Google Classroom is an online graphic design program with free and paid versions that lets you create professional graphics in almost any format quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:
- How to create a class in Google Classroom
- How to add students to your class
- How to quickly add assignments and start discussions
- How to control the abilities of your students to post
- How to manage your stream and archived classes
Google Classroom is most easily accessed by simply searching “google classroom” and clicking the link, as shown below. It will not show up in your usual menu of Google apps, but you can add a shortcut to Google Classroom to Chrome by going to the Chrome web store here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/google%20classroom.
You have to have a Google account that uses Google Apps for Education (now G Suite for Education). A regular Google account won’t work, so you’ll have to set one up using an email address associated with your school. If your school does not have a G Suite for Education account, you can request one here: https://support.google.com/a/answer/2856827?hl=en.
Once you’ve logged in with your G Suite for Education account, select Teacher at the bottom right, and you’ll be taken to the introduction screen. From the intro screen, you can click the plus sign at the top right to create a class.
After clicking Create a class, fill in the class name and section that you want and click Create. The course will be generated with a random theme, but you can click Select theme on the right side of the background image to select a new one. You can choose from a gallery of image-based themes or select a simple pattern theme. All the border, button, and background colors will update depending upon the theme you choose.
If you click the About button on the classroom menu, you can add extra information like a class title, description, the room or meeting place for the class, or even invite another teacher to collaborate on the class. The About area also shows where your class is stored. The default location is a folder in your Google Drive that was made when you created the class.
When you create your first class, a folder called Classroom will be added to your Google Drive, and a subfolder with the name and section of your new class is created. As you create more classes, they will each generate a subfolder in the Classroom folder.
If you click the three horizontal lines icon in the top left corner you will access a navigation menu. This menu lets you jump to see all the classes you have, your calendar, and any open assignments. From here you can click Classes and see all the classes you’ve created within Google Classroom. After choosing Classes, you can click the three dots to the right of each class name and either rename or archive the class from there.
Within each Google classroom class, you can see a classroom code at the bottom left that you can share with students. When your student visits Google Classroom, they will click the plus sign at the top of the intro screen, but they will choose Join class instead of Create class. This is where they will enter the code associated with your class.
You can also click Students in the classroom menu and select Invite from the Students area. This will open the contacts associated with your G Suite for Education enabled account, and you can select from theses contacts to invite students to your class by checking the box by their names.
A valuable tip is to go ahead and set your posting and commenting permissions for students. I recommend you set permissions to “Only teacher can post and comment” at the start. If you have younger students, you’ll usually end up with a lot of silly or potentially disruptive posts in the class at the start if you don’t do this. Sometimes, it can be best to restrict the posting and commenting permissions of students until you have an actual discussion or question ready to be considered.
All the action inside one of your Google classes occurs in the “stream.” In the bottom right hand corner of the classroom, you’ll see a circle with a plus sign in it. When you click on it, you’ll see your options for adding to the classroom stream. You can create an announcement, create an assignment, ask a question, or reuse a post.
If you choose to add an announcement, you simply type what you want to say to the class and then choose any attachments you want to share. You can attach files, videos, Google Drive files, or links.
You can edit anything in the class stream by clicking the three vertical dots on the right side of each item in the stream.
Assignments are the most common thing I post to my stream. Simply click Assignment from the stream menu (accessed by the plus sign in the circle at the bottom right of the classroom). Then, enter a name for the assignment and a description or instructions. Using the attachment options, you could attach a PDF or video with information to study, and include a link to a Google Form (check out this article on self-grading quizzes) where the homework or quiz questions are handled for you. You can set the due date and post it to the entire class.
Once the assignment is posted, you can see which students have completed it and which ones haven’t.
If you want to quickly assess students in your class, get feedback, or start a discussion, simply add a question to the classroom stream and set a due date. You’ll be given the options to let students edit their answers and post replies to other students answers. If you allow students to reply to other students’ answers, it can help facilitate a discussion.
As you add new items to the stream, they will be posted at the top of the stream and push other items down. The nearest upcoming deadline for assignments or questions is shown in a box on the left. If you want to move an older post to the top, simply click the three dots on the right side and click Move to top.
There aren’t too many settings to worry about inside Google Classroom. One very important setting to consider is the permissions of students to post and comment on items in the stream, which we already discussed. The other setting to consider is the email notifications setting. You can access this by clicking the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner and selecting Settings at the bottom of the navigation menu. Here, you’ll see a checkbox that lets you turn email notifications on or off. I tend to leave them off because I don’t want to get an email every time someone does something in my Google classes.
From the top-left corner navigation menu, you can also access archived classes and restore them if you like.
Now you’re ready to efficiently run your classes with Google Classroom!
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