Teachers at the forefront of Classroom share their experiences


Editor’s note: Yesterday we announced Classroom, a new tool coming soon to the Google Apps for Education suite that lets teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently and communicate with their classes with ease. Jennifer Holland, a Program Manager on the Classroom team, worked closely with over 90 teachers and more than 1,300 students to pilot and gather feedback on this new product. She recently sat down with some of the educators to get their stories of how they’ve used Classroom and understand the impact it has had on their schools. Learn more or apply for a preview on the website.

As a teacher, how has your experience been with Classroom so far?

Paul Lepore, 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Festa Felix Middle School, NY: Teachers are able to assign work to their students in a flash, therefore maximizing student learning in the classroom. I really think that Google has changed my craft as a teacher for the better. The products are easy to use and allow teachers the autonomy and flexibility they need to engage students in dynamic and constructivist learning activities.

Nicole Marinello, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY

Phil Halbig, 6th grade English and Social Studies teacher, EA Hall Middle School, CA: We’re using it constantly, and we’ve gone 100% paper-free in under a week.

Laura Barton, Science teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY: By allowing students to submit their work with Classroom, I can keep track of my sections, view grades easily and mark assignments during any free time I have, without having to carry stacks of paper around. Classroom has made this process so easy and convenient.

Nicole Marinello, English teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY: Using this has opened the doors to the real world in my classroom. With my juniors, I was able to have them do a research project on brands that appear in Death of a Salesman. They were required to make a commercial and a Google Slides presentation. I used Classroom for the students to turn in their slides. The work generated from this project was incredible.

Tell us more about how you’ve used Classroom.

Jenna Caufield, World History teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY: I believe it’s important for every student to participate in class. I make sure to call on students even if they don’t have their hands raised. The reality is that some students have a lot of great things to say but they’re anxious about saying it out loud in front of the whole class. Classroom gives the student a chance to have an opinion without having to speak publicly.

Paul Lepore, Felix Festa Middle School, NY

Cathy Cowan, 8th grade, KIPP Bridge, CA: What impresses me the most is that all students feel comfortable communicating using the device, which is not the case in a traditional discussion-based classroom activity.

Elizabeth Fiorella, Math teacher, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY: I posted an assignment to be done over spring break for my algebra classes, in which they have to watch a video and answer just 6 multiple choice questions. I love that some of them have already turned in the assignment so I can start grading a few of them at a time, rather than all of them at once when we get back from vacation. I also love that the link is right there so that they can just click on it and it will bring them right to the video.

How does managing assignments with Classroom differ from using Google Docs and Drive?

Heidi Bernasconi, 12th grade Marine Biology teacher, Clarkstown Central High School North, NY: With Classroom all the students’ assignments are in one spot for commenting. This is more seamless than if I had just shared a Google folder with all the same resources. The first assignment took a very short time to grade. I was even able to return assignments before the due date, something I can’t really do with other tools.

Paul Lepore, 8th grade Social Studies, Felix Festa Middle School, NY: I was grading projects and I had an “aha” moment — I will never use a Google Form as a “turn-it-in-form” again. Classroom is really a faster way of grading. Teachers will really appreciate this.

As a school administrator, what impact have you seen from Classroom?

Toni Ann Piscitelli, Information Technology, Clarkstown Central School District, NY: This latest addition to the Google Apps for Education suite underscores Google’s commitment to providing schools with tools that fit seamlessly into the instructional landscape. And, at no cost for the product and no anticipated cost for training, this product fits seamlessly into our budget.

Heidi Bernasconi, Clarkstown Central High School North, NY 

Mark Surdyka, Director of Technology, Fontbonne Hall Academy, New York: At first we were nervous about starting Google Apps and Classroom all at once with every teacher in our school. But it’s probably better to do it this way with a big bang than in stages, which would’ve taken forever. I see people who barely used technology now using this every day.

Mary Ann Spicijaric, Principal, Fontbonne Hall Academy, NY: When I walk by our classrooms I hear a lot of talking, and it’s not teachers talking — it’s kids talking. And that’s exciting. We’re moving more toward student-centered instruction.

As a student, what do you think about Classroom?

Grace, 9th grade student, NY: I love the easy access to most of my work right from my computer or phone. It organizes all of my work into different sections and I don’t have to worry about keeping track of papers.

Lindsey, 8th grade student, NY: It’s very efficient and makes it really easy to share study notes; before only one of us had the paper copy, but now we all can use the same resources to study.

Alexandra, 8th grade student, CA: I definitely love this! It lets us communicate freely and lets us tell our thoughts without anyone description. Also, everyone gets to give there opinion and we are all participating.

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Colin Cooper is the CEO of Boost Your Business, the leader in marketing and business development for both large and small scale businesses. As one of the most innovative marketing specialists for over a decade, Colin and his team of business and online experts collate their years of know-how and experiences with the Boost Your Business: Body Armour for Business, an online magazine created to provide a holistic resource avenue for everything business, health, and wellness.