Ideas for using Google Classroom

Ideas for using Google Classroom in elementary school

Ideas for using Google Classroom in elementary school
Is your school 1:1? If so - that is awesome! A neighboring school district of mine went 1:1 two years ago, and I love hearing about how it works from my teacher friends that work there. However, my school district is not yet 1:1, so I can relate to teachers out there who are also not 1:1! Many people think that not being 1:1 means that you can't use Google Classroom resources in your classroom- this is absolutely not true! I use Google Classroom every single day in my classroom, while only working with 5 laptops. Our school also has the option of checking out a small group set of iPads. Using Google Classroom is just as easy as 1:1 when you only have a few devices (or even just one- the teacher laptop!). Providing a mix of a few devices along with normal teaching materials gives a good balance in the classroom of hands-on, concrete learning with technology!

Below I discuss six ways that you can use Google Classroom if you have a limited amount of devices within the confines of your classroom. I hope it provides a good scope of how versatile that Google Classroom truly is, no matter the amount of devices in the classroom!

1. Using Google Classroom during small groups

Google Classroom is easy peasy to incorporate into any block where you work with small groups. In my classroom, small groups are used in math and reading. I utilize math stations as well as literacy stations, so during my math and reading block I can quickly incorporate Google Classroom.

The teacher can set out a laptop or iPad at each spot of your small table during teacher time. My students know that as soon as they get to their seat for teacher time, they need to immediately log in and pull up the day's assignment. We work through a page in one of my resources as a group. For example, if we are learning about multiple meanings, I will assign a slide from my Dictionary Skills for Google Drive resource. I will scaffold my thought process when doing multiple meanings, then we work on the questions together. Worried that students will be too distracted to listen to you when they have technology in front of them? I always have my students do a "half-close" on the laptops, meaning that they close the laptop cover halfway. If you're using iPads, use a white piece of paper to cover the laptop. Tell the kids that any time the teacher is speaking, their iPad needs to be covered. Think about adults with televisions or their phones- we so easily will stare at our phone instead of the person right in front of us, it's human nature! Diminish and minimize those distractions to make sure the best learning is happening!

2. Using Google Classroom as a station rotation

Ideas for using Google Classroom in elementary schoolThis is an awesome way to not only incorporate technology into math and reading, but also to save you a ton of work each day. I have a set Technology station during math (my stations include independent work, math centers, technology, and teacher time). My easiest station to plan is by far my technology station. I simply need to pull up a page or two from the topic that we are either studying or reviewing, and assign a copy to each of my students. This takes about one minute on Google Classroom!

If you let your students use the laptops or iPads at their desks, I did run into one problem. The one issue I ran into for stations was that during rotations, my students who had just finished the technology station would loudly state, "WHO NEEDS A COMPUTER?" As helpful as this is (not), it was distracting, loud, and unnecessary. I made a new procedure for finding the laptops around the room. My students know that when it is their turn to rotate to the station, they need to quickly find a computer from around the room and get to work. As long as the computer was at an empty desk, they could snag it and bring it to their own desks.

Sometimes I use Google Classroom during stations for new content, but I also sometimes have it as a spiral review. It is a great way to really focus in on a skill that you want students to work on. One of the hardest topics on my classroom every year is equivalent fractions. I often assign a page of my Equivalent Fractions for Google Classroom resource throughout the year to keep my students sharp on this topic. When you have a difficult topic from the beginning of the year that took students a while to master, definitely keep checking in on it throughout the year to ensure complete mastery!

3. Rotating daily as morning work

It's so important to make use of every minute of the day, especially when you are trying to get all your students on technology at least a few times a week! I love having a rotating morning work schedule for my students. Each student in my classroom is assigned a number based on their last name. Each day, I put the six students who get a device on the board (example: #5-10). Those students know that after they arrive and unpack, they will be working on a Google Classroom assignment instead of their usual independent reading upon arrival. I find that the assigned students for the day unpack at lightning speed because they are so excited to get to work on their device- bonus! 

One of my favorite resources to assign for morning work is Picture Writing Prompts for Google Classroom. It contains 40 online pictures to help spark writing ideas. The pictures are silly and fun, great for kids to infer what is happening in each picture! Writing is tough to incorporate throughout the day, but during morning work helps make it easier!

4. Using Google Classroom whole group on SmartBoard

Ideas for using Google Classroom in elementary school
I often do whole group lessons in the beginning of a math unit, or for a science/social studies lesson. All of my Google Drive resources are Smartboard compatible. This means that all those great drag-&-drop interactive pieces of the Google Drive resource can be moved around by your kiddos' little hands on the Smartboard! Simply calibrate your Smartboard for the day, and use the resources to guide your lessons! I don't know about your students, but my students are over the moon when they get picked to go up to the board and do a drag-&-drop question and move a piece on the board in front of everyone. This is a fantastic way to make a whole group lesson on a topic that can usually be a little dry (*cough cough* soil components. Soil is not my thing) .

5. Using Google Classroom whole group with a projector

No Smartboard? As long as you have a projector, you're in luck! Students can come up to your laptop to maneuver or type in answers. It is VERY similar to how a Smartboard looks and functions, but the kids won't be touching the board. This will definitely spruce up lessons and give kids that fun hands-on ability that Smartboards provide. All the students in the room will benefitting from this, and it will still be digital for all!

Do you use Google Classroom? Are you 1:1? If not, how do you get all your students a chance to work on technology during the day with limited devices? I'd love to hear all about it!