How do you keep your assignments, lesson plans, and resources organized for you and your students?
With so many different options, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. In my first year with 1-to-1 Chromebooks, I remember the feeling of frustration when in December my students still didn’t know where to go online to start our lesson. After some reflection, though, I began to understand the confusion. We go to the class web site usually. But sometimes just to Google Drive. Other times the Community. And others, new tools like Kahoot! or Padlet. How could I really expect them to know the when, where, why, and how of the lesson design that only existed inside my head?
That’s when I began to consider the idea of an online home for all of our learning. It started in an attempt for me to be more purposeful and consistent in sharing resources, but grew to a place that helped student manage their own learning. In Start and Stay Organized, 5 Tech Tips to Start the School Year, I discussed the value of an online home for learning, but I want to explore the practical way I made that work for me.
I took the half dozen places we go to learn and share online and funneled them through a single Google Doc to organize my lessons, assignments, and resources for students. While others struggled with Google Calendar, Sites, Classroom, or another platform, I kept is simple by creating the Assignment Calendar Doc.
The doc was just that--a Google Document, but I embedded it on our class website to make things easy. It was also shared with students so they could find it anytime, anywhere. Our website was easy to remember, at english.aschoenbart.com, but I encouraged students to bookmark it, too. While I like the website fine (and remember, it hasn't been updated since the end of last school year), it was really just an effective way to house this essential doc and communicate with parents.
The Assignment Calendar Doc
If I wanted students to have an online home for their learning, I wanted it to be both simple and comprehensive; we needed one page that housed anything they needed to know for a day, week, or even unit of learning.
Sure, we used Google Classroom all the time, for in my classroom, it’s mostly a tool for turning in work to the teacher. I also love using Google Communities for sharing, formative assessment, and brainstorms, but I needed more. Many of my colleagues turned to Google Calendar, creating new calendars or adding to Classroom’s own calendar, but it frustrated me. I didn’t find Google Calendar easy to use for teachers or for students as a place to share lessons, directions, or assignments.
So I decided to give a simple Google Doc a try. Click here for my English 9 Assignment Calendar Doc from last year. Please note that the site only has last year’s resources on it, but feel free to explore our homepage for learning. At first, it felt repetitive because I was simply listing assignments that were already posted on Classroom; soon, though, I found so much power in this one single document:
- The Assignment Calendar Doc shared daily agendas, lesson plans, assignments, and extra resources--I could customize every day as needed.
- It’s an easy to manage and search chronological archive of our year--every resource is there all of the time.
- Reminders, announcements, and updates were easy to add, too--I inserted a fun GIF or image, changed a color, and provided any resources I needed to share.
- Students could go backwards (and sometimes forwards, if I was ahead of the game), to check in on and revisit past resources and assignments.
- Since it’s all in a Google Doc, it was so easy to share with ANYONE--if your administration wants lesson plans, absent students want resources, or parents want updates on homework, this one doc does it all.
Could I have done all of this on Google Classroom or on a dozen other platforms? Sure. But for me, the Assignment Calendar Doc was the easiest, clearest, and most efficient way to get the job done. I like the ease of customization it provided, and it was so easy to share, update, and adapt from for each new school year.
There’s no one right way to stay organized or share with students, but this was the best tool I found in my practice. If it works for you, please give it a shot and let me know how it goes. If not, leave a comment or Tweet @MrSchoenbart to let me know what works for you!
cross posted at www.aschoenbart.com
Adam Schoenbart is a high school English teacher, Google Education Trainer, and EdD candidate in Educational Leadership. He teaches grades 10-12 in a 1:1 Chromebook classroom at Ossining High School in Westchester County, NY and received the 2014 LHRIC Teacher Pioneer Award for innovative uses of technology that change teaching and learning. Read more at The SchoenBlog and connect on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.