Recently I’ve been exploring and using Google Classroom with my 4th grade students. Next year my class will go 1:1 so I’m using this time with my current students to get a jump start on learning how I might use this powerful platform. An easy way to get started for me was to use the Announcement feature in my Google Classroom. Let me share 10 ways you can use this piece of your Google Classroom to share information, improve student learning, and build a strong sense of community with your students.
#1 ~ Classroom Jobs Chart
Every week the rotation changes on our classroom jobs chart. When I first created my chart, I simply used an old pocket chart I’d had and put index cards with jobs and students’ names in it. When the names were rotated through the chart, I used to have to take time out of our class to announce the new jobs for next week. Now I let Google Classroom handle that for me with the Announcement feature. No more wasted class time, and it requires the students to read and take ownership of our shared learning space. Pro tip – my chart is posted far away from my computer making it impossible to read the names from that distance. I just use the Google Classroom app on my phone while I sit right next to the chart where I can easily read and type the names in the announcement.
#2 ~ Weekly Events
Keep students “in the loop” with a weekly events calendar. They like knowing what to expect in the coming week, and posting the events just a week at a time isn’t an overwhelming task. You can update the list daily by deleting each day once it’s over, and you can also re-position the announcement to show at the top of your stream each day to keep it in a prominent position.
#3 ~ Welcome a New Student
What a great way to welcome a new student into the community of learners with an announcement. If you can, get the school secretary to take a quick photo when the student enrolls and share that in the announcement so students can recognize the newcomer. Ask students to type in a welcome message and maybe one small piece of advice they would give the new student.
#4 ~ Introduce Yourself
This would be a great way to start the school year by asking students to share 1-3 facts about themselves in the comments section of the announcement. A quick way for students to practice working in Google Classroom while also getting to learn about their new classmates.
#5 ~ Happy Birthday
What a fun way to wish a student happy birthday and make their day extra special! I like to attach a cute birthday image for added awesome-ness! A simple way to build a stronger sense of community in our classroom, and the kids really enjoy it.
#6 ~ Commenting Expectations
Another beginning of the year announcement where you share your commenting expectations with students before letting them practice. I like to have guidelines not only for content (what is and is not appropriate), but also for holding students accountable for writing conventions such as capitalization and ending punctuation. I know my own students’ writing improved a lot once I started calling them out on their poor capitalization and punctuation habits.
#7 ~ Special Events and Reflection
We recently had a professional theater company perform a play at our school. Using the announcement feature in Google Classroom not only let me share that information with my students, but also was a great way to have students reflect on the theme of the play.
#8 ~ Classbuilding Opportunities
I already mentioned building a stronger classroom culture with the birthday announcement, but you can use many other events to do the same thing. One student in our class is working to have a playground built in our community specially designed for students with special needs. His efforts were publicized in the local newspaper with a great article written about him and his playground idea. I linked the article to an announcement inviting students to read the article and ask questions or make comments. It was a huge hit, not only with the student featured in the article but also his peers.
#9 ~ Build Background Knowledge
Do you have a difficult concept to teach soon? Maybe your students come from a low socioeconomic background and don’t have as many experiences to help connect their learning. Create an announcement with a YouTube video linked that gives them a brief overview of the upcoming lesson. Keep your video short – you want it more like a movie trailer and not the whole movie itself. Just enough to give them a “hook” that you can connect with when you teach the lesson.
#10 ~ Sub Day
If you know you’re going to be gone one day and a sub will take over for you, why not create a short video of yourself to link into an announcement? You can easily use a smartphone to make the video and store it in your Google Drive. Insert your video and schedule the announcement to appear on the day you will be gone. Invite students to add their commitment in the comments section stating how they will be responsible for our classroom being a respectful place for the sub. When you return, review the announcement, comments, and the sub’s notes to either celebrate their efforts or discuss how we can do better the next time.
Not sure where to begin? Click on the link below to grab a quick start resource that will help you begin making announcements in your Google Classroom. Happy teaching!