Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Starting the School Year Right with Schoology

As we embark on a new school year filled with new students, new adventures, and new gradebooks, don't forget about the tools and resources available to you in Schoology. Here are 3 helpful tips to support you as you get back into the swing of things.

1. Schoology Course Setup 

One of the best and easiest ways to personalize your course is to change the profile image. To do this, hover over the image in the upper left hand corner of your course and click "Edit Image". This will allow you to add a new image by selecting it from a place you have previously saved it. Google images is a great place to start, just be sure to use the image "Search Tools" to change the usage rights to something other than the default which is "Not filtered by license". You can also use a picture of your classroom, your pet, your favorite sports team, or some other image that helps parents and students get a sense of you, your course, and the year ahead.

You may also want to consider having your syllabus posted for the students and parents who are already familiar with Schoology, or those who happen to fall into it by accident. As with most things, the more places you can make this available the more likely it will be seen. Updates are a great place to share a syllabus, welcome letter, or newsletter for parents. To do this, type your update, select "Add a link" or "Add a file" and find the document you'd like to share. Then click "Post".

Another place to add your syllabus would be in the materials section of your course. You can either add the document directly by going to "Add Materials" and then "Add file/link/external tool", add a folder to house other like items by "Add Materials" and then "Add folder" and naming it, or embedding the document if it is a GoogleDoc. (In your GDoc, click "File", "Publish", and then copy the embed code. In Schoology, "Add Materials", "Add a Page", "Insert Image/Media", "From the Web", "Media", paste the embed code, and click "Upload Media".)

2. Schoology Gradebook Setup

In order to get the most bang for your teacher buck, you'll want to set up your gradebook in Schoology before you start creating assignments and assessments. To set up your gradebook, click "Gradebook", and then "Grade Setup" underneath. This is where you can add your categories (homework, assessments, classwork, awesomeness, etc.). The benefit of this set up is that a teacher can then narrow their gradebook view to a specific category and time period. See the image below.

Grading terms for courses (quarters, trimesters, and semesters) are already attached. Teachers who also utilize PowerSchool for their gradebook may want to consider hiding the overall grade columns so that students can still get feedback for assignments in Schoology without being confused about an overall grade in Schoology vs. an overall grade in PowerSchool. Teachers can also customize their syncing categories using the PowerSchool App (or even create a category for assignments that will not sync with PowerSchool). For more information on using the PowerSchool app in Schoology, check out this video.

3. Schoology Notifications 

As your students and parents begin to access Schoology, you may find yourself buried in more email than usual. One way to help manage the email explosion is to change your notifications in Schoology. Each user can set notifications for the types of information they would like to receive from the groups and courses they are enrolled in. To edit your notification settings for your course(s) and or group(s), click "Notifications" and select the updates you would like to receive. To change your general notifications, click on the dropdown arrow next to your name and select "Notifications". This will give you the option to change your general settings. Check out this article from Schoology for more information.

And there you have it: three (hopefully) helpful tips to get you started with Schoology for the year ahead!

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