10 Google Classroom time savers for teachers

Google Classroom can already make us more efficient, but these tips can save you even more time and effort. (Images via Pixabay.com and Google)

Google Classroom can already make us more efficient, but these tips can save you even more time and effort. (Images via Pixabay.com and Google)

If you and your students are using Google Apps in the classroom, Google Classroom can save you tons of time and effort. It helps you assign, collect, grade and return work seamlessly.

But, like anything else, there are tricks that can help you do the same work in less time.

They make you more efficient and effective.

Here are some tips to save you some time while using Google Classroom:

1. Find student work in Classroom by using Google Drive.

Digging files out of assignments in Google Classroom isn’t the only way to open and review student work. Files that students turn in to you are saved in a folder in your Google Drive called “Classroom.” They’re sorted by class and by assignment, too. You can always find those files by opening the subfolders in Drive. You can also use the search bar to search for a specific student name or assignment name.

classroom-folder

2. Let students help each other by posting a question.

Teachers don’t have to answer every question! We can empower students to help each other. Use the “+” button to create a question for a particular assignment or project. It can serve as a discussion board where students can help each other. (Of course, you can always pop into the question to view discussions to make sure they’re accurate and on point.)

students-answer-questions-classroom

3. Get just the right amount of email by adjusting notification settings.

Is all the email that Classroom sends you killing you? There are some settings that let you customize it.

First, Classroom lets you turn email notifications on and off. (Classroom sends you emails when someone adds a comment to your post and when a private comment is posted on a student’s assignment or question submission.) Click the menu button (three lines) and “Settings”, then check or uncheck notifications.

classroom-email-notifications

Next, Google sends you notifications when someone replies to a comment you wrote. To change those notifications, open the file (in Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.) and click the “Comments” button. Then click “Notifications,” where you can decide to receive notifications …

  • when any comment is made (All),
  • whenever others reply to your comments or comments you are added to (Only yours), or
  • never (None).

doc-comments-email-notifications

4. Use keyboard commands instead of the mouse.

Keeping your fingers on the keyboard can save you seconds each time you do many things on Classroom, and those seconds add up quickly!

For example: When entering grades, once you’ve clicked on one student’s grade, you can push the up and down arrows to move to students’ grades up and down the list. This is SO much faster than clicking and typing.

Other keyboard commands: Tab can move through links and text fields on the page. The space bar works like a mouse click.

Of course, don’t forget the basics: Ctrl+C = copy, Ctrl+X = cut, Ctrl+V = paste, Ctrl+Z = undo. Another favorite: Ctrl+K = add a link. (Use Command instead of Ctrl on a Mac.)

Not all keyboard commands are faster than clicking with a mouse, but you can definitely find some that save you time

keyboard-commands-classroom

5. Open lots of student work at once with the control key.

I was reminded of this useful trick in this Alice Keeler blog post. When viewing an assignment, there’s no button to open all of the student files at once. But, if you hold control while you click the files (Command on a Mac), it will open them one by one as new tabs in your browser window.

ctrl-click-to-open-multiple

6. Get notified of late student work with a late work form.

Google Classroom will not email you when students turn in late work. However, you can create a Google Form for students to use to do that for you. (This is one of 20 practical ways to use Google Forms in class/school from this blog post.)

  • Use this Google Form as a template to create your own. (Click here to copy it into your Google Drive.)
  • Change the text fields to suit your needs.
  • Click the “Responses” tab, and click the menu button (three dots). Select “Get email notifications for new responses”.
  • Click “Send” and click the link button. Copy the link.

email-notifications-in-forms

Then, go to Google Classroom …

  • Click the “About” tab and click “Add class materials …”.
  • Click the link button and paste that link. Change the title to something like “Late work submission form”. Click “Post.”

about-tab-add-link

Tell students that submitting that form is part of the process for turning in late work … that if they don’t submit that form once work is late, it’s like the work isn’t turned in!

7. Get resources in Classroom quickly with the Share to Classroom extension.

If you find an article or webpage you want to share in Classroom, you can add it with a single click. Install the Share to Classroom extension for the Google Chrome web browser first. It will create a little Google Classroom icon in the top right corner of your Chrome browser.

When you’re on a page you want to share to Classroom, click on that icon.

share-to-classroom-extension

From there, you can:

  • Push that page to your students’ devices so it opens instantly on their devices (if they have the Share to Classroom extension enabled). (More on that in this Google support page.)
  • Create an assignment based on that page.
  • Ask a question based on that page.
  • Make a new announcement based on that page.

8. Connect other tools to Classroom quickly.

Lots of great educational websites work hand in hand with Google Classroom. Here are some examples:

  • Formative (goformative.com), which lets you create digital assignments for students and provide real-time feedback, lets you add those assignments directly to Google Classroom.
    formative-to-google-classroom
  • Quizizz (quizizz.com), a site that turns your activities into game-show-type games, lets you assign those activities as homework through Google Classroom. Once you assign a Quizizz game as homework, you can add it to Google Classroom.
    quizizz-to-google-classroom
  • Other sites: Google for Education has partnered with lots of other sites and digital tools through Google Classroom. Click here to see which ones have formal partnerships with Google Classroom.

9. Organize and sort your posts with topics.

Do you feel like all the assignments, announcements and questions in your Classroom are too unorganized? Tag them with topics and you can filter and sort them to create some order!

Create topics by clicking “Add topic” in the topics window in your Classroom stream … or create a new topic when making a new assignment, announcement or question.

Click on an individual topic to see ONLY the posts in that topic.

topics-in-classroom

(Curious about that animal cell claymation video you see above? Click here to watch it.)

10. Reuse posts so you don’t have to create them again from scratch.

Do you create the same kinds of posts over and over? Don’t re-create them from scratch each time! Use the “reuse post” option.

  • Click the “+” button. Choose “Reuse post”.
  • Select the class where you posted it first. (Note: You can take a post from one class and reuse it in another class!)
  • Select the post you want to reuse.
  • Classroom will create a new copy of that same post that you can customize. You can add it to any class, change the text, add new links or files, etc.
  • Click “Assign” to assign it to your class immediately, or use the dropdown arrow and choose “Schedule” to schedule it to post later.

reuse-post-in-classroom

More about Google Classroom

Here are some other blog posts I’ve written about Google Classroom:

Question: What are other tips and tricks you use to save time in Google Classroom? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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