How to organize your Google Drive as a teacher

I’ve been using Google in the classroom for about four years now and I constantly find myself helping other teachers in my building with all of the different pieces of Google in education. One of the things that comes up the most often is organization. By default, I don’t think Google does a great job of helping things stay organized. My main focus in this post is going to be organizing your Google Drive for use in Google Classroom or with other learning management systems.

To begin with, whenever you create a class in Google Classroom it creates a folder for housing all of the shared docs, sheets, slides, etc. This folder can be found in your Google Drive under a folder called “Classroom.” Each new class will create a new subfolder in the Classroom Folder. Take a look at number 2 in the image below if you aren’t sure.

Now I also have a number 1 identified which is where my organization comes in.

The Problem

While the creation of the classroom folder is helpful for creating copies of what I like to call master files, it doesn’t allow for a good place to keep and organize those master files. By master file, what I mean is the original doc, sheet, slide, etc that you created and then shared out with your class. I often find myself using the same files year over year and the only solution Google gives you right now is to use a post from a previous class. That’s fine, but I also like to update those files each year and it can be cumbersome to look through old classes to find what you are looking for.

My Solution

My solution to this problem is to make a folder for each one of my classes in the main Google Drive directory. In the image above you can see the Classroom folder at number 2, but at number 1 I have three different folders. Each folder is for a different class. I teach three different classes over three grade levels so I’ve organized the classes by grade level and then I have additional organization in the folder.

I like to put a number zero in front of each of the classes to make sure that they stay at the top of my Google Drive to ensure easy access. Google Drive organizes items in alphabetical order with numbers coming before letters. So putting numbers in front of important folders helps keep them at the top. A period also works well if you don’t want to include any numbers.

From there I have a subfolder for each of my units. I number my units starting at 1 and going up until the course is done. The image above shows by 7th-grade technology class and how I have it organized. I have the units clearly labeled, and with numbers to keep them in order for easy and quick viewing.

Once you get inside of each of the units I change the naming system slightly. In the image above am in my Unit 1 folder. Each of the docs, sheets, slides, etc that is a part of that unit is placed in that folder. Since it is Unit 1, all of the file names start with a 1. After that, I add a period and the next number, which I use as the lesson number. I can look at a file and quickly know which unit and lesson it is. For example, I know that 1.3 Engineering Design Process is from unit 1 and that it is lesson 3 in Unit 1. I also have enough of a title so that I know what the lesson is about.

My units don’t generally go over 10 lessons, but for ones that do, I would add a zero to the first nine lessons. For example, 1.3 Engineering Design Process would be renamed 1.03 Engineering Design Process. This helps ensure that the lessons stay in order when viewing them in Google Drive and posting them to the Classroom.

Speaking of Classroom

One of the main reasons I organize things like this is because it helps me quickly and easily post things to Google Classroom. It also helps me jump between units and communicate missing assignments to students and parents. The naming scheme is also matched inside of my Gradebooks so that everything matches across the board.

One of the great things about Google Classroom is the ability to add topics. Instead of having an endless series of assignments and postings, you can add a topic and enable quick navigation to anything in that topic (unit).

In the image to the right, you can see all of my topics to this point in the year. The topic names match my unit folder names in Google Drive. I might be a little over the top with this, but it helps keep my brain focused and organized on what exactly I need to do and where to find things.

In the image below you can see how my naming scheme doesn’t just apply to my Google Drive and Gradebook but gets passed into Google Classroom as well. I know the order of the lessons, names, and where to get all of the associated files because of the naming system.

Going Beyond

This is my organization scheme for Google Drive. My system relies on folders that contain master files and subfolders for each unit. Inside the units, I have a standard naming system that gets applied to all of the files associated with the unit. I’ve talked about docs, sheets, and slides, but the naming system also includes any images, video, or audio that relates to the unit.

I’m a big believer in video content to teach skills and concepts. I record my screen almost daily for my students so that the learning we do is never temporary. Those recordings get placed into the unit folders and are saved there for use by students and me. I use Google Sites to build a directory of recordings that students can refer back to if needed. My Google Sites and directory are arranged by unit and lesson. It helps keep things consistent and makes access to learning easy for students and parents.

How do you keep your Google Drive organized?






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