I cannot begin to tell you just how excited I was that my son was going to be using Google Google Classroom this year. Google Classroom is my jam. It’s my thing. As an ed tech coach and professional development trainer, I spend half of my day training teachers on how to use Google Classroom to better engage their students and simplify the way we do things in the classroom.
With that said, I promise that this is not another “How to Use Google Classroom" post or a Google Classroom 101 lesson. In fact, this post isn’t coming from a training perspective. It’s not even coming from an ed tech coach.
This post is coming from a mom.
I see the frustration almost daily: My son sifting through the Stream searching for things. My son looking for a file he started in his Drive that he forgot to name. (As of the most recent count, there were 27 files named “Untitled document” in his Google Drive. Twenty. Seven.) My son searching through his Stream for a study guide only to remember that the study guide was actually a paper copy. Oh, and that paper copy is at the bottom of his locker.
I am not making excuses for my kid--I know he needs to get organized and be responsible. I’m working on that. (Really, I am.) But, I also know that there are a few Google Classroom “best practices” that could help him along the way. And if they could help my son, I’m sure that they could help the other sons and daughters who sit in your classroom every day.
Mom Tip 1: Use the Topics Feature: The topics features will allow you to group all of your posts by a common topic. Are you posting an assignment related to astronomy? Assign the “astronomy” topic label to bundle it with all of the other posts on astronomy. This way, when your students have to review all of the materials on astronomy for an upcoming test, they need only click the topic label on the left hand side to access ALL of the materials they will need to help them prepare. Sifting through the stream and trying to guess which assignments are relevant not only wastes time, but can leave your students feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Trust me. I know.
Mom Tip 2: Even if You Give Hard Copies, Add Digital Ones to the Stream. My son is a disorganized kid. Sometimes he misplaces things. And I am sure he is not the only one.
Mom Tip 3: Don’t Be Afraid of Guardian Summaries: Guardian summaries will not give parents full access to your Google Classroom. Nor will it give them access to your actual Stream. Instead, the summaries just provide a quick overview of recent posts and upcoming work. It can be a really great way to keep parents in the loop without oversharing. Still not convinced? Check out my quick infographic HERE.
Mom Tip 4: Add Due Dates to Your Assignments: As adults, we live and die by our calendars. Heck, if it’s not on my calendar, it’s just not happening. Why not get our kids into the habit of using a calendar to keep organized and remember important due dates? By adding due dates to assignments, you will automatically create a post on your student’s Google Calendar. It’s kind of like having a personalized agenda with all of the due dates and deadlines for school all in one place.
Mom Tip 5: Number the Assignments: Numbering assignments will not only impact the Stream, but will make such a difference in the students’ Drives. Right now, when I open any of my son’s Classroom folders, they are a hot mess. (Did I mention that my son is disorganized on his own?) Numbering assignments would put all of the work teachers distribute in numerical order right in the Classroom folder. (Check out @alicekeeler's post for the BEST information on numbering.) As teachers, we encourage the use of tables of contents in students’ physical notebooks. I’ve seen my own son number the pages of his paper worksheets and handouts. Think about the difference it would make if the digital handouts were numbered as well.
(Who also just happens to be an EdTech Coach)
Jennifer Fischer is a former middle school English teacher, full-time instructional coach, and part-time edtech nerd, who strives to help next JENeration educators transform learning for all students.