Student Comments & Communication

In addition to being a great platform for distributing and managing work, Google Classroom also has some fantastic communication features built right in. You can make Google Classroom be your classroom hub of activity, whether you are meeting in-person or online. Let’s check it out!

Within Google Classroom by default, students can post, comment, and reply. It’s a great place for students to practice digital citizenship in a small, contained environment. Students can post a question like “What do we have for Science homework tonight?” and another student can reply with the answer (you don’t have to get involved at all!). Students cannot privately communicate with each other within Google Classroom, they can only send private messages to the teachers. Any other communication is always a public post. Of course, if there is a situation where a student is posting something inappropriate, the teacher can delete the post or comment and address it directly with the student.

To adjust any of the default settings, you can do that in the individual settings for each of your classes. Go to a Classroom, click on the settings gear in the upper right corner and find the “General” section. Next to Stream, click the down arrow and choose a permission. You can choose to have them post and comment, only comment, or only allow teachers to post or comment. My suggestion is to leave the default setting on (to allow students to post and comment), but if you want to start your class with having that option turned off so you can have a discussion about classroom expectations before you start allowing them to post, that would work too.

Occasionally you’ll have individual students who need a little help with knowing what is and is not appropriate to post or comment. For those situations, you have the ability to “Mute” particular students. I’d recommend using this as a “time-out” type consequence and not a permanent one unless absolutely necessary. To do this, you’ll go to the People tab, scroll down to the student and check the box next to their name. Then, click “Actions” and “Mute”. Follow the same process to “Unmute” the student.

As the teacher, you also have the ability to delete posts or comments. To do this, you simply go over to the post or comment, click the three dots, then choose “Delete” and then “Delete” again to confirm. To review posts that you have deleted, in your class settings, you can choose to show or hide posts that you have deleted (so you only can see them in the post).

In addition to the posting and commenting within Google Classroom, you also have the ability to easily email your students and guardians directly from Classroom. From the People tab you can:

  • Email one student by clicking the three dots next to the students name and choosing “Email student”.
  • Email multiple students by checking the boxes next to each student’s name, then choosing “Actions” and then “Email”
  • Email the entire class by checking the box next to “Actions” then click “Actions” and then “Email”.
  • Email a co-teacher by clicking the three dots next to the co-teacher’s name and then choosing “Email”.
  • Email guardians by either clicking the three dots next to the student name and then “Email guardians”, or email all the guardians in a class by clicking on “Email all guardians”.

All of these emails will be sent directly from the Gmail platform, so you will notice a new tab open up to compose a new message.

A quick note about Guardians. You may notice in your classes that some of your students have names or email address next to their names in the Guardian column, while some others may have “Invite Guardians” instead. To be able to email guardians from Classroom, and to also allow them to receive Guardian summaries on a daily or weekly basis, the email address(es) of the guardians for the student need to be entered into Classroom. You may have this automatically done for you if your school connects its SIS to Google, but if you are like my district, you’d have to do this manually. It’s a pretty straightforward process; look up the email in your SIS, and copy and paste it into Google Classroom, but it does require you to do the front end work.

The nice thing about this is that it does travel with the student, so if you set up a new class with the student for a new term, they are enrolled in another class for another subject area, or when the new school year begins, you or their other teachers will not have to enter in the information again.