10 Google Classroom Tips for Remote Learning
Many teachers are jumping on board with Google Classroom right now, sink or swim! So in this post, I am going to give you 10 Google Classroom tips for remote learning.
During this unprecedented time of school closures, Google Classroom has become a go-to platform to communicate and distribute remote learning assignments.
This post will give you specific tips to help maximize your effectiveness in using Google Classroom during remote learning.
What is Google Classroom?
Not everyone has had training, or been given a complete explanation of what Google Classroom actually is–and this is apparent by the questions I receive every day.
Google Classroom is part of a suite of applications from G Suite for Education. Google Classroom is an app, both web, and mobile. Google Classroom is NOT a term for using various Google tools IN the classroom.
The Google Classroom application is designed to help teachers and students communicate and collaborate, manage assignments paperlessly, and stay organized.
Google Classroom is a great platform to support remote learning.
Many of these tips are just best practices with Google Classroom, no matter when or how you are using it. But others are much more specifically designed to help teachers use this tool during this time of remote learning.
1. Collaborate with Other Teachers for a Consistent Workflow
One of the best things you can do to help your students (and parents) is to collaborate with the other teachers in your grade level and on your campus to be consistent for all students.
If every teacher is doing something different, this only complicates things further.
This definitely streamlines things for students who have multiple teachers. But even students who only have one teacher may have siblings in other grades.
If all the children in the home receive a consistent message, workflow, and checklist, it will be that much easier on students and parents, and YOU, the teacher.
For instance, organize Google Classroom with a similar topic strategy, as the one suggested in #3. Use similar weekly checklists and communications methods to eliminate confusion and excuses.
Avoid sending students to different websites and locations to get assignments and communication. If you are all using Google Classroom, use it consistently. Make Google Classroom your one-stop-shop for assignments, announcements, and communication.
2. Use a Daily/Weekly Checklist
One of the first tips I learned from Jennifer Pearson in this podcast interview, was to use a checklist for students.
Depending on the requirements of your school, this could be a daily checklist or a weekly checklist. The latter seems to be more prevalent and succinct.
For elementary, this may be an all-subject checklist. In secondary, this is most likely by subject.
How you create your checklist is up to you. This could be a simple Google Doc list, a Google Sheet, added to a Google Slide, or just listed in the assignment. Some schools and teachers are getting really detailed, but keeping things simple will be easier for you, your students, and your parents.
Here’s an example of one from Katie Wells shared in the Shake Up Learning Facebook group, modified from this Google doc Rebekah Madrid shared on Twitter.
Here’s another checklist template using Google Slides from Shawna Mcdermott, also shared in the Shake Up Learning Facebook group.
With either of these types of checklists, you need to assign this through Google Classroom and “make a copy” for each student.
If you need to make a copy of the checklist for each student (recommended), you must add this option before you assign it to students. If you don’t, you will have to delete the assignment and start over. You cannot choose the make a copy option after you have already assigned.
3. Use a Weekly Topic to Organize Your Assignments
Under normal circumstances, I would usually recommend a variety of topics to address the needs of individual teachers and students, but right now, we need simplicity. (See also How to Organize Assignments in Google Classroom.)
From the Classwork page, you can create topics to organize assignments and materials. Since many schools are embracing a weekly assignment strategy, creating a topic for the week is very logical. (If your school is still distributing many assignments per day, try using a “TODAY” topic.)
- Click on the “Create” button, then select “Topic.”
- Create a topic for the week, like “Weekly Assignments Due April 3,” to also make it clear when these assignments are due.
(Detailed directions on page 22 of The Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for Teachers.)
4. Create a “Resources and Tutorials Topic” and Keep it at the Top of the Classwork Page
As you try to assist students and parents at home, you may find yourself sharing and creating tutorials, cheat sheets, and other resources. Make these easy to find by creating a special topic and keeping that topic at the top of the page.
Tip: Click-and-drag to move topics around and organize the Classwork page. I would suggest keeping the resource topic at the top, and the weekly assignments topic for the current week in the number two spot.
5. Differentiate Assignments
When you create an assignment in Google Classroom, you have the option to select “All Students,” or you can just click the drop-down and select one student or a group of students.
This comes in handy for modifications as we are trying to meet the needs of all learners.
Google Classroom gives teachers the ability to differentiate assignments. Every student doesn’t have to receive the exact same assignment at the exact same time.
When creating a new assignment, click on the drop-down arrow of students and uncheck “all students,” then only check the students or group of students who need that particular assignment.
This is great for group differentiation, as well as modifications, PBL, and even enrichment.
Learn more about Digital Differentiation with Google Classroom here.
This is also one of my MUST-HAVE Google Classroom skills listed here.
6. Bookmark the Classwork Page
This Google Classroom tip can save you time! Sometimes, navigation in Google Classroom can be frustrating and take a few too many clicks to get where you want to go. Since the majority of your time will be spent on the Classwork page, I recommend bookmarking it.
In Google Chrome, you can add it to your bookmarks bar for quick access.
To enable the bookmarks bar, click the 3 dots near the top-right in Chrome, then select bookmarks, and make sure the bookmarks bar is enabled.
Go to the Classwork page for the class you wish to bookmark.
Then you can simply click-and-drag the lock next to the URL in the Omnibox to add the bookmark to your bar.
Right-click on the bookmark to edit the name or shorten it.
I like to bookmark the Classwork page for each of my classes in Google Classroom. It saves me tons of time!
7. Use Keyboard Shortcut: Cntrl + F to Find Numbers and Words in Classroom
Even the most organized Classwork page can become quite long after a few weeks of assignments. Use the keyboard shortcut, Control + F (Command + F on a mac), to search for keywords or assignment numbers on the page. Teach students this trick, too!
8. Adjust Student Permissions
The default for Google Classroom allows students to post in the Stream, and comment on posts. During remote learning, you may find this feature helpful, or it may be causing issues. You decide what’s best for your students.
- Posts are ideas, questions, or information that students share. Students can add files such as images, links, or YouTube videos to their posts.
- Comments are text-only responses to posts.
- Students can’t edit their posts or comments, but they can delete them. Teachers can delete any post or comment, and see deleted posts and comments.
In the Class settings, under General, next to Stream, click “Students can post and comment” and then choose a permission:
- Students can post and comment:
This option is the default. Students
can post to the Stream page and
comment on any item.
- Students can only comment:
Students can comment on an
existing post, but can’t create a post.
- Only teachers can post or comment:
Students can’t post or comment on the Stream page. This option mutes all students.
TIP: When discussing the use of student posts and comments, use this as a teachable moment to discuss online etiquette and digital citizenship skills.
(See also page 9 in The Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for Teachers.)
9. Customize the Stream
Many teachers are annoyed with the Stream, where you can post announcements and see notifications of new items that have been added to the Classwork page.
Teachers can customize what appears on this page for each class. Inside your class, go the settings icon near the top-right and scroll down to the “General” Sections.
The Stream is your Google Classroom communication hub. This is where you post announcements and keep students informed.
By default, the Stream will also show notifications of new items posted on the classwork page. For some, this feels like a duplication and can muddy up the stream. (Ha! See what I did there.)
If you’re using the Classwork page, you can choose a collapsed or expanded view for Classwork notifications on the Stream page. You can also hide them entirely from the Stream page.
- Go to classroom.google.com.
- Click the class.
- On the Stream page, click Settings.
- Under General, next to Classwork on the stream, select an option:
10. Customize Notifications to Preserve Your Sanity!
Most teachers have a love/hate relationship with Google Classroom notifications. You can customize these in your settings.
Go to the main menu (3 lines in the top left corner).
Select Settings at the bottom of the menu.
Scroll down to the bottom and click the drop-down arrow to see all of your notification options for each class. Toggle them on and off to fit your needs.
As you learn and adapt during this remote learning time, please remember this is new to everyone. Take a deep breath, accept that this is not going to be perfect. Google Classroom will not do everything on your wishlist. Pat yourself on the back for doing a job that no one trained you to do, and send virtual hugs to your students who miss you!
What would you add to this list? Leave a comment to share more tips!
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More Google Classroom Resources
Looking for other Google Classroom tips, ideas, and resources? Be sure to check out the Google Classroom Resource page for all the latest posts, podcasts, and resources.
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