August 24, 2018

It is that time of the year, schools are doing their planning for next year, and you might have just realised that you will be expected to use Google Classroom next year. eLearning is exciting, very exciting, but it can also seem like a huge mountain that you have no idea how you are going to scale. But don’t worry here are six easy steps that will get you going.

Create a shared folder

Creating a shared folder is the very first thing you should do, even if you are the only one in your department and there is nobody to share it with.
Once you start using an online platform like Google Classroom, you want your resources to be in electronic form, and for that, you need a place to store them. One of the biggest problems my colleagues has had is that they can’t find a file when they are looking for it. To prevent this create some structure to your folder from the start.

For us, it worked the best to have a subfolder for each grade and within that a folder for each chapter. And then some other folders like tests and exams. Since it is a shared folder anybody, no one person is responsible for filling the folder with resources. Each teacher takes responsibility for a grade or two and ensures that resources get added and that it doesn’t get messy.
This is a long-term project, but the sooner you start with it, the better. Our shared folder is now five years old, and it still does not contain everything we use, but we are close.

Embrace substitution

People will often tell you that substituting the things you used to do with electronic versions is a waste of time. But you have to crawl before you can walk. And substitution is a way of crawling. Commit today that anything you use in class will be available (at least to you) in electronic form. It doesn’t matter if you recreate it, retype it or just scan the hardcopy. As long as you have an electronic copy (to save in the shared folder you have just create).

Add links to your planning

How often have you come across a great website, but when you want to use it you can’t find it? Or wasted hours finding that website that you used last year again. Add a column to your planning document where you can paste links to sites. This is an easy way to keep track of online resources even if you are not using them yet. In a year or so when you get more adventurous, you will thank yourself for creating a repository of resources.

Post everything in Classroom

So you are starting with Google Classroom, and you have no idea what you are going to use it for. Start by using it for the things you are already doing. For the longest time, the only thing in my Classrooms were announcements telling learners what homework to do. Get into the habit of posting something at the end of each lesson even if it just to tell the learners who are absent what they missed.
And since you are creating electronic copies of all your worksheets, don’t spend hours fighting with a photocopier that is jamming, just post it to Classroom.

Create a multipurpose Google form

Google Forms and Classroom are a match made in heaven. It is the easiest way to use the power of G-Suite to get in touch with where your learners are. But you don’t need to go all out and redesign all your worksheets as forms immediately. Create a multipurpose form like the one I use for QUICK QUIZZES. Or maybe a form with just 2 questions:

“What did you learn today?”

“What did you not understand in today’s lesson?”

If you post this at the end of every lesson, or maybe at the end of every week, you will be amazed at how much more you are in touch with where your learners are.

Try an Instaworksheet

While you don’t need to go all out immediately and throw everything you used to do out the door, it is essential that you push yourself to do something new. Using Google Slides for an Instaworksheet is a very quick and easy way to do something that is basically impossible without G-suite.

Sign up for Getting Started with Google Classroom

If you are still slightly lost, why don’t you sign up for my Getting Started with Google Classroom course? This is a free 10-day email course that gets you started on Google Classroom. The course begins at the beginning of the new school year. You will receive an email every day for 10 days with one simple task to get you on your way. The email will include detailed instructions and even a how-to video to help you along the way.

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