This is an amazing time to be an educator. We have more reason than ever to be engaged, enthusiastic learners right alongside our students. In the midst of 4th quarter during my first year as a 1:1 teacher, I am more charged than ever to take on the challenges that lie before us with technological innovations and shifts in thinking with Common Core and PARCC.
One practice that helps me turn seemingly massive tasks into concrete capabilities is creating to-do lists. I’m a firm believer in the power of lists. My original category on Grading Girl – Listing through LIfe, attests to that belief. Based on this first year of teaching 1:1 with the iPad, here is my procedural list for those of us just about to venture forth into paperless classrooms. I’d enjoy any additions others may have:
1. Choose a main LMS platform for your class. This first decision will make your teaching life easier . . . and you don’t necessarily have to use just one. I currently use iTunes U with my accelerated freshmen. It’s a convenient way to push daily agendas, homework and announcements to the students. Attaching documents, videos, calendars, etc is a snap, and provides students a “one-stop-shop” for the class. I used Schoology with my expository writing composition students this year. It provides a Facebook-like homepage for students to access material, communicate amongst classmates, and send me homework or assessments back.
2. Find a cloud storage service to store all of your class documents. For me and my school district, we are converting to Google Drive. I transferred all of my material over last year and haven’t looked back. With Google Drive, I am easily able to convert Word documents to Google Docs for myself and/or students to edit. Additionally, one of the first tasks I charged to my 1:1 students was to create their own Google Drive folders for the class: Daily Work, Rough Drafts, Journals, and share those folders with me. That way, assignments placed there are automatically available for me to comment on. I know that other schools make use of DropBox or iCloud. I use those for personal material and they seem to work just as well.
3. Convert documents that don’t easily transfer over to Google Docs to PDF by performing the following: “File Print,” “Save as PDF” and save that PDF to your computer for uploading to your LMS later. Additionally, you can utilize pdf converters such as PDF Master or Genius Scan. PDFs seem to wed more nicely with Google Docs vs. Word documents. Also, if you want to ensure that your documents stay as the original, a “pdf” write-protects itself.
4. Experiment with work-flow techniques Here is simple overview of mine: a. Students save documents in Google folders they share with me (Daily Work, Rough Drafts and Journals) b. I make comments c. Revision history is easily accessible d. Students upload revised documents into TurnItIn.com. e. I make comments based on the rubrics in TurnItIn. ALSO I use Schoology when giving an in-class assessment. Schoology provides an easy way for students to type on and submit within the same program.
5. Utilize a blog platform and incorporate digital writing into your curriculum. The power of blogging never ceases to amaze me. It seemed powerful when I started blogging in 2009 and it amazingly continues to grow in usage every day. I’ve been using EduBlogs for three years now and highly recommend it; it is WordPress for educators and schools. The features are of the most customizable available and the privacy-range to choose from allows for even the most leery educating soul to get his/her feet wet. Your students will thank you – now and later – for giving them the opportunity to carve a piece in their important digital footprints. See my SlideShare on a recent presentation I gave at ICE 2014 on why and how I incorporate blogging in the classroom.
Bottom line . . . . Don’t be afraid to pitch one technique or application and add another more conducive to your classroom. Learn from trials and errors. My students appreciate when I tell them I don’t know an answer to their question, let’s figure it out together – and it is exciting when we do!
How are you adjusting to going 1:1? I’d enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas from other educators having success and trials as you make the transition.