Pedagogy & Schoology
Schoology, a learning management system (LMS), is a teaching tool. Using an LMS requires the same intentionality as all lesson planning and should always be related to:
- What do I want students to learn?
- How does this activity help them to learn?
- How does this assessment help me to know that they have learned?
Schoology (LMS) Purpose and Goals
- To extend learning beyond the classroom.
- To provide additional modes for students to interact with content and ideas.
- To communicate clearly with students and parents.
- To show the structure of course content.
- To provide a more stable system reducing data loss.
In moving to Schoology, we want to be more intentional with how we use digital spaces. Our students and their primary educators, their parents, must navigate seven to eight academic spaces. To that end, a few items must be consistently deployed across all classes.
Course Organization (Goals 3 & 4)
Organization within the “Materials” section of Schoology
Folder called “Course Information” is the 1st item in every class
Course Information Sheet
Any additional course specific information
Unit Folders—Unit #, Name, Start Date for Unit
Descriptive Titles of Elements
Items in chronological or reverse chronological order
Assignments (Goal 3)
Assignments, Quizzes and Discussion Boards automatically prepopulate the gradebook and the assignment list that students and parents see when they log in to Schoology. Any graded item for a class needs to be added as an assignment, quiz, or discussion board in Schoology before its due date regardless of how it will be collected (electronically or on paper).
Calendar (Goal 3)
To record what happened in class create a “Today in English (use your subject) Class” calendar entry that provides a brief summary or list of what happened in class (can be entered daily or in advance on a weekly or monthly schedule)
Key Features to Use in Schoology
Updates (Goal 3)
Course updates are a good way to remind students of material from class. They are also a way to recognize birthdays and public achievement (speech & debate, sports, drama, music, art, etc.) Parents see all course updates—they should be professional in tone.
Discussion Boards (Goals 1, 2)
Discussion boards are public (everyone in the class/assigned to them can see them). Discussion boards can be assigned to the entire class or to smaller groups.
These are some of the reasons that teachers use discussion boards:
1. To help students to prepare for an in class discussion—students who like to think before speaking can rehearse their contributions.
2. To provide students an opportunity to extend discussion from class
3. To provide an opportunity for students to share projects and ideas as well as provide feedback to each other
4. To assess student reading
5. To assess understanding/misunderstanding of content
Keys to Successful Discussion Boards
- Open Ended questions: It’s hard to discuss something with a “right” answer. The prompt needs to be well conceived and connected to the overall learning goal for the lesson or unit.
- Clear guidelines: What is the student supposed to do? (e.g. Post an original response of 200 words and respond substantively and respectfully to two other posts. )
- Student summaries: Having one student summarize the discussion can be a powerful way of acknowledging all of the ideas in the discussion. The teacher should review the summary and correct any inaccuracies.
- Teacher presence early that affirms or corrects participation (e.g. “Great post, Gavin. You clearly explain your position on . . .” or “Good start, Gavin. Could you explain why you think that . . . is . . ..?”)
- Holding students accountable for good manners online just like you would in the classroom (also called netiquette).
- Grading students for both participation and substance.
Quiz Functions (Goals 1, 2)
Schoology provides a quiz/test function. Quizzes/Tests can be used a number of ways.
- To provide instant feedback for students on an assignment
Sometimes it is important for students to have immediate feedback so that they can correct misunderstandings. The quiz functionality can be used for a homework assignment in order to provide immediate feedback.
- To provide formative assessment data to the teacher
Schoology allows the teacher to see patterns in answer responses (everyone missed #15, half the class missed #10, etc) or patterns in short answer responses that indicate a misunderstanding or use of a poor source.
- To help students assess their own knowledge of a topic and review for a test
The quiz function can also give students an opportunity to find out how well they know a topic before a test so that they can plan their study time.
- To help students complete assignments in a timely fashion.
Some classes have a regular assignment that is intended to take a particular amount of time (e.g. a 10 minute journal entry). The quiz function can provide a place to help students complete a daily short assignment.
5. To proved a structured manner for students to learn material.
Quizzes can also be used as a learning activity. The teacher decides on the number of times that a quiz can be taken. Allowing multiple attempts on the same quiz is one way to have students learn material.
Major consideration: Some of our students have diagnosed anxiety issues. Timed online quizzes do raise anxiety. Be aware that you may need to offer an alternative.
Multimedia (Goals 1, 2, 4)
Schoology makes it easy to add multimedia to your course. Not all multimedia adds value to a course. Audio, video, screencasts, images should all be added with intentionality. What value does the item contribute to the learning in the class? How do you expect students to use it? How will you hold them accountable for the material?
User stats should be reviewed and students should provide feedback about resources that were helpful and resources that were not. Unit surveys should also ask for other resources that would be helpful.
Polls (Goal 3)
Schoology provides a Polling feature that allows you to collect anonymous feedback. You may want to know if everyone can access a material. You may want to know how many students thought something was helpful. If you use this feature, make sure to honor the responses by acting on them. If you don’t want to alter something, don’t ask about it.
Resources (Goals 4 & 5)
This is the foundation of Schoology. Instead of copying a class, you build your resources and deploy them to classes. Organize by class, by units, or by content. Share resources with other members of your department by copying materials to your department group.