Friday, 16 October 2015

Friday October 16

Thanks For Sharing! Now What?

Over the past few weeks, I'm sure many of you who use Google Drive with your students have received emails saying someone has invited you to collaborate or edit or view some kind of file or folder. Keeping track of all those documents can be rather time consuming, particularly if you are working with many students. Add to that the documents and files shared by administrators and your drive can quickly become a pile of virtual paper. So, how do we manage the document flow coming in to us?

When working with students, one thing I suggest is they create one folder and share it with their teachers. If they label the folder with their first and last name and the course name (EG: Sean Beaton Language Arts) it makes it much easier to identify who's folder it is. By sharing one folder and putting all of the work for the class into that folder, you will not continue to receive emails about sharing. Anything that is placed or created in that shared folder automatically retains the same sharing permissions as the folder. The students can tell you face to face or through email they have completed the assignment and it is in the folder, or you can check the folder yourself. This entire process is made even more straightforward when you use Google Classroom as all assignments are turned in through the assignment stream. You don't need to go looking for them. You will receive a notification that the assignment is completed in your email but you won't need to search in your "shared with me" section of your drive.

The same principles apply to sharing with colleagues. If you are working collaboratively with a group of teachers, create one single folder for the group. Share the folder with all your colleagues who need access and place all relevant documents in this folder. That way, people are not inundated with email and they do not need to look in their shared with me section. The one thing you may want to do with a shared folder is add it to your drive so you know where it is. To do this, right click on the name of the folder shared with you in the Shared with Me section of your drive. Then select "Move to Drive." You can then choose where to put the folder. 

If you are using Google Drive with your students, let me know how things are going. I really enjoy hearing feedback and knowing how things are working in your classrooms.

The Power of Language

Over the past few weeks, one of my projects has been to go through various programs of study in preparation for PD on October 30. What I found as I combed through the various curricula was a vast difference in language use. In some curriculum documents, the words General Outcome and Specific Outcome are used. In others it is Related Issue and Concept. Still others use different language. It took me a little while to come to an understanding as to why this was the case - each of the documents was written at a different time. For example the Social Studies 30-1 curriculum was released less than ten years ago whereas the English Language Arts Curriculum is much older. As a result, the terminology does not match. But, the essence of what the documents are trying to achieve is the same. 

Teachers are tasked with helping students move through large "chunks" of information. They can be called General Outcomes or Related issues but they are the same idea. These large chunks of information form the bulk of our units and the bulk of our summative assessments. This is the information we need to report back to parents. The smaller pieces that make up the whole are the things we do day to day in our classrooms - they are the concepts that we help our students understand while working to a larger goal. These smaller pieces are where our formative assessment takes place. We work with students in helping them understand this information and ensure we give them feedback regarding this understanding, all the while moving toward the end goal of the General Outcome. 

This past week, four schools came together to begin the process of collaboratively "unpacking" the curriculum. Over the next few weeks, all of us will get together to begin this process in an effort to continue the amazing work being done all over the district to promote success for each of our students. 

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