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google classroom

Yes! You Can Use Google Classroom In First Grade!

To me, Google Classroom was something that my teenagers used for their classwork, and not something I’d dream of using with my first grade students. Enter Covid-19. All of a sudden, I knew I’d better come up with a plan and quick! Here is the fifth post on the best classroom apps you can use for your classroom. Today we’re going to talk about how Google Classroom works in first grade. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Google Classroom was something that would help my first-graders navigate through my assignments. Boy, was I wrong. I guess it was another way that my kiddos surprised me with how much they were able to do.

Google Classroom Is A Hub

Let’s understand a little bit about how Google Classroom works. And to do that, we’ll go to the happiest place on Earth.

google classroom

My family loves Disney World.

We love walking down Main Street, USA knowing that just around the corner is Cinderella’s castle. We start there and branch off to different adventures depending on if we want to meet Captain Jack Sparrow, or blast off at Space Mountain. But we know we return to the middle to watch the fireworks and buy candied almonds. Hubs are useful. Walt Disney knew what he was doing when he designed a hub into Disneyland and Disney World. Google classroom is a hub. From your classroom, your students can go to almost any platform. All you need is a link. Think about your Google Classroom the way that Walt Disney thought about Disney World. Your students will start in the main area of your Google Classroom. From there, you will send them where you’d like them to go and learn. You’ll find this really helpful since the less your students need to open multiple apps the better.

What Other Classroom Apps Can You Post In Google Classroom?

Almost anything can be linked to your Google Classroom. I used Seesaw and was really excited when I learned I can link my activities right into my Google Classroom. More on Seesaw at the bottom of this article, but in the meantime…

Adding A Seesaw Activity To Google Classroom

google classroom

This is really easy to do. In Seesaw, assign your activity to your students just like you normally would. Then to go your activity tab and click the three dots on the activity you’d like to share. Click “Get Student Link” and copy the link. Add it right into your classroom as an assignment and you’re ready to go!

google classroom

Adding Students To Your Google Classroom

Once you make a classroom, students join with your classroom code. If you don’t have students doing this right away, you can enter their Gmail addresses manually. However, with younger students, the code is the easiest way to begin.  If you feel your students are ready, you can walk them through entering the code manually. I posted our code on the board and modeled how to enter it into our devices. I didn’t even let them touch their iPads until I walked them through it.

That helped a lot. Otherwise, I would have had buttons being pushed all over the place. Naturally, you’ll want to walk around the room helping your students who need assistance. Believe it or not, this was the fastest way to get everyone into your Google Classroom. If it’s the beginning of the year and you don’t feel like your students are ready to enter a code into an iPad or Chrome Book, then you can manually add their Gmail addresses, or you can enter the code on their devices one by one. I’ve done it both ways. Put on your favorite music and grab a stack of devices. Enter in your classroom code and make a stack of “done” devices. This becomes muscle memory and I think you’ll be done quickly. You only need to do this step one time, which is good news.

google classroom

What Does Google Classroom For Teachers Look Like?

When you first log in, you’ll see a blank feed. Imagine this is your homepage on Facebook.

Anyone can write a comment, and you can customize your header picture. You’ll see four bars at the top: Stream, Classwork, People, and Grades. As I wanted to start off simply, I only focused on the Classwork tab. Within your classroom tab, you’ll have the option to create a weekly Google Meet link, view your Google Calendar, and see all your assignments in Google Drive. It’s pretty neat how interconnected everything is.

How Do I Post An Assignment Into Google Classroom?

When you’re ready to make your first assignment, click on the blue “+ Create” button. A menu appears with the following: Assignment, Quiz assignment, Question, Material, Reuse post, and Topic. I would start with making a Topic. Think of this as a way to categorize your posts. Are you going to post videos? Make a topic called “Watch Me”, and so on. You can make subject topics like “reading” or “math” too.

google classroom

I made a helpful video showing you step-by-step instructions on setting up your classroom and assigning activities.

What Does Google Classroom For Students Look Like?

When a student logs into their classroom, it looks very much the same as a teacher’s account. They won’t have the ability to post assignments and there is no grading tab.

google classroom

A great function of a student account is that they can leave a comment on an assignment. My kiddos did this a lot this past year. Mostly just to say hi, but I wanted to know if something wasn’t working, so my students and their parents knew to leave me a comment. It would go straight to my email, and I knew to fix the problem as soon as I could.

Other Google Classroom Tips

Since you can make more than one Google Classroom, make a practice Google Classroom and share it with a coworker. When you’re adding something new and you’re not sure how it will look, this is an easy way to know.

If you use Google Meet, you can add your link to the front page border. It will be there for your weekly Google Meeting – no need to keep resending new links. Definitely make use of the scheduling feature. It’s nice to have it all ready ahead of time. I could post a week ahead of time and spend more of my time checking in with my students than creating each day’s new assignments.

I hope this quick overview for Google Classroom was helpful. If you’re still a little wary of it, just get in there and practice. You can’t break it. Let me know in the comments below if you also found ways to make this classroom app work with your first graders!

I mentioned Seesaw – my favorite learning platform. If you’d like to teach your students to use the Seesaw tools the right way, why not make it a game! Download the FREE Seesaw Scavenger Hunt here.

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Rachael Hull

Rachael Hull

Teaching literacy and facilitating literacy stations has been a passion of Rachael's and she wants to help you gain confidence in your classroom!

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