How I Use It
Google classroom is a tool that allows you to build your own "virtual class" , where teachers can post assignments, videos, power points, quick check questions, warm ups, exit tickets, and many other things, which the students can then access through the site. I set up my class by having everyone of my students login to google classroom and giving them the password. Once they had the password they "joined my class" and my classroom was setup (it was very easy).
Every day I post an announcement of what we will be doing in class that day (and they automatically receive a notification through email). I then post my slides in pdf form in the "about" tab, and I post homework assignments, warm up questions, and anything else I intend to use for the day in the "stream" tab. When students come into my class, they open up google classroom, see the announcement of what we are doing that day, and start answering the warm up question I have posted. After they submit their warm up, I've seen them check the future assignments and open up my slides to see what we are going to be learning about that day. I have also watched them post comments about the class or particular questions they have on google classroom. When everyone is done with their warmup, I open up google classroom from Promethean board and go over their answers, asking questions and having discussions as we go. Whenever I give an assignment, I upload it to google classroom, and give the details of what the assignment is, the deadline, and how it will be graded (often I just upload a rubric here). They have access to google classroom outside the school so now there is no excuse about not understanding a project or leaving it at home (since they can submit projects electronically). Kids can submit their projects at any time through google classroom and when they do I can view the project, make comments on it, and see exactly when they submitted it. . When I grade assignments, I open up google classroom, click on the assignment, click on the google doc they have submitted and grade the assignment (while making comments in red on the google doc). when I am finished grading, I click "return to student" and they receive an email with the grade and comments I made. All of the features I have talked about has worked flawlessly and were extremely easy to master. They only feature that seems to be a bit broken is uploading a google calendar in my "about" section. I had to search online to find out how to actually accomplish this task, but even when I did upload the calendar...it seemed to crash a lot whenever students accessed the calendar through google classroom (this may be a network issue and not a google classroom).
Honestly I love this site and have no idea how I taught without this tool! I believe it has allowed me to become a more organized and effective educator, while giving me a tool that can help create a "student centered classroom" . One of the best features of using google classroom is that kids now have a digital record of things we have done in class! Students often lose assignments, warmups, notes, but now they have a digital record of all of this! When a student is absent, all they have to do is go onto google classroom and they can see a lot of what we did that day (notes, warmups, homeworks, etc.). Students have already asked me questions about assignments using this tool at 9 at night and I have the ability to answer them right then and there (but often other students answer before I am even able to, which is another great feature).
Grading has become a breeze, since now I don't have to lug papers everyone I go! All I need is access to the internet and I can do a ton of my grading (and return the assignments right then and there...without using up time in class handing back old assignments). It has actually started to eliminate some of the most common questions that educators get!"When is this due? " "why did I receive a 7/10 on this assignment?""When are you going to return that assignment?""Can I get another notes packet?" It's wonderful to have a tool that takes away some of these silly questions so that we can really concentrate on the subject matter. Creating a virtual classroom, actually allows me to take one more step away from the traditional "lecture style" of teaching. The more and more I use it...the more students can work at their pace (differentiated instruction anyone?), and allows me to concentrate on students struggling with a particular problem, or concept.
Things I would change:
I would like to allow parents to enter my classroom as "observers". Right now parents have to ask their kids for logins to be able to see what I have been doing in class. I wish I could give parents "observation rights" ...allowing them to see what is going on in class, while not actually being a part of the class. I would also change how they do the file system in the "about" section. It is actually difficult to set up a folder (or maybe I just don't know how to do this effectively yet). I would also find a better way to incorporate google calendars as right now it is difficult to infuse a google calendar with google classroom.