Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How to Get Started in Google Classroom

Google Classroom has become a popular way to enhance the learning experience for students, but it also provides tools to make a teacher's life easier.

Since its launch in 2014, Google Classroom has been used by over 30 million students worldwide and hosted over a billion online assignments.

Google Classroom has three basic functions: communication between teachers, students, and parents; posting and grading of online assignments; and finally, the sharing of files. It does so much more than that, but these three functions are your best tools.

G Suite for Education

Before you get started on the basics, be aware that your school must sign up for a "G Suite for Education" account with Google in order to use their tools in class. It's free to sign up, and if your school already has an account, there may be a point person on staff that can help you get started.

Schools can sign up by clicking right here to visit the "G Suite for Education" home page.

Once your school has opened an account, you can log in with your Google account and create their own virtual classroom. From the Google Classroom home page, teachers can create multiple classes or subjects, and control which students can access them.

A "class" can be created from the drop-down menu, and a teacher can either invite students (if they have their Google contact information) or add them themselves.

If a student logs into a school's Google Classroom site, they can join a class from the "Join Class" option in the "Plus" sign at the top of a page. From there, they must put in the proper class code (provided by the teacher or school) to join. This prevents outside individuals from joining a class and causing problems.

The Stream, Classwork, People, and Grades Tabs

There are three main "tabs" in a Google Classroom page: STREAM, CLASSWORK, PEOPLE, and GRADES.

In the STREAM tab, teachers can post announcements, assignments, and attachments. Think of it as your "news feed" for your students, similar to a Facebook home page. Teachers can also allow students to post comments, which can make the learning process more interactive. Teachers can also "mute" students who misuse the STREAM privilege.

Posting to the STREAM tab is simple, and similar to what you use on Facebook. Adding an attachment is easy, and just like adding one for an email. You can attach a link to a Google Drive document, a YouTube video, or a link to a website, among other things. You can schedule posts and  even pick which students see certain announcements.

Under the CLASSWORK tab, teachers can create lessons, assignments, and even quizzes using Google Docs, which fully integrates with Google Classroom. Classwork can be sent to the entire class, an individual student, or a group of students. It's easy to add classwork from a drop-down menu in the "Create" button.

Assignments can be graded or non-graded and can be scheduled to post at a later time.

Within each class, a teacher can create topics - either by subject name or date - to make it easy to track your lessons within a class. Topics can be created directly under the CLASSWORK tab, and you can assign a topic to any assignment you create.

In the CLASSROOM tab, there is a "Material" option, which can include documents and links to resources for students.

If you use Google Docs to create a quiz, test, or lesson, you can set it to automatically grade the assignment when a student completes it. That comes in handy, as the GRADES tab will be able to track the grades on the assignments.

When you create an assignment of any kind, you can review how the entire class scored, on a single page, under "Student Work."

Google Classroom even has a built-in calendar that can list all assignments and goals that have a due date. Teachers can even click on the assignment name on a calendar date, and it will take them directly to the assignment From there, the teacher can see which students have completed the assignments and which ones haven't.

The PEOPLE tab allows a teacher to see all of the students, other teachers, and staff that have been added to a particular class.

Under PEOPLE tab, a "Guardian" can be added to a student, so a parent or guardian can get announcements and alerts on student assignments that are coming due, or communicate with the teacher.

The GRADING tab is essentially an online grade book that can tabulate the grades students get on their assignments, lessons, and quizzes you post in the CLASSWORK tab. You can see individual grades easily and edit grades if necessary.

The Google Chrome internet browser even offers a Google Classroom browser extension, which will place a small icon in the upper right hand corner

You can also send "push" alerts to students, which will forward messages, resources, or even links to students working in Google Classroom. It's a great way to forward breaking updates.

Here are some instructional videos that explain the basics and features of Google Classroom.

Once you've gotten established with Google Classroom, we recommend this video, which provides more specific tips to maximize the platform.

Let us know if you have any ideas or tips we can add to this guide!

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