Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Setting Up a Class in Google Classroom

Google Classroom is part of a suite of products offered by Google for use by schools. In the first post in this series, Figuring Out Google Classroom, I shared a brief overview of classroom and its incredible utility for managing assignments and projects. This post provides a quick how-to for setting up a class in Google Classroom. The next post will explain how to set up assignments and projects to get the most out of Google Classroom.

Setting Up Google Classroom - the Class

Click the little boxes in the upper right for the drop-down menu. Click "More" if Classroom is not an option.

Click "Classroom" to enter Google Classroom directly from Gmail.

You can access Google Classroom in two ways. The first is directly via https://classroom.google.com or from within the drop-down menu inside Gmail or another Google product. Enter your school email address and password if you have not already.

Click the plus sign in the upper-right to join an existing class or to create a new class. Classes that you have already joined or created will appear on your Home screen. Type the name and section name (if applicable) for your class. (If multiple teachers within a school will be using Google Classroom you may want to establish a standardized format for class names.)

Google Classes are organized with three tabs for teachers: stream, students, and about. Stream is the default view and shows all announcements and assignments with the most recent at the top. Shown is a stream with one example assignment. Underneath the assignment is a comment box. Teachers can enable or disable student commenting in the stream.

The student tab is where teachers can see enrolled students, invite more students, and choose whether students can add posts and/or comments to the class stream. There are two ways to invite students to join a Google Class.

The first is using the "Invite" button, shown above. Teachers are then directed to add students via their email addresses. Students will receive a class invitation email. Clicking the link provided will add them to the class.

The second is for students to use the class code to join the class. Students sign into Classroom using their school email address and password. Then, they click the plus sign in the upper-right hand corner and select "Join Class." Students then need to enter the class code (visible to the teacher in both the Stream and Student views). This method is much quicker for the teacher, as you can simply write the class code on the board and have students each add themselves.

The final tab is About and allows you to add a description about the class. It also provides a quick link to the Google Drive folder associated with the class. You can also add "materials" to this page, which includes links to documents, Google Drive files, or other web sites. This could be a useful place to aggregate popular web resources used regularly by your students.

Google Classroom - Student View

For students, Google Classroom has a very similar look. When they log into classroom (either through a link or within their Gmail), their home screen will have a list of their classes. Within a class, there are three main tabs for students: stream, classmates, and about.

Stream has a similar look to the teacher's view, listing announcements, assignments, and projects with the most recent first. A quick summary of upcoming assignments appears on the left-hand side. Completed and returned assignments are marked with a green check mark (see above) to help students quickly identify which assignments are yet-to-be completed.

The Classmates tab provides a listing of everyone in the class as well as an icon to send an individual student a direct email. The About tab includes whatever description the teacher has created in his/her About tab. It also provides a direct link to the Google Drive folder associated with that class.

Next Steps

The next step is to start adding assignments and announcements within Classroom. (You can also create your first assignments or announcements before adding students to your class, so that the information is already there once they join.) Find out how, along with tips for best practices, in the next post or click here to see all posts about Google Classroom.

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