Welcome to the new school year!

Here is the story on using the Chromebook computers. I just bought 10 more Chromebooks, so that we have a total of 25. You likely will always be able to use the same Chromebook in any class on any day.

If you have been using the Chromebooks last year:

  • I have redone the assignment of primary and secondary computers. Please see the new sheet.
  • Most of you have new assignments for primary and secondary computers. Please take ONLY the primary computer unless it is impossible. You know how to Add Person on the welcome screen.
  • If you are using the Chromebook in computer programming, you have priority for using the WiFi connection. Use the Chromebook as usual.
  • If you are using the Chromebook for another class, such as English AND if a programming class is running at the same time, you do not have priority and you must only use WiFi at the end of your class to save your work to your Google Drive (not to the Chromebook; remember, there’s not much space available on a Chromebook). At the end of this document I’ll explain how to turn the WiFi link on your Chromebook on and off to save network bandwidth.

If you are new to using our Chromebooks, or you just want a refresher:

  • You’ll be using a Chromebook computer for computer programming and perhaps for other classes such as English
  • Chromebooks have enormous advantages for you and for the school:
    • Anything that you create on a Chromebook, such as an English essay or a Scratch programming project, can be saved automatically to Google Drive. You can then get that file or project from any computer in the world just by going to your own Google Drive.
    • Chromebooks are very secure against malicious software. They are updated every time you turn one on.
    • They are significantly less expensive than computers running Windows or Mac OS.
  • I have assigned every student a primary computer identified by a letter between A and Y. This letter is found on the outside case of the Chromebook. Please be SURE to use that computer; it will keep everything very simple. It is very unlikely that your primary computer is not available. However, I have prepared for that case (say, if your computer had its battery run down and is recharging when you want it). In that case, you also have a secondary computer assigned to you. Use that one, in this case.

Signing into a Chromebook and using it:

There are things to learn, and these will come up naturally. Let’s hit the main points:

  • Do you have a Google account? You need this to sign in AND be able to save your work handily.
    • A Google account is for you to get access to your Google Drive to save your work. You can sign into a Chromebook as a Guest if you forget your Google password, but then you can’t save your work.
    • A Google account is NOT a gmail account. That is something you set up separately. Your Google account DOES use an email address, but that address can be in gmail, yahoo, or other email client.
    • Many of you are under 13 years of age. If you or your parents create a Google account and use your real birthdate, your parent will need to complete the setup of your Google account. PLEASE be sure that your parent chooses the permissions option that you can sign in without any parent action. This is critical for smooth operation of our classes. If your parent sets up your permissions so that he or she must accept a phone call to let you sign it, it will delay the class greatly. So, again, please be sure your permissions are set correctly.
    • Please be sure that your parents understand that you need a Google account as well as an email account; they are separate.
    • Write down your Google password (and maybe your email password, too) on a piece of paper that you keep secure. This makes sure that you remember it when you need it. DO NOT share either password with any other student. This can cause big problems.
  • Using your Chromebook:
    • Of course, take great care of it. Don’t drop it; don’t drop its mouse; don’t have water or other liquids on the same desk as your computer – water spilled on a computer will completely ruin it.
    • Find your (primary) computer in the small cabinet or, in some cases, on the table in the big classroom where it may be charging. Pick up its corresponding mouse. Computer X only works with mouse X, computer Y only works with mouse Y, and so on.
    • Open the “shell” – that is, lift the top of the Chromebook to open it. The operating system will come on very quickly.
    • Log into your Google account by entering your Google password. The screen will open up nice and bright. It will show you a big blank area and also the “tray” at the bottom. The tray is full of icons that you can click on to start an application (“app”).
    • Example: You want to start computer programming on the website Click on the icon for the Chrome browser . The browser will open up and you can type in the URL (Universal Resource Locator) I’ll then work with you and the whole class for programming.
    • Example: You want to create an essay for English class. Click on the icon for Google docs . You can then start typing. There are lots of options for formatting your text, such as choosing italic or bold font, font size, font color… and also for inserting images. You may have learned these or you may learn them in class.
    • Saving your work: IF you are signed in with your Google account (as opposed to signed in as a Guest), any document you create is automatically saved to your Google Drive. You may know or you may learn how to create individual, distinct folders for your files and then move your newly created file to the place you wish.

If you are in computer programming, you have to be very explicit to save your work.

  • Example: You are in computer programming in the browser at You might just work on puzzles, in which case you should just remember which lesson and which puzzle you were on; there’s no work to save. If, however, you created a project, then you need to save your work. You’re probably signed into Scratch automatically, or you may go to the upper right and sign in (or create your account the first time). You can tell scratch to save your project either to the scratch site (Save Now, on top) OR to your Google Drive: Go to File on top left, then click to get the menu and choose “Save to your computer”. Be sure you choose to save it to your Google Drive, not to the Chromebook. Your Google Drive exists “in the cloud,” on Google’s servers far from us. There’s lots of room there for storing work. There is NOT much room on the solid-state drive on your Chromebook, so don’t save it there. Let me know if you accidentally saved it there.
  • Example: You are in computer programming at, where we do programming in the Python language. It’s the same deal almost as with Scratch. If you go to File 🡪 Save, your code file will be saved in the Colab cloud storage. It will be in a folder called Colab Notebooks. Note that you need to first mount Google Drive (at least, on my Windows machine; it may be automatic on a Chromebook). There is an icon to do this:
  • The red arrow points to the icon you click on to see all your files (it will be black when you start, and only the narrow column of 4 or 7 icons will be showing. When you click on it, you get a view as here. To mount your Google Drive, click on the icon that the green arrow points to (it will not have the slash through it unless you have already mounted the Google Drive, in which case the drive will be Unmounted when you click on it).
  • Printing: I will be installing the Okidata B431 printer on each Chromebook shortly. Please use printing wisely; don’t waste paper and toner. If you’re in Google Docs, click on File, then on Print, and select the Okidata printer (it should be the only one).

For everyone: turning WiFi (the network connection) on and off – when and why

  • We have the fastest network connection at the school that we can get, but it’s not all that fast. When many people are using the network – that is, using WiFi on their computer – the network slows down a lot. So, let’s keep the number of computers that are active on our network to a minimum. Note that the big monitors (TVs) in the classrooms are also on the network, and they use a lot of the network capacity, so I’ll be checking with teachers so that the use of the monitors is kept to only what’s necessary.
  • Of course, if you’re in a computer programming class, you have to be on the network. No action is needed on your part.
  • If you and your classmates are in a different class such as English or social studies and you’re using a computer while there is a programming class going on, this can cause network overload. A solution is that you will turn the WiFi OFF on your computer during your class.
    • On the bottom right of your Chromebook screen, click on the time display.
    • A window will open up. Find the area that refers to the network: That’s the one saying G-router, in my case. Yours will say CenturyLink something. Click on it.
    • You get a new window such as this
    • Click on the little circle that my arrow points to. This will turn the WiFi off.
  • This means that you can’t use the Web browser to “surf the Internet.” Maybe one person or two can use a browser on behalf of the whole class. I will work this out. The worst load on the Internet comes from watching videos. Avoid these, and view only “static” pages – that is, pages with text and possibly still images.
  • It also means that you must use Google docs “offline.” You have to change the settings in Google docs to do this. Start by clicking on the 3 vertical dots at top right – my red arrow is pointing to them. You’ll get the window here;
  • Scroll down to where you see the option to “Make available offline.”
  • You’re set
  • JUST BEFORE the class ends, reverse the steps to turn the WiFi back on. Your document will be saved automatically.