09 November 2012

Stop Posting Your Homework Assignments (As Often)

I've blogged before about my struggles with missing assignments and communicating work with my students and parents. ("Get the Homework Monkey Off Your Back"). Now I'm going to say, you're doin' too much.

If you're supremely organized, or teach a dual-credit or AP course that requires a complete syllabus from day 1, then this strategy will be much easier to implement and adapt for your situation. The basic goal - keep your homework assignment from getting lost here.
You know this backpack too well...you probably trip over it every day.
Another plan for keeping your students and (more importantly for everyone's success) parents up-to-date and informed on class assignments and tests is to share your planning calendar with them. Before you think, "I tried this once before - updating the calendar function on our school's webpages," hear me out.

Your first step is to begin using Google Calendar for your planning. My favorite function in Google Cal makes me feel like it was made just for me. To change the date of an event, simply click and drag it to another day.

Once you get your lessons mapped out you have TWO options: embed the calendar or share it. I do both with my small AP Stats class. Sharing the calendar is the same process as sharing docs with your students or colleagues. Enter their email and they can have whatever level of sharing/editing/viewing control you desire.

The beauty of sharing the calendar that you're already working with is that there is not an extra step to sharing updates with your students and parents. You update, they see it. You've probably run across one before, but here's what my embedded calendar looks like.

Within 2 days of sharing my AP Stats calendar with my students, I had this conversation:

Hey, Mr. Baker, I'm going to be gone next Thursday for a field trip. What are we going to do?
Um...well... ::trying to come up with a helpful answer::
Oh! I'll just check the calendar!

Your students will be amazed at your organization (and you'll surprise yourself, too).

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Thanks for sharing!