I’ve been getting a lot of questions about using my digital resources and how to start using digital resources in the classroom, so I thought I would write a helpful step by step tutorial for those of you that are new to the world of paperless, and those that could use a little refresher.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran teacher, brand new to the classroom or somewhere in between, there’s one thing that never ceases to change. Technology. Once you get the hang of doing the “new thing,” along comes the next new thing. I know it can be exhausting and our gut reactions might tell us to not even bother because, who can keep up with it with the pace it changes? But, here’s the thing. Your students need to be familiar with technology, and there’s absolutely no harm in learning along with them. The one thing I consistently notice about teachers hesitating to use digital resources is they are afraid to mess up. Afraid they won’t know how to do something, and they’ll be stuck trying to figure it out while the class is sitting there waiting. They are afraid they’ll look dumb, or not knowing everything about what they are trying will make their students think differently of them. My answer to that is to not take it so seriously, and to think about how you would treat a student that felt that way. You wouldn’t suggest they give up. You would tell them to keep trying, and not to care what people around them think. Learning new things doesn’t come easy, and students can really benefit from seeing an adult they admire learn a new skill and not be perfect at it. Trust me. Don’t wait until it’s pressure time and you need the technology resource for a specific time period. Try using digital resources in a more random manner so the pressure to get it right the first time isn’t there.
So, first up. You may have heard of Google Classroom. Or maybe you already have it, tried it out at some random inservice or training, and then forgot about it. TIME TO GET BACK ON THE HORSE. Many digital resources are PowerPoint files, which means they can be used on Google Classroom and students can each have their own copy to work on (and it will save the copy where they left off). If you have a handful of devices (Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, etc.), I highly recommend getting yourself set up with Google Classroom.
Google Classroom Setup
- Go to classroom.google.com and click the + button and CREATE CLASS. Name your class and click CREATE.
- Under your name, click the CLASS CODE so your students can view and enter the class code and join the class on classroom.google.com or on the Google Classroom App (your code will not be the same as the code shown below—that’s just the class code I’m using for these instructions). If you are teaching remotely and do not have your students already in Google Classroom, provide students with the website (classroom.google.com) or the app and the code for them to join the class (for primary students, they’ll likely need the help of an adult for this step).
- After students enter the code, they’ll be listed in your class under your Students and will be able to see any work you ASSIGN now.
The easiest way to try this out for yourself is to have a file ready for you in Google Classroom, so I’ve created a Distance Learning Lesson Template for you to add to your Google Classroom and try out. So, if you need something to test out, download the template really quick and come back here to read the next steps.
Giving Students An Assignment in Google Classroom
- Click CLASSWORK, then CREATE and choose ASSIGNMENT.
- Give your assignment a Title and Description. Click ADD and find the file you want to use and double-click it. If it’s not in your Google Drive already, go to Upload and upload it from wherever you saved it to when you first downloaded it.
- Select MAKE A COPY FOR EACH STUDENT in order to provide each student with their own file.
If you don’t want to assign all of the slides, first you need to open the file in Google Slides, choose the slide(s) you want to use, then you need to go to File–>Make a Copy–>Selected slides.
- Select ASSIGN in order to provide each student with their own file to work on.
- Students will now have access to their own individual file to work on in their Classwork tab, and you will be able to view their completed work on the file on your end when you are logged in to your own account.
Once you begin using a digital resource, there are a couple of things that you might discover if you’ve never used a Powerpoint or Google Slides activity with moveable pieces (the little drag and drop objects). Some of the pieces are moveable so students can drag them to the top area to solve the problem. Unfortunately, PowerPoint and Google do not allow you to move objects while you are in “Present” mode, so students moving pieces will always see the slides on the left (this is referred to as “Edit” mode).
If you want to create more than one moveable piece, click on the piece, then go to EDIT, then COPY, then PASTE.
First, in order for students to move the pieces with their fingers (this is for if they are using an iPad), you’ll need to take a few minutes to explicitly teach them to TAP, LET GO, and then SLIDE the piece to move it. Powerpoint and Google Slides aren’t like the average app where you can just click an object and slide to move it in the same moment (unfortunately). Have students practice moving pieces so they get the hang of that action.
Second, there is no way to “lock” the size of a moveable piece, so they are sometimes resized by accident when students don’t tap/swipe correctly. Spend some time explicitly teaching them how to use the UNDO option (back arrow) that looks something like this (depending on which version you are using).
Using Digital Resources on an iPad
If you are going to use a digital resource on an iPad, you’ll need an app to open it. You can search for and download the Slides app or the PowerPoint app from the App store. If you are using Google Classroom, download the Google Classroom app if you plan on assigning files to students so they can work on their own copy on an iPad. All three of these apps are free.You can add the digital resource to PowerPoint via iTunes or AirDrop. Everyone’s process for this is different depending on what system and version they are using, and technology changes so quickly that it’s difficult to provide a tutorial that I won’t need to update regularly. So, if you need help with accessing the digital resource on your app, I highly recommend that you email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from the tech team will help you troubleshoot.
I hope this helps you in getting started with using digital resources with your own students. Don’t be afraid to jump in and just start trying things–and remember, you don’t need to be a technology expert or Google Classroom whiz before you start using it! The more times you use it, the more intuitive it will become and easier for your students as well.