It’s All About Design


Throughout this school year, I have been thinking about how content is shared with students. Before any 1:1 program, we as teachers would put something together in a Google Doc (or lets be honest and say Microsoft Word) and print the document out for each student. You might have tried to keep text to a page. Very little graphics, if any, were included.

Fast forward to today where students have a device. We can think about creating and designing content on a document that has more of a design element to it.

At the beginning of the school year, I was fortunate to participate in a YouTube Live conversation with Lisa Highfill and Kelly Hilton, co-creators of the term Hyperdocs. You can watch the recorded conversation HERE. I also previously wrote a blog post about Hyperdocs which can be found HERE. Basically, their main objective with hyperdocs is to help guide students through an informal, reflective journey. This can be accomplished through the following steps:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, Reflect, and Extend. More information can be found on the hyperdocs website.

There are times however where you don’t want to create a hyperdoc for students but still need to share information. This is where an element of design, in terms of layout, color, and style come into play.

Two different examples come to mind when I think of the design element. One has to deal with sharing information to staff about two senior project celebration days (days where we do not hold classes, but instead learn from our students and their senior projects) and the other about sharing information to students over the course of a unit in a Global Humanities course.

It is important to note that there is not one ‘right way’ of putting information together. The whole point of this blog post is to help people think about how they are sharing information to others.

  • Should everything be in Times New Roman font, size 12, black font?
  • Should there be some color?
  • Should tables be involved?
  • Should a different file type be used besides Google Docs?
If students have a device in front of them, should things be more visual? Is the expectation for people to print said file – if that is the case maybe there shouldn’t be much color. One could argue for or against each of the questions above. It is up to you as an educator to make your best judgement.

Senior Project Celebration Days
What: Teachers must be informed with how two days at the end of the school year are run to accommodate student presentations.
Problem to Solve: Before curating information, several (10-20) emails were sent out on the school wide group email causing staff to not know when or what was sent. As a result, a member of the committee, Ms. Doyle, came up with an idea last year to put all of the important information together in a Google Sheet.

This year, the decision was made to organize the information differently to help staff out. Again, keeping in mind that the committee didn’t want to send several emails out, they decided to put all of the information together in a Google Drawing.

Both the Google Sheet and the Google Drawing share the same information – it is just presented differently.  Each file had links that opened up different files. Ask yourself, which would you rather look at? Your answer might be different from a friend of yours. I hope however, you think to yourself, how can/should I share information out with students beyond just typing text.

Unit Study in Global Studies
What: Students must ‘Go the Distance’ to learn and extend themselves in a Global Studies Unit.
Problem to Solve: The teachers, Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis, wanted a way to curate and share the steps and procedure they wanted their students to take along their journey. Below are three different versions of the same information. Which one would you rather be on the receiving end if you were the student in their class?

Version 1 (White background with black text)
Version 2 (Purple background, with tables, different font)
Version 3 (Circular workflow process table, with different font and colors)

I know…I don’t have the all the answers or the ‘right way’ of putting content together. Hope that this has gotten you to think about design however. If you have any questions or you would like to talk about this topic with me, you know where to find me.

It all comes down to design! And that is my Spiel…

Chromebook Challenge #hyperdoc

Inspiration
Inspiration #1
Over the summer, I was introduced to a new term/concept known as a #hyperdoc. You might say well isn’t a hyperdoc just a Google Document that has hyperdocs in it? Well, the answer is no. A hyperdoc is a document that has links to other artifacts, videos, articles, games, reviews, etc. Through these links students learn about a concept as well as share their own learning and thoughts with others. To learn more about #hyperdocs, and the work that Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis have done, click HERE. I decided to make an attempt with creating a Chromebook challenge hyperdoc (even though it leans more on the side of students mostly learning information and not sharing as much information).

Inspiration #2
I was inspired to produce a Chromebook challenge after hearing about how Lee’s Summit R-7 School District created a Chromebook challenge for their students. Their great resource can be found on their technology website HERE. What I like about what they accomplished is that depending on the grade level, different tasks/reminders were given to the students.

Designing the Challenge
Seeing as though this is our second year as a 1:1 Chromebook school, I thought it made sense to do something similar at the high school level however I tried to gamify it a bit. I tried to keep the design of the challenge in mind when creating it as I did not want students to just watch a video explaining everything. I also knew I wanted to make it interactive and include some teachers in the challenge to put a smile on students faces. I also wanted to make it as easy as possible to follow along.

BHS Chromebook challenge was created using a Google Drawing. You can find the actual file HERE. You will notice that there are 8 different tasks for students in advisory to complete.

  • Chromebook Reminders
  • Chromebook Printing
  • Organizing Digital Life
  • Self Management
  • Chromebook Shortcuts
  • Planning Your Days
  • Google Classroom
  • Chrome Settings

The advisor decides the order of the tasks that they complete as a whole group. Whatever the task, the advisor follows along with the bulleted list. Tasks could involve students:

  • watching a video or two
  • looking over instructions in a Google Slide
  • playing a game
  • providing feedback in a padlet wall
  • organizing their own Google Drive
  • personalizing their own Chrome preferences
Documenting Tasks
Once an advisory completes a task, the advisor clicks on the master Google Spreadsheet link in the middle of the Google Drawing. This is where all advisors keep track of what has and has not been accomplished. The advisor finds their name and the turns the ‘red x’ to a ‘green check mark’. 
 
When all 8 tasks have been completed, the advisory earns a Chromebook challenge badge. Gamifying things makes learning that much more fun. 
As a side note, for every task an advisory completes, their name gets entered in for a free breakfast. There will be a winner for each grade level. Oh and the advisory has the entire month of September to complete the challenge.

Here is to learning while having fun at the same time…