Sunday, January 26, 2014

Unlimited.Gmail.Addresses+awesome@gmail.com

Turn in Student Work

Hidden in your email are an infinite number of Gmail addresses that you control. Google does not recognize characters after a + sign and before the @ symbol in a Gmail address. I know this is a little weird, but I am going to convince you that you should care about this seemingly insignificant factoid.

The problem.

Students are excited about doing work on a Google App such as Docs, Sheets or Slides. The students create amazing work in these programs and want to share it with the teacher to be graded. There are a few options for turning in work that are somewhat complicated, but doable for the more than novice user of Google Apps. These "turn it in" programs are called gClassFolders and Doctopus. Both are excellent options. The student work is normally shared with the teacher for grading, but this creates a problem. The teacher's inbox is chalked full of student assignments. This makes it difficult for the teacher to get any other communication from parents, administration or colleagues because the inbox is cluttered with student assignments from each period of the day. On a busy assignment day that could reach 150 messages.

The solution.

Assign each class period a specific email address that the teacher owns. Remember Google allows you to have a multitude of email addresses because it only recognizes characters before the + sign. So first period will share their work NOT to my regular email mgraham@yourschool.org but they will share it with mgraham+1stperiod@yourschool.org. Any mail sent to this address appears in my regular inbox. The teacher can have multiple email addresses setup for any group the teacher wants.

The trick to skip the inbox and have a label called "1st period" applied to the message.

To get the message to skip the inbox and have a label placed on the message denoting the period it came from, the teacher must create a filter and labeling system to direct the message to skip the inbox and automatically have the label placed on the message.  The reason this is important is because your inbox is not cluttered with student assignments. Additionally all student work will appear with the label denoting its period of origin. This is easy just follow the steps below.

Give students the proper class period email address for example, mgraham+1stperiod@yourschool.org. Create a filter and label system to catch the message skipping the inbox.



  1. Click on the down arrow in the search box in Gmail. This reveals the drop down box to create a filter system shown in the second image. 




    2. Type the email address (mgraham+1stperiod@yourschool.org) in the To: field. This will capture all email to the email of your class period. 

    3. Click Create a filter with this search indicated by the second arrow in the figure above. This will reveal the filter and label options as shown in the figure below. 


    4. Choose Skip the inbox, Apply the label and Create filter. 



I love this option. I have even expanded this use to giving my Gmail address to people or organizations that I really do not want to email me, such as stores or people that will probably send me something I do not want. Instead of creating a filter and label system, I just choose Delete it and Skip the inbox, that way I never see the ridiculousness that these companies send me. So if you would like to email me to complain about my blog, please direct your email to mj+complaints@21learning.net

For more Google Apps for Education classroom uses please read my book: Google Apps Meets Common Core