What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is an increasingly popular collaborative learning platform that has plenty of flexibility to make it a great tool to use in band and other music education classes. With its full integration with Google Drive, unlimited storage, and extreme affordability (read: FREE), more and more schools will certainly be taking advantage its features, especially as they seek more ways to utilize technology with students.

What is Google Classroom

How does it work? How can you set it up?  Here’s what you need to know.

  • Sign up is FREE. If your school utilizes Google Apps for Education (GAFE), you can set up Classes. Just go to classroom.google.com,login with your school email, select that you’re a teacher in the bottom right, and click the plus sign at the top by your name to create a class! Unfortunately, those without a GAFE login cannot currently access Google Classroom.
  • If your school or district is GAFE, then your students’ school/district issued email addresses will give them access to your Classroom. You can either invite them by clicking the “students” tab within your class, or give them the enrollment code and have them sign themselves in.
  • Many schools are going towards 1:1 by providing their students with things like iPads and Chromebooks. Being 1:1 can make utilizing GC easier, but it’s not a requirement. Some have schools sets of devices that can be checked out by teachers. Others are implementing Bring Your Own Tech (BYOT) and encouraging students to bring their own devices to use at school. We work on a hybrid system where students bring in their own phones and tablets, but can also use a school iPad or library computer if needed.
  • Only those enrolled in your Class can see content you share and the teacher is the only person who can see a student’s submitted work. This can go a long way toward easing fears of things like student video submissions being shared because they’re going directly to the teacher and nowhere else. You can read more about their privacy policies and protections here.
  • GC handles the organization for you, which is a huge help when working with the number of students band teachers often see. It automatically creates a Classroom folder in your Google Drive, sets up folders for each class, and has folders within those for each assignment you post!
  • Assignments, announcements, and direct comments to students are also automatically sent to students’ school email accounts.

What is Google Classroom?

OK, those are the nuts and bolts, but what can I do with it? Plenty!

  • Create assignments (anything from video submissions, to quizzes with Google Forms, to written responses)
  • Post announcements
  • Share important information (I have a letter and permission slip for an upcoming field trip posted in ours)
  • Ask a question and host a discussion
  • Save a tree (almost everything for our classes gets posted in GC or our website now)

One of my favorite go-to resources for all things Google Classroom is Alice Keeler’s website. She shares amazing tips, ideas, and resources for fully utilizing all of GC’s capabilities.

If you’re interested in more specific ideas for utilizing Google Classroom with your ensembles, check out my blog post here!

Amy Rever is a 6-8th Grade Band teacher at Hart Middle School in Rochester Hills, MI. She is in her eighth year as a music educator and spent the first seven years of her career as the K-12 band and music director of a small, rural district where she also served as the social media coordinator.  Amy earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Oakland University in 2015. Over the past few years, she’s developed a deep enjoyment of learning and sharing different ways of connecting with students and families. She has shared new technologies with colleagues at staff meetings, spoken on utilizing social media at a recent district professional development meeting, and recently presented how to use Twitter as an educator at the Michigan Music Conference. When not teaching, she enjoys laughing loudly and often with her husband and toddler, and walking their two rescue mutts.

Related Reading:
Use a Stopwatch, not a Timer – Practice Tips for the Modern Musician
How Using Lanyards Can Help You Listen to Every Student in Beginning Band
Free Note Name Game that Teaches, Reviews and Assesses

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