Top Tips for South African Teachers on How to Use Google Classroom Effectively

Google Classroom has become a vital tool for teachers worldwide, including in South Africa, where digital learning is increasingly important. Here are some top tips for South African teachers on how to use Google Classroom effectively:

1. Organize Your Assignments

Number your assignments to help organize files in Classroom and Google Drive. This makes it easier for both you and your students to locate specific assignments.

2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Use keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + F to find numbers and words in Google Classroom. This can save you time when searching for specific assignments or student submissions.

3. Implement an Organizational Strategy

Use the topics feature on the classwork page to organize assignments for students and teachers. This can help keep your Classroom neat and easy to navigate.

4. Create a Resources Topic

Create a “Resources” topic and keep it at the top of the Classwork page. This can be a central place to store resources, links, class rules, syllabus, etc.

5. Use a Google Classroom Class Template

Once you have selected your preferred organization method for Google Classroom, make a copy of the class as your template. This can save you time when setting up new classes.

6. Use Direct Links to Assignments

Get a direct link to a specific assignment to easily refer students back to a particular activity. This can be especially useful when reviewing past assignments.

7. Use a Google Doc as a Syllabus

Create a syllabus using Google Docs so that it is a living document that can be updated throughout the year. This can be particularly useful for remote learning situations.

8. Break Down Large Projects

Break down large projects into smaller assignments with separate due dates. This can help students manage their time and workload more effectively.

9. Create a Separate Class for Enrichment Activities

Consider creating a separate class inside Google Classroom for extension or enrichment activities. This can provide additional learning opportunities for students who finish their work early or need extra challenges.

10. Use Private Comments for Feedback and Reflection

Use the private comment feature to provide meaningful feedback to students and to encourage them to reflect on their learning. This can help improve the feedback loop and promote self-assessment among students.

11. Attach a Template Document for Each Assignment

Attach a blank Google Doc or a template to each assignment as a copy for each student. This allows you to see progress at a glance and ensures that each student starts with the same materials.

12. Invite Colleagues to Join Your Class

Invite colleagues who are hesitant to use Google Classroom to join your class as a student or a co-teacher. This can help them become more comfortable with the platform and encourage collaboration among staff.

13. Create a Demo Student Account

Create a demo student account to demonstrate Google Classroom to your students. This can help them understand what they should see and do on their end.

14. Package Your Digital Assignments

Improve your instructions and package everything students will need into your Google Classroom assignments. This can help ensure that students have all the resources they need to complete their work.

15. Use Email Notifications Wisely

You can turn off email notifications from Classroom in the settings if you find them overwhelming. This can help you manage your communication and keep your inbox clutter-free.

16. Send Announcements to Small Groups

Send announcements to small groups of students for personalized communication. This can be useful for differentiated instruction or group projects.

17. Schedule Assignments Ahead of Time

Once you have your lesson plans done for the next week, set up everything on Classroom for the next week. Scheduling everything to appear later on the correct day means you don’t forget to post something in the morning when you get to school.

18. Encourage Student Voice

Use the “create a question” function to encourage and facilitate class discussion. This gives students a platform to have their voices heard and learn to virtually listen and engage with their peers by responding directly to them.

19. Work from a Master Class

Create a master class for each subject and then use the “Reuse Post” button to add it to multiple classes. This can speed up the process, especially if you have multiple classes of the same subject.

20. Turn Off Stream Notifications

Turning off stream notifications can keep your announcements and student collaborations more organized and easier to find.

21. Use Required Questions in Google Forms Quizzes

When making a quiz, always require the questions to be done so that if students skip a question, they cannot submit the answers until all “required” questions are answered.

22. Take Screenshots as You Go and Share

Taking screenshots as you are teaching and then pasting them into student work can be helpful for students who may have been absent or students with accommodations.

23. Make Rubrics in Sections to Grade Faster

When you create rubrics for longer assignments like reports or projects, make the rubric in such a way that you can score one part at a time.

24. Use the “Divide and Conquer” Method with a Colleague

Each teammate creates assignments in Google Classroom for a content area then you can “reuse post” to drop that pre-created post into your classroom for your students. This is an amazing timesaver.

25. Use “Assign to Multiple Classes”

When setting up a new assignment for multiple classes or sections, do not forget about the “assign to multiple classes” feature.

26. Take Advantage of the Scheduling Option

Once you have your lesson plans done for the next week, set up everything on Classroom for the next week. Scheduling everything to appear later on the correct day means you don’t forget to post something in the morning when you get to school.

By implementing these tips, South African teachers can make the most of Google Classroom, enhancing their teaching and their students’ learning experiences.

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