Changing times, everyone is stressed and scrambling; each trying to do their best and to meet the needs of our community while using new tools and doing it all remotely.
We can do this.
Is it going to be the same? No. Is the same, only at a distance, what our community needs? No. The kids, the parents, all the teachers and admin need to maintain our community- not just the academic learning, but the important parts of the community of people caring and being cared for.
One piece of my job is to try to put all the pieces together, to meet folks where they are as far as their comfort level with tech tools. My goal is to make it easier for the teachers, and to make it work for the students and parents. Aside from setting up a whole slew of accounts and a portal for HES parents to access, I have also been attending as many of the PD opportunities that I can manage and finding out how others are working through these issues at their schools. If you need to gain more skills, whether it is in delivery of content or how to use a specific tool that your department or school has decided to use, there are resources out there.
I will be compiling all the PD resources, not the ephemeral ones, but the lists, slide decks, etc that you can pull out and reference on a shared drive for HPS, but in the meantime, here's some PD that may be helpful right now
3/31 - Tuesday @ 8:00 p.m.: Grades 6-12+ Educators - Hosted by John O’Neill and Erin Fisher
4/2 - Thursday @ 8:00 p.m.: Grades PreK-5 Educators - Hosted by Chris Gosselin and Rayna Freedman
The link to join is http://meet.google.com/xjk-cing-ftd
Sorry I seem to have misplaced a week or two as we all scramble to get up to speed and to help one another figure out what we are actually doing and how we can do it. Now that I think we have some of the basics down, or at least have figured out some of the parameters, what's next? Hoping to get some guidance from the state level as to what we, here in Massachusetts, are doing- enrichment?- distance learning?-dealing with equity issues? Lots and lots of questions. My biggest concern at the moment is how to provide continuity- both academically and to maintain the fabric of community- while we deal with the many aspects of accessibility.
So many of the edtech companies have come forward to offer their products for free as we try to reach out to all of our students and families. Although this is cool, a word of caution, don't introduce brand new tools if you can help it. Enrichment only, not for assignments if there is a learning curve. If your students have been using digital tools in class, try to stick to the known, as the whole method of lesson delivery is totally new to most of us. It overloads the teachers, the students and all of the families as we struggle to find the time, the tools and the means to distribute lessons or enrichment or just to reach out to build and sustain community.
One of the many webinars I have attended over the last 2 weeks was the SEDTA webinar last night, Supporting Students with IEPs During eLearning Days. After registering, I , along with 8000 others tried to get onto the edweb system. Needless to say, it didn't work. Luckily there is a recording, which you can access at edweb. AEM is offering a series of webinars coming up to help teachers use UDL in their lessons to reach all of the learners.
Here is more info from their page:
The AEM Center is hosting a series of webinars, each providing a deeper dive into a specific topic related to accessibility. Visit our AEM Events page for full details about each webinar.
So where do you sign up for any of these? Right here. A word of warning- hop onto the webinars on the early side if you can- they fill up fast. They are recorded if these dates/times don't work for you.
So what's next?
Our district is working hard to take the continuity plan and pull the teacher resources into our shared drive and to look carefully at the resources we are presenting to parents. Right now it is pretty overwhelming. Hopefully by the end of the week, we can begin to have it a bit more organized and have all of the HPS teacher resources in one place instead of filling your inboxes.
Ideas to Share
I could fill a book right now with all of the links I have collected, friends have shared, etc... It is a bit too much. If you like overwhelming - check out my Wakelets or this one. Here's a spreadsheet for all the spreadsheet lovers out there... and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
One of the things I have been hearing over and over again as we all prepare for any potential school closures is to essentially KISS- Keep It Simple... I tend to collate giant lists of potential tools, thinking that it's helpful to have lots of choices to match teacher/student needs and styles. Although I still believe in choices, right now, the tools that we need to focus on are the ones that we know as teachers, and the ones that the kids know how to use. That said- what if you haven't been using many digital tools at all? Well, the tools we need to look at do not need to all be digital- good ole paper and pencil work for most things and we don't have the equity issues.
If your school is trying to narrow the range of digital tools down to lighten the load, what are a couple of tools that you can learn and teach your students, given a week or two? What do you need? A way to communicate, a way to share lessons and stay connected. Here's a few tools to look at that may be helpful.
But, remember, if we actually have to close school, you can't be messing about learning new tools. Use the tools you and your students know, and lessen the cognitive load, as the whole thing will be stressful enough.
Screencastify or Nimbus look to be good choices. I haven't used Screencastify in a while, but according to Richard Byrne their latest update was a good one. Check out his post here.help.screencastify.com/ Screencastify is a chrome extension. Get it here.
Nimbus is another good choice, also a Google Chrome extension. Get it here.
We've been talking about using either Zoom or Google Hangouts/Meet. There are pros and cons of each, but I kind of favor Zoom, thinking I have more control. Check them out yourself.
We all know communication is key, especially if we are not able to actually meet in the classroom. How will your students get their lessons? How to keep parents in the loop? We are fortunate to have Google Classroom for grades 3-12 in our district. Kindergarten would like to use a blog, second grade already uses SeeSaw, preK wants to use physical packets with newsletters and materials. All of these can work. If you haven't used Google Classroom, it's pretty easy to set up and put your assignments in. SeeSaw is an easy to use platform as well. A class website, using Google Sites, or Weebly or Wix can do the job. Choose a tool that you already use or ask for help to learn the basics of a new one. Your LMS may have built in communication tools.
Ideas to Share
I have enjoyed attending edcamps for the last ten years or so, attending #edcampBoston, #edcampCT, #edcampKeene, #edcampNQ, #edcampwesternmass, #edcampGrafton, #edcampWorcester, #edcampAccess and more. What do I find appealing about edcamps? I get to choose what to learn, get to share what I have learned/tried, get to find answers to questions that I have, make connections with others who face the same challenges, brainstorm ideas. I don't have to sit 'n git through presentations that have nothing to do with me; I can get up and leave a presentation that isn't working for me and find a conversation that works. If I cannot meet my needs at edcamp, it is on me- not the fault of a well-meaning admin team who is trying to meet the disparate needs of a district and failing to address my needs.
So- what did I learn at #EdCampBoston?
My biggest take away by far was a session with Laura Beals D’Elia, one of the tribe of library goddesses on
Diversity in Picture Book Collections.
Laura is now over at Westborough and she has created an amazing padlet of diverse books. She led us through her discovery of how to assess a collection and how she is addressing diversity in her library. Not being a librarian, I hadn't a clue. I wish I lived closer so that I could take her course, sounds like an intense learning experience that we could all benefit from. So- what did she share? Here are the notes that Nancy et al took for the session. Here is the searchable database. One thing to note- this is a database- a list... not a list of recommended books- just a list. You can learn more about the way this came togetherhere. Laura's padlet has various categories, from family and friends to poetry to science. These are books that she has chosen to buy for her school library. Below is just a small sample of what you will find https://padlet.com/lauradelia11/tx9e8r7f2x0z
Another session that I enjoyed was Streamlining Classroom Routines with Tech. This seemed to be more middle/high school teachers, but there were things that I have not tried that seem to work for others, thus are well worth checking out.
We started out with using QR codes for sign out sheets- bathroom, hall passes, etc. I have seen various versions of this over the last few years. Since not all classrooms allow student cell phone use- a simple way is to have a spare chromebook with a link for the qr code- or just to the google form for the hallway/bathroom/nurse pass. This will document who signs out- when and where. Joli had a blog post with examples a while back.
A lot of teachers were excited to share their success with ZipGrade and GradeCam- neither of which I have used ( nor anticipate using). If you have a lot of this kind of grading to do, these apps must be a godsend. https://www.zipgrade.com/ or https://gradecam.com/
Teachers seem to promote using the chrome add-on -Pear Deck for Google Slides This is a quick and easy way to change a static presentation into an engaging lesson.
Another site that I haven't used is ClassCraft. The teachers who use this- love it. It is not free. The teachers at edcampBoston were talking about $60/year- but it sounds like it double that... It is gamified PBIS as far as I can see. You can add quests- like school work and give points for all sorts of things, collaboration, etc. So check out the videos below and see if you like it.
There were several others shared, EdPuzzle, Flippety.net, etc. You can check out the noteshere. And these were just 2 of the sessions I attended on Saturday. It was worth driving down to the Microsoft HQ in Burlington, learning and connecting with friends.
But, you don't have to travel that far if you live in western Mass, because EdCamp North Quabbin is right around the corner. Check it out here: https://www.smore.com/dhv24-edcamp-north-quabbin-is-coming?
One last thing to share...
Lisa Highfill created a great multimedia text set for Read Across America 2020. Check it out here Remember you can just go to file>make a copy to have your own copy of this that you can share with your students. It doesn't matter if it's March 2nd or not... great resources.
More Ideas for Black History Month
Since I took my vacation week off I have a backlog of "stuff" to share. Some of it can certainly wait, but I did want to share these Black History Month resources that I had collected.
Steve Wick shared a resource that I hadn't seen- Google Earth Voyage "Black History Month: The Journey of Us". The geo-tagged stories are a treasure.
Storycorps celebrates both Black History Month and the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment with "a special collection featuring themes of representation, universal suffrage, and Civil Rights. The 15th Amendment, one of the cornerstones of civil rights, granted men of all races the right to vote in 1870."
JStor compiled an amazing collection of stories, ranging from MLK to Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan” to Billie Holiday.
Facing History has an excellent collection of resources to not only learn about the history, but to connect history to current events. You can see so much more here.
Teaching Tolerance focused on honoring the history of black civil engagement. " The official theme of Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote.” Black changemakers and activists have been fighting for equal rights since before our nation began. This week, we’ll be sharing resources on the history of Black civic engagement and the continuing fight for full equality under the law."
One of the resources referenced is a film kit -Selma/The Bridge to the Ballot. You can see the trailer here.
Ideas to Share
I shared some of the presentations I attended at the MassCue Winter Googlepalooza last week with teachers at my school. Here's the rest of the schedule with the associated resources. Nothing actually beats attending, but you can learn a lot from the slide decks. One weird thing- some of the links are to gg.gg/ and my Malwarebytes doesn't like it. It opens fine on other computers, and I saw nothing that looked fishy... but just in case you see it too- not to worry.
Smithsonian Open Access & Tinkercad
Great Hyperdocs Resources
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Today marked the 5th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We, in the U.S. are still losing the battle to get more girls and women into science. There have been some positive notes, legislation that passed last year may help, but overall, women are not equally represented in science. Strange, since the first step in solving most design challenges is empathy. If women are not equally represented in the sciences, how can we expect the same level of empathy to guide the design process? Check out the video below and a couple of links to share. From the UN, this link, from Forbes magazine- this linkwww.womeninscienceday.org/, and from Women in Science Day, this link. Or follow some of the great links with this hashtag, #WomenInScienceDay.
One way to get more girls into STEM fields is to introduce it early. This is a FREE course from Engineering is Elementary. The PDF link for the syllabus is here.
More Black History Month Links
Rob Morrill has been making a series of lithophanes to celebrate Black History Month, sharing his results on Twitter and his instructables online, as well as the Thingiverse files. These are pretty amazing. I've tried printing them a couple of times, not terribly successful, yet. However, Ken, the infamous art teacher, gave me some great tips to try to improve them tomorrow. I'm still at the copying stage- have not played with codeblocks yet.
Ideas to Share
Before I share all of the great links from TCEA, a couple of others that caught my eye this past week.
The SheetsCon 2020 free online conference is coming up in March (11th and 12th). This is a 2 day conference to help you learn more than you have ever imagined about using Google Sheets. They have some great speakers lined up. This will range from super practical, you can pick this up and use it in your classwork tomorrow, to super geeky, you, or at least I, watch and wonder what the heck that one was...
Resources from TCEA from Wanda Terral
I embedded Wanda's Wakelet below, but what got me really interested in checking out the presentations from TCEA was Wanda's Data Dashboard presentation. This is something I want to learn more about. Enjoy all of Wanda's links, as well as Miguel's. I didn't embed all of Eric Curts' links, but here you go.
Resources from TCEA from Miguel Guhlin
Using Split Screen
I saw this (split screen image) the other day on a ad for ReadWorks and it struck me that we aren't always aware of some of the simple tricks that we can teach students to use to help focus their attention and to assist in reading passages. Some sites/extensions like Insert Learning, EdPuzzle, etc. will allow students to ask questions, answer questions, reflect on text or videos as they are reading/watching. How many times do you have to flip back to a passage to find an answer when you're reading? Let's help our students keep the work in front of them, to comprehend, to reflect, to learn.
Here's a partial list from my long time friend, my teacher, and outstanding Assistive & Educational Technology Consultant, Karen Janowski. If you haven't checked out her UDL Toolkit or her Executive Function Toolkit- you are missing out!
Black History Month
I will be adding to the list over the next few weeks, but many of the resources I shared last year are well worth checking out, some have been updated:
NPR has a really interesting new spin on Black History Month with CodeSwitch.
" Black History Month is here, and it's the perfect time to listen to Code Switch! We've got episodes all about the hidden heroes and buried history of black America. To help you dive right in, check out our new playlist. It's got stories on everything from sports activism, to the Black Panther Party, to one woman's fight for respect that went all the way to the Supreme Court. So as you grind through the middle of winter, listen to our recommendations to be inspired, enlightened and moved."
When I saw this article last week, it made me laugh at first, but then got me thinking... how many more powerpoint presentations will I have to sit through? You know the ones where the presenter apologizes in advance that you can't read the text on the slide, or god forbid, starts reading each slide to you. I remember showing Death by PowerPoint to students more than a decade ago. Here's the article- so you can laugh/cry...It's 2020. Why Are You Still Using PowerPoint? Don't miss clicking on the link to give you ideas of what you can do: Do This Instead.
New ways to capture and share learning seem to pop up on a daily basis, but these two tools are not the new kids on the block. Both Screencastify and Book Creator have been around for a while now and both keep on making more and more improvements.
When I saw the tweet below and a blog post by Richard Byrne, it reminded that I need to go back and give Screencastify another look. Take a look for yourself here.
Embedded below is a Book Creator book with 50 Ways to use Book Creator in your classroom. This tool is easy to use, and if you happen to run into any problem, you know that you will get a quick, helpful response back. Just this week they announced some great accessibility changes too.Here's a great post to learn more about all the wonderful new features- 230+ accessibility improvements added to Book Creator.
This is a long one- but it show you all kinds of great ways to use Book Creator in Special Ed
You don't have to be a special educator to learn more about UDL. This is a Don Johnston webinar from last week with Hillary Goldthwaite-Fowles, who can help dispel some of the myths around UDL.
Ideas to Share
Two posts from amazing educators stood out for me this past week. One was about Daniel Pink's new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing; and the other was from Jessica Twomey and Christine Pinto's #Innovative Play- 2 great resources- Connected Play Centers and MLK Character Traits Study .
I actually saw images with Pink's "controversial" statements about the research on timing of math in school, not realizing that this was part of Pink's book, until Matt Miller tweeted about Pink's keynote at FETC. So, I haven't read the book yet. I ordered a hard copy (so I could lend it out after I read it), which should be arriving today. But I was intrigued by the research cited and have questions about it.
Here's Matt's sketchnote:
Images from Keynote attendees' posts
So, what subject comes first in the school day? Is the data only related to math or all subjects? What does later in the day mean... how subjective is this? And last but not least- breaks... How do you time all of this? How much control do teachers have/should teachers have over scheduling?
How ? The #Innovative Play Way
I have always found that early childhood and elementary teachers come up with the best ways to learn. The connection to play is so important. This week I saw two great resources, one on Connected Play Centers- embedding character traits, which connected so nicely with their presentation on MLK - Character Trait Study, using stories to make this important connection. I love the way these teachers think and their creative ideas. They also take so much of the work out of a project by including the links, the videos, but spark ideas that let you incorporate your own materials.
Check out the Connected Play Center's updated play board here:
Check out MLK Character Traits here:
Ideas to Share
I often get asked about using Google Read and Write for Chrome. It is a pretty amazing tool set, which is often underutilized. Texthelp continues to add more and more features. This, although helpful, can put folks off. I remember the first time I saw the Kurtzweil dashboard- pretty much made me walk away. Student and teacher time is precious. Things need to work with no fuss, and no one really has a lot of time for a steep learning curve. So- Check out the training Texthelp offers online. You can spend less than an hour and get a lot of the basic skills, or just watch a 3 minute video to help you figure out one tool. Remember- use the Chrome browser- log into your school account. Teachers get all the features free, students get a free trial, or if you get lucky, your district can get a great deal and include everyone. Here's the basic training link . Here's the Resources link. Scroll down and check this one out. There's a whole series of resource material for ELL students, including this handy PDF. Need a quick video to learn a tool? Check out their YouTube channel.
Edutopia has a nice article called, " Preparing Social Studies Students to Think Critically in the Modern World", which can give you ideas about using primary sources.
Check, Please! is geared for older students, but I think high school students or any teacher could pick up a few pointers. Here's their info: "In this course, we show you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework."
To Share with Parents
The UK has a great organization called National Online Safety, which puts out a weekly post/pdf around various topics that parents, and teachers, should stay informed about. A recent one was on TikTok, but check out all of their free, downloadable resources here.
This article from TeachThought caught my eye recently. For those who know me, I often choose to do a "sandbox" day when introducing a new tool. I know that I learn best by hearing about something, watching someone/a video, and then messing with it myself. I need the verbal, the visual and kinesthetic modes to really get a handle on most of the digital tools and all of the physical tools. Although the article spoke to gaming and video games, like Minecraft, where the object is to build something, it also spoke to the need to "do stuff", "make stuff", to create. The digital tools I use every day stick in my head, the ones I use sporadically, I have to look up every time. The physical tools I use every day present no challenges,but new tools often take me a while and some "sandbox" time to get used to. Fellow teachers and I were watching students cut paper circles last week as part of a project and could not believe how hard it was for them. They apparently never have to use scissors. Last year I watched a student attempt to use a hammer to screw in a screw. If you have ever seen me try to use a sewing machine, you know, some of us just need more direction and practice. Thus, Sandbox Learning=hands-on, engaged, minds-on learning. It works. It brings out our strengths, allows us to learn and work through our weaknesses. Is this the way to learn everything? Probably not. I know how much I have hated being tossed into a project with no help. Sandbox learning can be structured, with scaffolded support as needed, but wide open enough to challenge to encourage. Lock-step, teach-to-the-test may give students high test scores, but are they learning?
I'm quite sure that as we head into election season here in the US, the "disinformation" in the media will only get worse. Commonsense Media is an excellent resource for educators. Their News and Media Literacy Resource Center has a wealth of material to use. I love the Sift, the News Literacy Project's newsletter for educators. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Did you know about the upcoming first National News Literacy Week, Jan. 27-31 ? The goal is to raise awareness of news literacy as a fundamental life skill. Read more about it here. I also didn't realize, and have not checked out their new app Informable. "The app, which is free, is designed to improve users’ ability to identify different types of news and other information." This is also an interesting site that I was introduced to recently- allsides.com .
What are you using for media literacy resources ?
Ideas to Share