5 potential mistakes (1)

A teacher I respect and admire, John Sowash, recently posted a blog on “5 Google Classroom Mistakes.” He has some very good points in his post, but on a few of them I take a different approach.

1) Do Not Click Student

When setting up your Google Classroom be careful as to which role you select. John is correct that it can be a bit of a hassle if you accidentally choose the wrong role. As John points out, you can take on both roles. A teacher can enroll in another teachers class as a student.

2) Grouping All of Your Sections Together

John Sowash’s advice is to NOT group your sections together, and there is a lot of wisdom in that. I actually DO group all of my sections together. I personally prefer not to switch back and forth on sections when assessing and providing feedback on student work. I like the idea that one assignment has one folder for me to look in. When I return work I can do it for every student in all of my classes all at once.

Create Multiple Classes

The drawback is you have all of your students in one place. This means students are seeing messages from all of the sections and that can be too many voices at once and that can be overwhelming.

Google Classroom allows you to create more than one class. The one where I post assignments and announcements has all of my sections in one place.

I am big on capturing informal learning. With the college class that I teach I use a Google Plus Community, unfortunately this is not usually available for K12 classrooms. A Google Classroom can be an excellent way for students to share their informal learning and ask questions.

Create a Separate Class Per Class

In addition to the main classroom, create a Google Classroom for each section. Title the courses something like “Informal Learning Algebra Period 3.” These classes are not for assignments, thus the conversations and sharing in these classes are more student driven.

Send a Message

John makes an excellent point about messaging students in a section, if all of your students are in one section then it is difficult to segregate out a group. By creating a separate classroom for each period you can easily email only that class.

3) Arbitrary Class Names

John Sowash is 100% correct on this. Click Here to read John’s advice for naming classes.  It is likely students will have multiple teachers using Classroom so generic names can get confusing. Be as specific as you can. Remember, what you name the class is the name of the folder in Google Drive. Using a good naming convention can help keep your Google Drive better organized.

4) Messing with Classroom Folders

This is one that we differ on. A folder titled “Classroom” is automagically created for each teacher and student. Personally I have multiple email accounts and I like to share my folders with my other selves. I am also a collaborator, which means I have a co-teacher who needs to share my “Classroom” folder in Google Drive. Thus there is the potential to have multiple “Classroom” folders in a Google Drive. I changed the name of my Classroom folder to be specific to the account.
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Changing the name of the folders does not mess up anything in Google Classroom. You can also move the folders without affecting Google Classroom. You want to keep your Google Drive organized and meaningful. If you need to rename or move a folder, do not stress. Deleting a folder you should continue to be careful about.

Note: If you use Doctopus or Goobric you do not want to change the Classroom folder name!

5) Using Classroom Folders

Should you or students add files directly to the Google Classroom folders? Doing so will not have a negative impact on Google Classroom. If students create a Google Doc for their notes and store it in the Google Classroom folder it will be okay. This allows them to have all of their class documents in a single folder.

Classroom links to the file or folder ID which is unaffected by moves and renames. The problem is students misunderstanding that putting a file in a folder in Google Drive does NOT link to Google Classroom. As with any system, we have to teach students how to use it. Let your students know that the only way to turn in an assignment in Google Classroom is to attach it in Google Classroom. Moving files into the folder in Drive does not turn in the file.


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