Technology sure has made life easier, and as a classroom teacher, I cannot even begin to summarize how much my classroom AND teaching has transformed. Introducing GAFE last school year was quite remarkable; suddenly, the amount of missing assignments drastically dropped! With the use of gClassFolders, I could easily access student assignments and encourage their completion by some feedback, or I could grade what was present and enter that into the gradebook. No more waiting for dirty, crumpled papers to be produced from an equally dirty backpack! Though this new excitement by students and the completion of more work from them was marvelous, admittingly, I still was bogged down by the time it took to go to each individual student’s folder and find the assignment. Though I directly told students what to name work, at times it was like searching for a needle in a hay stack if they did not create neat unit folders to store their assignments. What about group assignments? Who was the group leader; do I go into their folder to find the assignment? Ugh, how annoying!
This year, magically, Google Classroom appeared. I was hesitant to jump in mid-term (come on Google, you know school starts in August–why wait to release Classroom in September?); therefore, I took the leap at the start of Term 2. Now I’m shaking my head because I should have made the transition in September! Once again, Google has made something ridiculously easy and very user-friendly. Though I am only 2 weeks into Classroom, I am loving it. Below is a list of what I am experiencing as positives for Google Classroom. I hope others can add to this list!
1. Collecting of assignments is such a breeze! Organization is made easy!
Okay, last year we had an inservice where we created gClassFolders. This year it was expected that we grow up a bit and do this on our own. Well, guess what? I didn’t do it–I tried, though! I followed Lori Blocker’s step-by-step directions, but I did something wrong, and my folders just couldn’t be created. I wasted 3 evenings trying to correct this, spoke personally to Lori, and I still had something teeny-tiny wrong. Whatever–the end result? Collecting assignments was a mess! I will save you the details of my painful term.
Classroom creates student folders automatically! OMG–heavenly music instantly began to play when I discovered this followed by the urge to bang my head on the desk because of the time wasted and stress of last term. Umm, have I mentioned how EASY it is too? I LOVE LOVE LOVE how everything automatically syncs up with Drive, and I simply check-marked my class roster to invite the entire class.
2. Providing Feedback
Using Google Docs has been teacher life-changing because I have found that students are so much more receptive to editing/revision. They can easily see my comments/suggestions on their documents, and this is just how they operate. They no longer care to read my scribbles on their work; they think digital.
I like how as I am grading assignments I can enter the score and provide additional feedback on an assignment to the student before hitting the return button. In my two weeks, I see students first reading my feedback and then opening up the assignment to review. Suddenly they have more purpose to stop and review the graded work, OR if they do not open it, then I know that they received at least some feedback!
3. Communication Occurs on Both Sides & Instant Announcements Occur
Elaborating from above, I see students more comfortable with communicating with me. If I mark something on their assignment, they may comment back or even email.
4. Classroom Helps with Absent Students
I’d like to believe that there is some magical teacher and classroom out there where attendance is not an issue. This isn’t the reality for me, so Classroom is wonderful because students have a go-to-place to see the agenda for the class that they missed, view the handouts from class, and do the homework/in-class assignment right from home. It’s beautiful because the documents are easily uploaded to Classroom from the teacher’s Google Drive. It takes only a second to attach a document. I am going to confess–I have stopped using my District Website because it is totally unnecessary with Classroom (Shh, don’t tell!). I don’t like messy—District Websites were messy/annoying to me because embedding documents and links was not super easy. My students know instantly to log-on to their Chromebooks and go to Classroom. I love how some even preview the day before the bell even rings!!!!! I still have my agenda on the board; however, students will look ahead at the assignment/handouts. This is pre-reading at its best! When I get to the assignment/handout, some students have put thought into it and have very specific questions to ask. Again, before I spent too much time modeling where to go to find an assignment or repeating myself at least 5 times to open a document–it’s now all there.
5. Great Practice For College
Submitting work online is the college way, so why aren’t we doing it in high school? I like how once a student turns in the assignment, they cannot access it until I grade it. (this is only sort of true; if a student submits in error or realizes they forgot something, there is a button for them to recall the assignment).
6. Grade Recording Interface
Grading an assignment is super easy now because I can just click on the student’s name and open up their document, record the grade, leave a message if need be, and then move on to the next student. My big wish would be if Google could muster up a way to connect to our online gradebook. It is a let-down that I still have to open up Infinite Campus and straddle two sites at one time as I record the grades, BUT this is still better than before 🙂
7. Online help is out there. If what I wrote above hooks you a bit, go to http://hubpages.com/hub/Google-Classroom-Help-and-Support
This site has tutorial videos and step-by-step directions for everything that I have described.
So, how do YOU use Google Classroom? Steve, Alissa, Marcia, and I would love feedback and questions. -Angela