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Alright, you’ve decided to give Google Classroom a try…now what? Here is a basic guide to begin using Google Classroom.
Step 1: Create a Classroom Page
Sign into your google account and go to www.classroom.google.com. Click the plus-sign (+) next to your email address (top right-hand corner). Select “create a class” and title it. You can choose to break your class into sections (Period 1 Sophomore English) or courses (Sophomore English).
Step 2: Know the Layout
Dashes in the top left corner: direct you back to the Classroom’s menu (allows you to navigate between Classroom Pages).
Theme: background at the top. You can select a generic theme or upload a photo.
Stream Tab: “the wall.” This is where you and students can post items.
Students Tab: Lists the students. You can use this tab to easily email a group of students. Students are able to quickly email their classmates by referring to this tab. You can also “mute” students (limits their activities). In this tab you can also decide to allow students to “comment and post” or “just comment” or just react to teacher’s postings.
About Tab: class information. You can write a description of the course, list a location, create a Classroom Folder (to store documents and assignments), update Class Calendar (I haven’t used this function yet), and post materials. Your email is listed here for students. Additionally, you can invite a teacher to join your page; this function is great for CWC Teachers and curriculum collaboration.
Step 3: Understand The Stream
Your posts are ordered by when you publish them, unless you bump a post. All items posted to The Stream are automatically sent to the students’ emails. In the bottom right corner, there is a plus (+) sign. Click it to view the following four options.
Reuse Post: allows you to copy a previous post (from a different page)
Create a Question: allows you to post a discussion question as an assignment. You can permit students to see and comment on each other’s answers. I use this for exit slips (constructed response) or extended class discussions. During Socratic Seminars, if I didn’t hear from every student, I’ll post a question for everyone to answer. Sometimes I post the unit’s essential question for students to jot down their thoughts at the beginning of the unit, and then we revisit the question and their responses at the unit’s end.
Create an Assignment: allows you to post assignments to be submitted electronically. See Step 4 for further instructions.
Create an Announcement: allows you to post a “status update.” I post information about due date and assignment changes, snow day changes, teacher-absent instructions, unit introduction information (power points, note sheets), extended-learning assignments, helpful website links, digital copies of readings, etc… Any item that isn’t being collected for a grade should be an announcement.
Other things to note on The Stream
Approaching Due Dates (listed on the left): Tasks (assignments and questions) due within a week will have a reminder on the left side of The Stream (for both teacher and student).
Class Code (listed on the left): Only you have access to this. When students join the class, they will need this code.
Step 4: Create an Assignment
Alright, you’re finally ready to post your first assignment. Click the plus sign (+) on the bottom right corner of The Stream. Select “create an assignment” and fill out the form. It automatically saves, so you can always publish the assignment later.
Title: Obviously, the assignment needs a title that you can refer to. I try to make this as distinct and simple. As best as possible, I use the same assignment title as I do for the grade book.
Instructions: You can type any additional instructions. For essays, I usually write, “Also, submit to www.turnitin.com” or if it is a group assignment, I’ll write, “Submit one per group.”
Due Date (time optional): Google Classroom automatically sets the due date to be the following school day, but if you click the calendar, you can select your own date and set a specific time. Make sure to clarify if it’s a.m. or p.m.
Attachments: document (from your external drive or computer), drive (item from your Google account), youtube, web link. You can attach multiple items. Once you’ve selected your document or drive item, you’ll have three options (students can view only, students can edit, one copy per student)- the default is “view only.” I use “view only” if the attachment is an instruction sheet (essay prompt, research packet, class reading, slide show); I use “can edit” if we, as a class, are collaborating on an assignment (test study guide, ACT grammar study guide); I use “one copy” for worksheet-like assignments (reading logs, chapter study guides, discussion questions).
You can publish the same assignment to multiple Classroom Pages by clicking on the “To Whom” tab (bottom center).
If you realize later that you forgot to add an attachment or you need to change a due date or you need to add more instructions, you can click the three vertical dots (top right of the assignment) to edit. The three vertical dots also allow you to delete the assignment or move the assignment to the top of The Stream (bump the post).
Step 5: Invite Students
Instructions for Students: Sign into your google account and go to www.classroom.google.com. Click the plus-sign (+) next to your email address (top right-hand corner). Select “join a class” and enter class code.
Instructions for Teacher: Have the class code ready for the students.
Step 6: Know How to Help the Student
To view the assignment: Go the Google Classroom (go to www.classroom.google.com or click the Google Classroom icon in the Google App menu) and select the specific class’s page. Find the assignment on The Stream and click the title (should be underlined when the cursor hovers above it). Now on the assignment page, students can access any attachments and see instructions in full. If the student has been released a copy of the assignment, the document will appear (student clicks on it and can start working). If the assignment has no attachments or “view only” attachments, students can click “add” and select the appropriate Google App to begin the assignment.
To submit an assignment: Once the student has selected his assignment on The Stream, he can attach his work by locating it in Drive. If he used Classroom to create the assignment or if the assignment was a released copy, then his work should already be listed. On the right side is a blue “Turn in” button; once clicked, the student will be asked again if he’s ready to turn in; once confirmed, a green “done” will replace the blue button. At this point, the student no longer has rights to his work; when he locates it through the Drive, he will only be able to view the document. When the teacher returns the assignment, he will have full editing rights.
On one of the first days of school, I model for my students how to navigate through Google Classroom by asking a student to log in and projecting the screen onto the Smart Board. When the first assignment is due, I have a student show the class how to submit by projecting his account on the Smart Board. Everyone needs a reminder!
Throughout the year, my students attempted to share their assignments with me instead of submitting them. For a while, I gave them second chances to submit (didn’t award a late penalty), but after a month, I applied a deduction. When they share the assignment, they still posses editing rights, so they can make changes after the due date. Yes, I can restore the document to a previous date, but that’s a lot of unnecessary work. Be intentional with your language: “submit” isn’t the same as “share.”
Step 7: Grade the Assignment
Go to The Stream and select the assignment. Classroom will split the students: Done and Not Done. Within each category, the students are organized alphabetically by last name. On the right side, you can select the student’s work. On the left, you can select a student’s name in order to see submission history and attachments. Once you’ve selected the assignment, you can edit it just as you would any document. When I grade, I make comments on the side and write notes in blue. I always hand back a copy of the rubric with some holistic notes. I believe there is a way to attach a digital rubric and award points, but I haven’t used those tools.
You can return the digital assignments all at once or individually (click the box next to the student’s name on the left side). By returning the assignment, you are reestablishing their ownership.
I learned all of the above information by joining a Curriculum Team Google Classroom (you can have a GC for your Department or Professional Learning Committee) and by playing around with the app. Throughout the year, I had several hiccups and a few frustrating moments, but I consulted with my technology expert. Occasionally, I asked one of my students to log in, so I could view the page from his eyes. Try it out this summer! If possible, work with your PLC to explore Google Classroom as an instructor and student.
Best of luck!