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S I M P L I F Y I N G: New Class Website Approach

Lately I have been obsessed with simplifying my curriculum. That is, drastically decreasing the Extraneous Cognitive load of all materials, technology, etc.

Perhaps I'm just maturing as an educator? Perhaps I'm just EXHAUSTED by all the options out there. Or perhaps I'm just developing a much deeper love for the content I'm teaching rather than the tools used to teach it?

I'm sure it's a combination of all things. Either way, I find it fascinating, and somewhat paradoxical, how attempting to deeply simplify the tools I and my students are using poses as a greater instructional design challenge than leveraging a system of complex tools. 

Either way, this coming semester (classes at my school are a semester long) I am going to be transitioning all of my class websites from traditional Google Sites to simple Google Documents.

I use our class website to not only curate resources, but also deliver all instructions (link documents, practice problems, activity templates, etc.). In transitioning to a Google Doc based system I plan on having one document, that is broken into individual learning cycles where students will access all class materials.

I will use one hyperlinked bookmark to identify where we are in the document for that particular day so students feel a sense of flow and organization to the document. Students will click on the link at the top of the page and be shuttled immediately to the portion of the document for that day.

Click here for an example of an old website using Google Sites, and here for an example of the beginning (2 of 6 units have been completed) of my new system.

I will also be including a "Teacher's Corner" (under construction...apologies) link at the top that will outline how each unit is designed according to the 5E/Hero's Journey learning cycle format.

I do not explicitly indicate the curricular jargon to students, rather I want them to experience the journey authentically. However, I want you, and other fellow educators, to be able to access my thinking.

Not sure if this post makes any sense, but I am SUPER excited about the challenge in simplifying my curricular materials for both learning and instruction. I will be updating this process as I progress over the next few months under the "Projects" tab. 

cross posted at www.cyclesoflearning.com

Ramsey Musallam teaches science and robotics at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California, with the aim of fostering inquiry-based learning environments fueled by student curiosity. He presents widely on sparking student curiosity and teaching with technology. Musallam is a Google Certified Teacher, a YouTube Star Teacher, and a Leading Edge Certified Teacher. Watch his TED talk here and read his blog at www.cyclesoflearning.com.