When SchoolNet was originally introduced in my district a couple of years I found it to be clunky, not user friendly, and the fact that we were FORCED to use it did not bode well with me. However, I have learned that sometimes technology needs some time to get the bugs out and that you should never just toss out anything for good. I’m glad that I gave this product another shot. I have found some good things in there and have found a place for this product in my teacher life – albeit not the one designated by my district.
How My District WANTS Me To Use This Product
My district would like for me to do my lesson planning through this product. There are some nice features with calendars and integration of standards. However, the lack of ease of use and plans that don’t really assist me in my classroom are true drawbacks. Also, given the fact that my district changes initiatives almost yearly makes me less likely to plunge in and embrace the lesson planning features (along with the huge time commitment of that).
How I Use This Product
I have taken our common assessments and retooled them to upload into SchoolNet. I still give my students the common district paper tests for each unit because through the grading process of these assessments I have a better handle on what my students know and can do as opposed to the online feedback I get from SchoolNet. I like using SchoolNet for my quizzes for the following reasons:
1.) Students get IMMEDIATE feedback on their quiz which will allow them time to work on the skills IMMEDIATELY before they take their test for the unit. Typically when I grade quizzes (I have about 100 students for Geometry alone this year) it takes a couple of days to return to students which is time that they could have been coming to get extra help. Additionally, even in that turn around time I do not give great feedback due to the quantity.
2.) The grades immediately post to my gradebook. Although entering grades doesn’t take THAT long it is a nice feature. Additionally, I don’t have to hand anything back.
3.) It’s paperless. We produce SO MUCH garbage that it is nice to eliminate 100-200 pages of paper for each unit.
4.) The drag and drop features now present make it MUCH easier to create these quizzes.
What I Do NOT Like
I have a feeling that some students have learned how to cheat in this format. It is sad to me because I want students to view assessments as opportunities to identify areas in need of growth and make changes before the summative assessment. When they cheat, they deny themselves of this opportunity. I am working on relationships with students as well as ways to find new safeguards against this in my classroom.
The biggest “take aways” from this experience of using this tool are:
1.) It is still JUST A TOOL. You should not replace everything in your class with it. Some teachers have put EVERYTHING on SchoolNet and I think that any tool that is used too much will dull and not be as useful.
2.) It is always a good practice to give things a second chance.