4 Steps to Use Google Classroom in Your Music Class
By Jacqueline Woudenberg
Recently the district in which I teach started to incorporate more technology into our daily work lives, from laptops to wireless keyboards. For a teacher like me, in my second year, this was greeted with much enthusiasm, as a lot of what I do in and out of school deals with technology. One aspect of this tech-oriented approach to teaching that I adopted is Google Classroom.
At first I was skeptical, I will admit, but upon a little investigating and work with the program, I found it to be highly beneficial to students and myself alike. I hope to provide other teachers out there with some insight to how this can best help you in the class.
Step 1: Establish Your Account
First things first, you, as well as all of your students, must have a Gmail account in order to use Google Classroom. For me, this was not so difficult, as our district has Gmail accounts set up for the teachers and students alike. I know many districts perform a Gmail set-up with their students or teachers, so if your district does not, Google Classroom might not be the tool for you. (See other classroom management ideas here.)
Step 2: Create Google Classrooms for Each Class
Once you are set with all the students and their Gmail accounts, you will want to create a Google Classroom for that class. I will not go through the details of this, as it is fairly easy, and I want to be able to help you with how to use the application. Skipping forward in the process, I would encourage you to have students, if possible, download the Google Classroom app onto their phones or tablets. If this is not possible, it can be accessed through computers as well.
Step 3: Upload Playing Tests and Classroom Management Documents
The most practical use I have found for this app also saves time, and that is the uploading of playing tests. I now regularly have students upload videos of themselves playing a test. This has not only saved me time in class, but it also incorporates technology in a way my students understand and my district appreciates.
Once the video has been uploaded, so the student and I can see it, I am able to leave feedback as well as a grade. My students have greatly appreciated this as they can get feedback instantly from me at home.
Each time I have created one of these playing tests I have given a week to submit, and students can post them at any time. Again, this has saved me time in the long run. Instead of administering all the playing tests during class, or recording them during class, this has spread out the grading and viewing period for me. On top of this, I plan to have students go back and listen to their very first playing test of the year and compare it to their very last (as the Google Classroom stores them all).
Step 4: Establish Community and Collaboration
Another aspect of Classroom, that I have used less frequently, is the group chat portion. In this aspect of the app, you can post a topic and have students comment for a grade. A great use of this would be a post-concert response from your students (i.e., things that went well, things that didn’t, how they thought they sounded as a group, and so on). My hope for the future, as my district nears 1 to 1 with technology, would be that, as we watch our concert videos, I could meet my students on this chat, responding to each other in real time as they see/hear it.
Hopefully this was of some help to you, and if not my hope would be that it could open other technology possibilities for you in the music classroom. If you are wondering more about how to set up your Google Classroom I greatly suggest that you check out this YouTube video as it goes into detail on the steps to set it up:
Finally, if you have any questions about how I use this in my classroom, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to help out.
About the author:
Jacquie Woudenberg is a second year orchestra teacher at Harbor Lights Middle School in West Ottawa, MI. She graduated from Hope College with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. Jacquie is a cellist and enjoys being able to participate in her church orchestra, as well as giving cello lessons in her community. Music has been her passion for quite some time and through tireless work with her mother, Michelle, and mentor, Richard Piippo, she has been able to make music her career. Jacquie hopes to return to school sometime in the near future to further her education.
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