Your number one tool - Microsoft PowerPoint
Before we do anything, believe that creating resources in Microsoft PowerPoint is the way to go. I find it easier to use than Microsoft Word because you can easily place text and images anywhere without anything jumping around with a mind of its own. It has a lot more features that make it more awesome than Word for resource creation, but I won’t go into them here. I use MS PowerPoint rather than Google Slides for creating my resource because it’s easier to use and it has way more features. I just upload it to Google later where it converts itself to Google Slides. Boom! Done. If you want to learn more about how to use PowerPoint I have some easy pointers in my Task Template Resource.
Hyperlinks make resources cool to use and ensure your resource offers so many more learning opportunities/resources. Use them to:
•Link to websites that give further explanations on the point you want students to learn;
•Link to YouTube and other visual/oral sources to give students explanations that use a different learning style (visual/oral);
•Link to other documents in a shared class folder you might have going.
•Link to a Screencastify file you’ve made, explaining and modelling how to do something (oh yeah!).
•Link to specific pages in the resource you’re writing. Simply highlight the word you want the link from, then from the dropdown box that appears click on link then go from there.
Hyperlinks are life!
My 'philosophy' (for want of a better word)
Be brilliant by hovering between:
a.Thinking like a student;
b.Writing with a specific student in mind.
Seriously, just STOP with all that teacher talk! Using all that academic vocabulary makes you look professional and academic. That’s great! But you’re not writing for university lecturers or fellow teachers. You’re writing for a bunch of teenagers! Teachers are supposed to be masters of communication. Be aware of your audience, communicate accordingly. I always picture a specific ‘low-average’ child in my class and write for him/her, knowing that if that student can understand my resource, then the rest should be able to as well. Who’s the student you’re writing for?
The Achievement Criteria
Whatever you call it (criteria, rubric, assessment schedule), write it in words teens would understand. For example, the words “developed ideas” often come up in achievement criteria. See below re my point about this! Consider also what it will mean to “structure” their work, what language features you expect in this particular piece and what “concise” or “fluent” might mean …and not in teacher-speak!
I swear if I hear another teacher say to a student, “develop your ideas,” without then telling that student what that means, I’ll explode! Sometimes it’s not explained because the teacher hasn’t actually thought about what it means themselves! Sure, we teachers just ‘know’ when we read a student’s work that the ideas are or aren’t developed well enough. But have you tried to articulate that … in teen speak? Here’s a tip: use analogies. Lately, I’ve used a couple. One involves developing a tomato seed beginning with the seed, then developing it by adding details about the parts of the plant as it grows, the things that happen to that plant in the garden, right through to the importance of the tomatoes that are grown (including bringing families together over a meal, swapping with neighbours/feeding the neighbourhood and why that’s important and so on). I also use a home stew, discussing all the ‘details’ that are added to that stew and then why it’s so important to a family (healthy, feeling cozy in the winter, bringing the family together…)
Students need checkpoints. Checkpoints help them manage their time to reach the end goal by the due date. Having them modeled in your task booklets and students making use of them also teaches them how a project can be broken into chunks in order to reach the end goal by deadline.
Tables are a bit ugly, but they make it easy to complete answers. Here’s why:
1.They form a type of scaffold. Filling in a box is less daunting than a blank page.
2.Format-wise, when writing your resource, you can set the row height so you know how much room will be taken up before moving on with the rest of the document.
Checklists encourage students to reflect on the work they’ve done in comparison with what you’ve asked them to do. Without that opportunity to check/reflect, you run the risk of them simply thinking, “whew, that’s done, the teacher will tell me what’s wrong with it, so I don’t need to check it.” Ummmmm….
On the Drive Resources website there are differentiation cues and templates. You can copy or screensnip the cues onto your resources if you want to differentiate them. I like to follow the ‘must, should, could do’ idea. First touted in business, this was adapted by Carol Ann Tomlinson as ‘straight ahead, uphill and mountainous’ as an easy way to differentiate. Drive Resources uses the straight, winding and rugged roads as well as the walk, yoga and cross-fit scenarios. Differentiate your task booklet if you like!
Grab all this, further PowerPoint instructions, plus and awesome 'ready-to-use'template here!