If you teach…

   …on Google Classroom, you know how time-consuming it can be to scramble for activities the day before a class. Finding one activity at a time, uploading it to Google Drive, and then posting assignments day after day can take as long as a full class period! And this assumes you only have one prep. If you have more than one, you might be spending your evenings just prepping for classes, let alone grading work.
 
This system for setting up a Google Classroom for an entire year at once will make your life much easier!
 
For an overview of how I use a bunch of tech to teach online, you can read my articles here.

STEP 1: CREATE OR COPY DOWN YOUR YEAR LONG CALENDAR

The very first step is knowing what you are going to teach for the entire year. This does not need to be very detailed. A list of units will suffice and you may also want to create a list of lessons for each unit. You can have a rough estimate of when you’d like to teach each unit on the calendar, but it’s not completely necessary.
 
Pro Tip: Parents, especially engaged online parents, enjoy knowing what their kids are learning. Having this calendar to share can accomplish both goals.
 
Depending on your teaching situation, this may already have been done for you. Some districts determine the teaching calendar for all teachers of the same class in the district. Some follow CCSS guidelines or their own guidelines and give teachers the freedom to determine the teaching order. Either way, at least a list of the title of each unit is needed. Here is what I teach in a single year of 7th-grade math or Prealgebra.
  1. Foundations of Prealgebra
  2. Integer Operations
  3. Fractions
  4. Decimals
  5. Ratios, Proportions, and Percentages
  6. Variables and Expressions
  7. 3D Geometry
  8. Writing and Solving Linear Equations
  9. Exponents

STEP 2: CREATE OR FIND UNIT LONG ASSIGNMENTS

What is a unit long assignment? It’s a large document that includes every single assignment and topic for an entire unit at once.
 
I know this sounds slightly crazy, and a lot of work. And it is!! But the front-end work you put in before the first day of class makes the entire rest of your year a BREEZE. Plus, you can often find someone who has already done this. I’m working right now to get Prealgebra all loaded into my store, but you can find the first few units I listed here.
 
But what about adjustments? Schedule Changes? Removing or adding work?
 
That’s the beauty of this. Once you have a complete unit uploaded, you can make adjustments as you go. During class, you can add pages or remove pages depending on your time frame or your particular students. Just make sure not to adjust the original document, but instead make a copy of the original before you upload.
 
Here’s how I do this:
  1. I create all my units inside of PowerPoint. For me, this the easiest online editing program for online work out there. The parts I don’t want students moving around become a background JPEG. The fillable fields are the only things editable. Maybe I’ll write another article just about this topic!
  2. Before beginning, adjust the page size to be 11×8, widescreen or landscape layout. Portrait layout is frustrating for students when they can’t see a whole page at once.
  3. Create one section for each lesson in the unit so you can keep track of what you need to create or find.
  4. Start filling in each lesson. I like to think about each lesson as having three parts: a lesson introduction and practice, a real-world application, and a game. At first, just having a lesson introduction and practice should be enough to get your students fully through the unit. Later, you can add games and enrichment to round out the work and challenge students.
  5. Upload your document to your educational platform of choice. I use Google Classroom, so my Powerpoints become Google Slides. There are some particulars about how to prepare a PPT to insert into Slides more easily, but that will be in another article as well!
Survivor’s Guide: Already halfway through the school year? Don’t want to spend summer prepping for a class? Do one unit at a time instead. This way the prep is spread out throughout the school year but you still have an entire unit to rest easy on.

STEP 3: CREATE YOUR GOOGLE CLASSROOM

It’s quite easy to set up and create all your classes in Google Classroom. my classes look like this:
Google Classes
Then, inside each class, make sure there is one topic for each unit you are going to teach. Since I teach more than one type of class at the same time, I make sure to label mine “Algebra” or Prealgebra” or “Geometry” before the unit name.
 
If you have a single class, you can just use the Unit titles. If you already have registered students, you can start by assigning the first unit.
 
To save time, you could assign one student to every topic for the entire year.
 
After at least one student has been added and a unit has been uploaded, it’s as easy as adding new students to the assignment as you go!
 
Many teachers already have classes set and students already have Google Classroom logins. But, If you teach independently, you may want to invite parents.
(Feel free to copy my list):
  1. Log in using a student or parent Gmail account
  2. Click the “Join” button on the top right of the screen
  3. Use this Class Code to join : (insert your class code here)
 
And that’s it! All through the year, you can rest at night knowing that your lessons are planned and that even during class you would have the time to make small adjustments and tweaks. Let me know how it works! Or even what you do to prep for the school year.