I hear many teachers frustrated about the lack of student organization. As a teacher myself, I completely understand.
Organization: A Common Frustration
Us teachers take the time to find the best educational material, spend hours creating lessons, go through the trouble or copying/posting assignments all for students. It can then be frustrating when students don’t keep track of their material and ask you for 2 or 3 copies of the same worksheet.
All of this is wasted time and it can eat away at their productivity and ours. I recently posted a video detailing how I organize my course with a lot of positive feedback. I thought I would take a couple of minutes to go into more detail.
2 years ago I began digitizing my classroom material. I did it because students need lessons in organization and productivity as much as my class content. I scanned my worksheets and readings into PDF files and then made online versions of my assessments; tests and quizzes. I used Schoology as my learning management system and to keep everything organized. I posed specifically about homework at the end of last year. You can read about that here.
The switch addressed:
- Student Organization: Everything was online!
- Missing assignments: Materials were submitted online!
- Grading: Online Assessments Were Graded For Me!
This not only increased my productivity but the student's as well!
Blended Course Organization - Schoology
I went through a couple different attempts at organizing my course but the best system I found was organizing the material into “Folders” on Schoology. Instead of nightly homework deadlines, I make a “Folder” deadline with all of the assessments due by the deadline.
You can see my progression in the images below.
September 2014 — The Enlightenment: A Mess.
The first unit of this year was a mess. One set of assignments was for honors and one for my A-levels. There was no organization, no system of due dates, and no clarity of student progression. There were no student completion rules so students didn’t know how to proceed independently. This was haphazard and did not help me nor the students see the endgame of what we were trying to accomplish.
October 2014 — The French Revolution: Getting there.
Here I have included more links, and more organization with a clearer progression to the final test. There were still no student completion rules and it was sill a bit unclear what students had to accomplish or how the material built up to the final assessment.
October/November 2014 — The Industrial Revolution: Near Perfection.
I added a clear progression from start to finish. Everything was designed to build to the final assessment. I had multiple checkpoints along the way to check for student understanding and to perform skill checked. I added student completion rules and aligned the material in A level and Honors.
This added the clarity of purpose to what we were studying. It also gave students the ability to progress independently because it was clear what need to be completed, viewed, or passed in order to progress to the final assessment.
Students were a little confused about the whole system but that was to be expected given that no other class at my school is setup this way. I loved it though because everything that was needed for student success was clearly organized.
I was no longer the gatekeeper to student success but someone who could help them through the process. This is my model for the rest of the year.
I have tried different lesson planning and assessment strategies over the years and this is by far the best way I have organized my course. I know what needs to be completed and so do the students. Absences no longer matter and the organization is demonstrated to the students so nothing is misunderstood. Everyone wins.
Blended learning is still the frontier of education and it will be some time before teachers can figure out the best practices. Good organization will make your teaching and student learning more productive, efficient, and effective!
Question: How have you organized your blended course? What tools do you use to be effective? Please let me know in the comments!