Updated: Nov 3
Curriculum changes like NZ's NCEA Review mean learning about new websites, new experts, new vocabulary, new assessments, new philosophies ... and then how it all bl#%@* fits together.
The Catch-22 is that we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s hard to find information if you just can’t find it or don’t know it exists. It’s hard to process information if you’re so overwhelmed you don’t know where or how to begin.
Here's how I do it. I put it all together in a single doc and call in 'The Handy Thing'! No more surfing, no more everything spread everywhere and what am I missing and where do I find that again and who's got some chocolate!
Into it then.
First: Map it out.
Open up Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides; change the slide size to A4. Then surf. Find every webpage you need. (Sometimes this involves stumbling on information I've gotta admit but save yourself some bother and start here!). On your document:
Write a keyword or add a wee screen shot of the 'thing', placing it strategically on your page. You're creating a map, an infographic, right. Then,
Add to that word/screenshot a hyperlink to the relevant webpage so you can find it again (cos we all know that's a thing)!
Underneath, bullet point the key information you find there. If you don't, you're not going to remember the key info available on that site.
As you add things, move them around the page to map it all out, working out what goes together, what leads on from what etc.
Now you have all the key things there, hopefully on a one-pager for that ‘at-a-glance’ satisfaction. Print it out and put it above your desk. It'll make you feel organised about what and where everything is. It'll give you zen. And you know that if you want something, your electronic version has all the hyperlinks in it – you’re just a click away from what you need!)
Next: Gather (and sort).
New pages (slides) now. Add a relevant heading at the top of your page/slide. Copy and paste information – just dump it - onto your PowerPoint/G.Slides.
Sort by ensuring that information that goes together is together (whether it's from different sites or not). The key thing here is sorting it all into logical order. (Important: include hyperlinks so you know where you found the information)
Finally: Reorganise (reFORMAT, really) and edit.
I’m all about making information visually appealing and easier to scan! I’m a fan of:
Subheadings with bullet-pointed details underneath.
Tables - my fav.
Very very VERY simple mind maps. (I love mind maps for processing information to understand it, but I don’t like (a) creating them on digital doc or (b) reading them later – all those branches do not make me feel zen!)
Reading paragraphs or wading through a tonne of repetitive and verbose information does not give me good vibes!
So, as I’m shuffling things around to put it into my more visually appealing and useful tables etc, I edit. This means:
Deleting – For example:
For example, in the information about the 1.3 Writing Achievement Standard, notes about the submission of poetry appear in both the Specifications and Unpacking sections. I don't need more words in my doc, I need fewer so one lot has to go.
Verbosity or touchy feelies that give you the ‘vibe’ but are not going to be the things you need to flick to on a daily basis.
Moving – if it suits you better to transfer details about one thing to another part of your document about another thing, do it! For example:
In the ‘Unpacking’ information for each standard there’s a note about the significant learning (from our Matrix) that that standard relates to. I took it out of the information about the standard and made a wee note on my reformatted Matrix. It made more sense to me to have it there.
Adding - Add any extra bits of information or links to other sites to help make your document comprehensive and a useful one-stop shop! For example:
I added the standards to my reformatted 'Significant Learning' information.
I also screensnip or copy and paste things like exemplars, again, so it’s all there together.
This document is now your ‘Handy Thing’! Keep it handy by adding, changing, deleting as time goes on.
Team or Individual
Create your Handy Thing on your own or do it as a team with each teacher taking on a different aspect to map, organise and reformat. If doing the latter, this mean you’ll have ‘experts’ in your faculty who could be responsible for immediate, and perhaps ongoing, departmental PD and paperwork for their area. That’d be cool!
Things you could include in your Handy Thing
The Matrix – Big ideas, significant learning, curriculum descriptors.
Individual assessments (Achievement Standards and Unit Standards)
What we teach when we teach a text (plot details, character details, setting details, key ideas, purpose...)
Our department’s 3 key literacy strategies.
How our department embeds Mātauranga Māori.
A collated list of texts – divided into visual, audio, written, genre, key ideas ... and perhaps link with texts or websites that go well with those key texts.
Processing information (into another form) is the best way to understand it. We know this – it’s what we get our students to do! Have a bit of fun and create YOUR Handy Thing. For help, click the links below!
If you want ME to put everything together for you, that's and option too - see the link below:
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