Friday, July 23, 2021

Google Classroom Tips


While creating a new class, you can add details such as name, description, and add a header image (theme template) for personalization. You can select from the bunch of default themes or upload the photo from the PC. You will be mostly fine with the default ones as they are divided neatly into categories such as Maths & Science, Arts, Sports, History, and more.


Tap on the select theme in the header image, choose a theme and apply it to the classroom. Copy the class code and invite students to join the class.


This is a fairly basic option, but very important when you are dealing with dozens of classes and subjects at a time. As you may know, by default, all the created classes get saved in the Google Drive folder. You can change the folder color of the class for easy discovery and personalization.


Go to a class > Classwork > Class Drive Folder, and it will open the relevant folder on Google Drive. You can rename it and add numbers in the title. Then, right-click on the folder to select Change Color from the context menu to assign a new folder color, which by default is set as boring grey.


This is a must-have for all the teachers. Google Classroom has added the ability to schedule assignments in advance. You can create assignments, add relevant details, comments, grades, and either publish it or schedule it for a set time. You will be able to see the scheduled assignment with name and time in a grayed-out section in the Classwork menu.


Do you know that the Google Classroom creates a separate calendar for every class in Google Calendar? You can go to a class > Classwork and select Google Calendar. There you will see the separate calendars for the classes you have created. If you don’t want it to interfere with your personal calendar, then uncheck the box with your name next to it. Users can also change the color of the calendar.

Google calendar


While handing out assignments, you might want to provide resource material for the project. Teachers can go to Create > Material, add title, description, provide resource files from Google Docs, Form, YouTube, or Web. Select category and tap on the publish button at the top.

As you may already know, one can set the total grade marks for assignments. After the submission from students, you can give them grades. But even better, teachers can use the private comment function to give out compliments to students personally.

Private comment

When you are dealing with hundreds of students in the class, it can be head-scratching to keep track of grades. While giving out grades, teachers can use the filter menu to sort out students by surname or the first name. It makes the whole process smooth for the teachers.

Sort by name


Google Classroom allows teachers to send out an email to all the students on the go. You can always send an email to students individually, but isn't that tedious? Of course, you can send an email to all of them right from the Classrooms interface. For that, you can go to Marks, select assignment, select all students from the following menu, and select Email selected students.

Email all


During classes, you might want to invite other teaches to the classroom. Thankfully, Google Classroom allows you to invite others to handle the class. In a class, go to People and tap on the Share button to invite other teachers to the classroom. I have seen teachers sharing a classroom with their assistants to review the submissions.

Invite teachers


Teachers can use this function to start a debate among the students. Go to a Class > Classwork > Create > Question. You can add a question, choose from the short answer or multiple choices, add instructions, pin a file, and most importantly enable the Students can reply to each other option from the sidebar to post the questions and let the students discuss the topic internally. That's as good as a group discussion.


Google provides a handy Google Classroom extension that allows you to share interesting articles and news to students using the Classroom extension. From a webpage, just tap on the Google Classroom extension, choose a classroom, and share the content.


New Tools for Fools

Well, we’re not really fools, I hope. But fools does rhyme with tools, and I sometimes feel like a fool while using a new tool! I’ve done a lot of that lately. I used Clip Champ to cut up (edit) a video I recorded on my phone, and then used Screencastify to add a slide to the end of the video. I tried to use Prezi first but that did not turn out well for me. I feel like I’ve been fighting with technology and I’m not sure who is winning! But, during this morning’s Science & Art lesson on Jackson Pollock & Kinetic Energy, students cheered after my video, so I must be doing something right? Here's that video: Learn to Paint Like Jackson Pollock.

I’ve always believed that we need to meet students where they are, and today’s students are geared up.  They’re ready to jump onto any app or video, chomping at the bit to become the next YouTube star… If we’re going to be successful teachers we’d better get hip with the times.

In addition to my reckoning with various video recording and editing technologies, I’ve also recently learned about some new (to me) internet research tools. Here are my favorites:

  1. This site is amazing. This is an archive of old newspapers that have been scanned in. I was doing some research on the Spokane Tribe and found a fascinating article published in 1909 about settlers being able to get land for free on the Spokane Reservation:,4257655&hl=enThe search engine can be a bit challenging to use because you must use the right words; Spokane Indian Reservation brings up more results than searching for the Spokane Tribe does, although I wouldn’t recommend searching for the Spokane Indians as that is a baseball team. However, if you just locate even one article on the subject you’re researching, you can take language from that article and use it to find more articles.
  2. Into a Google Search type: “Enter subject here enter country code here”. Since that’s about as clear as mud, here’s a better example: “Covid”. This search provides web results about Covid with an Afghani perspective, because AF is the country code for Afghanistan:  You can research anything you can think of and find a different perspective using the country codes from this website here: I need to spend more time on this to figure out how to use it better, but I can see a lot of fantastic research opportunities for my students here.
  3. Wikipedia – once known by some as the enemy, but it isn’t that if you understand how to use it. Wikipedia is our public encyclopedia. Apparently, most schools have said that it is not a reliable source, or it may be a good place to find references to useful material but not much else. However, there is a little “Talk” button right near the top-left corner of any Wikipedia page that takes you into the peer-reviewed system of rating article accuracy. First of all, um, awesome. Secondly, I wish more articles had great ratings, but the Polar Bear search I did yielded excellent results.

I never thought that I’d feel like such a geezer at 43, but I really do have a lot to learn about using the internet effectively. I hope you find this information useful like I did!