Google Classroom: 9-Point Teacher's Guide

Technology and education today are so closely intertwined. Students study and complete assignments on Chromebooks and iPads, teachers communicate with children and their parents via email and, since the COVID-19 pandemic, classes were largely held virtually. While technology has certainly been an asset for educators, there are just so many resources out there, it can be hard to know where to turn.

That is why Google created their industry-leading platform Google Classroom, part of the Google Workspace for Education. Today, it is estimated that more than 150 million students, teachers and administrators use Google Classroom in some form or fashion, leveraging its diverse capabilities and endless integrations.

Are you curious about the platform, or have you considered adding it to your teaching repertoire? Read on for our 9-point teacher’s guide for Google Classroom. 

What is Google Classroom?

According to Google itself, Google Classroom is “ a free blended learning platform developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.”

Simply put, Google Classroom allows teachers to integrate all of their Google-based platforms, like Google Docs, Google Meet, Gmail, Google Calendar and more to create a virtual “classroom.” In the classroom, teachers can collect assignments, grade papers, communicate with students and keep all relevant materials organized in a central and accessible online location. 

Benefits of Google Classroom

Because Google Classroom can be integrated with Google and its many other applications, the potential uses and benefits are seemingly endless. With teachers in mind, however, some of the biggest upsides of using Google Classroom in your class include:

  • Ease of setup: Simply add students directly via their email addresses or share a code that they can use to sign up themselves. 
  • Saves time: Paperless materials that are accessible in the Classroom allow you to quickly create work, communicate them to students, review completed projects and grade assignments fast and in one location.
  • Improves organization: Because everything is compiled in a central location, both teachers and students can easily see assignments and class materials in the Classroom and on their Google drives. 
  • Enhances communication: Using Gmail and Google Chat, teachers can communicate with both individual students and the class as a whole instantaneously. And, students can respond just as quickly. 
  • Secure: Equipped with Google’s cutting edge cyber security, Google Classroom is a secure platform that never shares your data.

Who Can Use Google Classroom?

One might think that Google Classroom is just for teachers and students, but the platform can actually be used by anyone. Most commonly, Google Classroom is utilized by teachers, students, administrators, families, clubs, after-school programs and homeschoolers.

What Can Teachers Use Google Classroom For?

On a broad scale, Google Classroom can be used to digitally manage all aspects of a classroom. On a task-by-task basis, however, most teachers use Google Classroom primarily to:

  1. Streamline classroom management
  2. Create rubrics 
  3. Organize, distribute and collect assignments and supporting materials
  4. Communicate with students and their parents
  5. Grade students and give feedback

How to Set Up Google Classroom

One of the benefits of Google Classroom is how easy it is to set up. In three simple steps, you and your students can be up and running with this innovative educational platform.

  1. Sign up – Use your Gmail or Google Account to sign up for Google Classroom in the Google app store.
  2. Create — For each of your classes, create a class/classroom that will house all assignments and content.  
  3. Invite — Send students a link via email to their respective classes, or share the individual classroom code.

Parent Participation on Google Classroom

Google Classroom is largely a classroom management and communication tool. As such, it also empowers teachers to effectively work with parents. The platform allows teachers to send regular updates and reminders about students’ work to their parents, so parents can help keep students on task with homework and assignments. There is also a summary function that parents and guardians can opt into that will send weekly emails about missing work, upcoming work and other class activity.

Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Because Google Classroom has been used by educators for years now, there are some insider tips and tricks you’ll want to use to maximize the platform’s potential. To get the most out of Google Classroom, make sure you:

  1. Customize settings for each of your classes.
  2. Learn how to maximize the other Google apps that integrate with Classroom, like Drive, Docs, Calendar and more.
  3. Create Google Calendar reminders for individual students’ in-school appointments or meetings with counselors and specialists.
  4. Use Google Classroom like a digital copy machine – click to make copies of assignments for each student in seconds.
  5. Know the difference between class and personal comments, and always make sure you’re using the right one.
  6. Number your assignments to stay organized and make finding older assignments easier.
  7. Create a Resources topic that houses all classroom materials and keep it at the top of your files for easy access

Privacy & Google Classroom

The number one concern for parents and teachers when it comes to educational technology is student safety and privacy. Google created Google Classroom with that in mind, so the platform has taken great steps to ensure it protects students and their data. There are never ads in Google Classroom, and it doesn’t share your assignments or for advertising purposes.

Other Application Integrations with Google Classroom

A major appeal for teachers is that Google Classroom can work seamlessly with many other educational apps and widgets, even if they aren’t Google branded. Not only does using apps allow you to integrate more technology into your lessons, it also gives students additional resources outside of the classroom that can support their learning. While there are many, some of the most popular tools you can integrate with Google Classroom include:

  • Google Apps
  • BookWidgets
  • EDPuzzle
  • Buncee
  • Nearpod
  • Screencastify
  • Newsela
  • Quizlet

For educators who are in need of additional guidance when it comes to Google tools for educators, there are online training programs available. Google offers their own online webinar series that walks teachers through how to use their platform and get started with Classroom. For those interested in more in-depth training, the University of San Diego Division of Professional and Continuing Education offers an online Google for Teachers Series.

FAQs

Q: What is Google Classroom?

A: Google Classroom is “ a free blended learning platform developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.”

Q: Can All Teachers Use Google Classroom?

A: Yes! So can administrators, families, clubs, after-school programs and homeschoolers. 

Q: How Do I Set Up Google Classroom?

A: Google Classroom can be set up in three simple steps:

  1. Sign up – Use your Gmail or Google Account to sign up for Google Classroom in the Google app store.

  2. Create — For each of your classes, create a class/classroom that will house all assignments and content.  

  3. Invite — Send students a link via email to their respective classes, or share the individual classroom code.

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