Sunday, September 20, 2015

Embedding a Google Folder Into Your Teacher Site

Picture, Insert, Embed, Edit,

Embedding a Google Folder is one of those things that is easy to do in a Google Site, but takes a little tinkering for other types of websites. My school system uses the SchoolWires CMS and my teachers routinely embed Google folders for newsletters, parent forms, and photos. This elegant solution makes updating your teacher site painless; just add the newsletter to the folder and it appears on your website. Lets look at how it’s done. If you are comfortable with creating and sharing Google folders, skip to Step 4.

Step 1

Blog GFX embeddable Folder.jpgThe first step is to create the folder in Google Drive and name it appropriately. Simply go to and click the red “Create” button on the left. Then, select “Folder.” Once you have named this new folder, it’s time to share it.

Step 2
Blog Post Gfx Share Folder.jpgFind the folder you’ve created in your Google Drive and double click to open. Once open, you will see breadcrumbs at the top telling you the path to this folder. This will look something like “My Drive > Your Folder Name.” Next to the name of your folder is a down-pointing arrow. Click this arrow to see the folder options menu. Then click "Share."

Step 3
The “share” window will appear. Find the small “Advanced” link on the bottom right and click this. The Advanced window will give you a few choices. The embedded folder will behave according to the sharing permissions that you set. From here you can share with specific people, share with a group, just your domain (if you are a GAfE school,) or make the folder public. We are going to make the folder public so that anyone visiting the website can see the contents. Click “Change” next to “Private - Only you can access.” Then, click the radio button next to “On- anyone with the link.” Press “Save,” then “Done.”

Step 4
Now that the folder is shared, you need copy the Folder ID. This is the string of letters and numbers at the end of the folder URL, after the last “/.” Select and copy this.
Blog Gfx URL.png

Step 5
With the folder ID copied, we are ready to create the iframe code. In the snippet below I have changed the color of the variables.

<iframe src="" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="1"></iframe>

  • The green text is where you paste your folder ID. Replace what’s there with your own.
  • The red #grid can also be #list. This changes how the iframe looks within your site.
  • I like to keep my iframe widths at "100%" so that the iframe will expand to the available space. You could also use a fixed width by typing in a set number of pixels.
  • Set the number of pixels that you need for the height. This might require some trial and error. ;)
  • Finally, set whether you want the iframe to have a border. If so, a small pixel number is best, 1 or 2. Otherwise, leave it at "0."

Once you’ve edited your version of the iframe code above, copy and paste it into the HTML version of a webpage. For my teachers, they have to log into Schoolwires and navigate to the page where they want to embed the Google folder. Then, they have to click a “HTML” button on the page editor. This will open the HTML version of the page and they can paste in the code. I've added the above code to the bottom of this post.

That’s it! Despite the length of this post, it is really simple. Especially if you already know how to create and share a folder. One tip, the iframe will always sort alphabetically and this is not always ideal. I tell my teachers to number or date the files that they add to the folder so that they show in the intended order. I hope this is helpful, let me know if you’ve used a folder iframe!

Our Google Folder Embed:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A 3-5 Non-Fiction Google Template with Text Features

This week I am rebuilding a 3rd grade non-fiction book Doc that I created last year. I've learned some important lessons and I think I've made it much easier for students to create killer books. The biggest lesson revolves around how Google Drawings are used.

Last year my template was simple and included a cover page, a copyright page, a dedication, and a Table of Contents. Non-fiction text features were supported with a Google Sites page that linked to Google Drawing templates. It worked fairly well. The students created beautiful books and were deservedly proud of their work. Using Google Drawings for Nonfiction text features was easy, except when it came to inserting them into Docs. Unfortunately, Docs doesn’t allow a student to insert a Google Drawing file created from Drive. Students needed to save the drawing as an image file and then insert the image into the Doc. Not only does this create an awkward step, it also makes revising the text feature a chore. I’m sure Google will smooth this out sooner or later, but for right now, I don’t want to relive the process.

My Non-Fiction file for 2015-16 is completely built in a Doc. The text feature templates are added at the end of the doc; no more sending students to the web page. When students need a text feature, they scroll to the bottom and copy/paste one of the templates (or create their own using the “insert -> drawing” menu.) As far as I can tell, the only difference between a Doc Drawing and a Drive Drawing are tables: Drive Drawings have them and Docs Drawings don’t (please let me know if there are other differences.) Other changes to the original template include a “Glossary” page and an “About the Author” page.

Students are instructed to start writing on the first chapter page (page 4, not including the cover) and create new chapters as necessary. The “Hand” graphic organizer at the top of the first chapter is also a Google Drawing and will help students with planning. This can be copy/pasted into each new chapter.

We have some time until this unit happens and I’m sure the file will be revised before it’s used. I’m looking forward to collaborting with my third grade team and our ELA Helping Teachers. Let me know if you use the Doc and please share it back out if you make it better!

Additional Resources for Google Drawings in the Classroom:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Calendaring Weird Schedules with formMule

It’s that time of year when I build the schedules for my school in Google Calendar. My school uses a six day cycle (A,B,C,D,E, and F) which does not conform with Google Calendar well. This system allows you to use an unusual schedule to fill in a Google Calendar for the year. Each year I try to rebuild systems like this to make them a little better. In this case I’ve updated the dates, cleaned up some of the functions, added a directions sheet, and most importantly, used the new formMule script that’s built into the new sheets. Another big shout out to +Andrew Stillman and the New Visions Cloud lab team, without them this would not be possible.

This system requires some set up and I’ve tried to make it easy to play along. Please let me know how I’ve done. You can make a copy of a clean sheet by clicking here. From this point on I will be linking to a demo sheet that is already set up.

By default, the sheet is prepared for a six day cycle, though you can create any cycle by customizing column “A” of the “Teacher Schedule” Sheet. Next, you have to update column “D” of the “Day Cycle” sheet. I recommend adding your holidays first (delete mine) and then work your cycle around them. The rest of the set up is outlined step by step on the directions sheet. This demo sheet was used to create this calendar.

This system works well for me; I use it on the elementary level to create special area schedules (PE, Art, Music, etc.) That said, it might not fit your needs. You might also want to look at the inspired work of Christopher Webb. His Google Calendar Import Tool is nothing short of amazing. There’s also a rumor going around that James Peterson is working on an add-on for this kind of thing. I am eagerly anticipating that! Please let me know if you use this system, find a bug, or can think of a way to make it better.