revising for ’13-’14: websites

It feels really good to be heading into my sixth year of teaching. This summer, I fully accepted that I wouldn’t start planning anything until late August, so that made July and early to mid-August feel much more relaxing. Today I went to the Boston Public Library to get myself into school thinking mode…as much as I like my couch, I take three times longer to get things done than I do in a libraryish environment! I started updating my syllabus and reflecting on what went well with my routines and big picture ideas, and started with web sites–namely those that did not get used to their full potential.

ManageBac – Our school now has its third cohort of diploma and course candidates, and we’re still figuring out how to use ManageBac, a site created by former IB students who wanted to help manage IB-related tasks better. We started using it for Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) and realized how much other functionality was available to support Diploma Programme (DP) classes, particularly class websites, registration for exams, and Extended Essay feedback. Last year, I started a class site and encouraged the 11th & 12th grade team to use it as well. We’d had so much trouble getting the previous cohort to use the site for CAS and also have not had a school website, so I thought it would be great. I, however, didn’t keep up with using the site. My biology colleague was the only one who successfully used it to post assignments, and I’m hoping that all DP teachers will use it this year.

Parents – I also want to incorporate the parents into ManageBac by adding them as users. I’ll investigate how this functionality works.

Assignments – There’s a feature to add assignments on the ManageBac calendar. I find it a bit clunky, but combined with the Files option and my own Dropbox to link larger files,

Class Correspondence – Instead of using Gmail, I’ll use the Messages feature in ManageBac. I do worry about my messages getting flagged by spam folders, but I hope that establishing a culture of “information lives on ManageBac” will keep students checking it.

Class Calendar – I will update in Google Calendar (way easier for me than using the ManageBac calendar) and subscribe to it in ManageBac. I will also send messages when quizzes and tests are coming at first–I don’t want to create more work for myself, but I want students to get used to checking that calendar.

Web Site – For those who aren’t on ManageBac, I will put up a class page on and move away from Google Sites. I’ve had a Google Site for years, but didn’t update it very much for my math classes. I did post after-school program information and signups, but this information can be hosted on the official school website now that we have one. Running Club doesn’t necessarily need a website–it was a good idea in theory but students rarely checked it and I lagged on updating it. Same thing with advisory.

ActiveGrade – get students checking it more to monitor their own progress. The progress sheets didn’t work for me either with SBG, and I found that students who regularly checked in about their grades did the best with SBG. However, I want to make it better for more students.

ASPEN – hoping that it will be operational for students this year. We started it last year, and even though online GradeQuick was not great, it still enabled us to post grades periodically.

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