Google Calendar as Learning Management System (Google-a-Day)

very brief introduction to the idea of using Google Calendar as a way of posting and sharing assignments.

Why do I need a Learning Management System (LMS)?

  • it increases communication between teachers and other people (students, parents, tutors and other specialists, and other teachers)
  • most schools are using them, so it’s important for students to get used to navigating assignments online
  • it particularly helps students with organizational skills difficulties (“I lost my homework” difficulties) to manage

Why Google?

  • it’s free
  • it integrates easily with other calendars (e.g. parent’s calendars)
  • it allows for many of the functionalities that most schools require in an LMS, such as: ability to write descriptions linked to dates, ability to attach assignments (that are already in Google Drive or that you upload from your computer), ability to write a description of the assignment (that may include an instruction, website suggestion, question), ability to have due dates
  • their homework may all already be in Google anyway

Questions to ask when you are setting up a Learning Management System:

  • What functionality do I need? Posting due dates? Adding attachments? Linking to websites? Having students upload their assignments (Google does not have the last functionality, but if you are using Google suite, then students can share their Google Docs with you easily)
  • Whom will I share my assignments this? Parents? Students? “Anyone with the link”? Make it public?
  • Will I post assignments the day they are assigned, the day they are due, or both (I suggest the latter!)? OR for longer assignments, will I have assignments span multiple days/weeks, visibly? (This can be helpful, but chances are, you will have smaller due dates throughout, so that may complicate things a bit)
  • If I have a calendar shared with parents/students already, will I integrate my due dates with that? (I suggest yes!)

 

What the video shows (each one is shown briefly… maybe too briefly?):

  • How to add events
  • How to add events that repeat
  • How to add a description to an event
  • How to set up (or enable) adding attachments to events on Google Calendar
  • How to add an attachment to an event from Google Drive
  • How to add an event that spans multiple days (for longer assignments)
  • How to add an event that’s “All Day” (for schools where there is more than one division, but with the same due date)
  • How to share a calendar
  • How that calendar is viewed, once shared

 

Reminders from Google Calendar (Google-a-Day)

Reminders are helpful for students, who benefit from reminders before an assignment is due. Reminders are helpful for parents, who benefit from reminders before a form is due. Reminders are helpful for teachers, who benefit from reminders before an event is about to happen. Can you tell that I’m a fan?

I like that I can customize when my reminders happen, as well as how my reminders happen.

To add a reminder (aka “Notification”) to an event:

1. In your Google Calendar, double click on an Event, or single click and select “Edit Event.” Then, below the event color, you will see the key word “Notifications.” Click, “Add Notification.”

Add Notification

 

2. Select what type of notification you would like. Do you want a Pop-up (this is handy if you are going to be at your computer before the anticipated event), or an Email (this is helpful for computers, but also for mobile devices).

Pop up or Email

 

3. Select when you would like the notification to, well, notify you! You can pick the number (1-10) and unit (minutes, hours, days, or weeks). For longer term assignments, it may make sense to have a notification 2 days in advance; similarly, for signed forms, 2 days’ notice is helpful for parents. For events that simply require a reminder to show up, 1 hour in advance may be sufficient. You know you, and hopefully you know your students and their parents, so you can better judge what makes sense for your community.

Notification Time

 

 

Adding Attachments to Calendar (Google-a-Day)

Adding Attachments to my Calendars has transformed my life. For my personal life, it’s allowed me to upload pdf’s of tickets to concerts or the opera, so it no longer mattered who got to a venue first. Professionally, it has been transformative in helping students who tend to lose things, and in increasing transparency for parents, caregivers, babysitters, tutors, you name it!

Why?

Because adding attachments allows students to have access to assignments on the calendar, which reduces risk of loss and increases chances that the assignment will actually get done! Linking assignments to a calendar also enhances students’ time management skills, but I’m saving the Google Calendar LMS/Planner notion for a separate post.

Adding attachments is not “just for kids.” Parents find it helpful to have backups of field trip forms and announcements.

Teachers can also benefit from added attachments. Important forms that have a due date can be attached to events, which increases the likelihood of completion and ease of completion.

 

How?

1. Open your Google Calendar, and either double click on the event (thereby opening the Editing features right away), or single click on an event and click “Edit Event” (as seen below).

Edit Event: Attachment

 

2. Below the description, select “Add attachment.” It’s so simple and so life-altering!

 

Add Attachment

 

3. The attachments can link to any document in your drive, or you can upload any document from your computer.

Add attachment 2

 

You can choose to add documents when you assign an assignment or project, when they’re due, or make projects take up multiple days (since they do!). Check our my post about Google Calendar as planners or LMS for more.

Sharing Calendars (Google-a-Day)

The ability to share calendars has been a huge life-saver professionally and personally.

The benefits of sharing calendars include:

  • easier planning for meetings (I can simply share all of my calendars and then people will be able to see when I have prep or meeting times available)
  • knowing when school-wide or program-wide events happen (field trips, sports events, parent-teacher conferences, etc.); the number of times that a soccer game has happened the night before a major project is due has been seriously reduced by shared calendars
  • being able to co-plan events: thus far I’ve used this more in my personal life (shared calendar with partner has led to fewer double booked nights!), but even at school, if all the Middle School teachers share a Middle School calendar, then it reduces the likelihood of having multiple tests or projects due in one day
  • help with figuring out where students will be at during different points in the day: when I do push-in, I can’t always remember where each student is, especially if my schedule has changed for some reason. I can easily pull up the schedule of a group of students (e.g. by classroom, or by grade, though that’s often less relevant at a Montessori school!) to see where my student would be
  • being able to share calendars with students and parents to increase transparency and help them plan (what to pack, when to do which assignments, etc.)

How to:

1. When you’re in Google Calendar, click the triangle next to whichever calendar you’d like to share. Click on “Share this Calendar” (5th on the list).

Share Calendar

 

2. This will pull up the window you see, below. You can specify how public the calendar should be: you can make it Public to everyone, Public to everyone at your organization/school, or simply share with specific people.

Share specifications

 

3. How much do you share? For each person or group that you want to share with, you can decide whether they can

  • manage events and manage who can view the calendar
  • manage events
  • view your events
  • see whether or not you are busy
Sharing limits

 

If I had an assistant (that’ll be the day!), I’d have them manage my events and judge who should be able to view the calendar as well. With my supervisor, I’ve allowed her to manage my events (although she’s never taken me up on this, I would be okay with her adding in an event, or cancelling one). For the most part, I end up sharing my events with coworkers, in order to allow them to see when I am available to provide services or attend a meeting. For attending meetings, though, it may just be a matter of letting them see when I am busy, though, so sometimes I just share whether or not I am busy…

It sounds so simple written down like that, but I cannot stress enough how helpful (nay, essential!) shared calendars are. It reduces inefficiency due to too many/misinterpreted emails, it can help you figure out where students are at all times, and it lets you be mindful of potential conflicts (with events, due dates, etc.).

It can also be helpful in enhancing students’ time management and sense of time. Plus, it can basically function as an LMS (Learning Management System) or act as planner for some students (in a separate post!).

 

 

 

 

Multiple Calendars (Google-a-Day)

One calendar feature I really like is the fact that I can have multiple calendars. Tomorrow, I will write about the benefits of being able to share different calendars, but even without sharing, multiple calendars allow me to keep my sanity.

Multiple calendars can be helpful for:

  • separating personal from professional calendars
  • differentiating between departments or programs at a school (for example, I work in the Upper Elementary and Middle School at my school, and they have different schedules and important dates)
  • differentiating between academic and extracurricular or more fun activities (e.g. assemblies)
  • if you work with students in multiple classrooms or grades
  • tracking hours in different positions, on different tasks, etc.
  • differentiating between levels of busy-ness (for example, I want my status to reflect that I am “busy” when I am at work, but I am available for blocks of time I have set aside for blog-writing… hence my procrastination!)
  • having calendars from different time zones, if that’s appropriate to the type of work that you do
  • noting Twitter chats, professional conferences, and meet-ups (if you do not want this in your regular calendar
  • separating student (and maybe parent) calendars vs. staff/faculty calendars

How to create multiple calendars:

1. Open up google.com/calendar

2. On the left-hand side, next to My Calendars, there’s a little upside-down triangle. Click it:

My calendars

3. Click “Create New Calendar”

Create new calendar

4. Then, you will have the option of naming your calendar, adding a description, location, and selecting level of Public-ness (everything from having everyone on the internet see it, to just reflecting whether or not you are busy, to completely private). You may want to have one per grade, per classroom, per division – it will depend on your school’s needs and schedule.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 5.50.57 PM

 

5. Share your calendar, if you wish (more on this in tomorrow’s post!).

Google-a-Day

Over the summer, I became a certified Google Educator, and since then, I’ve been even more excited about sharing my knowledge about the various tools Google has to offer for students with diverse learning needs than before!

imgres

Starting Monday, November 10, I will be starting a Google-a-Day feature, with a tip posted every weekday + a weekend summary. Each week will be focused on a theme (e.g. Google Calendar, web extensions, Search features, etc.), and I will write daily posts focusing on that theme. If you prefer bite-sized chunks of information, check the daily posts. For those of you that want the whole buffet, my weekend posts will summarize the whole week’s worth of posts in one, long posts, so choose your own adventure!

 

 

Inspirational Quote Wall from people with LD’s

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@julesteaches) will have seen this image already, but I wanted to share it here, too. I ran a lesson about Learning Disabilities and Differences for a group of 7th & 8th graders at my school in honor of LD & Dyslexia Awareness month (mixed group of students with & without learning disabilities). The students rotated between reading about famous people with learning disabilities, reading about the advantages of dyslexia, participating in simulations about various learning disabilities, and making posters with quotes from people with Learning Disabilities or Differences. Below is the Inspirational Quote wall they completed (apologies for the blurriness/lighting failure). Much of the language mirrors what we have been talking with the students about Carol Dweck’s Mindset Theory as it focuses on perseverance and effort. Such a lovely constant reminder!

 

Dyslexia Quote Wall

Person-First Language: Why it Matters & Why you Should Use It

As Dyslexia Awareness month draws to a close, I’m seeing lots of articles about “dyslexics.” All are well-intentioned, and many are informative, but I can’t help but be thrown by the subtext that a person is defined by their diagnosis. I wrote an argument for person-first language with additional resources (from more articulate people/sources) for Noodle.com.

Comments always welcome!

Dyslexia Word Cloud

I looked up a few common definitions of dyslexia, and created a Word Cloud from it, below:

 

Dyslexia Word Cloud

 

Although the words “difficulty,” “disorder,” and “difficulty” are (understandably) quite large, I like how large “intelligence” and “learning” are also quite prominently featured, as are “abilities” and “common.”

 

Sources used:

  1. National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary
  3. Wikipedia
  4. International Dyslexia Association
  5. Mayo Clinic

Poetry About Dyslexia

Many of my students enjoy writing poetry. Its lack of structure is freeing, and it’s a wonderful outlet for self-reflection for them. Here are a 5 poems I found about dyslexia. The poets are not famous, but they do articulate their feelings about dyslexia in eloquent, relatable ways.

  1. My Dyslexia, by Kenjli
  2. Dyslexia and Me, by Natalie Davies
  3. A Boy Sits, by Oscar Kowkolski
  4. Reading is, by Brigid Davidson
  5. The Gift, Dyslexia Blueprint, and Mt. Dyslexia, each for a fundraiser for “Dyslexiaville”

 

Poetry is not only an outlet for some students. For some, it can be a career! Pulitzer Prize winning Philip Schultz is an author and poet with dyslexia. Read about his poetry, progress, and process on the New York Times.