Getting Started with Google Classroom

Posted on January 29, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Genius Hour, Google Classroom, Masters, online safety, Technology |

Our ECI834 group has chosen to use Google Classroom as an LMS. It seems to be the most practical choice as many of us will have opportunities to use it now (or later) in our classrooms.

google-classroom

Photo credit: Alice Keeler via alicekeeler.com

I, for one, have not tested out Google Classroom before as I have taught grade 1 or 2 for the past 5 years and it’s a little bit too difficult to navigate for that age group. Instead, I have used SeeSaw pretty extensively. (Which I love btw!)

I am hoping to move up in grades in the next little while, so I know I will be able to use Google Classroom more and more.  I’m especially excited to use it for Genius Hour with older students.

The first thing I had to do in Google Classroom was create a class. I asked my group if we each wanted to create our own class for this project, or if we should have one class with different units. We decided on just one class.

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That meant that the next thing I needed to do was add my group as co-collaboraters within our “Genius Hour” class. For that, I googled “collaborate with other teachers on Google Classroom.” Helpful Google gave me step by step instructions, and the first thing I had to do was go to the ‘About’ tab, and “Invite Teachers.”  The only problem was that there was no one to invite! I tried typing in my group’s email addresses, and it didn’t work. Nothing came up.

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It turns out I needed to have these teachers as contacts before I could invite them to collaborate. So I had to open up ‘My Contacts’ with this specific Gmail account and add each of my group members as contacts.

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This step seemed a little excessive, as I feel like I should have been able to input their email address directly into Google classroom. It was especially difficult as a couple of my group member’s uregina emails didn’t work.  Once we got that sorted out, I was able to add all of my group as co-teachers for our class.

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Now I needed to create an assignment and somehow organize it so that my assignments would only show up in my module.  Google Classroom has a “Stream” for the students, and things show up in there as they are put in. I figured this could get confusing considering we were going to have six people adding assignments to this one class.  The Google expert, Alice Keeler, wrote a post about adding topics to Google Classroom. I learned that “topics” is a way that we can organize our content into units. I called my topic, “Digital Citizenship and Works Cited” as that is what my Genius Hour module is going to be on.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-27-00-pm

I encouraged the rest of my group to create their own topic when they create an assignment as well. That way students can use the filter option later to navigate through the different assignments for each unit.  I will organize my own assignments with the Dig Cit/Works Cited topic/unit and then call them Assignment 1, 2, 3 etc. with a description of what they will be doing.

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Digizen.org

For my first assignment, I have decided to have the students complete an interactive digital citizenship game made by Digizen, write a reflective blog post, and fill out a Google Form that shares their digital citizenship score with the rest of the class. I figured this would be an interesting way to engage my students in the topic and get them thinking.

Some of my other EC&I834 classmates have also chosen to use Google Classroom for their LMS, and Jayme reminded me that one of the best features of Google Classroom is that students will have everything they need in one place. They won’t need to worry about losing assignments or misplacing certain instructions. I came across this powerful blog post a couple months back written by Pernille Ripp. It talks about how we as teachers need to try and remove barriers for learning rather than add them. This resonates with me while thinking about Google Classroom. Why would we get mad at students for losing assignments when we can help them by creating a place for them where this very thing is impossible? Google Classroom will be a great tool that will help students in this way, among others. I’m excited to dive into it further.

While testing it out this week, these are my Google Classroom pros and cons

PROS

  • Easy to navigate
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Simple ways to attach URLs, documents, Youtube videos, and any other Google Drive options to assignments

CONS

  • Had to add create new Google contacts to add other teachers as collaborators
  • There was no way to add a specific folder for a unit, so I had to use the “topics” tag
  • Once I have used the “topics” tag to specify units, I won’t be able to use it to specify other subjects.  I will have to create a new class for each new subject I would want. Ex: Science, ELA, Math etc.

Does anyone know a way around this issue? If so, please share in the comments!

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2 Responses to “Getting Started with Google Classroom”

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Great post!! I too am using Google Classroom, and I think that your post will help my group sort out some of the problems we may run into when we get started. I like the pros and cons list too!

Thanks, Danielle. I thought using “topics” would be the best way to organize the content as well, but it still would be nice to have folders within each topic for better organization. Thanks for your post. It’s nice to know what other people are using and doing.


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