Google Apps for Education GAFE: Classroom

How to set up Google Classroom with easy to follow picture steps. Try it now!

If you're interested in learning more about Google Apps for Education or GAFE we're here to help. This series will cover how to Set up Google Classroom and the all the "Apps": Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and some really cool collaborative features like Hangouts! Google can transform your teaching into a more collaborative, interactive, creative, and even paperless classroom!

But is Google Classroom really necessary when students could just share a Google Doc? Yes, it is! With Google Classroom, students' Google Drive will be organized by their Google Classes and documents can be automatically named with Assignment titles. Teachers can easily post links to websites and store frequently referenced documents like a syllabus. To get started both students and the teacher will need individual Google Accounts.

Teacher and Student Set Up

First I suggest you create a class for each subject you teach. It's a bit more initial setup compared to one class to host all your subjects, but well worth it for the organization. Think of all the assignments you complete in just one week for all your subjects combined. Creating different Google classes for each subject is like student have different binders and notebooks for each subject compared to one big binder and notebook.
Teacher directions on how to set up Google Classroom
The teacher will go to, + create class. ( you'll do this for each subject) and assign the class a name. For each Google Class, you'll have a unique class code. Students will use this code ton enroll in each class you create.

For some extra personalization, you can change the background headers using your own image or select from many options in the settings. Google is so smart that if you type "Writing" it will automatically use an image related to the subject; for example, a chalkboard with writing. I change my headers to match the colors I assign to each subject in class. It's easy to tell students to "get out your purple folder" or "go to your purple Google Classroom".

You can also modify your classroom settings so students can create their own posts and/or respond to comments. For my students I disable these settings as we're not ready for this responsibility yet, but there would absolutely be value in students commenting feedback or asking clarification questions to assignments. Google gives you lots of options to make Classroom what you and your students need.
Student directions for how to set up Google Classroom
Students will go to com, + Join class, Type the join code, and repeat for each subject. Wow, that was easy!

Get to Work:

Now the fun stuff! Classroom takes your Docs, Slides, etc. to the next level. Say you want your students to write during their literacy rotation. Without classroom, I would have to remind them to create a Doc, write, and make sure to share it with me, in addition to the directions for the assignment written on the board! Now with classroom, that's all done for me.
To create an assignment: + create an assignment, give it a title, directions, due date, and an option to attach a Doc for students to use or they can create their own. For younger students I would first create a Doc in my Drive, attach to this assignment, then select "Make a copy for each student". This automatically shares with the teacher WITH THE STUDENT NAME IN THE TITLE! Say what? Awesome!

Say you want your students to go to a specific website but it's sooooooo long to type out. Create an announcement with the hyperlink! You can schedule posts for a specific time or save for the future. You can also reuse posts if it's a reoccurring announcement (say homework is due every Friday) and ask questions if you want your students to comment. Make sure to have a discussion on appropriate commenting!

What else can Classroom do?

All that is great, but what else can Google Classroom do for me? You can monitor student progress, enter grades, and give feedback all online!
Directions on how to grade work on Google Classroom.
The teacher can click on each assignment and see all work submitted and in progress on an assignment. No more, "You've only done one paragraph and it's due tomorrow?" You can see all their progress at any time. You can assign students a grade from 0-100, provide feedback, and students will see this grade and any comments on the assignment in their Drive. Providing timely feedback is so much easier with Classroom compared to handwriting comments on papers and passing back to students.

Classroom or Drive? Where Do I Go?

In the beginning with my students I would relate "Classroom" to the actual classroom where you get the assignment and listen to directions. "Drive" is like your binder you keep in your desk. The teacher can see your work in your Google Classroom folder in drive, but no one else. When looking for your work you've done in the past, look in Drive. When looking for your agenda and new work, go to Classroom.

On the student Classroom dashboard they can see what assignments are due and allow them to "Turn It In" for a grade. I often did not have my students "Turn It In" because after they do so, it changes the sharing settings so only the teacher can view and the student can not edit. For older students this would be beneficial so once it's due, they can not make any edits for grading purposes, but for my younger students it was a hassle to change the settings back and forth. Do what works for you.

On the student Drive dashboard it has all their work in the subject folder they created it. With Classroom, students won't have their writing mixing with math and social studies in their Drive, it's all organized. For writing I would often tell my students to go to their Drive, Writing Folder, and pick one piece of writing to edit and publish.

Come back for more!

Google Classroom takes the already great Google Apps like Docs and Slides and makes them easy to implement even in the youngest of classrooms. If your students can read directions and type basic words, they can do it!

For more in the Google series, see these great tutorials: ClassroomSlidesForms, Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Grade with Forms


  1. What an excellent walk through of the bells and whistles. I love Google Classroom, but in al technology, you always learn more.

    1. Thanks Carla! Sometimes I wish I taught high school where you could really use it for all it's worth, but you can still do really cool things with primary students.