Tips for Improving Your Google Classroom Class

While the basics of Google Classroom can be fairly straightforward, certain simple aspects of your classroom can have a significant impact on students’ enjoyment and engagement in your classroom.

1. Choose a theme that matches your class

On the Stream page of your class, you have the option to Select theme. A class’ theme changes the main image of the class page and the accent color. If you have a photo that fits the class well, you can set it by selecting Upload photo. However, keep in mind that using the built-in themes can create a stronger visual difference between different classes, making it easier for students to tell them apart. After clicking Select theme, find an image that matches your subject. If students’ classes all have different themes that match their subjects, it will make it easier for them to tell them apart and understand how their work is distributed between subjects.

2. Best practices for posting

When starting a Google Classroom class, the various methods of posting and sharing information in Google Classroom can be confusing and overwhelming. By taking the time to learn the difference between the different methods, you can create a better experience for students and ensure they always have access to what they need.

2a. Announcements

On the Stream page, you have the option to create an Announcement. Simply click and start typing in the text box to start creating an announcement. When creating an announcement, you may also add attached files. Here are some tips for best using Announcements:

  • Announcements will only be easily accessible for a limited time, as they exist only on the Stream, and will eventually get pushed down by other Announcements and Assignments.
  • Because of this, you should try to only use Announcements for information students will only need to reference a few times, or information that will only be relevant for a short time period.
  • If you would like to announce something that students may need to reference for a long time, such as an updated schedule, post it as Material. This will allow students to easily access whenever necessary, without needing to scroll through dozens of Assignments and Announcements on the Stream.
2b. Classwork

On the Classwork page, clicking Create presents you with a number of different classwork types. Learning when to use each type can make your classroom more efficient and intuitive to use.

Assignment

The Assignment option will create an assignment that appears on the Stream and also on the Classwork page. Assignments should, for the most part, only be used when students will have a tangible (or digital) result of their work to turn in. This can include contribution to a shared class document, in which case the student will not turn in a specific piece of work but will still have a visible result. If you just want to share reference material, such as a reading, post it as a Material.

There are two key parts of an assignment: the Instructions and the attached files. While adding instructions isn’t required to post an assignment, writing clear, thorough instructions is incredibly important when posting an assignment, especially while all learning is virtual. If an assignment will be completed in class, writing instructions may not be too important, but if it is to be completed outside of class, instructions are essential. Unlike during in-person learning, students won’t have a paper to reference. The instructions on an assignment, in combination with any attached instructions, are what the students will read when they go to work on an assignment. A lack of proper instructions can severely reduce engagement as students will lose motivation when they have no idea what to do.

Correctly setting up attached files is also important for creating a well-made assignment. When adding or creating files for an assignment, you have three options:

The first, Students can view file, should be used for files such as rubrics or readings for an assignment. This will let students view your copy of the file without the ability to change it.

The second, Students can edit file, should be only used for shared class documents. These are files like sign-up sheets, where everyone in the class will contribute to the same copy. Important: do not use this option for files that each student will turn in their own copy of. Students will then have to make their own copy of the file, and manually add it to the assignment. This will create excess frustration for students, and makes it harder for them to tell which files they should be working in and turning in.

Lastly, Make a copy for each student should be used for documents that each student will turn in a unique copy of, like a worksheet. If students will not be editing the file, do not select this option. Any documents with this option selected will show up in a separate section on the assignment page reserved for files that will be turned in. If you are not sure which option to select, this is the safest option because it removes the risk of students working on the same document when not intended.

Quiz assignment

A Quiz assignment is a special type of assignment that automatically has a Google Forms quiz attached. This is a great option for assessments and has a lot of helpful features. Make sure you review the settings on the Google Forms quiz, so you can customize the grading preferences and other options to your liking.

Question

Questions let you ask a question, either multiple-choice or open-ending, to your class and collect answers from each of your students. This is a great option for work such as bellringers as avoids the unnecessary hassle of creating and handling files.

Material

Posting Material lets you share information and files with your class. This is best used with schedules or reference files that will be used across assignments, like the PDF of a book. If the file you want to post ties in to a specific assignment, it will usually be better to attach the file to the assignment itself. Keep in mind that posting material should only be used for posting true reference material, nothing that students will have to edit.

Reuse post

While the situations in which you can use Reuse post can vary, a major use case is for posting assignments across multiple classes. When you choose this option, you can choose which class to reuse an assignment from, so you can easily post an assignment, material, question or announcement across multiple classes without having to redo everything.

Topic

Creating a Topic creates a sort of folder for posts. Topics are groups of posts that are separated on the Classwork page. This can be useful for separating units or types of work. Using topics to locate the current unit or section of work at the top of the classwork page can make it significantly easier for students to find work or other material.

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