How to thrive and not just survive your school year with Hāpara Workspace
6th grade English/Language Arts Teacher
A teacher’s guide to using Hāpara in the classroom or anywhere in the world
Two years ago we moved our family 800 miles away from the only place we had ever called home–away from our family, friends and the school system that I grew up and taught in. When we began our moving process, I researched for hours every night to prepare for the move. I knew that we could comfortably live in three different states and my husband could have a reasonable commute. But, being an educator, the school that my three little ones would be attending was my top priority. I knew that I would eventually work in the county where they went to school, and it was critical I picked the right one. Luckily we found the perfect one to meet all of our needs.
In 2019, I began my first year back teaching a new subject, at a new school and in a new state! The school system that I had come from was, to say the least, still in the Stone Age, and we lacked most things that are critical to teaching– like textbooks and calculators. Fast forward to this year and I am thrown into a world of 1:1 devices and all the technology I could ever want. One of the most important platforms my campus technology coach introduced me to was Hāpara and Hāpara Workspaces. Within the first few months of school, I had completed both the Hāpara Scholar and Champion training courses, and I was ready to hit the ground running.
I have on average 95 students spread between four classes which equals lots and lots of all things Google. Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets. Then come the Gmails about everything from last night’s homework, to a specific line in their paper on page 2. All of this makes for a cluttered Drive and inbox. This is where Hāpara has been my saving grace, because I can use it to digitally manage all of those things in one convenient place for myself and my students.
My students are required to complete five different writing samples throughout the year. Doesn’t sound like much, but in reality it is close to 1,000 pages to read and make comments on throughout one writing process. I couldn’t imagine doing all this without Hāpara Workspace. I can spend about 3-6 hours making one Workspace that will take my students through the whole writing process step by step–with or without me. We normally spend about a week of class time to complete each one. I can link to other apps that my students use daily and add in videos, documents, and rubrics. In fact, I can add everything they need so they have a one-stop-shop for learning. It also helps me differentiate my instruction by adding cards for all the levels of my learners. This is incredibly important with all of the recent school closures and distance learning that is taking place. My students are still going to receive the quality support that they need, and they can still move through the Workspace at their own pace.
In my subject, English and Language Arts, we have lots of assignments that need articles, textbooks, hyperlinks and videos. When building my Workspaces, I try to have all of this in mind for planning my cards and each one’s placement. Personally, I love to make a paper template before I even start building cards in the Workspace to help me plan things out. I am a very visual learner and having that template lets me color, draw, erase and design all the things that I know my students will need. I also love that Workspaces are so easy to edit! Have you ever tried a lesson that totally failed? I know I have! It is so easy to simply add/delete anything, and it can grow and change with my students from year to year.
For example, this is the project that we did at Christmas. It was done completely in groups with students actively working together to build one slideshow and one document per group. I added a checklist and rubric to keep them on track, along with sample items for each part of the Workspace. I also made two handouts that went with this Workspace. One is just a sheet with 15 squares on it for them to design their slides, and the other one was a large post-it note broken into quarters that the students completed while researching.
Since our school has been closed, the transition to online learning has been somewhat seamless due to our use of Workspaces throughout the school year.
The students are accustomed to the pace and layout of the Workspaces, making it less stressful and easier for them to see their day-to-day tasks. I have added videos of myself going over any of the slideshows or assignments just like we would have done in my classroom. I have added in fun card headers and activities to go along with the teaching standards to help the students relax and have fun during this crazy time. I also gave the students a “virtual tour” before I assigned it to them, in the hope to help alleviate some of the questions that come when beginning any new Workspace. My students will work through three more Workspaces to finish out the year. We are chunking similar information into each one to help them grasp any missed concepts from our curriculum. We will also use these Workspaces next year as enrichment or interventions for students.
In closing, I hope you found some tips, tricks and just a sense that you can do this! I started the beginning of the school year knowing nothing about Hāpara and Workspaces, and now I don’t know what I would do without them! I loved the in-depth dive that the training courses supported me through and the overall sense of comradery that the Hāpara Community provides on a daily basis. I follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep learning fun ways to incorporate Workspaces in my classroom. All of us are currently living through history, and I am so glad to use this platform to commemorate it in ways I never could have imagined!