Saturday, March 5, 2016

Google Classroom: 5 Benefits Outside of the Classroom

I am a middle school technology teacher.  I am also a former Moodle user.  I had many frustrations with Moodle and the way I wanted to use it with my 6-8 students in my technology classes.  I could not wait for Google Classroom to be released!  I just knew it would be the ideal tool to help me ease my quest for blended paperless instruction...and it did!  Now that I am in my second school year of using Google Classroom it has been a real game changer!   What I did not expect or anticipate was all of the changes outside of the classroom.

1. Students Home Sick:

In my school, students are not required to complete work while they are sick unless a parent/guardian requests the homework after 3 days of absence.  Well, even just one day of missed school can result in a lot of homework for our students.  Because I deliver my lessons through Google Classroom, I have had quite a few students make the choice to work on my class work while they are home sick!  They will just email me if they have questions.  Best email question I received asked, "I am home sick today, may I complete my class work from home?"  Yes, yes you can!  This was a win-win for both teacher and student.

2. Teacher Home Sick:

As much as I love my 375+ middle school students, they sometimes like to share too much and the teacher can get sick.  With Google Classroom, I can set up my lessons from home so that student learning does not stop.  Technology is a tricky area for a substitute teacher to come in and teach for just a day or two.  See my previous post about various ideas to set up sub plans with Google Classroom.

3. Students On Vacation:

When students miss school for a vacation or family event out of town, often there is a request for work while students are gone.  I no longer spend time on the work to hand to students.  I simply say, "It will be in Google Classroom."  This has saved me so much time! 

4. Improved Communication:

The private comment area in Google Classroom is a wonderful option!  I love that Google Classroom does not notify me every time a student turns something in.  That would be a crazy amount of email!  Instead, students will send me a private comment for various reasons, like if they were absent, they had difficulty with the assignment, it is late, why they needed more time on the assignment or even if something happened outside of school and couldn't get the work done in time.  Students and families do have lives and things do happen to us!  When a student leaves a private comment, it generates an email to me!  I have my Gmail divided into tabs, all my Google Classroom communication is stored in my "Update" tab.  This is a wonderful way to communicate with students and really have a private conversation without other students hearing!

5. Due Dates Beyond The School Day:

I am most productive and creative in the evening.  I have always been like this.  Some of my students are too!  When asking students to design a commercial, a website, an animation or a video game sometimes our great ideas do not occur between 9:10 - 10:00 am.  The idea hits later that evening or early the next morning.  Google Classroom allows students to work beyond the walls of the physical class!  This also helps my students learn to manage their own time.  There are times, students will work on something else in my class during the day and my work at night because I allow the flexibility and am mostly project-based.  As long as my students can manage their own time, I have no problem with this.  I do have students that are not ready for this much flexibility, but I take on that responsibility to help guide them in managing their time and prioritizing. 

As a result, my students are happier and love my class environment.  I have heard many positive comments from my students and their grades and quality projects show it!  In the end, I hope this will make a real connection as they move into adulthood and have productive lives in our world!