We are all in the infancy of online learning and being thrust into a new kind of learning can be stressful but we are all in this together. As teachers, parents and students we need to lead with patience and I hope that I can support you as you navigate the current situation. I hope that during this period you take the time you need to learn new methods of teaching online but also think about how you and your students can later transfer your new skills to “regular” school in the format of partial, flipped or blended learning.
Today, I want to focus on Google Classroom. Google classroom is great but it has limitations on what you can do on the platform. That is why many schools may start with Google Classroom but then graduate to more robust learning management systems. I hope that in this blog post, I can show you the most effective ways to use google classroom with your students.
Class Header & Profile Picture
I want to remind you that you will not be able to recreate your class and your classroom environment online. But you can make it interesting. There are different ways that you can add your personal flair to your classroom. One of these ways is customizing your header. The size of your header should be 1600×400. I asked my daughter what bothers you most about google classroom and she told me that teachers are not using profile pictures!! She said it seemed impersonal… she said “LIKE WHO ARE YOU??” Remember, that our students are in a generation where these things matter, so be personable and put up a photo or you can use the profile photo I made to go with the Google Classroom headers. In the folder I have two versions for you and I already put the simple version in google draw so that you can customize the message!
Change Google Profile picture so that it matches the theme
NOTE: There will be a black overlay over the image in your google classroom — unfortunately there is no way we can disable that option. Boo… you can read more about it here and also ask for that to be an option!! Let’s all complain so that happens!!
Organization Makes Sense
Do not assume that the organization makes sense to your students. First you need to decide how to organize your classroom. There are a few ways to do it.
You can actually have different classrooms for each topic (math, ela, science, etc) OR you can have your main classroom and then split each section by topic. That is one of the most important calls because then your students need to know how they would go through your lessons. Your students should know the answers to:
How often to check classroom?
How to navigate classroom when they do check it?
That means you need to decide how you will proceed with online learning and try to keep consistent learning activities so that students know what they need to do.
If you have 1 classroom to represent your entire curriculum, then you can use your topic levels in 2 ways. You can either split them up by week and upload all the classroom work that needs to be done under the topic which is a weeks worth of work. Or you can split it by subject and add the work that needs to be completed under each topic.
I would 100% encourage the use of emoji’s in the topic titles & activity titles to help with navigation or to let the student quickly see which type of activity is which. Just make sure that you think it all through and keep consistent so that students get used to a routine.
Google classroom is a great way to manage your classes assignments and communicate with your students. Try to encourage communication with your students. Have threads where they can just respond to something funny! Have them check in with you daily with a form. Try to keep classroom dialogue going – ESPECIALLY if you are not holding ANY zoom or google meetings. I hope these 2 tips were helpful!