If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of all things Google. One of the main Google systems I use is Google Classroom, but I wasn’t always good at it. It took me quite a bit of trial and error to get the system working in my favor, so I am going to share the mistakes I made along the way to save you the time and trouble. Let’s get into it so you know exactly how to set up Google Classroom this year!
Before we begin, I want to let you know that I do have a course on all things Google Classroom. You’re going to want to check that out if any of the terms I use throw you for a loop! Here is the link.
1: Set Up Google Classroom Organization by Chapters
When I first started using Google Classroom, I organized Google Classroom by chapter. This didn’t work for me because I used the tool for center time. The chapter depended on what skills students were working towards. Read this blog post to see more ways to efficiently organize Google Classroom, check out this blog post.
2: Not Having a Resource Topic
After completing distance learning in Spring 2020, I learned quickly to create a resource topic. In the topic, I put reference sheets for students and parents to view. Basically, I put tutorials on how to use Google Classroom and it was a total game-changer! I made this bundle that includes student and parent tutorials on the platform.
3: Set Up The Entire Grade in One Classroom
Last year, we were thrown into distance learning. My school was using Google Classroom for the first time and I was the point person. On a whim, my principal wanted me to put all the students for each grade in a grade-wide classroom. I thought that was a great idea – until it wasn’t. 😅
It got to be quite overwhelming having so many fifth graders in one classroom, especially because they were 3 different homerooms. Put your homerooms in separate Google Classrooms if you teach in a departmentalized school.
4: Letting Students Comment on the Stream
In the beginning of Google Classroom, comments on the Stream weren’t such a bad thing. Students would ask questions or respond to our daily check-ins. Then they got comfortable. They started using the stream as a new form of social media. It also didn’t help that I didn’t teach the platform explicitly and give explicit expectations from the beginning (see below).
5: Not Explicitly Teaching Google Classroom and the Apps
We teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division explicitly, why don’t we teach tech explicitly? You’re probably like me and had this thought of “well if they can figure out an Xbox, then they can figure out Google Classroom!” Oh man was I wrong! The games students play are designed to be more figureoutable. Students need to be taught explicitly how to use Google Classroom AND the expectations for using it.
6: All Students Have The Same Password
I set up Google Classroom for the first time two years ago, and gave my students the same password. I didn’t have students change their passwords because in my mind, fifth graders wouldn’t become hackers. WRONG! Again, this stems from me not setting up clear expectations and guidelines in the beginning.
Since my journey with Google Classroom began, I have since virtually met my friend Branda from therelevantclassroom.com. She teaches high school ELA and she has an amazing no-prep resource that I am definitely using with my fourth graders next year! Check it out here.
If there is one takeaway I want you to learn from me is this: explicitly teach how to use the tech AND the expectations for using the tech. This is a skill that needs to be taught, just like capitalizing the first letter in their name and learning about citizenship and respect.