Math Diaries Week 1: Getting Googly, Part I

September 22, 2017


This fall, I began teaching a class of 6th grade foundational mathematics. I’ll be chronicling my journey here on our blog. This week, I want to walk through the bumps and triumphs of getting started with Google in the Classroom… and not just Google Classroom.

Googly Issue: Students can’t remember Google passwords.

At my school, all students are automatically assigned Google Accounts. However, the 6th graders I teach are new to my 6-12 school. Some of them are very fluent in the Google Suite, and some have no knowledge at all. Yet no level of proficiency can overcome the dreaded lost password. Thus, after three class meetings where each student aired their own unique struggle with their password (I’m joking; it was the same struggle 17 times over), I decided to dedicate a class to getting logged in, and invited our lovely IT manager, John, to join us.

Solution for the Future: For new students (in my case, 6th graders), build this very important part of their school start into their orientation or first day. Have a class dedicated to getting them logged on with an IT person present. It’s not enough to hope that they paid attention to the paper you sent home over the summer.

Googly Issue: Even those with a Google account and correct password could not access my Google Site.

To be perfectly honest, I still don’t quite know what the problem was here, yet I knew that my students were losing their collective mind over not being able to access the Google Site (despite seeing that all it currently hosts is my email address and a Peanuts cartoon). I believe it had something to do with protections my students had surrounding their emails.

Solution for the Future: Be sure to check with your IT team before school begins to see if there are any domain restrictions to your site. And while you’re at it, ask your IT team for a test student account so you can occasionally log-in and test if things work! In my case, I created my first Google site with my personal gmail account, which we realized would restrict my students within my school domain from accessing it. Even when I transitioned to my school account, however, it was helpful to have IT (my Informational Technology team, not the clown) work their magic.

Googly Issue: Google Sites or Google Classroom?

Speaking of Google Sites, ask yourself: which do you need? And more importantly, will it scramble your students’ brains to have both a Site and a Classroom? I can confidently tell you that A) I have both and B) yes, it doth scramble. But I’m piloting Sites this year because I need a place to host parent-centric things like:

    • My email address
    • Pictures of our class (that are authorized to be posted, due to a separate signature line on my syllabus—BAM!)
    • Static Documents (like our syllabus)
    • Dynamic Docs, like my embedded Google Calendar where parents and students can see when I’m available to be scheduled outside of class for help
    • Resources that I want to stay aggregated in one tab instead of an assignment stream in Classroom (and I want parents to have access to in order to tag-team with me!)

Solution for the Future: I may not have run into my issue yet, so I’ll have to get back to you on its solution. But I recommend reading this handy overview of the difference between Classroom and Sites if you’re still a bit confused (which, let’s face it, I am too).

Stay tuned for Part II of Getting Googly… where my issues and solutions may have multiplied exponentially… (see what I did there?). If you have any questions, commiserations, or want to help me find solutions, please email