NEOrganize Your Class With Units
Type of technology: NEO
SAMR Model Rating: Modification
Grade level: Any grade level
Subject area: Any subject
“Did we do anything important when I was gone?” It’s clearly not what you want to hear when a student returns from an absence. It takes everything you have not to reply, “Of course not. We just sat quietly and awaited your return.” With NEO Units, we can prevent this question from being asked.
To start, NEO has a few places where you can post and documents for students to view:
The first task was to determine the strength of each of these locations. I feel that Resources is best for long term storage of files that aren’t specifically related to any one lesson, but are good references for the entire course. Assignments will end up in your grade book at some point, either after automatically graded online, or when inputted manually. Lastly, Units is for your daily lesson that falls with, wait for it…a unit!
Because most courses in junior high and high school are thematic, this works nicely for us. Title your unit just as you refer to it in your class. For example, I start the year with an “Intro to Science” unit, and follow it up with “Cells,” “Genetics,” and so on. Everything you post, including pages, assignments, and quizzes can be linked to a Unit when created. The critical detail is that every time you post something, you start its name with the date. For example, “10/1: Cell Notes.” This is how your students, absent, or absent-minded, will be able to reference Units for everything that was completed that day. All they have to know, is what the unit of study is, and what the date is. And if they don’t know those two things, you have bigger battles to fight. In each page or assignment I link PDF’s of the handout, the PowerPoint presentation, and even links to websites or videos they need to view.
You may ask,“How is this going to improve student learning?” Students benefit from having every lesson handout, and assignment, listed by the date which it was started. I have students who will download blank documents, for example a study guide, and use that to quiz him or herself for a test. Students who are going to be absent for multiple days, can stay caught up by checking the current date, downloading the notes, viewing the presentation, or watching a linked video. This way, upon their return, they already have any materials they missed, and have briefed themselves on the content missed.
I know what you might be thinking right now: This is a lot of work. You have a point. Initially, this takes time. You need to save your documents as PDF’s, and post every, single, day. One posting tip is to have a separate file in your Dropbox that is dedicated to NEO PDF’s. This helps avoid having duplicate file titles with different extensions (ex. cells.doc and cells.pdf) in the same folder.
The beauty comes in second year when you start your classes in the fall (assuming they are the same course). You will be able to add an existing unit, one that you built the previous year. Yep! Your pages, assignments, quizzes, will all be there! All you have to do is hide them by checking the “hide” box so the students can’t see them, change the date, and modify any instructions or documents you are attaching.
I’ve found that keeping all of my lessons in one spot is less confusing for students, parents, support teachers, etc. No matter what was covered each day, the students can find it. It helps you by being a step ahead of NEO posting the second year. Absent students benefit by being able to access material while they are away, and it helps students who are absent-minded or tend to lose papers, as they always have access to duplicate materials.
Give it a try. I think you’ll be happy.