Over the past couple of weeks, I have helped some teachers get this started with their students. We co-taught the introduction to Google Classroom and allowed the students time to explore the Classroom features. It was a lot of fun hearing the students get excited about this digital classroom portal! One student exclaimed, "This [Classroom Stream] is like Twitter for class! Our teacher is so cool!"
As I worked with these teachers to get Classroom up and going, I made some observations:
- Classroom Stream:
- Be cautious of leaving the Classroom Stream wide-open without any sort of guidance or expectations. (This setting is on the teacher's side under the "students" tab.) In other words, if you allow students to post to the stream, be sure to set expectations and go over them during the initial Google Classroom overview.
- Choosing the "Students can only comment" option allows the teacher to post daily/weekly discussion questions to encourage students to delve into the content and participate in online classroom discussions.
- Leaving the "Students can post and comment" option open would allow students to post questions for discussion as well as post questions if they are having difficulty understanding a concept. Just be sure to set expectations with your students about posting to the student ahead of time!
- Take note, though, that you can "mute" a student if he/she continues to make irrelevant posts on the stream.
- Students Joining Your Class:
- If you have large classes, it is much easier to use the "Class Code" feature. Students simply type in the code for their class and voila! they are a part of your Classroom roster. This is much faster than having to send an invite to all of your students.
- Classroom Set-Up:
- If you teach multiple classes/periods in the same subject area, be sure to choose different themes to make it easier for you to identify which class period you are working on.
- Also, be sure to include the class period in the class naming convention when you first set up your class. This will also make it easier to identify which class you are posting to, as well as easier to select multiple classes to post the same assignment. It also helps keep your Google Drive organized! Each of your Google Classrooms will have a folder in your Google Drive under the parent "Classroom" folder.
- Creating Assignments:
- When creating new assignments that you want all of your classes to complete, be sure to include everything in the original posting of the assignment and then choose all of your classes that you want to complete the assignments. Any edits made after the original posting of the assignment will only make changes to the classroom that you are in when changes are made, which means you will then have to go to each classroom to make those additional changes.
- Choose the "Make a copy for each student" option if you are using a Google doc, presentation, or sheet that you want to have separate work products for each student. Otherwise, all students will be typing on the same doc, presentation, or sheet that you've included in the assignment. (This is okay when you are wanting students to collaborate and see each other's responses/work.)
- Google Classroom app
- Encourage students to download the Google Classroom app.