Google Classroom

You guys – I LOVE Google Classroom! It is so incredibly easy to use, super intuitive, very well organized, and (almost) perfect. In case you’re unfamiliar with Classroom, it’s a Learning Management System by Google that syncs seamlessly with Google Drive and Gmail. You can also check out the video here.

I remember the days of using Google Docs with my students and trying to sort through the inevitable five or six (or 20…) “Untitled Documents” that students had shared with me. It was such a hassle trying to organize them, keep the graded and ungraded assignments sorted, share documents with students, get them to name the document correctly, or make a copy of a template I had created. Google Classroom does all this (and more!) for you.

Earlier this week I showed off some of the features of Classroom to a group of teachers at Mt. Hope STEAM. These teachers are so awesome and willing to get right in there and learn. I love that kind of attitude! The first step was giving teachers a glimpse as to what Classroom was and how it looks from the student perspective. I created a class and invited the teachers to join as students. I think it’s so important to understand the student view in any tool or device we use with kids. Just like you create an answer key or go through questions on a worksheet before you share with kids, having an idea of what Classroom looks like from their end was an important perspective for me to share. Teachers loved the ability to have a conversation with me on an assignment. I enjoyed the ease from the teacher dashboard that showed me in one view which students had completed an assignment, which ones were late, etc.

After the teachers completed an assignment, I graded and returned it to them, it was their turn to be teachers. They were able to create a class and some assignments.

Classroom allows you to add resources to any assignment. This is worth the price of admission if all you ever did was use Classroom to push sites for your students to visit. You can end the frustration of having students type a website address that they will inevitably type wrong, or put into the Google search bar rather than the address bar, etc., etc. Of course, you should definitely use Classroom for far more than this, but you get what I’m saying.

Lots and lots of webinars, trainings, tutorials, and videos are out there on using Classroom, so I won’t spend a ton of time on it. What I will say is if you are a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, you should totally get on board. Like yesterday. If you’re not, bug your administrator, tech director, whomever to get going. Google Apps for Education is just so great in so many ways. Not only does it help with teacher and student workflow, its an awesome way to use technology to augment and modify what you’re already doing in your classroom. The students at Mt. Hope have been so excited to work on one document with others in their classes at the same time – or whenever is convenient for them. With GAFE – as opposed to using space on a school server – students can access their information wherever, whenever, and from any device. Teachers also have this ability. It’s a heck of a lot easier to take home a computer or tablet to grade papers than to take home a stack of 180 English essays.

I’m so excited to see Classroom in action. Since I am no longer a classroom teacher, I have to live vicariously through others who utilize a tool I share with them. I sincerely wish Classroom had been around when I was teaching!

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