Wondering what Google Classroom is like? Just getting started? This visual tour will walk you through setting up your first class.
Who can use Google Classroom?
Originally, a school district would need to give teachers access to Google Classroom. Google opened up Google Classroom to everyone recently. Now homeschool teachers and teachers at private schools can access Google Classroom. You can also set up a Google Classroom account from your personal gmail just to explore.
If you teach at a public school and your district hasn’t set up Google Classroom, you need to be careful. Your students will need Google emails to use it and there are legal issues about giving email addresses to children of certain ages. You really want to let your district handle that.
For this tutorial, I went to Google Classroom on my personal account. My students wouldn’t be able to join classes from this account because of district settings. I can’t join the class from my district account due to settings for our district.
Getting Started with Google Classroom
It really is as simple as going to classroom.google.com!
To create a class, click the plus sign in the top right corner and choose Create Class.
Name the class whatever you like. You can come back and edit those details if you like. Feel free to leave parts blank. As you can see, the first time you do this, there will be a lot of popups to help you.
You can go through and add students to your class, but honestly, you have enough to do. All you really need to do is have the kids go to classroom.google.com and click the plus sign and choose Join Class. Then give them your code. Next thing you know, all the kids are in your class and it took just a moment.
You can find the code under STREAM. Click on the code to make it large. This feature is great to have on the interactive white board as the lesson starts.
Some people debate about how many classes to have. Personally, I treat a class like a folder. Elementary classes can have different classes for math and reading etc. If you grade reading, writing, and grammar separately, why not have a class for each. It is up to you.
If you want to get a feel for the student perspective, you are welcome to join my class. Your district may have settings so you can’t join classes outside of your district. If that is the case, you can have a coworker set up a class for you to explore, or you can use your personal gmail personal account. The code to this class is exil0b6 (that is an l as in lion and a zero). (I won’t use your email or add it to any lists if you join.)
What can you do in Google Classroom?
There are three main posts a teacher can make: post an assignment, ask a question, and make an announcement. You can have the post you create go out right away or you can schedule it. I love that I can go through and schedule things out for a week or two while I’m planing.
Post an Assignment
When posting assignments there are many options. My favorite option is demonstrated in this gif. I personally like to upload a resource from my drive and have Google Classroom make a copy for all of my students.
Click the plus sign and choose Create Assignment. You can give it a title, give written instructions, upload something, give a due date, and assign a topic. You can even click the All Students drop down menu to customize for intervention. Topics can be helpful for organization. You can come back to assignments and edit them later.
I love to use the drop down menu to choose Make a Copy for each student. This will give each student in your class their own copy. I love how Google Classroom will organize this in your drive and the students drive. It will create a folder called Classroom in your drive and inside it will create a folder for each class and in that each assignment.
Make a Copy is the only thing that isn’t editable later. If you forget to choose Make a Copy, it is best to delete that assignment and start over. Make sure you copy any lengthy words so you can paste them in. I’ve gotten in the habit of choosing Make a Copy before I do the other sections. I know working bottom up is weird, but I’ve forgotten a few times. Running to my laptop to redo an assignment isn’t an ideal way to start a lesson.
If you click Assign it will immediately be in your class. You can also click the drop down arrow to schedule it to show at a later date and time.
Ask a Question
I have fallen in love with this option. My weakness is that I often forget to wrap up a lesson. Now, I let Google Classroom do that for me. I like to schedule a reflection question ten minutes before the end of class. This way they can’t ‘reflect’ too soon. They also don’t know what I’m going to ask so it works to keep them accountable for the content. By making it a routine, they’ll remember to look for the question even when I don’t remember to remind them.
Make an Announcement
This option is great when you just want to tell them something. For example, if I want students to watch a video and there will be nothing attached that I will grade, I use the Make an Announcement option.
Personalize Google Classroom
You can adjust the settings so that you only get email alerts about things you want.
You can also choose your own theme.
Why does mine look different?
Google is amazing in that they are constantly improving. Sometimes the improvements are subtle. Sometimes they change the whole look. I try to come back periodically to update things. Funnily enough, when I came in to do my most recent update, I found a surprise. The classroom I made with on my personal account has three different headings from my school account. I went to check the Google Edu blog, some gifs had four headings. As they make changes, they are rolled out slowly. (Updated June 2019) If you see something in one of the gifs that looks strange, let me know. In the meantime, join our group below and we can help if you are confused.
Where Can I find Support with Google Classroom?
Where Can I Find Resources to Assign using Google Classroom?
You can find all my resources for Google here.
If you are getting started with using Google in your classroom and you like this visual style of learning, this resource would be a great place to start: