Each one of my classes has a daily agenda. It’s the single go-to place for announcements, links, and plans for the day/week. In the past, I’ve tried lots of shiny technology, including a class blog, Google Classroom, and online lesson planners that publish to the web. They all came with benefits and drawbacks. I kept looking for something more efficient for me and my students.
For me, the answer came in the simplest and plainest place: Google Docs. After watching some webinars on creating flipped/blended learning lessons in Google Docs, I realized that would work great for daily agendas, too.
This year I started using tables in Google Docs, and I loooove it. Here’s my British Literature agenda:
Here’s why my classes’ daily agendas and Google Docs work so well together:
1. Central Location. It’s the one place I can guarantee will have information students need. Assessment dates, links to assignments, even announcements for the senior class. I ask that students bookmark the daily agenda to make it easy to access for them.
2. Time Saver. Every day we have absent students. Now, all I have to tell them is “check the daily agenda and let me know if you have questions.” When students are planning to be gone for basketball games or field trips for other classes, I say the same thing: “Check the daily agenda.”
3. Easy Adjustment. I’ve used blogs and websites for daily agendas before, and they’ve worked fine–except when I’ve had to make adjustments to the agenda. And to be honest, I have to make adjustments often. I realize I’ve forgotten an announcement. I’ve thought of another resource for students. To make these changes in a website requires lots of clicks to get into the post, to edit it, to republish it. In a Google Doc, I can make a quick edit in a few seconds. It’s a true living document that changes throughout the day.
4. Easy Commenting. Blogs and websites allow for student comments, but viewing them involves scrolling and clicking. In a Google Doc (that’s set to “Comment Only”), students can highlight part of the agenda and make a comment–perhaps a question they have or a resource they’ve found that could help others. Then the comments are attached directly to the part of the agenda it refers to.
5. Hyperlinks: Granted I can’t embed videos or websites into Google Docs (although I dream that one day I’ll be able to…), I can link anything. Assignments in Google Classroom, YouTube videos, websites–you name it.
6. Compacted Interface. What I mean is being able to access and scan a lot of information in a small area. For this reason (and reason #3) is why I choose Google Docs over Google Classroom for classroom agendas. Nearly all my above reasons can be accomplished with Google Classroom (which I also use), but want to look at the week at a glance? It’s a no-go. There’s scrolling through announcements and assignments. In Google Docs, I make one table for each week, put the date at the top, and change the color of the table each week.
7. Flexibility of Tables. My life changed when “Merge cells” was added to Google Docs. As my teaching pedagogy changes, so do my tables. Currently, I’m shifting to a more student-paced classroom and eventually plan to be fully quest-based learning. With the ability to merge cells, I can create “weekly plans & announcements” in a side column, then cells for each day on the right. Columns could be created for matching up the standards or student resources, too.
Still haven’t found the right answer to your Class Announcement/Agenda page? Try Google Docs. For me, the answer was in the simplicity of Google Docs.