How many of these have ever applied to you as a teacher:
- You have had to send students to the library to print an assignment they forgot.
- Students left their papers at home.
- Someone was absent and now needs to know what the assignment was or needs a copy of a handout.
- Your shoulder is sore from hauling home a massive stack of papers to grade and comment on.
- Your shoulder isn’t sore because you forgot all of the papers you needed to grade that night on your desk at school.
- You’ve gotten several papers turned in with no names on them.
- You have students share their finished Google documents with you only to get dozens of “shared with you” emails and then have to try to sort through all of them to put them in folders so you can find them later.
If any of these apply to you, you need to stop what you’re doing and get yourself on Google Classroom. I’m not kidding; stop reading right now and go set it up. I’ll wait until you get back. It’s that awesome.
So now that you’ve set up your account, here are a few things you can do with Classroom to make your (and your students’) life easier. First of all, it provides a place where you can post any class announcements, handouts, and assignments. It’s a one-stop shop where students should be able to find any and all information they need to do their work. No more “I can’t find my _______.”
Since it is a product within the GAFE domain, it works extremely well with Google Drive. In fact, when you create assignments and have students submit them, Classroom will “talk” to your Drive account and automatically create a folder for each class and assignment, meaning you no longer have to deal with students sharing documents with you (and the dozens of emails that go with that) or trying to organize all of them in your Drive.
Evaluating student work becomes easier with Classroom as well. Once assignments are submitted, the teacher can use the built-in commenting or suggesting features of Google Docs to leave feedback for students. Tools like Doctopus and Goobric make rubric grading and other evaluation go much quicker (learn more here) and one like Kaizena allows you to leave voice feedback instead of writing or typing comments (check out Kaizena).
My absolute favorite feature of Google Classroom is that when you create an assignment and need to share a document with students, you have three options: students can view file (no editing privileges), students can edit file (everyone edits the same document), or make a copy for each student. The last one is my personal favorite because if I attach a Google document or other file type, it will automatically generate a separate copy for every student AND put their name on it. And again, because it’s Classroom, all of those files are neatly organized in the appropriate folder in your Google Drive with no additional work from you. I suggest to teachers that they create a template for their students (even if the entire thing is blank) because then each assignment will come in with the same title and include the student name.
For those of you who teach more than one class at a time: when you post an assignment, you can assign it to any of your classes simply by checking a few boxes – no need to recreate the assignment for every section. You can also add students easily by giving them the 6-digit alphanumeric code that Classroom generates for you; this is much more efficient than entering hundreds of students names yourself. You can even add a co-teacher if you share your class with a colleague. Finally, for all of my primary teacher friends out there, Classroom can even be used with your students!
If I haven’t yet convinced you of how awesome Google Classroom is, then feel free to check out some other resources. There are several guides to Google Classroom for sale on Amazon, the most popular of which is Alice Keeler and Libbi Miller’s 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom (available here). Keeler also has a tremendous amount of blog posts, suggestions, and tutorials on her website (www.alicekeeler.com). I also wrote a short e-book that can help get you started with the basics of Classroom (free e-book here).