Google Classroom Hack #1: Stay Organized with Creative Projects

Worried that creativity will diminish if you transition to a 1:1 classroom? No need to worry if you employ Google Classroom! I explain how I was able to engage my students during the LAST week of school with creative projects using Google Classroom. It is possible!School is almost over. Three more days, but most importantly, zero more Mondays.

I am about to complete my 15th year in the classroom, and in that time, I've noticed that three things in education have remained consistent through the years (for me, anyway).

1. Nothing ever stays the same. The bureaucrats love shaking things up, and if we don't roll with it, we get bitter and burned out.

2. The school year speeds along until the last six weeks. Then time slows to a sputter, and we limp along in slow motion until that last joyous, bittersweet day.

3. Mondays are always the worst. The WORST. ALWAYS.

I've been counting down those last, limping six weeks by looking at the positive side of #1. Many people I work with are shaking their heads and feeling overwhelmed about going 1:1 next school year.

I completely sympathize. I felt the same way when I learned of the impending technological changes. You finally get comfortable with something, and then the proverbial rug is pulled out from under, and you have to start all over again. And again.

So I decided to get a head-start and do a 1:1 test run in my classes this past semester. I'm glad I did. I feel much more confident with the new set-up, and I've learned that this can actually make my job easier and increase student engagement.

I've written about this for the past six weeks. You can check out my Google Classroom Hacks here: Grade at a Glance with Color, Monitor Student Work in Real Time, Send out Reminders in a FlashFormative Assessment with Forms, and Collaborative Review With Slides.

Another concern many of us have is that going 1:1 will sap student creativity, but I've found that's not the case. You can still give students options, allow them to be creative, and blend your classroom (a digital and a traditional hybrid).

So that brings us the Google Classroom Hack #1:

Stay Organized with Creative Projects

In the past, I've liked to engage my students in open-ended projects to close out the semester. This semester is no different, except for one thing--it will be easier for me to keep track of their projects. Easier because we're using Google Classroom.

My students and I had a discussion about what the project should be and what the requirements would be. We decided on a presentation.

Some of them wanted to do a basic Google Slides Presentation. Others wanted to write an essay. Others wanted to create a game. One particularly artistic student wanted to do a series of pictures with captions.

"Fine," I said. "But we need direction and guidelines." Boring, boring me.

They spouted off ideas, and I jotted them on the good old-fashioned whiteboard. I had a student type the suggestions into Classroom. I then instructed the students to think about it that night and if they came up with anymore ideas, to leave them in the comment stream.

The next day, we discussed what they had come up with and used those ideas to create guidelines. We used those guidelines to create a rubric.

Worried that creativity will diminish if you transition to a 1:1 classroom? No need to worry if you employ Google Classroom! I explain how I was able to engage my students during the LAST week of school with creative projects using Google Classroom. It is possible!
This is what we came up with. Grab it HERE for free. I check and then leave comments in the blank boxes.
This process served two purposes:

1. Students felt ownership of the project's genesis, and, therefore, were excited about it (a REALLY big deal, as any teacher knows).

2. It got them thinking about it and gave students who may have struggled to come up with ideas, well, ideas.

Now, how will Google Classroom help this unfortunately unorganized teacher stay organized?

They are presenting to the class. If they do a Slides or Google Drawings (more on this later, I promise) presentation, they "turn it in" right in the assignment box I created for it in Classroom. If it's pencil and paper drawings or an original board game, they take a picture of it and submit it there, as well (find out how to do that HERE).

Worried that creativity will diminish if you transition to a 1:1 classroom? No need to worry if you employ Google Classroom! I explain how I was able to engage my students during the LAST week of school with creative projects using Google Classroom. It is possible!
Here's a board game that one of my students is working on--it has cards to go with it, and I'll have those, but this picture will be in Classroom to remind me of what she did.
I have everything all in one place. No more searching through piles of projects to refresh my memory when I'm going back and leaving comments and assigning grades from the presentations.

These projects are not due until the end of the week, but so far, so good. The students are engaged during this, the LAST week of school.

How do you handle open-ended projects in a blended classroom? Do you think this could work for your classes? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Google Classroom Hack #6: Grade at a Glance with Color
Read the last hack in this series--CLICK HERE.



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1 comment

  1. I am still dabbling with using 1:1 devices but love reading your blog. These tips and tricks will help me as I continue to dive into this new way of teaching. So far, while it has taken a bit of time for my special education students to catch on, I have seen success in writing, focus and motivation. That in itself is a motivator to continue, grow and learn. I look forward to more blog posts on this topic!

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