by Matt Weyers
6th Grade Teacher, Byron (MN) Public Schools
Project Based Learning has been a revelation for me. It is the first instructional “plate” I have encountered that simultaneously blends significant content and 21st century skills, and meets my teaching philosophy. I have come to believe however, that utilizing the PBL “plate” with my sixth graders is akin to going through a buffet line at your favorite restaurant. Without a predetermined method of organization, your food (or instructional) choices run together into a cluttered mess impossible to separate. I knew I needed to find a way to organize my project into a singular entity that did not cause my appetizer (entry event), main course (significant content) and dessert (final presentations) to become confusing and inaccessible for kids.
Over the past few years I have experimented with several learning management systems in an effort to find the best method of organizing information for students that is quick, simple, and intuitive to use. Google Classroom has become my personal favorite for three reasons: 1. It has a simple interface to post assignments 2. It supports narrative feedback 3. It integrates with Doctopus/Goobric from New Visions CloudLab.
Why I like the Google Classroom Interface
How Google Classroom Supports Narrative Feedback
I have recently become a convert of narrative feedback. Narrative feedback is the process of providing students specific and actionable feedback in the form of a paragraph. I particularly like the SE2R model by Mark Barnes. When grades are detached from the assignment, I believe narrative feedback helps make the shift from grading to learning. Google Classroom supports narrative feedback in two different ways:
Ingesting Assignments Using Doctopus/Goobric:
Doctopus is a Google Sheet add-on that can be installed from the sheet itself. Once Doctopus is opened, it provides you the option to share a template with a roster or to ingest an assignment from Google Classroom. When you select “ingest” the add-on will populate the sheet with student names, emails, and links to their individual assignments. The most beneficial feature is that Doctopus then allows you to attach a Goobric (rubric) that, once filled out, will copy itself to the bottom of the student document, as well as email the student notifying them that a rubric has been attached.
I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg with Google Classroom. I can only imagine that over time, it will continue to evolve into a better tool than it already is. Do you have any other tips on how to effectively use Google Classroom? If so, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment below!