Organize Your BLEND to Keep Students on Track

confused panda in need of an organized BLEND

Today’s contributor: Crissie Ballard, yearbook adviser and Photography & Graphic Design teacher at Anderson High School. This is her 15th year at Anderson and 25th year of teaching. She loves art, the beach, and her family, which consists of her husband, two grown kids, a daughter-in-law, and four adorable grandkids. Her new hobby is genetic genealogy, where she helps people find biological families. You might say she’s a little obsessed. Her friends do.

We recently did an analysis of why kids were failing. What we found was that an overwhelming number of them were just not turning in their assignments. And what is the number one thing students struggle with all the way from elementary to high school? Turning in work and knowing when assignments are actually due! We tried those planners but they don’t actually remind you. You have to remember to look at them. If you could remember to look at them, well, you get what I’m saying. But this generation is used to getting information digitally, so why not use features already built into Blend to help them get organized?

The Calendar and the To Do List are two great features. Assignments entered as actual “Assignments” with due dates will automatically populate both to the Calendar and to the student’s To Do list. I know that lots of teachers like to have their Home Page give all of their information, like grading policy, biography, etc. What I’ve found is that by making the Syllabus the Home Page, creating buttons (thanks Christy at Murchison for introducing me to Google Buttons!) that link to other pages you create with all the other information, students go right to their assignments. Guess who else can find it? Yup, their parents.

As a parent trying to find your child’s assignments, you find yourself looking in the “Files” for one teacher, at a pdf linked to a page for another teacher, or at “Assignments” that are listed with no due date or any information. It’s such a useful tool, and we can use it to our advantage. You don’t have to hear “You didn’t tell us when it was due” or any other excuses. Repeat after me: It’s on Blend.  

 

Steps for making a Home Page like the one you see above:

Create Pages you want linked to from your Home Page (About Me, Contact Information, Grading Policy, etc.)

Create Google Buttons for each page in Google.  Instructions are here.  

Go to Syllabus.  Add your menu bar.  Here’s mine with the HTML code.   

Create pages and link to the buttons on the bar.

Now you have to be sure to add your assignments and enter the dates they are due. The great part is, they don’t go away! You can import them next year and just adjust the dates.  It even sends reminders to students’ phones if they install the app, which is great, btw, if you aren’t already using it. It reminds you when students have submitted work and you need to grade it.

But that’s for another blog.  

3 Comments

  1. Thank you. As a parent of two teens with ADHD, I wish all teachers who assign homework had this level of organization!

  2. As Crissie and I have collaborated on streamlining the landing page for courses at both Anderson and Murchison, we polled parents, students, and school support staff to find out what they needed to be successful. In a nutshell, they want all the really important information on the course Home page (we highly recommend taking advantage of the Syllabus as your Home page). As I’ve transitioned into the requested format, I’m hearing students say they wished all teachers did it like we do. In a nutshell they – parents, students, support staff – want: contact info, tutorials, testing days, syllabus, grading/homework policy, and list of assignments. Takes all the arguments out of “I didn’t know where to find it!”

Leave a Reply