Imagine if you will, that there is a free program out there that will allow you to organize your materials, share work with students, collect assignments with ease, and allow for immediate and personalized feedback for each and every one of your students. Another classroom dimension…
Google Classroom is an excellent platform for teachers to not just organize learning, but to impact learning. At the most basic level, Google Classroom allows you to ditch the copy machine and share assignments and materials digitally with students. It also keeps work flow nicely in check since students can return their completed work with a simple click of a button. If you like to be organized, you don’t want the hassle of students losing papers or assignments on the regular, you want the opportunity to have students collaborate in a controlled environment, and you want to be able to provide personalized feedback to students on their work, then getting up and running with Google Classroom should be on your must-do list this school year.
Here are the basic (and amazingly awesome) features of Google Classroom:
- Announcements – update students quickly or have them focus on an event that is coming up – let students read the information instead of listening (or not listening) as you make the announcement in class.
- Assignments – Create an assignment and decide how students will interact with it (make a copy, view only, share a copy with other students). Each assignment is automatically given a “Turn In” button that students can click when they are finished.
- Calendar – Create a calendar for each class that is automatically shared with each student. Due dates for assignments are automatically added, but you can also add important dates for students and parents.
- Co-Teacher – If you co-teach, you can invite your teacher friend to be an admin in your Google Classroom. Both teachers will have the rights to create, grade, and manage materials in the Classroom.
- Drive Integration – Anything you have created in your Google Drive is immediately accessible when creating assignments, announcements, and questions in your Classroom.
- Folders – As soon as you create your initial Classroom, Google automatically creates a folder labeled “Classroom” in your Drive. All of your classes will have a subfolder within this folder, making it easy to quickly access materials either from the Classroom view directly, or within your Google Drive. Students will also have this same experience, with a “Classroom” folder immediately created in their Drive the first time they join a class.
- Question – Creating a question in Classroom will allow you to take a quick poll, spur discussion or get kids thinking about what is coming next.
- Share to Classroom Button – Google has created an extension that allows you to share any web content with your classroom. If you have found a video, web page, or other web based resource that you want your students to interact with, simply click the extension. You can even create an assignment, ask a question, or make an announcement that features the resource.
- Stream – This is where the students will see the entire flow of information; announcements, upcoming assignments, and questions.
Steps to Creating Your First Class in Classroom
- Navigate to classroom.google.com
- Sign in for the first time – you can use Classroom with your personal account as per a Google update that came out in the spring. However, I would recommend that if your district uses a G-Suite for Education domain, you live within that domain. It will make it easier for you and your students.
- You will see a blank Classroom page with a lovely invitation to create or join your first class. Click that plus sign! Obviously, you are going to select “Create Class”
- Name your class – when naming your class, keep in mind that your students might be enrolled in multiple Google Classrooms. Just calling it the school year or something non-specific like your mascot and the year might cause confusion. Creating naming conventions for yourself where you consistently use your last name or the subject you are teaching as the class title will help students.
- Your class is now created and ready for you to personalize, add students, and start creating assignments. Your initial class should look something like this, but you can change your theme to one of the preset options or upload a photo to create something more personal to you.
- Personalize the “About” section. You can use this section to upload permanent documentation that you might need for your class (syllabus, homework policy, contact information, etc). If it is in your Google Drive, you can easily add it to your Classroom. You could even create a welcome video using Youtube or Screencastify and post it in this section.
- You will eventually want to add students to your class and you have two options for how to do this.
- First, click on the “Students” tab in the header.
- If you are a glutton for punishment, you can add students by inviting them to your class. To do this, click “Invite Students” and begin populating the list by typing in their names or emails. The students will get an email invite that they will need to accept before they are enrolled in your class.
- If you have students that can navigate to the website and type under their own power, the easier way to have them join your class is by displaying the class code on a screen.
Creating Your First Assignment
Now that the hard work is done, you can start using your Classroom to teach. When you create assignments in your Classroom stream, you have the ability to attach videos, web links, or materials from your Drive. You do not have to attach any items if you simply want students to create their own materials to turn in to you. If you do attach an item from your Drive, you need to decide how you want the students to interact with it. The options are:
- Students can view file
- Students can edit file – this means all students will be working in the same file
- Make a copy for each student
It all depends on what you want students to do and the level of collaboration you are looking for on the assignment. If you choose “Make a copy,” each student will take ownership of their own doc. No matter what you do, students will be able to access these materials either directly in the stream or in the classroom folder in their Drive.
You can set due-dates, assign the material now, schedule it for later, or save your work as a draft if you just aren’t ready to push out the assignment just. Once you create a due-date for an assignment, it will automatically be added to the Google calendar tied to your class!
Since I know you are just itching to get started, I will bring this lengthy post to a close. However, over the next few weeks, I will focus on a different feature of Classroom so that your classroom experience is robust and fulfilling!
If you would like more information on how to use Google Classroom, feel free to contact me through the Contact link on this blog. If you are a member of the Lebanon City Schools staff and would like to schedule a one-on-one session for training, email me via district email.