First things first: Google Classroom is an online resource that is designed for both teachers and students to have a safe and all-in-one setting to both communicate and learn while still having the ability to have meaningful interactions over the internet without having to deal with all the digging and filtering through the unimportant add-ons like advertisements, irrelevant videos, and popups. Simply put, google classroom is designed to move your classroom setting onto a webspace that students and parents can always access. Also, all Google owned resources can be accessed, linked, and utilized with Google Classroom such as Google Drive, GMAIL, YouTube, Google Hangouts, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawing, Forms, etc., and of course, Google Plus.
Now that we have the wordy, flowery description out of the way, lets move on to the more practical things. The first thing one will need is a school AND Google tethered e-mail address. This means that it must be an educational e-mail address that is recognized by Google. Since many schools have moved over to using Google to be their primary e-mail client, this shouldn't pose as too much of a problem, but some schools may not be using Google as well. Under those circumstances, I would suggest lobbying the district to move over to google or at least provide students and teachers with a Goggle connected e-mail so that they may begin to use Google Classroom.
Once logged on to the Google Classroom main page, there is a "+" in the upper right hand corner of the page. Clicking that will give you 2 options: Join Class, and Create Class. If you are a teacher, you would obviously choose Create Class, while students would choose Join Class. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will focus on Create Class. Simply follow the prompts and add the Name of the class and any other pertinent information. For a video version of the tutorial, please view the previous blog post.
Once inside, you will be on the main page of your Google Classroom. I would recommend playing around and clicking on all the buttons and seeing what everything does (I promise, you won't break the internet!). This approach will help you to get a handle for everything it has to offer. Overall, this main page (or home page) is really the first stop of anybody joining your classroom. From here, you can post updates, blog posts, responses, comments to your students, etc. This is basically the Newsfeed of Google Classroom and is sort of like a Facebook newsfeed, but only for those who are joined to your classroom. But how do the students join in without letting everyone in the world in? GLAD YOU ASKED!
Click on the tab at the top that says, "Students." Under the Students page, there are two ways to get your students to join. You can either give them a code to use to join the classroom, or you can invite them via e-mail. I would suggest doing this in class on one of the first days to make sure every student can get setup in and joined to the class. The great thing about this is that not only do you have a place where all your students can communicate and learn and ask questions at anytime, but it also gives you a roster of who is in your class, and as I point out in the video, you can grade assignments in Google Classroom and keep a digital gradebook as well.
The last tab, the About tab, is the most informational tab. It gives you the name of the class, and you can add when the class meets, where the class meets (Room # or anything like that), and the Google Drive Folder that all your class information and assignments can be stored in. Here you can also invite other teachers, so if you have a cooperative teaching classroom, or just another teacher who you might like to link your class to, you can do so here. You can also manage your class calendars here. Often times, students will say, "I didn't know this or that was due." By setting expectations at the beginning of the year that all assignments will be listed on the classroom calendar online, they will have no excuse. I will caution, however, do not use this as a replacement for writing assignments on the board or posting them in the actual classroom. Even though computers are becoming more and more prevalent, some families may still not have access to the internet from home. Be understanding of those students and make sure they can still gain access to any assignment that the must do. Finally, you can add the classroom list here as well (Materials you may need for class; also known as a Class Shopping List).
As I stated earlier, the previous blog post is video version of this tutorial and actually shows in real time what the site looks like and some of the options it has to offer. Google Classroom, if used correctly and often, can make your classroom more interactive and could actually help engage the students even more, especially if you have some kind of thought provoking question of the day to start with or something. Enjoy and happy navigating!
Here is a quick tutorial I did for educators about Google Classroom and how to get one started.
As Markham writes in this article, it is very true that education has gone through cycles for the past 150 years as the debate continues to rage on between what type of schooling is "better": the traditional format, or an alternative format, such as project-based learning. While there are rewards to both, this article points out some of the things we, as teachers, really need to keep in mind in this day and age. We live in a more inter-connected world than ever existed before. Because of this reality, we can now do things that were unimaginable before. It seems that we get stuck in this rut of "educating doesn't change, only the times do." However, when we look at the evolving times, we need to realize that education does need to change.
Back at the dawn of man, we did what we needed to in order to survive and that often meant caring for our families and getting food to feed them. As civiliaztions rose, the idea then changed to working for the king, and sometimes the populace, but your line of work was pretty much determined from birth, and the idea of "class mobility" only really came into reality after the New World was dicovered. When years ago we were more interested in getting people ready to work on farms, things shifted to working in factories. After that, another shift to getting them out of factories and into the cushy (though monotonous) office jobs. This has shifted once again and now we are pushing into the world of technological advancement.
This is not a good or bad thing, just a change, and as education has had to have changed with each of these age-shifts, this is happening once again (only this time, the shift is happening at a much quicker rate, thanks to technology). Some teachers swear that they still just need the book... just teach the book and the kids will be fine. This is utter ridiculousness! If the book could teach the kids, then why are you collecting a paycheck? You wouldn't pay an electrician to wire your house if he had no experience with electronics and was just going to "read the manuals" he bought. Why would we do that with our kids? The teacher's job now is no longer to teach content. Yes, that part still exists, but with something like google, content is now secondary. We need to teach what google cannot answer! If you ask google, "What date is considered American Independence Day?" It will respond, "July 4, 1776." But if we asked, "Why was there a fight for American Independence?," google can only find others' ideas and opinions... not a right answer. And that is what teachers need to do... stimiluate the minds of students - not babysit them from 7:30 am-3:00 pm.
As the article points out, we need to concentrate on four main goals in our "New Story" of teaching: "Appreciate the power, beauty, and challenge of the present moment"; "Contribute to a global vision"; "Redefine Smart"; and "Live the collaborative reality." To appreciate the power, beauty, and challenge of the present moment, we need to do some of what I already spoke of - we need to use the resources we never had ourselves for the betterment and inspiration of the students. We may have never coded, but if students can learn to code and want to use it, by all means let them. If they are inspired they will learn more than anything we can forcefeed them and they will be more passionate about it too.
When contributing to a global vision, we need to look outside the walls of "school." Why do a report on homelessness in America when we can do food drives, shlter visits, clothing drives and other things that will impact the kids on an empathetic level. Book smarts and statistics can do only so much... its all different when you experience it.
Redefinig smart means to... basically... not teach to the test (like I've said before). Yes, kids need to know content, but more important than any content, they need to learn, as Markham writes, are "grit, resiliency, empathy, curiosity, openness, creativity, and evaluative thinking." Those are the things that make kids "smart" today. Most of these things, I have already talked about above.
Finally, live the collabotative reality: I would say this is one of, if not the, most important one on the list. Even though the world is getting smaller, we tend to think that asking for help, or working WITH someone is a sign of weakness, or even "cheating." In reality, most work is done collaboratively. There aren't many businesses out there with just one employee and owner doing everything. People have all sorts of jobs, yes, but they work as part of a whole. And in an even bigger picture, that is how the world works too.
If teachers can learn to teach these four things among their content, we may be in for a massive and exciting awakening when this next generation rises!
Markham, Thom. (2015, February 11). "Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’." MindShift. Web. 20 November 2016.
This article was written by Thomas L. Friedman as he set out to talk to Lazlo Bock (the man in charge if hiring) at Google after hearing that in an interview he had said that G.P.A.s and test grades mean nothing when they are looking for new hires. With Google being so successful, Friedman wanted to talk to Bock himself and ask him some questions himself.
Friedman writes that Bock says, "Good grades certainly don’t hurt." The fact is that many jobs do take math and computing skills, but they look at more than just grades. He also points out that if your grades show your skill in an area, it would only be advantageous. He states that at google, there are 5 hiring attributes they are looking for. "If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly." He continues saying that second is "leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership... What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power."
Third and fourth, Bock states is humility and ownership respectively. He explains these by pointing out theveryone needs to have a sense of ownership in their work. Everyone has something to contribute to the group and then they need to know when to step back. Basically, know how much is your responsibility and when you need to leave it to others. He points out that people who are very successful in life don't often experience failures, and therefore, they don't learn as much. Someone with humility and ownership can can take, understand, and learn from failure, while at the same time taking responsibility for it.
Finally, they look at expertise ("the least important attribute"). The way Bock sees it is that this is least important because an expert will know what to do because they have done it many times before, whereas the non-expert will likely FIND the right answer, given the time. So while it is important, it is not the most important attribute.
I agree with what Bock says and his approach reflects what teachers need to ensure is taught in school. Don't teach to the test, but teach skills. Yes, there is content that needs to be taught, but soft skills will better serve them in life then knowing the date that the French Monarchy fell giving rise to the next Era of the French Revolution. If someone can learn, has emergent leadership potential, has humility and ownership in their work, and has at least some expertise, they would be a great asset to any job. As discussed earlier in this blog, all of these things are important for life, and so it is no surprise that one of the most successful international technology businesses hires based mostly on these attributes.
Fiedman, Thomas L. (2014, February 22). "How to Get a Job at Google." The New York Times. Web. Retrieved on 16 December 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=2
Richard Sable is from Vista, CA and graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2014 with a B.A. in Social Science and is currently working on his single subject teaching credential in the field of Social Science at CSU, San Marcos.