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!
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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.