Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Next Steps with Google Classroom

next steps with Google classroom
Next Steps with Google Classroom

next steps with Google classroom

Next Steps with Google Classroom

You can get up and running with Google Classroom in less than 3 minutes. Go to http://classroom.google.com. Click on the plus icon in the upper right and choose “Create class.” Click on the plus icon in the bottom right to add an assignment. Go to the Students tab to get the class code. Share the code with students.

So what do you do next? While essentially Google Classroom allows you to assign work and collect it, that is not transforming teaching and learning. As teachers, we are designers of the learning environment. Google Classroom is one tool that can help us design a different learning environment to improve student learning.

Try a Go Slow Workshop

Go to alicekeeler.com/events to find the next online interactive workshop for “Next Steps with Google Classroom.” Instead of 6 hours of PD all at once, practice your next steps with Google Classroom by learning a little, trying it with your students and coming back and learning something else over a 6 week period.


Improve Interactions

Use Google Classroom to improve interactions with students. Don’t strive for a paperless classroom, there is no virtue in that. Ask, how does this make learning BETTER? One of the most important things we do as teachers is to build relationships with students. This makes a HUGE difference in student motivation and learning.

Stop Giving Directions

Attaching a directions document helps students to be more independent learners and allows you to use your time differently. Time spend talking WITH students rather than AT students improves relationships and learning. Your time is most valuable working with kids instead of directing students what to do.

I use my words to encourage students and increase critical thinking.

Ask Questions

Use the “Create question” option to hear from the ENTIRE class rather than the same 2 or 3 students. Give students time to THINK.

Design for Collaboration

I like to describe G Suite and Google Apps not as “productivity software” but rather “collaboration software.” Google is designed for collaboration!! When attaching files choose the middle option “Students can edit file.” This has all students editing the SAME document. I recommend using Google Slides or Google Sheets. More than 5 people in a Google text document is too much.
Collaborate in Google Classroom

Students can collaborate easily on individual documents by clicking on the blue share button in a document and adding the email address (username) of a peer. Alternatively, attach group documents into an individual assignment
set as can edit

Create a copy for each group quickly using my CopyDocs for Classes script. Type in the group names and use the “Make copies” menu to quickly make copies in Google Drive.


Give Feedback

The faster the feedback the better the learning. Oftentimes tomorrow is too late. Students become less emotionally invested in their work the longer the gap between completing work and receiving feedback. By tomorrow, many students just don’t care anymore. Feedback comments go unread or don’t sink in to impact learning.

As often as possible (and it is not reasonable on every assignment) give students feedback while they are working rather than after. The impact of your feedback comments is greatly magnified. Google Classroom gives you access to student work the second they start working on it. You do not need them to turn in their work, you have it! Click on the assignment title in the Stream to access the students’ documents. Insert comments on their documents while they are working on them.

One of the best features, in my opinion, of Google Classroom after collaboration is Private Comments. Click on the assignment title of any assignment in the Stream and locate the roster of students on the left-hand side. Click on any student to find a spot to provide a private comment to that student. What I particularly love about comments in G Suite is that they are not comments, they are conversations. I filter my Gmail for Private Comments so I can respond quickly to students. This has made a huge impact on student motivation and learning, I recommend it!


If you can not give feedback while the student is working use tools that do the grading for you. Feedback now is better than feedback later. You can recreate the paper task in Google Forms and turn on Quizzes self-grading to give students immediate feedback after they are done. Observing one teacher grading a stack of science quizzes, I was able to recreate the quiz in Google Forms in LESS TIME than it took her to grade ONE quiz. Let me say that again. FASTER than grading ONE quiz. Granted I’m fast and I know what I’m doing but it would still be faster to use Google Forms than to grade the entire stack.

Don’t be a Google fanboy, be a learning fanboy! Sometimes Google is not the best tool! Personally, I prefer other tools for self-grading. Google Forms with Quizzes or using Flubaroo with the Google Form provides the answers AFTER the student finishes the quiz/worksheet. This is NOT as good as getting feedback question by question. It is soul sucking to do multiple problems in a row and then find out you didn’t do them right. Unless a student has high self-efficacy (not very many of our students do) students do not study the summary at the end and learn from the mistakes. Instead, they focus on their score.

I used Quia.com to type up all my math book questions, quizzes, worksheets, and tests so that students would get feedback NOW not feedback later. Try out Kahoot, Quizizz, Formative, or one of many other digital tools that do the grading for you.

Spending your time grading things a computer can do is NOT your best talent as a teacher. Instead use the data to target students for help more quickly.


Learn more by taking one of my interactive workshops or catch me at a conference. You can find my presentation schedule at alicekeeler.com/events


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