Google Classroom is an easy and efficient way to organize your classroom assignments and projects, particularly if you are having kids use any Google Drive programs, including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Draw, etc.
The first post in this series, Figuring out Google Classroom, provided an overview of what Classroom is and why you might want to use it. The second post, Setting Up a Class in Google Classroom, provided a step-by-step look at how to set up a class and add students. This post offers tips and tricks for using Google Classroom to assign and manage student work and projects.
Assignment Setup within Google Classroom
You can add an assignment directly from the stream page. Clicking "Assignment" pops up the assignment options. You need to provide a title for your assignment and the date that it is due. Optional information includes adding a description and a specific time for the due date. You can also use the icons in the bottom left to add a link to a file, link to a Google Drive item, embed a video, or add a hyperlink to another web site.
Clicking the "Assign" button makes the assignment visible to students within Classroom and will send students an email with a link to the assignment. You can also click the arrow next to assign and choose "Save Draft," which allows you to save your progress but does not yet make the assignment visible to students. (Google will automatically save the draft while you are working on it, just in case.) You can edit an already-created assignment, or you can click the trash can icon to delete an assignment.
Tips for Creating Assignments
You should think carefully about how you want to name assignments. Having an organized naming convention for assignments will make it easier for both you and your students to find the appropriate files and assignments during the year.
One of the best features of Google Classroom is how it integrates with Google Drive files. If a student creates a file for an assignment, Classroom automatically names that file with the name of the assignment followed by the student's name and that file is automatically shared with (and visible to) the teacher.
Within the Classroom file in Drive for the teacher, Classroom will create a new folder for each assignment, which contains all of the individual student files created for that assignment. For students, the Classroom folder for a given class will contain all of their files for that class. In both cases, the files and folders are sorted alphabetically. This is where a quick and concise assignment-naming convention is invaluable.
Some people recommend numbering all assignments consecutively. (Starting with 01 gives you 99 assignments during the year, while starting with 001 gives you 999.) If you teach a range of subjects within a single class, however, it might make more sense to number those individual subjects consecutively.
For example, I teach language arts, social studies, and drama. For my students, I think it makes the most sense to categorize assignments by topics: Writing 01, Writing 02, Reading 01, Reading 02, SS 01, SS 02, etc. Following the subject and number would be the assignment title: for example, Writing 01: Personal Narratives, as shown above. This keeps all writing assignments sorted together, sequentially, making it easy for me and my students to easily jump to the correct assignment within Drive.
Students - Working with Assignments
Students will receive an email when a new assignment is posted, and those assignments are also visible within their stream in Classroom. Clicking an assignment in Classroom brings up two tabs for students: Instructions and Your Work. Instructions includes the title and description provided by the teacher, along with any links or attachments. Your Work allows students to create or edit any Google Drive files to complete the assignment.
Clicking on a Google Drive file from Your Work will open that file in another tab. When using a Google Drive file, students click "Turn In" when they have completed an assignment. This will redirect them to Google Classroom where they have the opportunity to write a private comment to the teacher before again clicking "Turn In." Once an assignment is turned in, a student will no longer be able to edit that file. (A student may choose to "Unsubmit" a file through Classroom to regain editing ability.)
For assignments that do not require a Google Drive file, students have the option to mark an assignment as finished. This is useful because it provides a visual signal to the student and the teacher that an assignment has been finished.
Create Templates within Google Drive
For some assignments, you may want to create a template for students to edit, rather than having them create a file from scratch. First, go into Google Drive and create whatever template file you want. For this example, I created a Google Drive document with a space for a title, student's name, and where to start typing their personal narrative story.
Tip: Use the same naming convention for assignments when creating your template document. This will keep all files and assignments easy to find.
(In the example below, I did not. Therefore, as a teacher, I will see the folder in Classroom "Writing 02: Personal Narratives" with all the student files within, but the students will see the file "Personal Narrative Template - Their Name" in their Classroom folder. If they go looking under "Writing" alphabetically, they will not find it.)
Once you have created your template, you are ready to create the assignment in Classroom. If you attach a Google Drive file, you will have three options to choose for students: students can view file, students can edit file, and make a copy for each student. Choose "make a copy for each student" if you want each child to individually edit the template. (Students could edit file would let all students edit the same file.)
Templates are a great way to standardize files or can also be used to create worksheets or short answer responses where students must fill in information or answer questions provided by the template file.
Assignments within Google Classroom
How do you use the assignment feature within Google Classroom? Share any tips below. Feel free to also ask questions about what you are still wondering. Questions might be answered in future posts! Click here to see all posts about Google Classroom.