I’ll never forget my high school Algebra II teacher Ms. Olsen. Not only was she an energetic and passionate educator, but she also had mastered the logistics of teaching. Quizzes were always promptly graded and returned, tests were scheduled carefully to avoid conflicts with other classes, and she never, ever lost homework after you passed it in. After I became a teacher I aspired to the same level of organization and planning.
It wasn’t easy.
As a new teacher I constantly struggled with worksheets, templates, and handouts. Often I prepared too few copies and would need to leave class to make a few more. Sometimes I would be in a rush at the copier and accidentally produce too many - killing a few trees in the process. And then there was the dreaded backpack-black-hole. How many times would students place a handout into their backpack only to have it vanish.
Here are a few tips to help you use onCampus to tame the handout headache.
Commonly used materials
Give some thought to the handouts and templates you frequently use such as note taking templates, KWHL charts, graphic organizers, or storyboards
- Create a downloads section of your onCampus class page for these materials
- Make sure this section is full of the most useful content your students will frequently use
Unit specific materials
Sometimes you’ll have diagrams and handouts that are specific to a certain unit such as a cell diagram in biology, or a timeline in history.
- Content associated with a certain unit are often best suited to a Topic
- Group topic specific handouts together on the left of the page so students can easily find it
- Update these downloads once a year as needed
Assignment specific materials
Perhaps you have an assignment that requires a handout. Even if you have already added the handout elsewhere to your class page it’s a good idea to add the handout to the assignment again just in case the student is easily confused.
Creating your handouts
There are many ways to convert your trusty paper handouts into a format that works well in onCampus. Here are a few:
- If you can open the handout in Word or Excel just go to the ‘File’ menu and choose ‘Export’ or ‘Save As’
- If you don’t have the original file never fear! Many photocopiers can scan your handouts and email you a file. This works particularly well if you have many handouts to convert to files.
- There are many many places on the internet where you can find free templates to download
Having a really well organized system for distributing handouts, templates, and worksheets in onCampus will not only save you time, but it will also help empower the students to take ownership of managing the resources they need to be successful students. If that’s not something Ms. Olsen would be proud of I’m not sure what is.
What do you think? How have you used onCampus?
About the Author
I've been an educator since 1995 when I first stepped into the classroom as a Fulbright exchange teacher in the former East Germany. Since then I've been an Outward Bound instructor, a teacher, tutor, admission officer, house head, evening administrator on duty and I ran the experiential learning program at New Hampton School for almost ten years. Today I focus on technology integration centered on values-driven technology integration and 1:1 iPad initiatives. Recently I had the chance to help New Hampton School become an Apple Distinguished School and I co-authored the iBook Teaching with the iPad (available on the iBookstore). Now I'm the founder of a scrappy little company (one employee!) called Hans Mundahl and Associates, inc a digital strategy consultancy for schools and non-profits.More Content by Hans Mundahl