How to: Maximize Precision in Google Classroom

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Google Classroom is great for sequencing online learning for students, especially during a time of distance learning. Google Classroom makes teaching more efficient and meaningful by giving educators a hub for student assignments and feedback, student collaboration, and communication. Classroom also seamlessly integrates with other Google tools like Calendar, Google Docs, Slides, and Drive. It’s helpful for managing all of the documents that students need to learn, practice, and demonstrate their learning. But without being precise in its structures, both teachers and students can easily get lost or overwhelmed with the amount of information.

This article will explore 9 Precision Points to help you as a teacher make your Google Classroom more precise - so that you, your students, and your colleagues can have the best experience they can online.

If you haven’t already, follow these steps to create a class.

Inside of a classroom, Google classroom has four tabs. We'll refer to these in the 9 Precision Points below.

Precision Point 1: Use a playground class to create and test draft assignments.

Why: This prevents students from seeing assignments you publish before you actually want to publish them. If you create and publish assignments in your main class, your students get an email notification. If you want to hide it from your students, Google doesn’t allow you “un-publish”. That can be confusing for students. If you delete it, you have to create it from scratch again.

On the Classroom Home page, click the + symbol and then choose Create class with the title of “Playground”.

Create a dummy Classroom called Playground. For any assignment you have already published, but you don’t want students to see right now, use the Repost feature to copy the entire assignment into the Playground Classroom. Then delete that assignment from the actual Classroom. That way, you never lose your created assignment and you can just re-post the assignment from Playground back into the main Classroom when you and your students are ready for it. This also takes them off of the class calendar.

You can make assignments ahead of time. Just keep them in draft form and assign them when you want students to actually work on them. Only post assignments when you actually want students to work on them. You can still make assignments and save them as drafts. Try to number them so you know what order they should be posted in (and what order your students should complete them). You can schedule assignments to post. This will help you batch your work and assign it over a period of time. Do you want students to read a passage one day and answer questions another day? Create two different assignments for them and schedule them separately.

Precision Point 2: Don’t post ANYTHING in the Stream.

Why: Posting assignments in the Stream doesn’t link those announcements to anything else and basically just clusters up the Stream. When you post assignments, your students get an email. The same happens when you edit assignments.

Instead of sending emails or posting announcements to the class' Stream, edit each assignment and/or add comments to it. Your students will see when it is updated and that information magically remains with the assignment that it should be matched with.

Precision Point 3: Use emojis to code learning activities.

Why: Using a recognizable symbol helps build routine and familiarity.

You can use emojis and other symbols all over Google - Google Calendar, Google Drive, Assignment Titles, email subjects, Google Classroom rubric, Google Forms, etc! Give completed units and assignments an emoji to show at a glance that they’re overdue.

Try these examples and share the ones you choose with your class!

  • Read this: 📖

  • Type into this: 📝

  • Make a comment: 💡 or 📮

  • Past due: 🔚 or 🚧

  • Steps: 1️⃣, 2️⃣, 3️⃣, 4️⃣, 5️⃣

  • Resource: 🔎

  • Do a google search: 👀

  • Submit via email: 📤

This relates to another sub-point: include all of the materials and resources students will need in the assignment itself.

Precision Point 4: Use the rubric for each assignment.