I, like many teachers, have been loving the things that Google Classroom has offered over the past two years. I'm amazed at how it's been able to help me and my students stay organized as we use technology on a daily basis. I often wonder now how I ever managed their digital work before this wonderful product.
Last week they released guardian email summaries that allow parents to get updates on what students are doing in class. However, the blog and help page did very little to explain how to do it, and it wasn't as intuitive as I've come to expect from Google. Therefore, I've decided to share what I've learned because I haven't seen anyone do so yet.
If parent the Guardian Summaries option doesn't show up...
You should find a toggle switch like this one on the "Student" page of any of the Google Classroom classes you teach. Once you toggle the switch, it will give you a pop-out allowing you to toggle for each one of your classes at the same time. If it's not there, you need to go talk to your administrator. You likely have one of two problems:
1. You aren't a verified teacher.
Since I'm an Admin for my school, it showed up for me right away, but when I asked my colleagues to switch it on, it wasn't there. Although I haven't needed to verify them as teachers in Google Classroom for any other service, for this one to show up, you do. Here's how:
Get your admin to open the Admin Console. Click on "Apps." Click on "Google Apps." Click on "General Settings." Under the explanation text for teacher permissions it says, "this group" in blue -- click on that. Select all teachers, and click "Approve Applicant" above the list of names.
2. The setting isn't enabled.
Again, your Google Apps for Education Administrator is in charge of this setting.
Get your admin to open the Admin Console. Click on "Apps." Click on "Google Apps." Click on "General Settings." The second option is "Guardian access." Click the checkbox that says "Allow parents and guardians to access Classroom information." Make sure teachers are given permission.
If you're trying to figure out how to invite guardians...
Only one person needs to do it!
Once you've turned on these permissions and been enabled to use guardian summaries, login to classroom.google.com. Click on one of your classes and go to the students page. Here you'll see a line next to each student that says to "Invite Guardians." Click on that and insert the guardian's email(s) and send him/her/them an invite. Once you have paired guardian(s) to the student, those pairings will carry over to every class that the student is involved in. I'm hoping this also means it will roll over from year to year.
Side note: I just discovered it is possible to upload parents via CSV (thank goodness!). Read more in the "Invite or remove guardians in your domain" section of this help article.
If your guardians are confused...
There is no accept button.
When you invite the parents, it sends them an email like this (blacked-out portions are student's name). They'll hit the blue accept button and it will bring them to a landing page that looks like this. -->>
This allows guardians to choose the frequency of their updates (daily, weekly, or never) as well as their timezone. As a guardian I get my daily update at 4PM. However, there is no accept button. You just change it and Google does their Googley-goodness and registers your answer.
Guardian need a Google account.
Probably the biggest source of frustration for teachers is that these guardian summaries require parents to have a Google account. This doesn't mean they need a Gmail account, but they at least need to have a Google account (usable for Drive, for example). Google says this is for "security." Not only that, they need to be signed into their Google account to finish registering. If they're not, they'll get a warning like this:
If you work on the Classroom team and are looking for suggestions...
Make it easier for teachers to insert guardian emails.
Really, this process shouldn't be tedious manual entry. There are too many teachers who are further along than their IT departments. It needs to be easier for teachers to do.
Have summaries include live links.
I want my parents to be able to click on the resources that I post in class.
Have summaries include the directions.
The title is often not enough to explain to parents what is due the next day.
Don't require guardians to use a Google account.
I don't understand the security behind this. It seems like you're just trying to overtake the world. Can you explain this to me?
It's been awesome to see this product grow over the past two years. You're changing the way we teach.