Google Classroom "Turn In" Button

My students started using Google Classroom last February. The shared folder system was easy to use, but I missed using Google Drive with our old LMS. Sigh.

Creating a Google Classroom Class was simple. My students quickly learned how to Login for the First Time. We had some issues here and there, but, overall, we were happy.

Over the summer, I have been reflecting on how to better introduce technology while still focusing on the content. I dreaded those days where I spent an entire period teaching formatting and technology rather than literature and writing. Tech should never to an obstacle to academic learning.

This summer I have reflected on multiple conversations I had with my colleagues. These reflections led to the blog posts Teaching MLA Format in Google Classroom and Teaching Students to Use Tech to Self-Edit.  My goal is to  improve student writing while diminishing and/or eliminating student confusion.

Today's blog post will focus on one source of student confusion - the Turn In button.

When a student opens the assignment from Google Classroom, both the Student and Teacher can Edit the document. When a student clicks Turn In, the ownership of the document changes to Student can View and Teacher can Edit. My students were worried when they turned in an assignment and wanted to make a revision. Why couldn't they edit anymore?

The process to Unsubmit an assignment in Google Classroom is not difficult. The students go to the assignment page, click Unsubmit button and then click the blue Unsubmit button. Students may write an optional note to the teacher though I never required it.

But, why even bother turning in every assignment when the teacher can access the files from the common folder? Must all assignments be turned in for a grade? Shouldn't our goal as English teachers be to improve writing by writing feedback, not giving the assignment a grade?

And, I'll be honest, with 192 students will I always be able to read each and every assignment? Seriously, I need to find solutions for peer revision and multiple student revisions. This requires that both the student and I retain Editing privileges.

Teachers can access the Class Folder and pop into student documents as they write. Immediate feedback is more effective for the student. Students will actually read that feedback (without a grade) and use it to reflect on their writing. Furthermore, the teacher does not have to spend hours outside of class providing feedback that may or may not be used by the student.

Written and video directions for accessing the Class Folder can be found at Providing Feedback for Student Work.

And, teachers do not always have to provide written feedback. Instead, teachers can highlight an awkward or imprecise sentence. Carol Jago described the highlighting technique in her book Papers, Papers, Papers: An English Teacher's Survival Guide. While Ms. Jago highlighted hard copy essays, the same method can apply to Google Docs. Once the sentence requiring revision is highlighted, Ms. Jago  placed the students in groups. The writer would read his sentence to his group who then helped him revise it. The next student would read her sentence aloud and so forth. In the meantime, the teacher roamed the class, listening to the student-led conversations and providing guidance as necessary.

My students need a system that they can understand. They need to know how to login. They need to know how to open an assignment. They need to know to format their documents. Furthermore, they need to know how to respond to feedback whether it is a written comment or a highlighted sentence. Students do not need the confusion of turning in an assignment only to lose editing privileges.

As a teacher, I need a system to provide effective, immediate feedback during class time. Sometimes I provide the feedback, other times I highlight the sentences students need to revise with their group. Other times, we have writer's conferences. No matter the feedback method, I need a system that allows both the student and I to retain editing privileges.

Will my students ever Turn In an assignment? Yes. Maybe. We'll see. If all else fails, I can simply download the assignment folder as described in Alice Keeler's blog post Google Classroom: Save Student Work.

Will I provide feedback or organize opportunities for students to peer review? Absolutely. After all, I have a system that works with no Turn In confusion.


  1. There are SOOOO many resources embedded in this post - I'll be rereading later! I just wanted to pipe in - I ask my students to NOT hit the "turn it in" button last year. It was our first year with Google Classroom (was it everybody's?). Anyway, I had two students in different classes who could not STAND that it said their work was "late" - in RED, no less! I've considered putting the time it's due to the last day of school, but then students might think they don't have to do it...... Do you know of any solution to the "date due" issue? Thank you so very much for this wonderful, helpful post!

  2. I am glad you found the resources helpful. I have been following your work in middle school English on Twitter. You reading my writing is an honor.

    If believe the fewer the clicks, the better. As such, I have my students find Upcoming Assignments on the Home page rather than the Class Stream. If the Due Date is more than a few days away, the assignment does not show up on the Home page. If you simply change the Due Date and you have multiple classes, you have to change the date multiple times.

    I'm not sure what the best answer is at this time, but I am heading to the GAFE Summit in Palo Alto, California tonight. I will search for a Due Date solution. If anyone else has an idea, please chime in!

  3. I've been using Classroom since it was released in August last year, and I love how organized it makes me and how easy it is for students to access assignments. Since about September, I've been regularly asking Google to create an option for the teacher to mark something as not having a due date. Maybe it will be in the works, soon. Like Joy mentioned above, my students can't get over the bright red "late" mark. Yes, they can go in and mark it as "turned in" so it doesn't show that anymore, but it gives them heart palpitations every time they see it. Thanks for the resources on this post!

    1. Google Classroom now has optional due dates!

  4. Joy and Anne, I did not have the opportunity to ask the GAFE Summit trainers about the Red Due Date. I agree that we should have the option to post continuous assignments. After all, writing is about revisions, not due dates.


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