In the current circumstances you've probably heard the term, 'distance learning' and you've more than likely heard of Google Classroom. But what exactly does it do? And where or how to begin?
Don't worry, in this post I'll through the steps of setting up a class, adding students, assigning work and providing feedback to your students - all from your computer. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to use. Get ready to embrace technology with your class. Let's go digital together..
Note: In order to use Google Classroom with your students, your school must have a free G Suite for Education account. Google does not allow students to use personal accounts to access Classroom because with G-Suite for Education they provide additional privacy and security protections that are important in a school setting. However, you still access it for free with your personal G-mail account if you want to experiment before proposing it to your SLT – you just have to confirm you’re not using it with students in school.
The video below will walk you through the set-up process and beyond! It has 5 different sections and if you want to just skip to a section that's relevent to you, here are the time codes:
Setting up your class - 00:00
What your Students See - 07:58
Setting Assignments - 10:07
Submitting Work - 24.35
Feedback & Grading - 31:07
Tips & Tricks
As with any piece of software there are always tips and tricks to make your life easier and it can sometimes be a while before you stumble upon these things on your own, so here are my top tips for using Google Classroom:
Always make “master” copies of your resources in Google Drive. Then, make a fresh copy, delete any bits that you don’t need them to do, and rename it. This new copy is the one you should assign to your students. This ensures your original resources remain intact, but at the same time customising them for your students and lessons.
Copy and then archive old classes rather than deleting them at the end of the year. This allows you to still access the assignments and files so you can reuse them next year and save time!
Differentiate your assignments by setting different work for different students. I touched on this in the video but Google Classroom is great for assigning different resources to different children depending on the level of challenge you want to give them or the level of support they may need.
Use topics to organise your assignments. You can do this in different ways – half terms, quarters, subject, unit number or even by the type of assignment! There are so many options – pic the one that works best for you! You can also drag and drop assignments under different topic headings to change them.
Use ‘Find’ to help you locate assignments. The more you use Google Classroom, the mor confident you’ll get but at the same time, you’ll have more assignments to search through and sometimes, even if you use topics to sort them, you’ll still find it hard to find what you’re looking for. That’s where the ‘Find’ command comes in. On windows you press CTRL+F and on a Mac you press Command+F on a Mac and this will open a search box where you can type key words from your assignments.
When grading, use arrows to scroll between students work instead of going back and forth between the tabs for your classroom and the work. You can also click on the student’s name above their work and it will open a drop down menu so you can choose to see a particular students work. Using both these functions, will save you loads of time!
Use the comment bank to save time! If you’ve got comments that you’re constantly using, add them to the comment bank so you can reuse them. You can add comments you’ve already used to the comment bank by clicking on the three dots in the top corner of a topic. When you want to use a comment from the comment bank, you can copy and paste them as I did in the video or you can start typing using the # key, which will bring up a list of your saved comments. Typing the first few letters of the comment you want or a key word from it will then narrow your choices even further.
Create a customised header for your class. Google does offer some pre-installed themes you can use, but if you want to add your own picture it needs to measure 1,000 x 250 pixels or 13.33 by 3.33 inches.
Keep a note of your students log-in details. For every website we use, I always make my students a card with their log-in details on. These can then be laminated and kept in their trays/cubbies. Joining them together with a binder clip is also a great way of keeping them organised. I've seen teachers hang them up on a board at the front of class/in their technology centre so the children can access them when needed. You can download my free Google Classroom Log-in Cards below.
Where can I get resources for my Google Classroom?
You can do so much with Google Classroom - even if yo aren't technologically savvy enough to make your own resources. As I mentioned in the video, Teachers Pay Teachers is a great website for Google Classroom resources. May teacher authors are creating work for all ages - even Reception/Kindergarten.
As well as the 'traditional' individual written assignments, Google is a great way for children to collaborate on shared projects using the 'Students can edit file' option.
There are lots of ways to have class discussions through Google Classroom! You can post a question in the classwork tab and have students comment on that thread. You can also assign interactive slides and allow everyone to collaborate through there. Make sure that you select “allow student to edit” when you assign a collaborative file!
Quizzes & Tests
Google forms can easily be used for quizzes and test! In Google Forms , select from a template, scroll down until you see education, and select which works best for you. There are options like blank quiz, exit ticket, assessment, and more. You can create your quizzes to have multiple choice answers, short answer, long answer, and more. Make sure to create the answer key so the form knows which answers are correct.
Here are some of my favourite resources. (I am currently working on adding some more so check here/my TPT store frequently.
I'm Ruth. I'm a teacher based in Manchester, UK.
I've been teaching for eight years and am currently based in Year Four, but I have also taught in Year One and Reception.
This blog contains teaching ideas, printables, curriculum, lessons, and activities for your classroom! Make sure to visit often to see the latest blog!