This week’s post was written by guest blogger Jane Lofton. Jane is a Teacher Librarian at Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach USD, Calif. and a Google Certified Teacher & Google Educator. Jane served as President of the California School Library Association in 2012-2013 and is a member of the AASL Best Websites Committee.
One of the most exciting recent new options available from Google is Google Classroom, which became publicly available in September.
If you have already been using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or regular Google accounts to help students and teachers share and organize work, you will find that Google Classroom automatically handles and simplifies organizational tasks you are used to, such as asking students to use file naming conventions, having them copy templates, having them set files or folders to share with you, and you then organizing all the submissions. If you haven’t yet used Google to share and have students submit assignments, Google Classroom makes it so easy to work paperlessly, that you should definitely consider making that move now. Google Classroom does have one essential requirement: you and your students must be using GAFE. So, if, like me, you work with high school students all old enough to create their own Google accounts, and you hadn’t felt the need to adopt GAFE before, Google Classroom might be just the motivation you need to make that change. I had pondered promoting GAFE at my school before, but just couldn’t see enough benefits over students and teachers simply creating their own Google accounts. When I learned about Google Classroom’s streamlining of online assignments, I was sold.
Goggle Classroom makes running a paperless classroom and using Google Drive features much easier for teachers and students. It allows you as a teacher to:
- Create assignments and set a due date. Assignments can consist of simple text directions, uploaded files of any type, Google Drive files, YouTube videos, or links. If you assign a Google Drive file, you can choose to make it:
- read only
- editable by all your students, such as a to make a group slideshow
- a template that automatically creates a copy for each student
- Create announcements, which also can include simple text, uploaded files, Google Drive files, YouTube videos, or links.
- Conduct online discussions. Students can add comments to your “Stream.” You can also choose to mute one or all students if you prefer.
- Have students submit work as Google Docs, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, and have their work automatically named and organized in folders for each assignment. Google documents will have a Submit button, and, once they submit, they cannot make changes in their documents.
- Create a class resource page where you can store items such as your syllabus and other information students will need on an ongoing basis.
- Email one student or an entire class.
- Add students to a class yourself or give them an invite code to join the class themselves.
- Easily copy assignments from one of your classes to another.
- See who has or hasn’t completed an assignment, and give direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.
Here is a visual version of some of Classroom’s features:
This fall, I introduced GAFE and Google Classroom to all our 9th graders as part of my library orientation, and had them participate in a full-class slide show using a Google presentation file. I have also helped some of my teachers set up their Google classrooms, and the feedback so far has been very positive.
If your school or district has yet to adopt GAFE, you will need to either see if you can volunteer to be your school’s administrator, or convince your IT department to take it on. Check this Google link for more information about Google Classroom.
Author: Brooke Ahrens
Brooke Carey Ahrens is a Google Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at a bay area high school. Brooke is currently serving as a rep Northern California Region rep for the California School Library Association.