What is the best way to assign a Google Docs template for my students to work on independently? What is the best tool for students to submit a link to their work? How can I monitor and/or have copies of my students’ work?
Google Classroom allows a teacher to organize digital content in an efficient platform. Once Classroom is accessed, creating a specific class space begins with a few simple clicks.
It is always best to begin by logging into Google Drive, aka Google Apps for Education and most recently renamed as G Suite for Education. Whichever name used, Classroom is only an option when logging into an educational account. Once logged in, there are two options:
If it is a user’s first experience with Classroom, it is important to select the right role. Students need to select “Student” and receive permission to “Join class.” Teachers need to select “Teacher” and receive permissions to both “Join class” and “Create class.” While it appears obvious as to which role to select, teachers often get confused if first introduced to Classroom while attending a professional development and mistakenly select “Student,” limiting permissions only to join and never to create. However, selecting the “Teacher” role affords permission to use Classroom in both capacities.
Once correctly identified and in Classroom, the user’s email will appear in the top right corner. Just to the left of the displayed email is a plus sign. When clicked, it offers those two options to “Join class” and “Create class.” Click “Create class” to begin designing an online forum for digital content. Name the class and, if desired, designate a section and/or a subject (these are optional).
In the newly created class, there will be three tabs at the top:
The default view will begin by displaying the class under the Stream tab. Google Classroom has three options to design online content for students. Each option has a different use, but creativity can also allow a teacher to develop the options to suit his/her purposes. Here is a quick highlight of each option and some potential ways to address the opening questions above.
Create announcement is the first option when clicking the plus sign in the bottom right corner within a Classroom. As indicated with the name, it is a way to share information with students. At the bottom of the dialogue box, there are four options to add resources. If working from a desktop or laptop, any file can be uploaded with the attachment button. Files within Google Drive can also be added with the Drive button. Although the YouTube button is available, students in our district cannot access YouTube videos directly, making it ineffective for use with students. The last button is for adding links to websites or files. These four options appear within all three elements in the Stream.
Create assignment is the next choice when clicking the plus sign in the bottom right corner under the Stream tab. Assignments have built in accountability under the teacher view, with a count of enrolled students who are “Done” and “Not Done” with the assignment. This is also the best element to use when sharing templates with students. A template is a teacher-designed file, such as a Google Doc with specific text inserted, or a Google slideshow with designated topics on each slide. When first creating an assignment, a teacher could use the Google Drive button and access a template, and once uploaded, select “Make a copy for each student.” This selection disappears after the assignment is created, so it is important to choose it when first designing the assignment. The beauty of using a template and “Make a copy for each student” is the teacher’s file remains untouched, while students immediately receive an editable file personalized with both the assignment name and the student’s name. The teacher has access to all students’ individual files through Classroom.
Create question is the last alternative when using the plus sign to add content to the class. Just as with assignments, questions also have built in accountability under the teacher view, with a count of enrolled students who are “Done” and “Not Done” with answering the question. Questions can have two different purposes: discussion forum or checks for understanding. They also have two design options to reflect those purposes: short answer or multiple choice. There are a variety of combinations for the settings within the class to control what students can see and do when responding to a question. When first introducing discussion forums, it is important to think through the purpose and instruction so students can successfully participate on an academic level, and settings for questions can help guide that process.
There are many benefits to building a Google Classroom, but in particular, organizing digital content in a manner that makes it easily accessible to students is by far one of its best features. Your instructional coach or tech coach would be happy to support you in making this a useful tool in your classroom instruction.
I am a technology integration coach for a school district supporting one preschool, fifteen elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Check here for the latest updates on instructional technology.