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Using Google Classroom to Survive E-Learning Days

Using Google Classroom to Survive E-Learning Days

Having your students there in front of you is obviously the ideal way to monitor their understanding of a topic, to see the need for differentiating the instruction, etc. There are days, however, where this just might not be possible. With more and more students having access to laptops and other devices the “free” snow-days of the past are being turned into E-Learning days more frequently in order to avoid adding days to the end of the school year.

man clearing snow with a snowblower in a blizzard

Natural disasters are causing schools to close for short periods of time, for example, here in Nebraska many schools had to deal with flooding issues last spring and again in the fall which got a bit chaotic with school closings. Sometimes, it’s just the individual student missing out due to a short illness, to a student with an extended illness that prevents them from being in the classroom for a long period of time.

Another example is, homeschoolers might be using e-learning in their co-op groups/classes. There are many different reasons that we might not be able to be in front of our students in a literal way, but thanks to technology we can be in front of them in a virtual way during times of need.

As a curriculum writer, I try and incorporate as many choices and options as possible in my products. I know when I was teaching so many different things would come up and a simple textbook is just not designed to handle the changes and issues that come at you every day. My philosophy holds that ideally, a student will have that book in hand and be using as many of their senses to fully move that information from learning to knowledge. All of my products have the hands-on component that is printable and tangible that the student and teacher can work with together.

I also am a practical person and know that this ideal is not always possible so I have also added to almost all of my products a Google Drive format so the teacher has options. The Google Drive format covers all the same areas but can be done in a paperless environment using Google Drive (Slides and Forms).

The majority of my printable & Google format products are a mix of novel studies, social studies, and financial literacy materials. I also have a few ELA and Math centers that are interactive for Google Drive in addition to printable. In every download, you will find the full printable content as well as a page like this that contains links to add the Google format files to your Google Drive along with directions on how to do it.

Once you click that link your file will now appear in your Google Drive account. It is named “Copy of File Name”. You can easily change that to whatever you want it to be simply by clicking into the name box. From there you can assign the files to your students using Google Classroom.

How to use Novel Studies in an E-Learning Format?

For novel studies, your students will still need a copy of the novel to accompany the printable or Google Drive format of the novel study. With that copy, they can move through the novel study answering the comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, and extended writing activities all in the Google Slides, just as they can with the printable version. The teacher can monitor their progress in Google Classroom and I would suggest check-ins with small groups of students using platforms such as Google Talk (also known as Google Hangouts or Google Chat) or Zoom, to touch base with your students with a discussion of what they’ve read to make sure they are understanding the content and help them dig deeper in their understanding of the novel. This would be the same thing you would do with class discussions in the classroom, just using technology to cover the distance between you.

All of my novel studies contain assessments that can be completed in Google Forms. All of the multiple-choice comprehension and vocabulary assessments are self-grading which saves you a ton of time! The writing assessments can’t be in a self-grading format since they are not multiple choice in nature, but there are generally only one to two questions per assessment and can be turned in via Google Classroom for you to read and grade.

How to use Social Studies and Financial Literacy Activities in an E-Learning Format?

My social studies and financial literacy formats are very similar to the novel studies in Google format, however, there is no book or textbook needed to complete them. I include Webquest links for learning content and include slideshow presentations in all of my social studies materials to help the student gain the knowledge to complete the activities.

Again, Google Slides is used for the slideshows and for the completion of activities. Google Forms is incorporated in some of the financial literacy activities in the Escape Room activities to explore the content in addition to the Google Slides.

How to use ELA and Math Centers in an E-Learning Format?

All of the interactive ELA and Math Centers are completed in Google Slides. Students will manipulate the components to practice the skills. This can be monitored by the teacher in Google Classroom.

What can I do if my student doesn’t have access to equipment or the internet?

Most of us take for granted that we have access to computers/laptops and internet access at home. We know that there are some students where it is simply not accessible to them. In public schools, we have the obligation to provide equity for our students. If your school doesn’t have 1:1 capability or you have a student who does not have access at home again, all of my materials are also provided in a printable format within the same product download. All these activities are the same, just on paper instead of the computer. You can send these packets home with your students. To touch base you could try phone calls with those students or maybe something like Facetime or Skype if they have access to that via a parent cell phone. Again, the same content, just a different format.

Technology has given us so many options on how to work with our students. I am not an advocate for screentime for all learning as I feel very strongly that using all of our senses through reading, writing, manipulating, and discussing is the optimal way to learn, but there are times when this is not possible and I hope that my materials can help provide you with different options to utilize at various times when e-learning is called for.


Take a look at these free samples available in my store that contain both a printable and Google Drive™ format to help you get a feel for how it all works.

Sample from my Wonder Novel Study
Oregon Trail Sample Social Studies Activity
Text to English Grammar Activity Sample

You can find some tips in this post, Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom, about how to more easily customize Google Drive products to better fit your individual needs.

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

There are many advantages to using technology in our classrooms today. Along with the pros, there are also the cons of glitches and user frustrations. I offer all of my novel studies and social studies products in a Google Drive format in addition to the printable format to help make it easier for teachers to use the technology that is available to them without having to develop all their own files.

Due to the newness of these formats, I often get technical questions from buyers. I decided to put together this blog post to answer the most frequent questions I get and provide a tutorial for how to manipulate the files to best fit individual needs.

How do I get the file into my Google Drive?

I do offer an instruction guide within each of my products. However, there are still some issues from time to time. The key thing that is missed is that the teacher is not logged into the Google Drive account where they want to house their newly purchased file. If an attempt to click the link within the product is made without being logged in often a message stating that they “need to request access to the file”. You should not need to request access from me at all after you’ve purchased your file, nor should your students need to request access if the directions have been followed. Usually, the fix for this is to simply make sure you are properly logged into your Google Drive and then click the file link. From there you can share via Google Classroom in the normal manner with no access request needed.

Make sure you are logged into your Google Drive and then click the link found in your resource on that page that looks like this:

A new tab will open with the force copy prompt.

Your file will now appear in your Google Drive account. It is named “Copy of File Name”. You can easily change that to whatever you want it to be simply by clicking into the name box.

How can I assign individual chapters or activities to students instead of the whole file?

I strive to create and share this work in the most efficient fashion that I can. For every Google file, I create there is a unique link. If I were to separate these out by chapters or activities you would have a PDF with so many links that it would cause a lot of confusion which is why for each unit there is generally only a single file link or a few for larger files broken into larger sections.

It is understandable that teachers would want the ability to tweak these files to best fit their needs when assigning to students. I get asked a lot about how to share just a single chapter with students for example. There is an easy way for you to create custom pieces to assign to your students from your master file. Below I have included the steps to follow to help guide you in customizing to meet your needs in a quick manner.

Once your master file has been placed into your Google Drive follow these steps:

The size dimensions shared above are for all of my novel study products. My social studies size dimensions can vary, with 12×12 being the most common. You can see what dimension your master file is set at (look at page setup) to know the right size for the file you are creating to avoid any distortion.

Hopefully, you will find these clarifications and tips helpful so that you can customize your files to best fit the needs of your students and classroom. If you have additional questions please reach out as I am happy to share tips and clarify anything that may be confusing. You can find my email address on the first page of every file you have downloaded from my store.