4 Simple ICT Tricks to get Organised for the New School Year
2018 is well and truly here, and before we know it, Term 1 will be upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it really hard to get stuck into all the hard-core planning & prepping I know I need to do. I’ve done a fair bit of procrastination, but I’ve also completed some simple, ICT organisational tasks. These tasks take no time at all (we’re talking like, 30 minutes) but I promise will save you hours throughout the year:
- Setting up your report comment template
- Generating classroom labels
- Organising new folders (on computer)
- Daily Powerpoint template
Full explanations below…
Setting up your report comment template
At my school, we have to write four lots of report comments (Religion, English, Maths and General) in both Semester 1 and Semester 2 reports. After the nightmare that was Semester 1 2017, I vowed to find an easier way. I established a simple Word document that organised my report comment writing in a far easier way. It certainly made Semester 2 2017 much easier, however I’m super excited (yes, I’m a nerd like that) to try it out for a full year this year.
Basically, I create a Word document with four tables, one for each of the subjects I need to write comments for. The table has three columns – “Student Name” “Semester 1 Comment” “Semester 2 Comment.” Now, when set up it will look something like this:
Some key elements that make this successful:
- Easy Access: I set this up with Office 365 Word Online (my school has access to this). This meant I could access the document from home or work, but also I can add my co-teacher to the document. She and I can then work collaboratively on writing the comments in the same space, rather than writing them separately and then trying to merge our separate paragraphs into one cohesive paragraph.
- Side-by-Side: Having the comments side-by-side means that come Semester 2, you can easily see what you wrote in Semester 1 – this saves you from duplicating comments and wasting hours flicking back and forth between the old reports to check.
- Alphabetical Order: I write out my student names out in the rows of each table in alphabetical order as per my SEQTA class list. (We use SEQTA for all our reporting and attendance). This means, when I go into the subject reporting section on SEQTA to copy my comments in, all the student comments are in order and I’m not scrolling up and down searching for each student.
- Headings: I use Word’s Heading Styles and applied Heading 1 (or 2) to different sections of my document. This means if I open up the Navigation Panel (left-hand side), I can see all the headings (i.e. each subject) and simply click and I’m taken straight to that section. Again, it simply saves time scrolling up and down looking for each subject, particularly as your document starts to grow. (In case you haven’t picked up yet, I wasted A LOT of time last year scrolling!)
- Report Comment Bank: Finally, I copied in a bank of report comments onto the pages below (I built these up over the year last year, and cannot recommend enough TeachStarters Report Comments as a starting point – all connected to Australian Curriculum Standards).
Generating Classroom Labels
This is one of the simple, mindless tasks you can do from home which will set you up so well for the year. Creating your classroom labels can include everything from:
- Desk name labels
- Tray name labels
- Bag hook labels
- Name labels for the “How Well Are You Working?” Chart
- Name labels for the Jobs Chart
- Name labels for your Spelling Groups & Guided Reading Groups Charts
- Name labels for the Birthday Chart
- Word terminology cards
Now, if you’re as OCD as me you’ll want all these labels to be neat, colourful, laminated but most importantly – matching!!! Again, I’m going to refer you to the amazing resource that is TeachStarter. They have a label generator option which lets you input your words / names, select a theme (and there are SO MANY to choose from), and then click generate. Then, you simply download as a PDF, print and laminate while watching the special 4-part series of Gilmore Girls that you still haven’t got around to watching. Easy as that!
Organising New Folders on your Computer
An oldie, but a goodie. Organising your computer is no different to organising your kitchen – everything needs a place to go, otherwise it simply ends up cluttering up the bench-top. By the end of 2017 – despite all my good intentions – my desktop was so cluttered I couldn’t even see the pretty elephant background image that I’d set! I’m making it my mission to not be in the same position by the end of 2018.
Setting up a folder is as simple as opening up a Finder window (on a Mac, or an Explorer window on a Windows machine), right-clicking and selecting New > Folder. You then have the option to rename it.
I’m looking at folders for each of my subjects, along with some extra ones for “Admin” and “Awards.”
The best thing about folders is you can create more as you need it, and also create folders within folders. I’m going to start with this, but then as I find I have files and no where to put them – I’m going to create a suitable folder for them, rather than just dropping them onto my desktop.
Daily Powerpoint Template
Finally, the daily powerpoint template. This was something I tried out last year, and really enjoyed. Basically, it was a Powerpoint slide that I projected each morning as my students arrived. The Powerpoint would outline the learning intentions for the day. One of the goals at my school last year was to make our learning objectives visible. I much preferred having mine typed out rather than hand written on the whiteboard (I type quicker than I can write! And also, it gave me more scope to elaborate if needed).
All this involves is creating a new Powerpoint document, and designing your template. It can be very simple (in fact, the more simple the better as it needs to be easily readable!), with “Learning Intentions” written across the top as the title.
Each day, I simply duplicate the slide, and bullet-point the learning intentions. When I’m feeling super-organised, I’ll even type up the slides for the entire week. Then each morning, I simply turn on the computer and projector and share the slide in Presentation mode with the class.
The kids can then see as they walk in, what they’ll be expected to learn and achieve. I then discuss this with them in more detail during our lessons. My projector has the “freeze” option which means I can keep that slide frozen on the screen for the kids to refer to, while I can still do other things on the computer.
I hope these couple of tricks will help your start of year be that little bit less stressful!! 🙂