Welcome back to the new school year! Google Classroom has added some new features including parent/guardian email summaries as well as topics (tagging) for posts in the Stream to make finding related assignments easier. As you begin to set up your Google Classroom classes for the new school year, you might find these tips helpful:
1 – Archive Last Year’s Classes
Clear the deck for the new year by “Archiving” classes from last year. This will help your students from last year by removing the icon for your class from their Home Screen, too, but for you and your kids, all work will remain in Google Drive and all posts are available to “Re-Use” in your new classes. If students come to your room with classes from last year, they can “unenroll” by clicking the three dots at the top of the class thumbnail from the Home Page.
2 – Add New Classes in Reverse Order
Tiles for each of your classes on the Classroom Home Page, cannot be moved or re-ordered once they are added. If you teach multiple classes, create them in the REVERSE order that you want them to appear on your homepage. This way, they will appear in the order you want to view them, e.g., periods 1 – 7, should be added backwards so that period 1 appears FIRST on your Homepage.
3 – Include the Class Year in Your Class Name
It’s best to archive classes from last year, but be sure to include the school year as part of the Class name to make it easier to identify classes over time.
4 – Know Your Options for Keeping Parents in the Loop
Classroom now allows teachers to associate parent/guardian email addresses for students so that adults can receive email summaries of upcoming assignments as well as current activity and missing work. While this might be cause for celebration, given that teachers have to manually add these email addresses, many middle and high school teachers with 100+ students, will not find this a realistic option. It is worth noting that once a guardian email is added, ALL of the classes that student is in will be part of the parent updates provided teach of that student’s teachers have the guardian feature enabled. For those who aren’t ready or able to push the Guardian feature to all families, I’ve been suggesting to teachers three alternatives:
- Selective Use of Guardian Email Feature: Utilize the guardian email feature for parents who request regular updates and/or students whose education plans may require daily or weekly progress updates.
- Make your Classroom Calendar Public: All assignments in Classroom appear on a Google Calendar as events based on the assignments’ due date. Since any Google Calendar can be made “Public” and public calendars can be shared via a link or embedded, this may be an option to make assignment information viewable for parents on your teacher website or by sending parents the link. For more information on how to make your Classroom Calendar public, check out an earlier post on this topic.
- Suggest Classroom App: Since most parents prefer text updates, they may prefer to download the Classroom app for students on their phone and have their student sign in so they can receive push notifications every time an assignment is posted. This will only require their child sign in once to their parent’s phone app.
5 – Make Sure You’re Using Classroom to It’s Potential!
Many teachers “use” Classroom, but are you using it to push out digital assignments and provide student feedback? Have you used the “Ask a Question” feature as an exit ticket to formatively assess students? Check out my Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for detailed information about the various menus in Google Classroom. This handout can be printed to serve as a helpful reference for those new to Classroom!