Tips for using Google Groups
Google Groups is a fantastic tool for the Chromebook classroom. It’s part of the free set of apps that the search engine giant provides any account holder. Businesses, schools, clubs, societies and even ordinary friend groups and families use the app as a central hub for quick communication, sharing information and storing files.
The reason Groups is so popular is because you can communicate in real time with every member. It’s almost like a digital message board that pings each member whenever something changes or is uploaded. You can see quite clearly how this app can make your Chromebook classroom a lot more streamlined and improve the way your students collaborate with each other. One of the best features of the app is that you can be a part of as many groups as you need or want. It’s simple to order them and see what is happening in each one.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can put Google Groups to use and make the app really work for you and your students:
Make a central hub for your chromebook classroom
First things first, always start the school year off by adding each student in your class or classes to a Group. That way, if you have more than one grade or teach more than one subject, you can organise your different classes quickly and easily. Once you have each Group established, set out the ground rules for your students. You may only want to use the Group to assign projects and receive the completed work. Alternatively, this can be a space for discussions about class work, where you allow your students to express themselves in a monitored forum.
How you use your class Group is up to you, but it is a good idea to remember that the app is built to encourage discussion. You can then monitor this discussion and use the forum as a way to promote collaboration and good communication practices.
Collaborate on traditional and non-traditional group projects
Collaboration is where Google Groups really comes to life. Students should be encouraged to use the app to keep all their team members and their communications in one place. They can share files – research papers, sections of the project that have been completed, useful resources, images – and members can comment on the different elements. It’s also useful for you as the teacher to be included in the Group so that you can monitor progress. Many teachers have started using this as part of their assessment of a project as it’s incredibly easy to see the processes that the students used to come to their final conclusions.
Another great use of Google Groups in the Chromebook classroom is to create a year-long project that’s a little less traditional. Tell a story by having a different student contribute a section to the book each week. Another option is to collect photos of something relevant to the subject matter you’re studying in a particular semester. The student that adds the most interesting photo can get a prize. You can even have a little friendly rivalry against other classes or even neighbouring schools.
Include the parents
Having a Group for your students’ parents is a great way to stay in touch with them. You can send them important notices about school events, class outings and any other updates you deem necessary. Another way to use the app is to keep your class parents up to date on homework assignments and test schedules. No more worrying about students “forgetting” to tell their parents something important.
This also opens up a line of communication for parents if they are concerned about something that has happened in class or if their child is having any issues in school. Parents can communicate publicly with the entire Group or privately with just you. Either way, you have a complete record of the communication stream.
Monitor club and team discussions
Schools are full of extra-mural groups – sports and academic teams, societies for the arts, clubs for hobbies and interests. You name it and a student has probably already started the group or wants to give it a go. By creating an official school-approved Group for each one, your school can have oversight of the discussion but allow the students the freedom to manage themselves. This builds a sense of community with like-minded people, and also provides a safe space for doing so.
Boost communication in the Chromebook classroom
You really can’t beat the way Google Groups enhances communication between you and your students, between students in class and between clubs and teams. This little app is so powerful in its ability to promote true collaboration. The best part is, you can monitor all interactions so that you can ensure your students stay on track and that their communications are kind and helpful. A Group is a safe place. Trust us. Mobile Guardian is, after all, an expert in keeping students safe when using EdTech.