Getting Started on Google Classroom™

Getting Started on Google Classroom™

Getting Started on Google Classroom™

Now that you have decided HOW to set up your classes on Classroom™, it's time to start creating them. I will take you through the steps, explaining each one. You can also view the video screen recordings I've embedded to follow along. 

PLEASE NOTE: Using Classroom™does require that your school has a free G Suite for Education account. If you are using it with a personal account, this window will appear:

Terms Using Google Classroom™
In order for your documents and students' work to be private and secure, your school should set up a G suite account.

After you have opened Classroom™, you will arrive on the Home screen. To add a class, click on the plus (+) sign in the top right of the screen.

Create a new class in Google Classroom™

A pop-up window will appear, which looks like this:
Create a new class in Google Classroom™
You will fill out the name of the class (i.e. English II, Algebra I, Government, etc.). You can leave the other lines blank or fill them in. If you are setting up multiple sections for the same class, you can label the sections:
Create a new class in Google Classroom™

When you click "Create," your class is created and will look similar to this:
Create a new class in Google Classroom™

To change the look of the class, use the "Select theme" or "Upload photo" options on the right side of the screen. 

When you select the theme, you are given options in a "Gallery." You can also select "Patterns" for additional selections.
Change the header image in Google Classroom™  www.traceeorman.comChange the header image in Google Classroom™

If you choose to upload a photo, make sure the dimensions are 2000 x 400 pixels (or 20.833 x 4.1667 inches).

Watch a video recap of these directions here:

TIP: After you make your class look the way you want, click on the "About" section to add another teacher, attach classroom materials (i.e. if you have an online textbook or other digital materials that are essential for the class, THIS is where you can attach them), view your Classroom Drive folder, and/or Classroom calendar.  See in the video below:

Your students will be able to access these materials anytime they need them without having to search the class stream.

If you co-teach a class, have a teacher's aide, or want to give another teacher (i.e. a special education teacher) access to your class, you can also do this in the "About" section. Just click on the "Invite Teacher" button and enter the email. The teacher will be able to do everything you can do except delete the class. 
Invite another teacher to your Google class

Insert additional details about the class in Google Classroom™
You can add details about the class in the "About" section.

TIP: If you just want to give an aide or another teacher access to the assignments and class materials, it may be better to add them as a student. Most of my aides just wanted a copy of the online assignments so they could type in notes or answers for themselves. When they had access as a teacher, their notes would appear on every student copy because co-teachers do not get their own copy of the assignment like students do; they have access to YOUR original document. At the time of this blog post, Google Classroom™ does not allow you to set parameters for other teachers. If you still wish to give another teacher or aide full access, let them know ahead of time that if they plan to type on any documents you share, they MUST make a copy of the file first or it will mess up your template for the students.  

You can add students to your class manually by typing in their email addresses. But that can be very time-consuming. Every class has a unique class code. It's much easier to share your class code with your students and have them add themselves. They will click on "Join class" on their home page, then enter the code you share with them. 

Adding students to your Google Classroom™ class

You have the ability to display your class code from your screen (using a projector or smart board) to share it with students:

This is also where you can set parameters for your students. Do you want them to be able to create posts? Comment on posts? Or neither? I have found that for some classes, I welcome the feedback and interaction of the students and for others, I had to disable all comment privileges because they made inappropriate remarks. You will need to decide what is best for your classes.

Set permissions for your students in Google Classroom™

Here's a recap video for adding other teachers and students to your class:

In the next post, I will show you how to add an announcement, assignment, poll your students, start a class discussion, and reuse a post from an archived or another class.

Here are ALL of my Google Classroom™ posts:

Tips for secondary teachers on how you should set up your classes (pros and cons of having one Classroom per subject or one Classroom per class period).

Google Classroom Tips

Includes tips and tutorials for creating new classes; customizing the look of your classes; adding new materials/online text; adding students; and adding co-teachers, teacher aides, or access for special education teachers. 

Includes tips and tutorials for creating assignments, announcements, and topics. Also has tips on how to save and delay posting and collecting work for students.

Includes tips and tutorials for creating questions, the types of questions available (multiple choice & short answer), allowing students to interact and respond to one another, and how to easily reuse posts from class to class and year to year.

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

Solar Eclipse Activities for English Language Arts

Solar Eclipse Activities for ELA teachers

Solar Eclipse Activities for English Language Arts

If you're looking for some great ready-to-go (no prep needed) English language arts activities for tomorrow's solar eclipse, you can download them here:

Solar Eclipse Activities for ELA teachers www.traceeorman.comThe activities include a lesson on idioms, with students brainstorming various idioms related to the sun, moon, and/or eclipse and researching their origins. It is aligned to the Common Core standards for language and writing.

Another activity is a great back-to-school get-to-know-you activity for learning more about your students; students will share various details about themselves and predict what they will be doing when the next total solar eclipse happens in America in 2024.

A third activity is a fun playlist your students can create to commemorate the eclipse.

One of the best things about these activities is if viewing the eclipse is a bust (it's cloudy, or raining, or the students aren't allowed to view it), students can still do all the activities! Actually, the responses may even be more comical if it is a bust. 😂

Print and Go or Share Digitally Resources www.traceeorman.comThe handouts can be printed from a PDF file or you can share them digitally with your students through a secure online classroom like Google Classroom™ or Edmodo™. These are perfect for schools that are 1:1 or have access to computers or tablets.

And because I want you to make sure you get your money's worth, I will update the activities after Monday to make them usable for ANY eclipse in the future. :)

Solar Eclipse Activities

Setting Up Your Google Classroom™ Classes

Google Classroom tips from a veteran user

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
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
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

  -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
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
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.
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.
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

Here are ALL of my Google Classroom™ posts:

Tips for secondary teachers on how you should set up your classes (pros and cons of having one Classroom per subject or one Classroom per class period).

Google Classroom Tips

Includes tips and tutorials for creating new classes; customizing the look of your classes; adding new materials/online text; adding students; and adding co-teachers, teacher aides, or access for special education teachers. 

Includes tips and tutorials for creating assignments, announcements, and topics. Also has tips on how to save and delay posting and collecting work for students.

Includes tips and tutorials for creating questions, the types of questions available (multiple choice & short answer), allowing students to interact and respond to one another, and how to easily reuse posts from class to class and year to year.

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

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 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
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
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:

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