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By Dani Kennis, Special Ed Teacher and Technology Coach

As educators in the digital age, we are fortunate to have technology tools at our disposal that help to make our jobs easier and the way we run our classrooms more efficient. When it comes to saving paper and making the most of our valuable time with students, Google Classroom is the answer. A blended learning platform, Google Classroom, makes transitioning to a paperless classroom effortless by allowing Classroom to handle the dispersal, collection and grading of papers. Below, check out five reasons to use Google Classroom this school year!

  1. Supplement or replace a class website → The ‘About’ tab in Google Classroom is invaluable. That is where I post my class syllabus, important links that students will need for the year, a student interest inventory survey, and directions for how to sign up for the app Remind. Students frequently drop/add in and out of classes at the beginning of the year and this is an efficient and quick way to allow students access to all of the most important tidbits they will need to know upon entering your class.

Google Classroom About Tab

(Image source: www.alicekeeler.com)

Additionally, Google Classroom is now integrated with Google Calendar, which allows students to easily keep track of assignment due dates and upcoming projects. One caveat with using Classroom as a class website is that parents do not have access, however this lends itself to an opportunity for students to show off their skills and understanding of Classroom to parents at home.

 

2. Ease of assigning and collecting work → Google Classroom allows you to attach documents, links or videos and add due dates, which makes assigning both group or individual work nearly effortless. Work can be assigned to multiple classes at the same time and teachers have the ability to choose how students complete the work – individually or in a group. Google Classroom makes it possible for students to all work in the same assignment or for teachers to assign an individual copy for each student. Students can also choose a document to upload and submit using the ‘Turn In’ button. No matter the assignment, I always assign it on Classroom and have students click the ‘Done’ button, which adds that extra step in accountability whether their assignment is viewing a video, reading a chapter of a book,or getting a permission slip signed.

Google Classroom Assignment Screen

 

  1. Allows student access to a living, breathing archive of their work for the year → Growth and progress are two of the most important goals that we strive to help our students achieve. In terms of knowledge, abilities and confidence, our students are at very different places in the beginning and end of the year. Google Classroom allows students a unique opportunity to go back on any assignments completed digitally and reflect on their growth. Additionally, in working towards establishing a positive online presence, students have a large collection of past work to choose from when deciding what to display.

 

  1. Student collaboration and content creation → Putting students in the driver’s seat and allowing them to be creators of content is key in developing independent, hard working contributors to society. When we provide opportunities for students to actively seek information and create content that displays their understanding, those rich experiences lend themselves to true deep learning. Too often I see students in classrooms disengaged and unmotivated while being fed information during a lecture. We can no longer make excuses for students being passive consumers of information when we have technology at our fingertips to allow them something so much greater. Furthermore, classroom enables educators to assign, collect and grade papers more easily and efficiently than ever before.

 

  1. Giving student feedback → When I was in school, we were assigned a paper or project and had one chance to complete it. Today, the collaborative nature of GAFE tools, especially Google Docs, makes it nearly impossible for every student not to earn a perfect score. One of the major changes I made in my classroom last year was allowing students to complete written work, such as essays, as many time as possible until they got the score they wanted. I never wanted to leave a student feeling helpless and out of chances, like I often felt in some of my high school classes. Now, students go through a continuous cycle of editing and turning in drafts of papers on Google Classroom. I provide them with feedback (both online and in person) and then return the work. Doing this made students feel that I truly believed in them, plus they really seemed to appreciate the continuous feedback and opportunity to strive for better.

 

Google Classroom opens up a world of possibilities for educators and students, alike. It simplifies workflow, makes trivial tasks easy and succinct, and provides an online location for all resources and work for a class. If you want to learn more about Google Classroom’s features and best practices, please be sure to tune in to the webinar that I will be doing on September 28 at 4pm EST on Becoming A Google Classroom Guru (http://ctl.re/Google-Classroom-Guru)!

Dani Kennis

Dani Kennis

Dani is a high school Special Education Social Studies teacher and Technology Coach in the New York suburbs. She is also a Level 2 Google Certified Trainer and co-founder of The Education Calendar, a crowdsourced map and calendar of education events worldwide. Her blended classroom incorporates the use of G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education) as well as other Web 2.0 tools in order to prepare her students to be successful 21st century learners in a global community. She blogs about her work and teaching at DaniKennis.com and would love to connect on Twitter (@kennisdani).
Dani Kennis
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