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How To Easily Automate Parent Notifications With Google Classroom

It is no surprise that Google Classroom is a popular choice for teachers. Yet, it always felt incomplete. There were a lot of features missing that exist in other LMSs. For that reason, I have been a long time critic of the barebones Classroom. Yet, Google is continually updating the platform and in August 2016 added a key feature that had been missing for a long time: Parent notifications (guardians).

Why Are Parent Notifications Such A Big Deal?

A lot of teachers use technology not just to help students but to reduce administrative tasks. Parents often desire updates about their student’s grades/progress to stay informed. They want to know about assignments upcoming and past due for their students. A learning management system (LMS) can help offset the desire for parent contact and the need for teachers to coordinate it all.

Until the update to Google Classroom, all scores were only visible to teachers and students in Google Classroom. There was a complicated work around but it involved Parents needed a login for the school’s domain to get access to the class. Even then, there was no way to allow a parent into your Google Classroom to see their student’s grades without them having access to¬†every student’s grades. Not good.

What Do Google Classroom Parent Notifications Do?

Well…they notify parents. ūüôā Google Classroom will notify parents with email summaries of how their students are doing in the verious classes. Frequency of the emails can be set by parents.

What is included in these summaries?

  1. Missing Work
  2. Upcoming Work
  3. Class activity

Here is a sample of a parent weekly summary:

Google Classroom Notification Sample
Image courtesy of Google.com

Can I Limit What Parents See?

Yep! Parents are automatically restricted from seeing your class stream or your actual Google Classroom.

Also, all notifications are turned off by default.

How Do I Manage Parent Notifications?

  1. District admin needs to enable “guardian email summaries” in the admin settings.
  2. Go to your Google Classroom
  3. Click “Guadian Email Notifications”
  4. Click “include this class”

How Can I Invite A Parent?

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the student click “Invite Guardian”
  4. Type guardian’s email address into the text box. (there is no way to bulk edit guardian emails. Also, you can add additional parent/guardians)
  5. Click “Invite”

Note: Only one person in your district needs to invite a parent. Once a parent/guadian is connected to the student, they have access to all classes where notifications is turned on.

Can I Remove A Parent?

Of course! Be careful though…if you do, you will remove the parent from all notifications from all Google Classrooms at your school.

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the Guardian’s name, click “More” and click “Remove Guardian”

What About Emailing Parents Directly?

Yep!

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the student, click “More”
  4. Click “Email Guardians” (the “From” would be your school account email)

Can I email all of my student’s guardians?

Sure can! Just like you would email a bunch of people using the BCC field to hide their emails from one another, this works the same way.

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Click “Email All Guardians” (all emails are put into the BCC field)

Additional Features Added To Google Classroom

Mobile Annotations

Google in this August update also added the ability of teachers to annotate submitted work on the Classroom mobile app. If you haven’t downloaded the Google Classroom app yet, it is pretty handy but working with documents on it is a little slow. I have a 6″ phone and collaborating or giving feedback on Google Docs is still is easier on my laptop.

Google Forms

Google Forms now lets teachers add images to questions and multiple-choice answers. This would be really handy for math teachers who can just add pictures of equations to quiz questions. (It is insanely complicated to write in math-speak with most edtech tools right now.)

Google Inbox

Thank goodness…¬†Google Inbox is an alternative tool to Gmail. Same email, same email address, different experience. Google Inbox groups emails for you, allows you to clear or respond to email very, very fast, and even suggests responses to emails. It is a productivity-centric email tool. Something blended teachers desperately need. Until now, it was not available for Google Apps teachers.

Final Thoughts

By far, the parent notifications are the biggest improvement to Google Classroom so far this year. Google Classroom isn’t a bad tool. It is just very simple one. While parent notifications are exciting for those teachers using Google Classroom, it is something most LMSs have had for a long while. My hope is that Google Classroom keeps improving so that teacher’s can have one suite of tools to solve all of their needs.

As for me, I am still staying away from using Google Classroom until it feels more complete. A part of me wishes they would just hurry up and build the mega-LMS!

Question: Have you turned on parent notifications yet? What do you think of it? Are you excited? Nervous? How has it worked out? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!¬†

 

 

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