Digilit Sunday was created and is hosted by Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche – join us and share your digital teaching ideas!
Google Classroom was made available to us just before the winter break, and I could not wait to get started experimenting with its use in my Writing Workshop, Language Arts, and Social Studies classes. I had great fun setting up the classes, which is easy to do.
I set all our classrooms up so that my kids could both post and comment. We’ve been blogging every week with our Slice of Life entries since September, so my kids know how to comment in respectful, constructive ways. I love the fact that I can respond back with specific comments and suggestions, and that the feedback is instantaneous – my students can see exactly what needs adjustment, and they are then free to go back and make them for additional credit. Writing is a learning process, after all, and I focus less on grades than on my kids’ willingness to edit and revise their writing. Here’s what such a suggestion would look like:
I have my gradebook (we use Genesis in our school)open at the same time, so I am inputting grades and inserting comments there at the same time; this is where I let my students know that their work needs editing/revision for a better grade. The initial grade stands for work that is not improved upon. This way, my sixth graders know what is expected and how their work has been graded – there should never be mystery about the way grades are assigned.
Setting up reading journal assignments has become easier, too. With the PARCC test just around the corner, I’m trying to align some of these assignments with what I’ve seen on the practice tests – not my favorite type of thing to do, but there you go. Google Classroom let’s me upload material that would be helpful to my kids as they go about writing these responses – templates, etc. for them to refer to:
Best of all, as classmates post their essays and I comment, these also serve as mentor texts for students as they post. My stronger writers tend to post first, and this gives their classmates ideal student-generated mentor texts to work with as they frame their own responses. They LOVE this!
Finally, Social Studies projects have become much more streamlined – everything goes on one Google Classroom page, with room to leave comments so that I know exactly who is struggling with what, and can therefore point them in the right direction.
I left my building on Friday with just my backpack full of my notebooks – no more five trips back and forth to schlep reading journals, writing folders, Social Studies notebooks. Hooray!
I know that there is much more for me to learn about Google Classrooms, and that I have barely scratched the surface of what can be done. I’ve been following the amazing Alice Keeler on Twitter, and can barely keep up with all that she suggests can be done…but, I’ve made a start!