7 tips for cleaning up your Google Drive & Google Classroom before the end of the year

This post was originally published on the Innovative Education blog at innovativeed.ca on June 5, 2018.

There’s a lot we do to prepare our classrooms and schools for the end of the school year so that we can start the next one organized and ready for a fresh start. Naturally, there’s some obvious tasks we do to prepare our physical spaces leading into summer. We also offer some organization and clean-up skills to our students to prepare them in closing out the academic year. Some consideration should go into what organization and tidying we do in our virtual spaces as well.

Here are 7 tips for getting your Google Drive and Google Classroom ready for summer:

Close your virtual classrooms

When the school year ends, students lose access to the classrooms that they’ve walked into throughout the academic year. In physical spaces, that’s easy to do: the door’s locked. In a virtual classroom, that responsibility is up to the teacher. Moodle, D2L and Office 365 Class Sites can be scheduled to be closed down so that students automatically lose access to the course or virtual classroom. With Google Classroom, those steps need to be initiated manually by the teacher.

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To close a Google Classroom,

  1. Access Google Classroom;
  2. Click the three dots for each class you’re ready to close down;
  3. Click Archive;
  4. Confirm the step by clicking Archive again.

Archived classes will be accessible to you in the “Archived Classes” section of Google Classroom, but they are no longer available to students. Even with classes archived, you can use Google Classroom’s “Reuse Post” option to re-post great tasks from this school year into next year’s classes.

The files that students had access to and created while they were a member of that Classroom will continue to be accessible to them in their Google Drive.

Return all student work

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Before students submit Google Classroom files (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings), their work can be edited by them and you. Once they submit their work, only the teacher has edit access to the file. Returning the work gives edit rights back to the school. It also clears out your virtual “hand in” bin.

To view any student submissions that still need your attention, click the hamburger menu, then click the “To-do” button. As your return work, it goes into the “Reviewed” tab of the “To-do” section. Ending the year with an empty “To Review” tab will make sure you’re only seeing assignments from the current school year when classes resume in the Fall.

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Clean up your Google Drive

If you’re using Google Classroom, there’s a good chance you’ve been making regular use of Google Drive too. The nature of how G Suite works means that everything that you create is going to end up in Google Drive, and unless you’re working regularly to stay organized, the home folder of your My Drive can become a mess of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Sites, and anything else you’ve uploaded to that space.

Routinely cleaning up the space throughout the year goes a long way to staying organized. It’s a great idea to do a deep clean of your Google Drive at the end of the year.

Create folders

If you’re not doing so already, create folders! Create a folder for everything you plan to keep. Even better, create folders, and then create folder inside of those folders. Having too many folders at the top-level of your My Drive makes for lots of scrolling, so know that you can nest folders as deep as you need.

To create a folder,

  1. Click the New button;
  2. Click Folder;
  3. Give it a name;
  4. Click Create.

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Consider creating folders for the grade, courses, subjects, units and assignments, and move files into those folders. That will keep files organized and easy to find later. Files and folders with good names also makes them easier to find in the Google Drive search.

Move files efficiently by dragging and dropping

Moving files into folders in Google Drive can be little difficult if you have lots of folders because not everything fits on the screen. To make that more efficient, expand the My Drive on the right-side of Google Drive to view all your folders in a list down the side of the screen. Then drag files into the appropriate folders.

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Don’t try to clean-up the Classroom folder or Shared with me

If you use Google Classroom, things get messy in Google Drive. Joining or creating a Google Classroom automatically creates a folder called “Classroom” in your Google Drive. Inside that folder, there will be a folder for every Google Classroom you’ve ever joined or created. Inside those class folders, there will also be a folder for every assignment. It’s a mess. Leave it alone. Organizing yourself in the “Classroom” folder is also a bad idea.

The other section of your Google Drive that becomes messy when using Google Classroom is the “Shared with me” section of your Google Drive. Every file as part of every assignment submitted by students is listed in “Shared with me.” You can try to clean it up by removing these files (you can’t delete them, because they’re not your files — they belong to your students), so it’s a losing battle and again, you’re best to leave it alone.

Instead, when someone shares something with you that you really need to get access to later, such as a file or folder shared by a teaching partner, click the “Add to Drive” icon and sort it into your own folders as mentioned above.

Get your students organized too!

G Suite was new to teachers this year. It was new to students too. For many of our students this is the first year of many that they’ll use G Suite. If students have been consistently using G Suite throughout the school year but haven’t given thought to organizing their files in Google Drive, it’s probably a good time to encourage them to start!

Consider showing students how to create folders and have them move everything into a folder labelled with their current grade or the current school year. Archiving everything from the current school year is a great way to clean out all the lingering files that are in their My Drive. When the next year starts, they’ll start with a clean home folder and can start fresh with new folders for the school year or semester.

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