Get organized and take your lessons digital

Here's how an elementary teacher streamlined her materials and modernized her lessons

I’m a fourth-grade teacher in North Carolina. If you’re a teacher, you know I didn’t just spend my summer lounging by a pool. I spent much of my free time preparing for the school year. What did this preparation work look like? I engaged in several professional development (PD) opportunities. I spent time organizing my classroom. The rest of the preparation involved reflecting, researching, and planning—activities that time constraints make difficult during the school year.

Summer offers the perfect amount of time for me to step away, refresh, and really look back and ask myself, “What worked last year, what didn’t, and what should I do differently this year?” My biggest conclusion during this reflective period was that it’s time to modernize my lesson materials.

It starts with organization
Last year, my various teaching materials were found somewhere between four bookshelves, three filing cabinets, two Google Drives, two external hard drives, and one laptop. And that’s just what I have stored in my classroom. Consequently, planning my lessons and finding my resources could get a bit messy. I knew if I combined the fragmented collection of videos, slides, documents, and assignments I’ve collected and prepared over the years, I’d be able to create more authentic and engaging lessons for my students.

With an average of 28 students in each class, I almost always need to weave accommodations into my lessons. Some students learn best while taking part in whole-class conversations, some prefer small groups, and others prefer independent self-paced assignments. It’s difficult to plan lessons that meet all these needs. In addition to teaching content standards, I must also help students develop 21st-century skills, preparing them to be effective members of our global society. For these reasons, I’ve often found myself inventing and reinventing the instructional wheel each year.

Hence, the shelves, cabinets, and drives full of resources.

Until recently, I’ve used the Google Suite to modernize my lessons as much as possible. But I was still looking for the best way to bring all of my resources together, not just those housed in Google, to build engaging, digital lessons. I searched the internet and found a few online tools that fit my challenge. The one I chose is called Crio, a new, free offering from Curriculum Pathways.

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