Welcome to our new instructors at IUB! We hope that you are settling in well and getting excited about your fall courses. In this post we share strategies and tools for making the start of the semester as productive as possible for you and your students.
Prepare your Canvas site
We highly recommend that you upload your syllabus and set up your assignments before the start of the semester. Many students start planning their semester workloads early on, so providing them with assignment dates from your class right away helps them plan their time.
If you set up assignments in Canvas, the system will automatically create your gradebook, list assignment due dates on your students’ Canvas calendars, and reproduce these due dates at the bottom of the syllabus tool. You can also let Canvas take care of gradebook calculations such as dropping the lowest grades in an assignment group, weighting groups of assignments, etc.
One of our Instructional Technology Consultants can review your Canvas site and make sure that your grades are being calculated accurately. This blog post from May covers other steps involved in setting up your Canvas site for the semester. Don’t forget to publish your Canvas site and assignments, otherwise your students cannot view your site or their assignments.
Get to know your students before the first day of class
Making your students feel like part of a community from Day One encourages commitment to the course and sets the stage for engagement and success. Several tools in Canvas allow you to get to know your students before the start of the semester:
- The People tool lists all of your students and is updated daily. Use this tool to add your AIs to your course site.
- The Photo Roster button can be accessed from the People tool. You can view, download, and print student names and photos using the Photo Roster tool.
- Name Coach allows you and your students to record names. This tool allows students to record the pronunciation of their preferred name. Read our detailed blog post about Name Coach and consider creating a Name coach assignment in Canvas.
Plan your first day of class
Often we are so focused on getting ready for the start of the semester that we do not spend enough time thinking through the activities of the first day of class. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit your classroom and practice with its technologies. If you cannot visit it, search the Classroom database to see photos of your room and read about the resources available in it. This will help you plan some activities for the first day and for rest of the semester.
- Learn a few student names before the first day.
- Communicate your expectations of students and review a few key points from the syllabus, but don’t read through the entire thing. Set the tone and give them some highlights, but let them deal with the details on their own.
- Engage your students in activities that give them a sense of why your course might be important to them, and what your typical class looks like. If you plan on having them actively engage in learning, let them practice that on the first day.
Read some more first day strategies on our website.
Hopefully these suggestions help as you start your teaching career here at IUB. Please contact us with any questions related to your teaching. We are happy to schedule a meeting with you. Also plan to attend some of our upcoming events.
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uonottingham/8900084620