Liven Up Your Lessons with Google Classroom! Second in a Google Classroom Series

6 Oct

Original article published in the October issue of The NJEA Review.

It’s October and your school year is well underway. You have perfected your workflow in Google Classroom so now is a good time to think about livening up your lessons in Google Classroom.


Google Classroom is the perfect forum for students to provide evidence of their learning. If you are moving in the direction of making your classroom more student-centered you might consider assigning more open-ended tasks.  For example, instead of a quiz or test at the end of a lesson, section, or unit you can assess your students understanding by asking them to choose HOW they want to show what they know.  

Student work is not always digital. Students can use a chromebook, smartphone or a laptop to capture video and images. It can be a 60 second video, a voice memo, a digital representation of their sketchnotes, a slide presentation, or a playlist of music. Students can also post links to their blogs, websites, etc. I especially like when students create screencasts or short videos to explain their thinking or how they solved a problem.  

All of these examples of student work can be posted in the Stream to share with the class or attached to an assignment to share with the teacher.

Students can share their work with you by clicking the “ADD” button to add a file from their Drive, a link to a website, or a file from an external source.  Students can also click on “CREATE” and begin working right then and there on a Doc, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings to demonstrate their knowledge.

Making Learning Fun

One of my favorite ways to engage students is to use talking avatars. is one of my personal favorites.  A Voki can be easily created by a student or teacher.  You can personalize your avatar and add some sound. When you “publish” your Voki you can copy and paste the link into the Stream in Google Classroom as an announcement or assignment.  If you give your students the privilege to post and comment in Classroom, then they can simply click the “ADD” button and post the links to their Vokis in the Stream.  This way they can share what they have created not only with you but with their classmates as well.

Vokis created by the teacher can be used to present directions and make announcements that you would otherwise type into the Classroom Stream.  Talking avatars can be used in an ELA class in an innovative way by students showing what they know in lieu of the traditional essay, report, or slide presentation. It can also be used as a digital storytelling tool.  Teach a foreign language? Students can practice speaking and writing using a Voki.  For Social Studies, students can choose the Voki of an historical figure and speak from their perspective. Pose questions to your Science class and have students work in small groups to craft an answer using Voki.

Comic strip creators can be used in a similar way. Powtoon, StoryBoardThat, and Strip Generator are a few that my students found easy and fun to use. Once the comic strips are created students can post the links in the Stream or attach to an assignment.


The “Create Question” feature allows for you, the teacher, to ask questions and get immediate responses from your students.  Use the + button to add your question to the Stream. Before you click “POST” you have the option to allow students to see their classmates answers and whether or not you want to allow them to reply to each other’s posts. You can also give your students the option to edit their answers AFTER they submit them.  

Here are some ideas for how to utilize this option.

  • The Do Now or Exit Ticket – Simply ask a question and use your student’s responses to inform your instruction. Quickly and easily the teacher can see which students are struggling and need more practice, who can move on, and who is ready for a challenge.




  • Self Monitoring – If you are teaching your students to take on the responsibility of their learning give them the opportunity to reflect upon their work.



  • Jump Start a Discussion – Instead of just writing a question on the board or asking for a show of hands to take the temperature in the room, pose it in Google Classroom.




  • Get Feedback – If we ask our students to reflect upon their work shouldn’t we do the same? Ask your students a question to help us reflect on our teaching. Student feedback is invaluable to a student centered classroom.



These are just a few ways to liven up your lessons using Google Classroom.  I challenge you to try at least one idea you found here and put it into action this school year.  Come back next month for the final installment in this Google Classroom series, “Thinking Out of the Box with Google Classroom”.


Chrissy Romano Arrrabito

3rd Grade Teacher

Nellie K. Parker School, Hackensack Public Schools

Google for Edu Certified Trainer