Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The (mostly) complete guide to everything you need to know about Google Classroom

We've been running Google Classroom at Nexus since its inception in August of 2014. The platform has moved on very well since that date and is now maturing into an effective system for creating assignments, giving feedback and assessment.

It is important to ensure that the whole community is using this consistently so that learners understand where to go to find work and assignment information, even if they are not creating or submitting work electronically.

To help with this approach, here are the current best practice guidelines for using Google Classroom.

In your classroom

  • Get your learners in the class. You can do this by inviting them by email or by sending out the code. Check that they have joined - this is a rather annoying administrative task, but some may slip under the radar if not.
  • Think carefully about how many assignments you want to set. A 6-week assignment could be easily delivered as one assignment with careful planning, or chunked into separate assignments if this works better.
  • Giving each student a copy of documents or templates to fill in is great if you want to be able to view their work straight away (or if they need a writing grid).  You can then dip into the Google Classroom folder (stored in your drive) at any time to check how they are doing.)

    If you expect your learners to upload a piece work (such as a Word document), you won't be able to do this.
  • Break assignments into topics. For example, they can easily be broken into 'class work' and 'homework' so that both you and your learners can find them more easily
Use topics to organise the stream

  • Ask a question. Using the Create question feature on Google Classroom allows you to ask questions than can be explored outside of the classroom. This is great for having discussions, giving time for learners to really think about their responses and engage in rich discussions.
  • Integrate or sync external Apps with classroom. Lots of tools that you use such as Quizlet, Edpuzzle and Duolingo now have a 'share with classroom' feature. Go on the site, create your resource and then click 'share with classroom' will create a new assignment in one of your classes
  • Set assignments for all of your classes quickly and easily by using the 'Post in' feature, which lets you set an assignment for multiple classes at once.
Use post in for setting work to multiple classes at once
  • Another time saver - reuse old assignments by clicking the reuse assignment option. This lets you reuse assignments even from old (archived) classes over and over again.
  • Add resources that learners need to reference through the year, such as reading lists, rubrics and project files to the class resource page, reducing clutter in your assignments.
  • If you own a tablet AND a stylus, get the iOS / Android classroom app and annotate their work with notes.

Teaching collaboratively

Just like collaborative teaching has its challenges (and rewards), using technology for collaboration can really make a difference, but needs to be done so that technology supports what you are trying to do.

  • Creating a single class for say, the whole of year 7 English, in Google Classroom is not advisable. It is hard to manage 'your learners', hard to find 'your learners' and difficult to to ensure all learners have been assigned to the class.

    Instead, create individual classes linked to the register (e.g. 7N, 7E, 7X) or group your learners into different classes. Then, invite all of the teachers in your class to be teachers in your Google classroom.

  • Use 'post in' to set assignments for all of your classes. Take turns to do this as part of your planning, and use a colleague to check that all resources are attached.
  • Try giving comments and feedback during the lesson. Have a member of the collaborative team assessing work / giving feedback as the learners are creating it. This can only be done if you have issued a document for the learners to fill in as part of your assignment.

Last but not least

Don't assume that your learners know how to use Google Classroom. Show them how to submit an assignment. Show them what you expect for work submission and what you expect them to do when feedback is given . Show them the calendar so that they can see work due.

If you are not comfortable with doing this, book a technology integrator.

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