default experience, it simply allows individual users to try it out as they wish. 

How to enable the new Gmail Early Adopter Program for G Suite users:

  1. Log into the Google Admin Console 
  2. Visit Apps > G Suite > Settings for Gmail > Advanced settings
  3. Look for "New Gmail Early Adopter Program" and select "allow." 
  4. Save your changes

Enable the new gmail experience for g Suite users
Click to enlarge

Once this setting has been applied users can sign into their mail accounts, click on the "gear" icon and select "try the new gmail."

Users will be able to move back and forth between the new and classic versions of Gmail until Google retires the classic version (most likely 6-8 months from now).

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Google Certification LIVE (Claim your spot soon!)

In 2009 I attend the Google Teacher Academy (Now called the Google Innovator Academy) in Boulder, Colorado.

That one day changed my life.

Becoming a Google Certified educator has had a greater impact on my life, career, and teaching philosophy than any other professional development experience.

One of the ways that I try to give back to my profession is by helping other teachers (like you!) earn your Google Certification.

Once a year I offer a free webinar to review the certification process and give away my best tips and resources to help you get Google Certified.

The next free webinar is coming up! 

Becoming a Google Certified Educator will make you a classroom technology expert. You CAN become Google certified this summer, but you need to get started NOW! Join me on April 26 and I will explain everything you need to know.

Google Certification LIVE with John Sowash

  • Date: April 26, 2018 (Thursday)
  • Time: 8-9:30 pm EST
  • Location: YouTube Live
  • Reserve your spot:

I strategically schedule this webinar in the spring because the best time to work on your certification is over the summer. This is the only Google certification webinar I am offering this year.

Let me be honest, getting Google Certified isn't easy.

Google has done a tremendous job in designing their certifications to actually force you to understand how to use their products in a classroom setting.

You won't be able to fake your way through the process.

This is an open invitation for you or any teacher you know. My goal is that by the end of the webinar you will understand the certification process and have a slew of resources to help you get started!

Busy on April 26? Anyone who reserves a spot will get access to the recorded webinar which you can watch on-demand.

Head over to to claim your spot!

Here's the agenda for the evening: 

1. The Three benefits of becoming a certified Google educator. Earning your Google certification is challenging. Make sure you do it for the right reasons and have realistic expectations about the benefits.

2. Which certification is right for you? Google offers 5 different certification for educators. Which one is right for you? 

3. The specific steps required to achieve each certification. We'll review the requirements and steps for each certification. BONUS: attendees of the LIVE event will receive a checklist guide to help you get started. 

4. How becoming a certified educator has changed the lives of REAL teachers! You'll hear from two teachers who recently completed their certifications. They'll share their best tips and recommendations to help you get started. 

I hope you can make it. 

Oh, and if you are already Google Certified, please share the webinar details with a teacher who SHOULD get certified! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sharing Classroom Data with Sheets

There are some really interesting ways that classroom teachers can use Google Forms, Sheets, Slides, and Sites to share information. 

The best way to explain what I mean is to show you an example.

I created a classroom reading log to track the number of books that my class read.

Students fill out a Google Form each time they finish a book and that information is automatically published on our class website

Because forms, sheets, and sites are all connected, the class chart is immediately updated each time the form is submitted. Like magic! 

There are a few things going on behind the scenes that makes this system possible. 

Step 1: Collect data with a form

Using a form ensures the consistency of the data and makes it very easy for students to fill out. 

You can easily share your form in Google Classroom for easy access. 

Here's an example of my reading log form

Step 2: Collect & Calculate in Google Sheets

Each time the form is submitted, the data is logged automatically into a Google Sheet. 

That's great, but we need to perform a few simple calculations in order to track our class goal of reading 100 books and 10,000 pages. 

If you view the spreadsheet you will notice that for every form entry I add "1" to the "Book #" column. This allows me to add up all of the submissions to determine the total number of books that we have read. 

In order to make sure that my calculation is added for each new form submission I am using the Google sheet add-on "copy down" to copy my formula to all new submissions. 

If you look at the "class data" sheet you will see where I have entered target goal of 100 books and 10,000 pages as well as the current progress (added from the form responses) and our % of completion. 

All of these calculations were created using simple spreadsheet functions. 

🎥 Need some help?  Watch this video on adding simple calculations into Forms

Step 3: Create your Charts

Now that I have collected the data and calculated my total, I can create graph. 

The graph was created from the "class data" sheet that summarizes all of the submissions. I only have two data points (books read and pages read), so this is a pretty easy chart to create. 

The chart editor in Google Sheets will walk you through the process. Just highlight your data, click on insert > Chart and edit as needed. 

For my book log I chose the "gauge" chart type. You could also chose a line graph, pie chart, etc.  

🎥 Need some help? Watch this video on creating custom charts with Sheets!

Step 4: Embed / Share your Chart

Once you have created your chart you can share it in a variety of ways: 
Because each of these charts is connected back to the spreadsheet, as new form submissions come in, the chart will automatically update! 

🎥 Need some help? Watch this video on publishing charts. 

Other Ideas:

Class reading logs aren't the only way that you could use this idea in your classroom or at your school. Here are a few other ways that displaying live data might be helpful: 
  • Track student absences
  • Track plant growth (or any lab data)
  • Track overall student performance
  • Track physical fitness (health class)
  • Track fundraising goals
  • Track team stats (turnovers, rebounds, assists, etc)

Make a copy!

Interested in setting this up for your school? I did all of the hard work for you! Click here to make a copy of everything you need!

Note: due to limitations with the new Google Sites, you won't be able to make a copy of my site. Setting up your own will only take a few minutes.

Want to become a Forms Master? 

I offer a 5-week online course called "Google Forms for Educators." This is one of the activities that I help you create during the course. If you are interested in more tips on using Forms and Sheets in the classroom head over to the course page and add your name to the wait list!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How to Create a Matching Question in Google Forms

You have probably used Google Forms to ask free response or multiple choice questions, but did you know that you can also create a matching question? 

Forms doesn't offer an obvious "matching" question type, but with a little creativity, you can make it work! 

The secret is to use the "grid" question type to set up a matching style question. 

Unfortunately the quiz feature available in Google Forms will not work with "grid" questions however you can use the Flubaroo add-on for Google Sheets to auto-grade quizzes with this type of question.


  • Place your definitions in the row and use the columns for your terms. 
  • Enable "require a response for each row."
  • Make sure that you select the "limit to one response per column option" 
  • Enable "shuffle row order"
Watch this short video for some additional tips on creating a matching question with Google Forms.

This video is part of my online course "Google Forms for Educators." In this 5 week course I help educators use Google Forms to organize their classroom and create automated systems so that they can spend less time shuffling paper and more time connecting with students. Interested? Visit for details!

Here's a live example of a matching question using Google Forms. 

The width of the embedded form is a bit too narrow to properly show all of the text. I recommend that you view the form here to get the full experience.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Google Forms: Set your Default Preferences

Google Forms: Set default preferences

I uncovered a helpful feature in Google Forms that I thought was worth sharing. You can change your default preferences! This is very handy for teachers who create a lot of quizzes using Forms.

The preference options include:
  • Make questions required by default
  • Set default point value for quiz questions
  • Turn on email collection by default

This video is part of my online course "Google Forms for Educators." In this 5 week course I help educators use Google Forms to organize their classroom and create automated systems so that they can spend less time shuffling paper and more time connecting with students. Interested? Visit for details!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Get Google Certified this Summer!

2018 Google Certification Academies

Becoming Google Certified changed my life.

And I am not exaggerating!

Being Google Certified gave me a unique purpose in the classroom (I was a HS science teacher), introduced me to new people and ideas, gave me the insight to publish my first book, and allows me to financially support my family while helping improve education.

None of these things are guaranteed, but I can trace them all back to the 2009 Google Teacher Academy in Boulder, Colorado.

I want to give you the same life changing moment that I had back in 2009.

In 2013 I created the Google Certification Academy to give other educators the same experience that I had in 2009. Since then I have worked with more than 1,500 teachers.

Now it's YOUR turn!

This summer I would like to help you become a Google Certified Educator!
The GCA is a small event so that I can provide personal support

In May, June, July, and August of 2018 I am offer 15 Google Certification events scattered across the Midwest and east coast.

Each academy is a small (20-30 participants), focused event to help YOU become a Google Certified Educator. You will work with me personally.

Pursuing a Google certification will help you grow professionally. You will learn new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. These certifications feature rigorous verification of your ability to use Google tools effectively.

I only offer the certification academy in the summer because I know how busy the school year can be. At the end of these 2-days you will be ready to take the level 1 or level 2 certification exam. 

You will also have my support if you decide to go on and become a Google Certified Trainer or Certified Innovator.

Attend a Google Certification Academy this Summer!

The Google Certification Academy will give you everything you need to be successful on the level 1 and level 2 Google Educator exams. You can view a full outline here.

Google Certification Academy Details: 
  • 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
  • $299/person (CC and PO registration available)
  • Lunch included both days
  • Continuing education credit available (11 hours)
  • Special Google swag provided to all participants
To register or learn more visit

2018 Certification Academies (as of April 2018)

May 2018

Harvester Christian Academy 
Atlanta, Georgia, May 21-22, 2018 

Putnam County School District
Palatka, Florida, May 30-31, 2018

June 2018

Lake Highland Preparatory School
Orlando, Florida, June 6-7, 2018

Bedford City School District
Cleveland, Ohio, June 14-15, 2018

St Paul's Lutheran School
Janesville, Wisconsin, June 27-28, 2018

Shepherd Public Schools
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, June 12-13, 2018

Airport Community Schools
Carleton, Michigan, June 25-26, 2018

Christ the Teacher Catholic School
Newark, Delaware, June 18-19, 2018

Heathwood Hall Episcopal School
Columbia, South Carolina, June 21-22, 2018

July 2018

West Platte School District
Weston, Missouri, July 23-24, 2018

Lebanon Christian School
Lebanon, Ohio, July 19-20, 2018

Oakwood CUSD #76
Oakwood, Illinois, July 25-26, 2018

August, 2018

Eaton RESA
Charlotte, Michigan, August 6-7, 2018

West Side Christian School
Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 8-9, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

25 Ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom (with examples!)

25 ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom

Google Forms is one of my favorite classroom tools.

But here's the deal - most teachers aren't taking full advantage of what Google Forms has to offer!

You have probably used Forms to create a survey or give a quiz, but that's not all Forms can do!

Here are 25 different ways you can use Google Forms in your Classroom - with an example for each!

I also created a PDF version of this post with links, images, and an option to make a copy of each form. Click here and I'll send it to you via email!

1. Reading Quiz - Hold students responsible for reading assignments by giving a simple quiz. This example is based on Fahrenheit 451 in a high school English classroom and is configured to release the quiz score immediately after submitting the quiz.

2. Image-based Technology Quiz - This quiz uses images to test basic Chromebook literacy. It is set up so that the student immediately receives their score and can see which questions they got wrong.

3. Bell ringer / Do now activity - This morning math check in activity is completed by students first thing in the morning before the start of class. The form uses data validation to provide hints if the student is struggling to get the correct answer.

4. Mood Check-in - Students will have a difficult time learning if the arrive at school filled with worry and concern. This mood check in provides a safe space for students to share their current mood and concerns with you. By using a tool like Form Postman you can configure the form to send you an email if a student indicates a negative emotion.

5. Permission slips - Field trips are fun. Permissions slips are not. This form allows parents to digitally sign permission slips. In an effort to prevent students from completing their own permission slip a parent email address is required and a notification is sent to this email address using Form Postman.

Choice eliminator is used to remove student names from the drop-down list once a parent has given their permission. This makes it easy for a teacher to identify which students do not have a permission slip on file.

6. Book report generator - Writing reflectively is a key component of the common core standards. A book report is a tremendous way to help students practice reflective, informational writing, and to also encourage them to identify elements of literature such as genre, plot, and setting. As a bonus, they can share their writing with others!

This form provides a simple way for students to share their thoughts on a book that they have read. I am using a tool called AutoCrat to take the form submissions and turn it into a nicely formatted Google Doc which can be easily printed or shared electronically.

7. Meeting Agenda Generator - For principals, department heads, and school administrators, organizing and running meetings is a lot of work. You can streamline the process of creating meeting agendas and minutes using Google Forms!

This meeting generator is completed by the meeting organizer. Using AutoCrat and FormMule, attendees are automatically notified with the meeting details and invited to add their agenda items to the agenda document. These documents are named, organized, and accessible in Google Drive.

8. Certificate Creator - Creating certificates is a pretty common tasks in education. Whether honoring students for their academic or athletic achievement or documenting professional development activity. Forms is a convenient way to generate certificates.

This simple example collects your name and email address to generate a simple certificate in Google Docs which is emailed to you as a PDF.

9. Customized Writing Assignments - Use Google Forms to generate custom research assignment based on topics that interest your students. This form asks students to answer several simple questions which are used to generate a unique research assignment based on their answers.

10. Course Evaluation - Good teachers seek feedback and constantly work to improve their course. This is the course evaluation form that I use to solicit feedback on my online courses. This form takes advantage of question branching; based on your answer to a question the form splits to ask additional follow up questions (i.e. indicating that you would like a sticker takes you to the address section).

11. Call for Speakers Form - If you help organize a conference or professional development day you can use Google Forms to collect session descriptions. This example is carefully designed to collect all of the information that is used to create the conference program with minimal editing.

12. Informal Reading Inventory - Use this form when evaluating the reading fluency of a student. Reading inventories are typically completed 2-3 times each year. This form makes it easy to collect store, and analyze collected data to observe student growth.

13. Idea / Opportunity Tracker - Record ideas when inspiration strikes! Add in your own categories and fields to make sorting and organizing your ideas easier. Use the reminder add-on for sheets to receive an email reminder of upcoming opportunities. I have this form saved as a bookmark for easy access.

14. Google Forms as a Rubric - Rubrics are the ideal method of evaluating project based learning. This Google Form makes it easy to complete an evaluation while you are reading a student paper or viewing their physical project. Use a tool like AutoCrat or FormMule to automatically send students a summary of your evaluation and comments.

15. Mock elections - Get rid of the paper ballots and hours of counting! To maintain the integrity of the election you can configure your form automatically collect email addresses (prevents students from voting as someone else), limit 1 response (prevents ballot box stuffing), and restrict voting to your school domain (prevents friends from outside of the district from voting).

16. Parent Teacher Conference Sign Up - Coordinating conferences with parents is a difficult administrative task. This Google Form collects the necessary information and displays the available time slots. By using the Choice Eliminator add-on time slots are automatically removed from the form once selected, minimizing the chance of double booking. The FormMule add-on automatically sends an email with conference information.

17. Discipline referrals - Quick action is important when dealing with student discipline issues. Google Forms provides an easy way for teachers to submit incident reports which can immediately be routed to the appropriate administrator for follow up. Because Form data is pushed to Google Sheets, administrators can add additional comments and use a tool like AutoCrat to generate a discipline referral documents.

18. Parent Volunteer sign up - Coordinating volunteers is a lot of work! Google Forms can help organize and coordinate volunteer positions. By using a tool called “choice eliminator” you can automatically remove volunteer opportunities after they have been filled.

19. Parent Contact form - The parent contact information that schools have on file is frequently incomplete or out of date. During back to school night I provide parents and opportunity to share their contact information with me so that I can keep them up to date on the progress of their student. This is also a great time to ask if the parent is interested in receiving Google Classroom updates.

20. Engagement tracker - Are your students engaged in classroom learning on a daily basis? Anecdotal observations frequently fall short when you are tracking engagement of 25 or more students. This simple form makes it easy to quickly scan your classroom and identify students who are engaged in the learning process. Over time, the summary of responses will reveal which students are regularly engaged, allowing you to identify opportunities to improve instruction and intervene with students who are frequently disengaged.

21. Behavior logs - This form was created for a school that adopted the Antecedent - Behavior - Consequence (ABC) discipline model. The form allows a teacher to make quick observations using their mobile phone which they can review, modify, and update during their planning period.

22. Parent contact tracker - This is a simple form to record conversations with parents and guardians. Veteran teachers understand the importance of documenting classroom communication to resolve conflicts and comply with IEP requirements.

23. Student progress tracker - When working on a long-term assignment such as a research paper, tracking student progress and understanding what each student is working can be challenging. Ask your students to complete this form each time they finish a component of their project. This will give you a snapshot of what students are working on.

This form has been configured to automatically collect user email address and limit to one response. After submitting the form the first time, the student will be prompted to “edit your response” rather than submitting the form a second time. This allow them to update their progress so that the form response data is accurate.

24. LIVE Reading log - Keep track of how many books and pages your class (or school) has read by taking advantage of the LIVE chart and graph feature of Google Sheets.
  • Have students log their reading using a Google form (like this)
  • The data that is collected feeds into a Google Sheet (like this)
  • Create a chart that tracks pages and books read. (like this)
Embed the chart into a Document, Presentation, or Google Site and watch it grow!

25. Classroom Observations - School administrators can create a standardized and transparent observation system with Google Forms. This Form includes all of the agreed upon observation criteria which can be completed on a mobile phone or tablet during the walk through. This system removes the guesswork from observations. By using a tool like FormMule the administrator can provide a copy of the observation to the teacher immediately upon submitting the form.

I hope I have been able to inspire you with what you can accomplish with forms! I would love to help you dig into creating Forms for your classroom. I teach a 5 week course via Google Classroom for teachers like you! You can get the details and find out the next time I'm offering the course by visiting