How I Use It
Google Classroom is the ideal LMS (learning management system) for any Google Apps for Education school. It helps both students and teachers easily manage all of their Google Apps in one platform. Whether you are working with 24 students, or 200 it makes communication, sharing, and assessment a breeze. I usually use Google Classroom on Chrome with my students, but have found the iPad app an excellent choice as well. The iPad app will be especially helpful as my school is moving to a 1to1 iPad environment this fall. Google Classroom is broken into 3 sections: the stream, students, and about. I use the stream for assignments, announcements, questions and polls. A new feature recently added to assignments is scheduling, which if you are a planner like me, allows you to create assignments in advance. When creating an assignment you are given the option to have students view a document, make a copy for each, or have a whole class document. Students may also create their own drive file, or attach links, documents or videos. I have found this especially helpful when an assignment has multiple parts, some of which are not a part of the GAFE suite. As a teacher, you are able to see all student work in real time through docs, and are able to make comments for students. You can see student submissions in real time, and can provide individualized feedback which is emailed directly to students. You can choose from different grading options, /100, /10 or no grade. I would like to see an option to add qualifiers like "excellent," "great" or "needs improvement." Perhaps, there could also be a symbol system built in (like smiley faces). Students are also able to respond to your feedback, and once you return the assignment ownership transfers back to them. One of the really great things about distributing through classroom is students are unable to modify the sharing settings. Therefore, they are only able to view their own document (unless you give permission). I also love to use the "questions" function in the stream. Here you can pose a question as a wrap up for a lesson, or as an assignment. Students are able to respond, as well as see each others responses and can respond to them. It is a great discussion format for students to use and allows you to monitor and see student responses in real time. It provides a great teachable moment to share ideas about digital citizenship. Lastly, I also love the about section on Classroom. Here you can add resources for the class. I like to add entire folders to classroom from my drive by adding the link to the file. This way students can easily access class materials. Unfortunately, this is not yet available on the app version. Here, you can also add additional teachers to the course if more than one teacher teaches the subject or section. I cannot say enough great things about Google Classroom!
I think that Google Classroom is the best LMS out there if you are a Google Apps for Education school. I love that it allows all of your Google tools to be in one place. I have noticed that it improves communication between teacher and student, and allows for improved organization on both ends. I like the assignment feature (especially the new scheduling feature), and the ability to see student work in real time (both the work itself and submissions). It is easy to provide meaningful feedback to students, which is sent directly to them. I would like to see expanded grading options, beyond /10, /100 and no grade. Especially since many schooling systems do not follow this grading format and it can get confusing for students. I think a qualifier or symbol option would be great so that students focus more on the feedback rather than the grade. I would also love to see a differentiation button on the assignments. I think it would be great to find a way to assign assignments to groups rather than individually or to the whole class. In addition, the calendar integration is great and I love the alerts for students about upcoming assignments, I think it would be great if a small calendar could be embedded in the side panel to give students a visual representation of long term deadlines. I have found having students join classes extremely simple, they either enter a code or I enter them manually, this took less than 5 minutes and most students figured it out on their own. As for the about section, in Chrome you are able to add resources, but on the app version you are not able to do this yet, and I think this is something that should be rectified. Overall Google Classroom is a continually evolving tool, both on Chrome and on the app. I have been with Classroom since its creation and have been continually impressed with the improvements that it makes. I highly recommend this tool!