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Going Deeper with Google Classroom - Part 1 of 2

Posted by on in Education Technology
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Google Classroom is a great way to digitize a class and present it to students in a user-friendly way. Rather than using a complicated LMS, teachers can automate file-sharing and give feedback as students work on assignments.

Teachers using Google Classroom to substitute for pen and paper are taking an important first step but are not using this tool to transcend instruction. These teachers should be encouraged to use Google Apps for Education’s great feedback features. They should also be encouraged to go deeper with Google Classroom. Here are five strategies for doing so. There are five more in part two of this post.

Anchor Activities in the About Tab

Have a student or group of students who work very quickly? Need a challenge to ramp up difficulty when they say, “I’m done.”? The About Tab is a great place to put anchor activities. They can be course or unit specific or simply provide a worthwhile use of their time such as Blockly for coding:


Create a Question for Class Discussions

The “create question” option is a great tool for assessing students while they converse with peers. Two great features about this for teachers: students only see classmates’ responses after they post their own and Google Classroom keeps track of who answered the question and who has not.


Easily Find All Google Classroom Files by Student

Thanks to Jennifer Scheffer figuring this out, teachers can easily view Google Classroom files by student. Students rename and share their class Google Classroom folder with the teacher:


From there it is easy for teachers to organize their folders so they can find all files for each student. This helps teachers conference with and provide feedback to students. Additionally, teachers can easily share work with parents, guidance counselors, and inclusion teachers. Let Jenn explain how easy this can be:

Google Classroom as Backchannel for Students to Help Each Other

Thank you Nicole Dalesio for this idea! Have students use the comment feature in Google Classroom to ask questions and have peers answer them. If teachers prefer to keep student comments out of their Classroom stream, they can create a separate backchannel Google Classroom.


Make it All Accessible to Absent Students and/or Convert to Blended Learning

Last year, I used Google Classroom to provide guided notes for lectures, give students multiple opportunities to learn the material, and make catching up easy for absent and homebound students. Students completed guided notes in class. I added a video recap to the assignment afterward. It looked like this:


This allowed absent students to easily access material they missed. All students could refer to the video to study or if they needed another chance to master the concepts.

Now, as a tech facilitator, I don’t teach a class but if I did, there would be no more lecturing. It would be replaced by blended learning. Guided notes would still be a Google Classroom assignment. Students would take them in class while watching my video. I would then add EdPuzzle and TED-Ed assessment. Students could do these things at their own pace. It would look like this in Google Classroom:


Thank you for reading these suggestions. I hope they help you go deeper with Google Classroom. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would like to chat more about going deeper with Google Classroom. Check out part two of this post for five more suggestions.

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Tom Mullaney is a Digital Learning Integration Designer for the San Francisco Unified School District. Tom's education experience includes Special Education, Social Studies, and educational technology coaching in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer. Tom hosts the Sustainable Teaching Podcast and contributes to the BamRadio Network EdWords blog. Use his TED-Ed lesson to teach your students about the French Revolution. Contact him on Twitter, @TomEMullaney or via e-mail, [email protected].

  • Guest
    Alley Chai Tuesday, 29 December 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love the idea of having Anchor Activities. I cannot wait to implement that idea when we go back to school in January!

  • Tom Mullaney @TomEMullaney
    Tom Mullaney @TomEMullaney Tuesday, 29 December 2015

    Alley, you are very welcome. 1:1 means teachers have endless options for anchor activities.

  • Guest
    Kelly Pope Wednesday, 30 December 2015

    I can't wait to see part 2. I am new to Google Classroom, but I am hooked! I appreciate your ideas and have already added many of them to my google classroom so we are ready to go when we return to class. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Tom Mullaney @TomEMullaney
    Tom Mullaney @TomEMullaney Wednesday, 30 December 2015

    Kelly, thank you for the feedback. Good luck with Google Classroom. It revolutionized my practice for sure. I hope you get some good ideas from part 2 as well.

  • Guest
    Juan lugo Saturday, 18 June 2016

    This great!!! You are the man!!!

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