July 19, 2024


Education, What Else?

How to use Google Classroom add-ons with Adobe Express

12 min read

Google Classroom is powerful. Add-ons make it more efficient and faster. Learn how to use add-ons AND all about Adobe Express.

This post sponsored by Adobe for Education

Did you ever try using Google products in class before Google Classroom?

It was a hassle. I remember using a product called gClass Folders to have students turn in documents, slides and other files. It wasn’t user-friendly or well designed. But it worked. (Sort of.)

Fast forward to today. Google Classroom exists. Hooray! 🎉🎉🎉

And thankfully, Google has continued to update Classroom, making it easier and easier to do meaningful learning digitally with students.

Now, Google Classroom has add-ons. Add-ons bring the power of third party tools like Adobe Express right into Google Classroom. No longer do we need to leave Google Classroom to assign from some of our favorite apps and websites.

And speaking of Adobe Express …

It’s one of the very best web apps students can use to show what they’ve learned very vividly through images, webpages, and video. And Adobe Express is FREE.

If you’re looking for creative ways for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned, check out Adobe Express. It has thousands of free templates, stock photos, and more that you and your students can use.

What do I need to know about Google Classroom add-ons?

Google Classroom add-ons let you and your students work within some of your favorite educational technology tools all inside of Google Classroom.

  • Log in with one click.
  • Find files you want to assign students.
  • Let students create new files.
  • Grade student work.

With many of the add-ons, all of this happens inside of Classroom.

FYI: Not everyone has access to add-ons. To use add-ons, your school district needs to have the Google Workspace for Education Plus edition. OR your district needs the Teaching & Learning Upgrade assigned to each educator who is going to use add-ons. 

If your school district has the free version of Google Classroom, you WILL NOT be able to use Google Classroom add-ons directly inside of Google Classroom.

Not all is lost, though!

With all of the educational technology tools that have Google Classroom add-ons, you can still do all of those tasks — log in, assign, grade — with the free version of Google Classroom. You just have to do them from the tech tool’s website or app … not inside of Google Classroom.

This is usually really easy to do. Most have an “assign to Google Classroom” button — probably a button you’ve been using a lot in the past! Others let you copy a link to an assignment that you can paste into a Google Classroom assignment. You can see student work in the tech tool’s website, where you can look at it and provide feedback before entering a grade in Classroom or your student information system (SIS). 

Nothing has changed in that regard. If you have add-ons, it just makes some of this stuff easier and quicker.

What I like about the Adobe Express Google Classroom add-on

Of all the Google Classroom add-ons available, here’s what I really like about using Adobe Express with Google Classroom:

  • It gives students an industry-standard creativity suite. When students make something to demonstrate what they’ve learned, it helps when it looks GOOD. They want to be proud of what they’ve made. Adobe Express is a suite of apps that professional designers use. From web design to social media marketing to video creation, pros count on Adobe Express every day. That turns day-to-day class into a practice with a relatable real-world job skill. And, unlike Adobe’s other professional creativity tools like Photoshop or InDesign, you don’t need ANY design experience to create amazing finished products in Express. It’s meant to be for anyone who just wants to communicate their ideas more effectively. Anyone. It’s a great tool for the gen ed classroom.
  • It puts TONS of creative assets in students’ hands. By assets, I mean thousands of templates, stock photos, animations, and more. Students don’t have to search limited Creative Commons websites for assets … or worse, searching Google stuff they might not have access to. It’s all there.
  • It works seamlessly with Google Drive, Chromebooks, and other devices. Access files on Google Drive. Bring in photos from Google Photos. Do work on student Chromebooks. Use the Adobe Express mobile app to work on a smartphone. Students can streamline their work and save time to create products they’ll admire.

What does it take to activate the Adobe Express Google Classroom add-on?

Whether you use the Adobe Express add-on for Google Classroom or another add-on, some of these steps will be universal.

The add-on needs to be enabled by district admin. For Adobe Express, this includes getting an Adobe Admin Console, accepting the free Adobe Express for K-12 offer, setting up SSO with Google Federation, adding users, and installing the add-on. 

If you’re a teacher and all of this is freaking you out, don’t worry! This is all done by your district IT admin. 

If you’re a district IT admin and all of this is freaking you out, don’t worry! Adobe has a really helpful step-by-step guide for this.

How do I create assignments with the Adobe Express Google Classroom add-on?

Again, whether you’re using the Adobe Express add-on or a different add-on, the steps here are pretty universal.

Step 1: Create an assignment for your students. Fill in all the relevant details (i.e. title and instructions). Identify the class, the students, the points, whether you’re using a rubric, etc.

Step 2: Attach a file from Adobe Express. If you’re already an Adobe Express user, you can attach a file you’ve previously created via the “Projects” folder. It can be a template or example file you created for students to remix — or a file for them to view only …

… or if you’re new to Express, you can choose from one of the thousands of pre-made templates on Adobe Express. As a teacher, you can click “customize” within the add-on window when viewing a pre-made template to further tailor the asset to your class and students before you assign it. Adobe Express also sets up your students for success with pre-made blank documents.

Step 3: Decide on permissions for your students: letting them view your file (“students can view project”) or making their own digital copies they can work on (“make a copy for each student”). Then hit “Assign” in Google Classroom.

What do assignments look like for students?

Once students are set up with Adobe Express by your district IT admin, it’s just as easy for them to create something in Adobe Express as it is to create in one of the core Google tools. (And again, most of these steps are pretty universal for most Google Classroom add-ons.)

Step 1: Students open the assignment. Read the instructions (we hope!). Then, they click the file you’ve assigned them under “Your Work.” (Not the turn in button, though. We’ll get to that later.)

Step 2: Students open the file in Adobe Express and do whatever you need them to do. If it’s a template you’ve created or grabbed from the Adobe Express template library, they’ll remix it and add anything they need. If it’s a file for them to view, they view it. 

If they’re editing the file, when they’re done, they’ll click “Share” and “Send to Google Classroom” so they can turn it in.

Step 3: Students go back to Google Classroom. They check everything over and then turn in their assignment. (Note: When they send the file from Adobe Express to Google Classroom, that doesn’t turn it in. They still have to hit “Turn In” from Google Classroom to send it to the teacher.

How do I grade with the Adobe Express Google Classroom add-on?

This is going to feel very, very similar to grading with any other core Google tool that students have created in. With the Adobe Express add-on for Google Classroom (and with many others), student work is displayed in the same assignment preview window that Google Classroom uses for Docs, Slides, and others.

Step 1: Use the Classwork tab or the Grades tab to open the assignment. Click to open a student’s Adobe Express file. Use the same grading features you’ve always used in Google Classroom to assign a grade and provide feedback. When you’re done, post comments and return student work.

Step 2: Students can look at their work and resubmit. They can also see your comments and interact with you in private comments. Their grade is displayed on the assignment screen.

What are some creative Adobe Express assignments for Google Classroom?

I’m SO glad you asked, because this is the most fun part of the whole experience. If you’re used to using basic Google Docs and Google Slides for assignments, Adobe Express is a HUGE upgrade.

Sure, with Google Docs, your students can write basic essays … and honestly, if you still need students to do that, it’s a good, simple way to handle that.

But we can do so much more! Especially when Adobe Express has all of these pre-made templates that are GORGEOUS. 

Here are some of my favorite teaching ideas that use Adobe Express templates:

1. Things to Know about Me Template (click to remix)

This template was probably created to be a social media graphic, but it can be used for SO MUCH in the classroom. Students, of course, can use it to share details about each other to build community. But it can also be used to dig into details about a character in a book — or a figure in history or current events. You, as the teacher, can change any of the questions to fit your content — or the students can change them!

2. Julio’s Going Away Party (click to remix)

Of course, with this one, you don’t have to figure out who Julio is and where he’s going. This template can be remixed with details from an important event you’re studying. Students can edit the title, the destination, the date, the location (“gate”), and any other text. The more they change it to reflect what they’re studying, the more they’re demonstrating their understanding!

3. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (click to remix)

Ignore the fact that this template says “put your money where your mouth is.” This is a top 3 template! Imagine what you’d like students to rank — favorite math operations, least favorite chemicals in science labs, anything! Then, change all the text. The title and the subtitle identify what the top 3 is. The white text under each box is the students’ choices. The students can describe their choices with text in the white boxes — and/or they can add images! They can put their name at the bottom where the Twitter handle is.

4. Box Sounds Mixtape (click to remix)

This is an album cover! In fact, if you search all of the templates, students don’t have to start with the one you pick. They can choose from 300+ pre-made album covers they can remix. Creating an album cover for someone’s work can show a lot about what you’ve learned about it … from the image you choose to the title you give it. Plus, students can share what would go on that album or mixtape. (PS: There are also 300+ book covers as well!)

5. Inspirational Quote (click to remix)

Quotes can cover lots of ground in the classroom — and in lots of different types of classrooms. Of course, if someone you’re studying said something important — or if something important can be cited from something you’re studying — it’s relevant. But this can also be a quote from anyone or anything. Example: in a math class, if a teacher or student explained a math concept in words you understood, it’s quotable! Share that great explanation and give credit to the person who said it.

6. Fridge Organization (click to remix)

You know this really isn’t about a fridge, right? (You’ve figured this out about these templates by now, I’m sure!) This is about image annotation. Replace the fridge image with any image you want students to use to identify parts of it. Drag the colored circles to highlight different parts of the image. Then change the labels in the bottom to reflect what the colored circles are highlighting. And, of course, change the title … unless you really ARE talking about fridge organization.

7. What Is a Bully? (click to remix)

The templates in Adobe Express include more than 1,000 templates called “worksheets.” For me personally, the word “worksheets” can have a negative connotation … but several of these “worksheet templates” have some meaningful work attached to them. This one can be remixed in any number of ways. Have students include an image to represent something they’re learning and discuss it in two written prompts below. You can replace the existing image (the frowny face) with an image representing the activity.

8. Common Types of Propaganda (click to remix)

If your students have made posters for you on poster board, this could be a very flashy upgrade to that activity. Analyze this template and you’ll find it summarizes seven topics with short paragraphs. Think about a traditional essay. It’s made of paragraphs with a specific point and supporting evidence. The same research skills used to create a traditional essay could be used to create this — but it looks way cooler in the end. All of the images can be swapped out with assets inside Adobe Express. And to put icing on the cake, there’s a box dedicated to citing sources at the bottom. If this one isn’t a good fit, choose from more than 3,000 poster templates.

9. Create a Logo (click to remix)

Logos are identity images. They represent a concept that’s held near and dear to a person, an organization, or an idea. Adobe Express has more than 2,000 logos your students can remix. When they create a logo for a person, an idea, a topic they’re studying, they can describe why they chose certain images, colors, text, etc. to show what they’ve learned. 

10.  Brainful Facts Presentation Graphics (click to remix)

Presentation slides are usually used for spoken presentations to groups of people. You can use these for that if you’d like. Or, because there are so many different designs with more or less info on them, they can be stand-alone activities. Students can use hundreds of presentation slide decks to summarize information or present it visually. These slides can be turned in or displayed by themselves … or combined with video to make a multimedia presentation.

BONUS: There’s more than image templates!

There’s SO MUCH you can create with Adobe Express. We haven’t even touched on the video projects students can do or the web pages they can create. Plus, Adobe Express for education comes with free access to tons of premium stock photos. And all of those image, video and PDF tools are super helpful as well. Plus, don’t miss the Resources tab, complete with hundreds of free pre-written lesson plans and thousands of templates relevant specifically to education.

What will your students create with Adobe Express and Google Classroom?

Adobe Express is the creation engine. Google Classroom is the project management tool.

Students can create very visual representations of their learning that they’re proud of. Then, they can turn it in and have discussions with you about their work through Google Classroom until the grade is finalized.

Google Classroom add-ons just make it easier to use your favorite third-party web tools — like Adobe Express — to assign, collect, and grade student work.

What will you and your students do next?

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