Yes! 15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers!

Google Classroom is one of the most popular digital tools for the K-12 classroom.

15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers

It has improved vastly over the years, and teachers have learned how to make the most of this flexible assignment manager and communication hub.

A few weeks ago, I asked the members of the Shake Up Learning community to share with me their favorite Google Classroom tips.

If you are not already a member of the Shake Up Learning community, click here to join. (Be sure to answer the required questions!)

The tips shared by the community are AWESOME!

These are tips are FOR teachers and recommended BY teachers!

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Here are 15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers by Teachers!

1. Number your assignments!

Numbering your assignments is one of the best tips I ever received. It helps you organize files not only in Classroom but also keep Google Drive neat and tidy.

15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers

This tip is also one I recommend in the previous post, 6 Tips for Getting Started with Google Classroom.

2. Use Cntrl + F to Find Numbers and Words in Classroom

Even the most organized Classwork page can become quite long after a few weeks of assignments. Use the keyboard shortcut, Control + F (Command + F on a mac), to search for keywords or assignment numbers (as mentioned above) on the page. Teach students this trick, too!

3. Pick an Organizational Strategy for Using Topics

Using the topics feature on the classwork page helps organize assignments for students and teachers. There are several different ways to organize. There are several ways to do this and what works for one teacher doesn’t work for all. This is a personal preference for teachers. Choose a strategy that works for your content area and grade level. For ideas, check out this post on How to Organize Assignments in Google Classroom.

4. Create a “Resources” Topic and Keep at the Top of the Classwork Page

Every class needs a place to store resources, links, class rules, syllabus, etc. Mindy Barron suggests you create a special topic for resources and class materials and keep it near the top for easy access. Be sure to name these files clearly so that students know exactly what is there.

5. Create a Google Classroom Class Template

Once you have selected your favorite organization method for Google Classroom (and tested it!) Make a copy of the class as your template. You can continue to make a copy every time you need a new class and already have all of your topics created and organized, and your assignments will be saved as drafts!

To make a copy of a class in Google Classroom: Go to your Google Classroom home, then click on the 3 dots on the class card and select “copy class.”

For detailed directions and more tips on this idea, visit How to Create a Class Template in Google Classroom.

6. Use Direct Links to Assignments

Did you know you can get a direct link to a specific assignment? This makes it so easy to refer students back to a particular activity. Just go to the Classwork page, locate the assignment, click on the 3 dots to the right of the assignment and copy the link.

15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers

7. Use a Google Doc as a Syllabus (Secondary)

Many teachers use Google Docs to create a syllabus so that it is a living document that can be updated throughout the year. Add links to outside resources, daily assignments, important dates, etc. You can even put links to Google Classroom assignments (see above) to avoid the long search for students. (Thank you to Michael Stroud for sharing this!)

8. Break Projects into Smaller Assignments with Separate Due Dates

Project-based learning is so important, and as we try to move past the static, one-and-done assignments, we have to think differently about how we implement in our classrooms.

Big projects can be overwhelming for students, especially those who haven’t learned how to manage their time. It’s important to give them milestones and chunk the project into smaller assignments with checkpoints. In fact, that’s one of the implementation tips from my book, Shake Up Learning: Practical Ideas to Move Learning From Static to Dynamic.

9. Create a Separate Class for Enrichment and Extension Activities

In my class, finishing your assignment early didn’t mean free time or games. For my students, it involved reading and enrichment activities. Consider creating a separate class inside Google Classroom for extension or enrichment activities.

You could even gamify this idea and give digital badges for accomplishing a task or challenge. For other ways to use Google Classroom, check out 20 New Ways to Use Google Classroom.

10. Use Private Comments for Meaningful Feedback and Conversations with Students

One of my favorite features of Google Classroom is the private comment feature. This little tool can help streamline communication with your students and improve the feedback loop. Feedback from teachers is one of the most important factors in student growth!

Private comments are just that–private between you and your student. (No one else can read these.)

Remember to use private comments not just at the end of the assignment, but throughout!

And this doesn’t negate the power of face-to-face conversations, but it does help document so students can remember the feedback, as well as give students an opportunity to communicate who do not usually speak in front of the class.

There are a few different places where you can add private comments for students.

To add a private comment from the Student Work page:

  1. From the Classwork tab, click on the assignment for which you would like to give feedback.
  2. Click on “View Assignment.”
  3. Select the Student from the roster on the left.
  4. Toward the bottom of the right-hand panel, you will see “Add Private Comment.”
  5. Click to type and add your private comment for your student.

15 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers

You can also now add private comments using the new grading feature in Google Classroom from inside the student’s document.

To add a private comment using the Grading Tool:

  1. From the Classwork tab, click on the assignment for which you would like to give feedback.
  2. Click on “View Assignment.”
  3. Click on the student’s file that you would like to give feedback.
  4. Use the right-hand panel to post a private comment.

To learn more about all of the different types of comments in Google Classroom, check out THIS POST.

11. Use Private Comments for Reflection

Some teachers take the private comments feature a step further and make it part of the assignment by requiring that students add a reflection as a private comment after they submit their assignment. Sean Fahey suggests using an open-ended question or give students a prompt like, “What did you like most about the assignment?” or “What part challenged you the most?”

Be sure to add this to your directions, so they don’t forget!

12. Attach a Template Document for Each Assignment.

This tip comes to us from Michelle Baragar. She attaches a blank Google Doc or a template to each assignment as a copy for each student. In Google Classroom, you can view the assignment page and see a thumbnail for each student. This allows you to see progress, or lack thereof, at a glance.

Even if you do not have a template for your assignment, Michelle Baragar suggests attaching a saved black document to use as a template so that you can still get the thumbnail view!

13. Invite Teachers that are Hesitant to Use Google Classroom to Be a Student or Co-Teacher in Your Class.

15 Google Classroom Tips for TeachersNot every teacher is on board with Google Classroom. If you work with a teacher who is hesitant or maybe a little technophobic, invite them to join your class as a student or a co-teacher.

I suggest inviting them as a student at first, so they get an idea of how it works before giving them the ability to add and edit your class as a co-teacher. Co-teachers can do everything you can do in a class.

To invite teachers:

  1. Go to the class where you want to add them,
  2. Then click on the People tab at the top of the page.
  3. To invite as a co-teacher, click on the invite teachers icon and type their name or email address and click Invite.
  4. To invite a teacher as a student, click on the invite students icon and type their name or email address and click Invite.

14. Create a demo student account to demonstrate Google Classroom to your students.

Google Classroom doesn’t currently offer teachers a way to view their classes as a student. (I wish it did!)

So to see your class as a student, you must have a student’s account. A workaround, suggested by Julie Sweeney Newton, is to use a demo account and log in as a student so you can see how the student side works and to demonstrate how to use Classroom for your students.

This one may be a little tough to do depending on your school.

If you have access to create Google accounts in your school’s domain, this is easy. Most teachers do not have this kind of access.

In that case, reach out to your tech coach or tech support to see if it’s possible to get a demo account.

15. Package your Digital Assignments

How to Package Digital AssignmentsThis tip is a collection of tips to improve how your instructions and package everything students will need into your Google Classroom assignments.

These tips come from a previous post and infographic, How to Package Your Digital Assignments.

Visit the link above to get all the details of each tip!

These are tips that will save you time and save your sanity!

The more information you provide in the assignment, the fewer questions you have to address, and the fewer excuses students have for not having the assignment completed and on time.

What are your favorite Google Classroom Tips? Please share in the comments below.

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Check out all of my Google Classroom Resources here!

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