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Friday, August 3, 2018

Schoology - GROUPS

Our elementary school is entering our third year using Schoology as our communications and grading system.  I have been pleasantly surprised with how easy it has been to use.  If you are just getting started with Schoology, or you've been using it for a while but still feel overwhelmed, I hope this post and future posts will be helpful for you.

First of all, the communication with Schoology can go in a couple of directions.  It can be from teacher to student.  Our school uses the COURSE option in Schoology for this, mostly because of the grading feature and privacy.

Schoology communication can also be teacher to parents.  In our school, this is done with a GROUP. I love being able to post Weekly Updates, last minute important announcements, photos and videos for parents, links to great resources, information from each of our Specials Teachers, and so much more through our class GROUP.    These next few posts will focus on GROUPS.  If you want to know more about grading in a COURSE, stay tuned!  Below shows how I keep GROUPS and COURSE straight in my mind, because it sure does get confusing!!



Adding Members to Your GROUP
Adding members is quite easy, just a little bit time consuming.  Typically, all school parents and students will be entered into the main system by your Schoology Admin.  If that is all done correctly, your part is simple.  If something seems amiss, it may be an issue of the person not being entered into the main system.

Follow these photos to add members to your GROUP.




DO NOT forget to check the little box...unless your school requires parents to accept an invite.  Trust me, so many parents will forget, and it just makes more work for you.  This is the easiest way.

When you have everyone added, they will automatically be in your Group.  All they need to do on their end is decide how they want their notifications.  They can use the iPhone or Android app, or log on through their internet browser.  Your school typically sets and communicates their password.  That shouldn't be something that you should have to bother with.  You are now ready to start using your GROUP for communication and so much more!


TIP:  If you have more than just a sentence or two to write as an update (like I do for my Weekly Update), or you want to format it with different options, type your update in Google Docs or Word.  Then copy and paste it as your update.  To make it even easier on myself, I have one Google Doc for my Weekly Updates.  I just copy/paste the one from the week before, and then change my specific information for the week.  That way, my formatting is consistent without me having to do it over and over again each week.

Happy Schoology using!!


Teaching Handwriting - Part 2

I hope you got a few good tips from Part 1 of my handwriting post.  Read on for some more tips.

Make it a part of Literacy Stations / Daily 5
If you are already doing literacy stations in your classroom, then this is an easy way to incorporate handwriting practice without sacrificing other class time.  Just keep these few things in mind:

  • MODEL, MODEL, MODEL correct formation first!  This is key, or the students will just continue to write things as they've always done.
  • Have quick and easy "check-ins" so that you can give them letter formation guidance quickly, before they have completed the entire activity.  Again, this would just be reinforcing bad habits. A quick check-in could be as simple as "Come see me after you finish one line / 5 letters, etc..."
  • Use erasable colored pencils, twistable, or markers to make it more fun for the students.  But they still need to know that you will check it!
  • Walmart has table placemats that have letters and numbers to trace on them.  I used those for students to use with dry erase markers during their writing time.


Visual Reminders and Tips for Tricky Letters
My school is an Orton Gillingham certified school, and we utilize many of their visuals and resources for teaching tricky letters.


Alternative Letter Sequence
Don't go in LETTER order...go in SHAPE order!  Orton Gillingham does not recommend the typical alphabetical order for introducing letters phonetically as well as for handwriting letter formation.  Since I have been using this sequence, letter formation is so much easier to teach because it just makes more sense.  For example, notice how this sequence introduces letters that are all formed starting the same way:


Make it Multi-Sensory Before the Worksheets
Multi-sensory learning is vital for students who may not learn their letters sounds as quickly as others.  Using a variety of senses in handwriting time will also enhance their phonemic awareness.  Here are a few ideas to get you started for the week:
  • Monday - Write the letters using bumpy boards - those plastic grid boards for yarn crafting...use a paper on top of the board and write with a crayon...trace the letter with your finger
  • Tuesday - Write the letters with your finger in sand, sugar, or salt
  • Wednesday - Write the letters with your finger on carpet
  • Thursday - Use your full body to make the letters in the air - tall letters start way up high, middle letters start in the middle
  • Friday - Quick assessments to see where they are
  • Search "multi sensory phonics" on Pinterest for lots of ideas - here is our board for this!
Worksheets and Posters/Flashcards
When you do need worksheets, or feel your students are ready for them, here is a simple resource for you.  Just print and go!  I've got it in English and Spanish, along with the numbers 0-20.  Check it out by clicking on the picture!



I also have alphabet posters.  I have them displayed above my white board in full sheet size.  I also have a few sets of the 1/4 sheet size printed and laminated.  Students can use them for reference, as needed.  Click the picture to go to it.





Hopefully you can feel a little bit easier about finding just a little bit of time to teach handwriting to your Primary students.  Happy writing!