First, let me get my true feelings out of the way. Google Classroom is fabulous! In a sense, it has reinvigorating my teaching.Let’s take a step back. It’s very easy to fall into a rut as a teacher. I mean, you could be saying the same thing over and over, day in and day out, year after year. So, it’s easy to see that it’s fairly easy to get bored, and even burned out. Let me take you aside for a moment and tell you that I was in the sinking ship. I was stuck in the quicksand. I was trudging in the snow. I was…You get my drift (no pun intended). After almost 15 years of teaching, I needing to find new avenues of delivering the content I’ve been working with for years. So far, I think I’ve found it with Google Classroom.
What is Google Classroom you ask? It’s a revolutionary education tool designed for the 21st Century. Now, before I go on, let me tell you, I had heard of Google Classroom but never pursued looking into it. There was one thing that led me to investigate Google Classroom—paper. Yes, paper. You see, I like to keep the students engaged with a project or some other class exercise. Often times, these projects or class work involve drawing or something creative using blank sheets of paper. Needless to say, I go through a lot of paper. Plus, I’m not one to have them copy questions from the projection screen. To me, it’s too time consuming to have kids copy 20 questions. And, by the way, not all kids copy things down at the same speed (Google Classroom will address this as I will describe later). So, I was in the practice of photocopying the questions for them to either complete in class or take home. That’s lots o’ paper right there. Then, the other various things they would do include creating comic strips, pamphlets, flyers, magazines—all involve using copy paper. And I was all to happy to provide that for them. As you can probably see, I went through a lot of paper. It was the need to eliminate the use of paper that I turned to Classroom.
Google Classroom is the paperless environment that those teachers seeking to simplify their paperwork are looking for. Not only that, but it all but eliminates passing back papers. That’s right, no longer does a teacher need to take time just to pass back papers, and, heaven help you if you let papers that need to be passed back stack up. It could turn out to be a class period of passing back papers. You can send papers back with Classroom after you grade them. Student work can be sent back to their Google Drive. And, if giving a test using Google Forms (a part of Google Classroom), with a simple add on to Google Sheets, students can receive immediate feedback as tests are graded and returned back to their Google Drive. The other cool thing about the immediate test grading is that not only does Classroom give them their score, but informs the student which questions they missed and what the correct answers are. Awesome right?!
So what are the features of Google Classroom? After setting up your classes, you simply invite students to join your class. You can either email them a link or direct them to Google Classroom and provide them with a code to log in. Google Classroom features what they call the “stream”. The stream is the main area of Classroom where students can view and turn in assignments and view announcements that the teacher has made.
Google Classroom is a true jewel. If your schools has a Google apps account, I truly recommend checking out Google Classroom.