Teacher Talk December 2020

Tips to Improve Digital Instruction
  1. Create 5 to 7 minute pre-recorded mini-lessons that students can view on their own time. Go a step further and use FlipGrid or EdPuzzle to embed a think-aloud into your video. Assign these lessons to students prior to the next virtual meeting. Use the virtual meeting to answer clarifying questions, discuss, or engage on these topics rather than provide whole group instruction.
  2. Consider offering office hours following shortened virtual meetings. This allows for more individualized discussions or questions in a safer environment.
  3. Send reminder emails or posts recapping the previous virtual session and expectations (assignments/projects/reads) for future sessions. End each virtual session with a slide or image of upcoming responsibilities.
  4. Use backchanneling. Instead of breakout rooms, assign half of the students to communicate verbally and the other half to turn off their audio/video and communicate via chat. This is possible directly in Meet/Zoom, but Padlet or a shared Google doc are other great options. If using Google Docs, require each student to use a different font and color to contribute so that you know everyone is participating.
  5. Use Padlet to assess understanding. Students have the choice to type responses, upload an image, create videos, sketch, or talk about their takeaways. As the moderator, you can allow students to work anonymously, filter inappropriate content, comment on posts from peers, or like or grade another's work.

from "A Crash Course in Digital Instruction" by Tasha Austin in ASCD, September 10, 2020

Google Meet Tip #2

New Google Meet features including moderator controls, background blur, hand raise, and jamboard/interactive whiteboard are all discussed in the first 9 minutes of this video. If you view in YouTube, the speaker also included a table of contents to jump to the section of the video you'd like to watch. If you do not have any of these free Google Meet features, please reach out so that we can enable them for your G Suite account. The other four features (Breakout Rooms, Polls, Q&A, and Attendance) are paid features that we are exploring. We are hoping to have them or similar extensions in place by the start of second semester.

Resources for Grades Pre-K through 5
Resources for Grades 6 through 12

supporting students

Activities to Build Connections with Students

  1. Create a window of time in the week when students can ask teachers anything. Does the virus scare you? What's your favorite color? What makes you mad? This time allows students to see their teachers as real people and teachers to connect more effectively with their students during a troubling time.
  2. Share mistake-making. Draw something with your students that show how you struggle with following directions or try a tongue twister. Students learn that others have struggles too.
  3. Autobiographical Mini-Movies or Trailers. Connect with students through shared life events.

supporting teachers

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities
  • December 8- Flip Your Classroom: The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model where the traditional lecture and homework elements are reversed. Pre-recorded video lectures are viewed before class. In-class time is repurposed so students can inquire about lecture content, apply their knowledge, and participate in hands-on activities. By reversing the traditional lecture and homework elements and integrating engaged-learning activities, educators can transition their class from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered environment. Making this transition will completely change the dynamics of the classroom and make students more responsible for their own learning. Student engagement, participation, and understanding increase too! Also, learn how to use Screencastify and Google Meet to flip your classroom.
  • December 9- Gaming Culture, Distance Learning, and Student Engagement: How can we borrow from video games to build meaningful distance learning experiences? As an emergency response, educators made a shift to distance learning almost overnight with mitigated success: all over the country, districts report participation rates in distance learning to be as low as 50%. Meanwhile, engagement with video games is at an all-time high. Together, we’ll learn what we can borrow from video games to rethink distance learning, motivate students and develop standards to make them better distance learners.
  • December 10- Get Creative with Google Sites (Bitmojis): A workshop on how to create a Google Site for teachers to use with their classrooms. Educators will learn how to create a site with bitmojis and will include tips and tricks to help make Google Site interactive and fun for students and parents.
  • December 15- Designing Remote Learning Activities for Educators: As more school districts develop E-Learning & Remote Learning Day Plans, it is vitally important that teachers develop strong and meaningful Remote Learning Day activities for students. Recent legislation surrounding E-Learning Days, & new guidance for Remote Learning Days, requires that classroom activities be inclusive of students with special (IEP/504) needs, as well as students with no or limited Internet connectivity at home. This workshop will explore ways to design engaging instructional activities that will support student learning.
  • Parent Resource Hub- Google and Schoology help, video tutorials, and more.
Happy Holidays!


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