I felt awesome that I had everything online.
When a student forgot their writing chart I’d say, “Check the website”
When a student forgot their rubric I’d say, “Check the website.”
When a student would have a question about he schedule I’d say, “Check the website.”
When a student would have a question about an assignment I’d say, “Check the website.”
When a student would have a question about point totals I’d say, “Check the website.”
When a student would have a question about class policies I’d say, “Check the website.”
Oh, how liberating. Freedom. Ahhhhh…..
The ‘paperless’ factor removed a ridiculous amount of stress. You see, I’m not good at simply saying ‘too bad, so sad’ to students. Why? Because I want them to have the materials they need to be active participants in my class. Having everything available through the website provided this opportunity. Forgot it? Run down to the computer lab and print it out. If they have to do this a couple of times, I found it really solves the problem (most of the time).
I know some teachers just won’t allow them to come to class if they forgot something. Well…here is the deal. I forget things ALL THE TIME. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am on Church Council. I volunteer at my kids’ school. I make lunches every day. I work-out. I forget. So, I don’t think it’s fair to hold my students to a higher standard than I provide.
I forget and people forgive me all of the time. I don’t make a habit out of it…and I found that if my students are ‘forgiven’ in this way, “Okay, get down there. Print it out. Hurry back” they also don’t make a habit of it.
Being paperless also helped me track what students were doing. Using Weebly, I can track how many ‘hits’ I get on the website every day, not just that – but what specific pages. I can also track ‘unique’ viewers. Turns out, my students were looking at the website daily. I KNOW that my students rarely looked at their syllabus after the first time I gave it to them. Success…and no, I do not have qualitative or quantitative solid data to prove it. I have some…but mostly a gut feeling.
Last semester I also had the opportunity to have a tech savvy teaching assistant. He suggested we start using Twitter. I had already used Facebook to help my students connect to each other. I tried using the ‘Groups’ function for classes, but students rarely checked the group. Then, there was the awkwardness of ‘friending’ your teacher. There was the also the awkwardness of seeing a picture of one of your students dancing on a bar with what looks like sexy pj’s on. AWKWARD. Especially because you can’t really get away from the news feed.
What was this Twitter thing anyway? 140 Characters. What is the point of that? Who really has anything that short to say? Obviously, not me (I’m currently 412 words into something that probably would have taken my husband 50).
But, you know…I’m creative…I like trying new things. So, we began the account. We had a couple followers. Then a couple more. Then a few more. We linked it to the website – so our ‘Twitter Feed’ updated every time we Tweeted.
It worked well. It just seemed like a lot of work to me…but I was glad I had a TA to take care of it.
The end of the semester came and I was reading my assessments. A consistent comment…due dates. I looked back at my course gradebook…soooo many missing assignments. So I just continued thinking. I don’t want my students to get poor grades because they forgot to turn in an assignment.
This means they aren’t learning. Turning in SOMETHING is better than nothing. Again, it’s the education and learning component. If I have a five step process for a project and they miss steps 3 and 4; how could I ever expect the final outcome to be as good as possible? How could they? How do I help them? How do I help me?
Maybe the answer is Twitter….hmmm…enter Winter Break.