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Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Jeff Herb


Getting Started with Google Classroom

When we first heard about the new LMS that Google was developing there was a widespread state of excitement – hoping that those who use Google Apps for Education and Google Drive would be rejoicing in the seamless integration of their services with a learning management system interface.

Well, now that people are getting access to Google Classroom, we can see that there was cause for excitement because while GC is relatively basic, what’s needed is there and done with fidelity. This article will break down the ‘Getting Started’ aspects of Google Classroom and will point out important features along the way.

Logging In


Only accounts that are associated with Google Apps for Education are eligible to utilize Google Classroom. Assuming you are a GAFE school, head over to to start your login and setup process.


Setup a Class


After logging in for the first time, Google Classroom will ask you to setup a new course. This window is basic and only asks for the name of the course and the section name/number. This is so that if you teach multiple sections of the same course you will be able to differentiate between them.

**Fight the urge to add all your students at this point. You will want to get your ‘classroom’ fully setup and configured before your first student joins in!

Choose a Theme


Once the class is created, take a second and choose a new theme (if you’d like) for the headers of the Classroom pages. ‘Change class theme’ is located in the bottom right corner of the course header image. Take the opportunity now, before you get totally swamped creating assignments and grading papers, to personalize what your ‘Classroom’ looks like. It’s easy to change down the road should you want to mix it up a little.


Edit the About Page

about page

The About page (accessible from the middle menu bar) is home to the course name, description, location, and instructor contact information. It also has a link to the Google Drive folder that is automatically created for each course to house resources.

about materials

In addition, there is a Materials section that allows the instructor to add files from Google Drive. This is a great place to link course specific documents that will be referenced regularly (syllabus, reading list, homework calendar, etc).


Update your Stream


The Stream page is responsible for showing students any new announcements or assignments that you’ve posted. It shows you, the teacher, how many students have submitted assignments and also allows students to comment on both assignments and announcements.

Encourage students to ask questions about assignments in the comments area for that particular assignment – it helps organize questions being asked, allows for you to monitor one area for new questions, and keeps a good archive of the questions that students had, both for other students to reference and for you (the teacher) to use in revising your directions for other classes.

Of course, if you have nothing to add at this point, you can skip the stream section and move on to adding students.


Add Students to the Course


In the Students menu, you are able to Invite, Remove, and Email students. Students must be part of the GAFE domain in order to be invited and participate in your Google Classroom course.

join class

If you don’t want to email students an invite, you can give them the unique course code for them to enroll manually. They would just need to go to and sign in, then click the ‘+’ icon and click Join Class. This is where they would enter your unique course code and they will be added to your roster.


Adding an Announcement


Adding an announcement is easy in Google Classroom. Announcements are visible by anyone enrolled in that class. Go to the Stream page and click Announcement in the top middle of the activity stream. A box will appear allowing you to type out your message. You are also able to attach a file, attach a Drive file, embed a YouTube video, or share a link with your announcement. Announcements can be commented on by students.


Adding an Assignment


Clicking on the Assignment option in the top middle of your Stream page allows you to add a new assignment. Blanks are available to title and describe your assignment (title is required, description is optional).


Just like with announcements, you are able to add a file (from your computer or from Drive), YouTube video, or a link to supplement the assignment.


You also have to add the assignment due date (and time, if desired).


Reviewing Assignments, Grading, and Returning Completed Work


Once you’ve created a new assignment, you can view submissions, assign points, and return work by clicking on the assignment in your stream. You will see a page like the one pictured above. The Drive folder button will take you to Drive, where a folder has been created to house docs that have been submitted for this assignment. You can change the point total for this assignment on the assignment page, and also assign grades. Once you review, grade, and comment on a submission, you can click the return button and the assignment and its grade is sent back to the student.


Cool Features of Google Classroom:

  • Widget on Left Sidebar in Streams shows upcoming assignments that are due.
  • Assignments in Stream show how many have submitted and how many are still due (see image above).
  • Students can comment on just about any post in Classroom
  • In the student view, a Turn In button appears in Drive so students can submit assignments easily. Their submission is locked until it is returned by the teacher (see image below)
  • Seamless integration with Google Drive.


Google Classroom shows lots of promise for those using Google Apps for Education. Please post in the comments if you’ve found any functionality not shared in this article or if you have questions for which we can crowd source the answer.

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About the Author


Jeff Herb is an Educator, Blogger, and Podcaster focusing on Instructional Technology and finding ways to innovate the classroom using technology. Follow Jeff on Twitter to keep up with the latest in Educational Technology.

  • Marty Wagner

    I teach multiple sections of the same class. I created a class and gave it a section number, then I created a new class with the same name but a different section number. They appear to be completely separate classes. I would like to post an assignment for one class and have it be valid for each section. Does that work?


    • Jeff Herb

      Hi Marty!

      Thanks for the question. This is definitely something you can do! I should have included it in the article – I will update the page today. In the mean time, I have attached a screen shot that shows where this is accomplished. There is a drop down in the lower right of the add assignment box. Just check all the courses to which you’d like the assignment applied. Hope this helps!

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  • Andrea Dignon

    Hi there!!!

    I operate a flipped classroom and use Blogger with my students to communicate assignments, announcements, etc. Do you have any tips/tricks of the trade that might help facilitate Classroom? Thoughts? I know it’s a broad question – so sorry… it’s a Friday and the start of a long weekend :)
    Thanks a gazillion!!

    • Jeff Herb

      Hi Andrea-

      Not sure I entirely understand your question – this is what I’m hearing: You utilize Blogger and you’re interested to see how Classroom can better facilitate communication of announcements and assignments in your classroom?

      If so, Classroom will help facilitate these two things because it is specifically designed for the classroom setting. Functions exist to post announcements and also to post new assignments (with due dates, centralized turn in folders with Drive, assignment receipt counter, etc). Hopefully, with the use of Classroom over Blogger you will be able to keep your classroom more organized.

      If I’m not understanding your original question, please let me know.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  • Allison Platsky

    I teach multiple sections of the same class. Is it possible to copy the information in the about page so I do not have to do it separately for each class. Specifically if I post a presentation in materials, can I make it post to all of my classes.

    • Jeff Herb

      Hi Allison-

      To my knowledge, no feature currently exists that allows you to duplicate the About page across course similar classes. I attribute this to the fact that a new Drive folder is created for each section so perhaps that forces the about page to be reset (as it houses that sections course materials). Definitely would be worth submitting a feature request with Google!

      Thanks for the comment!


  • Sasha

    Thanks for this great post. I have two questions: 1.Can the teacher block students from posting to the stream or disable the stream entirely? and 2. Can the teacher delete student posts to the stream? Thanks, Sasha

    • Jeff Herb

      Thanks for the comment, Sasha!

      Answers to your questions:

      1. No, unfortunately at this time you are unable to block students from the stream or disable the stream entirely. I imagine this will be a feature add in the future.

      2. You are able to edit or delete comments by doing the following: “You can edit or delete any comments by clicking the menu icon (three vertical dots) in the upper-right corner of the comment and clicking Edit or Delete.”

      Hope this helps!

  • Jenny

    I cannot figure out how to get my students to join. They have google accounts with calendar, docs, and classroom abled, but email is disabled. When I have them go to the site, it directs them to log in to gmail. I tried their username and password, but it does not work. Help!!

    • Jeff Herb

      Hi @disqus_18hwWHHquV:disqus

      Thanks for the question – we’ll see what we can figure out.

      I would be interested to see if you had your students sign in to their Google Apps for Ed account through just the normal page and then have them head over to Perhaps already being logged in will force Classroom to recognize the account and allow them access. I’m not sure why it is defaulting to Gmail (I haven’t read anywhere that it requires Gmail to be active) but perhaps signing into a service they do have access to will stop that redirection?

      Let me know if this works!


  • Lynn

    Can the teacher lock a document so it cannot be written in anymore or does each student have to turn it in for this to happen? I want to keep old documents but I do not want the students to be able to type in them anymore. Too many kids are forgetting to hit the turn in button.

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  • Jeremy

    Hi! We can’t upload a custom theme as a header of the classroom, is that normal? The school wants to brand it a bit…

    • Jeff Herb

      Hi @Jeremy-

      With the latest release, you are able to upload a custom header!

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  • Lynne

    In Google Classroom, is there a way to change the order in which the created classes are displayed, or is it totally dependent upon the order in which they were created? Thanks for the help.

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  • Ru

    Hi Jeff,

    Do you know if there is a widget for Google Classroom that i can put on my edublog?
    And also, my kids can’t see the turn in button next to comment. Do I need to change some settings or has that changed?

    Thanks heaps from down under,


  • Kathleen Hubler

    I cannot customize my link to say Lesson One Quiz

  • Olof Barr

    Problem with one student laptop. Clicking posted files does not work. (If she logs in on another computer it works fine)

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