Google Classroom is an LMS (Learning Management System) designed to help teachers and students communicate, collaborate, manage assignments easily and paperlessly, and stay organized. Colorful, user-friendly, and simple to use, Classroom is part of G Suite for Education. If you're not already using an LMS to help organize your curriculum and deliver your content and assessments, Classroom is a great place to start!

 

Getting Started

If you've never logged in to Classroom before, you may get a prompt to log in with your Google account, and you may even find a friendly introduction from Google there to greet you:

 

Picture showing steps for starting Google Classroom, including visiting the Web site, choosing teacher or student role, then launching the application

 

If so, awesome! If not, and you get a mostly blank page, don't panic -- we're all headed for the same place, and that place is "Creating Your First Class." You can tell because those are the exact words in the next section header below:

 

Creating Your First Class

 

Gif showing the plus menu in Google Classroom, with the option for Create Class selected

 

Click the + sign in the upper-right-hand corner of your browser window, next to your Google apps grid menu (the nine dots in a square) and your lovely portrait. This will open a context menu with the options "Join Class" or "Create Class."

Select Create Class, then give your class a name. The Section, Subject, and Room description fields are all optional, but helpful when you have a lot of coursework to keep track of. Since you'll hopefully be using Google Classroom for years to come, I'd recommend including the current school year either in the title of your class or one of the descriptions.

Once you're finished, click create, and away we go!

 

Making Things Personal

 

Unless you teach Potions in a basement at Hogwarts, your physical classroom is probably unique, inviting, and friendly, and your digital classroom should be as well. There's a lot you can do in Classroom to personalize your students' experience, and the first thing you'll want to do is to change the theme. 

 

Gif demonstrating user clicking select theme from the class image in Google Classroom, then selecting a theme from a variety of options

 

Google calls that giant rectangular image housing your class title the class image, and to change it, look at the bottom right of it for the phrases select theme and upload photo. Clicking select theme will pop-up a handy menu of pre-selected, categorized images you can choose from. All you have to do is find one you like, click on it so the checkbox appears, then click the blue select class theme at the bottom to apply your new theme. Easy!

Or, if you're feeling saucy, you can choose upload photo to select your own picture from your computer or Google Drive. Just make sure your photo is fairly large, otherwise it may turn out looking a bit like either an 8-bit video game or pre-"enhanced" NCIS security camera footage.

 

Putting the Class in Classroom

 

A classroom without people in it is really just a big, lonely cubicle. So let's add some peeps to your class. As with all Google tools, there's many ways to do things, but the easiest is probably to share your class code with your students. (Unfortunately, there's currently to way to automagically create classes in Google Classroom from your rolls in MyStudent, but there's something almost as good below!)

 

Gif demonstrating clicking on the class code in Google classroom to make it larger

 

Your class code is shown in your class image, right below the name of your class. Clicking on it makes it huge, so your students can easily see it on your projector, Smart board, or television. 

 

Image showing the Join Class pop-up, with a field to enter the class code

 

Once your students have your class code, they can visit classroom.google.com, sign in, and, just like you did, click the + sign in the upper-right-hand corner of their screens, only instead of create class, they'll be choosing join class. They can then enter your class code, which will enroll them as students in your course.

Another way to do this is to click on the people tab at the top of your class page. This screen shows everyone enrolled in your class, with the default groups being teachers and students. Clicking on the add people icon Picture of the add people icon in Google Classroom for either group allows you to add teachers or students to your class. 

 

Gif demonstrating clicking on the add people icon in Google Classroom to invite students to a course

 

Depending on the group you selected, you'll see either the invite students or the invite teachers screens, where you can enter the email addresses of whoever you want to invite to the course. Any teachers you invite to your class can do anything you can except delete the entire class.

 

Gif showing the invite guardians pop-up, with a form for parent and guardian email addresses

 

To add parents or guardians to a student, you'll first need to have students in your course. Once you do, you'll see invite guardian next to each student's name. Click on invite guardian to enter the emails of any guardians you'd like to invite. (One great feature of Google Classroom is that if any other teachers have added guardians to those students, they'll automatically appear here as well. Nice!)

 

Paying Attention to Details

If you'd like to fine-tune the settings for your class (including the name and descriptions you entered when you created your class), just click the settings icon Picture of the gear (settings) icon in G Suitein the upper-right hand corner of your screen, back up there with the nine-dots grid Picture of the nine-dots app menu in G Suiteand that gorgeous portrait of yours.

Picture of the class details, or settings screen for Google Classroom

 

This brings up the class details screen, where you can set additional preferences, change your class code (if you like), and tweak the details of your grading. 

 

Adding Materials

The first thing I like to add to a class is a good, old-fashioned course syllabus. In Classroom, adding a syllabus, reading list, tip sheet, or whatever is easy through adding materials. 

Picture of Classroom tabs with Classwork tab selected

To do this, start by clicking on the Classwork tab. (Remember, there are four tabs at the top of any Classroom screen: Stream, Classwork, People, and Grades.) Clicking the + Create button will bring up a context menu that allows you to choose from a variety of things to add. Choose Material to add materials to your class.

 

 

Picture of the Class Materials pop-up in Google Classroom

 

Here you can add files or resources, such as that syllabus, that you can use and refer to thoughout the year. These can be files from Drive, YouTube links, links to external Web sites, or you can attach any other files you may need your students to access.

 

Checking Out Your Stream

Picture of Google Classroom course with the Stream tab selected

 

Your class stream is a dynamic space, constantly updated with everything you share in your Classroom. It's the default landing page for each class, but you can also access it by clicking on the Stream tab at the top of your Classroom screen. Right below your class image is a button with your beautiful face on it (or your initials if you skipped picture day), and the words Share something with your class ....

 

Picture of the Share with your class pop-up in Google Classroom

Clicking on that allows you to share quick updates with your students: This is a great place to share announcments, questions for discussion, and files with your students. (You can also click on the arrows to the right of that to reuse an earlier post!)

 

Creating Assignments

 

What's a class without assignments? Google Classroom makes it easy to create and assess assignments, quizzes, or whatever!

 

Gif demonstrating clicking on the Create button in Google Classroom and choosing to create a new assignment

 

To get started, click on the Classwork tab at the top of your class screen, then click on the + Create button. On the context menu that drops down, choose Assignment

 

Picture of the Create Assignment pop-up in Google Classroom

 

 The create assignment menu that pops-up allows you to select the class you want to give the assignment to (or individual students). Here you can also name the assignment, create instructions, and determine how many points the assignment will be worth, the due date (which is optional), and the topic the assignment falls under (also optional). As always, you can attach files or link to any support materials here.

 

Picture of attachment options in an assignment in Google Classroom

 

If the files you attach are G Suite files (Google Docs, Sheets, etc.), you'll get some extra options:

  • Students can view file allows students to see whatever you attach, but your students will not be able to modify the file. This is great for static information or instructions. 
  • Students can edit file allows all the students you task with this assignment to make changes to the file you attach. This is great for collaborative assignments, but make sure you keep a backup of your original file!
  • Make a copy for each student creates a fresh copy of the document for each student that they can submit. Guaranteed to be faster than your local copy center.

Once your assignment is good to go, just click on assign to, well, assign your assignment to your assigned students. (My apologies; I ran out of synonyms there.)

 

Gif demonstrating clicking on the right arrow of the assign button in Google Classroom to schedule an assignment to appear at a later date

 

But wait: There's more! If you don't want all your assignments to clutter your students' inboxes at once, you can schedule your assignment to appear at a future time in your students' feed. To do that, just click on the down arrow on the right side of the assign button. (You can also save your assignment as a draft here if it still needs some fine tuning.)

That's all for Classroom for now, but there's so much more you and your students can use in G Suite -- stay tuned!

 

 

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