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.
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
Digital Passport is Back!
Digital Passport, the award winning suite of 6 interactive games from Commonsense Media, has been a staple in our school's digital citizenship work, so I was dismayed when it wasn't ready to go at the end of the summer. But, it's back! What's new? The biggest change is that students no longer log in the same way; no student information is collected. This is both positive and negative. The students create their own username. Their work is saved, when a unit is completed- on that computer, on that browser. If they switch computers or use a new browser- out of luck. They can download or print certificates, take screenshots, etc. But, you just know that someone will forget to do this.
One other new feature- you can now choose to play the games in English or in Spanish.
I also kind of wish there was an easier tie in with Google Classroom, but that would of course attach student data. After taking a quick glance at the new Educator Guide- clean, simple and easy to use. I'm looking forward to trying this out soon with our 3rd graders!
Looking for UDL ideas?
When Wikispaces made the difficult decision to close, so many of my favorite websites also went by the wayside or had to find a new home. So happy that my good friend, teacher, and mentor, Karen Janowski spent the time to move her incredible UDL ToolKit to a new space. If you are looking for ideas on how to accomodate students on IEPS, 504 plans, or just about any student you teach- look no further than THE UDL TOOLKIT.
To quote Karen: " My passion is to remove the obstacles to learning for all students and these free tools offer opportunities for struggling learners that promote academic success. When material is digital or electronic, it is flexible and accessible. It is our responsibility as educators to provide materials that promote success. Please encourage all educators to consider using these free tools."
Bookshare Special Collections
I just learned about an amazing tool on Bookshare from @karenjan last week. I never knew they had Special Collections. If you have students on Bookshare- check it out! You can take some of these amazing collated collections and add them as reading lists for your students. For example-
I just wanted to share this info from Shelly Terrell with excellent directions on creating and sending parent newsletters. I embedded her tweet below. Her original post can be found here. Check it out as Shelly shares her templates too!
Join the UMass #30 Day Access Challenge
I have written in the past about SDGs- Sustainable Development Goals, but before the school year ends, wanted to remind everyone that it is not too early to figure out what you'll be doing to help your students understand the concept and come up with real plans to achieve these goals. The video below is an invitation to do just that. Visit the project web site and learn more about it. Everyone can participate- preK on up...
UDL: Great collection of Assistive Tech and OT sites
A friend posted a link to an excellent collection of sites for assistive tech and OT related strategies today. H/T to Leslie DiChiara for sharing these links! The one that I really enjoyed checking out was this one on speech recognition, but you are sure to find something of interest here.
One thing that really stood out to me on Saturday when I attended EdCampAccessBoston was the continuing gap between "Our Kids" and "Their Kids" - between special educators and general educators. I know that everyone cares about all of their students. I know that everyone is busy. Sometimes we don't cover all the bases. Working together, truly working as a team- to provide what is best for all students is our goal, but it's hard sometimes!
These links- all kids can benefit from many of these strategies- not just a student on an IEP or a 504 plan. Karen Janowski, one of my friends, one of my teachers, and an amazing educator shared a few websites during these sessions that, again, almost all students can benefit from. She showed teachers how to use Lit Charts, Insert Learning- (great blog post by Caitlin Tucker), and Common Lit. I hadn't seen Lit Charts- very cool site. Think Shmoop- but way better. The guys who created Spark Notes created this tool. Read more about it here: About LitCharts, or Why LitCharts are the Best Literature Guides on Earth
What is #MADPD?? It is "a virtual “unconference” with one goal: to make a difference for the greater education community. On May 6, 100 educators from across the globe shared one idea that makes a difference in their classrooms!
It was actually pretty amazing, and the great thing- you can still access all of the presentations- free, on your own time schedule. How? By using the Awesome Table, of course.
Here's the link: https://awesome-table.com/-LBnE8hn7NBBTPOjM2Qo/view
There are 94 short presentations- bet there is something that interests you.
Alice Keeler- Google Forms- Branching
What. is. a. hyperdoc?
I've been hearing about, reading about teachers using hyperdocs for a couple of years, and to be honest, my first reaction was- really? Do we need more jargon? Can't they just be called documents with hyperlinks? Yet another buzz word... BUT, last week I participated in a GAFEchat on twitter and came away as, if not an evangelist- at least a convert and am excited to explore and see if this can be useful for you and your students. So, first things first.
Isn't this just a document with hyperlinks?
Lisa Highfill, one of the creators of Hyperdocs (along with Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis) at a 2015 TEDX conference defined hyperdocs as-
Karly Moura, an instructional coach in Concord, Ca created an excellent comparison chart.
What you will notice in the comparison is that the creation of hyperdocs helps teachers create UDL lessons- considering how the materials are presented to students, engaging the students in creative ways and allowing for multiple means of representation. Sarah Landis has created an excellent Template you can follow. Click to see in Google Docs. Karly Moura has also created a mashup of this original template and some new ideas. She has even created a "close reading template".
Who are these for? Elementary? Middle School? High School?
All of the above. The resources I collected on the GAFEchat are saved on the One tab qr code to the left, but there are many, many more collections- and more teachers are creating and sharing these every day. Check out @TsGiveTs! on Twitter- it is an amazing resource. Here is a link toKarly's shared hyperdoc folder to check out some of her resources for elementary age kids. Below you will find some amazing resources shared by fellow educators and collected on Padlets as well as inspiring and informational presentations Lisa Highfill gave recently at the CUE conference.
Want to learn more?
You can check out the Hyperdocs FaceBook group here.
Want to learn even more? Lisa, Kelly and Sarah have a book coming out soon.
UDL- What is it?
Most of you have heard me go on ad nauseam about UDL- Universal Design for Learning- but if you haven't been exposed to UDL principles- here it is in a nutshell- or an infographic from the UDL Center and CAST.
Essentially, UDL is a way to front load your lessons- be proactive - and provide multiple means of engagement, representation and action & expression.
Why should I care?
The use of multiple means of engagement,representation and expression was demonstrated in a recent pilot test of uPAR here at HES. Students had various selections to read- silently, by a machine voice or by a human voice. It will not surprise you to see that almost 83% of our kids benefitted by these varied methods. What did surprise me was the average grade level increases- +4 to +8 grade levels! So, should all students be allowed to hear the text as they read ? Only if you want their comprehension levels to go up.
Free Resources from CAST
"Story Shares is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills."
This is a resource which started off on Kickstarter as a writing contest with support from Benetech, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Orca Book Publishers, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Jabico Enterprises. Now it is a growing platform to support older struggling readers with more appropriate reading material- and as a writer's platform.
I remember trying to use some of the book builder apps from CAST quite a few years ago, and giving up because they were super clunky to use. Things have changed. They have a whole page of free educational pages- http://www.cast.org/our-work/learning-tools.html- that yo can visit when you have time.
I just want to highlight 3 additional tools today.
This tool provides an easy to use authoring tool. The part I like- you can automatically add audio and word by word translation. Is it beautiful? No, but useful.
" iSolveIt puzzles provide an engaging way for students to develop the logical thinking and reasoning skills that are essential in mathematics." These are fun to do- and strike a good balance between challenging and daunting.
"CAST Science Writer, the tool that supports students in writing lab and class reports. This tool is geared toward middle school and high school students. Check out the supports and help available in Science Writer."
"Science Writer is an interactive, web-based instructional learning tool designed to help students in writing a complete science report; it supports students throughout the process of writing a science report. Research has revealed several effective instructional practices in improving the written language performance of students, and Science Writer has been designed to provide these: