All University English classes are now using Google Classroom. This page gives you five ideas for new things to try.

Set a presentation as an assignment

How to create the slide show and set the assignment

Not every assignment you set has to be a Google document essay. You can also make individualised copies of slides and get students to use images to create presentations on everything from their home town to major issues in their field. Students can then give these presentations to classmates, whether to the whole class via the board or to their partner via a chromebook. To set up an assignment like this:

1 Go to your Google Drive. Click New (1) and Google Slides (2).

2 Use the slides to create a presentation template. With the activity here, I added words to slides indicating to students what kind of content should be included on each slide. You can see and make a copy of the slide show here.

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3 In your Google Classroom, click the + sign in the bottom right (1) and click ‘Create assignment’ (2).

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4 Click on the Google Drive symbol (1) and choose the slide show from your Google Drive. When it’s attached, click ‘Students can view file’ (2). Choose ‘Make a copy for each student’ (3) from the drop-down menu.

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5 Click ‘Assign’.

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How students insert images

When students open their slide shows in class, there are two easy ways for them to find and insert images into their presentations.

The first method is:

1 Click on the image symbol in the toolbar.

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2 Click ‘Search (1) to go to Google Image search. Type a search term in the box and click the magnifying glass (2). Click on the picture they want to use so that it’s surrounded by a blue frame (3). Click ‘Select’ (4).The image that is then inserted into the slide can be resized, repositioned etc as desired.

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The second method is:

1 Click Tools (1) and select ‘Research’ (2). This opens a panel on the right of the screen.

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2 Students click on the ‘g’ in the search box and select the camera icon instead (1). When they type in their search term, the panel below will populate with images. Students should click on the image they want to use and drag it into the slide (2).

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Use a Google Form as part of an assignment

A recent change to Classroom means you can now use Forms as part of an assignment: students get the link to the form and, once they’ve answered and submitted their questions, the assignment is automatically marked as done. To do this:

1 In your Google Classroom, click the + sign in the bottom right (1) and click ‘Create assignment’ (2).

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2 Give your assignment a name (1) and click on the Google Drive symbol (2).

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3 Find and select the form you want to attach (1) and click ‘Add’ (2).

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4 Click ‘Assign’. There are no further permissions levels to set.

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5 The form will go into your Classroom stream. To see student responses, click on ‘View responses in Sheets’.

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For a guide to how to use Google Forms, click here.

Make a class map

How to create and set the map

An ongoing project you can undertake with your class is to create a Google map in which they indicate and include information about sites of interest to them. This is both visually appealing and helps other students learn a little more about each other. To do this:

1 Go to your Drive. Click New (1) and More (2). Then select ‘Google My Maps’ from the list.

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2 Click on Untitled Map. Use the pop-up box to give the map a name and a description. Then click ‘Save’.

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3 Click on the three dots next to where it says ‘Untitled layer’ (1). Click ‘Open data table’ (2).

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4 The data table determines what information students will enter when they select a place on the map. It defaults to name and description. If you want to add other columns, click on the arrow (1) and select ‘Insert column after’ (2).

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5 Give the column a name (1) and click Add (2). By clicking on the arrows circled in green here, you can specify what kind of data goes in each column, but it’s generally fine to leave it as Text. Repeat this step until you have as many columns as you require.

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6 In your Google Classroom, click the + sign in the bottom right (1) and click ‘Create assignment’ (2).

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7 Give your assignment a name (1) and click the Google Drive symbol (2). Find your map file and select it.

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8 Click where it says ‘Students can view file’ and, for a collaborative map, click ‘Students can edit file’ (2).

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9 Click ‘Assign’.

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How students edit the map

Once students open the map, they can add their marker and information very easily. To do this, the student should:

1 Click on the marker symbol. This will turn their mouse into a crosshairs. When they have moved the crosshairs to the place they want to mark, they should left-click

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2 The marker will appear in the place selected. A pop-up box will appear.

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3 Students should give their marker a name (1) – this can be the place name or their name. They then complete the information they want to display (2) – if they don’t want to include an information category, they simply untick the box. They then click ‘Save’. If they want to add a photo or video to their information box, they click on the camera symbol (4) and use the search box that appears.

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To see an example, click here.

Add photos to questions to create guessing activities

In the same way as textbooks often use photos to activate schemata, you can attach photos to questions, whether as a warmer or introduction to a topic. The example here tries to activate students’ knowledge of that week’s major news stories.

1 In your Google Classroom, click the + sign in the bottom right (1) and click ‘Create question’ (2).

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2 Use the top line to ask your question (1). Add any further instructions below (2). Then click the paper clip (3).

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3 Click ‘Select files from your computer’.

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4 Highlight the picture(s) you want to add. Click ‘Open’. NB: As the file name of the pictures appear on Google Classroom, it’s a good idea to avoid naming photos after the stories/things they represent.

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5 Click ‘Upload’.

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6 Click ‘Ask’.

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7 Use the boxes to choose whether you want students to see each other’s answers and/or edit their own answers (1) and click ‘Ask (2). This will now be live in the Classroom stream. Alternatively, close the post and it will be saved in your drafts, ready for you to ask students at the opportune moment.

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Personalise your Classroom header

Whether you want a picture of Sheffield or a picture of your class, it’s easy to personalise your Google Classroom header. To do this:

1 Click ‘Upload photo’

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2 Click on ‘Select a photo from your computer’

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3 Highlight the picture you want to use (1) and click ‘Open’ (2).

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4 Drag the squares at the corner (1) to select the band of the photo you want to appear and click ‘Select class theme’.

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You can find a range of free photos of Sheffield to download from the council website here. Photos should be at least 800 pixels wide and 200 tall.