Time, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the number one “pain point” most teachers experience. They don’t feel they have enough time to get through the curriculum, cover the standards, scaffold and reteach, provide timely feedback, and plan dynamic lessons.
As a blended learning coach, I spend time in other teachers’ classrooms observing, co-teaching and coaching. It is common for the first 5-10 minutes of class to be consumed by housekeeping tasks–taking attendance, explaining the lesson, and getting the classroom set up for the first task. Teachers can take back this time if they rethink how they begin each lesson and communicate the parts of the lesson to their students.
Instead of writing an agenda on the board or projecting it onto your smart board and guiding students lock-step through the parts of the lesson, teachers can create interactive agendas using Google Slides.
Creating an interactive online agenda accomplishes a few things:
- It eliminates the time wasted at the start of class reviewing the agenda. Instead, teachers can train students to enter the class and immediately use their device to access the agenda via Google Classroom or a short Bit.ly link.
- It shifts the focus from the teacher to the students because they don’t need to wait for the teacher to cue every transition or provide materials for each activity. The materials can be embedded into the Google Slide agenda.
- It allows students more opportunities to self-pace through the lesson.
- It creates transparency about the timing of the activities and the trajectory of the lesson.
- It frees teachers to spend more time working directly with students instead of directing the parts of the lesson.
Two years ago when I began using Google Slides to create my agenda for each day, I created a template for each of the types of lessons I typically design (e.g., Station Rotation, Whole Group Rotation, Flipped Classroom, etc.). That way, I could decide on the type of blended learning model I wanted to use for a given lesson, then “make a copy” of that template and create my agenda for that day.
My agendas typically a few of the following elements:
- A welcome or admission task
- A rotation of some kind
- A discussion element
- An exit ticket or concluding task
I work with teachers who use one slide for each of the activities they plan to cover in a lesson. That gives them space to articulate the objectives for that task and provide clear instructions. Google Slides also makes it easy to embed media and hyperlink to online resources. Many of the teachers I coach record short video instructions and embed them right into the slides.
Shifting from writing my agendas on the board to creating interactive online agendas with Google Slides allowed me to spend less time answering the “what do we do…?” questions and spend more time working directly with my students. Instead of orchestrating the lesson, I spent more time in my role as a coach focused on supporting skill development or as an observer collecting formative assessment data. It was a simple shift that had a dramatic impact on both my role and my students’ role in the classroom.