Tips for Using Google Classroom

By James T. Cains

Using Google Classroom is fairly straightforward for teachers and students. However, there are some tips and tricks you can use to make your life, and the lives of your students, much easier.

Use Google apps to create documents

Because Google Classroom is based on Google Drive, all of the Google Drive apps (such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and so on) are fully integrated into Classroom. So for example, when you create a homework worksheet in Google Docs, a student can open the document in Google Docs, complete the work, and turn it in. Then, you can open the same document, comment on it, grade it, and return it to the student. If you use a third-party application, such as Microsoft Word, you have to upload the document, and then the student has to download it to work on it. Then, the student has to re-upload the document and reattach it to the assignment before turning it in. Then, you have to download it to comment and grade it. Using Google Drive’s apps cuts out all that uploading and downloading and makes for a seamless experience.

Invite students to your class using the class code

You can save a lot of time inviting students to your class if you simply give them the class access code and, therefore, the responsibility of inviting themselves. Otherwise, you have to invite each student individually, which can be time-consuming. Just find your class code at the bottom left of your class’s Stream page, and then distribute it to your class in the most convenient way possible. Tell your students to go to classroom.google.com, sign in with their Google account, and click the plus sign at the top and choose Join Class.

Choose to make a copy of a document for each student

Most of the time, when you’re creating a homework assignment, you want to choose Make a Copy for Each Student, which allows each student to work on his or her own copy of the document. If you choose Students Can View File, then students won’t be able to edit it at all, and if you choose Students Can Edit File, then your students will be working on the same file.

Join other classes as a student

If you’re just learning how to use Google Classroom, you, as a teacher, can join other classes as a student to understand the student experience better and to learn from those who are more experienced with Google Classroom. Just get the class code from the other teacher and join the class the way one of your students would join your class.

Clearly explain change of ownership for assignment documents to your students

You should make students aware that, when they turn in an assignment, they can no longer edit the assignment, unless they “unsubmit” the assignment. After the assignment is turned in, ownership returns to the teacher, so that you can grade and offer feedback on the assignment. After you do so, you can return it to the student, after which the student can edit the document again. If the student unsubmits the assignment before you grade it, he or she must turn the assignment back in again when finished.

Create documents from within an assignment

Say you make an assignment in which you ask your students to write an essay on a certain topic. You haven’t added a worksheet or any materials for the students to work on. The best way for students to proceed is to create a new Google Doc from within the assignment by clicking the Create button and choosing the type of document they want to create. The document is automatically created in Google Drive and attached to the assignment, so students have no need to go to Google Drive. You can also use this method to create assignment materials.