Google Classroom? Not Yet.

I have taken time to get acquainted with Google Classroom. It is a solid base to start from, but it lacks some needed features already present in other Course Management Systems (CMS).

Google Classroom is, not surprisingly, tightly integrated with Google Docs, Google Drive, and Gmail. An assignment can be saved in the teacher’s Google Drive and automatically saved in the correct class folder of the student’s Google Drive. A student may opt-in for emails about assignments or announcements. Students use Google Docs to complete assignments and then submit them back to Google Classroom to be graded by the teacher. The teacher can offer feedback on the assignment and include a grade. There are APIs already available for 3rd party apps. These are all solid features.

There is, however, plenty of room to grow. Google Calendar is oddly missing. There is an option to integrate YouTube videos, however many districts block YouTube. There is no way to test students, which is a huge drawback comparative to other CMS. The timing could have been a little sooner to give teachers some time to ready their Google Classroom before school started.

All in all, Google Classroom is a good start. With the power of Google behind Google Classroom, it will get better. I think it is a good entry point for teachers who are comfortable with the Google universe and are looking to get their feet wet with a paperless classroom. Teachers looking to for more will quickly outgrow Google Classroom.

If you are really looking to get started with a paperless classroom, look elsewhere for now.

Online Interactive Notebooks

I have already showed you how I use Google Sites to keep track of my own personal learning in Notetaking in Professional Development.  Now I’d like to share how last school year I started using Google Sites as a replacement for Interactive Notebooks.  I worked in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement (DAEP) campus.  I had the luxury of a 1 to 1 classroom and students were enrolled in my classroom for a maximum of 18 weeks.  Teachers at the student’s home campus usually did not send the student’s Interactive Notebook with them when they were enrolled at the DAEP, so I started using Google Sites.  As a bonus, when the students went back to their home campus, all of their work was online and accessible by them and their teachers.

Here is a link to the template I use for my 8th Grade Science students.   https://sites.google.com/a/mesquiteisd.org/8th-grade-science/home

I have my students use this as a template for their own Google Site.  You can see that it is also an outline of everything they will be learning this school year.  Each unit represents a six-weeks grading period.  Students like this because it lets them know where we will be going this year.  Parents love it because they know exactly what their students are working on in class and can check on their student’s Google Site to see what they have done in class.

Please leave comments:

How have you used Google Sites with your students?  Do the students like it?  What about the parents?  How do you keep up with all of the student sites?

Note Taking During Professional Development

Staff Development before school starts is just around the corner.  I want to share a great way to take notes and keep them for yourself or to share instantly.  I’ve been using Google Sites.  Hopefully your school started using Google Apps before Google started charging for it.  Here’s how I do it.

I setup a new site for each development I attend.  So for example, let’s say I’m attending a class on Underwater Basket Weaving.  I go to my Google Sites, which for most of you will be http://sites.google.com

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