Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

12 Things to Start with in Google Classroom

12 things to get started with using Google Classroom.
12 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. Here are 12 things to start with in Google Classroom. 

Table of Contents

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.

Click on the plus button in the upper right to create a class for your students to join.

Filling out the Pop Up

Suggestion: In the “Section” line when creating a class indicate the school year. This will make it easier when you want to reuse assignments from previous years.

2. Create an Announcement

After creating a class you will be taken to the class Stream. This tab is for you to make class announcements and interact with students. The Stream is a great place for students to ask questions, similar to raising their hand in class. 

Screenshot of click here on announce something to your class

To create an announcement or assignment, click on the “Announce something to your class” bar at the top of the Stream.

For your first announcement why not invite your students to say hello. Students can comment, from the Stream, to any announcement unless you turn off that capability.

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.

Learn More about Google Classroom from Teacher Tech

Screenshot of tabs along the top for Google Classroom with an arrow pointing at the Classwork page.

3. Create an Assignment

Head over to the Classwork tab. This is where assignments are created and organized. 

Screenshot of classwork page with create button selected to create assignment and topic

Create Button

Use the Create button to create topics and assignments. 

Create Topics

Google Classroom is designed to be organized by topics. Start with in Google Classroom creating topics. This is the last option on the Create button list. 

Create Assignment

Creating assignments is only possible by using the Create button on the Classwork tab. Choose “Assignment.” You will be able to select the topic this assignment is organized under. 

Google Classroom Books

Learn more about Google Classroom from Alice Keeler. 

Tip: Number Your Assignments

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 when you use Control F to find assignments. Search for the assignment number and jump right to it.

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. Only the first approximately only the first 40 characters are visible on the assignment stripe on the Classwork page.

Screenshot of adding an assignment to Google Classroom. The middle option when attaching a document is collaborate

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. Try something new! Google Classroom is designed for collaboration, try the middle option to have only ONE document to open and assess!

4. Student View is Different

Understand that student view of Google Classroom is different than teacher view. 

Students will go to the Classwork page to click on the assignment stripe. This provides a preview of the assignment. 

They will need to click on “View instructions” to submit their work

Students have a “Your work” bubble in the upper right. They can add their work by clicking on “Add or create.”

They must submit the assignment by clicking on the “Mark as done” or “Turn in” button. 

5. View the Classroom Folder

Understand the Google Classroom folder. A folder is created in your Google Drive called “Classroom.” Nested in the folder is a class folder. Only you have access to the files in this folder. Locate the class folder on the class tile on the home page. Within the class, find the “Class Drive folder” icon in the upper right.  

screenshot start with in google classroom the class folder icon on the class tile
Class drive folder icon in Google Classroom

6. Review Student Work

Locate student work on the Classwork tab. Click on the assignment stripe to expand out the preview. Click on the number of turned in assignments or the “Review work” button. 

Screenshot of student work screen with student roster on the left and student attachments visible.

Student Work Screen

The student work screen has a roster of students on the left hand side. Default sort is by status and first name. 

Click on a student’s name on the left side. Access their work and private comments. 

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!!

Screenshot of Google Classroom with list of names and a private comment with my initials.

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.

Screenshot of assignment folder in google classroom

Assignment Folder in Drive

One of my favorite things about Google Classroom is the assignment folder icon. In the assessment screen, locate the folder icon underneath the “Turned In / Assigned” count. Clicking on the icon opens the folder in Google Drive that contains all of the students work.

8. Return Work

Returning work is an ESSENTIAL part of using Google Classroom.

Google Classroom is designed to return after you’ve viewed the work. After viewing student work, checkbox next to the student’s name and click on the return button at the top. You will have a chance to write a private comment to the group of students you are returning the work to.

Screenshot of student work tab. Return is a thing to start with in Google Classroom.

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. Students are unable to see any scores you’ve left them until you return their work.

9. Individual Student View

Click on the People tab. Click on a student name. This is the individual student view. It is a progress report for that student. On the individual student summary page, returned work shows either their score or a checkmark.

individual student work is a thing to start with in google classroom. Screenshot of student progress report showing scores.


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:// in the URL.

use the link icon in the assignment toolbar at the bottom.

11. 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. On the Classwork page, click on the Create button and choose “Question.” You can ask a short answer (default) or multiple choice question. Give all students enough time to think and respond. Hear from everyone.

Create button and choose question

12. 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.

Stepping Up to Google Classroom

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 books@daveburgessconsulting.com

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.
50 things further alice keeler



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