The Stream on Google Classroom is your landing page for you class but it is NOT your class website. It is NOT intended to be a place to organize your work, resources or announcements. In fact, you have very little control over organizing the Stream.
The Stream is your Social Space
ESPECIALLY as we move to remote learning it is essential that we create community and interactions in the digital space. The Stream is where we interact with students more casually. Where they can post a question.
Do NOT turn off Stream posting.
Think Facebook. The Stream is just that… a stream of interactions. NOT an announcement board. Yes, you can announce things on the Stream but I would not count on that as a place students are guaranteed to find and read your announcements. As new posts are created the announcements get pushed down. I still like to post announcements on the Stream and I like the announcement of assignments on the Stream but it’s not an organized communication.
Teach Social Media
Go look at your Facebook or other social media places. It is obvious that knowing how to behave online is not something you’re born with. It is essential that we teach students how to interact and collaborate online. It is not a natural skill. Expect that kids will act immaturely and demonstrate that they do indeed need to be TAUGHT how to do this.
We have all seen articles where students college scholarships or job offers are revoked after seeing what they post on social media. The Stream in Google Classroom is our opportunity to teach students how not to be annoying (they will be annoying at first, because they need to be taught), how to be appropriate, how not to overshare, etc..
Tell Me Tuesdays
At least once a week invite students to use the Stream of Google Classroom as “Facebook.” For older students to post their favorite Instagram photo. To share something they feel comfortable sharing about their weekend. Oh, and of course it is optional. I enjoy going through and learning more about my students and what they like.
Google Classroom is NOT a substitute for having a class website.
I use a Google Site because it integrates with Google Drive. I double click and can embed Google Drive files. But honestly it doesn’t matter what platform you use. You want to have a website that you can design visually and have control over how it communicates information without a login. This is what you share with parents so they know what is going on in your class. For me, this is my home base for students. They start on the Site instead of starting on Google Classroom. This way my announcements are right at the top and expressed the way I want them to be expressed.
Your classroom website can simply be a Google Slides where you use the File menu and choose “Publish to the web.” Share this link with parents and students. Make sure the FIRST slide is always TODAY and the previous days communication are in reverse order. The older it is the farther down it is.
Link to the Classwork Page
Google Classroom is designed to be organized on the Classwork page with TOPICS! Also, my bestest best Google Classroom tip is to number all of your assignments with a 3 digit number and a hashtag: #001 #002. Number EVERYTHING you post on the Classwork page. It is simply a reference number. The hashtag is ESSENTIAL as it changes it from number 3 to assignment number 3. Search Google Drive for #003 and your ASSIGNMENTS come up not just anything with a 3 in it.
Instead of telling students “Go to Google Classroom” consider linking them instead to the Classwork page. Go to the Classwork page and copy the URL at the top of the browser. This will help them to skip the Stream and go straight to Classwork. Get in the habit of always linking to the Classwork page when communicating digitally with students.
Link to Topics and Assignments
On each topic or assignment stripe, if you hover 3 dots will appear. Choose “Copy link.” This will send students straight to the topic or assignment.
Link to Announcements
I do make announcements on the Stream but I organize them on my class webpage. I also frequently state in the announcements to go to the Classwork page.
After creating the Stream announcement I hover over the announcement and click the 3 dots to “Copy link.” I then make this a button on my class webpage.