Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Starting the year: An Organized "Specials" Teacher


Starting the year as an ^ Computer Technology Teacher.

When I started my position at a rural Ohio school in 2013 as an elementary computer technology teacher I quickly, as all first year teachers, found the need to catalog dos and don’ts.

What To Do
Getting room ready.
My room is a computer lab.  Throughout the day several students may share the same computer and classroom teachers can reserve the lab as well.  To get my room ready I did 3 things.
  1. Place a magazine rack at each desk for file folders and ear buds.
  2. Prepare a nametag for each student.
  3. Set the home page and bookmarks on the Internet browser bookmark bar.

Getting class webpage ready.
The most important bookmark is my classroom webpage.  I use Google Sites to create my class page but several other teachers use and in some ways it’s easier.  I prefer Google Sites because I can easily link forms that I’ve created to my page. It’s not necessarily a fancy page.  Actually it is overly simple.  

It lists the grade levels I see throughout the day and has links for them to do that day.  Each week I “catalog” the links to a side column and additionally add a section of links that the classroom teacher wants available for students.  

Students know when I tell them to visit my page that they will open Google Chrome (the web browser preferred for my class),
click on the Apple (the icon/picture shortcut for my classroom webpage), and select their grade.  Then they wait for instructions on how to use the materials.  

Student nametags.
I get the class list from the office in CSV format from their database.  You may or may not have access to get this information on your own.  Then I take the roster and sort by teacher and copy and paste student names in an Excel spreadsheet.
I created a template for this purpose. The lists are sorted by homeroom teacher name because elementary students see me by homeroom. Since our grade books are online I don’t keep grades in a spreadsheet on my desktop.  This spreadsheet is only for maintaining my seating chart.*  

I then use the deskplate file and desktag file to merge names from the spreadsheet to a document to print. The trick is that in the allclasses tab of the spreadsheet all the people in the same row need to be in the same seat for the process to work.  You can move them around but the default is set to auto populate. And just because they may be in alphabetic order doesn’t mean you have to place the tags in alphabetic order.

sample nameplate

Additionally, you will see on the spreadsheet that the default is in a horseshoe but you can select a cell and move it to configure the desks however you like.  

This is for the teacher’s use to have in a substitute binder or to take attendance.  I put my seating charts in sheet protectors and use dry erase markers to take attendance.

Student Folders/Racks
Finally, I can use the same spreadsheet to print labels for the folders or pass out folders for students to write their names.  I ask them to highlight their names on the folder per class so it’s easy to find each class even if they aren’t in the same order in the rack.

*The spreadsheet can be used for any teacher whether you only need name tags for 1 set of students or if you see several periods throughout a day or week like me.