Sunday, August 19, 2018

Google Classroom You Can Do - Part 1: Creating

Google Classroom has released some changes recently. My job is to support classroom teachers and the students they serve. This time of year, we welcome our new staff. Not all are brand new teachers, but some are brand new to Google &/or Google Classroom.

Today I want provide steps to create a Classroom as well as some things to keep in mind. This isn't only for brand new teachers, either. I've been lucky enough to attend workshops and work with numerous teachers and talk about the reasons why they have their classes set up the way they do. 



STEP 1: SIGN IN
To get started, go to classroom.goolge.com . If this is your VERY first time, you'll need to ensure you indicate you are a teacher. Likewise, when you have your students navigate to the same URL, make sure they select they are a student.
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Photo from Google Classroom's Help page
STEP 2: DECIDE ABOUT YOUR CLASSROOM(s)
Here is where every teacher is going to be different. You may not think too much about this initially, but here are questions you will want to ask yourself when creating classroom(s).
  • What is the age of your students?
  • How much do you plan on using Classroom?
  • How does your brain organize your daily teacher life?
I ask these because it will help you decide if you should have 1 classroom for everything ... 1 classroom for each subject/content you teacher ... 1 classroom per period ... etc. We live in a digital world, whether we like it or not. Our students need to be able to function in a digital classroom.

The younger your students, the fewer classrooms you most likely will have - Classroom probably won't be the main "vehicle" for content delivery. [It's perfectly ok if it is!] The older your students are the more likely you will use Classroom everyday - multiple times a day - to deliver content, assignments, projects, assessments, and more. 


***TIP 1*** there is NO right or wrong here ... it's all in how YOU want your Classroom to look.

***TIP 2*** you may want to have a Classroom dedicated to your resources/class materials. Think about it as a warehouse where you can collect and easily find material. You can add tons in here and use it this year (& future) when you are ready.


STEP 3: CREATE YOUR CLASSROOM(s)
Once you sign in, look for the large plus sign near the top right corner. When you click on it, you have 2 options. You will want to select the "Create class" option. 

[Follow the steps - Google is awesome at walking you through.] 

When choosing a class name, think about the students you are using this with. Does the name make sense? Fill in as much or as little info on the card. 

[And don't worry - you can always adjust this later if you want!]

Click create & congratulations! You've created your 1st Classroom!!! Repeat as many times as you'd like.

***TIP 3*** your Classroom does NOT have to last ALL YEAR! One of the best tips I have gathered is you may want to start a new Classroom at major spots in the school year. Here are a few ideas:
  • Each quarter/semester ↬ helps keep students (& you!) focused on current material
  • Each new unit  keeps students focused on current material; less confusing if you have recurring assignments like vocab, review sheets, etc


STEP 4: ADDING STUDENTS TO YOUR CLASSROOM(s)
You have 2 options to add students to join your Classroom. If you are able to email them, you can send them an invite or show the class code. While you may think sending an email is the "easiest", I'd encourage you to try out the code option.

EMAIL INVITE:
  • Click the People tab.
  • Across from the Students section, click on the person with the plus sign.
  • Type in each student's email you'd like to invite. (If your district as them in as groups, you can use the group email.)
  • Repeat for each student.

JOIN w/a CODE OPTION:

STUDENT PART:
  • Have students go to classroom.google.com &, if it's their first time signing in, select the "I'm a student" option.
  • Have them click on the plus icon near the top right & select "Join class".
    • Remember this part??? It's just like you! Only they will not have the create option.
TEACHER PART:
  • In YOUR Google Classroom, click on the gear wheel in the top right corner.
    • On this new screen, locate the "Class Code".
    • Click on the down triangle next to the random string of 7 letters/numbers.
    • Choose "Display" and it will show nice & large on your screen - excellent choice if you are projecting!!! Otherwise, write this code on the board for your students to type in.
    • ***TIP 4*** you can make it even BIGGER by click on the icon that looks like it's just the corners of a square.
See ... I told you it might be wise to try this out! No prep work - just display the code & go! Even your littlest learners can absolutely do this!!!

STEP 5: CUSTOMIZE YOUR CLASSROOM(s)
You've truly done the "hard part" in the creation process, so let's reward you with some FUN!!!

Chances are, if you used the name of a content (math, science, history, etc) in the name of your class, Classroom pre-selected a theme for your class to match this theme. However, you are NOT stuck with this! You can customize this. 

On the main page of the Classroom you want to change, choose "Select theme". It's on the lower right corner of the HEADER image. Once you do this, you can choose from the ready-to-go themes. 

CUSTOMIZE: If you'd like to, you can create your own header and upload it! Google Drawings is a great place to tackle this! Once you have it saved on your computer, use the "Upload photo" option just below "Select theme".

***TIP 5*** Here is a link to a great resource to help you out ... Brad Dale's "Add your own personal GIFs in your Google Classroom Header"

***TIP 6*** this can be slightly frustrating because it gets cropped some. Don't give up ... adjust your Drawing and you'll get it. It's VERY rewarding to see your creation each time you open your Classroom! And you can customize everything about it.

***TIP 7*** you canNOT move the name of your class in the middle of the header. Incorporate that into your design and it becomes the perfect addition! 


STEP 6: FURTHER INITIAL START UPS TO CONSIDER
CO-TEACHER(s)
Do you co-teach? Do you have an intervention specialist or an instructional aide attached to your class? Give them the same access you have by adding them as a co-teacher! Follow the same steps as adding a student, only use the section for "Teachers" instead.

***TIP 8*** use this as a collaborative place to have a Classroom all the teachers in your grade/content share material & resources. You won't be locked into any of this showing in your Classroom, you can pick and choose as you wish.

WHERE DID THE "ABOUT" TAB GO?
If you used Classroom before, you might find yourself looking high & low for the "About" tab. Unfortunately, it has gone by the wayside. BUT ... ALL IS NOT LOST!

Eric Curts wrote a fantastic blog where he shared some work-arounds ↬ What to do About the Missing "About" Page in Google Classroom". 


RESOURCES for GOOGLE CLASSROOM
I am certainly NOT the expert on Classroom. I use several resources to help find solutions and tips to what my teachers ask. I use a few different places regularly and I encourage you to do the same.

Google Classroom Help website ↬ FULL of easy to read tips & suggestions

Welcome to your 1st day of Classroom website ↬ a super helpful place to not only find info from Google, but also from other teachers who use Classroom.

EdTech people  Eric Curts, Alice Keeler, Matt Miller, Kasey Bell, Brad Dale, etc. I encourage you to follow them on Twitter as well as checking out their websites.

Do you have questions? Feel free to reach out to me - either here or on Twitter - I'd be happy to help!

Other Posts of Interest:

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