Monday, July 10, 2017

9 Easy Ways to Use Google Classroom

This past school year, I really dove in head first to using Google Classroom. My kids really seemed to enjoy the ability to work digitally, and I loved that it saved time and carrying around armloads of papers to grade. I wanted to take a little time to share nine easy ways that I utilized it this past year. I try to keep things simple and use technology to enhance subjects and tasks that we are already doing. 

If you are interested, I also did a FB Live all about Google Classroom. I share these same ideas (only a little more in-depth) as well a few step by step directions for setting up your own Google Classes and assigning work to your students. 


Differentiated Spelling

I wish I could take credit for the original idea of Differentiated Spelling, but that credit goes to Jen Bengel. She shares some amazing webinars about spelling, guided reading, and benchmark assessments. I highly encourage you to check her out.

I love using Google Classroom to differentiate spelling. Each week, my students and I create a Google Doc together with words focusing on our Greek or Latin root, prefix, or suffix of the week. From there, my students highlight twenty words that they would like to study for the week. I encourage students to choose words that are "just right" for them. Using Google Classroom has saved SO much paper and even MORE TIME by taking it digital.


Mentor Sentences for Grammar

Once again, Mentor Sentences are not something that I can take credit for, but I have added a new task to Jivey's weekly routine. Each Thursday, I utilize Google Classroom to add a very critical piece to our Mentor Sentence practice.

I create an assignment that requires my students to write ten example sentences of the skill that we have worked on that week. For example, in the picture above, we were working on writing sentences with apostrophes. My students had to write five singular sentences and five plural sentences. They use Google Docs to write their sentences and can quickly submit their assignment using Google Classroom. When I started implementing this new component, I immediately saw growth in my students. I usually stroll the room and ensure that my students are on track. I can help them right away to correct errors or misconceptions. They are also super engaged, because I use their example sentences on the Mentor Sentence Quiz on Friday, and they get to write about topics of their choice. It is a goal of so many of my students to write one of the ten sentences that appear on the Mentor Sentence Quiz! 


Math Videos

I have been using a Flipped Classroom model for quite a while in my fifth grade classroom. Using Google Classroom seriously made it so much easier! In the past, I had to create a classroom blog or utilize student email addresses to share our content. Now, it is simply a class on Google Classroom! I have many math video resources in my TpT store if this is something that you are considering for the upcoming school year. 


Google Forms

I use Google Forms all the time. You can use them for exit tickets, assessments, tracking student progress, or collecting random information. I typically find myself using Google Forms when I'm in a pinch and need a little bit of quick data. Pictured above was a random survey for our fifth grade dance. I needed suggestions from my students, so I quickly created a Google Form for my kids to complete as they heard or thought of school appropriate songs.


Math Centers

I don't know about you, but I seriously dread the laminating, cutting, and storing things for centers. Don't get me wrong, I love the look and the satisfaction afterward, but digital makes my life so. much. easier. Near the end of the year, I began using digital centers, and I'm slowly working to load them to TpT! I often tend to rely on printed recording pages, but those could be digital as well. 

Exit Tickets

I don't know if I could teach math without Exit Tickets anyway, but digital Exit Tickets are so much simpler. Students view the problems via Google Forms and submit their answers. As the teacher, you can see the results and know exactly who you need to pull into a small group. BONUS, they also double for really quick assessments if you need an easy grade at the end of the week!


Group Writing Assignments

I mostly found myself using group writing assignments near the end of the school year. After state-wide testing this year, we celebrated with Fort Friday! All of my students brought in a blanket and they made forts. It was such a fun activity, but I also wanted to at least TRY to keep it academic. After we spent a little time reading our Book Club books with flashlights, we worked on a group writing assignment.

I created an assignment for specific students. You can do this by unchecking all students and selecting only specific students when creating an assignment. I had my students work on a writing assignment with their Guided Reading group, but I have done other group assignments with totally random groupings!

From there, I used Random Noun Generator to throw random words at them! Their stories were so funny! They were also spread out throughout the classroom, so they had to collaborate via Google Docs. They weren't sitting across from their partner verbally sharing their ideas. It was an excellent way to put my kids' writing skills to use, while working on working with their peers.

We also used a similar group set up to create scripts for our fifth grade graduation! 


Reading Passages & High Color Handouts

Seriously, why waste paper? I don't know about you, but when we are prepping for state-wide testing, I find myself assigning several articles quickly to help train and prepare my students for spending 45-50 minutes reading and answer questions. I love for them to practice stamina, but that also means that I'm using a LOT of paper.

I also like loading books that have a high amount of color photos to Google Classroom. Some pictures don't always copy well, so this is a great way to allow students to see the charts and images that don't always copy so well.

I found myself quickly loading passages to Google Classroom. We also test digitally now, so this is the perfect way to help students get used to reading digitally. 


Student Agendas

We haven't had paper agendas since going 1:1 several years ago, but my kids still need a place to write it all down! This year, I'm taking it digital! I created these pages to load to Google Classroom. My students are able to edit them daily to record things on their to-do list as well as homework for the evening. It also gives parents a place to look at each day and know what their child should be working on. You can grab this new resource on TpT here. 

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