“I couldn’t wait to get back to normal; and now I’m not sure what normal looks like,” she nervously revealed on the eve of her school reopening after almost a year online.
She isn’t alone. Scores of teachers have asked, “Can we go back? Should we go back?” and even more frightening: “How do we go back?”
My response is always the same: Let’s consider the New Now.
At the core of the New Now is our shared experience of living through a pandemic and navigating it together. While it was admittedly difficult to connect with our students and colleagues in online environments, it was what we had, it was all we had, and the universality of pandemic teaching and learning, I’d argue, forged bonds we didn’t know could exist. Basically, we’ve been in the same boat, trying to find the best way to row it.
Yes, as difficult, draining, and demoralizing pandemic teaching could be, we held on to each other, and that is what will propel us into the New Now: relationships.
When re-thinking instructional design, consider nurturing a relationship in which we allow students to take on more responsibility for the path and pace of their learning, building in more choice, voice, and creativity. In turn, you get to be the facilitator you’d hoped to be.
Assessments, too, could benefit from the give-and-take of relationships. What if we provided more feedback and less points? What if we allowed students to revise, grow, and do-over while we coach them as an invested partner?
As we begin to come together again, it is the shared experiences and the natural human need to connect that I hope will inform our New Now educational practices.
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Here in Ohio, we're seeing a dramatic and quick rise in the number of universities opting to forgo face-to-face learning due to coronavirus concerns. (My Ohio State sophomore, currently on Spring Break, will be engaging in distance learning until the end of the month.) I suspect it won't be long before our K-12 schools follow suit. No matter where you live in this country, COVID-19 s affecting all of us. Personally, I think it's smart to work towards containment measures, and I'm grateful we live in a time where technology makes working or learning from home manageable. Of course, I'm a digital learning coach, so technology is second nature to me. I realize that not everyone is like me (and the world is grateful for that!).
With that said, I acknowledge that taking kids out the classroom poses some real challenges: What about those kiddos who don't have home wifi access? What about our schools who can't provide a device for every students? What about our educators who are new-ish to the idea of remote teaching?
As we anticipate the rush to find solutions, I've created what I hope to be a very helpful guide in navigating new and unknown territory. While it won't solve the intricate problems of attempting to get our schools online in a hurry, I do believe it will help assist us in making informed decisions. Please feel free to share with your colleagues and staff, and as always, don't hesitate to reach out with any questions--and especially with ideas and updates that could be added to this live document.
You've got this!
I keep a list of all the #edtech tools available for digital learning: apps for assessment, platforms for instructional delivery, tools for collaboration + creativity.
That list is currently at 212. (That is not a typo.)
And those are the tools about which I know. It can get overwhelming, this having to be constantly on top of the ever-evolving, never-stalling educational technology universe. Sort of like this:
image courtesy of YouTube
I'm a fan of simplicity and of having my options limited. Too many choices and I get paralyzed. With that said, when I'm asked to make recommendations by teachers for the must-have tools for their edtech toolbox, here are my go-tos in no particular order:
Want to really know if your students learned something? This is IT. If you don't believe me about this social learning platform in which the teacher poses a question and students provide video responses, then believe the millions of other users who swear by it. This is a very simplistic explanation for an edtech tool that has more uses than a Swiss Army Knife (especially with its most recent updates of camera features and AR), so I suggest you get in there and play around with it yourself. Here's a great guide to get started.
It was a giddy day when the teacher would roll out the giant TV and popped a clunky tape into the VCR. But to be honest, I'd have liked Edpuzzle way more. And you will, too. It's more than a simple show-a-video-to-students tool. Edpuzzle gathers valuable and informative data about student comprehension. In the age of on-demand, pausing, and rewatching, this tool will resonate with your class. Click here if you're a newbie to Edpuzzle.
I have the attention span of a goldfish, so if it takes me a long time to learn something, I'm out. Book Creator's got your back with its 10-minute tutorial. Turn your lesson into your own textbook. Better yet, allow your students to create their own ebooks, comic books, photo books, and journals.
There's a reason YouTube is popular with your students. Watching a video is more powerful than reading text. This screencast recorder allows students to truly show what they know by narrating what's on their screen. Create tutorials for your kiddos for days when you've got a sub, or replace the time-consuming oral presentations with screencasts.
Why not make learning a game? I can't tell who has more fun with this--the kids or me. This collaborative learning classroom game makes your job easier. Do yourself a favor and take the lecturing out of learning with the Live version of Quizlet.
I hope you find this list useful if you're just getting started with 1:1, or even if you've been doing it for a while. What are your faves?
I'm at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference in Columbus this week and feeling lucky to be here, sharing, learning, and collaborating. Since I know I have more than a few colleagues who couldn't attend, I'm engaging in some "mini-journaling" so they can be here vicariously!
Morning Session: Flipping Your Staff Meeting
Develop the definition of a Flipped Staff Meeting, look at activities which work well presented through the Flipped model, and discover tools to implement.
Afternoon Session: Online Assessments Toolkit
Want to truly prepare our students for the NGAs? Then start providing assignments and assessments that are "NGA-esque." While Eric Curts provided a literal plethora of helpful tools and resources today, here are my faves:
To my chagrin, I'm one of the worst stereotypes out there: a girl who doesn't "get" math.
To my younger son's chagrin, the girl-turned-mom who doesn't "get" math can't help him with his homework.
Most times, I drag my older son, the math genius, from wherever in the house he's hiding so that he can offer his assistance, because even if I could help, I know I wouldn't want to explain a math concept the wrong way and undermine the amazing work his ever-patient and brilliant math teacher has done to get him this far the last three years. It's the same reason we don't even use sites like KhanAcademy or MathTrain for video tutorials because we've tried that, but the kid laments that "they" don't do it the "right way," i.e., the way his teacher taught him. He's very insistent and sometimes frustratingly indignant that Mrs. S. does things the "best way."
Which is why I often find myself wishing that Mrs. S. could give me a brief tutorial on the math concept du jour. And now I think she might be able to with the help of these DIY whiteboard apps I recently discovered.
Billing itself as the "easiest way to create and share lessons on the iPad," ShowMe allows you to create a video tutorial using your iPad screen as a whiteboard while you provide your own voiceover. I tested it out myself and found it to be as easy to use as a classroom whiteboard. There are thousands of tutorials across all subject areas already uploaded to the website for use by teachers and students. I discovered one teacher on the site who uses the app to flip her classroom: the students watch the lesson/lecture at home and come prepared the next day to work on what they just viewed. Take a look at the site to get some ideas of your own.
Again, this is another user-friendly whiteboard app. What I like about Educreations is that you can type text on the whiteboard AND you can upload an image from the iPad camera, the iPad photo stream, Dropbox, or the web. Like ShowMe, there are plenty of previously-created videos already on the site. They're arranged by subject area and by featured videos. I tried making my own video with text and images, and boy, did it look professional! Even better, once I registered, I received an immediate email from the support team checking to see if I needed any help getting started. Now THAT's user-friendly! And if you don't have an iPad, you can still create lessons using Educreations' online whiteboard.
If you're a little more advanced with your tech skills, I'd recommend Knowmia. Knowmia allows you to create "sophisticated animation sequences" with slides, images, graphics, video clips, and a video recording of your own face with voiceover. Don't let these state-of-the-art features intimidate you, though. The site provides excellent support resources for newbies. In addition, you can visit the Video Revolution Project to learn how teachers across the country are using Knowmia, and you can browse Knowmia's collection of "over 25,000 video lessons from great teachers."
Applications for Education: Teachers could create a short video tutorial about that day's lesson to which students could refer at home while doing their homework. Alternatively, teachers could create lessons for the flipped classroom. Create your own video tutorial or lesson, and add an image from anywhere to enhance student understanding. Whether you create a video for remediation or for flipping, your choices are pretty limitless. If you're not the creative type, you could certainly recommend video tutorials from other teachers to suit your needs.
So, Mrs. S., I hope you're reading this. I'd like to learn to do math the "right way." And my son would like me to learn, too!
Image by Educreations
Just to prove to you how easy these apps are to use, I had my older son create a sample video tutorial today in ShowMe. And it got me thinking...why not assign some of your more tech-savvy students to create these short videos for you? That's some serious ownership of learning AND collaboration!
Formative and summative assessments have been one of the major tenets of the Common Core roll-out.
Formative assessment is a process by which teachers evaluate students' needs while students are learning. This feedback allows teachers to adjust their teaching methods to meet student learning goals.
Summative assessment evaluates student learning at the end of an instructional unit. This allows teachers to know if students have met the curricular standards or benchmarks. Listed below are some examples of formative and summative assessments.
These examples are pretty standard and are often used, as they should be. With regard to formative assessment, however, there are some useful tech tools out there that make learning more fun and engaging for students--and easier on teachers! After reading this recent blog post from one of my favorite sites, I decided to try them out, and here are my three free favorites:
Socrative describes itself as a "smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets." Teachers log in via their own device, select an activity, and direct the students to login and respond in real-time. Many of the activities and games are pre-designed, saving teachers much-needed time. Socrative activities include the following:
Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system where teachers can create quizzes, discussions, and surveys and project these items on the classroom screen. Students join in through their personal or school devices and "play against each other aiming to top the on-screen leaderboard" while the teacher has the ability to "facilitate and discuss the content." Kahoot's drag and drop feature makes content creation easy. In addition, students can create their own quizzes and then "think up and answer their own questions through thorough research and the collation and/or self creation of imagery and video."
3. Collaborize Classroom
Collaborize Classroom is an online collaborative education platform that allows students and teachers to "transcend the boundaries of their physical classroom to engage in an online collaborative learning environment." With this tool, students can
If you want to get started, but feel overwhelmed by the technology, I'd suggest you start with Socrative and allow yourself and your students time to get comfortable with the platform. I'm definitely looking forward to getting started myself! Good luck, and let me know how it goes with your class!
Digital Learning Coach in Cleveland, Ohio, sharing innovative technology ideas.