It has been about two months since we started using Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard with our Google Apps for Education. So far, we love it. Everyone has good things to say about this tool that helps our teachers and students keep everything organized and visible.
Two of the teachers who have been the heaviest users of the tool are Mrs. Abbott and Mrs. Ray. Both of them are Language Arts teachers who, in the past, have carried reams of paper back and forth between school and home. They have had to decipher interesting handwriting, straighten out crumpled papers, and struggle to give timely feedback to students. Since our introduction of Google Apps for Education about a year and a half ago, these two teachers have moved towards a paperless environment. Still, managing the endless lists of shared documents in Google Drive was not easy. Now it is much easier and much more effective.
I have learned from both, and today I sat down with Mrs. Ray to develop a workflow to make giving her students support and feedback easier. I thought other teachers might find it useful.
Teacher Dashboard Writing Assignment Workflow
Create a document with instructions and a rubric. First, write the instructions as you would when you create a handout for students.
At the end of the instructions, insert a page break and create your rubric. Be specific. Rubrics, in my opinion, give better guidance than the best set of written directions for almost any assignment.
Use the Smart Copy function in Teacher Dashboard to automatically add a copy of the instructions and rubric in each student’s folder.
Students write their paper “sandwiched” between the instructions and the rubric. Every time the student accesses the document, the instructions and the rubric are right there, helping students stay on track with the assignment.
To grade the paper, the teacher scrolls to the bottom of the paper after reading the assignment and highlights the appropriate rating in the rubric.
This workflow addresses issues that teachers face when students work on projects over several weeks or months.
First is the most obvious problem. Giving students pieces of paper they need to keep for a long time is always a dicey proposition. Even the most organized students can have a binder mishap and their papers scatter all over the parking lot. Having the handouts incorporated in the assignment document, in digital format, is the best way to hang on to them.
Since the Smart Copy document is automatically shared with the teacher, the teacher can use the Comments function to provide guidance and support before the assignment is due. I recommend having set dates when the teacher will be looking at the works-in-progress (homework grade?) to give students an opportunity to get feedback prior to the final due date. Some students might need more support than others, and this is a seamless way of giving them feedback without calling attention to them. Only the teacher and the student will know there were comments made on any particular document.
I hope this helps teachers thinking of getting started with Google Docs and Teacher Dashboard. We still have a couple of after-school sessions on the schedule to look at these tools in depth, and I’m always available to work one-on-one with teachers who can’t stay after school.