HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR GOOGLE CLASSROOM NOW, SO IT WILL SAVE YOU TIME LATER
Help! School is about to get real again. 😳 For some of us it already is. There are so many things up in the air right now, and the last thing you want to think about is how to organize your Google Classroom!
How many of you have specific places in your classroom where students can get supplies, turn in work, or sign-out of your room? This helps with efficiency and many of us even find pride in setting up these supports.
The funny thing to me is that, as teachers, most of us are very good at setting up our physical classrooms to be organized and user friendly for our students. We understand and can appreciate the processes of a well-managed classroom where students know exactly where everything is and can be self-sufficient.
I’ve noticed that this awareness doesn’t necessarily cross over to our digital lives.
It’s just as important to keep our Google Classrooms organized and easy to navigate as it is our physical classrooms.
Some of you may be feeling like you could probably set up your digital classroom pretty quickly.
That’s how I felt. Except that my classrooms always looked the same and I kept having the same issues with students not being able to find what they needed.
I’d have students that would struggle to complete all of their assignments because they “didn’t see that one.”
All of this means … it’s time to change things up. Or at least try to be more digitally clear for my students.
I knew there were probably features and ideas that I wasn’t using in Google Classroom.
So … I went searching.
I tried to take this approach instead:
Instead of thinking about your Google Classroom as a daunting confusing task, think of it the same way you think of your physical space. Get it organized so everyone can access things at their fingertips.
Below are some tips you can use when you’re wondering how to organize your Google Classroom.
Let these ideas help you get your year started off on the right foot.
#1 Organize Your Google Classroom by Topic
This is probably the biggest and most important way to keep things clear for both you and your students. I’m guessing many of you already use Topics within your Google Classroom but may feel that it’s still not working for you. There are lots of ways to use this feature.
Check out the ones below and decide which one feels the best for you.
OR, maybe it will inspire your own system. If so, leave a comment to let us know your strategy!
Organize by Sub-Topics
If you primarily work with units throughout the year, this might be a good technique for you.
Create a topic for each unit you work on with your students. Place the assignments and materials within each of these topics/units so that your students can find it easily.
If you have several lessons within your unit, or you utilize chapters in a textbook, you could add in another layer of “coding” to your topic.
For example, if you have several lessons that pertain to ONE lesson within your unit, you could label it in this way:
TOPIC = Unit 3 – Lesson 1 – American Revolution
If you decide to incorporate this strategy, you could also label each assignment with a similar coding system. Simply write the first letter of Unit and Lesson, and then the assignment title.
ASSIGNMENT TITLE = U3-L1-Intro to American Revolution
Organize by Week
I have seen several teachers move to this way of posting in their classrooms, especially while distance learning.
They create a new topic each week. For example:
TOPIC = Week #10
TOPIC = Week of 4/13/20
Then all of the work they would like their students to work on for that entire week is posted with this topic label.
Labeling things this way creates a lot of topics as you move throughout the year, but if you are okay with that, then this might be a good system for you.
If you have assignments that require more than the one week for your students to work on them, then you can simply move it to the next week as you post new items.
FREE Weekly Task Cards
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Organize by Most Current
This is the system I use in my classroom now and it works really well for me so far.
It takes a few extra steps once assignments have passed, but it’s worth it for my students to know exactly what to work on.
Students already have so many classrooms & assignments to manage, the easier I can make mine, the more likely I will have a high completion rate.
I keep a MOST CURRENT topic at the top of my Classwork page where I post everything that should be looked at and worked on for today. This includes any lessons that may not have been completed the week before by students that still need to turn it in.
Sometimes I will even number them so that they know the order that I would like things to be completed in.
This ends up as a way to model prioritizing if you explain why you are numbering each of them in the details of the assignment.
After the assignment has passed, I move it into a different topic for “storage” or reference for students that may want to go back and redo work to get a better grade.
Organize by Type of Assignment
I use this system in combination with the MOST CURRENT topic I explained above.
When I move an assignment out of the MOST CURRENT area, I will generally move it into a topic that represents the type of assignment it is. That way, when my students would like to redo something or reference their work on something else we’ve done, it is easy for them to find it.
TOPIC = Attendance
TOPIC = Brief Writes
TOPIC = Do-Now
Organize by Subject Areas
This system seems to be the best for elementary students, since they are usually dealing with one classroom for several subjects. However, I still recommend using it in combination with either the Most Current concept or the Weekly topic strategies above.
Use the Most Current topic to post the assignments that are due this week and then next week move them to their respectful subject areas for easy reference.
I would also encourage labeling your assignments in a way that lets your students know which subject each pertains to. (see below)
#2 Strategically Label Assignments
Once you have figured out the best way to organize your topics, consider how you will label your assignments.
Label by Week, Subject, Type, or Assignment
If you work with a team of teachers and are able to collaborate on how you organize your classrooms, this system seems to work really well and is consistent for the students when all of you are able to post your assignments that same way.
If you are working with the Weekly topic idea or the Most Current topic idea you might label your assignments in this way:
Week/Subject – Type of Assignment – Assignment Name
Example: 11M – Do Now – Vocab Review
This would mean to the student that it is Week #11 and the subject for the assignment is Math. It is a “Do Now” assignment about reviewing vocabulary.
If all of the teachers in your team are doing this, I can imagine it works really well!
Label by Using Task Cards
Using task cards allows you to post one document that explains all of the work that students need to complete for the whole week.
You can then post links to the assignments within the task card and have ONE place for your students to go for all their weekly work.
However, if you would like to keep track of, or grade assignments through the classroom then you will want to post these assignments separately under the Weekly or Most Current topic.
Here is an example:
If you want to link directly to this assignment within your task card, see the video below on how to do this!
FREE Weekly Task Cards
Get a set of FREE weekly editable digital task cards that you can use with your students in Google Classroom TODAY!
Label by Using No Topic
Sometimes I don’t assign any topic to an assignment, information, or question.
I do this when there is something I want to show up at the top of the Classwork section for students to complete or look at FIRST!
When this item has “expired” or no longer an important item, I will then assign a topic to it. That way it can live elsewhere in my classroom for future reference.
Label by Using Visual Identification
We are very visual beings.
Studies show that we will remember approximately 65% of the visual content we encounter, but only 10% of the textual content. Therefore, it’s a good idea to add a little 🎨“visual arts”🎨 to your classroom.
I started using Emojis 😃 at the beginning of my assignments to help give another layer of categorizing. My students really like them 👍🏼 and it differentiates between my Joke of the Day posts 😹, and my listening assignments 🎧.
You can access emojis really easily:
- Use an emoji keyboard, app or extension if you are using a mobile device or Chromebook
- Emojipedia.com – where you can search, copy & past emojis to your heart’s content
- Ctrl + Cmd + Spacebar if you are using a Mac computer. This will bring up your emoji/symbols icons to use right at your fingertips with any program.
If you don’t like emojis then you could use word cues in front of each assignment. If an assignment is related to an exit ticket, then you could label the assignment:
EXAMPLE = (EXIT) Egyptian Review
Whichever strategy you decide on, be consistent! Be extra diligent that you use the SAME NAME for the assignment in your grading platform, such as PowerSchool.
#3 Classwork vs. Stream
If you haven’t figured it out yet, you can move things around in the Classwork section! This is super helpful when creating new topics or moving assignments from one topic to another.
Here, you can see me using it to move an assignment from my Most Current topic to the one it will live in once my students have completed the task.
There are a lot of different ways to post in Google Classroom. Be sure to check out the many different types of assignments you can create and which ones to utilize for each task.
I use the Stream in my Google Classroom differently than some other teachers do.
For me, it is a great place to “connect” with my students and let them see a little bit of my personality.
I will post announcements about something special I’m doing for them, like a “lunch meeting” or group Google Meet for the whole class to just chat with each other.
Bitmoji’s are one of my favorite things to add to announcements to lighten the mood. They also seem to really like it when I wish them good luck on their Algebra quiz they are preparing for.
Maybe I’ll pose a thought-provoking question to engage conversation in the comment section.
All of this, however, makes my Stream cluttered very quickly.
The first thing I do to tidy up my Stream is “Hide Notifications” of assignments.
By default, ALL announcements, materials, assignments, quizzes, basically everything you add to the classroom is posted on the Stream.
THIS is why I have had so many students say,
“OHHHH! I didn’t see that one.”
Many students, by nature are lazy and only look in the Stream when they visit to complete their work.
In the meantime, the assignment has gotten lost amongst the other announcements, chats, and questions since it was posted.
By “hiding assignments” on the Stream, it now showcases ONLY announcements posted from me or my students when they get there.
It’s then a simple re-training to ask students to visit the Classwork page to find all of their assignments.
Besides, Classwork is where you just organized everything for them. 😉
So … click on the settings wheel in the top right corner of your classes page and choose to “Hide Notifications in the Stream.”
Once that’s done, you can now use the Stream to do any of these things, and more:
- Ask them thought-provoking or crazy questions for a mini discussion
- Post selfies to let them know you are thinking of them and that there is a human on the other side of the computer.
- Post a Joke of the Day and have them guess what the punchline is.
- Share silly memes that will lighten the mood in this stressful time.
#4 Consistency is KEY No Matter How You Organize Your Google Classroom!
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important that you stick with your system so that students know what to expect.
I know my students expressed to me in the spring, their frustration when teachers were “trying out” different ways of organizing their classrooms. It got confusing because just when they understood how to navigate the classroom the way they had it set up; their teacher changed it.
So, once you’ve thought it through & settled on a format, try it out for at a while. If it ends up not working for you or your students, make sure you ask them for input before you restructure.
Want more inspiration?
REMEMBER: Our teaching looks different with distance learning, therefore, our organization should look different as well.
Here are your tips on how to organize your Google Classroom.
Don’t forget to leave a comment if you have another strategy that will help us.
- #1 – Organize your Google Classroom by Topic
- #2 – Strategically Label Assignments
- #3 – Use Classwork & Stream to fit your needs
- #4 – Be consistent!
Hopefully, all of this will help as you are figuring out how to organize your Google Classroom!
Good luck and happy organizing!
FREE Weekly Task Cards
Get a FREE set of weekly editable digital task cards that you can use with your students in Google Classroom TODAY!