In PART 2, I will focus on the use of Google Classroom. I was given some training on how to set up my account and start a class. But, using Google Classroom in my third grade class was another story. Here are some valuable tips I learned.
When I first started assigning projects and work in Google Classroom, I put them all in one class. Big mistake. It started to get filled up fast and was mixed with math, social science, science, and language arts assignments. It was a big jumble making it hard to find assignments. So I learned to make a separate class for each subject area (sort of like a middle or high school approach). That way, projects or assignments for math were in the Math Class making them easier to find. Also, in my school we team for RtI and other subjects, so the ability to add additional students from other classrooms to a certain class was also important. I could add those other students to a particular subject class or even make a new class just for them.
As you can see, I had classes for every subject area. This also helps students to find their assignments much easier. All I had to say was open Google Classroom and go to the Social Studies class to find your new assignment.
This next tip has its pros and cons. Yes, I was aware that in Google Classroom students and teachers can submit comments about a particular assignment. That's great for discussion, collaboration and giving feedback. But what I wasn't prepared for was students using the comments to make rude comments, call each other names and gossip about other students! What they didn't know was that I also could see the comments. I was flabbergasted and didn't know what to do. I asked the Tech Specialist and she said to disable the comments. I told my principal and we discovered that there was no actual consequence for breaking the Acceptable Use Policy that my district has. So, I took screen shots of the comments (for documentation), and sent them directly to the parents of the offending students. I also took Chrome Book privileges away for an entire week. So now students know that when they break the AU terms, they will instead be given paper and pencil resources to complete the assignment and their parents will be notified.
Unless you are able to monitor those comments 24/7, I suggest you turn off the commenting by students ASAP, especially with younger students.
And if the fun of inappropriate comments weren't enough, no one told me that students would start searching for inappropriate content! Yes, let your students know that you can find out EXACTLY what they have searched for. Yes, the internet is filtered at our school so adult content does not show up, but that doesn't prevent students from searching for it! Your best friend for this is to regularly look through their HISTORY and see which websites they've been to and what they were searching for. Sometimes it's not inappropriate content they search for and visit on the web. Sometimes it's Hello Kitty sites or Pro Wrestling sites. They're innocent enough...but have NOTHING to do with the assignments. Instead, students are just wasting time searching for topics of interest to them. That's fine at home, but not at school. Think of a student who takes out a Pokemon Strategy book to read instead of doing a paper and pencil assignment. The student is off task and wasting time! Same in the digital world.
For those students who just can't seem to control the urge to Google off topic or inappropriate content, I suggest turning the student's desk around so you can see their screen at ALL times.
If there's anything I learned about using Google Apps like Docs and Slides with my students, is that the delete key is their worst enemy. They tend to delete "by accident" words, paragraphs and even entire slides. So one of the first lessons you should probably teach is how to use the UNDO key and how to RESTORE. Both are life savers. The UNDO key can be pressed as many times as needed to get back a certain point in the assignment or just once to undelete, unbold, un-anything!
The RESTORE option I use when a student has really messed up an assignment, such as, deleting one or more slides in Google Slides. This was happening often at the beginning. I discovered that students accidentally selected the slide instead of the text or image and then hit the delete key. Of course, if the slide is selected, the entire slide will be deleted. Then they would innocently ask me where their slide went or that they had not gotten the slide like the rest of the class...DOH! That's where RESTORE comes in handy. Just restore the document to an earlier version where the slide was NOT deleted. Yes, you might lose some work, but the slide is more important.
Just look for the HELP in the icon section of the ribbon. Click on the part that says when the last edit was done and a side screen will open showing you the different versions that Google has saved. Just click through them and find the one you want. Double clicking on it will restore it.
One of the ways I improved productivity in my class was to teach the students 6 important keyboard shortcuts. They actually do speed up work, especially when students have trouble using the trackpad. Used in combination with the trackpad or mouse, you will see students working much faster and getting less frustrated. These are the keyboard shortcuts I focus on:
Copying, pasting, cutting, selecting all, duplicating and undoing. That's it. Learn them and you'll work much faster. Granted, there are many more commands to learn and you can see them all HERE on the Google help site that shows ALL the keyboard shortcuts for Chrome Books. I also want to offer this FREEBIE poster (which includes quarter-size student versions) of those particular keyboard shortcuts as a THANK YOU for visiting my blog. You can download it HERE.
Hang them in your room and give them to your students as a handy resource!
I use Google Apps a lot with my students, so they need to know how to use the icon tools for drawing and formatting text. I also showed them how to add their own text boxes. Formatting text using bullets or numbering is especially important for taking notes or quickly listing important facts or details. The shape tools are important for math (drawing shapes and lines). Once the students learned to use these tools, they learned how to change colors of shapes and line thickness.
You can see how the students would use these tools in some of the Google Apps Ready products I have made and are available in my TpT Store HERE.
Here is one aspect of a 1:1 classroom I really struggled with deciding what to do! In Google Classroom, when a student is done with an assignment they can submit it to you. Then you can give the assignment a grade and send the grade to the student. Very handy, if you are scoring numerically. A lot of the assignments I gave in Google Classroom involved Digital Interactive Notebooks I created in Google Slides. I would create one for each unit of study during the year. It combined elements of either science or social studies with language arts (including writing). With Google Classroom I can see each student's completed Interactive Digital Notebook. The problem for me was the expectations. Some of the slides involved writing in one of our 3 genres (narrative, opinion or informative). Some of the slides involved specific language arts standards. Some of the slides involved specific science or social studies standards. So in my teacher's mind, I envisioned either giving an overall grade or separate grades for each slide based on the standard or content. That is a lot of grading!
Obviously, I hadn't really thought this through. Instead of a grade, I gave credit for completing the assignment. Next year, I plan to develop a rubric for each Interactive Digital Notebook so it will be easier to grade. I also might experiment with a check list type grade report in which each slide is checked off as completed, with an individual grade. That might be manageable because we do not work on all the slides at once, but 1-3 at a time during the unit.
Finally, I wanted to point you to some great resources I have developed (or am developing) for using Google in the Classroom. Both are Pinterest boards. The Google in the Classroom board is full of ideas, tutorials, strategies, examples, and uses for Google in your classroom. The other board, Google Products 4 Google Apps, I have just started. It will have ONLY Google Ready products that I have in my store as well as, other great products I find on TpT. As we move to the digital age in the 1:1 classroom, teachers need time savers and this board will be one. Here you'll find ready made resources that just need to be downloaded and assigned in Google Classroom.