Planning Ahead for the Last Weeks of Semester

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Managing the last few weeks of the semester can be a busy and stressful time for you and your students. Here a few tips to consider when planning for the final weeks:

  1. Check-ins: Take the time to ask students about how they are managing their time and assessment tasks. Provide a poll or open forum for students to offer feedback in ways you may be able to support them over the last few weeks of the semester. Offer suggestions based on how you have managed your time and planning for final assessments (e.g. setting time to work on assessments, time to review and edit, creating lists of outstanding tasks, etc.) Use the “What if” calculator (and show your students) in your eConestoga to see how hypothetical scores on future assignments would affect final calculated grades
  2. Assignment Review (in and out of class): In the final weeks of assignment reviews, if you have not already done so, create a short (5-10 min) ‘unpacking’ video that discusses the assignment task sheet and rubric. Include examples if you can. In class, you could bring in some example assignments (good and bad quality that you have created) and have students work with the rubric to assess how these examples would score and discuss why as a larger class. This can help them familiarize themselves with the rubric and see where their own work falls in comparison.
  3. At Risk Students: Continue to reach out to students identified at risk: for example, missed classes, missed assessments, changes in behavior, and/or low engagement. Ask how you might be able to help, offer to meet with students, etc. Use the ‘course progress’ tools on eConestoga to identify students at risk and send a message through course mail.
  4. Assignment Reminders: Including the assignment deadlines in your eConestoga Calendar at the beginning of the semester is a great start. In the final weeks, send reminders in the announcements and/or email of upcoming assignment expectations, including reminders of artificial intelligence policies for your course/program and academic integrity. Include a few key tips/reminders and let students know you’re there to help and support them. For example, a reminder to review rubrics prior to submission or to write in their own words for written tasks, reminders of due dates, word counts, etc.
  5. College Supports: Remind students of the vast number of resources that are covered as part of their tuition. Create links to resources that students can go to for help before the assessment due dates. You can add these to your course shell and/or send out an email or announcement. Examples include, math help, library workshops, academic citing and writing , research help, peer tutoring.
  6. Further Student Success Services: Make students aware of services providing support for students including where to go for help (e.g. CARE team, International Student and Advising as well as Health and Wellness).
  7. In-Class Assignment work: Near the end, see if you can carve out some extra class-time dedicated to assignment completion.  In this way, you can provide oral feedback as well as encouragement and know that you will have something to grade even if it might not be complete at the end.
  8. Planning your Marking/Grading: Final grades are due within 3 days of the end of semester. Look at your calendar and block off smaller chunks of time to manage your marking load. Double check rubrics and/or marking schemes for the final assessments. Consider using a comment bank of actionable and specific feedback for student assessments. If you do not already have a comment bank, you could draft a list of potential errors using the rubric or marking scheme you have developed. Reach out to a colleague who has taught the course before or a faculty curriculum guide for ideas.

Adrienne Vanthuyne

Adrienne Vanthuyne, PhD (Education, Applied Linguistics), OCT, has been an educator for over 20 years and 15 years in post-secondary education. Her research areas focus on teacher education, second/additional language and literacy development, and intercultural communication and teaching. Before joining Conestoga, she taught at Western University, Fanshawe College, and The University of Southern Queensland (Australia) in teacher education and communications. Adrienne specializes in teaching and learning for international students and faculty development.

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