This year I’m having a stab at using Google Docs and Google Sites to maintain my class teaching and learning program. I decided to go down this path because (a) I’ve always had a bad habit of leaving my physical program folder/documents at home or school or wherever I was using them last (b) paper-based programs get messy and icky with scrawling and changes of plan and I’m not really a fan of mess and ick and scrawl (c) I thought it could increase my workflow efficiency and (d) it would be available to share with others for feedback or as a example of how someone could set out their programming.
The downside, of course, is that your teaching and learning program is out there on display to the world. And as with most teachers, this document is always a work in progress and there’s always changes to be made and tweaking to be done. So it does make me feel a little vulnerable in that others have the ability to cast a critical eye over my work. But I’m hoping this only leads to positive improvement rather than complete demoralisation!
So anyway, I’m six weeks into using my digital program, and this has been the upside:
- It’s much more flexible and adaptable. When your world revolves around formative assessment and individual learning plans, I find that it’s damn near impossible to program for an entire unit of work a term ahead. I can using the teaching-learning cycle on the ‘short wash cycle’ on a daily basis to respond to student need, particularly in KLAs like Maths.
- I pop my program up onto the IWB and the kids can see exactly what’s happening. Links to sites are embedded in the document, making them easily accessible during lessons and easily transferred to the class blog for sharing afterwards.
- It’s a more accurate register of my teaching. I can edit documents to reflect what actually happened, and easily shift contents around. Helpful when a poppet is having a particularly sensory day and teaching and learning experiences need to be quickly reshaped into something else to accommodate them, throwing your original plan out the window.
- Knowing that the whole world can read my program, it’s given me a greater sense of accountability. I’m notorious for starting a day book, then having it fade away by about Week 5, Term 1. But I’m actually finding a practical purpose for keeping a digital day book because it has all my links etc in it.
- I had a casual teacher on my class yesterday. I thought that the digital format would actually make life easier for casuals, because I’ve set the program up as an easily clickable link in the bookmark bar of the browser, and everything is ready to go. But when I walked the casual through the format (showed her the Day Book link, which had links to various parts of the program that she could go to in order to find out what to do for that section) she was really daunted. So this approach is good for me, but not so good if you get casuals who aren’t tech savvy. To get around this, I’m going to train up my SLSO a bit better and perhaps include a “Note for Casuals” page with a brief rundown of where to start and what to do (would also be useful if I’m at home sick and need to pass on any messages to the casual from home).
- At the start of the year, while I’ve been testing out different ways of running things to suit my kids (especially considering I’m at a new school with kids I knew nothing about at the start of the year) it’s been difficult to establish a consistent online programming approach from the word go. I’ve felt it’s been a little bit higgledy-piggledy in some ways, but I guess this is the same with paper-based programming. The difference is that with an online program, the world can see your higgledy-pigglediness.
So yeah…so far it’s more upside than downside. I’ll update again at the end of Term 2.