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Google Classroom just got more Google awesome

If you’re a teacher in a Google Apps for Education school and you’re not using Google Classroom, just a quick suggestion.

You need to be.

Especially if your students have a lot of online access with carts or in a 1-to-1 setting. I know that there are similar tools out there already but because Classroom integrates all of the Google tools so easily it’s a no-brainer for just about any face to face, flipped, or blended class.

(Need a little support getting started? Head over to Social Studies Central and browse through some suggestions and support articles.)

And this week, Google Classroom just got more awesomer. So there’s not a lot of reasons left for not using it.

Google gave Classroom a quick visual makeover with a new simplified design for creating and posting assignments, announcements, and questions and for viewing assignment details. The design encourages quick and easy access for teachers and students.

And it’s more than a simple visual change. Based on teacher requests, Google has made some pretty sweet updates.

Reuse a post
Teachers can reuse existing posts (announcements, assignments, questions) from a current or previous class so teachers don’t need to recreate these items for each new class. You can also edit any of these items before re-posting or reassigning.

Move a post to the top of the class stream
Teachers can change the order of posts in the class stream by moving any item to the top of the stream to give it priority.

Ask and answer a question
Teachers can post a short answer question to students in the class stream at any time, with options to allow students to edit their own answer, and to see and reply to classmates’ answers. Students answer the question in the class stream, and teachers have the option to grade answers. 

google classroom question

I love this for starting debates and quick classroom conversations. But I see teachers using this for long-term, ongoing discussions over the course of a unit. It also seems like a handy way to use exit card strategies as part of your instruction.

Due dates optional
For long-term projects or student-driven assignments, you’ll now have the option to create assignments that don’t have due dates.

Calendar option coming soon
In the next month, Classroom will automatically create a calendar for each of your classes in Google Calendar. All assignments with a due date will be automatically added to your class calendar and kept up to date. You’ll be able to view your calendar from within Classroom or on Google Calendar, where you can manually add class events like field trips or guest speakers. The calendar will be accessible through either Classroom or Google Calendar itself.

Attach a Google Form to a post
I love Google Forms and I know many of you have been using Google Forms as an easy way to assign a test, quiz or survey to the class. Coming in the next few weeks, teachers and students will be able to attach Google Forms from Drive to posts and assignments, and get a link in Classroom to easily view the answers.

YouTube admin options

Many schools still block YouTube and I know many of you are concerned about the inappropriate content that’s available when it is unblocked. But there is so much quality video content available on YouTube and it’s so easy to integrate that content into Google Classroom. What’s a teacher to do?

The good news is that in the last few weeks, Google has created advanced YouTube settings for all Google Apps for Education domains that give System admins the ability to restrict the YouTube videos viewable for signed-in users, as well as signed-out users on networks managed by the admin. So let your tech folks know if they aren’t already aware of it. You and they can learn more here.

Classroom is not quite a year old. But since its debut, Google has done a good job of listening to educators and working to improve the product. This week’s updates are just one more reason for you to jump on the Classroom bandwagon.

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