Setting Up Your Google Classroom™ Classes

Google Classroom tips from a veteran user www.traceeorman.com

Google Classroom™ Tips: Setting up your Google Classroom™ classes

After over ten years of teaching in a 1:1 classroom, I've used numerous websites, servers, and apps to share work digitally with students. So far, Google Classroom™ has been one of the easiest ways to securely assign and share work from various devices. (It wasn't always like this when we switched to iPads®, but since then, Classroom™ has made vast improvements for Apple® compatibility.) 

If you are looking to use Google Classroom™ with your students, I'll be sharing some tips I've learned through my experience teaching high school English (these tips can be used by ANY teacher of ANY subject or grade level). This first post is about setting up your classes. 

There are a couple of different ways to create classes. I've tried it both ways and will share my experiences with both. I see the benefits of both options but every teacher/classroom is different, so I encourage you to find the way that works best for you. 

Google Classroom classes  www.traceeorman.com
An example of my Google Classroom™ classes.
    Option 1: Create a Google class for each class period you teach. I used this option this past year and it worked quite well. In an eight-period day, I teach six classes and one study hall. This past year I had four sections (or class periods) of English II, one section of English IV, and one section of General English IV. I was also a sponsor for the senior class, so I created a "Class of 2017" class to share information. Our principal uses Classroom™ for our teacher evaluations each year, so I was a "student" in those classes.

Google Classroom Classes Sample 2016 www.traceeorman.com
My archived classes from 2016.
     Option 2: Create a Google class for each different prep you teach. I used this option the first year of using Google Classroom™ to avoid having to repeat writing the same assignment over and over again (at the time, the option to select multiple classes for the same assignment had not been added). For example, I only had to create three Google classes instead of six: one for English II (which included all my students from three different class periods), one for English IV (which included students from two class periods), and one for General English IV (which included students from one class period). Some teachers who just had one class prep only had to create one Google class.

  PROS of Option 1:

  -You can easily see if everyone in the class has turned work in. This prevents you from becoming a broken record, reminding students to turn in their digital assignment. "Don't forget to turn in...oh, everyone in this class has turned theirs in. Great!"

Example Classroom assignment www.traceeorman.com

  -If one class/section covers the material at a faster rate than another, you don't have to adjust the due dates. (We all know how easily one section can get ahead of another; last year it seemed my morning classes were constantly cut short for various school assemblies, wellness checks--eyes, hearing, lice!--and school pictures, etc.)

  -If you are transferring scores into your grading program, your scores are already listed alphabetically by class period. This makes it much easier to transfer scores into your grading program. (I like to just look at the scores and input them down the line.)

Classroom scores example

  -When you create an assignment, you can create it for multiple classes so you don't have to re-type it for every class. You can easily use the drop-down menu and check off all the classes you want to assign it to. This was not always the case. The first year I used Classroom, it was beneficial to have just one Google class for my three sections of English II to avoid having to re-post the same assignment.  

Google Classroom assignment options www.traceeorman.com
Google Classroom™ allows you to share the same assignment with multiple classes.

  PROS for Option 2:

  -Having just one class for each subject/prep is less work. (Initially, at least.) Even though Google made it easier to share assignments with more than one class, I can't tell you how many times I forgot to use that feature last year (but it was many times). When I wanted to share a link to a YouTube™ video, or to a Quizlet™ list, or to a No Red Ink™ assignment, doing it all at once was much easier.

  -It's faster to see how all of your students in that class, as a whole, are progressing. For example, checking the progress of an assignment means just looking in ONE class, rather than three or four (or how ever many sections you have).   
Checking the progress of an assignment in Google Classroom www.traceeorman.com
Quickly check the progress of an assignment on Google Classroom™.
  -A larger number of students allows for greater discussions and/or polls in Classroom™. When I want to have a discussion on Classroom™,  it's beneficial to have a greater number of students in the class. Some of my sections are very small (I had one class with only three students and one with just six students last year!). It was very hard for the students in those smaller classes to have more diverse conversations. Most of our online discussion fell flat. The best responses happened when I allowed all of them to respond to one another (via Blogger, since I had separate classes in Google Classroom). They truly enjoyed the interaction with students outside their section. 
  Another benefit is when you want to poll ALL of your students enrolled in one prep (i.e. all of my English II students), you can just create one question in the class and get the results from just that one poll. Using Option 1, you would have to compile the results from all of your classes, which may take longer and you don't have that immediate feedback.

Share with all students or pick which ones get the assignment. www.traceeorman.com
Choose to share with ALL students, or just some, for differentiation.
  -Google allows you to choose which students you want to share an assignment (or announcement or question/poll) with, making it easy to differentiate within one Classroom class. Let's say that you teach math and have four sections of Algebra I--two in the morning and two in the afternoon. You set up one Google class for all four sections. One day you had a morning assembly, so your morning classes did not meet. You don't want them to get behind, but you won't see them until the next morning. To solve this problem, you have one of your students in an afternoon class video your lecture and your instructions for the assignment. In Classroom, you create an assignment with the instructions and attach the video (more on how to do that in another post) and assign it ONLY to those students who missed your morning class (and those who may have been absent in an afternoon class, as well). 
  This feature was added last year and made my life much easier for students who were absent. The only problem was that I had to do this multiple times for each section because I could only check off students in that particular Google class. 

Differentiate assignments or share with students who were absent in Google Classroom. www.traceeorman.com
You can share links/assignments with select students in Classroom.

I am sure there are other benefits for both options that I am missing. If you have some to add, please share in the comments below. Whichever option you choose for setting up your Google classes, there are many benefits. Look at your class schedule and decide which would work best for you. If you teach in a 1:1 school, Google Classroom™ is a secure, safe, and easy way to share and collect work from students, as well as a great way to connect with them.

You may have noticed that I am a student in a few of the classes shown. We use Google Classroom™ for teacher evaluations and for professional development, as well. It's a great way for administrators and fellow teachers or presenters to share information, documents, and even assignments with the staff. Share this with your administration if this is something you'd like to implement in your school. I can provide additional information--just contact me through Blogger or Google+ or one of the many social media sites I'm on. You can also see how it works through my Student Growth form for teachers and administrators.

Track student growth easily https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Student-Growth-Data-Tracker-Google-Drive-3267537?utm_source=traceeorman.com&utm_campaign=GoogleClass%20post

I plan to share more tips for teachers using Google Classroom™ in the coming weeks, so check back for more.

Google Classroom Tips www.traceeorman.com

Google Classroom™ is a trademark of Google Inc. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Brand Permissions.


Summer Reading & Best New Books

Reading List for 2017 www.traceeorman.com

Best Reading Picks for 2017 OR Books to Stock in Your Classroom Library...
What are you reading (or want to read) this summer? Are you looking for some suggested books for your classroom library? I added (or plan to add) these books this year and am hoping to find time to read and re-read them this summer and fall.

Please contribute to my list with your own suggestions in the comment section below! (Note: These books include associate links to Amazon.com at the bottom of the page, but you can probably find the books at your local library or bookstore of your choice.)


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - New Books www.traceeorman.com
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I read this book when it was first released earlier this year. It took me just a day and a half, but I had to stop several times for emotional breaks. It's a powerful book and gives the reader a first-person look at a shooting of a young black man by a white police officer from the teenage perspective. Every teen (heck, every human) can benefit from reading this book. It may just change the way many think about movements like #BlackLivesMatter. This is one that I would love to incorporate into my high school curriculum. At the very least, it is a MUST for your classroom library. 

2. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Two alternating perspectives about the fallout from one explosive event of police violence. There's some language, but overall it should be appropriate for middle and high school students. It's another contemporary book dealing with race, police brutality, stereotypes, and white privilege. Though the hardcover was released in 2015, the paperback will come out this fall.


3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I really fell in love with Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (if you haven't read that, DO SO NOW! It's so good.), so I look forward to reading this novel. It IS a two-book series, so if you hate waiting for the second book to be published, you may want to wait to read this one. It's a fantasy novel about dreams and a mythical lost city called Weep. It's hard to imagine she'll be able to top her previous work, but if she comes close, this book will become a new favorite of mine.


4. What Light by Jay Asher
Books to Add to Your Classroom Library for 2017 www.traceeorman.comNew fans this winter were introduced to Jay Asher via the Netflix series of his novel Thirteen Reasons Why. Asher's newest novel (released last fall) is a much more light-hearted love story, though it does deal with themes of forgiveness and shame. Teens will resonate with the main characters and adults will be reminded of their first love.

5. & 6. Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
With the release of Nicola Yoon's first novel as a movie this summer, it's a great time to read (or re-read) Everything, Everything. It came out in 2015 and has received praise by authors and readers alike. Her latest novel, The Sun is Also a Star (released in November 2016), has received similar accolades. Though both books are about love and overcoming obstacles, they are both unique. Many praise the fact that Yoon includes diversity in her characters, which is often lacking in young adult literature.


7. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, Book 2) By Cassandra Clare
Fans of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series will be happy to know the second book in her new Dark Artifices series is out. This Shadowhunters book continues where Lady Midnight left off.

8. Generation One (Lorien Legacies Reborn) By Pittacus Lore
The author of the I Am Number Four series is back with a new series that takes place a year after United as One. Because of the "Loric energy" that the Garde spread to protect humans during the war, human teenagers began to develop powers of their own. This series follows the Garde's efforts to train the teenagers to control their powers.


9. The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
Not only is this a great historical novel, its hero is a female based on a real-life World War II hero, Andree de Jongh. She creates an escape route out of Nazi Germany and her efforts are overlooked by the enemy because they don't believe a woman would be capable of such a feat. The novel celebrates this unsung bravery. While the hardback has been out for a few years, the paperback was released this year, making it more affordable for your classroom library.

10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Here's another best-seller that was released in paperback this year. Set in World War II France and Germany, it brings together a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy on opposite sides of the war front. It's beautifully written and rich with figurative language.


Bull by David Elliott - New Books www.traceeorman.com
11. Bull by David Elliott
Author David Elliott takes the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and updates it with a modern twist: the story is written entirely in verse, with rhymes that will catch the attention of your high school students. Many critics compare it to Lin-Manuel Miranda's retelling of Hamilton with equal commendations.

12. Solo by Kwame Alexander {Available August 1st} 
This new book by authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess is written in poetic verse. It's about a 17-year-old boy who finds out he's not who he thought he was and seeks to find his birth mother. Classic rock by Metallica, Lenny Kravitz, and more is interwoven with original verse to tell the hero's journey in a unique and refreshing way.


13. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
This is a great read for those reluctant readers; though it's introduced on the premise of being a sports underdog story, your students will become engrossed in all the obstacles faced by Thorpe and his teammates. It allows for discussions on racism, persecution, determination, and hard work. It is definitely suitable for middle-school students.

14. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
Vincent van Gogh wrote over 600 letters to his brother Theo; the author uses these letters and more to paint a picture of the love the brothers had for one another. This biography is well researched and riveting.

15. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie
Warning: This book contains profanity and adult situations that are not suited for younger readers. Students who will gravitate toward this will be those who may have read Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian or those who have had difficult relationships with a parent. But it is a powerful and heart-wrenching read for anyone. I recommend this for upperclassmen (junior/senior level) and mature underclassmen. His writing style alone is worthy of exploration by students.


Don't miss these books by your favorite authors this fall. They are sure to be in high demand by your students.

16. Warcross by Marie Lu {Availablein September 12th}
From the author of the Legend and Young Elites trilogies, Marie Lu writes about an addictive video game and the hackers hired to flesh out those who are betting illegally on the game. Your students who love technology and gaming will be enthralled.

17. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera {Available September 5th}
Two boys are given the news that it is their last day to live; they decide to make the most of their last day by packing in a lifetime of memories.

18. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green {Available October 10th}
It's a new John Green novel; what more needs to be said? If you are, however, curious about the title and plot of the story, learn more via Entertainment Weekly's post here: Everything We Know About John Green's New Book

You can find the books on Amazon here:








What are YOU reading this summer?

Which books do you recommend adding to your classroom library this fall?

Please comment below to contribute to the conversation!


Spread Kindness Free Teaching Resources #kindnessnation #weholdthesetruths

Free Resources on TeachersPayTeachers to Promote Kindness, Empathy, and Civics

As a new president is ushered into the White House today, Americans will be feeling a wide range of emotions. So will our students. It's important to help them adjust to this change in leadership in the most positive way we know how: by emphasizing the values and character traits we have always taught and modeled.

To help teachers everywhere, a group of TeachersPayTeachers sellers are offering resources FREE (most of them will be free forever) to help teach and model traits such as kindness, empathy, and civics. 

You can find these resources by searching TeachersPayTeachers using the hashtags:


Here are my free products (ALL will be forever freebies):

Free Kindness Quote Writing prompt #KindnessNation

I will be adding more from my fellow TpT sellers over the weekend, as well, so make sure to stop back to get those freebies. Here are some to get you started:

From my favorite font artist, Kimberly Geswein:

Special thanks to Jillian Starr who created the top image for TeachersPayTeachers. You can visit her blog here: www.starrspangledplanner.com.


New Year TeachersPayTeachers Giveaway

New Year TeachersPayTeachers Giveaway www.traceeorman.com

Our four winners (via Random.org) are: J'Marie Jones, Meg Peitzmeier, Renea Canales, and Lindsey Knight
I will be contacting you shortly with your gift cards. :)

Happy New Year! I'd like to take a moment to express my appreciation to the folks at TeachersPayTeachers, as well as to you, my fellow teachers. Without all of you, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog, I definitely wouldn't be sharing my resources with teachers around the world, or donating to so many charities, to our school and students, and to my fellow teachers via DonorsChoose.org and various giveaways. For this ability to give back to so many, especially, I am extremely grateful.

In addition, I am thankful for my family, friends, and colleagues. After losing both of my parents within the past two years, I have a new outlook on what is truly important in life and these people mean more to me than anything else. 💕

New Year 2017 Giveaway TeachersPayTeachers Gift Cards www.traceeorman.comSHARING OUR GRATITUDE
TeachersPayTeachers was generous enough to send me two $25 gift cards to give away to my followers. In the spirit of giving, I purchased two additional $25 gift cards so FOUR teachers could each win one. We want you to know that we truly appreciate each and every one of you.

TO ENTER, FOLLOW THIS ONE STEP: Comment below with what you are thankful for. (Click on the "Add Comment" box.) I do use Google+ comments; however, if you do not have a Google+ account, you can comment using a number of alternative accounts. If you are posting anonymously, please leave an email address in case you are chosen as the winner. Otherwise, I will have no way to contact you.

This giveaway will run until 9 p.m. (Central) on Wednesday, Jan. 4th. The four winners of the $25 TpT Gift Cards will be chosen at random using a third-party generator. Please, please make sure I will be able to contact you Wednesday night. If I am unable to message you, I will have to choose another winner.

Thanks, again, for all your support and patronage over the past seven years. I realize that I have not written as much in the past couple of years because of demands on my time in my personal life, so the fact that you still visit my blog truly amazes and heartens me.

I can't wait to read your comments. Thanks, in advance, for sharing what you are thankful for.



New Year Resolutions & Goals Activities

New Years Goals Activities

If you are looking for some activities to use with your students when you return to school, you're in the right place. My 2017 New Year Activities are appropriate for middle and high school students, though I've had some upper-elementary teachers tell me they love using them with their students, as well.

The bundle comes with eight activities, paper-saver options, and four interactive-notebook activities. The activities vary, but practice critical-thinking and writing skills. There's also an outlet for your creative students.

Have your students set goals for the remainder of the school year (or the year in general) with these visual-appealing 2017 prompts. Students love to decorate them and they make great bulletin-board displays.
New Year Activities for Students

New Year Activities for Students

Examples of classroom displays from previous years:
New Year Activities for Students - Classroom Display
New Year Activities for Students - Classroom Displays

New Year Activities for Students - Classroom Display

New Year Activities for Students - Classroom Display

Tag me on social media (@MrsOrman on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest; Mrs. Orman's Classroom on Facebook) if you display your class goals!

My Top 20/Bottom 17 Activity forces students to dig deep and analyze their actions that can be helpful or harmful in achieving their goals and resolutions.
New Year Activity - Focus and Goal-Setting

Have some fun with a classroom scavenger hunt. Students have to find items that fit the 2017 clues. Then, they get to create their own scavenger hunt. This is a great activity to get your students up and moving around the room. It's perfect for a bell-ringer or exit slip activity, too.

New Year Activity - Scavenger Hunt

Use the numbers in 2017 to write an acrostic poem. This can be challenging for younger students, though it seems simple. Some students like to choose just one word per line, but others will be more creative and use more than one word per line. However they wish to complete their poem is always fine with me. I never like to place limits on their creativity.

New Year Activity - Acrostic Poem

Students read the song lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne" and analyze it for meaning, figurative language, and vocabulary in context. This is an activity that can be used year after year (is not specific to 2017 or any other year). The answer key is included.

New Year Activity - Close Reading Auld Lang Syne Analysis

The pack also includes additional writing prompts and a back-to-school activity (great for my Aussie friends or anyone wanting to use it for the 2017-2018 school year). 

Four of the activities are included for interactive notebooks.

New Year Activity - Foldables Interactive Notebook Activities

New Year Activity - Foldables Interactive Notebook Activities

New Year Activity - Foldables Interactive Notebook Activities

New Year Activity - Foldables Interactive Notebook Activities

New Year Activity - Foldables Interactive Notebook Activities

Do you have students who love to doodle or create zentangle designs and patterns? I included blank 2017 images just for that purpose. 

New Year Activity - Doodle 2017

New Year Drawing Coloring Activity

Yes, ALL of these activities are included in my one 2017 New Year bundle:

New Year Activities https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/New-Years-2017-Resolution-Goals-Activities-2885520

I hope you and your students have a wonderful New Year! I'd love to see examples of your students' work, so don't forget to tag me if you post them. :) Thanks for sharing.

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I teach high school English in Illinois; enjoy family time, baseball, collecting PEZ dispensers, and talking about anything related to my favorite books. They include The Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Chaos Walking trilogy, and anything written by Amy Tan.

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