Google Classroom has revolutionized how teacher on my campus this about how to assign work to students. Even for the librarian! I assign my TAs quarter and finals projects through Google Classroom. It's simple, streamlined, and the students take to it immediately. So when you hand out a worksheet virtually to your students, how do you do it?
In my table, I create a two column table where the student needs to argue both sides of the statement. At the bottom, I merged the two columns in the third row of the table (just highlight the cells you want to merge, right click, and select "merge cells"). Now when I open the filled out worksheets, I will know exactly where to look for the student's responses to my questions! MUCH faster to grade!
When I was a classroom teacher, I always tried to front load any preparation for my classes in my grade book, my planner, my website, etc. Since I was a drama teacher, I was constantly busy with rehearsals and other projects, and if I didn't have everything in order at the beginning of the year, I was sunk! I became a TL before Google Classroom came out, and have this tool makes me sometimes wish I was a classroom teacher again in order to experiment with how I would use it with students and for my own personal organization.
As I think more about how I worked as a teacher, I begin to see exactly how I would use this new technology to making my classroom even more streamlined and organized. One of the ways in which I would use Google Classroom is to create an Archive class of each of the preps I teach.
What exactly is this? Here's what the plan would be. . . . .lets say I teach Sophomore English. In my Google Classroom, I would have my actual sections of Sophomore English with my students in it as well as an "Sophomore English Archive" class. What exactly is in this Sophomore English archive class? Every single one of the assignments I will ever assign in my actual Sophomore English class.
I have a fake classroom of mine which I entitled "Sophomore English Archive Assignments." I have a variety of things in here, such as assignments, announcements, and questions. I have put in every single one of the assignments I would like to eventually assign into my actual Sophomore English classroom. When I am in my actual Sophomore English classroom, all I have to do is click "Reuse Post" and I can pull anything from my archive class.
But doesn't Google Classroom allow you to archive old classes and reuse posts from there? Yes, it does. This is more intended to get organized that first or second year you use Google Classroom.
But doesn't Google Classroom allow you to save drafts that you can post at a different time? Yes, it does, and you can do it that way. However, if you really wanted to front load everything at the beginning of the year, that would be a lot of drafts you would be scrolling through constantly. Plus, you only see a little headline. If you create an archive class, you can see exactly what you said in your instructions and what attachments you made at a glance.
Plus, perhaps you want to share your archive class with another teacher or more? This way, all of you can have access to all different kinds of assignments and use them for their own individual Google Classrooms. Or perhaps you want to create an archive class just for a particular unit? With being able to add up to 20 teachers in one Classroom, you can really work together to develop classes and units together.
One of my current favorite extensions right now is Google Docs Quick Create. It's a simple add-on that makes a teacher's life just a little more simple and streamlined. When you click on this extension, it brings up a simple menu, asking if you want to create a new doc, sheet, presentation, drawing, or form. Once you select what you would like, it pops it up in a new window, and you are good to go. No need to go into your Google Drive to start a doc or search "Google Docs" to start a new one. It's simple a click away.
While I loved the idea of this at first, I was having some trouble with it. I am constantly logged into 3 different Google accounts when I am at school. I have my school account, my personal account, and my library's account. Whenever I would click on a new document, it would never pop up the new doc or sheet in my school account, instead defaulting to one of the other accounts.
Finally, I figured out I needed to right click on the extension, select "Options," and tell it I wanted it to connect to a "Google Apps Account." I then put in my school's handle (everything after the "@" in my e-mail), and POOF! Now it defaults to my school's account!
A quick and handy app that makes life easier!
So everyone who is a newbie to Google Classroom has has this happen to them at one point or another. . . . .they are excited to use Classroom, they get everything set up, all the directions attached, and they are ready to go.
Then as soon as the students pull up the directions to an assignment, all of a sudden everyone is distracted. Students are commenting on your assignment in your classroom and starting a conversation about who is better Batman or Superman. Or students start giggle to each other because they all started a chat on your instructions you attached to the assignment and are carrying on their "debate" there.
How do you stop this? Well, from Google's end, you can't.; However, there are a few things you can do on your end to make sure this doesn't happen.
First and foremost, unless you are wanting students to be able to legitimately comments and post on your Classroom's steam, make sure you change your setting so "Only teacher can post or comment." How do you do this?
As you can see in the picture, I have circled where you can change the setting from the default "Students can post and comment" to "Only teacher can post or comment." Make sure to change this BEFORE you have students add into your Classroom or they will figure things out quickly and clog up your stream.
Another handy trick to getting students to not chat while viewing your instructions is to do one of two things. . . .
Option one: When you hand out your instructions click "Create a copy for each student" instead of "Student can view file." This way, each student ends up on their own copy when they open the assignment instead of all of them being on one document. They cannot start any kind of chat. However, they CAN edit the document you handed out to them. Perhaps think of this. . . . .have them start their assignment directly after your instructions on the same document. This way, they don't have to toggle back and forth between windows for the instructions. It is all right there on one document for them.
Option two: Hand out your instructions as .pdf files. This way, they will truly only be able to view the file.
Remember, you can always send feedback on Google Classroom through clicking the "?" in the lower left hand corner of Google Classroom. Let them know you don't want students to be able to chat on Docs you hand out as viewable only! Google does listen to their teachers.
When I was still in the classroom, one of the things I prided myself on was my organization. Being a drama teacher was one of the most hectic and demanding jobs of my life (and I'm a mother now!), and if I wasn't organized in my classroom, I would be lost. I used Google Slides in my classroom for my board agendas. Here's the basic idea. . . .
Take a look HERE for an example Slide presentation I used to use in my drama classes when I was a classroom teacher. Or take a look below.
Since I was in the theatre and didn't have a white board, I had to think of a different way to let students know as they walked in the door what was on the agenda for the day. Therefore, I used my projector and screen in my room as a virtual white board instead, using Google Slides as a way to create the board agendas.
Each week I created a new Slide presentation and titles it the week number it was in the school year. So, for example, I might have titled it "Week 2" or "Week 5." Then each slide represented a day in each class. This was a lot of work up front during one entire school year. However, it paid off in spades the follow years. When I was getting ready to go into that week the following year, I'd just pull up the board agenda, adjust anything I needed to adjust, and keep on the same schedule as previous years.
As you can see in my example, I just had simple bullet points for what we were doing that day. Occasionally, as you will see in my example, I have an extra slide that has vocab terms or another activity we were doing in class. I was big on making sure my students visually could look at what I was talking about, so you will see many instances of that in this particular board agenda week example I have linked.
In addition to this, you will see I have link You Tube videos at various points in my board agenda as well. This was great because I would have to search for the video year after year. I had it right there linked in the agenda.
Another great tool to use in Google Slides is writing in the comments reminders for next year or just a reflection on how the lesson went, especially if it was the first time doing the lesson. In my example, you can see I give a reminder to myself about what lunch a certain class should take that week. I also wrote in a reminder for the following year in my Intermediate Drama class for how long a video clip is and where I should start it. This was always super helpful so I wouldn't make the same mistakes year after year. I loved reflecting on my practice, and this was a perfect way to make sure lessons improved.
One last thing. . . .I used to theme the background each week, and it was a nice little touch the students enjoyed. In my example week, it is all pictures from Stratford Upon Avon that I took on vacation, since we were doing Shakespeare in my Intermediate class that week. However, other weeks were Halloween themed, Christmas themed, etc. I would also make the background pictures from our fall play or spring musical when I wanted to promote them. The kids actually really enjoy it, and it sparked conversations. "Where was that picture taken?" "Oh, that's Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford." "Did you go there?" "Yes, it was really cool. . . . ." and so on. Teach a kid something cool with your backgrounds!
Some other things I could have done with these Google Slides that I didn't utilize. . . . .
* Link worksheets from your Google Drive. Then when you are talking about a worksheet, an example of it is just a click away in your board agenda.
* Get Google Slides on your mobile phone to be able to edit your Google Slides on the go or just to see what it is you are doing for the week while you are home on the weekend.
* Post your Google Slides to your website, your Google Classroom, or your grading program. Keep Special Education in the loop as well as your parents!
As I stated previously, this was A LOT of work up front the first year I did it, and it took discipline. However, it was worth it in the end to bringing me a more organized classroom.
As I was flipping through some promotion materials from Epic Reads last year, I came across an interesting page promoting Emoji Reads.
I started the project by creating the emoji books on my phone, but I found that to be a fairly tiresome and lengthy process. Therefore I began to use this website to create the pictures of Emojis to display in the library's main display area. While the website is slightly cumbersome to use, it was easier than using my phone, and when I was done, I could easily get the picture of the Emoji string I created by clicking "Picture."
I began to think of a variety of books that I could use that were popular in my library. I used some YA titles such as The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, etc. I also used some "classic" titles like Harry Potter and The Giver. Finally, I used some contemporary fiction, such as The Martain. Overall. I made 10 Emoji book plots. I put the picture into a Google Slide presentation, printed them in color on cardstock, and got them ready to be in our main display. I also created an answer sheet to collect guesses from students.
This contest will launch in January, and I'm excited about the prospect of the frenxy I get over contests, especially if English teachers offer extra credit for it!
To get a copy of the 10 book Emojis I created, click HERE.
To get a copy of the answer sheet, click HERE.
Please feel free to use, manipulate, make your own, and share!
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University
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