Planning for Fall: Part One - Why Start Now?Written by Behrman House Staff, 09 of June, 2015
Yes, summer has barely begun, but now is the time to get your Online Learning Center classes ready for Fall. Two simple steps will get you started.
Organize Your Virtual Space
If you are new to the Online learning Center (OLC), create an account at behrmanhouse.com and contact us. We will approve you as the Education Director. *Please keep in mind there can only be one Education Director per OLC synagogue. If you share OLC administration with a colleague, you may wish to create a special email address you can both access just for this purpose.
Once you are listed as an Educational Director in the OLC you can set up your OLC space, create virtual classrooms, add any materials if needed, and the begin adding teachers and students.
If you used the OLC last year, now is the perfect time to clean up your virtual space to get ready for a new school year. We added a new feature to the OLC that lets you archive classrooms you won’t need this year., Archived classes are saved in a different location but still available in case you want to use them for reference. Once you have archived inactive classes, you can create new classrooms without the clutter from the previous year.
Your OLC classrooms automatically go into archived status 12 months after creation. As the Educational Director of your OLC space, you can reinstate an archived class at any time with the click of a button.
As you prepare your space, remember that the OLC goes beyond at-home Hebrew practice and learning. It is also perfect for trying new educational models, including organizing materials for flipped and distance learning, giving students space to organize and document projects in a PBL model, and for creating asynchronous discussions in which students from several classes can participate. Using the OLC for these purposes is FREE for you, your teachers, and your students. It’s a useful and effective experimental platform for your school.
Create a Plan
Now that you have organized your OLC space, it’s time to create an implementation plan to make sure students and parents are on board. However you choose to use the OLC, setting your expectations for student participation early, and reinforcing those expectations often are key to a successful, engaged year.
For Hebrew especially, ongoing regular practice is a large part of a successfull Hebrew learning experience.. We recommend early communications with families to establish your expectations, and establishing a system to reinforce student practice, track progress and recognize student work and achievement.
Preparing parents with usernames, passwords, and permission forms on back-toschool nights helps support these expectations.You can even share with families this short video from educator and author Dina Maiben about the importance, and the success, of regular, short Hebrew practice.
Not sure what kind of reinforcement system might work for your students? Last year Education Director Lida Abramov of Wilshire Blvd Temple had 50-60% of her students completing their weekly at-home practice despite the temple's no homework policy. Here are Lida's keys to success:
Reassure and motivate. Lida tells them: “If you want to become a good Hebrew reader, you need to practice at home. You’ll then be ready when we start the next letter.” Kids took it seriously. Lida also makes sure the students know there’s nothing to worry about because it’s a replica of what they’re doing in class. She reassures them: “It’s not too complicated, you won’t get stuck.”
Give incentives. The school gave Lida the go-ahead to give a $5 gift card for Jamba Juice to children who did lessons 1-10 at home. She gave out 30 cards among her 50 OLC students. This promoted a sense of recognitions, accomplishement, and pride. LIda also held a party at the end of the year – for the whole class, because of the good participation.
Check for completion. Lida’s students know that she checks to see if they have completed their online work. The important measure is that students log in and complete the practice at home, and she tracks how many times they log in. The actual score is not important to her.
You can integrate some of Lida’s ideas into your plan, or create your own. It could be charts, tokens, shuk shekels, or even the opportunity to ring a bell in class and be recognized. The key is ongoing, consistency reinforcement of the expectations you have set.
Are you ready to try the Online Learning Center in your school? Did you use it this year and want some additional help to encourage OLC use? Contact us for a 15 minute consultation that will get you on your way.
This is part one of a three part series. Stay tuned for how you can prepare early with ordering materials and organizing your classes.