A couple of years ago someone tried to show me how to use Google Classroom. After a very quick and complicated introduction, I stumbled my way through a few assignments for my students. It was about all I could handle. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to use this tool with my fourth grade class. Fast forward to this year, and there is no way I could live without it.
A little information about Google Classroom may help. Our district is a GSuite (formally GAFE/Google Apps for Education) district. This allows our teachers and students to have access to Google Classroom. This great app allows teachers to assign students documents, forms, slideshows, videos, links to websites, pretty much anything you could imagine. Students then click a link to the assignment or just read directions and upload their own work. Teachers are able to create various "classrooms" for their students, using multiple classrooms for different grades (great for combination classes), subjects, or periods. Google has now allowed teachers to copy an assignment from one classroom to another to make it even easier. Parents are now allowed to be invited to view what assignments their students are going to be doing, or that happen to be not completed.
Since I begin really using the Classroom app, I have discovered that I no longer spend my limited classroom budget on copy or lined paper. We still have assignments where students write on paper, or where I need to print out something for them to keep, but I am no longer waiting in line at the copy machine to run off a bunch of worksheets or packets. My students have learned how to take screenshots of their work and create new products that show their understanding of a concept way more than if I had them do a worksheet. Both of these are easily turned into the app. Students can find their assignment, access it from anywhere (including when they are home sick), and no longer lose their assignments (nor do they forget to put their name on it!).
One of the great things for me is that going paperless has made my work/grading more efficient. I have all the materials in one place. The app tells me who has turned it in, and who is still working on it. I can check the progress of every student WHILE they are working on it, as well as give feedback. Students can fix their mistakes or expand on their thinking before turning it in based on my immediate feedback. When I had to go out of town unexpectedly, I was able to do three days worth of class activities all through Classroom. I even had the students complete study guides which I corrected and returned so they could take a test upon my return. (This never would have happened without Classroom!)
I have now shared my love of Google Classroom in many different venues. I will be presenting a session at the CETPA conference in a few weeks. Because I struggled with the app in the beginning, I have tried to make what I love about Classroom easier for teachers to understand and use. Many of the teachers I have shared with wish they had known about it a long time ago. If you are lucky enough to be in a district with Google Classroom, I highly recommend trying it out. You will not be sorry!
What I learned:
-Google Classroom is a much more efficient tool for collecting work than papers in trays/shelves.
-Students get more creative when they have a way to show what they know beyond the worksheet.
-Teachers need time to figure out the tools in order to be able to use it effectively.
-Administrators are using it with their staff in order to get information to the teachers quickly and easily as well.
If you are interested in starting a Google Classroom of your own, feel free to check out my presentation at: https://goo.gl/m5XgB1
Here is a list of apps that sync with Classroom: https://goo.gl/ibv4n7
Thanks George for the reminder!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching