Using Google Classroom in the Primary Grades

So I have been experimenting with a few new things this school year and one of them is Google Classroom. I am fortunate to have five Chromebooks for my class of 20 (possibly more next year).  This year’s group is pretty amazing, so I decided to be brave and teach my students how to log onto their school email account.

First let me back up and let you know that we are a k-8 school, so when students begin kindergarten they are given a school email.  They usually begin to use it in 2nd or 3rd grade.  Earlier in the year, I would just log onto the Chromebooks with a class account.  But, I really wanted to give Google Classroom a try.  There is so much potential!  I am by no means an expert, but I will share what I have been doing so far.

The Basics

Google Classroom home screen

Let me start with a few basics that I have learned.  Here is a picture of my classroom homepage.  You can change the picture and coloring, but I just went for a frog for now.

When you scroll down, it will look more like this.  I will explain the items circled below.

Google Classroom screen shot

1. Add to the Classroom

When you click on the plus button, you have a choice of a few items to add.  You can create a question, add an assignment, make an announcement or reuse an old post.

Google Classroom Actions

Create a Question

Creating a question is fun because your students get to practice their keyboarding skills. We have been focusing in kindness all year, and I decided to ask them how they were kind to someone on that particular day.

Google Classroom question

They all answered it with their first grade spelling. As you can see, I am able to see who has answered it and who has not.  So fun!

2. Add Assignment

I have also been adding assignments to the classroom.  I have been creating some interactive digital activities for my students to try out and they are loving them!  I have them created in Powerpoint, Google Slides and PDF form.  The great thing about Google Slides is it is so easy to use with the Google Classroom and Chromebooks.  

Click here to see all of the digital activities I have created that can be used in your Google Classroom.

Screen Shot 2017 04 01 at 11.55.30 AM

Create an Announcement

Creating an announcement can be just about anything.  I have made announcements with a link to my Symbaloo page.  This makes it easy for them to access if for our Genius Hour.

3. Creating Categories

Another useful thing I have found is creating categories or topics.  Your topics are on the side of your page. The ones that I have created are below.  My students have learned that if they want to play some of the interactive phonics activities, they go to the language arts page.

Screen Shot 2017 04 01 at 11.55.11 AM

We have been having so much fun with this.  I will definitely start this earlier in the year next year.  It has been so engaging for my students.  If you are are familiar with BOOM Cards, read how you can add these to your Google Classroom as well. As I learn more tricks, I will share them with you.

Do you use Google Classroom?  Do you have any fun ideas or ways you use it in your classroom?

25 Comments

  1. My school is 1:1 this year so this was a learning experience for us. My teammates and I are starting to prep for next year so I’m looking for different ways to use google classroom in 1st grade! You’ve already given me so many ideas! I can’t wait to hear what else you come up with 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Morgan! 1:1, I am so excited for you. What a great experience. We are hoping to be 2:1 next year, so I will continue to share what we try. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I had my students create google slides and they are in kindergarten! We’ve made story problems on slides in math which they then share with me and we get to solve as a class, we have also made career slides where they answered w questions on various slides, they worked together in groups (slides were shared among group members and they each worked on one slide focusing on one of the 5 senses) We have loved our google chrome books!

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      I love the idea of story problems, thanks for sharing!

    2. Blanca Rahman says:

      Katie and Renee,

      I’m very impressed by how much your kindergarten and first grade students engage using google classroom. I’m learning about this in my graduate course. Katie, do you have a blog as well?

  3. If you have students do an interactive through google slides, how do they share their finished product back with you so you can check it? Thanks.

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Heather, I have access to their Google Drive, so I am able to check that way. I hope that helps 🙂

  4. Ciara Laubscher says:

    Thank you for breaking this down for all of us “newbies.” It helps because I have been wanting to try Google Classroom in my first grade class for a while now, but with your overview and ideas, I can definitely see myself trying this.

    Thanks for all of the helpful information! Do you have students log-in individually on the laptop? I have a Symbaloo page as well. Do you link the Google Classroom from on the Symbaloo page? Do you share your Symbaloo page with parents to encourage they do this at home?

    Thanks!

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Ciara, I’m glad you found this helpful. I’ll try to answer a couple of your questions…yes, each of my students log onto a chromebook. It takes a lot of practice! We are a Google for Education school, so each student has a school login. Our school has “pushed” the Google classroom icon to the bottom shelf of the chrome books, so when they logon, they can access the classroom from there. The Google Classroom is where I put the Symbaloo link. I hope that helps!

  5. Hi! How do you manage the five Chromebooks for a class of 20? I want to get my first graders started when we go back to school but I’m trying to figure out how to make it work in the schedule so that each student has the opportunity to use the Chromebook. Thanks!

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      I usually have my students working at various stations, so one of the stations is the chromebooks. Once they are trained, that station is pretty independent and I can work with another small group. I hope that helps!

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I’ve been wanting to use Google Classroom, but wasn’t sure what to use it for. Can you tell me more about Genius hour?

    Thanks,
    Jenn

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Jenn, You should definitely give Google Classroom a try, it is fun! If you search genius hour on my blog search bar, you will find a blogpost about it. Hopefully that will answer some of your questions.

  7. Yash Naik Ganthe says:

    Is it advisable to handover a smartphone to kids of 4th grade? Will it not affect their eyesight or cause other effects of radiation on their brain?

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      I don’t use a smartphone for Google Classroom. We have Chromebooks to use.

  8. I’m wanting to use Google Classroom in 3rd grade, but the min age is 13. Are you doing something different?

    Thanks!

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Ashley, our school is a GAFE (Google Apps for Education), so every k-8 students has a school email account. We don’t access the email in first grade. We just use it to sing into our Chromebooks. I hope that helps!

  9. Heidi Chretien says:

    We have Dell desktops with no cameras. What is your suggestion for the easiest way for my first graders to access Google Classroom?

    1. Renee Dooly says:

      Hi Heidi, you don’t need a camera to use Google Classroom. You school just needs to sign up for a G Suite for education account (free). Once this has happened, you can set up a Google Classroom. Hope that helps!

  10. Hi! I’m new to google classroom. I teach kindergarten. I assigned abcya the writing page. To have them draw and write about something. But then how does it save? How do I see what they wrote?

  11. Diane Buscaglia says:

    How does a second grader respond to an invitation to Google Classroom? I have the class setup, I was given email addresses for all the kids from my admin., but now, what is the next step? I am so confused. I have read that parents cannot get into the students’ accounts. I don’t think my kids know how to use email. Please help?

  12. I am going to be using Google Classroom this coming year. Trying to use this time to familiarize myself with it. I teach kinder so it is exciting hearing how much you have done with it in 1st grade. Could you please explain to me, do students have to log in each time using their email? How was teaching them to type out an email?

  13. sheila dolan-manner says:

    Hello! I am looking for a way to re-send an assignment to a student who edited hers and removed the question. Im not too sure HOW she did that, but there it is. Do you know?

  14. Holly Garner says:

    We are just beginning to use Google Classroom this year. i have had no training on this whatsoeever. This was very helpful information. However, I am in no way ready or even know where to begin. To you have any other suggesstions on where to start or look for help?

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