How I Use It
Google Classroom is the second of two Learning Management Systems I have used in my career and it is definitely the one I will be sticking with! This is a no-brainer for anyone who works at a GAFE school. The integration with Google Apps for Education is seamless. Simply put, Google Classroom serves as the mission control for your classroom incorporating communication, collaboration and assessment in one shared, digital space. Teachers create virtual classrooms for each of their classes. Students then join the classroom using a class code. The Google Classroom is divided into three parts: Stream, Students and About. The stream section functions a lot like a Facebook wall where teachers can post assignments, questions, announcements, etc. Students are also able to post announcements including multimedia posts. Google Classroom automatically creates a folder for each class on Google Drive which makes organization super simple. There's an integrated calendar and grade book to boot!One of the best new additions to Google Classroom is the "guardian" feature which allows teachers to invite parents to the classroom where they can monitor their child's work. Parents receive daily or weekly summaries of student work and announcements. Parents and guardians can remain totally in the loop and correspond with teachers. Another great feature of Google Classroom is its potential for differentiation. When uploading an assignment, the teacher can have the students view a file, can edit a file or have a copy of the file for each student. For instance, in the direct instruction part of a lesson a teacher may choose to have students view a file, for the guided practice part of a lesson, the teacher may choose to have the students edit a shared document and for the independent practice of a lesson, the teacher can have each student the class engage in his or her own copy of the same documents, or give different groups tiered documents. The possibilities with Google Classroom are endless because it integrates with the GAFE apps and with other teaching tools as well.
As a convert from another LMS, I must say that Google Classroom is hands down the best LMS out there for GAFE schools. The ease of integration cannot be beat with Google. What I like most about Google Classroom is its versatility; it can be anything you want and need it to be. So of my students were skeptical about using this platform at the beginning of the year, but most of them have really taken to using it. It has opened a new world to them in terms of collaboration with their classmates and with me as a teacher. They are eager to share Google Docs with me and get instant feedback on their writing, and group projects have become much easier to handle because they can collaborate in real time anywhere. I love the fact that the Google Classroom app is available for all devices, so although we use it on our Chromebooks, most of my students have the app on their phone and tablet, as do I. For me, the greatest part about using Google Classroom has been the way my students have become more accountable and self-directed. They know that their work is all in once place and they can go back to it at any time. We have an archive of our learning for the year and I am extremely satisfied at having successfully pushed many of my students to feel much more comfortable using technology academically and helping them start to build the skills they need in order to be marketable in our information and tech-heavy job market of today and the future.