Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Google Classroom Crash Course (Part 1)

(If you are wanting an awesome resource on Google Classroom, check out Alice Keeler's website. If you haven't heard of her before, prepare for hours on her website.)

Backdated Post:  Actual Date: June 15th, 2015

I dabbled in using Google Classroom at the end of this school year.  Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer to use fully-vetted things in my classroom because I need to know and understand all the ways my students will misuse it or try to break it before I implement.  I also don't like introducing new procedures mid-year.  Thinking about it now, usually when I go against this policy of mine, Google has a hand in it.  Google has created many solutions to problems in my world.  It has become something I know I can not only trust, but rely on.

In the last month before state testing, we are reviewing concepts from the previous two years, across chapters and resources.  On a daily basis, students are supposed to fill out planners, but this time of year most students have either stopped entirely or never brought their planner to begin with.  For some reason, absences are also rampant during this time period.  It adds up to frustrations and limited options to reinforce student responsibility in a positive way.

Problem: Students have assignments scattered across resources  Even though I have every single objective and assignment written on my objective board in my classroom, this does no good to them outside of my classroom.

Solution:  I began posting daily assignments in Google Classroom to offer a resource and serve as a "backup" planner.

  • A few other teachers were using Classroom, so most of my students understood the setup.
  • Those who hadn't used it before took to it quickly.
  • I emailed my students to invite them to the class (I already had email groups, so it wasn't the painstaking process it might be for most getting started) and posted the code on the board.  All of my students were officially in the class within 5 minutes...fastest setup ever.  I will just do the code next year because it really was that easy.
  • The students like it because it doesn't involve another username and password to remember.
My use of Google Classroom was successful.  Since students were not turning in assignments on Google Classroom, I wasn't very picky about students mark their assignments as "Done".  I kept student posting and commenting turned off...one can of worms at a time (See Part 2 post for more on this).

I also used Classroom to share links to online activities and Quizzes/Tests on Google Forms that I would normally email or share via shortened URL on my board (never having to deal with "Is that a l or an I?" or "Is that an 0 or an O?" = PRICELESS).  We began in Classroom and ended in classroom.  Students would actually catch themselves in the middle of asking the dreaded question ("What are we doing today?") and just look it up.  A few would come in already knowing because they checked during last class.  One day, I was pointing at the objective board when previewing our day and one student asked something along the lines of, "Why do you even write that up there anymore?"  It was and is a completely valid question.

Bottom Line
Google Classroom is yet another problem solver from Google...and it will be a part of my classroom from the beginning next school year.  I want to work on utilizing other features, such as student comments and posts...follow-up in next post.

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