If you ever want to know what a teacher’s mind feels like, imagine a web browser with 2879 tabs open. All. The. Time.
As teachers, we know how valuable time is. We also know how valuable communication is.
Google has lots of digital tools for professionals that have revolutionized how we organize and collaborate at work.
With a lot of education moving into the digital realm lately, EdTech tools have become increasingly popular.
Google Classroom is one of them.
Google describes Google Classroom as a ‘mission control for your classroom’. It’s a one-stop shop for homework, classwork, and due dates. It streamlines communication between teachers, parents, and students.
This education-friendly digital platform is built to benefit both teachers and students. However, with its diverse features, others such as afterschool clubs or clubs can easily use it as well.
“Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, it’s transformational.” — George Couros
Google Classroom saves my life as a teacher every day. For example, before Google Classroom, I used to send an email after every class explaining what the homework was. Both parents and teachers had to dig through their emails to find this homework email I would send.
However, now, parents can log into Google Classroom and the homework is all there, both the previous and current homework in one place. Having everything on one platform makes it a lot easier for everyone involved.
After the students have been added (either by a class code that you send them or an email invitation sent by you), they can start benefiting from Google Classroom.
Some of its many benefits:
- Free — I love free resources (Which teacher doesn’t?!) A lot of components like extra storage or video calls that would normally cost money are also free for certified teachers working in registered schools.
- Accessibility — You can use Google Classroom from any device, both anytime & anywhere! Some of my students use their phones, while others use their tablets. Not only that, but the apps on the smaller devices are still fully functional.
- Exposure — As the world increasingly moves towards online learning, students need more exposure to digitalized learning. Google Classroom is an excellent introduction to that. It makes the transition easier for the students later on due to the easy interface.
- Paperless — Is it just me, or do you also dislike all of the papers always flying around in the classroom? I give my students the option to submit their homework through the platform, especially if we are conducting Zoom classes instead of regular classes. As an added bonus, the students get to practice their typing skills (I always give extra Class Dojo points for this!)
“Paper is such a great use of my planning time!” said no teacher ever.
5. Timesaver — With everything in one place, I have extra time allocated to other tasks and projects. As teachers, we have so many tasks to do!
To add to this, if you want to save more time from going through Google Classroom emails (you get an email every time someone engages), you can turn that off if you go to settings.
6. Diverse — I can post a homework question, and I let my students respond in whichever way they feel comfortable, whether it’s through a written piece, video clip, or picture.
The comment option really allows me as a teacher to take different learning styles and preferences into consideration. This facilitates more discussion as well.
7. Communication — I can send a quick email to a parent, post in the stream, comment (privately if you’d like) on assignments or on the posts, or respond to my students’ comments easily.
8. Collaboration— My students are always engaging and collaborating together on there, discussing topics or answering each others’ questions.
9. Engagement — Students love using technology to learn, so naturally, they are going to be more engaged on online platforms. Those who might not participate enough in class might surprise you online!
A lot of my students that are quiet in class post quite a lot in the classroom and it’s wonderful to give them a space where they are fully comfortable.
“Tech gives the quietest student a voice.” — Jerry Blumengarten
10. Differentiation — I can assign the entire class a task, or just a few students, or even just 1 student. It’s that easy to accommodate different learning styles and levels in a single classroom!
11. Feedback — There’s a great grading tool that I use to send valuable feedback to the students. You can add comments or annotate the work that the students submit.
There’s also an option for students to give feedback to each other. If you create a question within an assignment, the students can discuss the topics with each other. It’s like a discussion board.
12. Data Analysis — You can easily transfer all of the data from Google Classroom to spreadsheets to assist future student analysis and for record-keeping. You can use this to compare the student’s progress throughout the year.
13. App Integration — streamline your classroom’s education by adding other Google apps or third-party apps using Chrome extensions.
14. User Friendly — The interface is extremely friendly and all of my students, regardless of grade level, even the 1st graders, were able to set up and use it easily! There are also a ton of YouTube videos made by my other teachers and students to help out.
15. Permanent — Work is never lost! It’s all in one place unless you delete it.
What to Post
You can post a diverse amount of content on Google Classroom.
I know that it varies at my school, teacher by teacher. Each teacher uses their own creativity when using the platform.
I love that you can schedule the posts for any time, before or after the class. It really saves me a lot of time and allows my planning to be quick and effecient.
I use Google Classroom to post:
- Daily Homework — Every day after class, I post the homework there to remind the students what to complete and when to complete it for.
2. Photos and Videos — These can be from the ones that I shared during our lessons that the students might want to have access to later. Aside from that, photos of the students learning or taking part in events or holidays are all posted on the platform.
3. Announcements for Special Events or Projects — All the information for science fairs, storybooks, holidays, and more are posted there.
4. Reminders for Deadlines — If there’s a big assignment deadline approaching, I post a reminder.
5. Assignments — There’s an assignment tab where I post the work to be completed.
6. Classroom Materials and Resources — This could be anything from classroom posters they might need for homework to flashcards or instructions and procedures.
7. Links — Cool videos we’ve seen on YouTube or other platforms that the students want to revisit or show their family and friends at home.
The beauty of Google Classroom is that you can pick and choose the features that you want to incorporate. I’m still experimenting with the features myself!
Work Submission Features
Google Classroom now has grades and rubrics to help you mark student work in your classrooms.
Moreover, there is a plagiarism tool called ‘originality reports’ to also help you check if your student copied work from well-known online books and web pages.
Instead of digging through Google Classroom to find the students’ work, you can also use Google Drive. Using the search bar really helps if you have many students.
Apps to Connect to Google Classroom
There are many apps you can connect to the platform to make your classroom learning more interesting, interactive, and engaging for your students.
Here are some:
- Quizlet: I’ve used this to study vocabulary words with the students. You can directly share a particular amount of flashcards with your students.
- Newsela: It’s very diverse and covers content for many subjects across the curriculum, especially non-fiction.
- Khan Academy: Best to introduce, practice, and review content with your students.
- BrainPop: Educational animation for young students on various topics.
- Pear Deck: Various types of slideshows that engage students.
- Typing Club: Keyboard learning skills.
- CK-12: Use for STEM activities. Essentially a textbook.
Although not all of the apps are on this list, if you have an idea of an EdTech that you want to integrate, it is probably possible! There’s an option to provide feedback to Google Classroom if you click the ‘?’ at the bottom. Their team reads and implements the comments to improve the platform.
The platform really is what you make of it. There’s a ton of freedom. Find what works best for you and your students.
Since its launch, Google continues to update Google Classroom. I’m excited to see what else they integrate into the platform.
TechEd tools are the future of our education world, but teachers make it happen through tools like Google Classroom.
“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” — Bill Gates
Want more information about Google Classroom? Visit their website here.