Google Classroom.... in the classroom


Do you use Google Classroom? I started using it a few years ago, and I have been absolutely hooked since then. It is an engaging digital way to get kids to learn, while being paperless and virtually no-prep needed. Interested? Read on!

WHAT IS IT?
Google Classroom is a (free!) learning platform developed by Google specifically for schools that simplifies creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless and digital way. It utilizes Google Drive, but puts everything in one easy and streamlined location for both students and teachers. 

Using Google Slides (a part of Google Classroom), students can easily navigate between various concepts and pages.

Not sure how to use or get started on Google Classroom in your elementary classroom? Read tips and ideas for using Google Drive activities for math, reading, social studies, and science. Perfect for those looking for a paperless classroom!
An example of a Google Classroom main page. All students have access to this main page.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
  • Engagement: Pull out a worksheet on types of soil, and kids are bored. Do the exact same worksheet on a computer, and suddenly students are excited to use it. Excited kids make a big difference in class and in their own learning, Google Classroom helps make that a reality.
  • Paperless: In a world where budgets and resources are dwindling, for many teachers, paper is not much of an option. 90 million tons of paper is used a year, any little bit of cutting down on the amount of paper used makes a difference in our fragile world. As an Earth lover, this is a big "yay" from me!
  • Preparation: No more rushing to the copy machine during class because you are missing one copy- Google Classroom is virtually prep-free. Click a button, and each student has an assignment!
  • Visual appeal: Interactive digital resources can be colorful and bright, but are not overwhelming to students. Aesthetically pleasing resources make students happier and more engaged! Bye-bye, boring black & white pictures!
Not sure how to use or get started on Google Classroom in your elementary classroom? Read tips and ideas for using Google Drive activities for math, reading, social studies, and science. Perfect for those looking for a paperless classroom!

WHO IS IT BENEFITTING?
Google Classroom will bring your classroom experience to a new level. Google Classroom benefits you, your students, classroom parent, and even administration!

Teacher: Google Classroom saves you prep and grading time. No more rushing to the copy machine at the 11th hour or dealing with yet another copier jamming in 13 different spots. Simply click a button, and every student has access to the same material. No more schlepping your massive teacher bag home every night full of 25 composition books. In the comfort of your own home and couch, you can grade and have access to 25 assignments simply with your computer! All your grading and assignments are in one easy-to-use interface. Since it is cloud based, you do not have to stay for hours after school getting everything together.

Students: Since all the information is saved on one interface, students have an easy time reviewing a topic. It makes end-of-the-year review about 30 billion times easier. Students love how colorful and fun the pages are. No more black-and-white clip art on your worksheets, students can learn in every color of the rainbow! This results in more engaged students. Having all the information in one place also helps students better understand a concept by seeing the "big picture" and easily going back to understand a previous topic. Work is no longer crumpled in the bottom of a student's backpack. All work is saved on an easy-to-use interface that is accessible on any device in the world with Internet access.

Parents: Your classroom parents will be impressed with the technology integration in the classroom, and will also LOVE seeing all the students' work at home. Parents want to be informed, and this is one of the many ways to do that! Informed parents = happy parents.

Administration: Google Classroom is impressive during evaluation. It provides accountability for students which your administration will be happy to see. Google Classroom is still a new educational trend- that is truly here to stay- and your administration will be thrilled that you are using it. When my principal found out that I was using it in my classroom, she asked me to give a professional development class on it to get more teachers on board!



BUT..... WHAT ABOUT MY SCISSORS AND GLUE?
I get it. I love the cutting. I love the gluing. The folding. The notebooks full of colorful graphic organizers to use as an assessment and portfolio. However, I also love technology. It can be a hard switch, but as everything, it can be done in moderation! I mix my interactive notebooks on paper with Google Classroom. I am a firm believer that a balance is always best. All-or-nothing is not always the answer! Find a happy medium in your classroom between paper and technology. Find what YOU are comfortable with. It can be easy to be overwhelmed with technology if you do too much at once. Integrate it little-by-little until you find what you are comfortable with!



ISN'T THIS MORE WORK FOR TEACHERS?
Google Classroom has tremendously decreased my prep work. With the click of a button, I can assign and distribute assignments to students. No more passing out papers during class, everything is located in one compact space on their username. 

Grading is also SO. MUCH. EASIER. Every Friday I would take a home a large bag full of composition books and writing portfolios and attempt to jostle this massive bag into my Jetta. I would often do this, yet not even grade the entire weekend. Such a waste of time and energy! I am much more efficient with Google Classroom. Instead of physically taking work home and staring anxiously at my giant bag sitting in the corner of my living room all weekend, I do grading on my own time now. I can sit in front of my laptop with a glass of wine, and grade one or two assignments easily and quickly on my laptop. All my students' work is in one organized spot.


WHAT IF EACH STUDENT DOESN'T HAVE A COMPUTER?
It doesn't matter! I do not work in a school with 1:1 devices. I have five laptops in my room. I purely use Google Classroom during stations, or via partner work. For example, during literacy stations, students will rotate off the five laptops to complete reading response work or grammar work via Google Classroom. During my guided math stations, a set of students will be working on fractions on a number line via Google Classroom. 

I do BYOD in my classroom (bring your own device). Students who have a laptop or device that are allowed to bring it to school, are more than welcome to.  Every year I have a few kiddos who do not have Internet access at home. For these darlings, you can easily print off a hard copy version of a certain page if you assign it for homework. Two pieces of paper is much more environmentally friendly (and easier on you!) than 25 pieces!

Finally, many schools have a mobile laptop cart for checkout, or computer lab access. This is great if you want all the students to be working on something at the same time, like a group collaborative project!



CAN STUDENTS USE IT INDEPENDENTLY?
Like anything, routines and practice will ensure that it is a smooth and easy transition for students. The first week of using Google Classroom with students is TOUGH. My third-graders can't type, can't find a certain key on the keyboard, and some can barely use a trackpad on a laptop. Many of our kids are tech-savvy with an iPad- they can quickly click and maneuver their way around with an iPad, but are clueless with a computer. Every year I have a handful of kids who don't know what to do with a laptop and start clicking the screen with their finger. However, kids adapt. And they adapt quickly! There is about a week or two of a learning curve to get all of them on the same page.

Some of the things that the students will need to learn is how to properly sign on to Google Classroom, as well as sign off quickly to get their full allotted time. Every year I have a couple of kids who are extremely tech-savvy and technology efficient. they generally become a leader and resource for others to ask questions to or get help signing on. Generally, within a week or two students are speedy and swift at the signing-on process and quickly getting to work!



WHAT SUBJECTS CAN I USE GOOGLE CLASSROOM IN?
Any subject that you want! I personally create products for math, science, social studies, reading, and grammar. However, the world is your oyster! Google Classroom can be used and integrated with any subject! If you're interested, I linked some of my favorite Google Classroom products.


 


Not sure how to use or get started on Google Classroom in your elementary classroom? Read tips and ideas for using Google Drive activities for math, reading, social studies, and science. Perfect for those looking for a paperless classroom!


HOW DO I START?
There are many great TPT products that you can purchase that are integrated onto Google Classroom. I created a post with step-by-step directions on how to use, check it out!


Have you used Google Classroom? What is your favorite part about it? Leave me a comment below :-)



Not sure how to use or get started on Google Classroom in your elementary classroom? Read tips and ideas for using Google Drive activities for math, reading, social studies, and science. Perfect for those looking for a paperless classroom!





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