Mentee Minute

August 23, 2013, vol. 3

August Focus: Course Homepage

Thank you for your feedback last week. We decided it was important to follow up on your questions in this mentee minute edition. Mentors will continue to "walk through" your course this month looking at your homepage, but we understand the necessity of needing answers to questions quickly too. We hope this smore is a great resource for you. Enjoy!

Please read to the bottom and fill out the response form. Thanks!

Focus: The Homepage

Evaluation Rubric for the Course Homepage


Statement: The Homepage is the gateway for student/teacher interaction. The classroom homepage is a welcoming, interactive, timely and informative environment.Organization and information are keys for success in online education. Homepages need to be organized according to Georgia Virtual Learning guidelines. They need to be professional and well maintained. Homepages represent the quality of the program and the instructor.

* In the Fall 2013, the Georgia Virtual Mentors will assess the indicators and ratings for this category to reflect best practices and specific expectations.

Indicators of Success:


  • Widgets on the homepages conform to GaVL guidelines.

  • Links on the Homepages are active. Broken links should be fixed quickly.

  • Fonts, images, audio and video meet accessibility standards


  • Announcements are posted weekly

  • Start date included

  • End date included if appropriate

  • News announcements are current, inviting, and informative

  • New announcements are varied -- text/images -- so that they are not confused with older announcements

  • News is used to communicate clear and concise information as well as provide additional materials, resources, and opportunities for students

  • Conditional release is utilized to customize the classroom for different groups of students

  • News announcements should be created in a way that does not distract from the learning environment. It is important to be cognizant of the varying Internet connections and devices students use to access the LMS.

    MASTERY - Meets Expectations:

    • Weekly announcement posted each week.

    • Start date is indicated on all announcements.

    • When necessary for clarity and to remove clutter, ending dates are set.

    • Announcements are current and interactive (contains resources), display valuable information, and/or offer students additional learning opportunities.

    • Information is easily identified and found in the appropriate widget on the homepage.

    • Directions that navigate the student away from the homepage or learning management system are clear.

    ATTENTION NEEDED - Below Expectations:

    • Homepage is orderly, but is not inviting or engaging for students

    • News announcements contain minimal information or do not convey timely or relevant information; they are not updated each week.

    • Starting date is not indicated.

    • Announcements are distracting due to the content presentation. The image size and font size distract from the information being presented.

    • Information or directions within announcements, information within widgets, or course syllabi and/or convey incorrect information or contain typos.

You asked... We listened.

Mentee Questions addressed in this Mentee Minute

  • Suggestions for managing course schedules
  • Communication log: who, what, where?
  • Course Update examples
  • Grading... what to do if?


Check for new students in registration.
Respond to emails and phone calls within 1 school day.
Update your communication log.
Release eyeballs.
Email course updates to students, parents, mentor, QAS, and
Set up accommodations for SPED or 504.
Read & respond to discussions daily.
Grade within 3 days.

Open the grade book after grading (let it load fully).
Call failures after due date Fridays.

Suggestions for Managing Groups

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Communication Log 101

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What to include in communication log?

Welcome emails and phone calls
Student issues (illness, continual technology problems, extensions, accommodations)
Failures phone calls, emails to parents and facilitators
Any communications with parents
Course calendar schedule changes
Communication with Department chairs, SPED leads, or CI about student situations

Here's a short Communication Log Tutorial. Thanks, Alan!!

* One Very Important Note *

The communication log is for FACTUAL information only. Please do not include your opinions about parents, students, facilitators, or other instructors. Your entries should communicate the facts.

Course Update Samples

Mentors provided sample course updates below to help you get started. Remember to send out course updates after each due date Friday.

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Smore Course Update Email

Check out this Smore newsletter that I send to parents:

Grading... what to do if?

  • Your student has technology problems and was not able to meet the grade deadline? Here's the policy from the student handbook:

    Technical difficulties are not an excuse for assignments to be late. Students must have computer access to complete GaVS work. It is the student’s responsibility to secure backup computer options when technical difficulties arise. Many public libraries offer computers with internet access. Additionally, GaVS courses can be accessed on a variety of mobile devices so it may be that a mobile device could be used to complete some coursework when there are computer problems.

  • Your student did not submit work for their first benchmark? Email the student, call the parent, recommend course calendar schedule change (only 1 time a semester, document in com log).

Our gift to you...

We have included some of our favorite images to use when grading below. Feel free to use. Many of these have been created to assist in giving feedback. Images can be embedded in emails & feedback. This is a great time-saver and creative way to communicate with students.

Let us know you read this smore and tell us how we can help you in your courses by filling out the survey below.