What is Google Classroom?

What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is a workflow management system designed with the goal of saving teachers and students time by organizing assignments and class content in one easy-to-access online space.

As a fully integrated part of the G Suite for Education platform, Google Classroom works seamlessly with all of Google’s apps for education, allowing students and teachers to effectively and efficiently manage their digital workflow.

How Google Classroom Works

Posting and Sharing

Google Classroom acts as a central location to store and share online resources for classes.  Teachers are able to post links to important class websites, share YouTube videos, and post files for students–all in one easy-to-access online space.  This is a very efficient way to distribute class materials to students, and one of Google Classroom’s most beneficial features.

Grading

Teachers that send a Question or an Assignment to students through Google Classroom have the ability to grade the student response.  Teachers can assign any point value to the assignment, and add private feedback comments to students.  Once graded, teachers select the Return option, which sends the grade and feedback to the student. Students can then respond to the teacher’s feedback as well.

Announcements

An announcement serves as a way to quickly distribute information to a class.  An announcement does not have the ability to be graded inside of Google Classroom in the same way that an Assignment or Question does; however, students are able to respond to the announcement through the comments feature.  Announcements are a way to give students a voice in the Google Classroom Stream.

Assignments

Google Classroom turns creating, distributing, collecting and grading assignments into a quick and simple process. First, the teacher enters a title and description for the assignment, attaches any resources they want students to access (Google Drive files, YouTube Videos, web links, etc.), and shares it with the class. Students then complete the assignment, which can include any type of file in Google Drive, and submit it back to the teacher. Finally, the teacher grades each assignment and sends a response directly to each student.

Questions

The Question feature lets teachers  quickly receive feedback from students with multiple choice or short answer questions. Teachers can permit students to see  and comment on their classmates’ responses, or this option can be turned off if the teacher would rather keep answers private, and graded. The question feature is a great tool to use for checking on on student understanding.

Calendar

Google Classroom automatically creates an assignment calendar for students and teachers.  When assignments are tagged with a due date, that assignment will show up on the class calendar for both the student and the teacher.

Google Classroom FAQ

Google classroom has many great features that can be used as little or as much as a teachers see fit for their particular classroom.  We hope that these questions and answers help you as you enter into the world of Google Classroom.  

Google Classroom FAQ

What are some ways that teachers can engage students using Google Classroom?

Inside of Google Classroom, teachers have several options to reach their students.  By creating announcements, assignments, or questions, teachers can engage students in a variety of ways. Each of these engagement types has its own advantages for fostering student interaction.

Announcement: An announcement serves as a way to quickly distribute information to your class.  An announcement does not have the ability to be graded inside of Google Classroom in the same way that an Assignment or Question does; however, students are able to respond to the announcement through the comments feature. Announcements are a way to give students a voice in the Google Classroom Stream.

Assignment: Assignments are a way for teachers to create content for students on a specific topic.  When creating an assignment, teachers title each assignment, while also having the ability to include instructions in the description area.  They then are able to attach various items to each individual assignment including: Google Drive files, uploaded attachments from the hard drive of the device they are using, YouTube videos, and web links. If teachers attach a Drive file, there are three options through which students can interact when opening the assignment, explained in further detail below.

Question:  Teachers can use the Question feature in Google Classroom to quickly receive feedback from students by multiple choice question or short answer.  When setting up a question, teachers can allow for students to see their classmates responses, allowing for conversation to take place on the variety of answers.  This option can also be turned off if the teacher would rather keep answers private, and graded.  The question feature is a great tool to use as an exit ticket to check student understanding.

How do you add students to your class?

Students can be added three ways.  The first way is by unique class code.  When a class is created by a teacher, the class is given a unique code by Google.  Students can then go to the Classroom website (classroom.google.com), select join, and enter the code.  As students enter, the class roster is updated instantly.

The second way is by teacher invitation.  Teachers have the ability to invite students by using their Google accounts.  By directly adding students, teachers eliminate the step of students incorrectly entering the code, or taking valuable class time helping all students get into the class.  This strategy may be best for elementary students that are just learning keyboarding skills and take an extended period of time to type.  

If you have a very large number of students, a technology administrator can add an entire roster  through Google’s API. Ask your Google Administrator about this process.   

Is there a way parents can access Google Classroom to follow their students?

As of the 2016 school year, yes there is.  Parents have to be invited to participate by the teacher of the class.  In the students’ section, teachers can invite guardians to the class by email.  After the guardians’ email addresses have been entered, they will receive an email asking if they would like to participate with daily or weekly summaries of student work.  This update contains: missing work, upcoming work, and class activity posted by teachers.  

The addendum to this is that parents need a Google account in order to receive the updates.  This does not necessarily mean a Gmail account, as parents can register for a Google account with their current email address.  

What is the workflow system that Google Classroom creates?

At its core, Google Classroom connects directly to teacher and student Google Drive accounts by creating an easy to follow digital workflow.  Additionally, it even applies file naming conventions through the assignment creation process.  For example, when a teacher assigns a Google Doc through Google Classroom, a copy of the doc can automatically be made for each student and then stored in a Classroom folder in Drive.  By creating individual digital copies of assignments, the headache of sharing and permissions can be avoided.

In Google Docs, each student’s copy also comes with a big blue turn-in button at the top, allowing students to submit their work without having to go back to Classroom.  With this workflow there’s no printing, no photocopying, no lost work, and the teacher can even receive notifications on her own device as students submit work.  

Can Google Classroom be used for group work?

Google Classroom does allow teachers to now assign work to specific students or groups of students. Teachers should keep in mind that true groups of students cannot be assigned in one assignment. Instead separate assignments will need to be created for each group of students.

An alternative method may be for teachers to share a template of a group assignment through Classroom and require a group leader to open and share that template with their respective group members.  The teacher can then use Classroom to check in on the group assignment and give real time feedback to the group as they work through it.

Where can teachers store important core material for students to access?

Google Classroom offers teachers an area to place all core materials that students may need to access through the portal.  In the About area, teachers can create access to a variety of materials such as: important links to websites, Google Drive documents, YouTube videos, and computer files.  All of these resources then become readily accessible to students in the class.  

One question that is frequently asked is if this About area will take the place of a teacher website.  While Classroom offers the About section to store resources, it does not necessarily take the place of the teacher website.  One of the main reasons involves guardian access.  While the guardians can have updates sent to them from Classroom, they do not have the ability to log into the actual class without using their student’s username and password.  Therefore, a teacher posting materials on a class website may still be considered a more accessible option for parents.  

Can you grade in Google Classroom? Can you then export those grades?

Yes, you can.  Teachers have the ability to grade Questions and Assignments that are added to the stream.  Announcements cannot be graded.  Once students have turned in their assignment or submitted an answer to a question, the teacher can give it a numerical grade.  When the grades have been attached, teachers must return the assignment to the students before they will see the grade.  

Once finished with the grading, teachers can select the settings cog in the top right corner of the screen, allowing them the options of copying their grades to Google Sheets or downloading all grades to a CSV file.  Many teachers inquire about exporting grades to a student information system.  While it is possible to import some CSV files into different student information systems, ultimately, that would depend on which system the school is using.  We suggest checking with your SIS manager before attempting this.  

How is content organized in Google Classroom?

Google Classroom allows for posts to be organized in a variety of ways.  One method allows for teachers to tag announcements, questions, and assignments with a specific topic.  When an assignment is tagged with a topic, it appears on the left side of the stream allowing for all content with that topic to be displayed in one click.  Topics allow for teachers and students to recall content quickly and efficiently.  

Teachers can also create posts and either save them as drafts to be published at a later date or schedule them to be sent out at a specific time.  Saving as a draft can help teachers prepare their classroom for upcoming work while not having it visible to students.   

Teachers should also utilize the calendar associated with their class.  This calendar appears both in Google Classroom, but also as an additional calendar in both the teacher and student’s Google Calendar.  From Google Calendar, teachers can make the class calendar public and send the URL to guardians.  While all assignments and questions that have due dates associated with them appear on this calendar, teachers can also add other events to the calendar.  For example a teacher may want to add a field trip to the calendar.

Assignment: Assignments are a way for teachers to create content for students on a specific topic.  When creating an assignment, teachers title each assignment, while also having the ability to include instructions in the description area.  They then are able to attach various items to each individual assignment including: Google Drive files, uploaded attachments from the hard drive of the device they are using, YouTube videos, and web links. If teachers attach a Drive file, there are three options through which students can interact when opening the assignment, explained in further detail below.

Question:  Teachers can use the Question feature in Google Classroom to quickly receive feedback from students by multiple choice question or short answer.  When setting up a question, teachers can allow for students to see their classmates responses, allowing for conversation to take place on the variety of answers.  This option can also be turned off if the teacher would rather keep answers private, and graded.  The question feature is a great tool to use as an exit ticket to check student understanding.

How does Google Classroom integrate with mobile devices?

Google Classroom is available as an app for both Android and iOS devices.  The apps both offer additional benefits that are not available in the desktop version, including the ability to annotate directly on PDF documents. When using the Google Classroom iPad or Android app, students now have the ability open files and annotate directly on them! As an example, a teacher could assign a primary source document to their students. The students would open the assignment on their iPad, select the annotate option, and then use the available pen features to markup the document. After the students finish their annotations, the file automatically converts to a PDF file and attaches to the assignment in Classroom.  

The notifications available with the mobile app can also be very helpful for students.  When a teacher creates a post on the class stream, students are immediately notified on their devices.  Students have raved about the notifications being a tremendous benefit to them as they are able to download the Classroom app on their phones and be notified at any time of the posts their teacher creates.  A student was quoted as saying, “I don’t regularly check my email, so receiving notifications on my phone is the only way I know I have work to do in class.”

What are students able to turn in? Can it only be a Google Doc?

The answer to this is no.  Students are able to submit any file type they are requested to complete This means that students recording podcasts can submit MP3 files; students recording videos are able to upload MP4 files; anything the student creates and is in a file format is able to be submitted through Google Classroom.  In fact, many websites and mobile apps are now offering direct Google Classroom integration into their product.  For example, students can create a video in iMovie on their iPad and share it directly to an open assignment in Google Classroom.

Teachers also do not have to assign specific Google Doc templates to students.  If a teacher does not push out an already created file, students can choose to create a file within the Google Classroom environment that best fits their needs.  Perhaps one student would prefer to respond to a prompt in Google Slides, while another would like to use Google Drawings, they are able to make this decision on their own, promoting student voice and choice.  

Google Classroom Tutorials

Intro & Set Up in Google Classroom
Adding Students in Google Classroom
Creating an Announcement
Creating an Assignment
Creating a Question
4 Hidden Features of Google Classroom
Google Classroom Updates Fall 2016
Google Classroom iPad tutorial
iPads and Google Classroom
August 2017 Google Classroom Updates

Learn More About Google Classroom

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