Teacher Talk September 2020

instructional strategies

Ideas to Maximize Student Engagement in Remote Classes
  • Think-pair-share to Zoom – Middle-grade students were given a prompt, broke into small groups, and recorded their answers in a shared Google Doc, which kept students accountable. Returning to the whole class, a volunteer from each group shared their answers.
  • Using Chat to check for understanding – One third-grade teacher had students use emojis in Google Chat to show whether they understood what was being presented (one emoji at a time!). A kindergarten teacher had students type T for true and F for false in the Zoom Chat area as she posed questions, which gave her feedback on learning and provided basic keyboarding practice.
  • Flipping – A high-school math teacher had students listen to a recorded video before class and engage in a couple of online activities. At the start of the live class, students briefly summarized the concepts they had learned, then divided into breakout rooms to solve related problems. This format allowed the teacher to spend less time on formal instruction and tune in when students were struggling.
  • Spider web discussions – Before class, students independently answered questions, then shared their responses at the start of a live Google Meet discussion. While students talked, the teacher listened and drew lines on a diagram of the class, tracking student-to-student interactions. At the end of the discussion, the teacher showed the resulting “spider web” via video and asked students to reflect on the experience: who talked, who listened, who built on others’ ideas.
  • Online forums – A high-school English teacher used Google Classroom’s question feature to get her classes responding to readings and discussion prompts during remote learning time. As students responded, she replied with clarifying questions, creating a back-and-forth dialogue. Students were also asked to respond to at least two of their peers’ comments. A fifth-grade teacher used Nearpod Collaborate, a virtual collaboration board, to get students sharing images and writing responses to show what they learned from an article. She added another feature: students used Flipgrid so they could hear their peers’ voices, even though they were asynchronous.
  • Virtual gallery walks – A high-school social studies teacher asked students to present five-minute screencasts on their projects. Classmates toggled through them and provided feedback on at least two using Google Sheets, with these prompts: What is something new you learned about this topic? What is something that surprised you? What is something you liked about this presentation?

from "8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom” by Emelina Minero in Edutopia, August 21, 2020

Increasing Student Choice in Learning Tasks
Click image to enlarge. (Left) Visit Shake Up Learning. (Right) From the August 25, 2020 ISBE Weekly Message
Resources for Grades Pre-K through 5
  • Mystery Science has released Distance Learning How-To Guides for every lesson. These guides use color coding to quickly let you know which lessons are able to be taught as is, which will require additional materials, and which would be best used as a whole class demo lesson.
  • Looking for a fun activity to do with both in-person and remote learners? Try a digital Breakout EDU! Here are some featured games for September and back to school, but remember there is a whole library of games.
  • Check out these Brain Breaks or Inside Recess Socially Distanced Games.
  • Did you know the Nearpod has lessons aligned to ReadWorks? If you use ReadWorks in your classroom, it might be worth checking out these lessons. These would make great independent activities while meeting with small groups. The ReadWorks article is already available within the Nearpod lesson as well as a skill/strategy activities and an optional comprehension quiz. Check out this first grade lesson titled The Disappearing Room. Nearpod also has similar lessons for NewsELA.
  • Looking for ways to connect your in-person students with your remote learners? Schedule a Meet during in-person time to allow students to interact with each other. Try one of these fun games during the Meet.
  • This Zearn Helper might be a good resource to share with parents as they try to support students at home.
Resources for Grades 6 through 12
  • September 17th is Constitution Day. Check out this new digital game on Breakout EDU- We the People or this Nearpod Gamified Quiz. Here are other featured Breakout EDU games for September including games to start the school year and Raiders of the Lost Locker.
  • Illinois Colleges Forward is an online hub that provides centralized access to COVID-19 related changes affecting more than 120 colleges and universities in Illinois.
  • Looking to use current events in your classroom? Try these weekly Nearpod lessons on current events ranging from Esports to Chadwick Boseman's Legacy.
  • The Curse of Helicopter Teaching is an article that describes the struggles of two students who complete tasks and put forth effort but find themselves unprepared to write. So often we focus on the structure of literary analysis prompts because it will be necessary for high stakes assessments. This article describes how we are doing our students a disservice when always drilling the structure because they forget how to think for themselves when tackling a writing task.
  • ISBE released the Illinois Priority Learning Standards. These standards take into account student learning loss from the spring and try to narrow the focus of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. This document is especially helpful in grades 3-8 where the 58 educators who worked on the document aligned the priority standards to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness.

supporting students

Relationship building with students is an ongoing process, not an occasional or transactional event.

Gabriel "Asheru" Benn, 7 Ways to Make High School "Suck" Less

Click image to enlarge. Getting into RHYTHM (see above) helps educators build trust, respect, and rapport with students, families, and school communities.
Tips for Communicating with Students During Remote Learning

supporting teachers

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities
  • September 16- Teaching Full Capacity in a Half Capacity World. Lindsey Jensen is the 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year, the 2020 NEA Foundation for Teaching Excellence Illinois Awardee, a 2019-20 Teach Plus Fellow, and Vice-President of the Illinois Teachers of the Year. Her new workshop, “Teaching Full Capacity in a Half Capacity World,” is the professional development educators need to prepare for this challenging school year. Topics include: The Power of Relationships; Examining Core Beliefs; Collaborating with Colleagues; Creating Powerful Partnerships; Teaching Remotely; Engaging Students Online; Family Engagement; and Teacher Self-Care.
  • September 17 (3:30 to 5:00pm)- Utilizing the Flipped Classroom Model. Come discover how you can use Google tools to apply The Flipped Classroom model to the in-person/remote learning hybrid schedule many school districts will be implementing this school year. The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model where the traditional lecture and homework elements are reversed.
  • September 24- Teaching Children of Poverty. Children from poverty have unique learning, social and behavior differences. We know the human brain is just as vulnerable to negative factors as it is receptive to positive factors; therefore, the environmental and sometimes traumatic factors for children from poverty greatly affect how these children react to the world. Come and gain some valuable concrete ways to help your students living in poverty.
  • September 30- Stressed Brains Can't Learn. This training will provide the basic understanding of how trauma alters the brain and impacts learning. We will share strategies to help support these struggling students in person and remote.
  • October 6- Venturing into the Wild Science Workshop. Junior High and High School Science Teachers come and enjoy a day outdoors with ROE #3. This workshop will be hands on and interactive. Some topics include Epidemiology "You Make Me Sick" - Simulating the Spread of an Infectious Disease; Aquatic Habitats - Bio Blitz, Deep Forest Bio Blitz; Prairie Bio Blitz; and much more!
  • October 6 (8:30 to 10:00am)- Deep Dive of the Skills and Instructional Strategies related to the Evidence-Based Reading, Writing, Math Sections of the SAT and PSAT. Participants will learn how to connect instruction, assessment, and student practice to increase student achievement on the SAT and PSAT-related assessments. Teachers will review the SAT Suite Domains and utilize the item analysis to identify alignment and potential gaps in curriculum or student skills. Teachers will engage in collaborative activities to implement specific instructional strategies to address any identified areas of need and will access the Illinois Learning Standards associated with the subscores in the K-12 Assessment Reporting portal.
  • October 6 (3:00 to 4:00pm)- Soaring Balloons and Heavy Shackles- Helping the Most Challenging Kids Soar. Based on a true story of real-life trauma, this webinar offers an understanding of how trauma transforms the student experience and practicing our perspective can guide a child on his journey to reclaim livelihood. We are empowered to be a part of the problem or part of the solution with our Actions, Words and Expressions. "Those Kids" are OUR kids and our AWE can either help them soar or add weight to their shackles. Practical. Powerful. Purposeful.
  • October 7 (9:00 to 10:00am)- AP Classroom Workshop. In this session, we will discuss the new AP resources made available this year, and answer questions about the AP Course and Exam Descriptions. The goal is to help teachers and curriculum directors understand how to utilize the four new resources and to navigate AP Classroom. Teachers will engage in interactive activities to review instructional strategies, create and assign assessments with the AP Question Bank, and examine data from the Performance Dashboard. If teachers have experience with navigating the AP Classroom resources, the workshop will focus on how teachers and curriculum directors are utilizing the Course and Exam Descriptions and take an in depth look at the formative and summative questions.
  • October 14 (12:30 to 3:30pm)- Teaching the Holocaust, Empowering Students. Echoes and Reflections will host this signature professional development program, educators enhance their knowledge and capacity to teach about the Holocaust, including the history of antisemitism, the establishment of the ghettos, the Final Solution, and how this historical event continues to influence the world today. This training will support educators with access to a range of classroom-ready content, sound teaching pedagogy and instructional strategies all needed to teach about the Holocaust in a comprehensive, responsible, and meaningful way.
  • October 15- Second Chances for Second Chance Readers. Second-chance readers are those who somehow, for multiple reasons, have fallen through the cracks of our schools. Don't ever assume that these struggling readers don't unlock the mystery of reading. Even when they have attitude, don't misread that as lack of interest. It's often just the opposite. They doubt their own abilities and carry humiliation, embarrassment and yes, anger because they feel like failures. Just know, they have a hidden urge to read like everyone else. Come learn about strategies to engage these readers.
  • Monthly Book Study- Teach Illinois is offering two different book studies through the school year, one focusing on Teaching & Learning, the other on Race & Diversity. Learn more here.
  • Technology Trainings- Learning Technology Center of Illinois is hosting several technology trainings this fall. "Using Screencastify to Support Remote Learning", "Creating Digital Assessments with Google Forms", and "Get to Know Google Classroom" are a few of the September topics. View the full listing of events here.
  • Google Meet is receiving updates to improve virtual learning. Features include hand raising, gallery view of up to 49 participants, digital whitteboarding, attendance tracking, breakout rooms, and many more. Click here to learn more about the new features and the estimated date of implementation.
  • The Learning Technology Center of Illinois has released a Parent Resource Hub. This site offers a Q & A and computer help for both Schoology and Google. It would be a great resource to share with parents and students.


Created with images by Element5 Digital - "untitled image" • gloriak2700 - "school supplies back to school arts and" • elizabethaferry - "school lockers hallway" • PublicDomainPictures - "connect connection cooperation"