Day -8 Embracing a LMS Opportunity
I just love the hopefulness and optimism I feel during the couple of weeks before school starts. I believe I can accomplish so much, I know I will be a magnificent teacher for each of my students, and I won’t work 70+ hour weeks. After 35 years at this, I know I’m a little delusional but I am also thankful that I love my career choice after all of these years and I do truly believe I can still make a difference!!
So what am I working on today? Well, another thing I’m committed to this year is massively reducing the amount of paper I hand out, collect, shuffle through, and hand back. Most of the time, the feedback isn’t timely despite my late-night efforts and the amount of paper is almost obscene. I knew my website maintenance wasn’t working well for me and it was a time-suck whose benefits did not outweigh its drawbacks. Last winter, I began looking for a Learning Management System (LMS) that was intuitive, easy to navigate and free. I happened to be walking down the hall last May and our tech specialist was chatting with one of our social studies teachers…of course, I stuck my nose into their conversation and in doing so was introduced to Schoology. I literally died and went to teacher-heaven!! Whoot-whoot! Schoology seemed so much more nimble and responsive than what we are currently using and since it was free, it wouldn’t cost the district anything for us to use.
Unfortunately, our web presence platform for the high school was already determined and in place. Fortunately, Schoology was used at the middle school level. Unfortunately, the social studies teacher used it last year unaware (as a first year teacher in the district) that he shouldn’t. Fortunately, the three of us really believed Schoology was the best way to support student learning without burning out the teacher, so we proposed a pilot plan to use Schoology this year. Unfortunately, the pilot wasn’t okayed…fortunately it wasn’t denied. So we’re in limbo but I spent the day with my SS colleague looking at best practices and sharing ideas for implementing. I am so thankful for the selfless and enthusiastic help and am determined to use Schoology starting the first day of school.
So why am I so enthusiastic? Those who use a LMS know how wonderful it is to have “everything” in one place and linked together – assignments, calendars, agendas, handouts, announcements, videos, grades, etc. In addition, since we are a 1-to-1 iPad school, I can have students get handouts electronically, use a note-taking app to actually take notes, submit assignments electronically, rubrics and rubric grading, and do formative (exit slips, polls, bell ringers, etc) and some summative assessments online without having one piece of paper exchange hands. In addition, Schoology has recently created a Schoology app (both iOS and android) that students can download and use – yay! I’m nervous about seamlessly incorporating this new technology into my everyday, yet I’m beyond excited! I have a lot to think about and do to get my classes set up by September 2 but I enthusiastically embrace the challenge. Do you have any LMS “best practices” for an enthusiastic neophyte?