Monday, September 3, 2018

Google Classroom You Can Do - Part 3: 5 Ways to Go Beyond the Basics

Welcome to the 3rd, and final, segment in my series about the *new* Google Classroom, with a *bonus* post devoted to how you can learn more about the recent updates.

If you want to start from the beginning, check out my previous posts:

Once you have your Classroom up and running, you might want to start thinking about what's next. It's one thing to have a digital classroom - it's great! But did you know you can do even more? That's right ... some of these are about going beyond IN with your class and some are about going beyond OUTside of your class.

Be brave. Try at least one of the following in the next week or so ... then challenge yourself to try out each of them. They all provide a new tool with added benefits to your class.

Let's jump in.

↬ Share to Classroom extension

This is an EASY one. Extensions provide additional functionality on your Chrome browser and this one is no different. This extension will allow you to literally "push" a website to the students in a Google Classroom you select. Select a class, "push" the site to your students, and within a handful of seconds, the students devices will change.

Imagine the benefits of using this with young students! On days where you don't want to pre-post a link in Google Classroom, or you come across a site on a whim ... this can be extremely helpful. This can be a great time saver, as well. 

You can use this extension to also add the site to an announcement, assignment, or question in a specific Classroom, too. An added bonus is your students can push sites back to you, too, but you choose to accept them or not. I can see doing research with older students, one finding something to share, this tool can help your quickly share out. 

If you only try one of these, please try this one! Teachers I've shown this to swear it's a game-changer ... and it's easy.

To read more, check out Google Classroom's support page.

↬ Using private comments for feedback

I attended a workshop hosted by Alice Keeler, and one of the best tips she shared was how to share private feedback with student by using the private comments. No need to look up contact - no writing emails - easy to track who you've responded to. 

One potential use is to create an assignment where the students are directed to answer/respond via a private comment. Allows students to easily & privately respond. [Read more here.] This is great for when you are looking for short responses (a topic sentence to a story, a quick, private response to a question). 

Another use is on an assignment, you can type a private comment to each student, even before it's turned in. Great feedback option!

↬ Integrating 3rd party apps

With it's growing popularity, many 3rd party apps are including the ability to directly assign or add to Google Classroom. With a click of the button, you can take an outside activity and add it to your Classroom. This is a time-saver! 

A few examples:

  • Quizlet ↬ log into your teacher account, create a study set, click the share button, and follow the steps to add it to your Classroom.

  • PBS Learning Media ↬ this is a great website PBS curates with tons of great resources for you and your students. With a similar process to Quizlet, share a lesson to your students.

  • Screencastify videos ↬ if you create videos for your students and want to easily share them to your Google Classroom, you can! I came across this purely as I created some "how-to" videos and noticed the Google Classroom icon. 
--- Access your screen recordings by clicking on the Screencastify extension

--- Navigate to "My Recordings"

--- Select the video you want to share and then the "share" icon

  • ↬ this was a happy find, too! Looking to add some coding exposure to your class? This FREE resource is awesome. The Google Classroom integration allows for an easy way to roster your students. Once you create your teacher account, allow to access your Google Classrooms and then create your class section(s) by following the step-by-step directions. 

*** And YES! As students join your Classroom, you can re-sync your roster! ***
Here's a video created by Jason Aillaud I found on YouTube demonstrating this.

Looking for more 3rd party apps? Kasey Bell (from ShakeUpLearning) has a list of 50! Read her post "50 Awesome Apps that Integrate with Google Classroom".

↬ Utilizing the Classroom Calendar

Let's face it, any time you can save yourself time in the long run, it's worth the initial investment, right? You might feel the Google Calendar that is created automatically with each Classroom isn't the most useful tool. 

However, stop and think about this - the calendar is created FOR you. Anytime you add an assignment with a date, it automatically is added to your calendar. This happens for ALL Google Classrooms. For your students, this can be a very helpful organizational tool - they will see ALL of their dated assignments in one place. 

Another way you can think about utilizing this calendar is by posting it on your website so not only can your students find it in their Classroom, but also on your website. This can be very parent friendly, too. And now that I mention parents, this is a GREAT communication tool - once the calendar has been created and shared, you can help parents by adding information you'd like for them to be aware of.  And don't limit your thinking to JUST assignments - it's a Google Calendar you will find when you go to and from there you can add events like "Field Trip" or "No School", etc. 

Read more about teachers using the calendar on the Google Classroom resource site.

↬ Guardian emails

This is a feature that seems to cause teachers stress. There seems to be the misconception that guardians will be able to access the assignments through this. I am living proof that this is NOT true.

A beautiful feature is only ONE teacher needs to invite the guardian(s). The rest of the teachers simply need to toggle the switch "on" to be included.  A guardian email allows a birds eye view into any Classroom the student is attached to. If enabled, guardians will receive an email (daily or weekly - depending on their preference) with a list view of the items posted in each Classroom. There is NO possibility for guardians for click on, open up, or complete any of the included information. This is GREAT for assignments or quizzes, not so great if you are hoping to allow parents to read an attachment.

Guardian emails are an easy communication tool that requires NO additional effort on the part of a teacher. After the initial adding of a guardian email, the rest happens automatically. I'd highly recommend finding a guardian who'd be willing to provide feedback on what exactly this looks like. I offered to be this for my daughter's teachers and this helped alleviate a LOT of their fears and allowed us them to problem solve when they assumed I could read attachments. 

One way to think about this a school wide initiative as a standard communication piece. An email will only be sent for the Classroom if something has been posted. [Example: If I do not post anything in my math Google Classroom, parents will not see this class on their email summary.]

Another way to think about this  If you teach on a team of teachers and you want to take a baby step into this, create ONE Google Classroom and add each teacher as a co-teacher (see Part 1: Creating, step 6 for help). Each day, teachers can post an announcement regarding the homework for their class. This will be less confusing if, as a team, you discuss and agree on how to identify each class. Parents & students will both appreciate this effort!

One thing of importance to note  I received an email each day at 4:15 pm. Anything posted after 4 did not necessarily get included in the email. 

To Wrap This Up ...

Google Classroom is a powerful addition to your classroom. It can be far more than the vehicle to deliver content - if you allow it to. Creating a Classroom and using it is a great step. Don't let it intimidate you. Going a little further by any of these steps is even better.

Do you have additional questions? Please reach out. I'd be happy to help. You can comment below or find me on Twitter @kiefersj or Google+ +SarahKiefer .

No comments:

Post a Comment