This summer I attended a Google Classroom session at the Lausanne Learning Institute in Memphis. Several of the teachers at my high school, Pope John Paul II, are using Google Classroom to enhance instruction and make classroom management more efficient. I decided to “go back to the blackboard” and rethink the delivery of my Digital Citizenship unit to our Freshman students by incorporating features of Google Classroom.
The following are my ABCs of Google Classroom.
A is for Adventurous.
Since I do not have my own classroom of students, the six
classes sessions with Freshman Wellness students became
an opportunity to experience Google Classroom as
students engaged in researching the following essential
question of the Digital Citizenship unit:
“How can use of technology affect personal health and the health of others?”
Together we explored, recovered from a few missteps, and learned from peers and other teachers.
Tip: Posted assignments send an automatic e-mail to students with a link.
If you wish to introduce the assignment prior to students viewing the link
in their e-mail, archive the assignment and post it in class, after explaining
the assignment in class.
B is for Building units.
Previously I used LibGuides for all of the database
and website links as well as for class handouts and embedded videos.
With Google Classroom I can still link my LibGuide, but I
can also stack assignments and announcements
with individual due dates (even specifying a time submission deadline).
The varied resources:
1) Google Form (such as a survey on student use of technology);
2) a video on citations from North Carolina State University; or
3) a Google Doc for student note taking.
We used this New York Times article on screen addiction for a class brainstorm
of keyword search terms and to mine data of scholarly journals and research
studies mentioned in the article.
Tip: Plan ahead and you can assemble these assignments in reverse
order so that the first assignment that students need to do appears
at the top of the list. Archive assigments as they are complete to
hide them from student classroom view and to keep the “stream”
of assignments less cluttered.
“B” is also for Backups. Near the end of one class, our electricity
flickered off; fortunately Google Docs and Google Slides save
every few seconds, so little student work was lost.
C is for Collection, Comments, and Collaboration.
Collecting and returning student documents online can be
done in seconds. Also, when the student Google Doc or Slides
is collected, it timestamps and freezes the document until you
return it to the student. Teachers have a quick tally of how
many items have been submitted, and by clicking on the
number of “not done,” teachers can view those student names.
Comments feature on Google Docs promotes the revision process
based on feedback from the teacher; guiding student efforts promotes
the writing process and redirects student focus as they look more
closely at research articles. Students can collaborate in real time
with sharing Google Docs and Google Slides. Since students in our
school commute from wide-ranging areas, this collaboration feature
is a bonus. Students do not need to be in the same room, city, or
state to be able to collaborate with a group member.
Tip: Teachers can select a feature that automatically will make a copy
of the document or slide and rename it with the student’s name.
Also, there are several ways to turn in a Google Doc, either by
using the “turn in” button at the top of the Google Doc itself or by
selecting the “turn in” button in Google Classroom.
Final thoughts on Google Classroom
As with any plans to use technology, have a backup plan. Paper
copies are a good safeguard and some students prefer to read and
take notes with pen and pencil and a hard copy of the article, rather
than reading the article online.
Lastly, do not underestimate the power of face time and one-to-one
communication. One of the students’ favorite activities was sharing
stories in small groups at tables regarding technology use. Some
students chose to incorporate these personal stories in their final
Please share your own experiences with “Classroom in the Clouds.”