Saturday, September 26, 2015

Working in your Classroom with Google Classroom

If your school uses Google Apps For Education there is include a totally free tool that will allow you to change how you offer feedback to your students,

 Google Classroom. 

 Classroom has under one roof every tool the teacher will need to create a meaningful and engaging task, without having to learn multiple interfaces or do any complex shuffling around of files that only a school’s tech enthusiast usually battles through.  Teachers are able to easily communicate with classes by using Classroom to make announcements, without the need to email groups or individual messages.  Classroom is going to have an impact beyond what it does for the assessments because of the ease of access.  This is because it’s delivered through the Chrome browser rather than an app and is thus totally device-agnostic. Students can use it on their phones, the $50 Android tablet they got for Christmas, Chromebook, anything.  One of its greatest features is its usability. Google Classrooms offers every tool teachers need to create a task. Teachers can easily add links, or attach files.  Then every task goes to a student’s Classroom folder in Drive, their Calendar, and their Gmail. Students can see what they’ve been assigned and teachers can see what’s been submitted.  Both student and teacher can comment and improve in real time.

How to get started:

Easy! Go to and click sign up using your school’s Google Apps account. Only teachers and students whose school has Google Apps can get access to the classroom. Outsiders are not welcomed! After, create your first class, and either enlist students directly or give them the class code on the left-hand side box. After that, simply distribute your first assignment and teach!

There are two ways that Google Classroom makes your classroom more efficent

1) Distributing & Collecting Assignments

There is the problem of distribution of assignments, readings, and resources. I use Google Drive for all the files I use for teaching. I have come up with a couple different ways to distribute them to students. In the end, the result was always the same. Students would have to be logged into their school Google account and click “Make A Copy”. But that lent itself to a whole new host of problems.
By the end of the year, my inbox looked like it was getting spammed by Google Drive share emails from students. Every time a student completed an assignment and shared it with me, I would receive a notification email. This was a nightmare.  By June my inbox was so cluttered that I could not even find my other emails.

With Google Classroom, everything is in one centralized location. Students can view all of their assignments in a specific folder, teachers can store their  materials and activities for the school year on the cloud and all grades can be viewed within Classroom.

2) Revisions & Feedback

One of the best ways students can improve their writing is going through the process of revisions. Editing, feedback, peer editing, and revisions improves student writing. Assuming that you want to take student writing into the 21st century, there are many platforms that teachers can use to help improve student writing.

In the Google Classroom, assignments are distributed to students and when they are ready, they submit them back to the teacher. Students can not revise their document further until it has been seen by the teacher. This prevents students from trying to meet the deadline by submitting incomplete assignments.

Students can then submit the assignment again and again after each teacher revision. All of this is tracked with a student assignment “feed” that keeps things orderly. The assignment also has a space that teachers can message students privately and students can then respond.
Google Classroom provides enhanced feedback and communication.  It allow to easily manage and speed up the feedback process for teachers and student.  This allows the feedback to have a greater impact due to the rapidity of feedback turn-around.

Now Google Classroom is far from a perfect system and it is still missing some features that other Learning Management Systems have.  It is a young product being release publicly for about 13 months as of this writing.  Google has been proactive about release updates to Classroom, recently they have released some new features.  One of these new features is an ability to reuse old posts. Teachers can choose from announcements or questions that they have previously posted and simply tweak them, rather than creating each post from scratch.

Google is also working to make Classroom even more collaborative. Teachers can now post a question, video, or article and ask students to write a response; other students can then respond to their peers’ answers, making it a more conducive forum for discussion.  Google Classroom will create a Google Calendar for each class, which can be accessed from either Classroom or Calendar. Any assignment with a due date will automatically be added to the calendar, and teachers can manually add other relevant dates.  Other updates include the ability to bump an old post to the top of the stream, post an assignment without a due date, and attach a Google Form to a post, which many teachers utilize for surveys or tests.