I was asked on Twitter what the very first activity 6th graders might do when introducing Google Classroom. There is no “right” answer to this question. Here is my suggestion.
We Do Not Teach Tech
We do not teach tech, we teach content with tech. While I would structure the first activities to acclimate the students to the Google Classroom environment, I would not do it solely for the purpose of learning the tech. Think of the educational learning objectives and create a simple activity around that.
Even when I am working with adult teachers, the first thing that happens when introducing a group to Google Classroom is kids/adults posting in the stream “Waz uuuuuuuupppppp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” or “Hi.” This is normal. Do not get upset when kids act like kids. Plan for this. The student is trying to figure out what Google Classroom does so they are trying it out by posting something.
Knowing the students will do it anyway, just ask them to do it. “After logging into Google Classroom, click on the plus icon in the bottom corner and “Create post.” Post something appropriate for school into the stream.”
Using digital tools requires that we incorporate digital citizenship lessons into the curriculum. Use this opportunity to engage the students in a digital citizenship discussion. “We are a community of learners, we help each other get better.” “Are these comments helpful to the class?” Most likely the students will say “no.” Prompt the students to discuss what types of posts are helpful. Possible student responses are “What if we have questions about an assignment?” or “To help answer a question or share a tip.”
Ask a Question
After having the digital citizenship conversation, create a curriculum question or class feedback question for the students to answer. This introduces the ability to answer questions within Google Classroom.
Create an Assignment
Click on OPEN
Click on CREATE
Create a Google text Doc
Brainstorm at least 5 possible topic sentences for your essay on asteroids.
Close the Google Doc.
Remember there is NO save button, Google automatically saves your work.
Click on TURN IN in Google Classroom.
Notice that the directions include the procedural directions for how to create and submit the assignment. I had 3rd graders do this without direct instruction and they did great. Let students get used to reading the directions instead of being told the directions. This helps them to be more independent learners, which frees up your time to work with students one on one or in small groups.
While Google Classroom ALLOWS you to attach documents for students, do not do this all the time! Get students used to “choosing tools strategically.” What tool do they need to clearly communicate their ideas. Students can create Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings right in Google Classroom. Assign them to do this often. Reduce the stress of having to create templates and graphic organizers for everything.
After clicking on the OPEN button in the stream,
Like MAGIC the document is created within Google Classroom, shared with the teacher, named the same as the assignment title and appends the students name to the document title. Hands down one of my favorite features of Google Classroom.
Give Feedback Now
How Google Classroom makes learning better is the ability to give feedback before the assignment is due. Freak the kids out and open their Google Docs while the students are working on them. Insert comments (right click and choose comment or use the keyboard shortcut.)
Have students “Turn In” their document when they are finished. Reminder that ownership switches from student to teacher when students click “Turn In.” Students need to click “Unsubmit” if they need to regain editing permissions.
Do not use Google Classroom sometimes, use it all the time! Be consistent about how you distribute directions, documents and links. Use Google Classroom to have students turn in their work.