11 Things to Start With in Google Classroom
In a nutshell, Google Classroom is Google Drive Management. It allows you to assign assignments and collect work from students. If you are just starting off with Google Classroom here are some things you will want to try first:
1. Create a Class
When you first log in you will be asked if you are a student or a teacher. It is very important that you indicate that you are a teacher. If you make a mistake, you will need to contact your Google Apps administrator at your site to reset your status.
2. Create an Announcement
Entering the Google Classroom class takes you to the class stream. This is where assignments and announcements are displayed. Creating an announcement allows you to send information to your students and to attach files and resources.
For your first announcement why not invite your students to say hello. Students can comment, from the Stream, to any announcement or assignment unless you turn off that capability. Google Classroom is new to the students also, expect that they will be trying out the system along with you. Let them get their silliness out by posting “hi!!!!!!!!!!!!.”
Your next announcement can be a friendly reminder of what types of comments are helpful to everyone in the class and when comments should be made or not made.
3. Invite Students
Under the banner image in your Google Classroom class are 3 tabs: Stream, Students, and About. On the “Students” tab of your Google Classroom class is a code to allow students to join the class. You can invite students via their email, however, I do not recommend doing this. Sharing the code is relatively easy; project the code or write it on the board. Students simply go to http://classroom.google.com and click the plus icon at the top right to enter the class code.
4. Create an Assignment
I highly recommend you number all of your Google Classroom assignments. Start EACH assignment with a number such as #001, #002, etc… This makes is really easy to refer students to the correct spot in Google Classroom. This is also helpful since you are unable to reorder assignments and announcements in the stream.
Assignments, unlike announcements, have a header. Consider carefully how you title the assignment. Google Classroom creates a folder in Google Drive for each assignment. The folder title matches the assignment header.
Start with the assignment number and the assignment title. In the description provide directions for how to complete the assignment. When linking to files, the default is “Students can view file.” You can change this to “Students can edit file” which allows all students to collaborate on the same document. You can change it to “Make a copy for each student” which acts like a photocopy machine to give each student their own copy. TIP: This creates a document for each student which you then have to open and assess. Try something new! Google Classroom is designed for collaboration, try the middle option to have only ONE document to open and assess!
Student view looks different than teacher view. The student view of the assignment has an “OPEN” button that allows them to turn in the assignment. You may want to include in the directions that students will need to click on “OPEN” to view attached files and to submit the assignment. The assignment has, in student view, a blue button for students to submit the assignment. If nothing is attached the blue button says “Mark As Done.” If any work is attached or linked the blue button says “Turn In.”
5. View the Classroom Folder
Automatically a folder is created in Google Drive when you set up Google Classroom. The folder is titled “Classroom.” You can find this folder by going to http://drive.google.com. Each time you create a class within Google Classroom a subfolder is created within the Classroom folder. You can easily access this folder from the class tiles on the home page. On each tile, in the bottom right-hand corner, is a folder icon. Click on this icon to link to the class folder in Google Drive. The link to this folder is also located on the About tab.
6. Click on the Assignment Title
Nothing in Google Classroom is attached, it is actually linked to the file in Google Drive. After clicking on the assignment title you will be able to link to student work submitted. On the right hand side of the assessment screen are tiles that display the students attached work to make quick access to the files. On the left hand side is a roster of the students. Click on the student’s name to view all of their work that is linked for that assignment.
7. Provide Feedback
You can provide feedback to the student directly in Google Classroom. Click on a student’s name and locate the “Add private comment” area in the bottom right. Google Classroom improves the feedback cycle by changing comments into conversations. Students are able to reply back to private comments, allowing for back and forth until the student understands. Tip: I start my private comments with my initials to help me know that I replied to a student’s comment.
When students do their work in Google Apps, feedback can be left in the document itself. Click on the title of the document to open it in another tab. No downloading required!!
You can insert comments into the student’s document by using the keyboard shortcut Control+Alt+M to insert a comment. Pro tip: Use Control+Enter to save the comment without having to use the mouse! Try out Control+W to close the tab and take you back to Google Classroom.
One of my favorite things about Google Classroom is the assignment folder icon. In the assessment screen, locate the folder icon underneath the “Done|Not Done” count. Clicking on the icon opens the folder in Google Drive that contains all of the students work.
8. Return Work
When students submit work to Google Classroom they lose editing rights. Ownership of the assignments are turned over to the teacher. Students become viewers of the document. This means they are unable to see any feedback comments left in the document itself. Return work to students to return editing rights and to allow them to see feedback comments in the document. I recommend returning student work BEFORE you leave feedback. I use the comment “Returning editing rights” when returning work. Returning work first allows the student to receive a notification that you left them feedback and directs them to the feedback.
9. Provide a Link
Instead of directing students to go to a particular website, get them in the habit of going to Google Classroom to link to websites. Create an assignment. Use the link icon to link to a website. Be sure to include the http:// on the URL.
10. Ask a Question
Using digital tools should make learning BETTER not just paperless. Google Classroom allows you to interact better with students. It is super easy to ask the ENTIRE class a question rather than just hearing from the same 2 or 3 students. Click on the Plus icon and choose “Create question.” You can ask a short answer (default) or multiple choice question. Give all students enough time to think and respond. Hear from everyone.
11. Develop this Mantra
All Things Start in Google Classroom
Do not use Google Classroom sometimes, use it for EVERYTHING. Getting students into the habit that they go to Google Classroom first for everything creates a very smooth workflow with your students. This will particularly pay off when you have a substitute. Directions are posted in Google Classroom, the students will know exactly what to do.
Want to know more about Google Classroom? Check out the book “50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom” by myself and Libbi Miller. The book is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Bulk discounts are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to go further with Google Classroom? Check out our follow up book “50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom: A Student-Centered Approach.”