Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fast Forward Series: It's a Digital Mess: Clean Up Time

     In Episode 7 of Time to Teach, I shared many digital tasks you should do this summer to help you prepare for fall. The beginning of the school year is always busy, so you want to take advantage of the summer and start tackling some of your to-do list. Here are some digital tasks you can do right now to help lessen the chaos of the fall:

Pacing guide 

     Having a clearly planned out school year is important. You don't want to start the year without a scope and sequence, even a most basic scope and sequence. You can do this in any calendar that works for you. I prefer Google Calendar to do my pacing guide.
     Your pacing guide should have the most basic information you need, such as the name of your units, the beginning and end dates, and any holidays and events. I also like to count the number of weeks in my pacing guide, so I add that in there as well (ex: "week 1"). You probably have a pacing guide to work from, so it will likely be just a matter of plugging in the new dates in which your units fall.

Unit map (or Unit Document)

     It's important to have a detailed plan for your units. A unit map (or unit document) differs from a pacing guide in that it is very specific.  It includes all of the small details of your unit. Most likely you already have an existing unit map to work from.  If you do, you will want to take time this summer tweaking it so it matches next school year's calendar.  This will include changing the dates to match the new unit dates. You’ll also want to consider including the number of school days within that unit.  Since there are specific programs and series that I use within the unit's curriculum (such Math in Focus, Reading and Writing Workshop) with their own scope and sequence, I want to know how many days are in that scope and sequence and compare it to how many actual academic days I have. I suggest doing this so you don't run out of academic time unexpectedly.

Click here to see my actual Unit Map for Unit 1

Digital files

     Now is the perfect time to clean up your digital messes. This includes files on your hard drive, as well as any files you might have in the cloud.  Be careful and plan strategically.  You will need a "plan of attack" so you don't lose track of which files you have already cleaned out, and which ones are pending. I  suggest starting at a specific row and either working across or down. The other option is to choose a column and work down.

Email  

     It is probably best to regularly clean out email (something I am guilty of not doing consistently). If your email is in need of cleaning, then do so before fall. This includes not only your work email, but any personal email accounts as well.

Class website


     You will also want to start working on your class website. This might mean some light tweaking, or a major overhaul. I have had summers when I have completely redesigned my class website. A complete redesign usually implies there will be a good amount of time spent on it. Other Summers, though, I have only had to modify and update my website. For example, the homepage for my website is a class newsletter that's actually a Google Document. I update the class newsletter document every week and then I upload to my website. It's fast and easy, but it does have to be done.

 Forms of Communication  

     This probably is not going to demand too much of you digitally, though it might.  Yet, you definitely want to decide on the method of communication with parents and students. It's very possible that you already have a method that you like and will continue. In that case, you won't need to spend any more time on it this summer. In my case, however, I am going to start using the Remind app. Since I know nothing about Remind or how it works, I will need to spend some time this summer "learning up" on it.


Wrap Up

     Working on these digital tasks during the summer will help decrease your fall tasks. You don't want to wait to find time to squeeze these tasks into your busy and chaotic beginning-of-the-school-year schedule. Do them now, and you will thank yourself later.

* Interested in hearing the episode where I speak in depth on these things? Click here to listen.
   
     Do you have other digital tasks that you work on? I would love to hear about them.


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