Google Classroom is an easy-to-use program that will help you work with students, create and collaborate on group assignments, assign video-based learning, and even collect and grade student work. Yet many teachers aren't using this free tool because they don't understand how to set it up and optimize it to help them best. We're here to help you understand that.
Before we delve into how to set up Google Classroom, first we need to make sure you know what it is. At its most basic level, Google Classroom is a tool that lets you and your students communicate and share documents, all using the Google Workspace products, of course. If you already know that, then the next question is how to set it up. We're glad you asked. It's very simple, and here's all you need to do ⬇️
1) Visit classroom.google.com
To get started, sign in to your Google account. Once you are logged in to Gmail, head to classroom.google.com. This is where you will do most of your work. Verify your account is active by looking for your icon in the upper left-hand side of the screen.
- Consider creating a separate Google account for classwork and teaching that is not part of your personal account.
- The mobile app for iPhone and Android is great for checking in with students on the go, but not for your primary work. Stick with the desktop version for your heavy workloads.
- Use the Google Classroom mobile app to provide instant feedback when students are working on the platform and you're away from the computer.
2) Create your first class by clicking the "+" button
After logging in, look for the "+" button. Select this, and it will open a drop-down box. Choose the option to "create class." Google will then give you the option to add your class to a school or university network, so see if your institution is listed. If it is, choose your school and agree to proceed.
- If you don't see "create class," your account only lets you join accounts. Switch accounts, or reach out to a Google Workplace administrator for help.
- Your school needs to have G Suite for Education to let you link to your school and use Google Classroom in the classroom. This program has the privacy and security measures you want, so ask your administration about it.
3) Enter the class name and information about your class
Now you're ready to add your class details. Enter the class name and subject. You can also add a room number. If you're dividing your classroom into groups, you can add sections. Select "create" to generate your class.
- You're only required to enter a class name. You can add the other things if you wish, but you don't have to.
- If you have different classes in the same subject, use the "Section" field to differentiate between them.
4) Customize your Google Classroom
Now you're ready to personalize your Google Classroom. You can change the large banner image that is automatically generated to be appropriate for your class. Consider adding a thumbnail for each class, so your students can find theirs.
To change the top banner image, find "select theme" or "upload photo" from the bottom right of the image. Choose the image that fits your class theme or subject area best.
Now, create some work to ensure your students have something to do when you invite them. Go to the Classwork section and hit the "create" button to add your work. You will see options for "assignment," "quiz assignment," "question," and "material." There is also a link to reuse a post you've used in the past. Add the work you want to show when you invite students to the class.
View the due dates on your assignments using the calendar 📅. There is a calendar icon on the page you can click that will take you to the classroom calendar. This calendar gives you a quick overview that will tell you if you've assigned too much or too little work in any given time period.
- The work you add here goes to the entire class. If you want to assign work to individual students, invite students first, and then you will have that option.
- Add a photo to your display at the top of your classroom or create custom header images to engage your students.
- Use "topics" to organize classwork and announcements. This is similar to a module.
- Add public or private comments to assignments.
- Change the "stream" settings to change posting permissions. Consider whether students will need to post or just the teacher.
5) Invite students to your Google Classroom
Once you've customized the program, you're ready to invite students to join classes🙋. Determine the easiest way to add students, and send out the invites. You might want to send different types of invites to ensure you get as many students as possible into your classroom. Don't forget to add any co-teachers that will need access to the platform.
- You can invite students with a link to your classroom.
- Generate a class code students can use to join.
- Send out an email invite to add students.
Related: Learn more how teachers an maximize their tech stacks and student engagement
How to get the most out of your Google Classroom 💻
Google Classroom is an excellent tool for the modern educator to create interactive online spaces for communicating with students, posting assignments, and even grading assignments. Once you have your Google Classroom set up, you need to optimize it. Here are some tips to help you use Google Classroom as effectively as possible.
1) Experiment with tools that integrate with Google Classroom
One of the features that make Google Classroom so engaging is the many integrations you can add to the program. Because Google apps are so popular, many other apps and programs have created systems that work with Google. Use these programs to make the Google Classroom experience more engaging for your students.
BrainPOP provides videos, games, and quizzes on many popular topics for students of most age ranges. It helps supplement your classroom teacher and give your students even greater learning gains. You can add BrainPOP videos and quizzes to the Google Classroom interface, then allow students to submit their work directly from the platform. This tool can make using Google Classroom more intuitive and interactive.
If you want to share current events with your students, consider DOGOnews. This free app integrates with Google Classroom and provides kid-friendly content surrounding current trending topics in the news. It even allows students to listen to the text if they struggle with reading comprehension.
Screencastify is another example. Screencastify allows you to create and share videos, even adding features like Interactive Questions to make them more engaging. The tool also gives your students the ability to create and share videos with the class. After video creation, you can use Google Classroom to collect and grade videos and even leave feedback on student submissions. Google Classroom also makes it easy for students to submit transcripts of their videos or create reflections on video content you create using Screencastify.
Many more programs exist that you can integrate into your Google Classroom. Take some time to explore the various apps with educational content that will help you find the right apps for your particular classroom needs. Don't forget to start with Screencastify to bring video creation and editing to your classroom.
2) Plan assignments in advance
Google Classroom is quite helpful in running an efficient classroom, but not if you are adding assignments last minute. Plan your Google Classroom assignments and announcements when you plan your lesson plans, and post them at that time.
There are two ways you can approach planning. One is to launch all of your assignments as soon as you plan them. Students may want to work ahead of the due date, and having your assignments planned early will reduce stress for you.
You can also create all of your assignments for a unit or semester at one time, and schedule them to launch to the students at a designated time. This strategy prevents students from becoming overwhelmed while also allowing you to do more planning at one time, focusing your energy on other classroom tasks throughout the week.
Screencastify Submit makes it easy to create assignments in Google Classroom. Use the tool and its integration with Google to quickly submit new assignments to your students.
3) Create copies of Google Doc assignments
When adding a Google Doc to an assignment, set up the system so that it creates a copy for each student. This strategy allows them to edit their own version of the document on their own stream, rather than disrupting the master copy and the work of other students. It also means the students don't have to copy the original document into their own document, which saves them time as they work on the assignment.
4) Use announcements to communicate with students
In your class Stream, you have the option to post announcements. Click on "share something with your class," and then add the text you want to share. You can also attach files from Google Drive or connect YouTube videos to these announcements. Once you post them or schedule them to go out at a different date, you can ensure that all of your students get the announcement when they log in to the platform.
5) Remember that Google Classroom is not a learning management system
Google Classroom is an excellent tool to help you manage your classroom, share digital content with students, and interact with students in an online environment, but it is not a learning management system. You'll still need to use your school's LMS to administer and document classwork for your classes. However, Google Classroom can complement the software your school uses, and many LMS programs integrate with Google products too.
If it's not an LMS, what is Google Classroom? It's a tool you can use along with your classroom-based learning to create, collect, and grade paperless assignments, communicate with your students, and supplement your classroom work with media-based information. When you use it well, it can help you maximize every minute you have your students in class.
Screencastify takes it to the next level 🚀
Google Classroom is easy to set up and gives you a great workspace to tap into so you can interact with students and create a paperless classroom, if you want. As long as you have a Gmail account 📧, you can quickly and easily set up your classroom and start assigning work to your students. Once it's ready, you can add a number of tools to make your classroom experience even better for both you and your students.
Screencastify's Record, Edit, and Submit tools are all great choices to integrate with your Google Classroom experience. Create, edit, and send videos, and allow your students to do the same to make your online learning environment dynamic and engaging. Download the screen recorder today to get started.