Late work like a boss: Google Tools to the rescue!

The thing that really killed me last Spring was Late Work….it was such a nightmare tracking it down from a zillion different apps and entering it into my grade book. This year I still accept any late work, any time, for any reason (I want to give them incentives to give themselves more input!) but I’ve made some MAJOR changes that are making my life SO MUCH EASIER, all thanks to Google Tools.

Warning... I got my Google Certified Educator Level 1 and Level 2 badges this summers, so this post is pretty tech-tastic! I’ll walk you through it, step by step, BUT if reading this starts stressing you out and makes your palms sweaty and your mouth dry, walk away. It’s not worth it. You’ve got enough to worry about these days…don’t add this to your plate. And another warning: these are all Google Tools, so if you’re using Microsoft or Canvas or anything else at your school, this probably isn’t going to be very helpful for you. Walk away and go enjoy this long weekend!

This is a multi-step battle plan, so let’s dive in!

Set up your grade book strategically- Make it easy for everyone:

From the beginning of the year, put in every assignment following the same pattern. This year mine looks like this:

Students can see what the Assignment # is, so it’s easy to reference in emails, (“Sra. Chase, I’m pretty sure I did Assignment #6, would you mind checking on that?”)AND where to find it, because let’s be real here, most of my Little Darlings won’t do their Digital Day work until it drops their grade. So, may as well make it easy for them to find it and do the assignment late. My school asked us to create “Learning Plans”, so (LP 3-5) indicates they can find that assignment in Learning Plan 3-5. Annndddd…we’ve practiced opening the correct learning plan and holding down “Control” + “F” so they can search their Learning Plan for their missing assignments. I’m careful to write the Assignment Title in my Grade Book exactly as it appears in my Learning Plan, so students can Copy the Assignment Title, and Paste it into the “Control + F” Search field.

“Control” + “F” to search any document (or web page!)

Utilize Google Forms…and turn on notifications!

Like if I could only have ONE tech tool in my Teaching Life, Google Forms would be it! I’m obsessed! It’s the best way to collect Data and keep everything organized. And did you know they can add an image to their form, so they can do something online, screenshot it and submit it to you! Or read something, illustrate it, snap a picture and attach it to their form. Google Forms isn’t just for answering questions anymore! This week my Heritage Kiddos played with Flippity Manipulatives doing a Character Sort after reading Chapter 1 of Cajas de Cartón. Once they had their characters sorted, they took a screenshot and popped it into a simple form, which made it easy for me to sort their responses in Alphabetical Order, and then give them credit. And bonus awesome: when you’re looking at their responses, you can just hover over the image link in the response spreadsheet to see what they did! No need to open each link to verify! Easy Peasy!

But here are 3 tricks to make Google Forms even more Rad:

1. Send all your Google Form Responses to ONE Sheet. Create one Sheet, named “Spanish 1 forms” for example, then every time you create a new Google form you can send the responses to the same document, and they’ll all be organized by tabs at the bottom. So when you’re tracking down late work, you can click through the tabs without having to open new documents. I wrote a whole blog post about how to set it up…here it is, scroll to “Simplifying Google Forms”

Each tab at the bottom holds the responses for a different form. How awesome is that?!

2. Color responses as you go: After you read responses and enter them in the grade book, hold down “Control” + “A” to highlight everything, then change it to a color that makes you happy. New responses will appear at the bottom in black, so it will be obvious that those need to be added to the grade book. After you add them, highlight and change the color.

Turn on form notifications so you’ll get an email when late work is turned in: This is the coolest part…after you assign a form and then enter the scores into your Grade Book, click on the Responses Tab in the form, then click the 3 little buttons that look like a snowman.

Select “Get email notifications for new responsesand now anytime someone does their late work, you’ll get an email from Google, telling you to check the form.

Train your Little Darlings:

It will make your life 1,000x easier if you train your students to take a screen shot of their late work and email it to you, rather than having to open up Textivate to find the scores of a kiddos who does an activity late, then go into Sr. Wooly and look at the nuggets they did, then open up Flip Grid looking for their video, then into Fluency Matter’s E Course to figure out which activities they did since you entered scores into your grade book…you get the idea. Us language teachers use a lot of sites, apps and resources but tracking them down after we’ve already entered grades in the grade book is a gigantic pain in the you-know-where. Here’s what’s working in my classroom:

I know what you’re thinking…I get 10 billion emails every day! Their late work emails will get buried alive in my inbox! Hang tight… We’re going to send all the Late Work emails to one location, so you can deal with them when it’s convenient to you! We’ll set up an alternate Inbox, that will collect all your late work. In addition to your regular inbox, we’ll enable another one right at the top to collect all the late work and make your life awesome. It will look like this:

Set up your Gmail to funnel all the Late Work to one spot

This is the techiest part. We’re going to create a new category in your inbox, dedicated to Late Work. That way things won’t get buried in your primary inbox and you can take care of entering the Late Work into your grade book whenever you please!

First we’ve got to enable another inbox. Open your settings gear, then on “See all settings”.

Then you’ll select a new category. Unfortunately you can’t create a custom category, but since I don’t get many Social Media emails to my school’s email, I decided to dedicate the “Social” category to late work. Follow your heart here. (You can click different onces and it tells you which of your emails would be routed there…pick the one that has the stuff you don’t care about!)

After you enable the new category, check to see if you’ve got any emails in it. At the top of your inbox, now you’ll have another tab:

If it’s empty, you can skip the next step. If there are emails in it, we need to create a filter to send them somewhere else. For me, it was 10,00 YouTube notifications that I don’t need in my life. We’ll create a filter to automatically Archive (or delete!) them. Open one of the emails, then click the tiny 3 dot snowman, then “Filer messages like these”.

We’re going to create a filer so that any email from that address will automatically be archived. It’s easy, don’t worry! Decide where you want emails from that address to go, then click “Create Filter”.

If you’ve got emails from a few different senders that you don’t want in that category, repeat this until you’ve cleaned out your Social Tab. Now we’ll tell Gmail to send all Late work emails there!

I’ve trained my Little Darlings to use the Subject Field “Late Work + Class Period” as the subject line on their emails. I want Gmail to send all emails with “Late work” in the subject line to the Social Tab, so we’ll create a few filters. Again, go to the Settings Gear, then click “See all settings”.

Once you’re there, click on “Filters and Blocked Addresses”, then “Create new filter”.

Like before, when we sent the unwanted emails to the Archive Bin, we want to send any email with the subject “Late Work” to the Social Category. Type “Late Work” into the subject field then click “Create filter”:

Then, send it to your dedicated “Late Work” Category (in my case, the Social Tab), then click “create filter”.

Now, anytime anyone sends me an email with “Late Work” in the subject, it will automatically be routed to the “Social” Tab, so I can rest assured that my late work isn’t getting buried in the onslaught of email I get every day…it will just wait patiently for me until I have time to enter my late grades. If you’re using Google Forms for a lot of your assignments, and you turned on notifications, we’ll want to send those to the Social Tab in the same way. And as students send you email about Late Work with different subjects, like “Missing Assignments” in the subject, for example, it’s easy to send those your dedicated Late Work tab. The easiest way is to wait until one arrives, then like we did above to Archive the YouTube notifications, then click the 3 little dots to the right, then click “Filter messages like this”. Remember this image….

Then you decide if you want any emails from that specific email address (Like in the case of the Google Forms Notifications) or if you want to add a new Subject line. Just follow the same steps, “Create filter”, then send it to your Social Category.

And once it’s all set up, all my late work is gathered together and patiently waiting for me! When I’ve got a few minutes to spare, I’ll click over to the Social tab, and get that my late work entered into my Grade Book. And if you’re kiddos are good about putting their class period in the subject line, with “Late Work”, it’s even easier to take care of all 2nd period late work at the same time, then move to 4th period, etc. Once I take care of them, I delete them, so my Social Tab only has the things I need to enter in my grade book.

I know what you’re thinking…what about the Little Darling who doesn’t follow directions?! (Shocking!) What about the kid who leaves the Subject blank? Or writes something random as the subject line?! There’s an easy fix (you could reteach the procedure, but sometimes you’ve got to take care of it quickly and move on with your life): Just forward the email to you, but change the subject to “Late Work”, and the email will be rerouted to your Late Work tab. Here’s how:

Click the forward arrow, type your email address, to forward it to you email address, then click the tiny triangle, next to your name to edit the subject. Change the subject to, you guessed it, “Late Work”, then send. Then you can delete the original message from your inbox, knowing that a copy of it is safe in your Late Work tab.

Put Google’s Templates to work

Now if your brain is fried and you just can’t take any more Tech-Tastic for one day, I understand. Walk away. But…if you really want to go next level, Google Templates are such an amazing time saver in responding to student emails. You can type a generic response and save it, so every time a kiddo emails you, “Where can I find So and So assignment?” or “What’s my Textivate Password?”, or “My e-course password isn’t working”, you can send him a canned message in seconds. I wrote a whole tutorial on how to set it up and I swear, it’s Gmail’s best kept secret! If you’re feeling tech-tastic you can send a generic automated response to students thanking them for their late work and that you’ll get it entered into the grade book just as soon as you can. Here’s what my Little Darlings receive seconds after they submit Late Work:

To set this up, create a template (refer to this blog post!) first, then you have to create a filter. Go into your computer’s settings again…

Then click over to the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab at the top. Create a new filter, and type in “Late Work” as the subject line, then click “Create Filter”. Then check the box “Send template” and select the template that you already created that says, “Thanks for your work….be patient with me…have a great day!”. Create Filter and now they’ll automatically get that reply when they send you Late Work!

As I go though my Late Work/Social tab, I’ve got another template ready to go, letting them know their grade is updated. I update their grade in my grade book, send the “Your grade is updated” template, then delete their email. Is the extra step necessary? Maybe not, but it takes just a few seconds and I’m extra like that:

Are you still reading?!

I’m impressed if you’re still with me. Way to go! It sounds like a lot of work, but as soon as you get it set up, I swear, it will make your life easier! We’re 3 weeks into my new system, and I have to say, I’ve never felt better about getting Late Work into the grade book. I’m a girl who loves a system, and this one is helping me out a lot! I’d love to hear the ways you’re making this complicated time a bit easier on you!

Take care!

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