Joining Google Classroom
In most cases, one of the mentors, or perhaps the course co-ordinator, will have access to the Classroom. They may even be the person who set it up. For you to have access, they will need to invite you via email. Once you receive the email, simply follow the invite's instructions.
If you are the person in charge of the Classroom and need to invite mentors as teachers, you can do this by going to the People tab, clicking the plus under Teachers, then entering their email. Notice that you can also add students on this tab with their email. In our experience, it is easier and more effective to add mentors/teachers by email and share the class code with students to get them to join. This can also avoid people ending up in the wrong roles on the Classroom. If you click the cog at the top of the page to open Settings, you will see the class code listed.
How Google Classroom works
There are three main tabs in the Classroom: Stream, Classwork and People. As discussed above, the People tab handles invites to the Classroom as well as adding/removing members of the Classroom.
The Stream tab is basically a list of recent activity. It will show you posts from students and teachers, upcoming deadlines for assignments, and you can also post here if you need to share something with the Classroom.
The Classwork tab is where you will handle assignments. You can add, edit and delete assignments, assign them to your students, and view who in the class has submitted their work. To add a new assignment, use the plus button and select the kind of assignment you would like to post. Note that you can save this as a draft before releasing it for public view to students. It is advisable to do this to make sure all details in the assignment are correct. To do this, select 'Save draft' instead of 'Schedule', then use 'Schedule' once your assignment is ready to go live. It's important that you assign the assignment to all students in the class.
It should be noted that due to Slack being the main tool used for communication in CodeYourFuture, we do not currently use Google Classroom to leave comments on assignments and we discourage students doing this too. Often both teachers and students are unaware comments have been left unless they are using the mobile version of Classroom with notifications turned on. You will have more success contacting students through Slack as usual.
Where necessary, you can mark a piece of work while in the assignment view under Classwork. Click the piece of work you want to look at to see what students have submitted. Most of the time, assignments are listed as 'ungraded' and we are simply looking for students to have submitted their assignment with some kind of evidence. This may be something like submission of a document, a link to a URL or a screencap.
Tips on using Google Classroom
- Get used to how Google Classroom works before you start using it with students. They may run into issues or have questions. You will be better prepared if you have taken the time to familiarize yourself with how it works.
- If many students are asking for clarification of an assignment's instructions, you may need to go back and edit them. Be mindful of keeping instructions clear and concise.
- In addition to the above point, avoid adding important links or resources as attachments, and try to include these in the main assignment instructions where they are clearly visible for students. This can avoid confusion or some students missing important parts of the assignment.
- It is worth checking assignments in Google Classroom against the syllabus before posting them. Sometimes there are updates or changes. Stick to the current syllabus for assignments.
- It is beneficial to do a fun exercise to get students used to using this tool. Previous practice assignments have included things like posting a link to your favourite song.