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Navigating Education – The Newsletter ISSUE 2 – May 31st, 2021

JUNE UPDATE – Issue 2

We made it! The 2020-2021 school year is almost over. For many, the school year is about to end, which means there’s time to rest and recharge during summer. With time to rest and recharge, there may be time to spend learning at your own pace and what you want. As a result, the goal of the next few newsletters is to provide you with many options to learn new practices over the summer at your own pace to then apply to the next school year. These learning opportunities and resources include podcasts to listen to, instructional resources to store in your drive for next year, research articles to read, and voices from other educators that have amplified. 

Ultimately, the goal of this newsletter is to be a helpful resource to help you continue your learning. Be sure to ask your professional learning network and colleagues within your educational organization to subscribe to receive this newsletter, which can be done by completing this form. Also, connect with me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990 and check out more content on my website www.matthewrhoads.com 

Pre-Orders – Purchase Your Copy for a Great Summer Read Before Next School Year

As we get closer to the summer, we are closing in on the release date of Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders. Pre-order your copy of this book that will be a great playbook to navigate the present and future of education!

Pre-Order: Amazon.com 

Pre-Order: Barnes and Noble

Peter Lang International Academic Publishing

Release Date: July 20th, 2021

HELPFUL RESOURCES FROM MAY 2021 TO HELP YOUR PRACTICE AS A TEACHER AND LEADER

Frayer Vocabulary A-Z Vocabulary – How-to Video by Dr. Rhoads

Template for A-Z Vocabulary

In this video demonstration, Dr. Rhoads outlines how Frayer Vocabulary can be utilized for a collaborative class activity called A-Z vocabulary. This strategy can be employed at the beginning of a unit or at the end for review. Groups of three students are assigned a slide. For each slide, group members must complete their portion of the slide associated with the vocabulary word. Once their Frayer Vocabulary slide is completed, a gallery walk will commence and students will review the slide deck. Then, on an individual basis, the slide deck can be used by students for retrieval practice. Last, a template slide deck has been added. Please make a copy to use for your classroom!

Jigsaw Reading – How-to Video by Dr. Rhoads

Template for Jigsaw Reading & Summarization Using NewsELA Articles

In this video demonstration, Dr. Rhoads takes you through the Jigsaw Reading strategy. In a twist, passages are assigned to groups and students work together on slides as they annotate and paraphrase the slides content. Then, once each group is completed, they write a combined summary on hyperlink to a Doc attached to the end of the slideshow. Each group’s summary along with groups who may have read a higher Lexile reading rendition of the same passage will have their summaries all in the same space. 

Linking Technologies to Effective Instructional Strategies – Zach Groshell

In this article, Zach Groshell shows a number of instructional strategy integrations with EdTech tools. These instructional strategy integrations are known to help students learn. Take a moment to review this article as it shows a how mainstream EdTech tools we use everyday can be paired with strategies to help students learning.

EDUCATION RESEARCH ARTICLES TO REVIEW

Daniel Willingham is a famous cognitive scientist that researches and writes about learning. On Twitter, he shares many groundbreaking research articles that can impact our practice in the classroom. For this month’s education research articles to review, we have listed a number of research articles Dr. Whittingham has recommended and posted on social media. You can follow Dr. Willinnghan on Twitter @DTWillingham.

What are the Effects of Screen Time on Emotion regulation and Academic Achievements? – Luca Cerniglia, Silvia Cimino, and Massimo Ammaniti

In this study, researchers found there was a positive association with screen time starting at four years old was significantly associated with dysregulation and negatively associated with mathematics and literacy grades at 8 years of age. Researchers recommend that parental involvement, specifically mothers, is key to regulating device usage. 

Language Skills, and Not Executive Functions, Predict the Development of Reading Comprehension of Early Readers: Evidence from an Orthographically Transparent Language – Dacian Dorin Dolean, Arne Lervag, Laura Visu Petra, & Monica Melby-Lervag

In this study, researchers looked at early elementary aged children and looked at the development of reading comprehension. They found that executive functions do not have a significant direct effect on developing recording comprehension beyond fluent decoding and oral language skills. The results also showed that children who learned to decode well, their language skills and not executive functions have a strong effect on developing their reading comprehension. The authors of the study recommend interventions for reading in elementary school should stress the development of oral language skills. 

NAVIGATING EDUCATION – THE PODCAST EPISODES TO CHECK OUT

Since last month, five new episodes of Navigating Education – The Podcast have been released. Take a listen to them as they are full of best practice nuggets to help your teaching and leadership practice. Starting in June, episodes of the podcast will feature guests. Dr. Rhoads will interview educators from across the world on a number of topics ranging from assessment, feedback, cognitive load, culturally responsive teaching, fine arts education, and much more!

Episode 10 – Integrating Instructional Strategies with EdTech Tools: The How-to Process

Episode 9 – Developing Classroom Routines in the Modern Classroom Environment: Building Routines for Digital and In-Person Spaces

Episode 8 – Special Education Case Management: Harnessing EdTech to Make Case Management Efficient and Effective

Episode 7 – Adaptive Edtech for Personalized Learning and Retrieval Practice

Episode 6 – Online & Distance Learning – What works According to Research and Practice

AMPLIFYING THE VOICES OF EDUCATORS

Here are several articles and a podcast to amplify the voices of several educators. Each article and podcast can provide insight to help amplify your practice as a teacher and leader. From each of these articles, you will have a number of nuggets that you can implement immediately to amplify student learning!

Thanks, But I’ll Keep my Research – Zach Groshell

In this blogpost, Zach Groshell outlines a number of research-based instructional strategies that can help students learn. He does a great job summarizing these strategies by outlining them in a table called “How Much Would Students Learn If,” which provides a list of rhetorical questions asking ourselves as educators what teaching strategies are effective versus the ones that are not effective. 

7 Free Teaching Tools You Might Not Have Heard Of – Dr. Matthew Joseph and Shannon Moore

In this article, Dr. Matthew Joseph and Shannon Moore explore a number of free alternative web-based EdTech tools that support learning. While there are many mainstream tools we all enjoy utilizing, there are many other EdTech tools that we should take a look at for next year. When looking for new tools for next school year, this article should be one of the first places you look to see what’s out there. 

Armchair Scholars Podcast Episode 10 – Dr. Malik Boykin

In an upcoming Navigating Education – The Podcast, Dr. Rhoads will interview Dr. Malik Boykin aka Malik Starx. Before listening to the podcast that will be released in July, this is a good episode to learn more about this influential educator, scholar, and music article. 

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Navigating Education – The Newsletter – Issue 1

Issue 1 – April 30th, 2021

Purpose of the Newsletter

The purpose of Navigating Education – The Newsletter is to provide all educators in K-12 and higher education with resources to help amplify their instruction and leadership. My goal as the author of this newsletter is to curate and develop a helpful resource of strategies, podcasts, blogs, research, and tips to navigate the present and future of education. Additionally, the goal of the newsletter is to amplify the voices of educators from across the United States and the world. Many educators are doing amazing work within classrooms and schools that can help us in our practice as educators whether we are in or outside of the classroom. In this newsletter, it cover the following topics: 

  • Helpful Resources form April 2021 to Help your Practice as a Teacher and Leader
  • Introducing Navigating Educating – The Podcast
  • Update: Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders – Pre-orders Now Available!
  • Amplifying the Voices of Educators

Ultimately, the goal is to have the newsletter release at the end of each month with a monthly issue. If you find this resource helpful, please be sure to ask your professional learning network and colleagues within your educational organization subscribe, which can be done by completing this form

Helpful Resources from April 2021 to Help your Practice as a Teacher and Leader

The goal of this section of the newsletter is to provide teachers and leaders with research articles and blogs that can help their practice as educators. Take a look at each resource as it’s been placed here to help amplify your practice!

Research Article: Reducing Extraneous Cognitive Overload during Learning While Using Multimedia LearningLearn about how to reduce cognitive overload during learning when multimedia is involved. Cognitive overload is an important concept as instructors to be aware of as it relates to the capacity of our working memories to take on more information to process. If our working memory is overloaded with tasks and information, it makes learning difficult. Therefore, understanding strategies that help prevent overload are imperative in our learning environments for our students to learn effectively. 

Blog Post: Teacher Feedback and Coaching During the Toggled Term: EdTech Tools to Help Teachers and School Leaders Observe Online & Blended Learning ClassroomsWithin this blog post, several strategies are discussed relating to observing teachers within online and blended learning classrooms. Additionally, EdTech tools like SIBME and Edpuzzle are discussed as tools that can be utilized to provide teachers with feedback on recorded lessons. This is a great blog for instructional leaders and coaches who want to provide feedback to teachers as well as coach teachers throughout the year to improve their instructional toolkit. 

Lectures & Panels

During March and April, I had the opportunity to host three panels sponsored by Paper learning for the Teacher Discussion Series. Themes related to the chapters in Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders, which focused on discussions centered on teaching in diverse environments and EdTech infused pedagogy from teachers around North America. Check them out by clicking on the links below. 

Teacher Discussion Series 3: Six Ways to Address Learner Variability—For “Roomies” and “Zoomies” Alike

Teacher Discussion Series 2: Enhancing instructional strategies with ed tech

Teacher Discussion Series 1: Modern instructional strategies for the “toggled” term

Introducing Navigating Education – The Podcast

In April 2021, Navigating Education – The Podcast was launched with the goal and focus on discussing relevant issues in education that help teachers, school leaders, policymakers, and community members navigate the present and future of education. The podcasts are available on all major podcast playing applications such as Anchor, Spotify, Breaker, and Google Podcasts. New episodes launch each Monday in three different formats ranging from individual bite sized professional learning monologues with the host Dr. Matt Rhoads, guest interviews, and spouse education talks featuring Dr. Matt and Alicia Rhoads. 

Check out the six episodes so far as well as the landing page for the podcast: Navigating Education – The Podcast

If you are interested in coming on as a guest to the podcast, please complete this form. Episodes in the calendar are already filling up for the late spring and summer. Fill out the podcast guest form as I am excited to have conversations from educators across the world. 

Update: Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders – Release Date in July 2020

As we get closer to the summer, we are closing in on the release date of Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders. We’ve had some early reviews of the book, which are detailed further on the books landing page at matthewrhoads.com. This book is a playbook for the present and future of K-12 education from the instructional and leadership lens as it’s practical, filled with research and how-to integrate instructional models and EdTech,  and provides perspectives in the form of case studies from educators throughout the country on how to navigate our current times in education. 

Reviews

“The Teacher Training Manual for Post-Pandemic Teaching” – Phillip Culter, CEO Paper

“An Essential Resource to Navigate Our Changing Education Landscape” – Alfonso Mendonza Jr. Host of MyEdTech Life, District EdTech Coordinator, & Google Innovator

Pre-Orders – Purchase Your Copy for a Great Summer Read Before Next School Year

Pre-Order: Amazon.com 

Pre-Order: Barnes and Noble

Peter Lang International Academic Publishing

Release Date: July 20th, 2021

Amplifying the Voices of Educators

In this segment of the newsletter, the goal is to provide recommendations regarding blogs, podcasts, and resources educators from around the world are producing. 

Blogs: This month I recommend the following blogs to check out: 

Dr. Catlin TuckerIn Dr. Tucker’s blog, you will see a wide variety of articles related to blended learning and technology infused instruction. In each post, she provides easy access to free resources that can help your instruction. 

Dr. Janet Ilko – In Dr. Ilko has been in education for many years and has experience teaching almost every single grade level K-12 education. She is an advocate for student voice and agency, which is expressed in her blog. As a member of the National Writing Project and the San Diego Writing project, Dr. Ilko reflects in her blog relating to student agency, writing strategies, and amplifying the voices of her students. 

Podcasts: For podcasts, I recommend:

3 Caffeinated Coaches – This podcast aims to enhance the practice of instructional coaches, educators, and leaders by discussing research, interviewing experts in the field, sharing experiences, and engaging in unique book study experiences. The hosts Shannon, Becky, and Georgina provide a diverse range of expertise ranging from coaching, instruction, and research, which provide educators opportunities to always learn new practices to help amplify their instruction, coaching, and leadership. I highly recommend this podcast as the dialogue between each host is entertaining and insightful, which makes for engaging episodes. 

Dr. Will Podcast – This podcast aims to provide Edupreneurs and entrepreneurs a forum to discuss their business and ventures within K-12 education. Dr. Will Deyamport is the host who is also an Edupreneur in his own right, sits down and meets with a diverse set of edupreneurs who are making waves in education. From authors to consultants, each episode provides an excellent summary of their ventures and how they are conducting their business. Episodes are informative and can help any educator wanting to get involved in setting up their own education related businesses or building their business. I highly recommend it!

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Collecting and Exporting Data from EdTech Tools to Make Decisions & Conduct Research Lecture

In September 2021, I had the opportunity to lecture doctoral students at Concordia University, Irvine (my alma mater) on how we can collect and export data from our EdTech tools we use in our classrooms and schools to make instructional decisions as well as utilize it for research projects.

Within this hour long lecturer, I discuss how we can export data from mainstream EdTech tools to be employed in our instructional decision-making and in our research. Currently, we are collecting and harvesting vast amounts of data, which can be utilized to help amplify our instruction, programs, and research to enhance student learning and outcomes. This thought is the theme for the lecture.

Overall, if you are a teacher, school leader, district leader, or an EdTech company, much of what I discuss is extremely relevant to modern schools and the direction we need to go to enhance what we do in our classrooms and schools. I encourage everyone to view this lecture and think about how this can affect your practices in the classroom and in schools.

Thank you to Dr. Belinda Karge and Concordia University, Irvine for the opportunity! I cannot wait to be back in the future to support educators in your School of Education programs.

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The Teacher Discussion Series – EdTech Strategies and Integrations to Incorporate into your Classroom Instruction

Throughout the months of March and April, Paper tutoring sponsored their Teacher Discussion Series, which discuss how K-12 teachers provide several strategies and tools to take charge in tech-fused classrooms. Each discussion theme for the series was derived from my new upcoming book Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders. Each discussion was so enriching and we learned so much about integrating EdTech to support and amplify the learning of our students. Thank you to Paper for providing the platform to inspire and moderate these conversations!

Teacher Discussion Series 1: Modern Instructional Strategies for the “Toggled Term”
Teacher Discussion Series 2: Enhancing Instructional Strategies with EdTech
Teacher Discussion Series 3: Tech Tools and Strategies to Address Learner Variability

Full articles about each of the three discussions from the Teacher Discussion Series can be found in the following links below.

Teacher Discussion Series 3: Six Ways to Address Learner Variability—For “Roomies” and “Zoomies” Alike

Teacher Discussion Series 2: Enhancing instructional strategies with ed tech

Teacher Discussion Series 1: Modern instructional strategies for the “toggled” term

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Launching Navigating Education – The Podcast

Today, I am launching my first podcast: Navigating Education – The Podcast. It has been a goal of mine to start a podcast to broadcast my thoughts, but to also amplify the voices of others in education. This has been such a fun process that I am excited to continue to learn more about and improve the content I am delivering to support other educators in the field.

Additionally, I have included information on two of my book projects in addition to content related to the Paper Teacher Discussion Series I recently moderated. Take a look and enjoy the content as much more is coming in the near future!

Purpose of the Podcast and Formats

Navigating Education – The Podcast’s main mission is to help all stakeholders in education amplify learning for students in the present and the future. In the podcast, we discuss relevant topics in education as well as education research and instructional practices that can be infused with educational technology to amplify learning for use in classrooms around the world. Dr. Matt Rhoads is the host and moderator of the podcasts and it has three distinct formats. First, there are short ten-minute solo episodes where Dr. Rhoads provides a monologue on a specific education topic. The second type of episode format is where Dr. Rhoads collaborates with his wife and fellow educator Alicia Rhoads to discuss relevant teaching practices and topics in education, which lasts about twenty-minutes. The third and final format is where Dr. Rhoads brings on guests from all walks of life and roles within education to hear about new innovations, perspectives, practices, research, books, and to simply connect and learn. Ultimately, through each of these various avenues, the hope of this podcast is to help you navigate the present and future of education.

Where to Find the Podcast?

Episodes can be found on various streaming platforms and YouTube (for live episodes). New episodes are released weekly on Monday’s with bonus content appearing randomly during the week. In addition to new episodes being released, a short blog post will accompany each episode to describe and further extend the episode by providing additional resources for viewers. Episodes will be on all major podcast applications such as SpotifyAnchorRadioPublicBreaker, and Apple.

Other Important Announcements, events, and content to share

New Book: Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders

Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders is launching in June 2021. A landing page on my website at www.matthewrhoads.com has been created for the book, which outlines all of its contents, early reviews, endorsements, and information about our case study contributing authors. I am super excited about this book and cannot wait to discuss more details with you as more promotions and content relating to its upcoming release will be coming out soon! You can pre-order a copy at the following links.

Pre-Order: Amazon.com

Pre-Order: Barnes and Noble

Peter Lang International Academic Publishing

Release Date: June 30th, 2021

Signed with EduMatch: Amplifying Learning – A Global Collaborative

In late March, my co-editor Becky Lim and I signed with EduMatch Publishing for our upcoming book that is projected to release late 2021 or early 2022. This book is focused on amplifying the voices of educators throughout the world as well as discussing how they are integrating instructional strategies with EdTech tools. Each chapter is research-based and provides practical applications that any educator can pick up and integrate into their classroom. More information relating to this book will be out in the coming months. We are thankful for such an amazing group of contributing authors sharing their expertise and experiences.

Moderating Paper Tutorings Teacher Discussion Series

Throughout the months of March and April, Paper tutoring sponsored their Teacher Discussion Series, which discuss how K-12 teachers provide a number of strategies and tools to take charge in tech-fused classrooms. All of these discussions were derived from themes from Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders. Each discussion was so enriching and we learned so much about integrating EdTech to support and amplify the learning of our students.

Teacher Discussion Series 3: Tech Tools and Strategies to Address Learner Variability
Teacher Discussion Series 2: Enhancing Instructional Strategies with EdTech
Teacher Discussion Series 1: Modern Instructional Strategies for the “Toggled Term”

Full articles about each of the Teacher Discussion Series can be found in the following links below.

Teacher Discussion Series 3: Six Ways to Address Learner Variability—For “Roomies” and “Zoomies” Alike

Teacher Discussion Series 2: Enhancing instructional strategies with ed tech

Teacher Discussion Series 1: Modern instructional strategies for the “toggled” term

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2021 Projections for K-12 Education

As we begin 2021 in K-12 education, we see ourselves with COVID-19 at its worse across North America. For many who already were not in teaching online, immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, we saw many school districts move to online instruction due to holiday surges. However, these toggles from hybrid to online instruction mostly took place urban and suburban locations while the remainder of the country in rural areas kept up hybrid in-person instruction.

With many uncertainties going forward, we do have hope that educators will begin receiving vaccinations and inoculations will only ramp up as we move into the spring and summer. Therefore, as we progress throughout the year, the hope is that we will see many toggles back to in-person learning when COVID spikes decrease in addition to having a teaching workforce that is vaccinated.

Ultimately, trends in K-12 education this year will ultimately reflect the tug and pull of toggles, the pandemic, and creating deliverable content students can access at all times that is instructionally sound. Additionally, underlining all of these trends discussed in this post is social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning will be centerstage and we also must remember that social-emotional learning important for students, teachers, school leaders, and all school personnel. Thus, we will focus on social-emotional learning, the toggled term, integration of instructional strategies with edtech tools, on-demand learning, and educational support systems (i.e., online tutoring). Each of these trends will undoubtedly have a major impact this year on K-12 education and will have many implications going forward into the future.

Social Emotional Learning remains a top priority

Social-emotional learning came into its own in 2020.. Now, to begin 2021, it will only become an even more meaningful part of everyday lessons and curriculum within K-12 schools. All integrations of social-emotional learning will hopefully be implemented further to reflect CASEL’s SEL framework.

(CASEL, 2017)

Each element of the CASEL SEL framework needs to be integrated within K-12 schools and districts. Luckily, all of its elements can be interwoven into curriculum and lessons and can be amplified by instructional strategies as well as edtech tools. Moving forward into 2021, schools and districts will invest heavily in making this happen as social-emotional learning is critical for everyone within school communities to navigate our ever-changing world.

The Toggled Term Continues

The toggled term continues. Due to rising COVID-19 numbers, we will see toggles occur at increasing rates leading up to spring and during the spring. As cases lower when warmer temperatures begin as well as further vaccinations of teachers, we will see many toggles back to in-person hybrid instructional settings. However, as the year progresses, there will be toggles back and forth between online only and hybrid in-person instruction. This will occur until the entire teaching force is fully vaccinated as well as the vast majority of students. As more and more vaccination occurs, we will see less full and lite toggles (i.e., a complete in-person instruction closure and move to online learning/move from online learning to some form of in-person learning; teachers and/or students quarantining due to exposure or infections for one or more classrooms), but this will not likely occur until sometime during the of Fall 2021. Even during the fall and moving into the winter, full and lite toggles will still occur, but at lower rates than earlier in the year and during 2020.

Real quickly, lets see the toggles that took place between November 18th, 2020 and January 8th, 2020. This interactive photo illustrates the toggles that took place across the United States when COVID spiked due to holiday gatherings. Ultimately, we can expect toggles to occur throughout 2021 and beyond. You can continue to see these instructional trends in real-time by watching the interactive map on MCH Strategic Data.

MCH Strategic Data Teaching Method Time Lapse

Another major development is that many districts and schools throughout North America believe online remote learning and hybrid/blended learning education is the future. Once the pandemic is under control, the lasting effects could result in multiple types of instructional settings within a district/school that they could provide students. There could be the traditional model option, online option, and hybrid/blended learning option available for students to enroll in for a school year. Schools and districts should invest heavily in these options as this will be the future of K-12 education moving forward even beyond the pandemic.

Further Edtech Integration with Instructional Strategies

Now more than ever, educators have a grasp on how to use edtech tools as the entire educational landscape was thrusted into using them on a mass scale in 2020. Teachers now can use many of the edtech tools within online and hybrid/blended classroom settings. The interfaces of the tools can be navigated and implemented to varying degrees, which is a huge development. However, more work needs to be done. We now must now focus on integrating instructional strategies with the edtech we are using at higher rates to enhance our instruction and amplify learning. With strategies we know through research that amplify learning, we can use them strategically within the context of our lessons using edtech tools to deliver the instruction to students.

One quick example of this is taking a strategy like think-pair-share and digitizing it within a lesson using Zoom and Pear Deck. The Pear Deck acts as the element where students interact with content and the strategy is sequenced. Zoom then acts as the means to create pairs or small groups, which is then interwoven into the sequence of the slides. As a result, in just five minutes, its possible to integrate an instructional strategy.

Think-pair-share is one of hundreds of strategies that can be integrated using edtech tools we have at our disposal to deliver instruction to our students. Harvard’s Project Zero is a great place to start to look for instructional strategies that can be integrated with the edtech tools utilized in any classroom setting. For 2021 and beyond, this is the future of edtech as it must be pedagogically driven strategically by teachers. Professional development for the future must focus instructional integration with edtech tools to further innovate and push the envelop for amplifying learning. The implications of these integrations will amplify learning and will make instruction within online, blended, and traditional in-person classrooms more effective across the board.

On-Demand k-12 Education Grows

On Demand education is growing in prominence by the day. Everyday, a new asynchronous class appears online created by an expert in a field. Major platforms these courses appear on are MasterClass, Coursera, Teachable, and Udemy. Eventually, this will move into K-12 education; especially secondary school and possibly even middle school. Elevate K-12 is a platform making waves as the Peloton of online on-demand synchronous courses.

While this can create adaptive pathways to learning, the by product could create a consolidation in education. If a quality product that is interactive can be on-demand supported by 24/7 tutoring and support staff, it could cut costs significantly. The worrisome ramifications of this is that online options provided by local districts would have to compete with this platform, which could ultimately cut jobs over time.

In practice with the infrastructure and tools I have available, I can essentially do this for my students, which could then be reproduced at a massive scale. For example, within my online classroom for Algebra 1, my goal moving forward is to record all of the synchronous sessions as well as make all of the interactive capabilities to students available if they are not able to attend the live synchronous class. My interactive slides will always be available and can be sequenced simultaneously with the recorded synchronous lesson. Additionally, I can use a product like Paper Learning as my 24/7 tutoring and support tool for students. Therefore, essentially what this will look like is making all synchronous classes on-demand asynchronously. However, admittedly, the on-demand version of the class will not have as many collaborative elements available. Yet, over time, new ways of instruction and the appropriate implementation of HyFlex instruction can alleviate this issue when an entire course is built before it begins.

Availability of Digital Education Support Systems (Tutoring)

There have been ideas circulating regarding creating national tutoring programs to support learning and help students make up learning loss resulting from the pandemic. Research has shown that the effect size of tutoring on student achievement is .37, which is substantial to learning outcomes (Nickow, Oreopoulos, & Quan, 2020). To make tutoring available on-demand to every single student in the United States would be an unprecedented step to making education more equitable for our students.

Companies such as Paper, TutorMem, and Chegg Tutors provide on-demand tutoring options for K-12 students. However, the pricing and usage of the service differ as they can either be curated for individual students who pay per use or for entire schools and districts for unlimited use. If a national program is in reach, we must find ways to create unlimited access for students within schools to access a tutor whenever they need additional support. As a result, this would help increase equity and opportunity for all of our students to receive the support they need to succeed.

Last, to make on-demand tutoring better and more effective, increasing investment into innovative strategies for synchronous user engagement and gamification will help with motivating students, increasing memory retention, productivity, and engagement. Overall, with improvements and the mass distribution of widespread tutoring, it could greatly impact K-12 education within the United States.

conclusion

Many trends were highlighted within this post that will impact K-12 education throughout 2021 and beyond. Beyond what we discussed in this post, there are several other important trends we suggest to keep track of, which include: K-12 education funding, the United States new Secretary of Education, edtech company buy-outs/consolidations, increasing online connectivity for students, social-media infused pedagogy and microlearning, school leadership, and teacher shortages. Throughout the 2021 this blog will feature articles on each of these trends. It will focus on the practical implication of each of these topics for teachers, principals, schools, districts, and policymakers. Ultimately, the goal will be to bring forth new research and their practical implications for implementation within K-12 schools and districts.

What are your thoughts? What trends do you believe will greatly impact education in 2021? Continue the conversation here or on Twitter.

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Digital and Data Literacy: Two Essential Skills for Educators to Teach our Students in 2021 and Beyond

As we move into 2021, we have seen K-12 education get turned upside down throughout 2020. The use of educational technology (edtech) has taken hold across K-12 education like never before in the history of education, which means educators must be able to adapt to the the ever-changing tools and how to integrate instructional strategies with the tools within classroom settings. Beyond this notion of being able to utilize various edtech tools and integrate them with instructional strategies to amplify learning, we must also take into account the use of massive amounts of data that are collected as a result of their use to our advantage. Therefore, as we move into the 2020’s, two essential skills K-12 educators must learn, practice, master, and teach to our students as innovation continues at an ever-increasing rate is both digital and data literacy. These two foundational skills will be needed to navigate K-12 classrooms in the present and well into the future as they will be some of the pillars of learning moving forward.

Luckily, many K-12 teachers are teaching these skills at ever-increasing rates. However, as we discuss throughout this article, we believe both digital and data literacy need to be implemented as a cornerstone of our curriculum we teach our students in addition to increasing our skills as educators to teach these concepts and skills to our students. As we move through this article, we will focus on defining digital and data literacy, outlining why it is imperative to teach these skills to our students, mechanisms for delivering these skills and content to our students, and provide lesson plans and resources we can utilize and build into our curriculum and daily lesson plans.

What is Digital and Data Literacy?

First, let us begin by defining each of these terms. Digital literacy is defined as the “ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills” (American Library Association, 2020). Data literacy is the ability to collect, transform, evaluate/analyze, and communicate the results to others (Guler, 2019). Both definitions of each of these terms are interconnected. Any digital interface we interact with to create, evaluate, and select content produces data that can be collected, transformed, evaluated, and communicated to others. Therefore, when thinking about digital and data literacy, try to visualize them together as they interact together seamlessly and concurrently. Below, we see each of the digital and data literacy competencies broken down to see all of their components.

Why do Schools and Teachers Need to Teach Digital and Data Literacy

As our world continues to change, more and more of what we do will be done digitally. As a result, there are major ramifications for our students and the future of our society. There are consequences of how we interact with others as well as content. We have seen a rise in disinformation in the form of news stories synthesized with data to create civil unrest that has threatened democratic institutions. Therefore, as with reading, writing, and mathematic literacy we provide our students within our K-12 education systems, digital and data literacy must be included. Without building important digital and data literacy skills, we are taking a major risk with our future as we will be neglecting educating a populace who does not have foundational digital and data literacy to distinguish between real and fake content found online.

We must invest in infusing pedagogy into teaching digital and data literacy skills. Within current professional development programs and university teacher preparation programs, digital and data literacy must be taught together in tandem. New curriculum also must include digital and data literacy components. An example of digital literacy can take place while teaching students how to read and write. We must teach them how to annotate on paper and digital source. In addition, we must teach them how to curate content by teaching the over time what makes content credible versus not credible. Also, we must teach students how to use their writing to create social media posts, infographs, digital portfolios, and stories on platforms like Instagram and Tiktok. For data literacy, within a math or social science curriculum, we can teach our students to collect data, organize, transform, and communicate that data. Students can create their own data to be collected in a lesson and the end goal of the lesson is to create data visualizations of the classes data.

Ultimately, these are just a few examples of how we can integrate these skills across the curriculum. This can be done gradually as more capacity is built by educators to teach these skills. The expectation is for gradual change, which puts our focus on intertwining these digital and data literacy with reading, writing, and math from kindergarten and onwards throughout a students educational journey. By the time students graduate from high school school, they will be able to navigate all forms of media, select content to view, create content, understand the notion of digital and data privacy, transform data to make decisions, report disinformation, and be aware of our digital footprints.

Instructional Delivery of Digital and Data Literacy

Let’s talk about delivery of teaching our students digital and data literacy skills. Then, we will discuss a few instructional applications and lessons of digital and data literacy teachers can utilize. First, there are a number of instructional delivery mechanisms teachers can use to help students learn these skills in modern day classrooms. Microlearning, social learning, adaptive learning, virtual/augmented reality, and cloud-based learning management systems synthesized together strategically and pragmatically, which will allow teachers to teach these skills within online and blended learning classrooms.

Microlearning: Focus on chunking learning into small short bursts that are bit-sized in nature. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, and Instagram are great examples of how this can take place.

Social Learning: Focus on providing a collaborative newsfeeds, RSS feeds, videos, and podcasts for students.

Adaptive Learning: Software programs based on a students ability level to help them learn how to navigate interactive interfaces, solving problems through a modular setup, and providing a scaffolded approach to frontload content or create opportunities to practice specific skills.

Virtual/Augmented Reality: Provide opportunities for students to navigate real-world digital and data literacy skill building experiences. Phet simulations are some of the easiest virtual/augmented reality experiences we can deploy.

Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems: Students must understand how to navigate and utilize a cloud-based platform to communicate with others, submit evidence of learning, and curate content.

Overall, each of these mechanisms for instructional delivery can be intertwined to deliver instruction to students in any classroom setting and at any time. The lesson plans and ideas discussed within the next section can be utilized with the tools outlined above to deliver instruction on digital and data literacy to students.

Lesson Plans for Digital and Data Literacy

Now, lets focus on providing a number of lessons on digital and data literacy. Outlined below are several resources to help you begin planning lessons intertwining digital and data literacy skills within the broader scope of your curriculum.

The Basics of Digital Citizenship by Nearpod: Nearpod provides a five day digital literacy unit, which focuses on the elements of digital citizenship, navigating tech applications and the internet, boosting keyboard skills, balancing media literacy, and coding and problem solving.

Digital Literacy/Citizenship Curriculum by Common Sense Education: Common Sense Education provides a series of lesson plans on digital literacy for grades K-12. Each grades lesson focuses on different topics ranging from navigating clickbait to the health effects of screen time. This is an all encompassing curriculum that is the tip of the iceberg to teach these important digital literacy concepts to our students.

Lessons for Teaching Data Literacy by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Within eight lessons, data literacy is taught intertwined with economics and mathematic concepts. Included within these lessons are interactive data visualizations and graphics to help students see the data in action and how it impacts our daily lives as citizens and consumers participating in our global economy. Each of these lessons can be adopted, transformed, and implemented using a wide variety of tools.

Module Planning for Data Literacy by Tuva: Tuva’s teacher’s guide to create a unit on data literacy includes how to structure four modules relating to foundational data literacy concepts.

Conclusion

Digital and data literacy are essential skills we must incorporate into our daily lessons and curriculum as our students navigate digital interfaces and content that produce data. Even more important, provide our students with frameworks that help them curate content they see within digital spaces online like social media. Ultimately, digital and data literacy is needed to be an active and responsible citizen within our current world. As discussed earlier, we will be taking a major risk if digital and data literacy are not a cornerstone of our curriculum and taught within teacher professional development and preparation programs moving forward.

The underlining goal here and future posts is to provide a sense of urgency as well as provide resources to help build and deliver lessons on digital and data literacy. Ultimately, the end goal is to create a curriculum both teachers and school leaders can learn to navigate our digital world and use the massive amounts of data we are collecting to inform and drive our decisions. As we begin the year 2021, let’s focus on integrating elements of digital and data literacy into our curriculum and daily lessons. Our students will benefit greatly as we will be giving our students life long skills to help them navigate and adapt to the ever-changing world and technology we use in our work and play.

Additional Resources on Digital and Data Literacy

For more information on implementing data literacy curriculum and building the data literacy of teachers within K-12 schools and classrooms, check out https://dataqualitycampaign.org/resource/data-literacy-101/.

For more information on implementing digital literacy curriculum and building the digital literacy of teachers within K-12 schools and classrooms, check out https://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/ten-digital-literacy-resources-teachers.shtml.

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Teacher Feedback and Coaching during the Toggled Term: Edtech Tools to Help Teachers and School Leaders Observe Online & Blended Learning Classrooms

Teacher feedback, self-efficacy, and collective self-efficacy is critical towards creating and refining 21st-century learning learning environments for students (Hattie, 2012). Teachers learn best from watching other teachers. Teachers also learn best from receiving feedback and coaching from their colleagues and school leaders. Furthermore, as we progress through a toggled term, we want to help our colleagues by providing and receiving feedback as well as emulating specific practices and strategies into to our instruction. However, teaching in online and blended learning settings (which may even include HyFlex instruction), observing teachers and providing feedback in traditional ways is almost impossible. Therefore, we have to be inventive and innovative on how we provide feedback for informal and formal observations.

There are a few ways to make observations in online and blended learning settings easy to access for all teachers and school leaders. We will be focusing on how to do this so that teachers can receive feedback from their colleagues efficiently and transparently. Our first focus will be observing classrooms in an online or blended setting. Then, we will focus on why feedback is needed and can be utilized as we navigate these educational settings. Last, three edtech tools and strategies will be unveiled on how teachers and school leaders can create lesson videos of an online or blended classroom to receive instructional feedback. Several of the tools are free, which is game changing. Also, we will shortly discuss how we can make online repositories of recorded lessons that are private so teachers and school leaders can view throughout the year without compromising student privacy.

Lesson Observation in Distance and Blended Learning Settings

For online learning, there are a multitude of different ways to observe a synchronous and asynchronous lessons. There are three ways this can take place. First, there is an option of attending a live synchronous lesson as a student or observer. Second, the observer can view student activity on an application like ClassRelay or Blocksi, in addition to, being an observer in the synchronous class. Third, an observer can review a recorded synchronous class session from either the students interface, teachers interface, or both. Each form of observation provides the observer with several different perspectives of how the lesson is going, student engagement/participation, and the effectiveness of the integration of edtech tools and instructional strategies has on student learning.

Live Synchronous Sessions

Entering a Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams and observing a live synchronous class is one option for teachers and school leaders wanting to observe an online class. In this first scenario the observer plays the role as a student and participates as much as they can in the lesson. If there are interactive edtech tools, the observer, if possible, should try and engage in the lesson to see how the teacher utilizes instructional strategies while observing how students interact with each other and the edtech during the lesson.

Another methodology of observing an online synchronous class session is observing as a non-participant in the learning. Ensure the teacher is sharing their screen so that you can observe what tools they are utilizing during the lesson. Observe the student video visuals (if applicable), the chat box conversation, and breakout room conversations utilized in the lesson for student conversation. Observers can also see how the teacher interacts with students during direct instruction, modeling, and how they facilitate collaborative conversations (teacher vs. student and student vs. student).

Observing Two Interfaces for a Live Synchronous Session

The third method of observing a live synchronous class is through a recording of the teacher’s interface, the students interface, or both. Having one or both interfaces recorded can show the observer how the teacher is managing their interface to create an engaging lesson for their students. On the other hand, if the opportunity presents itself to record a students screen (which could be the observer participating in the lesson), then there could be the ability to see what teacher actions are leading to student engagement and learning opportunities. Thus, when providing feedback to the teacher, the observer can see from the teacher’s and student’s perspective in relation to the technology interfaces they are using for the lesson. Feedback can be given regarding their lesson design, tool use, opportunities to engage students in learning, real-time feedback, and monitoring and adjusting the lesson based on student data.

The last method is to observe a teacher in a blended in-person synchronous class session, but also have the teacher record their screen. Therefore, we can see instruction not only in-person, but also digitally, which can be viewed later after the lesson. Or, the observer can log into the edtech tools being utilized for the lesson and participate as a student while observing the in-person non-virtual instruction while also observing the edtech integration with instructional strategies take place. As a result, we have the opportunity to see instruction and student engagement take place in-person and digitally simultaneously. We can provide feedback for their in-person instruction, use of digital interfaces, integration of instructional strategies with edtech, classroom climate, and assessing student engagement during the lesson with the edtech being used.

Tools to Use for Lesson Observations in Online and Blended Learning Settings

SIBME + Huddle

SIBME is a coaching application where a user records or uploads a live recording to a collaborative Huddle where the observee and observe interact. Inside the Huddle, the observer can comment on the video recorded or uploaded by the observee. They can comment via text or voice throughout the video so that the observee can review their feedback and coaching. The observee can also provide feedback on the video and respond to the comments provided by the observer, which gives each the opportunity for dialogue back and forth regarding the lesson.

SIBME is a great tool because of its ease of use. All one must do is open up the application a web browser, log in, and either record a lesson or provide feedback on one stored within a Huddle. Within two to three minutes, videos can be created, uploaded, and feedback can be given. Although, the major draw back that it is not free. However, our second option of Loom/Edpuzzle is free, which is a game-changer for conducting observations and providing feedback.

How to Use SIBME

Loom/Edpuzzle

With the combination of Edpuzzle and Loom, schools and districts can use two free tools to as a means to providing teacher feedback and using both as a coaching platform. There are a number of steps that need to be done to make this happen. First, a private YouTube or Edpuzzle lesson observation page for the school or district needs to be created. Videos that are created on Loom can be uploaded to directly to Edpuzzle itself, which then can be edited by Edpuzzle editing and commenting features. Loom essentially allows teachers to screen cast their screen for free for up to 45 minutes. Then, it can be downloaded and then uploaded to Edpuzzle.

As a result of integrating Loom and Edpuzzle, teachers, school leaders, and district leaders can create, observe, provide feedback, and assess teacher understanding. This can help facilitate coaching, mentoring, professional learning, and also act as a repository for teachers and school leaders to observe lessons.

How to Use Loom

How to Use Edpuzzle

Private YouTube Channel and Wakelet Collections

Besides using tools like SIBME, Loom, and Edpuzzle, we can also use YouTube and Wakelet Collections as mechanisms to create private channels teachers and school leaders can view lessons. On Edpuzzle, schools and districts can create repositories of videos that have been uploaded and edited. However, for lessons to be categorized and accessible to a broader audience within the school, creating a private YouTube and Wakelet Collection can be a solution. Videos can be uploaded to a private YouTube and then hyperlinked to private collaborative Wakelet Collection where other important professional development information can be placed. Therefore, over time, large repositories of lessons selected by teachers and school leaders can be always available to view. Ultimately, this can help with coaching, mentoring, and providing teachers an opportunity to observe their colleagues.

Conclusion

We now have more tools than ever before to help facilitate providing teacher feedback relating to their instruction. These tools can be collaborative in nature, which can help with teachers developing individual self-efficacy to improve their practice. Additionally, it will help school and teacher leaders build repositories of best practice lessons for their colleagues to review throughout the year. This can help build collective self-efficacy over time as teachers will be able to observe, refine their instruction, seek feedback, and reflect. As a result, instruction will likely improve. Also, two of the major tools to do this are free for use, which is game-changing. Ultimately, we want continuous feedback and coaching to amplify and improve our instruction. Regardless of our classroom setting, it is now doable. Additionally, we can see the various interfaces teachers and students view and interact with, which can now be reviewed and assessed to improve instruction.

References

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning.

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Navigating the Toggled Term: Looking at the Present and Thinking Forward into the Future for K-12 Education

As the first few months of school has passed in the 2020-2021 school year, I wanted to take a moment to discuss a few reflections and thoughts then project into the future. After writing “Navigating the Toggled Term,” I am beginning to focus on writing the second edition. The thoughts compiled within this post provide some insight as to what I plan on incorporating into the second book.

Currently, we see many schools across the U.S. started school either fully online or in hybrid blended learning settings. Although, there are several states (mostly in the Southern U.S.) where schools have completely opened fully with COVID-19 safety protocols. Regardless of whether the schools started in a hybrid or more traditional setting with COVID-19 safety protocols, we have seen many temporary closures to move online or have implemented temporary quarantine procedures to isolate students, teachers, and staff. Additionally, we have on a few occasions schools start online and then move into hybrid blended learning. Consequently, we have see schools start online, move to hybrid learning, and then have to move back to online instruction.

Ultimately, we are in a toggled term. Depending on the geographical location, political atmosphere of where the school is located, and local health conditions have determined many policies regarding the instructional mode of delivery. There has been many instances of when instructional and organizational toggles have occurred to change the mode of instructional delivery as well as the place where instruction occurs. This demonstrates there has been significant movement among districts and schools to adapt to the ever changing conditions and challenges presented by this pandemic.

A number of trends I have researched and personally observed are quite evidence across the board. These trends will be outlined as they are important as we project into the future. Before some major trends are outlined regarding what’s happening instructionally, there will be a summary of how the toggled term is turning out around the world and then in the U.S.

COVID-19 Policy Trends & Data Breakdown

School Closures Worldwide

As we can see below, schools around the world are either partially open, fully open, and closed. Countries with policies to better handle the virus (there are minor exceptions) have their schools fully open. Generally, as we look at the map, countries that have not handled the virus well either have schools only partially open or they are completely closed. Also, another trend is looking at the global south. The global south has the most schools still closed because of the pandemic. Most of South America, parts of Africa, and India have schools closed while the global north is open or partially opened schools.

Figure 1. Schools around the World as of September 22nd, 2020

Source: UNESCO COVID-19 Pandemic Data

US School Districts COVID-19 Learning Models and Policies

Across the U.S. we see a variety of different instructional models schools and districts are utilizing to navigate the fall of 2020 and beyond. Primarily, across the board, hybrid blended learning is the most utilized instructional model. Then, we have in-person learning with the entire student population on the schools premises with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Lastly, we have schools employing online learning as their instructional model. Notice that online learning is being mostly utilized in highly populated areas specifically on the west coast. There are pockets of online learning centered around large cities on the east coast, but it seems like it is primarily being used out west and is being used the least in the Midwest.

Orange: Districts in online only learning

Red: On premises in full numbers with COVID-19 safety protocols

Blue: Hybrid

Figure 2. Instructional Models being Used in the U.S. Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic as of September 22nd, 2020

Source: MCH Strategic Data

School and District COVID-19 Safety Policies

Schools and districts have been surveyed regarding their COVID-19 safety protocols as well as what instructional models they are utilizing this fall. When we look at the data, some trends stick out. First, only 44% of high schools require masks on school premises. This is quite alarming given that COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Second, 64% of all districts require all students to wear masks. Still, 36% of districts do not require all students to wear mask. Third, districts have increased investment significantly into online learning and educational technology. This has resulted in options for students and families to opt to alternative learning options (i.e., online learning for the year). Fourth, so far 73% of districts have a reopening plan in place. Still, 27% of districts do not have one that is in place. Last, 83% of all districts require teachers and administrators to wear masks at all times. This is the highest percentage on this survey result, which is promising, but also surprising because the health experts state masks should always be worn in public locations by everyone to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Figure 3. Breakdown at School and District COVID-19 Policy Breakdown

Mask Policies and Temporary School Shutdowns

Below is a depiction in Figure 4, which outlines the mask policies districts currently have in place, in addition to, school temporary shutdowns caused because of COVID-19. The student and staff mask policies represents the first two tables. As we can see, the vast majority of districts require students and staff to wear masks. But, we still have districts who do not mandate masks for staff and students. Additionally, we see the temporary school shut down. Many schools technically did not close because they toggled immediately to an alternative form of instruction like online learning. However, we see instances of schools closing for 1-5 days and 6-14 days, which may represent situations where positive cases were found and cleaning, contact tracing, and quarantining occurred. Interestingly, we do see schools that closed indefinitely. Could this make up private schools or charter schools who were not prepared or did not have the financial flexibility to put in place COVID-19 safety protocols as well as provide alternative options for instruction?

Figure 4. Mask Policies in Place and Temporary Shutdowns to Either Toggle or Clean/Quarantine

Source: MCH Strategic Data

Reported COVID-19 Cases at U.S. Schools and Campuses

As we can see in Figure 5, we can see a breakdown of reported COVID-19 cases among U.S. schools and campuses. We can see the number of schools, cases, and deaths as a result of COVID-19. In addition, we can see how the cases are categorized per state and broken down by school district. This is a valuable resource as we can track where the largest outbreaks have occurred.

Figure 5. COVID-19 Cases at U.S. Schools and Campuses

Source: Tracking Cases Across the U.S. – NEA COVID-19 Case Data by State (Note: By going to this website, you can view school and district COVID-19 cases by state, district, and school)

The Overall Big Picture of the Toggled Term

The amount of data we have is extremely important as it provides us with an overall picture of what’s going on in the U.S. regarding how schools and districts are navigating the pandemic on an instructional and safety level. The data we have been able to collect is invaluable for predicting outbreaks and developing policies that will help provide safe school environments for students, teachers, school leaders, and the greater community. We need to develop and assess our current safety policies to ensure all personnel is safe so we can mitigate cases and outbreaks. Additionally, it is important to track instructional models used to deliver instruction and how they change over time. Having this information is key for us to help continue developing instructional and organizational frameworks to help schools and districts shift instruction as they navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic.

There is also a resource available to report and track reported positive COVID-19 cases in schools and districts across the U.S. A reporting website sponsored by the National Educators Association (NEA) has been developed to report and track COVID-19 cases in schools and districts across the U.S. If you are a teacher, parent, school leader, staff member, or community member who would like to report a case, the link above provides the opportunity to report cases to add to a database the public can view. Moderators look to confirm the reports for accuracy. Reports like this can help us stop outbreaks and contact trace.

Toggled Term Trends

Outside of the big picture, there are a number of trends that occurring this school year as a result of the pandemic. Several major trends are discussed in-depth as they illustrate what’s going on in the world of K-1 education. These trends are discussed and then utilized to predict future trends in education as we project into the future.

Physical Safety Concerns: As described in the news as well as with the data the physical safety and well-being of students, teachers, staff, school leaders, and the greater community. As we all know with COVID-19, not only can the person infected be harmed, but others around them. This remains one of the major concerns regarding in-person schooling. In locations with a lower daily positive testing percentage harbors safer environments to learn. Much of Europe is using a very low positivity rate as the benchmark for in-person school learning.

In the U.S., schools need additional funding to buy PPE and to ramp up testing capacities and contact tracing. Unfortunately, we need to do this in addition to our communities following social distancing and mask wearing protocols as it drops the local counties positive testing percentage. If two of these facets are done in tandem along with further treatments developed down the line for COVID-19, we will see more schools move towards in-person instruction nationwide.

Socioemotional Learning and Mental Health: Socioemotional learning is as prominent and important as ever for all students, teachers, and school leaders. All of the educational community is facing a large mental health hurdle throughout this pandemic. Socioemotional emotional is taking hold within the curriculum and be utilized across K-12. This is a bright silver lining. However, it’s not enough. The gravity of the pandemic, economic conditions, and racial and political divisions has caused an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety. This has caused instability in many households due to job loss or economic instability.

Ultimately, we need to re-up our efforts for socioemotional learning and mental health. It impacts our students achievement! We need to include all of the education community in working on socioemotional learning and mental health. We need to provide community mental health and SEL programs, online webinars, and increase our funding for psychological services in addition to working on SEL in the classroom.

Zoom Fatigue: Zoom fatigue is real. Spending close to 3 to 6 hours a day on Zoom for both teachers and students takes a lot of energy. Synchronous live instruction seems to either be mandated all day long or in smaller chunked out amounts for K-12. Asynchronous seems to be chunked within a lesson or conducted every other day (depending on either if its an online or hybrid setting). Our focus needs to be on chunking synchronous instruction with asynchronous instruction during a lesson or focusing on the hybrid blended learning models of utilizing it every other day.

Student Blank Screens: As with last semester, students seem to be not sharing their video screens with their teachers during distance learning. While this does not happen everywhere, we have seen trends of this occurring. Teachers have noted this being difficult to understand. Students tend to share their video while in breakout rooms and during collaborative work activities.

Work Completion?: Teachers have noted there has been a big work completion gap between students who have home support versus students who do not. Many teachers have noted students seem overwhelmed at times with the amount of work they are receiving. Ultimately, there is an equity gap that exists. Even within a hybrid blended learning model when students attending either half day, every other day, or selected days throughout the week, there still is more of an asynchronous instruction component that exists. Last, many districts and schools had a do not harm grading policy last year as shutdowns occurred throughout the nation. This policy ensured students would not be penalized if they did not complete work or performed below standard. This policy may have caused students to not be used to the rigor we had while in session pre-pandemic.

Educator Fatigue/Stress: There has been a high amount of educator fatigue and stress regardless of whichever instructional model being employed. More time has been devoted to content creation, planning, and using edtech along with the stress of either having to battle health fears or balancing family responsibilities at home while teaching online. Burn out is real and happening. We have seen teachers quit the profession and teachers retire early. The impending teacher shortage looks to only increase in rural and low income areas.

Instructional Flexibility and Freedom: School leaders who have given teachers the instructional flexibility and freedom to innovate. Teachers have incorporated edtech tools and their instructional applications to online, hybrid, and traditional classroom settings. We have seen an acceleration of innovation, which is in-part because of the uncharted waters we are in, but also because school leaders have given teachers the instructional freedom to experiment and innovate the nature of how they instruct students.

The Use of the HyFlex Instructional Model: Before COVID-19 this instructional model was only used at the university level. Now, many districts and schools have adopted this instructional model when students and/or teachers are quarantined. This allows students to be in-person as well as online in two separate settings receiving similar instruction from their teacher. In addition, the HyFlex is employed in some instances when schools offer an in-person and online option but they are offered simaltaneously. Many teachers have noted this is increasingly difficult model to provide instruction as well as one that may not be sustainable over the course of the entire school year.

Projecting into the Future

As we move into the winter and spring of the 2020-2021 school year, we must begin thinking about trends in K-12 education that affect our immediate future. This pandemic is here to stay until at least late-2021 and into mid-2022. We will probably not be returning to normal soon. Thus, the rate of instructional innovation will continue to hold true as K-12 education is in the midst a transition we have not seen since the late 1800s. As a result, a number of trends will likely occur, which will revolutionize education as we know it in many places around the U.S.

Teacher Shortage: The pandemic has only exasperated the teacher shortage many states and regions are dealing with. For example, in Arizona, since August 31, 2020, 751 teachers have quit, 1,728 teacher positions remain vacant (28.1%), and 3,079 teacher positions have been filled used alternative methods. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

COVID-19 is Here to Stay: According the WHO chief scientist, we are looking until at least 2022 until precautions such as face masks and social distancing will be lifted. The implications of this on K-12 education will be immense as districts and schools will have to adapt to toggling between hybrid blended learning and online learning. Also, without major future investment in education K-12 education by the federal government, we will see massive inequities continue to be exasperated. In addition, the safety of schools will be compromised as a supply chain of PPE and site based testing will be a necessity to ensure the safety of teachers, students, school leaders, and staff.

Adapting or Failing: District and schools have a choice. Adapt or fail. As discussed earlier, this pandemic is not going away anytime soon. If districts and schools do not adapt to having to toggle instructionally and organizationally as we as provide alternative education options that are viable, we will many students leave traditional schools to alternative education options (Charters, Online Charter Schools, Private Schools, Private Pods, etc).

School Choice: With many schools and districts failing to adapt to the instructional realities of the pandemic, there will be a rise of online charter and private schools. As a result, education enrollment may not be as localized as it once was prior to the pandemic. Rather, families may have the choice of selecting educational institutions, teachers, and classes via an online choice board whereby they select the best option for their student and family. If local districts and schools fail to provide viable educational options, this school choice methodology could begin becoming mainstream.

The Nature Instruction is Improving: Instruction is innovating at an accelerated rate due to edtech integration in all educational settings. With good instruction and edtech integration, we are seeing instruction take place across the board to the masses that was only taking place to a small segment of the student population before the pandemic. We must always remember that good pedagogy drives instruction. Future professional development should focus on further integrating instructional strategies to be used to drive the use of edtech.

Teachers and Educational Institutions Show how Valuable they are to Society: Having over 50 million students still learning from home, the perception of teachers and their value to society has been mixed. On one end, teachers are doing such an amazing job and their job is increasingly difficult. As a result, there has been high praise in terms of their value. On the other hand, we have seen teachers being called dispensable as well as emergency workers. However, from what we have seen in this pandemic is that teachers are a center piece to our society. Without teachers, the economic engine of our society cannot be maximized. Ultimately, the longer the pandemic lasts, this will become even more evident.

Teachers need to continue to advocate for maximum funding and support from the community. If funding and the greater community adheres to COVID-19 safety protocols, our schools will remain open longer for in-person instruction and our economy will improve. We need funding to ensure schools are safe and support from the community to play by the rules. If communities do not provide this for schools, expect more toggles between online and in-person instruction to continue as well as further economic instability.

Teacher Education – A Revolution: Now more than ever it has become evident that new teachers need to be able to teach in online and in-person settings to be proficient educators. As a result, teacher preparation programs have begun shifting to provide additional instruction to help new teachers learn how to teach online in addition to in-person instruction. As with many of the other future trends, this will only become more evident as the need will continue to exist long after the pandemic is over since education will be reshaped. Teacher preparation programs that provide additional instruction and begin refocusing their efforts to help teachers integrate edtech tools aligned with instructional strategies within their programs, it will provide the framework for teacher preparation evaluation standards and procedures to change to align with our current and future educational landscape.

Conclusion

The future of K-12 education rests upon additional safety funding, support from the greater community, and strategic leadership. We have not seen such an upheaval in K-12 education like we have now in the past 100 years. Immense change is on our doorstep. With positive collaboration between all the stakeholders in our local communities, our schools can thrive as the nature of instruction is improving at an immense rate. Inevitable change like the diversification of instructional models and the choice of schools for families and students will only continue to accelerate. With large upskilling and investment in edtech, the boundaries of traditional brick and mortar schools are eroding. K-12 education is transforming into instruction that can occur anywhere and at anytime and increasingly personalized to meet each students learning needs.

Note: Continue the conversation on Twitter or place a comment below! This is an on-going conversation that is evolving. Many of these predictions about the future are based on trends seen throughout the education landscape as well as conversations with educators across North America.

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Edtech & Equity and Engagement Series – Part 4: Paper Learning – An Edtech Tool & Service that Bridges Equity Gaps for all Students

Welcome back to Part 4 of the Edtech Equity and Engagement Blog Series. As with the previous three blogs that are a part of this series, the purpose of this series is that we are looking at various educational technology tools and services and evaluating how they are engaging and equitable for all students. This week we are focusing on a game changing edtech service that provides opportunities for student’s grade four through twelve to receive one-on-one on demand tutoring support from a college-educated tutor at anytime and anywhere. Right now as much of North America is engaging in either online or blended learning settings, Paper Learning is trying to help schools and districts support students beyond the brick and mortar confines of traditional tutoring. This could be a major game changer moving forward as education continues to innovate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is Paper Learning? On Demand 24/7 Tutoring Services

Paper Learning is an on-demand one-on-one tutoring and essay review service that can be accessed through computers, tablets, and smartphones. Its primary purpose is to support students in their learning and help their teachers meet the needs of all of their students. Many teachers, especially middle school and high school teachers, have over 100 students each. With many schools in distance learning or blended instructional settings, it’s impossible for them to meet with every student on a consistent basis to receive additional help and support. In addition, after-school programs are generally not as available as they once were for students to receive tutoring services from teachers or local college students. However, with the help of Paper Learning, students can now receive that support on any subject and at any time if their district has subscribed to their services.

Paper Learning works by having a student log into a user interface that allows them to openly communicate with a tutor via a live text chat stream. Students can type in the problem or can upload a snippet or image of the task/assignment they are working on. Also, students can upload a writing sample that can be assessed for grammar, punctuation, and relevance to the essay prompt and then delivered back o students with feedback to help them edit/revise their writing sample. Tutors use the Socratic method of teaching to help lead a student to the answer without giving them the answer. By giving them clues along the way, they will lead the students in the right direction to problem solve.

Paper Learning allows teachers to monitor student and tutor conversations. Teachers can monitor the student and tutor conversations to see what they are working on and see how they are doing. This is powerful to first see which students are accessing the tutoring services, in addition to, what they are asking for help on. Teachers can strategically use this to focus their efforts on re-teaching concepts and targeting students who they may need to meet with based on their analysis on the student/tutor conversations to further support them.

A Summary of the Services Provided by Paper Learning
How Teachers can use Paper Learning
How Students can Access Paper Learning

Implementing Paper Learning

Paper Learning is very easy to set up in any learning management system. Teachers should provide a bulletin that can be easily accessed within their learning management system that includes the link to the Paper application and step-by-step instructions of how to use it. Then, teachers should provide a video of how students can interact with Paper as a resource they can look at for to review how to use the resource. Also, teachers can screencast a video of how a teacher logs in as a student and interacts with a tutor to model how to have a productive conversation with a tutor. With this sin place for students, students will have the ability to access the application and understand how it is used.

To fully introduce Paper outside of posting it on the learning management system, teachers need to introduce it multiple times and mention it throughout the week. For example, at the beginning of the semester, send emails out to parents and students on what Paper is and how it’s used. Then, in class, model how it’s used and show examples of how it can help your students in the context of the class you are teaching because students will now know how to interact with applications interface and the tutors. Ultimately, this will ensure students have a framework of when and how Paper can be utilized to its fullest extent to help as many students as possible in your classroom.

Math Class, Advisory Class, & Special Education Caseload

In terms of its implementation in my classrooms and Special Education caseload, I created this bulletin in my Google Classroom for students to access Paper. I have modeled how to use it for my Algebra 1 and Advisory classes and taught students how to use it in the context of the class. I plan on providing practice and challenge problems for students to take to the tutors if they need additional practice.

For students on my Special Education caseload, I have sent my students and families emails and a video tutorial of how to use Paper. For several of my students, I met with them individually on Zoom (sometimes with their parents) to show them how to use Paper and show parents how to support their student while they are using Paper. I plan on continuing to meet with students and families as well as reiterate Papers use in Individual Education Plan annual meetings and in meetings/emails I meet with students on my caseload to check in with them as they navigate distance learning.

Paper Information and Links on a Math Class Google Classroom

Why Paper Learning is Bridging the Equity Gap

Paper learning provides students with opportunities to receive support when their teacher is not available. Also, students can receive help whenever they want and for as long as they need help. Here are two examples of how Paper Learning is equitable for general education and Special Education students.

General Education: General Education students have the ability to seek help on almost any topic at any time. This is so powerful as private tutors and after school tutoring programs generally were the only options for students to receive tutoring outside of teacher’s office hours. Now, students who belong to a district who has purchased this service, can receive help 24/7, which means student support is not bound to school hours. Rather, it is asynchronous in nature, which creates equitable opportunities for students to learn when they can, anywhere with an internet connection, and at their own pace.

Special Education: Paper Learning provides one-on-one support for students with special needs at any time. While the platform has no way of allowing the tutors to identify students with special needs, it provides the opportunity for them to easily communicate with the tutors with the chat and whiteboard feature. In creating successful opportunities for students with special needs to access Paper Learning, create opportunities to model conversations with tutors as well as how to navigate the Paper Learning student interface. This includes showing students step by step how to upload images and snippets from the assignment/task they need help in with the tutor. Once the initial modeling of how to use Paper Learning occurs, students are using the service from my math courses as well as my Special Education caseload to receive extra help and support.

New Features & Updates it Needs

Ultimately, Paper Learning needs to provide several updates to make it more friendly to students with special needs and English Language Learner students. A speech to text feature needs to be added as an option to communicate for students to use, in addition to, allowing the whiteboard feature to be collaborative and interactive between the tutor and the student in real-time. These new additional features would be game changers for all students; especially students with special needs and English Language Learners.

Paper has several updates coming. A new update involving having the ability to access Spanish speaking tutors will make it much more accessible and user friendly to English Language learners whose primary language is Spanish. Also, Paper CEO Phillip Cutler has told us that Paper is planning on coming out with a new pod feature, which allows students to collaborate in groups in a collaborative interface on their application. During times of group collaboration, students can call in a tutor, when needed, to receive additional support while collaborating. Thus, I believe these new updates along with further improvements to its platform will continue to improve the service; especially, when honing in on areas that make it more equitable for all students.

Conclusion

Districts who can afford and implement Paper are providing equitable opportunities for students to receive on demand support in their classes. This is powerful as private tutoring is expensive and can only be afforded by families who have the means to hire one. Therefore, Paper truly is a game changer because those services are available to the masses when districts subscribes to their services. Nothing like this has been offered in K-12 education, which will make it an intriguing educational technology company to follow in the coming year. Furthermore, I recommend districts and schools across North America to look to invest in their service because it not only helps students. It also helps teachers support their students much more strategically than they could in the past and can improve their ability to provided needed interventions to students on a 24/7 basis.

For more information on Paper Learning and their services, you can access their website at www.paper.co. Also, continue the conversation below or on Twitter by tagging me in the post @mattrhoads1990. Does your district subscribe to Paper? How’s it going for you? Do you think districts and schools should prioritize funds for this service?

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Edtech Equity and Engagement Blog Series: Part 3 of 4 – Collaboration Edtech Tools & Instruction

In any educational setting, regardless of whether it’s a distance, blended, or traditional setting, student collaboration should be one of the major focal points in a classroom. As we continue to move forward in the 21st-century students will not only have build collaborative skills with one another in-person, they will also have to collaborate through a variety of different mediums. Thus, to be 21st-century ready and a lifelong learner, teachers need to provide students with opportunities to collaborate with others in an assortment of different ways.

As we see an assortment of edtech tools that offer collaborative applications, we need to be sure to select the one’s that best meet our instructional and student needs. Throughout this post, we will first go through the process of selecting collaborative edtech tools as there are many to choose from. Then, we will align research-based instructional strategies with the use of collaborative edtech tools. Lastly, we will discuss how using collaborative edtech tools create an equitable and engaging experience for students.

Major Mainstream Collaborative Edtech Tools & Selecting Collaborative Tools for Classrooms

There are many major collaborative edtech tools available. They take many shapes and forms, but many have several key common components: a digital bulletin board/whiteboard feature, more than one user can edit content and/or provide commentary, and the ability to incorporate different types of multi-media that students post and interact with together. Our goal here to list many of the mainstream collaborative edtech tools available. Then, we will go through a selection process of how the tool can be best utilized in your classroom.

  1. G-Suite: Almost every major application in G-Suite has the ability to be edited and commented by multiple users at once. Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Draw, and Classroom all have that main feature. Google Jamboard is the one application in G-Suite that acts as a whiteboard that can be written on by multiple users at once.
  2. Microsoft 365: Like G-Suite, Microsoft 365 has the ability for more than one user to collaborative on Word, Excel, Power Point, and OneNote. OneNote can be compared to Jamboard, but provides
  3. Padlet: Padlet is one of the most popular online bulletin boards. Students can post many different types of bulletin posts/sticky notes on the digital board and can embed a multitude of different multimedia to share with the group.
  4. Flipgrid: Flipgrid allows teachers and students alike to record video and/or voice recordings. Flipgrid can create collaborative conversations on a given topic in a discussion board like format where students and teachers can respond to one another to further a conversation.
  5. Nearpod: Nearpod provides an option for a collaborative bulletin board where students can post sticky notes addressing a topic or theme. Students can post more than one sticky note. Multi-media can be attached to the sticky notes to create more engaging bulletin boards.
  6. Buncee: Buncee is an interactive presentation tool. Within these presentations is the ability to create collaborative digital bulletin boards. With these bulletin boards, students can be work on multiple students in pairs or within groups.
  7. Pear Deck: Pear Deck is an online student engagement presentation tool. When students respond to a slide, their responses are recorded individually as well as together in an entire group. When student responses are shown together when a teacher flips the slide over so students can see, a bulletin board appears with all of the students’ anonymous responses to the prompt or question.
  8. WeVideo: WeVideo is a video recording and editing software. What sets WeVideo apart from other video editing software is the ability to have more than one user record and edit portions of the video.
  9. Wakelet: Wakelet is an online storage repository that allows for users to post many different forms of multi-media that can be stored to view by others. More than one user can collaborate to build collections of multi-media or research content related to a theme others can view.
  10. Yoteach!: Yoteach! is a back channel where students can have an ongoing conversation with many contributors to the conversation. In addition, students can post multi-media of any change into the chat. Teams of students or entire classes of students can interact in these digital spaces to talk about a topic at hand, problem solve, research, or work on a project.
  11. Twitter: Twitter is a social media platform where users post what’s on their mind. Topics are categorized via hashtags. Students and teachers can collaborate using Twitter to connect with students and teachers from around the world. Also, they can engage in Twitterchats on a topic at hand to further refine ideas in addition to learning something new from the collective participants.

Note: There are many more collaboration tools available. Be sure to list them in the comment section of this post after its conclusion.

When it comes to selecting these collaboration edtech tools, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Each teacher may have a different methodology of selecting these tools because what they are doing in their classrooms will be distinctively different. However, these criteria are important to consider in that decision making process as they will help teachers plan effective uses of the collaborative tool as well as facilitate meaningful collaboration among students.

  1. Accessibility of the tool and simplicity of the user interface: This means students can access the tool in a series of clicks to access the collaborative tool. Once there, students have five to six options maximum of how they interact with the collaborative space. These options may include 100’s of different applications, but do not overwhelm students when they work together in the collaborative space.
  2. What type of collaborative space do you want your students to engage in? From creating a video or engaging on a bulletin board or whiteboard to editing/revising a document, there are many types of collaborative spaces student can work together in. Therefore, teachers must decide what options they may want to give students regarding what collaborative spaces they want them to work in. Remember, each collaborative space relates to what specific tool they are using and its applications.
  3. Instructional goals: When utilizing a collaborative edtech tool, we must have an instructional goal in mind as to what the students are doing, the end product they creating, and why they are engaging in collaborative sense. Instructional goals relate to a greater objective students are trying to achieve and what types of skills they will have to utilize in order for them to achieve that overarching goal.
  4. Think less is more: As an instructor, we must think less is more with any edtech tool we decide to utilize. We cannot overwhelm our students. Therefore, when introducing a tool or thinking about the outcomes of using the tool, keep it simple to start and then over time build from a solid foundation.

Aligning Collaborative Instructional Strategies with the Edtech Tools

After selecting a collaborative edtech tool, we must now apply and align effective instructional strategies to help our students get the most out of the collaborative experience. All the collaborative instructional strategies mentioned can be used in online, blended, and traditional classroom settings.

Walk and Talk: Walk and talk is a strategy where two or three students or a teacher pose one or two questions that they must try to answer.

Integration with Edtech Collaboration Tools: Flipgrid can be used for a walk and talk. A teacher or student poses a question and each student within the walk and talk group must respond 2 to 3 times. One interesting integration of walk and talk can be utilized through Wakelet. A question is posed by a teacher or student and students provide an assortment of multimedia within a Wakelet grid that can be used to answer the question. Lastly, online back-channels such as YoTeach! or even a discussion board can act as a platform for a digital walk and talk.

Gallery Walk: Students walk around and read work created by their peers and they take specific notes or leave comments on the work.

Integration with Edtech Collaboration Tools: There are many options to turn gallery walks into digitally gallery walks with an assortment of tools. Google Slides can be edited by 75 students at once. A Padlet or Wakelet can be edited by entire classes. Therefore, what this means is that teachers can have all students add a work product or resource to be viewed by the rest of the class in the digital gallery. Teachers can assign notes or ask students to like or write comments within the gallery so individual students have an opportunity to see student or teacher feedback.

Student Editors: Student editors is a strategy where repositories of written work and created content can be given feedback by peers or their teacher. Writing and math created content is displayed and comments/feedback are given. Then, students take the comments/feedback and make changes to make their work product better.

Integration with Edtech Collaboration Tools: There are several tools where editing and feedback can be given. All of Microsoft 365 and Google G-Suite have this ability for peer editing to take place. Online bulletin boards like Padlet and resource repositories like Wakelet can be used as collaborative editing databases for students to post their work.

Partner Think-Pair and Share: Think, pair, and share is a common strategy that can be used in live class sessions in-person or in online live synchronous class sessions. It is where students have an opportunity to pause, think, pair with another student or two to have a quick conversation, and then a forum to share with other groups or the rest of the class.

Integration with Edtech Collaboration Tools: Think, pair, and share can be utilized with G-Suite or Microsoft 365 and a virtual live online meeting tool. A simple graphic organizer divided up in three parts (i.e., my thoughts, my groups thoughts, and my classes thoughts) can be utilized as a mechanism to keep the conversation recorded. To do this online, breakout rooms on Zoom can pair students in small groups and then can be used again to create bigger groups. Once the breakout rooms are done, there can be several opportunities through a student cold calling name randomizer (like Groupmaker) to share summarized remarks to the class.

More Strategies to Think About: Socratic Seminars, Project-Based Learning, Collaborative Modeling via Video, Collaborative Notice, Wonder, and KWL Charts

Overall, there are numerous instructional strategies that can be incorporated in a collaborative setting. Ultimately, in a similar manner as the number of edtech tools you will need, have a ‘think less is more’ mindset in regard to the number of instructional strategies you want to incorporate in a classroom. We want the strategies and edtech tool usage to be solid and routinized within classrooms so students can become comfortable working collaboratively together as well as with using the tools.

Why Are These Tools Equitable?

Edtech tools with the ability for students to collaborate are equitable because it gives students an opportunity to not only share their insights, but to also work with the ability to lend their strengths to the discussion or the project. There are now so many opportunities to create and share multimedia, which truly provides opportunities for students to share who they are and something that can be genuinely unique voice and expertise. Lastly, now more than ever before, there are so many modalities and opportunities for student voice. In the past, students could not share what they can today. There is a vast array of opportunities to share something no one has seen before!

Why Are These Tools Engaging?

Edtech tools that have collaborative applications are engaging because students can work together with their colleagues in ways students throughout history would have dreamed of. Students can share all forms of multimedia on many of the tools available. In addition, students can interact in ways that are unique, which allows students to communicate in creative ways with the vast repository of the internet being their database. The thought of sharing new insights from research to multimedia that we may have never seen before is an exciting new development in education we are just entering!

Conclusion

As we move forward in education, there are many edtech tools available that provide collaborative applications for teachers to provide for their students. Ultimately, they provide engaging and equitable opportunities for learning to take place regardless of whether it’s in an online, blended, or traditional educational setting. At the end of the day, a teacher only needs Microsoft 365 or G-Suite and one or two additional collaborative edtech tools to create a plethora of opportunities for student to student and teacher to student collaboration to take place.

Note: Continue the conversation in the comments section below or on Twitter by tagging me @mattrhoads1990 in your post. I look forward to continuing this conversation on collaborative edtech tools.

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Edtech Equity and Engagement Blog Series: Part 2 of 4 – Pear Deck and Nearpod Interactive Slides

Welcome back to the Edtech Equity and Engagement Blog Series! For the second part of this blog series, we are going to evaluate the equity and engagement of interactive slideshow edtech tools. Interactive slideshows are slideshows built into Google Slides and PowerPoint, which allow students to interact in a multitude of ways with what’s being presented by the teacher in synchronous or asynchronous settings. Students can interact with the slides by answering multiple-choice questions, polls, and writing prompts, drawing, matching terms/vocabulary, and collaborating on bulletin boards/whiteboards. These interactive slides have the ability to heighten student engagement and provide opportunities for active overt and covert learning.

Introducing Pear Deck and Nearpod

Two of the most popular interactive slide edtech tools on the market are currently Pear Deck and Nearpod. Many educators are aware of them because of their explosion in popularity and use over the past six months. For those who need a refresher or may not know how each of these tools work, two video tutorials show you the student and teacher interface for both tools. Each video shows how to set up the presentations as well as some of their major features teachers can utilize in their classrooms.

Why are Interactive Slides Equitable

Interactive slides are equitable because they provide opportunities for students to learn at their own pace. Also, both Pear Deck and Nearpod allow teachers to differentiate the modalities students can interact with content as well as build skills. Listening, speaking, drawing, and writing are all ways students can interact with the slides so all learners can engage in the learning.

How Interactive Slides are Engaging/Instruction Integration

Interactive slides are engaging because they allow students to engage in overt and covert learning. There are a number of instructional strategies that can be done on both Pear Deck and Nearpod to allow this to happen.

  1. Socioemotional Learning – With the ability to draw, answer check in questions, and opportunities to collaborate, there are so many options to engage your students in socioemotional learning. By either creating your own SEL lessons or by using the already pre-made slides, interactive slides provide an avenue to work on SEL and building classroom community.
  2. Quickwrites/Bell Ringers – At the beginning of class, Nearpod and Pear Deck slides can be used for quickwrites and bell ringers, which are practice problems teachers can evaluate. Pear Deck has an amazing feature of allowing teachers to provide immediate individual feedback during this activity as well as for each slide the student interacted with.
  3. Collaboration – Digital bulletin boards, ,word walls, word webs, and idea generation through written responses can be utilized by all students during a Pear Deck or Nearpod synchronous or asynchronous presentation.
  4. Metacognition, Reflection, and Self-Assessment – Written short responses, likert style survey questions, and opportunities to draw what they have observed/learned. For each of these purposes, the types of questions shown above can be ways students interact with these concepts.
  5. The Use of Simulations and Fieldtrips to Demonstrate Concepts – Nearpod provides the opportunity for virtual field trips and simulations. In addition, they provide several interactive diagrams to students can engage for Math and Science.
  6. Interactive Vocabulary Slide Decks – On Pear Deck, students can collaborate on vocabulary slide decks in a synchronous setting. During this activity, a teacher can then work with an entire class or small group and determine whether the vocabulary drawing or personal definition best fits the concept/word.
  7. Use of Manipulatives for Mathematics – Manipulatives on Pear Deck can be generated by utilizing dots that represent values (a key can be provided on the slide that is color coded).
  8. Formative Assessment – Students can answer multiple choice, free response, and conduct performance-based assessments on Pear Deck and Nearpod.
  9. Socratic Seminars – Socratic Seminars can be utilized on both Pear Deck and Nearpod as places for students to respond to student generated questions as well as teacher generated questions in real time. Teachers have the ability to share student responses in real-time.
  10. Read-Alouds – Teachers can either place recorded audio or use an immersive reader add on (Pear Deck). What this does is allows students to have all text read aloud to them when they access and engage with slides.
  11. Paraphrasing, Annotating, and Summarizing Slides – On both Pear Deck and Nearpod, teachers can have their students annoatate text with the drawing feature as well as paraphrase and summarize slides with embedded text passages through the written response features.
  12. Modeling – Along with Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, teachers can model a concept and then have students on Pear Deck or Nearpod demonstrate the concept that was modeled or discuss through drawing, recorded audio, or writing their thinking.
  13. Think-Aloud – On Nearpod, students can record their voice or integrate Flipgrid to the slidedeck so students can access a Flipgrid grid to respond to a prompt to demonstrate their reasoning.
  14. Student Goal Setting – A teacher can provide a lesson objective and students can write success skills or ‘goals’ to reach the lessons objective.
  15. So Many More Ideas to Integrate Instructional Strategies to Pear Deck and Nearpod!– Click here to look at a large list of instructional strategies. Many from this list can be integrated on interactive slides like Pear Deck or Nearpod.

Data Reports

Each interactive slideshow tool has data reports to see how many students engaged with the slides as well as their work they completed during a synchronous or asynchronous slideshow. All of their activity can be viewed on a graphical interface to show student progress and their responses. Also, there is the ability to export that data onto a spreadsheet (especially if you utilized the slides for assessment). This data can be used for analysis to drive instructional decision-making as well as log into a gradebook.

In addition, student responses on Pear Deck can be sent back to students once they’ve interacted with the slides either synchronously or asynchronously. These responses of how the student interacted with slides can be emailed automatically to them to review. Take a look below on how you can send your students their responses from interacting with the Pear Deck slides to review for later.

Feedback in Realtime on Pear Deck

Each interactive slide tool has the ability to provide students feedback. One major difference between Pear Deck and Nearpod is for real-time feedback. Pear Deck has the most user friendly interface on the “teacher dashboard” to view student slide interaction in real time and give them feedback. Below is a great example of how teachers can provide students feedback in real-time or at a later time.

Conclusion

Besides Pear Deck and Nearpod, there are several other edtech tools that act as interactive slides. Some of those tools include Poll Everywhere and Mentimeter, which also have many functions similiar to Pear Deck and Nearpod that make lessons engaging and equitable to all of their students.

Overall, interactive slides allow for engaging and equitable instruction to take place synchronously and asynchronously. Students of all ability levels and every grade levels can interact and engage in these slides to learn content and skills. These edtech tools can be a foundational tool along with your learning management system to deliver instruction in online, blended, and traditional classroom settings. There are endless applications to provide instruction for your students! Look to see how you can incorporate interactive slides in your classroom this school as it will revolutionize your instruction.

Continuing the Conversation

If you would like to continue the conversation to share more applications and features of interactiveslides, please write them in the comment below. Or, if you would like continue the conversation on Twitter, respond to the post or contact me directly @mattrhoads1990. I would look forward to learning more from you!

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Podcast Interview: MindShare Learning Report – Reopening Schools and “Navigating the Toggled Term.”

Today, I was interviewed on the MindShare Learning Report Podcast on reopening schools and my new book “Navigating the Toggled Term.” Robert, the host of the show, provided some engaging questions related to engaging students in online and blended learning settings and safely reopening schools for blended learning. In addition, we discussed the online instructional infrastructure as well as the notion of toggling between online, blended, and traditional educational settings so learning can be continuous for students. Thank you, Robert and MindShare Learning for the opportunity!

Podcast Info and Link

Take a look by pressing the hyperlink below for the podcast!

Here is the link to the August 6th MindShare Podcast.

More Information

For more MindShare Learning Podcasts, check them out at www.mindsharelearning.ca

For more information on “Navigating the Toggled Term,” click the link here: amazon.com/dp/B08CP93DGX

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Edtech Equity & Engagement Blog Series: Part 1 of 4 – Intro

Throughout the year as we experience distance and blended learning settings, we will be using educational technology to build our online instructional infrastructure. This will allow teachers to teach in both of these settings interchangeably and continuously as we have to navigate the instructional challenges due to the pandemic. This will be a challenge, but introducing teachers to equitable edtech tools, strategies, and lessons will provide a resource in addition to engaging ways to get students of all ages engaged in learning.

Ultimately, the goal of this blog series is to outline multiple edtech tools and platforms that teachers and schools can utilize to create equitable classrooms regardless of their educational setting. Furthermore, this blog series will go over multiple types edtech tools and platforms that provide equitable opportunities by providing several learning modalities for students to be engaged in learning to access the content and skills being taught. An analysis of how the tool is equitable will be discussed in addition to how instructional strategies can be aligned with the tool. Explanations will be provide when and why the tool is incorporated into different segments of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, which can fit any grade level or content.

Why is Equity Important

Equity is everything. We want to provide equal access to opportunities for all in any educational environment. Below is a short outline on how to cultivate equity within a classroom setting. We need to take much of what is discussed here and transfer it to an online setting as we will be providing A LOT of instruction online in distance and blended educational settings. 

 

Edtech and Equity

Edtech and equity is extremely important in the world we live in. We live in a world where information on any topic is just a click a way. But, students need to have access to it. Therefore, we need to provide our students with the hardware, software, and network access. Then, on top of the access piece, we must teach students how to best navigate and access the information found in digital environments. Much of what we do in online and blended learning settings cannot be done without these three major components in place. However, we must go beyond and discuss edtech tool equity. What is this and how does it apply to what we do as educators? 

Edtech Tool Equity

Edtech tool equity refers to creating an environment where students have access to learning the skills and content through multiple modalities. Learning modalities refer to students accessing the skills and content through listening, speaking, watching/doing, student collaboration, metacogntion practices, drawing, social emotional learning opportunities, and active overt and covert thinking. All of these modalities are key to student learning. It allows for students of all different backgrounds and learning needs access the contents and skills being taught by a teacher. It is absolutely critical that we have edtech tools in our classrooms that provide students multiple modalities of learning to access what is being taught. 

Conclusion

The goal of this blog series is to outline how a number of key edtech tools and platforms can provide equity to all students to access the content and skills being taught in a classroom. Each week a new tool or platform will be discussed, which will provide K-12 teachers and school leaders an opportunity to see how it provides equitable opportunities for all students to learn. This will be an exciting process and I cannot wait to analyze and review each tool to share how it can be equitable with the rest of the worldwide educational community. 

Note: To continue the conversation, please post a comment below on this post or interact with me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990.

 

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Using Data to Make Data-Driven Instructional Decisions: Part 4 of 4 – Taking Newfound Knowledge from our Data and Making a Decision

Over the course of the last four week in the “Using Data to Make Data-Driven Instructional Decisions” series, we have outlined how to collect data, clean/organize data, and conduct univariate and multivariate statistical analysis on the data to transform it into newfound knowledge that can be used to make a decision. While this sounds like an extensive process, in practice, it is not extensive as it seems as seen in Part 1-3 of this blog series. It’s completely doable process that every K-12 educator and administrator can do in their capacity as an educator. As we progress through this process, it is now time to take that transformed data to use to make a decision.

Decision-Making Framework

Now, we are focusing on what do we do with the newfound knowledge we have been able to capture after we have transformed our data using statistics. Ultimately, there are many different avenues we can use the knowledge to make instructional decisions to help our students. However, to use this data effectively, there is a six step decision-making framework you can use to use the data to drive instructional decisions within a classroom, school site, or district. As a result, this six-step decision-making framework includes the following steps:

  1. Identifying the Problem by Analyzing Collected and Cleaned Student Data
  2. Involvement of Stakeholders, if applicable/needed
  3. Transforming the Data Using Statistics
  4. Summarize the Statistical Findings, Prioritize Specific Findings, and then Take Knowledge to Solve Problem
  5. Develop a Strategic Action Plan and Include the New Knowledge
  6. Monitor the Action Plan

By following the six-step decision-making framework, we can use data we collect and transform to solve many of the instructional challenges teachers and administrators face within classrooms and school sites because this new knowledge derived from the data can be used to connect our problems we encounter with solutions. When we first think about Action Plans, they seem to be very detailed. However, when it comes down to it, an Action Plan using this six-step decision-making framework does not have to be a challenge nor take long to create.

The goal of Part 4 of this blog series is to show you how you can use this six-step decision-making process to create instructional Action Plans to use the data you have collected and transformed as knowledge to solve instructional challenges in your classroom, school, or district.

Action Plans

Within an Action Plan, it has five components: 1) A problem with a baseline, 2) the Plan, 3) the goal(s) that can be monitored, 4) monitoring period(s) & data collection, and 5) conclusion. These five components do not need to be incredibly detailed. We want to ensure Action Plans are direct and easy to follow. Below is an example of an Action Plan a teacher can focus on for their students reading comprehension for the entire school year.

Problem: The incoming fourth grade class of 200 students has 120 students below the Lexile reading level of 500L (4.0 GE). Of those students, 80 of the students are scoring under 50% on questions asking them to find key details.
The Plan: Improve the Lexile level of the 200 forth grade class by 175L (1.25 GE) and improve students answering reading comprehension questions that require students to find the key details by 25%.

We fill focus on improving Lexile levels of all students by focusing our instructional strategies focused on helping students annotate, paraphrase, and share key details of the text collaborative and during independent practice.
Goal(s):
1) Increase Lexile level of 200 fourth graders by 175L
2) Improve student reading comprehension questions that require students to find the key details by 25%.
Monitoring Period & Data Collection
How is Data Collected?:
Data on goals is collected through MobyMax that is then exported to the an Excel or Sheets spreadsheet for data analysis.
Monitoring: Data will be collected twice throughout the school year at the end of the first semester and before spring break.
1. Semester 1 Data Collection Summary: December 2020
We found an improvement in average scores by 95L. When we saw how students were doing on reading comprehension questions when students used annotations on the passage, a regression was ran and it predicted that when students annotated the passage before answering key detailed questions, they would get key detailed questions correct by 25% more than students who did not annotate.
2. Semester 2 Data Collection Summary: April 2021
Conclusion: During the first collection of data, we found that annotating the passage students were working on demonstrated a higher predicted level of accuracy of students answer reading comprehension questions measuring their ability to find key details in the passage.
Action Plan – Longitudinal

This can be an Action Plan that will need to be completed throughout the school year. It does not take an extensive amount of time to set it up and to begin collecting, cleaning, and analyzing data during the monitoring period. Ultimately, Action Plans can also be used for the short term. Let’s see what that could look like with formative assessment data.

Problem: On a recent Algebra formative assessment, students scored 75% average as a class on problems related to using the distributive property. However, students scored 50% average as a class on problems that require three or more steps to solve and require students to utilize PEMDAS to solve equations.
The Plan: Provide instruction based on using PEMDAS to solve equations. By the end of the week on a formative assessment, students will be scoring above 70% on solving equations that require three or more steps to solve and utilize PEMDAS.

Review PEMDAS and provide multiple activities to help students see how PEMDAS works after the distributive property is utilized to simplify equations.
Goals: Improve the overall class average to 70% or higher in one week on solving equations that require three or more steps as well as require how to use PEMDAS to solve.
Monitoring Period: In one week data will be collected on students solving equations that require 3 or more steps and know-how of PEMDAS.
Conclusion: After a week of implementing the Action Plan, the class average increased 20% to 80% overall average on solving equations requiring 3 or more steps and PEMDAS.
Action Plan – Short Term

As we can see with the Action Plan above, it is very simple and be written in the matter of minutes. These types of Action Plans can be built using this template provided above for all age levels. Now, let’s focus on more ways to utilize the transformed data and the knowledge we gain from it.

Plugging in Knowledge into Instruction

When we transform student data using univariate and multivariate statistics, we can do many things in the classroom. First, for univariate statistics, assessment applications like Google Forms, GoFormative, and b.Socrativ provide teachers with a dashboard of information for them to view how well students performed. Data visualizations are already provided to teachers once the data has been collected by the students and automatically cleaned. What this does is provide a read out of the classes performance as well as the individual student performance as well as class and student performance for each question the assessment. Teachers can immediately use these data visualizations to see where gaps in student learning took place and then can quickly provide additional instruction and interventions to selected students. For both formative and summative assessments, this can take place.

Beyond data visualization, this analysis can take place on a spreadsheet. All types of edtech tools provide the opportunity to export data onto a spreadsheet as discussed in Part 1 of this blog series. As a result, teachers and school leaders can conduct the same univariate analysis as the automatic data visualizations. However, using many of the statistical formulas provided in Part 3 of this blog series, teachers can conduct a far more extensive analysis, which includes multivariate statistical analysis.

Within a multivariate statistical analysis, we can take grade equivalent Lexile reading levels of students and run a correlation with the their overall scores on a recent exam measuring their ability to synthesize key details from a story to create inferences and conclusions. What we can evaluate when the correlation is computed is to determine whether there is a statistically significant relationship between the students grade equivalent reading level and their overall performance on the assessment. The results of the correlation may tell us there may be a positive relationship between the students reading levels and the exam scores. However, the results could also state there is a negative relationship between reading levels and the exam score. Each scenario provides teachers with two important pieces of information. First, if there was a positive relationship between reading levels and exam scores, then there is a possibility the exam matched the students reading ability and their performance. This means the exam was aligned with their current reading skills. On the other hand, if a negative relationship existed, one possibility is that the exam did not match the students reading levels, which could mean the exam was not a good measure of their current reading level or their current reading level did not match the difficulty or types of skills measured on the exam. Using this information is helpful in determining whether the reading levels of students relates with the difficulty of the exam. To dig deeper, we could also run the same correlations for different segments of the class as well as the equation types presented on the exam. This information can tell us how students with higher or lower reading levels may relate to their higher or lower score on the exam. In addition, we can also see if the reading level of students had any relation with their performance on types of inferential and conclusion forming reading comprehension questions posed on the exam.

Note: When we discuss multivariate statistics, I will always say possibility and statistical significance because we can never prove causation. Even with a very large sample size, there will always be the possibility of intervening variables or the results of the calculated statistic are not statistically significant (which means the conversion rates between a given variation and the baseline is due to random chance; read more about the null hypothesis here). Ultimately, for each multivariate statistic calculation the p-value, which represents statistical significance must be less than or equal to .05 for the calculation to be statistically significant.

Other Considerations & Conclusion

What we discussed today is the tip of the iceberg in regards to what teachers and school leaders can do with the knowledge they have been able to gain from transforming the data they have collected and cleaned using statistics to make a decision. You have seen the power of Action Plans as well as how teachers can use the data they have transformed into powerful instructional knowledge to help them try and determine how their students are doing and what to do about it to bridge gaps in learning and instruction.

Beyond the classroom settings, what we have done throughout this blog series can be conducted at the grade level, school level, and district level. It can even get more complex by looking at specific demographics, question types, and standards. It can be increasingly complex. Currently in K-12 schools, there is an astronomical amount of data that can be utilized to make data-driven decisions to improve instructional and student outcomes. We, as educators, must collect that data do something with it. Too much of this data is wasted because it is not looked at further.

Hopefully from what you have seen in this blog series demonstrates there is a set of skills required to become data literate. At the same time, I hope you have seen how powerful transformed data can be to gain new insights on your students and instruction that you cannot see without collecting and analyzing the data. It is revolutionary. Think if all K-12 educators and school leaders had the data literacy skills to be able to use data on a daily basis to make efficient and effective decisions? What outcomes could there be for all students as well as the system of K-12 education?

Ultimately, there is much work to be done. This blog series was a preview of the curriculum required to for educators to become data literate, which is the ability to collect data, compile/clean data, conduct statistical analysis on the data, and to use the new knowledge gained from data to make effective decisions. We have seen major gains in becoming technologically literate. Now, we must become data literate to revolutionize how we teach and use our educational technology. It’s time all teacher and administrative preparation programs and districts to focus on curriculum to help build this capacity. This will be the new frontier as we progress through the next few years. It’s time for all educators to become data literate!

Thank you for reading this blog series on Using Data to Make Data-Driven Decisions. To review all of the previous posts, they are hyperlinked below. In addition, if you have any comments, please comment below or interact with me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990. I look forward to discussing with you these topics and concepts.

Using Data to Make Data-Driven Decisions Blog Series Parts

Part 1: Introduction & Collecting and Exporting Student Data from Edtech Tools

Part 2: Cleaning Data

Part 3: Using Statistics to Transform Data into Knowledge

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Using Data to Make Data-Driven Instructional Decisions: Part 3 of 4 – Using Statistics to Transform Data into Knowledge

Welcome to Part 3 of 4 of the Using Data to Make Data-Driven Instructional Decisions Blog Series! Today, in Part 3, we are going to focus on using statistics to transform our data into knowledge. Statistical analysis on a data set allows educators to essentially mine information from the data. What this does is provide us with newfound information we did not have before that is derived from the data. This new information and knowledge can then be used to make strategic decisions. In online, in-person, and blended classroom and school settings, it is our job as educators to make decisions grounded in evidence. Ultimately, the data set were able to statistically analyze becomes the needed evidence to support our decision. Furthermore, the purpose of this post of this blog series is to provide K-12 educators with a blueprint of how to conduct basic univariate and multivariate statistical analysis by teaching them how to use statistical formula’s on the data they collect in their classrooms and schools so they can transform that data into knowledge to make critical and strategic instructional decisions.

Univariate (Descriptive) Statistics

Univariate statistical, also known as descriptive statistics, involves a single variable of analysis. For example, say we were working with a classes recent overall scores of a math test. Through univariate statistics, we are able to summarize those scores and see how those scores breakdown to illustrate how all of the students did on the math test. This is how the word “descriptive” comes into play because the statistical outputs describe what is happening throughout the data set of math test scores.

Univariate statistics describes the frequency of values, which refers to how many times a data point from a data set can be grouped or categorized together. When we think of the average (i.e., mean), this is describing the central tendency of the values of the data set. The mean, median, and mode are all univariate statistical calculations that relate to the distribution of data found within a data set. All of these univariate formulas can help a teacher or school leader see beyond just the initial math scores of the students to group and categorize various groups of students based on their performance.

What can we do with this new information derived from these univariate statistical formulas? We can see how many students fell close to the overall mean score of the math test as well as group students who exceeded the mean score and those who did not exceed the mean score. Beyond just looking at the overall test score, we can look at the questions on the exam and conduct the same statistical calculations. This can allow teachers to see which students need more support in mastering a concept in addition to students who will need more enrichment since they already mastered the concept assessed. In addition, we want to note that you can do this for formative and summative assessments, which allows us to make strategic decisions quickly and efficiently, if needed.

Ultimately, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with univariate statistics and the student data we collect. What’s great about univariate statistics is that the data visualizations in the form of graphs you can create can help with interpreting the data trends found within a data set. Once the initial univariate data analysis is conducted, it’s always a good idea to create data visualizations to further analyze trends. These same visualizations can be used at a later time, if needed, to articulate the newfound knowledge and trends to stakeholders.

Multivariate Statistics

Beyond univariate statistics, we also want to conduct statistical analysis on data to see whether relationships exist multiple variables. For example, one variable could be the final math assessment scores from your class and the other variable could be the number of days students were absent throughout the semester. We can use statistics to determine whether a relationship exists between two or more variables. There are many types of multivariate statistical formulas that can be computed to determine whether relationships exist between multiple variables. Generally, correlations, t-tests, ANOVA’s, and regressions are common basic multivariate statistical calculations that can be performed on a data set.

One example of how conducting a multivariate statistical formula like a correlation can help K-12 educators is in determining a whether a relationship exists between the reading levels of a class or grade level and their performance on the end of the year state assessment. With a correlation, we can see if there is a significant positive or negative relationship exists relationship between the student reading levels and assessment. Furthermore, we can conduct this same calculation across all groups of students, grade levels, and schools. Thus, we can see whether statistical relationships exists among different sets of data to help inform our instruction. What this does is provide us with a guide to further investigate what’s happening with students taking the assessment as well as what reading skills may be required for students to learn to do well on the assessment. This is powerful as it can help us focus our curriculum and instruction on essential skills to help students do better on the assessment in the future.

Note: For the purposes of this post, p-value, variables, and types of data are not discussed. These are all essential to multivariate statistics, but require much more of an explanation. My goal is to show how to conduct these calculations instead of providing the full Statistics 101 explanation.

Common Univariate and Multivariate Statistical Formulas – Excel and Sheets

Statistical formulas on Excel and Sheets allow us to perform a statistical analysis on a data set. Before getting into the formula’s, there are several steps that are required in order for them to be computed properly without producing an error. Before getting into the three steps of inputting formula’s and the data into them, there are a number of univariate and multivariate statistical formula’s on both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets that all educators should know about so they can conduct statistical analysis on their collected data.

Statistical Function FormulaWhat does it do? 
=COUNT(value1, [value2],…)  Counts the numeric values supplied in a data set. An example of this would be counting the number of times 10 comes up within a data set. 
=COUNTA(value1, [value2],…) or COUNTA(“education”, A10:A20)Counts all of the numeric values or text of non-blanks within a data set.
=FREQUENCY(data_array, bins_array) Note: data_array is the original values for the frequency that is about to be calculated. Then, bins_arrary is the value that sets the limits of ranges to be split into. Determines the frequency of value(s) within a data set. 
=AVERAGE(number 1, number 2) Determines the mean within a data set. An example of how this can be represented using a data set is =AVERAGE(A1:A300). 
=MIN(number 1, number 2) Determines the minimum value (i.e., smallest value) within a data set. 
=MAX(number 1, number 2) Determines the highest value (i.e., largest value) within a data set. 
=MEDIAN(number 1, number 2) Determines the median within a data set.
=MODE(number 1, number 2) Determines the mode within a data set. 
=SUM(number 1, number 2) Determines the sum of multiple values within a data set. 
=STDEV.P(number 1, number 2) Calculates the standard deviation of an entire population (i.e., A2:A300). 
=IF(logical_test[value_if_true], [value_if_false]) If, then conditional statement. This allows for the identification of pieces of data based on a condition (i.e., =IF(B2<60, “Fail”,”Pass”)).
=CORREL(column 1, column 2) Calculates a Pearson’s r that represents a possible correlational relationship between two different data sets (i.e.,=CORREL(a2:a100, b2:b100). 
=T.TEST(column 1) or =T.TEST(column 1, column 2)Calculates the p-value of a single set or multiple data sets. 
Common Statistical Formula’s on Both Excel and Google Sheets

Conducting Statistical Analysis Steps on Excel and Sheets & Video Demonstrations

As promised above, with the statistical formula’s that have been given, follow this three step process in conducting the univariate or multivariate statistical data analysis with the data collected in your classroom or school. After review steps one through three, take a look at each video posted on computing univariate and multivariate statistical analysis for an in-depth look at how it is done.

Step 1: In a Data Cell, Type Out the Statistical Formula

Step 2: Select the Range of Data for the Calculation and Place into Formula

Step 3: Click “Enter” to Calculate the Inputted Data into the Formula

Once these steps are performed on the selected data, there will be a solution output within the cell you typed in your statistical formula. This solution from the statistical formula is the newfound knowledge that has been calculated from your data. Now think about these three steps as you watch the two videos below.

Univariate Statistics: A Video Demonstration

Univariate Statistical Analysis

Multivariate Statistics: Correlation & Regression Demonstration

Multivariate Statistical Analysis: Correlation and Regression

In the video demonstrating the correlation and regression, think about if you replaced height and weight with the variables of reading levels (i.e., Lexile, DRA, etc.), grade point average, or test scores. In the same manner, we can use the same methodology to compute correlations and regressions on Excel and Sheets.

Conclusion

Now that we have seen how to conduct some basic univariate and multivariate statistical analysis, we will cover next week in Part 4 of the blog series is on how this newfound knowledge from the statistical analysis can be put into decision-making frameworks and action plans to help teachers and school leaders make instructional decisions. My hope is that you have an idea of how to take some of the data you collect in your classroom and transform it into useful knowledge to help you as an instructor or leader help put your students in the best instructional position to succeed and learn.

Ultimately, what we covered in this post is the tip of the iceberg. What we discussed here are some of the basic. Some important details about p-values, variables, and the types of data were left out. However, the purpose for this post is to show how to conduct some basic calculations instead of taking a Statistics 101 course. What we have done here takes practice, but it’s completely doable. Also, it can be done quite quickly if you have clean data. I suggest taking a look back at Part 1 and 2 of this blog series to review once again after reading through today’s post.

If you have any questions or comments about today’s post, please make sure you leave one below or on Twitter!

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Using Data to Make Data-Driven Decisions in K-12 Education: Part 2 – Cleaning Data

Building data literacy to make data-driven decisions takes several steps. It does not simply just happen. But with practice, we can conduct data-driven decision-making seamlessly throughout the school day. Last week for Part 1 of this blog series, we focused on collecting student data and understanding there’s plenty of it to be collected in K-12 schools for us to use in making instructional data-driven decisions in classroom and school/district wide settings. In Part 2 of this 4 part blog series on data literacy and data driven decision-making, we are going to focus our attention today on cleaning data.

Why We Clean Data?

We clean data for a variety of reasons. It is a step that must be taken because its a process of identifying and correcting pieces of data within a data set that may be corrupt or inaccurate. Usually, when you export and import data into Excel or Sheets from elsewhere, there could be some inconsistencies and errors present since its coming from a different database. Furthermore, cleaning data helps ensure these possible inconsistencies and errors are not littered throughout a data set. Ultimately, inconsistencies and errors found within the data result in errors when a statistical analysis of the data occurs. So, it is vital our data is clean before we can move on to conducting any form of statistical analysis to derive any newfound knowledge from the data to be used in making an instruction decision.

Basic How-To’s for Cleaning Data

To clean data effectively, there is a step by step process you can follow to ensure your data is clean and ready for statistical analysis. This step by step process to clean data incorporates six major steps. Depending on the step, it could take 30 seconds to 5 minutes to complete the step. It all depends on the data set you are working with as well as how efficient you are with each step to clean the data set.

Step 1: Eliminate the Extra Space by Trimming Them

Sometimes when you export and import data from another database into Excel and Sheets, an additional space is found within the data cell. There could be one or many additional spaces throughout your data cell. If a space is present, a statistical formula utilized on the data will not work. One way to get around this is to to use the the =TRIM(cell#:cell#) function to erase any extra space present in the data set. This function can be used on each column of data spaces appear within your data cells.

Step 2: Get rid of Blank Cells and Decide What to Do

If there are blank cells present within a numeric data set, then we have a problem. When there is not a value in a data cell within a cell, we must figure out a way either to delete the cell, fill the cell in with a 0, or conduct a mean replacement, which means filling the empty cell with the overall average found in that column of numeric data. Once a decision has been made, we must do this for the entire data set. A shortcut instead of manually putting in the value for the cell is to press “F5” on your keyboard, which opens up a dialogue box. Inside this box, click on the “Special” box at the bottom left hand side of the box. Go down to the menu and click on “blanks.” After clicking “OK”, it will automatically select each and every cell that is blank in the data set. Now, it will go much faster and you will be able to fill in the blanks in no time.

Step 3: Delete Duplicates within your Data Set

Within a data set there could be a number of duplicate pieces of data. Generally within a data set, it is very rare to find duplicate pieces of data. When duplicates arise, they can throw off statistical calculations so we have to make sure whether the duplicates found are legitimate duplicates or duplicates we must eliminate from the data set. For Excel and Sheets, there are two different ways of doing this. Therefore, explanations for both will be provided.

First, for Excel, click and highlight your entire data set  you are cleaning followed by pressing the “Conditional Formatting” option at the top of Excel’s interface. Once this option is pressed, click “Highlight Cells Rules” followed by “Duplicate Values,” which should be an additional drop-down tab given on the interface. Once you press “Duplicate Values,” Excel will have each individual header of your columns provided on the box that appears on your screen. This will ultimately give you the option to determine which columns you want Excel to target duplicate data. After you make your decision of what columns you want to be cleaned for duplicates, click “OK” at the bottom of the box. This will clean the selected columns of duplicates for Excel. 

Next, for Sheets, you must begin by selecting the data set you want duplicates removed from in addition to clicking the “Data” tab at the top of the Sheets interface. Then, near the bottom of the drop down tap that appears, you will see the option to “Remove Duplicates.” After you have clicked this option, it is extremely similar to how it is conducted on Excel because a box appears with each column of the selected data set appearing for you to determine which columns you want duplicates removed from your data set. Click the columns you want this to occur to and then press “Remove Duplicates.” On Sheets, it will provide a box of the total number of duplicates removed from your data set. This signifies you are done and ready to move on to the next step.

Step 4: All Text Must Match – Watch Out for Case Sensitivity and Spelling

Now, we must determine if all of data within the data set is in the right case as well as whether it is spelled correctly. There may be times in Excel or Sheets where textual errors appear in capitalization of names, titles, or places. Usually, this occurs when the data is imported onto a spreadsheet. When this occurs, it can be difficult to mine the text and conduct statistical analysis. An easy way to ensure all of your data is in the proper case is to insert one of the following functions: =LOWER(cell#:cell#), UPPER(cell#:cell#), and PROPER(cell#:cell#). By having all of the textual data within the same case makes it so much easier to mine the data.

Besides looking at case sensitivity when looking at the data, spelling should also be looked at because if some of the textual data is spelled incorrectly, it will be difficult to mine the textual data for patterns. An quick and easy way to do a quick run down of the data is to click on “File” for both Excel and Sheets and then “Check Spelling & Grammar.” A quick run through with the spelling and grammar will ensure uniformity throughout your data set.

Step 5: Split and Merge Data Columns, as Needed

When you import data into Excel or Sheets from an external data source, the data can be merged into two or more columns or even can split one column into a multitude of different columns. This sometimes is a huge mess that will need to be cleaned up. One common example of this occurring is that the data imported on the spreadsheet will separate first and last names. Therefore, you must be sure to analyze your data set and see whether the data that has been imported has been successfully merged into the proper data cells. If not, you must either manually do this by reorganizing the data by highlight data and merging/splitting data cells or use the =CONCATENATE function so that you can join two or more strings of text into one string.  To do this, type =CONCATENATE into a blank cell on Excel or Sheets and type in within its first range the first text (i.e., “text1”) you want to string to an adjoining text (i.e., “text2”). Furthermore, an example of this formula in action would look like =CONCATENATE(cell#, “lastname” cell#, “firstname). Ultimately, Excel and Sheets will conduct is to string together the last and first name onto one cell by combining the data together in one single string. Also, note that this same function can be used to combine data on a data set that was not originally together.

Step 6: Conduct Error Analysis and Review

You are almost there. This our last step. You have completed much of the required data cleaning up to this point. Now, to be one hundred percent ready to conduct statistical data analysis on your data set, the last step that needs to be done is error analysis on the data set to be sure its error-free. Errors in the data will cause your statistical formulas to not properly compute the data. Ultimately, error analysis looks different on Excel and Sheets. As a result,  discussions on error analysis of your data set will be outlined for both Excel and Sheets.

On Excel, error analysis relates directly to the conditional formatting feature you can access at the top of its interface. Before doing this make sure you have highlighted the data set you would like to conduct the error analysis on. Once you click on “Conditional Formatting,” you will press “New Formatting Rule” at the bottom of the tab. Within the formatting box appears, click on the option that states “Format only cells that contain.” After this has been selected, be sure to look at the “Edit the Rule Description” option below and select “Format only cells with errors.” Lastly, select “OK” at the bottom of the box and Excel will conduct error analysis on the datasheet. It will highlight areas on the datasheet that have errors, which you then can pinpoint and fix. Remember, also take note that within the “Conditional Formatting” options, you have an option to develop rules based on what you want to specifically format in your data. This can range from duplicates to numbers greater than or less than a certain value; there are many rules you can sort through or even create, which makes it a great tool to complete your data cleaning process. 

For Sheets, error analysis takes a few different forms because there are no specific functions that relate to computing an all-encompassing error analysis. Rather, there are several specific options you can utilize to conduct an error analysis, but note that it is not as systematic as Excel’s error analysis. To start, highlight the data set you want to conduct error analysis on and then click on “Format” at the top of Sheets interface. Then, underneath this tab, select “Conditional Formatting.” After this has been selected, a box to your right will appear that provides conditional formatting rules for you to apply to your data set. Within the pre-set options, you will notice “error” does not exist as an option for you to select. However, you can format the data in the same manner as you would conducting error analysis on Excel by developing multiple rules that Sheets will then format the data. This option is at the bottom of the interface on the right-hand side of Sheets that will allow you to create as many rules as you would like to format on the data set you have selected. 

At the end of the day, Sheets allows you to conduct error analysis in a very customizable matter. On the other hand, Excel allows you to do it in a systematic swipe but it is much more difficult to customize your conditional formatting when compared to Sheets. With this said, whichever software you decide to conduct your data analysis, error analysis should take place before moving on before inputting statistical functions and formulas on Excel and Sheets. 

Cleaning Data in Action

To illustrate how many of the techniques explained above are put into action, two video demonstrations are embedded in this blog for you to view. I recommend watching the first and second video in order as they provide valuable step by step processes of how to import data from other sources and then clean the data.

The first video explanation is valuable because it shows how to export and obtain data (like we talked about in Part 1 of this blog series) and clean the data. It shows the step by step process of exporting the data by either copying and pasting the data OR downloading and uploading a .CSV file to Sheets.

In the second video explanation, it demonstrates 10 valuable tips in cleaning data on Excel. Many of these same tips of how to clean data can also be used on Sheets. We see here how raw text and numeric data can be cleaned with ten

Next Step: The Data is Ready for Statistical AnalysisBut Review Once Again Before Moving On

After cleaning your data, it is time for statistical analysis. However, before moving on, make sure to review the data set multiple times to ensure its ready. We all will make some mistakes throughout this process. Therefore, the review will catch these mistakes so they will not come up while you are conducting statistical analysis.

Conclusion

Cleaning data is one of the most monotonous and toughest parts of the data driven decision-making process. It is not fun to clean data. It can be challenging. But, it does not have to take a long time if each of the steps discussed today are put into action every single time you interact with a new set of data. With practice, it will become second nature.

Ultimately, once you are done cleaning data, you are a ready to conduct statistical analysis. This is the most fun and engaging part of data-driven decision-making because we are transforming data into newfound knowledge that we can use to make an impact. Part 3 of this blog series will cover many of the basic descriptive and multivariate formulas you can use on Excel and Sheets to conduct statistical analysis. In addition, Part 3 will illustrate step by step tutorials on how to use the formulas while working with data you can collect in a K-12 setting.

Note: I recommend reviewing this post and the videos presented before moving onto to Part 3 next week. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. See you next week!

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Book Release – “Navigating the Toggled Term: Preparing Secondary Educators for Fall 2020 and Beyond”

Amazon Paperback: Available Now – Click Here!

Amazon Kindle – Coming Soon!

When schools shut down in mid-March, there were so many questions we had to begin to address as our country and world dealt with the onset of challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, these challenges completely uplifted K-12 education in the spring and caused the shift to emergency Distance Learning. Even during the early weeks of Distance Learning, reopening schools and navigating the 2020-2021 school year and beyond began to circulate in education circles and professional communities across the world. Many of these questions included how to initially reopen schools in addition to how we can maintain continuous learning if our schools will have to close down once again. How were we going to be able to do this successfully?

Conversations about the very future of education prompted me to write this book. I wanted to write a book to help teachers and school leaders navigate the instructional and organizational challenges presented by COVID-19. I am a firm believer we can overcome many of the challenges we face such as social distancing, staggered scheduling, hyper hygienic practices, the wearing of face masks and shields, and the logistics of having to be prepared at both the organizational and instructional level to move back and forth between online Distance Learning and some form of a face to face blended/hybrid instructional model. Thus, within this book, I have developed instructional and organizational frameworks that allow teachers and school leaders in schools build an online instructional infrastructure to allow them to deliver instruction continuously and seamlessly regardless of whether they are in an online, blended/hybrid, or a traditional educational setting.

The purpose of this instructional framework is to allow teachers and schools leaders essentially “toggle” their instruction between educational settings depending on the local health conditions. For example, the first four weeks of school may be in a blended/hybrid learning model and then after a case is found within the school, the school may have to move online for one to two weeks while the school is cleaned and contact tracing occurs. Then, schools will reopen once again after the initial reopening and subsequent closure. Ultimately, this could happen countless times throughout the 2020-2021 school year, which makes the Toggled Term Instructional Model outlined in Chapter 12 a very durable model that can help solve this challenge.

Furthermore, as the book progresses, it provides an organizational framework in its conclusion to help schools plan for the 2020-2021 school year as well as refine their plans as they navigate the next 12 to 18 months of challenges they will have to face. By focusing on the major pillars of this organizational framework, schools will be able to ensure their plans remain fluid and flexible but also consistent and transparent to put teachers and students in the best positions to succeed. Essentially, in the same manner as the instructional toggle, schools that use this framework will be in the position to organizationally toggle back and forth between online, blended/hybrid learning, and traditional learning models seamlessly and continuously.

Beyond the two major frameworks outlined in this book to “Navigate the Toggled Term,” there are many conversations about developing an online instructional infrastructure using educational technology and selecting the appropriate tools to best support your students. In addition, other important topics such as differentiating instruction using edtech, Special Education online IEP meetings and case management, blended learning models, how to navigate the initial reopening of schools, and professional development are provided. Ultimately, all of these topics touched on in the book are all areas teachers and school leaders should have an idea on how to navigate so their classrooms and schools can create solutions to the many challenges presented by COVID-19.

Get prepared before the school year starts as well as have a guide to help you, your colleagues, and professional learning network “Navigate the Toggled Term” over the next 12 to 18 months to ensure your students are in the best position to learn continuously throughout the school year! Purchase your copy today so you can “Navigate the Toggled Term!”

Stay connected and up to date at www.matthewrhoads.com and Twitter (@mattrhoads1990) for more updates on this book!

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Using Data to Drive Instructional Decision Making in K-12 Education: Part 1 of 4 – Introduction & Collecting and Exporting Student Data from Edtech Tools

We live in a world where we are able to collect vast amounts of data because of the educational technology we use in our classrooms and schools. Think about it – every time a student logs onto an edtech tool you use in your classroom, data is logged of their interaction with the software tool. What this means is that when we have our students engage in lessons where edtech tools are a mechanism to deliver instruction and to assess student learning, we are collecting A LOT of student data. Unfortunately, this data is not always used to make instructional decisions. Now, with the advent of edtech being in the majority of all classrooms over the last five to ten years, teachers now have the opportunity to learn how to collect and analyze the data to help them monitor and adjust their instruction to make instructional decisions to meet their students where they are at in regard to their learning.

Unfortunately, the data literacy of teachers and school leaders to do this is not where it needs to be. Data literacy is one’s ability to collect, compile, and clean data in addition to conducting a statistical analysis to derive new knowledge from in order to make a decision (Mandinach, 2012; Mandinach & Gummer, 2016). My research has shown me the efficacy to utilize various data practices is high, but in reality, the true ability to use data to drive instructional decisions is low (Rhoads, 2019). Therefore, one of my major goals is to teach data literacy so teachers and school leaders can make data-driven decisions to improve instruction and student outcomes. Since there’s such a need in K-12 education to learn data literacy skills, I am going to create a four part blog series where I am going to show teachers and school leaders how to build their data literacy skills so they can make data-driven decisions on consistent basis.

For Part 1 of this blog series on data literacy and data driven decision-making, I am going to go step by step to show you how you can collect data from various edtech tools teachers use everyday in their classrooms. In addition, I am going to briefly go through the process of exporting the data to an Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet. Part 2 of the blog series will cover how to clean and organize the data on a spreadsheet. Then, Part 3 will cover how to conduct basic descriptive statistics on the cleaned data to gain newfound knowledge. Finally, Part 4 of this series will cover how we can use this new knowledge to monitor and adjust and drive instruction so we can make strategic and powerful data-driven decisions.

Part 1 begins today with collecting and exporting data. Let’s get started!

Collecting Data in a Classroom

The first step is collecting student data. We collect data as teachers all of the time. First, we collect data to assess student learning. We also collect data to see our students strengths and areas of improvement. In addition to student learning data, we also collect data on their social-emotional status’s to see how we can best support our students socially emotionally. Ultimately, with this collected data, we use this data to determine how we monitor and adjust our instruction and supports as a teacher to put our students in the best positions to succeed.

Note: There are many data types that I did not mention here that we collect in schools. For the purposes of this blog, I am only discussing some of the major types of data we can collect in classrooms.

Luckily, collecting data is not difficult. Even if you do not use edtech tech, you are collecting data when you input grades into a grade book. When utilizing any edtech tool, student data is collect by using the tool. The data is logged and stored within the program when a student interacts with the software. On many edtech tools such as Pear Deck, GoFormative, Google Forms, b.socrativ, and MobyMax, collected student data can be easily collected and then exported onto a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet. All teachers must do is build an assessment, lesson, or a set of tasks student must complete on an edtech tool in order to collect the data. Below are two examples of how teachers can build mechanisms to collect data using Google Forms and Pear Deck. Once the infrastructure of these edtech tools is developed, student data can be easily collected once students begin working with the tool.

Here is a tutorial on how to build an assessment on Google Forms
Here is a quick tutorial on how to build a Pear Deck Presentation

Exporting the Data

Now, once the data is collected, something has to be done with it in order to begin making it useful. This brings us to exporting the student data. Exporting the data takes several steps. Generally, in many edtech tools, there are areas within the teacher interface where they can access the visualization of data in the form of graphs and tables to evaluate the activity of their students on the edtech tool. For example, when using a Google Form as an assessment or GoFormative, once the assessment is completed, there is an interface teachers can view which shows them the visualization of how students did on an assessment. In regard to an edtech tool like Pear Deck, teachers can review the Pear Deck presentation and see the student responses to the questions posed. This is another example of a data visualization within an edtech tool. After seeing the visualization of the collected student data, there is an option in many edtech tools to export the data onto a spreadsheet. Once this option is selected, a Sheet or Excel spreadsheet is downloaded for you to view and then interact with.

Google Forms Export to Spreadsheet
Pear Deck Export to Spreadsheet

Conclusion

Each edtech tool you use in a classroom collects student data. This data is collected and should be used to help improve instructional decision-making for K-12 teachers and school leaders. While exporting the data to Excel or Sheet spreadsheets may vary among various edtech tools, the option is available on most of the tools you will encounter. Many may say to just stay with the data visualization interface teachers are have the ability to interact with on these tool. This is a good start – but it is not enough. You will see if you take the time to go through the process of collecting, cleaning, conducting statistical analysis, and then using that new knowledge to make a decision, you will catch all of various nuances in the data that the data visualization features miss. In addition, there is so much more you can do when you can conduct your own statistics on the data you collect. You will see this soon!

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of this blog series as we look at cleaning and organizing the data you collect and export from your edtech tools. See you then!

References

Rhoads, M. (2019). Educational leadership efficacy: The relationship between data use, data use confidence, leadership efficacy, and student achievement. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database. (Accession Order No. ATT 22624797).

Mandinach, E. B. (2012). A perfect time for data use: Using data-driven decision making to inform practice. Educational psychologist, 47(2), 71-85.

Mandinach, E. B., & Gummer, E. S. (2013). A systemic view of implementing data literacy in educator preparation. Educational Researcher, 42(1), 30–37.http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0013189X12459803

Mandinach, E.B., & Gummer, E. S. (2016). What does it mean for teachers to be data literate: Laying out the skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Teaching and Teacher Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.07.011

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The Power of Student Feedback: How to Collect Student Feedback at the End of the Year

As the year comes to an end, it is a time for your students reflect on their learning that took place over the course of the school year. Additionally, during this time teachers, regardless of what grade level they teach, should ask some form feedback regarding their teaching from their students. Along with performance evaluations, student assessment scores, and personal reflection, student feedback can be another powerful variable teachers can consider as they seek to improve their practice.

Since I teach at the secondary level, the easiest way the collect this important feedback data, I utilize a Google Forms survey to collect this data. I personally ask students to give me a letter grade and then provide rationale for the grade they gave me. I provide two questions for students to do this. This includes whether they understood what we were doing in class, were the skills relevant and applicable to their lives, was I organized, was I able to motivate them, and did I communicate with students on a consistent basis. Following these questions, I ask students directly: “Please explain HOW Dr. Rhoads can improve as a teacher.” In this instance, they have the floor to provide me with their direct feedback and opinion on how I can improve as a teacher.

Dr. Rhoads Grade and Student Open-Ended Feedback Questions

Then, after asking students to provide open-ended responses for direct feedback. I provide multiple questions that are either yes or no relating to communication and whether the student felt like they improved as a student over the course of the school year in my classroom. To round out this section of the survey, I gave students a Likert Scale question relating to how engaging my class was throughout the school year.

Yes or No & Likert Scale Questions

For the last portion of the survey, I asked my students to give me feedback regarding whether they preferred in-person learning or Distance Learning. This is something new that I have added from years past since this school year has been unique and challenging.

Distance Learning Questions

Google Forms is a great way to collect feedback from your students if you have multiple questions to ask them or to provide feedback over a long period of time. For more instant feedback, I have also used Pear Deck for my secondary students and for my university students for feedback during my university lectures. Ultimately, I believe Pear Deck can be used for any age group of students to solicit quick and instant feedback after a lesson from students. Pear Deck can even for younger students who are in primary school. Arguably, Google Forms can be used for upper elementary as well.

Ultimately, through exercises like this, its another avenue teachers can take to receive feedback to help develop their practice as an educator; especially right before summer. I look forward to seeing the results in the next day or so. In a few days, I plan on writing a post that is reflective based on the feedback I have received from my students in addition to what I learned this school year. Once the feedback has been evaluated and self-reflection takes place, it will be time to narrow in on how to improve as a teacher for a very unique and challenging opportunity that presents us all for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

Feel free to comment on this post or Twitter on how you ask for feedback from your students and how you use their feedback to improve as an educator.

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The Power of Student Self-Assessment and Metacognition

As the school year comes to a close, it is a time to put a lot of emphasis on reflection and self-assessment. We want our students to reflect on what they have learned, evaluate the skills they’ve improved in, and assess which areas they need to focus on continued improvement for next school year and beyond. However, self-evaluation and reflection is a skill that needs to be consistently reinforced throughout the school year as it provides students the opportunity to practice metacognition. Regardless of whether we are in a face to face or online setting, metacognition is an effective active learning strategy that gives students the ability to be self-aware of their own thinking (Flavell, 1976; Hartman, 2001). Ultimately, through practicing metacognition, it allows students to self-assess and monitor how they are thinking, the information they have taken in and consumed, what information they need, and determine whether their line of thinking and reasoning will allow them to solve the the problems they face (Kluger & DeNisi, 1992). All of this is nothing new in regards to the research.

As teachers, we want our students to be life long learners. As a result, we can provide these opportunities more than ever on a daily, weekly, semesterly, and yearly basis. Thus, we need to build self-assessment into all our lessons and units. Thus, throughout the school year, I have students practice self-assessment on a daily basis, weekly, at the end of the semester, and at the end of the year. My goal is to show you how I have my students practice self-assessment metacognition at the secondary level. Not only does self-assessment give students an opportunity to practice metacognition skills, it also provides teachers with a plethora of information about our students they can use to become better teachers. This information can help teachers learn more about the students thoughts regarding what they know, where they need to go, and what areas of strength they feel like they are strong in. Ultimately, this facilitates dialogue between teachers and students throughout the year to help monitor and adjust our instruction as well as focus on the personalizing learning of our students.

Daily Self-Assessment

Daily self-assessment is quick, which can be an employed during the closure of a lesson. Teachers can pose one to three questions regarding what was covered, student understanding, and areas of strength/improvement for students to interact with and think about. I like to use Pear Deck for my interactive slideshows so I can have active engagement throughout my entire lesson. Ultimately, at the end of most of my lessons, I provide students an opportunity to think about what they have learned. This provides students an opportunity to practice metacognition and gives me quick feedback on where my students believe they are currently at on the skills or content discussed during that class period.

Weekly Self-Assessment

Weekly self-assessment allows students to practice metacognition skills by allowing them to summarize what they have learned throughout the week as well as narrow down areas of strength and areas improvement. In addition, a weekly self-assessment gives students an opportunity give themselves self-reported grades on their reading, writing, math, participation, and work completion. By providing students an opportunity to self-report their progress and grades, it can allow teachers to have a dialogue with students thereafter to facilitate conversation about their strengths and areas they can to improve in. For the weekly self-assessment, I utilize a Google Forms for a weekly self-assessment because I provide multiple choice and free response reflection questions for my students. Also, the data output from Google Forms is extremely valuable because it allows me to analyze individual and class trends over the course of a semester.

Weekly Self-Assessment Using Google Forms

Semester Self-Assessment

Like weekly self-assessments, the end of the semester self-assessment provides students an opportunity think about their progress throughout the entire semester and provides an opportunity self-reflect, self-report grades, and formulate goals for the second half of the year. In a similar manner as the daily and weekly self-assessment, a semester self-assessment creates an opportunity for dialogue and student centered goal assessment and creation. For the semester self-assessment, I use a Google Form for the same reasons I use it for the weekly self-assessment. Overall, the major distinction between the weekly self-assessment the semester self-assessment are the questions the reflection form asks students. For the weekly self-assessment, the questions focus on what we have learned on a weekly basis. For the end of the semester self-assessment, the questions focus on asking our students to take the themes out of what they have learned as well as their abilities.

Year in Review Self-Assessment

Similar to the semester self-assessment, the year in review self-assessment focuses on reflecting on major themes students have learned throughout the semester The questions on each survey are the same, which allows teachers to see the difference in student self-reflection and self-reported grades from the mid-year and at the end of the year. Additionally, this end of the year self-assessment provides students a more in-depth opportunity to write about the skills they have learned and where they may need to improve as well as note their strengths. Lastly, it provides students an opportunity self-report their grades in a multitude of different areas. Teachers can decide whether to incorporate the self-reported grades into their overall grade or use this data as information to help students determine whether they have reached their goals for the school year. Google Forms is used to see trends for the classes I teach so I can see how far my students have come as well as where I need to improve my instruction for next school year.

Year in Review Self-Assessment Using Google Forms

Conclusion

Regardless of your students grade or ability level, provide them an opportunity self-reflect, self-assess, and self-report grades because it gives them a multitude of opportunities throughout the year to practice metacognition. Metacognition allows our students to become life long learners, which gives them the efficacy and confidence to think about or dialogue with others about their abilities and skill sets. Furthermore, we want our students to consistently look to grow and improve. By focusing on practicing metacognition throughout the year, it gives your students an opportunity to do this. On the teacher side of the equation, teachers have the opportunity to review this data and learn more about their students than ever before besides our student to teacher to student relationship, evaluating student work artifacts, and analyzing assessment scores. Evaluating the self-assessment data is critical in focusing on improving your instruction for all of your students and personalizing learning for your students by conversing with your students to work on improving gaps in their learning and making their strengths shine.

References

Flavell, J. H. (1976) Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence
(pp. 231–236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hartman, H. J. (2001). Metacognition in Learning and Instruction: Theory, Research and Practice. Dordrecht: Kluwer
Academic Publishers.

Kluger, A.N. & DeNisi, A. The effects of feedback intervention on performance: a historical review, a meta-analysis, and
a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Pyschological Bulletin, 199(2), 254-284.

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Motivating Students During the Final Weeks of Distance Learning

As we approach the final weeks of the school year, there may be days when we have to focus our efforts in motivating our students to finish out the year. This is evermore true during the final weeks of this school year as we complete our first dose of full time distance learning. We want to try and increase participation if we can during this time as the year ends because we want our students to have an opportunity to have the best impression of school before the school year is finished. Therefore, my goal is to provide 10 activities and strategies I have used in the past (and utilizing this year) and ideas I have learned from my professional learning network on Twitter to take on these final days and weeks of school. All of these activities can be employed online in either synchronous or asynchronous online class session.

When thinking of activities, we want to make sure they have value to our students. Thus, generally at the end of the year, we want to have more novel activities that can be fun, skill building, build community, and highly participatory. The following activities and strategies reflect these underlying themes. Before moving into the list of activities and strategies, I want to note that all of these activities can be employed anytime during the school year.

  • End of the Year Virtual Field Trips – For primary and secondary schools, regardless of the students grade or age, Google Earth, Google Tours, and on various museum and zoo websites, virtual tours have been created for teachers to take their students on virtual field trips. These field trips can be done either in synchronous or asynchronous class sessions. Students find these experiences to be fun and insightful. It gets them out of their house virtually to see new environments they would not normally see.
  • Daily Check-in’s During Synchronous Sessions – At the beginning of each live class session, provide opportunities to check in with your students. This can be done through Pear Deck, Poll Everywhere, the use of chat box on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, or by simply creating an open forum for your students. Generally, before my students have the floor, I try to provide my own personal reflection as the model before they have the opportunity to share.
  • Student Choice Boards – At the end of the year, classes can be more open-ended than they are during the course of the school year. Student choice boards can be utilized on a hyperslide or hyperdoc, which then can give students an avenue to drive down to complete an activity or task. Overall, student choice boards provide students with agency to do a variety of different tasks they may want to accomplish at the end of the year.
  • Bitmoji’s – Bitmoji’s of teachers provide students with some comic relief as well as with some entertainment during anytime of the year; but, they can be great to get students in the mood for summer. Bitmoji’s can be posted on daily slides, your learning management system, within emails you send to students, and on assignments and tasks you create for students. Bitmoji can be accessed by adding the extension into your Google Chrome browser.
Dr. Rhoads Class Bitmoji
  • Give Student Opportunities to Teach the Class – Provide students with an opportunity to teach something new to their classmates. By this point in time, students will have several edtech mediums to teach the class with. This could include Flipgrid, Google Slides, Docs, a storyboard, an electronic drawing on Google Draw or Canva, or the creation of a step by step YouTube video. There are so many options! Give your students a chance to teach their classmates and teacher something new.
  • Socratic Seminars – Socratic Seminar provide students a forum to have a conversation on a topic that they have previously researched. Students conduct preliminary research and develop questions they would like to ask their classmates to help answer an overarching question on a topic they can reflect upon once the seminar is over.
  • Student Self-Assessment – At the end of the school year, we want to provide our students with an opportunity to self-reflect and assess their learning that took place over the school year. Google Forms can be a good medium for students to reflect on as it provides students with a survey-like form to complete. It also provides teachers an easy to navigate interface to look at student responses. These responses can prompt further one on one conversations with students as well as class discussions on learning trends.
  • Student Assessment of Teacher – Teachers can provide students an opportunity to assess their teacher. Feedback from students is essential data teachers can use to improve their instruction for further classes. Google Forms, Flipgrid, Pear Deck, and Poll Everywhere surveys can be used as tools to conduct the student teacher assessment. By providing students with an opportunity to assess their teacher, it may motivate students to complete the remaining tasks and assignments for the end of the year. Additionally, this activity provides an opportunity for student voice.
  • Competitive Quizzes – Students like to compete from time to time. If an exam is at the end of the year, reviewing concepts on Kahoot or Quizizz provide students an opportunity to review as well as be competitive with one another. These quizzes can be completed during synchronous or asynchronous class sessions.
  • Digital or Physical Good Bye Letters/Emails – Teachers should provide their students with a farewell message regardless of whether we are in an online or in-person instructional setting. We want to personalize the letters as much as possible. Include a short story about the entire class or about an experience you have had with the student. By doing this as a good bye gesture, students will always remember your class as well as have a positive experience at the end of the class.

With these 10 activities and strategies in mind, I hope you can create engaging and meaningful experiences for your students as you end the school year. Additionally, beyond this year as you think about next year, these activities and strategies can be used at the beginning of next school year or anytime in the future to engage students and heighten their motivation. Comment below or on Twitter to add your ideas. The more the merrier!

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Social Emotional Learning Utilizing Pear Deck

Social Emotional Learning Utilizing Pear Deck – Powerful Emotional Intelligence and Community Building Exercises

Every day for live synchronous sessions, I want to check in with my students and see how they are feeling. Currently, in our present reality, students have many more stressors and anxieties about the world around them. Thus, by providing students opportunities to assess, identify, and share their feelings and emotions, it is an opportunity we can work with our students emotional intelligence as well as their ability to identify and manage their emotions.

One way I like to check in to have students to assess, identify, and share their feelings with the class is through Pear Deck. Pear Deck is an add-on to Google Slides, which allows your presentation slides to become interactive through various modalities (text, illustrations, polls, multiple choice questions, etc.). At the beginning on an in-person or synchronous online class session, I provide my students with either a social emotional pre-made Pear Deck slide or create my own. When I present the slide to my class, they will have an opportunity to respond either by responding to the poll or free response question. Then, I preface to my students (the first time we do this exercise) in class that all posts are anonymous to class except for when I review them after class. Additionally, I also tell my students by sharing how others are doing in our class it will show us how everyone is doing in the class as well as let student’s know we are in this together as a classroom community. Generally, once this is completed, I will model and answer the question first to build that human to human connection with your students. I try to be honest genuine, and authentic during this process.

Once I share my modeled and authentic response to the prompt or poll, I provided my students a specified time block to respond to the interactive slideshow. When they are responding, on the teacher interface of Pear Deck, I can see in real-time how my students are doing; each single one of them. This will provide me with some context before our lesson together even begins on how my students are feeling collectively as well as individually, which is a extremely powerful and useful information as a teacher to continue to build relationships with your students. After the class responds, I will share the anonymous poll results or the student generated free-responses to the class. I will read them aloud for the next few minutes. Then, I offer students to an opportunity to voice how they feel by giving them an opportunity to share out to the class. Sometimes a few students respond; other times, no one responds. It depends. Responses can range from being extremely positive to very sad and difficult circumstances. Although, I can guarantee these are quite powerful experiences.

Teacher Created Pear Deck Social Emotional Interactive Slide

Through these activities, it provides students an outlet to assess, identify, and share their feelings. Additionally, it provides teachers the opportunity to gauge how their class is doing collectively as well as how students are doing on an individual level. Teachers can use this information to determine how they can approach various students throughout the time you are with them that day or week. Furthermore, it also provides students an platform to share anonymously in a reflective manner or allows them to shed their anonymity and share to a forum of their peers.

To round up this discussion, social emotional check ins provide an opportunity for students to build empathy and community together in a classroom or online setting, which is powerful to see during the times we are in today. I recommend utilizing strategies like the ones presented here to build the emotional intelligence of students and cultivate a sense of community in your classroom regardless of your grade level (I’ve done this with university students as well). Ultimately, by making this a daily routine, it can create powerful experiences for your students as well as useful data to use as a teacher to make a difference in your students lives.

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IEP Meetings During Distance Learning – Tips and Tricks to Get Ready and to Conduct Effective Online IEP Meetings

For all districts around the country that did not completely close, Special Education has not stopped. Districts and Special Education teachers have scrambled to ensure students are receiving services and supports. For those that may not be involved in Special Education or how the United States provides services for students with disabilities, Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are documents that summarize a student’s Special Education services, goals, and information. Each year, annual IEP meetings must be held, which are meetings of service providers, parents, and stakeholders in a student’s education meet to determine how the student is doing and how to adjust their IEP to best facilitate their learning. There are federally mandated timelines and procedures that must take place to ensure the IEP meeting is conducted, written, and implemented. Thus, the IEP document is the basis of all K-12 education services in the United States.

Just days ago, the United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss, stated no waivers would be provided to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) during this time (Note: IDEA is the federal law that specifies federal mandates that must occur related to IEP’s in their creation and implementation). Therefore, districts still need to provide IEP services and continue holding IEP meetings as if school was being held normally. Each district has its own policies regarding IEP meetings that are extremely important to review before holding online IEP meetings. This may be intimidating at first, but they can be held like any other IEP meeting we would be holding in brick and mortar K-12 schools. Ultimately, the goal in this post is to provide several recommendations on how to get ready for an online IEP meeting in an efficient manner and then tips and tricks for holding an effective online IEP meeting. It’s also important to note that many of these tips are translatable to IEP meetings that occur in-person.

Tips for Getting Ready for an Online IEP Meeting

  1. Ensure you have a Google Drive or folder available for all documents and IEP’s relating to the student. Keep all of the documents in one place to stay organized. Digital organization is key.
  2. Utilize Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to develop a survey to ask teachers questions regarding the student’s present levels. Include questions relating to each section of the present levels page.
  3. Use the student information system your school is using to analyze the demographic data, grade book, and transcript of the student to help complete the information page, transition two, present levels, and goal progress.
  4. Gain access to view student work in their online learning management system they are using in their academic classes (i.e., Seesaw, Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, etc.). This can allow case managers to gain access to work samples of the student to help with present levels and goal progress.
  5. Email your student/parents a transition survey (if they are in high school) for them to complete to help complete transition page one.
  6. Draft the majority of the IEP and send out parts of the IEP beforehand for the parent to review (follow your district’s rules regarding drafting IEP’s before meetings).
  7. Schedule the meeting at least 2 weeks in advance, if possible. Use Google Voice, email, or use *67 to call parents/guardians to schedule the meeting.
  8. Invite the student if they are of middle school and high school age. Even though it’s an online meeting, they need to be included because it is their IEP to support them.
  9. Follow up email with pertinent documents. You will be required to send them a follow-up email after you have scheduled the IEP on the calendar with pertinent documents and a link or phone number to join the virtual meeting. Do this ahead of time.
  10. After the meeting is over, send parent the full agreed-upon IEP via email (be sure to review district protocols)
  11. Be sure to have a signature program available for e-signatures or protocols in place to obtain and document verbal and written consent.

Tips for Conducting an Online IEP Meeting

  1. Review district online IEP protocols. Some districts have a script case managers can follow.
  2. Provide an agenda to the meeting participants and the parent/guardian in separate emails before the meeting begins.
  3. Provide a start time and end time along with the agenda through the calendar invite. Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding time specifications.
  4. Be sure to order various meeting participants so they can all provide input. Provide possible time limits to ensure the meeting stays on task and on time.
  5. Before the meeting begins, the very first question is to ask parents/guardians their main concerns regarding their student. Be prepared for questions about online instruction.
  6. Case managers should share their screens throughout the virtual meeting to review pages of the IEP with the participants of the meeting. Reviewing the IEP as you go is the best method to ensure transparency.
  7. Take your time if the parent/guardian did not go through the draft IEP that was sent beforehand.
  8. Ask confirmation questions if you are unsure of the parent/guardians’ feelings/perspectives towards proposals in the IEP.
  9. Have a notes template that is flexible. Include the IEP meeting agenda as it will be much easier to fill out during and after the meeting.
  10. At the end of the meeting, be sure everyone on the IEP team is aware of the consent process (whether it’s through e-signatures of another process outlined by district protocols).

Conclusion

At the end of the day, we want online IEP’s for distance learning to be as smooth as possible. We know its a difficult time for families and for teachers. Therefore, we need to try and make them easy and efficient for all participants. Also, be aware that every district is different and to read thoroughly through the district’s online IEP procedures. Ask questions, if necessary on the procedures even if it is just for clarification. Hopefully, by following tips for getting prepared for IEP meetings as well as tips for the IEP meeting are helpful to K-12 Special Education teachers.

Feel free to comment on this post for more helpful suggestions for Special Education teachers to run effective online IEP meetings. Or, message me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990 and we can continue the conversation there.

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Blended Learning is the Future – Types of Blended Learning Models for Fall 2020

As we continue to think about Fall 2020 for K-12, it looks like there are a variety of options on the table. Last week, I outlined a number of scenarios primary and secondary schools can consider for going back in the fall to ensure quality instruction occurs and safety protocols are in place for teachers, students, and staff. Many recommendations from County’s of Education throughout the county include easing into face to face learning, introducing social distancing protocols, staggering schedules, and continuing some form of remote learning. More than likely, face to face will be limited at first in many states when schools first open in the fall. Likely, face to face instruction may only be a couple days a week to begin with and then it may open up further if the number of COVID cases declines within the local county over time. Thus, in all likelihood, it will likely be a combination of face to face and online learning.

When speaking specifically about instruction, the learning model that can be utilized for both face to face and online learning simultaneously for a class is called blended learning. This is what we would call integration between face to face and online experiences. Blended learning has a variety of different definitions as there are several different models that can be used to implement blended learning. My goal is to outline various blended learning models as well as provide teachers with what the research states regarding best practices for their implementation. Lastly, there will be a short discussion on engagement strategies for blended learning for face to face and online sessions.

Blended Learning Models

There is a continuum of blended learning models we should consider when thinking about how to implement blended learning models in K-12 schools. There are blended learning models at each end of the spectrum that have optional online or face to face components. Yet, the blended learning models we want to look at are the models that provide required face to face and online components that are simultaneously blended together. Additionally, these blended learning models should also fit staggered scheduling options in both primary and secondary settings as a result of the implementation of social distancing protocols in schools.

Primary and Secondary Blended Learning

Primary and secondary blended learning could take shape by having students attend school one to three times a week and have the remaining portion of the class online. Or, this could also look like students attending in the morning or afternoon for face to face sessions and have the remainder of the class have an online component. Either way, the staggered scheduling for students to have face to face time will dictate how much face to face vs. online instruction time students have. In all likelihood, the flipped classroom model will be utilized for both primary and secondary classes, which we are going to cover the most in-depth. With this said, the flipped classroom model will be implemented and utilized differently for primary and secondary settings. Lastly, a short discussion of the Inside-Out and Flex models of blended learning will round out this discussion.

Flipped Classroom Model. The flipped classroom model can be utilized in two-ways for blended learning. First, it can mean the content and skills students are taught can be frontloaded either online or in the face to face sessions. Ultimately, this is predicated on whether instructional leaders believe students are best suited to take in content and skills online or face to face first.

For the face to face component of the flipped classroom model, it could provide opportunities for small group and one on one instruction for students.  When content is frontloaded online students can receive additional support and tutorials in class to practice the content and skills they are taught initially online.  Teachers can provide feedback to students in person and students can be given opportunities to demonstrate their learning with in-person assessment. Conversely, another possible avenue is frontloading the content during the face to face sessions and then providing students opportunities to practice and demonstrate their learning online through assessment. Thus, teachers would provide much of their feedback online and then re-teach content during subsequent face to face sessions.

For the online component of the flipped classroom model, content, activities/assignments, and assessments can be developed using a module-like style to organize what students need to complete chronologically. Teachers would need to ensure they can organize their learning management system (i.e., in modules, themes, units, etc.) in a way that can allow students to see a progression in content and activities they are learning. This allows for students to see what’s due and what is needed to be done before face to face sessions. For a content-heavy online component of a flipped classroom, it could include watching several lectures while taking notes that would ultimately prepare students for a face to face Socratic seminar. On the other hand, for a practice heavy online component of a flipped classroom, it could have several scaffolded assignments before students are given online assessment on the content they were taught during the face to face session.

Lastly, for the flipped classroom blended learning model, elements of project-based learning could be incorporated to allow students to collaborate with their peers and teachers online and in person to develop creative student work projects to demonstrate their learning. This is an option entire schools or teachers can utilize depending on how they would like to assess their students learning and their student population.

Other Blended Learning Options. Beyond the flipped classroom model, there are several other blended learning models that we will mention. First, the Inside-Out Model is an interesting blended learning model whereby students begin classes face to face (on one single day or a it could extend to a week long) and then complete the vast majority of the class online followed by the last day or week to be a face to face class. I have experience with this model since it was used during my doctoral work. I enjoyed building relationships in the face to face sessions that carried on online throughout the semester, which ended in a face to face session. However, this model requires a lot of intrinsic motivation to complete the coursework as there are portions of the course that are online (it was 8 weeks in between face to face sessions for my doctoral program). This model is used at the graduate school level, but the likelihood this model could be used in K-12 seems unlikely because there is too great of a distance between face to face class sessions. Realistically, the plausibility of this model being used is little; but, for Advanced Placement classes at the high school it could be a possibility.

The second additional blended learning model that can be considered much more widely in K-12 is the Flex Blended Learning model. In this blended learning model, a subject or course is based primarily online and students can complete it at their own place. Throughout the semester, students check in weekly with the teacher of record at the school site to assess their progress. Students also have the ability to schedule their own one on one tutorials with their teacher.  One can argue this is what personalized learning looks like since students/family’s are going at their own pace and utilizing support when needed. Ultimately, what this looks like is a flexible as needed basis for face to face support. Currently, many high school independent study and home schooling programs use this model of learning. It could be a plausible choice for primary and secondary schools that want to ease back in face to face learning overtime.

Blended Learning Best Practices

In order to make blended learning a success, teachers need to be trained in how to utilize this type of learning model. There are two components that will require teachers to be trained in: technical and pedagogical. Following these two components, teachers need to aware of several best practice strategies to ensure their blended learning classroom culture flourishes.

For the technical component, teachers need training in the learning management system that will be used by students for their online and face to face components of the class. This learning management system could be Google Classroom, Canvas, Blackboard, Seesaw, Powerschool, or Schoology (all major learning management systems). All content and assignments are organized on these platforms for students to access. More technical training involves being able to add further educational technology to make the online and face to face content engaging, collaborative, and interactive for students. Thus, schools should have a learning management system in mind and several additional edtech tools teachers have training in before implementing blended learning. Luckily, with online learning taking place in the spring, teachers will have much more of a technical capacity going into the fall semester.

For the pedagogical component, teachers need to work on instructional strategies that can be used during small group and one on one instruction. Small group instruction could include elements of student collaboration, activities to find/solve problems, social emotional learning, critical thinking, and student discussion. One on one instruction could include ways to provide formative feedback, social emotional learning, goal setting, organization/time management, and direct instruction tutorials. Luckily, as with the technical component, teachers already know many of these instructional components that could implement for their blended learning classrooms.

Best Practices for Blended Learning Models

Beyond the technical and pedagogical components for blended learning, several best practices must be employed to ensure classroom cultures are cultivated and expectations are set at the beginning of the course. Margolis, Porter, and Pitterle (2017) provide 10 best practices that teachers must be aware of. This is where much of the training needs to occur beyond learning the technical and pedagogical components of the blended learning model that will be implemented. Below is a list of best practices that teachers need to be sure to develop and then implement in any form of blended learning. Also, many of these best practices can also be implemented in any face to face class.

  1. Setting the Stage – Set expectations on the first day of class. Discuss the structure of course, technical components, important dates, and grading information.
  2. Consistency with Teaching – This includes communicating with students through the same medium. Teachers should only communicate with their students through one or two mediums (i.e., through email or directly through the learning management system).
  3. Timeliness – Teachers need to be sure all material is posted on time. Minimally, all materials should be posted two weeks prior to the assignments due date.
  4. Accountability – Provide credit for the majority of tasks conducted for the course (completion points, assignment points, assessment points, etc.).
  5. Structure Active Learning – Provide engaging lessons during face to face class sessions that includes active learning by students.
  6. Teacher Feedback on Student Preparation – Teachers should provide feedback for online learning assignments that lead up to the face to face class session. This includes both formative and summative feedback.
  7. Incorporate Student Feedback – Teachers should provide mechanisms to include student feedback during the course.
  8. Continue Reviewing Online and Face to Face Material Throughout the Class – Provide tutorials of how to interact with the online and face to face material. Review previous topics that connect into future topics.
  9. Technology – Be sure to choose technology that allows students and teachers a level of flexibility.

Overall, administrators and teachers need to develop the blended learning system collaboratively with the technical and pedagogical components and best practices in mind. There must be buy-in from both sides to ensure institutional coherence and transparency is established before blended learning is implemented. Also, what we must remember beyond the blended learning model, structural components within the school system will have to be completely revisited to ensure staggered schedules and social distance protocols can be enacted if the face to face component of blended learning will be implemented.

Engagement Strategies Blended Learning for Face to Face and Online Sessions

Engaging students in any learning model is vital. Luckily, for blended learning, the online and face to face components can provide teachers options to make their class engaging in multiple settings. Much of these suggestions for engagement can intermix with both online and face to face class settings.

  1. Class Public Opinion Polls
  2. Interactive Slides – Pear Deck, Google Slides, Poll Anywhere
  3. Student Collaboration Tools – G-Suite, Microsoft 365, Online Backchannels, Online Whiteboards, etc.
  4. Twitterchats
  5. Flipgrid and Online Discussion Boards
  6. Class Brainstorms
  7. Class Instagram
  8. Students Assess Peers
  9. Socratic Seminars
  10. Individual/Class Project Presentation
  11. Student Self-Assessment
  12. Social Emotional Learning Check-ins
  13. Class Made Videos Demonstrating Learning
  14. Student-Choice Projects

At the end of the day, the list of engagement strategies for blended learning can go on and on. I am sure any teacher can add a multitude of other engagement strategies to this list.

Conclusion

Blended learning is the future for the next 12 to 18 months. In order to ease in the reopening of schools, blended learning seems to be the way to go as it can be easily moved online if the number of COVID cases increases to a level that is dangerous to students and teachers. If even only mildly successful, blended learning will revolutionize K-12 education going forward because it will create flexibility among teachers and students in addition to personalizing learning for our students.

What are your thoughts about blended learning? Is it something you would be comfortable with going forward? Comment on this post or chat with me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990.

 

Resources

Fullan, M., Senge, P. M., & Corwin Press. (2010). All systems go: The change imperative for
whole system reform. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go: The change imperative for whole system reform. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity.

Margolis, A. R., Porter, A. L., & Pitterle, M. E. (2017). Best Practices for Use of Blended Learning. American journal of pharmaceutical education81(3), 49. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe81349

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Reopening K-12 Schools in the Fall of 2020: Priorities to Assess, Students with Special Needs, and Staggered Schedules

Over the last week, I have seen numerous articles and points of emphasis provided by County of Education Offices regarding recommendations to re-open schools next fall. As we look at the recommendations for re-opening society and the economy proposed by the federal and state governments, it will be in phases with schools being part of the equation. Districts and schools throughout the nation need to start proactively planning for the Fall 2020 semester because the COVID crisis will likely last another 12 to 18 months based on estimations by medical researchers for the development of a vaccine and achieving herd immunity. As a result, we will not be returning to ‘normal’ upon the return to school in the fall. Thus, proactively planning now will allow schools to re-open this fall in an effective manner where students will be receiving quality instruction as well as in a safe learning environment that can adapt to changes in the number of local COVID cases.  We will be describing a number of priorities district and school leaders need to consider before thinking about developing plans to re-open. Secondly, we will briefly touch on which populations of students schools should consider re-opening to first. Then, there will be a discussion on staggered schedules for primary and secondary schools and the options that leaders could consider when developing their plans to re-open this fall.

First Priorities to Assess Before Developing a Plan to Re-Open in the Fall

After evaluating several key articles and recommendations produced by the local County of Education Offices, I have compiled a list of priorities school and district leaders should consider before developing their plan to re-open schools. There is no specific order to any of these priorities, but they all must be considered before thinking of developing a plan to re-open schools.

  • Assess how distance learning went with teachers, students, and parents. What were the areas of success and improvement? Evaluate through online instruction climate surveys to all parties, administrator observations of online synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and student participation data in each form of online instruction.
  • Communicate with the County Office of Education and collaborate with the County Health Office to determine what procedures and protocols need to be included in district/school re-opening plans.
  • Conduct a student, staff, and facility safety assessment. Assess how social distancing protocols and procedures provided by the state could affect the campus by evaluating school facilities and student enrollment.
  • Evaluate how social distancing could affect daily instructional schedules, passing periods, lunch, recess, PE, and entering/exiting campus by students and staff.
  • Assess students that are considered at-risk (Foster Youth, ELL, and low SES), students with disabilities, and students who did not participate in distance learning. Consult with the county and state regarding IEP’s and how a blended learning or distance learning model may alter Special Education Services going forward
  • Research blended learning and distance learning instructional models as well as schools that have re-opened with social distancing protocols and altered instructional models. Currently, we see schools beginning to Re-open in Denmark and Austria. We can also look to see how China re-opened their public schools to determine if any protocols they use can also be used in our school system. During this process, leaders need to assess what has been working thus far for schools that have reopened.
  • Collaborate with teachers and local teacher associations for assessing each of these priorities on how to best support them as schools re-open as well as in the development of the re-open plan.
  • Collaborate with local, state, and federal educational authorities on funding, logistics, and recommendations/guidelines for re-opening schools.

Use School Openings to Help Students Who Are Most At-Risk and Students with Disabilities

Schools and districts need to take students who are most at risk and students with disabilities into account when thinking about moving back to brick and mortar education settings. Leaders need to assess which students may be most at-risk for infection. Additionally, leaders need to assess how students more at-risk and with disabilities can attend the school facilities. For students with moderate/severe disabilities, which are not related to health (i.e., health fragility to any infection), the brick and mortar school buildings could be the best option for these students as they need additional resources and services. Typically the numbers of these students’ schools serve are low, which would allow for classrooms to have less than 12 students; an ideal environment for Specialized Academic Instruction and social distancing protocols to be simultaneously implemented.  By using the actual school facility for students with the highest need, it can accommodate their learning needs as well as provide Special Education teachers the opportunity to not have to reinvent their IEP as the services in place from the previous school year would be similar as to what they were before the crisis began.

Schools should consider first opening their door to these student populations as they are the most at-need for the services and support schools provided by Special Education teachers. By providing these students with in-person instruction, it will help the most vulnerable and the most at need have instruction, which will allow facilities to be once again occupied by students and teachers.

Staggered Days and Schedules with Social Distancing Protocols

Many proposals regarding staggering school days and schedules will help with implementing social distance policies. This would look different in primary and secondary schools, but, in theory, weeks would look like 20% to 50% of the student population attending school one to three days per week. Additionally, school days could also be cut in half, where one group of students attends in the morning while the other group of students attends in the afternoon. As stated above, this will depend on a variety of different variables. The variables that need to be taken into consideration whether this is a viable option for certain school sites includes the student population (larger schools like high schools will have a much more difficult time to implement staggered days versus small elementary schools), facility layout, how logistically the staggered schedules would be arranged (logistically, secondary class schedules will be much more difficult for staggered days), integrating social distancing protocols into every single aspect of the school’s functions (i.e., instructional settings, hallways, PE, entrances/exits, lunchroom, etc.) and, most importantly, student and teacher safety. Leaders need to take into consideration these variables as they are important in assessing whether staggering schedules is the best option for re-opening schools.

Below, I have outlined a number of scenarios that staggered schedules could be implemented in primary and secondary schools. For primary and secondary, there are three options for each to consider that seem plausible to implement. Then, there are a number of pros and cons associated with each staggered schedule option.

Primary Staggered Schedule Options

Option 1: A primary school staggered schedule could look like groups of 12 students or fewer attending in-person classes twice a week on Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday. Each group of students would receive the same instruction on the days they are scheduled to attend. Then, days each group is not in school, online instruction would supplement what students are learning in the classroom.

In this scenario, teachers would still be vulnerable to infection but the probability of infection decreases as there are fewer students per day they interact with. For instruction, students would be missing out on three days of in-person instruction that is filled with supplemental online instruction. Also, childcare could be a problem as three out of five days a week, parents will have to find childcare for their children.

Pros: Two Full Days a Week of Face to Face Instruction

Cons: Higher Probability of Contact with Others, More Days Online Than Face to Face, Childcare Issues

Option 2: A primary school’s staggered schedule could look like groups of 12 students or fewer attending in-person classes for half days. Groups of students would either attend a morning or afternoon session four to five days a week. Online instruction could then supplement the times of day students are not attending school.

This scenario could be a viable option but could leave teachers and staff more vulnerable to infection as they see more students per day. On the instructional level, students would receive the most in-person instruction out of each of these three options; but childcare would have to be provided in some shape or form by families for at least half the school day when they are not attending.

Pros: Two and a Half Days of Online Instruction, Minimal Online Instruction

Cons: Higher Probability of Contact with Others, Childcare Issues

Option 3: A primary school can implement an independent study like program where very small groups of students attend various timeslots throughout the day a number of times a week to receive small group and one on one instruction from their teacher. Online supplemental instruction can be the primary mode of instruction in a flipped classroom like environment for students.

For this scenario, it would allow for the fewest number of students to be on campus at a given time. However, in this scenario, teachers would see the second most students per day depending on the time blocks given to the small groups of students for instruction. If 2 hours is given for small groups of 6 students, teachers could still see upwards to 18 or more students per day.  On an instructional level,  students would likely benefit the least as much of their work would be online and would need the most support from home to facilitate instruction.

Pros: Lower Probability of Contact with Others, Extremely Social Distance Friendly, Small Group and One on One Instruction

Cons: Instructional Limitations Face to Face with Small Groups, High Level of Support Needed From Home, Large Online Instruction Presence, Childcare Issues

Secondary Staggered Schedule Options

Option 1: A secondary school could implement a one-day in-person face to face class day for its by dividing the school population into 25% segments that would take up the days of Monday-Thursday (i.e., Group A, B, C, and D). During this day, 25% of the population there would complete a normal 5 to 7 period where students receive face to face instruction. Generally, during these days, it would provide teachers and students to connect for small group instruction as well as to receive time for in-person activities. Then, the remainder of the week, students would have supplemental online instruction.

Pros: Lower Probability of Contact with Others, Higher Student and Teacher Safety Due to Smaller Groups on Campus, and Social Distancing Friendly

Cons: Low Amount of Face to Face Instruction and Predominantly Online Instruction

In this option, students receive the least one day face to face instruction a week but have the majority of instruction online. However, students and teachers receive the least exposure to others. Additionally, this could provide large schools an option outside of alternating weeks of face to face instruction for their students like outlined in Option 3. For example, a school of 3000+ students would equate to about 750 students per day on campus, which would allow for social distance protocols to be adequately followed.

Option 2: A secondary school could implement an even and odd day block schedule for two face to face days per week. In this model, upwards to 50% of the school population would attend odd and even days on Monday-Thursday. During these block periods during odd and even days, students would receive longer instructional times with their teachers and peers for in-person activities. Then, on days students are not attending school, online instruction would supplement what they are learning in class.

Pros: High Amounts of Face to Face Instruction and Minimal Online Instruction

Cons: Higher Probability of Contact with Others, Lower Amounts of Student and Teacher Safety Due to Large Groups on Campus, Not Social Distance Friendly

In this option, secondary schools would have to ensure the school site could institute social distancing policies with 50% of students present at the school site. Instructional face to face time would be equal to Option 3, but there would be more students present in classes. This could be a viable plan if the secondary school has a smaller student population of fewer than 1200 students. It would allow students in these scenarios to adequately socially distance and receive more face to face instruction. However, for larger schools, this option may not be viable as 50% of students of a school of 3000+ would equate to almost 1500 students on campus, which would likely not be doable with social distance protocols.

Option 3: A secondary could implement rotation weeks of face to face and online instruction for different groups of students. This would consist of four groups of students amounting to 25% of the student population each. Then, two groups per week would go to school in person while the other two groups work online for the week. For example, during the first week of the month, group A would attend periods one through six on Monday and Wednesday. Then, group B could attend periods one through six on Tuesday and Thursday. The following week, groups C and D would attend in-person while groups A and B would be receiving online instruction.

Pros: High Amount of Face to Face Instruction, Lower Probability of Contact with Others, Higher Student and Teacher Safety Due to Smaller Groups on Campus, and Social Distancing Friendly

Cons: Face to Face Instructional Time Split Evening with Online Instruction

For this option of instruction, students would receive longer times of face to face instruction in addition to not being around large groups of students. Teachers would also be around a lesser number of students on a daily basis. However, with this weekly rotating schedule, there ultimately would be less face to face time for students, but almost equal to the number of face to face instruction as Option 1. For large schools with populations of students 3000+, it could be a viable option as 25% of the student would equate to fewer than 750 students at the school site. This would make it much easier to institute social distancing protocols and ensure student safety at large school sites.

Conclusion

More than likely student scheduling staggering options for primary and secondary school will be comprised of some of the elements I outlined in this post. The initial priorities I provided earlier in the article should be reviewed, assessed, and then developed into a plan before a school and district decide on how it should stagger student schedules to lower the probability of possible COVID infection for students and teachers.

Within these plans, schools and districts need to prepare for what has been coined the “Toggle Semester” for K-12. This means any type of staggered scheduling offered in primary and secondary school can move fully online at a moment’s notice if the number of COVID cases increases within the school and district’s jurisdiction. This is why districts and schools must be prepared to offer a blended instructional model, which incorporates face to face and online instruction as described in the primary and secondary staggered schedule options.

Next time, I will outline blended instructional models for primary and secondary schools. I will focus on how instruction can be delivered through this methodology and how it can be implemented by teachers this fall. If you have any comments about the contents of this post, please share by writing them below or by replying to me at @mattrhoads1990 on Twitter.

 

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Teaching High School Math Using Google Classroom and Seesaw – How we Transitioned to a 100% Paperless Math Class

Transitioning from co-teaching freshmen math face to face to co-teaching the same class virtually caused my co-teacher and me to completely redesign our class. Much of our thought process was geared towards trying to emulate our original class procedures, instructional pedagogy, and supports as much as we could to provide to our general education and Special Education students in our class. We also wanted to develop an online class design that would provide an equitable approach so all of our students can access the content at their own time and pace in addition to providing access to both co-teachers for one on one support. Thus, my goal here is to provide you with insight as to how we transitioned our face to face course to a fully online math course. I am going to provide you with our thought processes, the edtech tools we used, and how we decided to deliver content to our students. Specifically, I am going to focus much of the conversation on using two separate learning management systems, Google Classroom and Seesaw, to provide the most equitable platform in tandem for our students to access the content and to receive quality instruction and feedback from us.

Before Moving the Class Online – Face to Face Class Structure of our Math Class

Our face to face class model utilized direct instruction and then scaffolded large group guided practice and then small group independent practice. This lesson trajectory allowed us as co-teachers to strategically work with students in two-ways. First, it allowed us strategically pair students together; which created peer tutoring opportunities and positive role models. Then, it provided us opportunities to work with students one on one, which allows us to target students who needed re-teaching and support to build their efficacy and bridging gaps in their understanding.

A week would generally start with learning a new concept in a scaffold approach followed by a more gradual release as we progress throughout the week. Our long block days were geared towards reinforcing concepts learned in the week by small group instruction and strategic one on one support. Then, at the end of the long block day, we would have a formative or summative assessment. To end the week, on Friday we had students catch up on their work, reflect on their learning for the week, and analyze their assessment results by breaking down their latest assessment by conducting test corrections with the help of their peers and teachers.

Before moving fully online, 90% of our work was done with paper and pencil. The vast majority of our assignments were printed worksheets with notes, graphic organizers, and problems strategically placed. We used Google Classroom to post our weekly content slides with notes, warm-ups, and other resources. Additionally, the majority of our assessments were completed using Google Forms and grade reflections were integrated into Google Classroom. This helped streamline grading and provided us opportunities to release scores to students for test correction and reflection exercises.

Moving Fully Online with Google Classroom and Seesaw

When we were told we had to move to online instruction, our first thought was to think about how we were going to provide students with assignments in an equitable manner. Also, concurrently, we wanted to keep Google Classroom pretty much in-tact like we had it before moving fully online to ensure students did not have to re-learn learned routines over the last 7 months of school. We knew Google Classroom also had limitations in terms of allowing students an easy way to submit assignments in a multitude of different ways (i.e., file upload, writing on documents directly [does not exist]). Overall, I felt Google Classroom had a cumbersome file uploading interface for students, which required several steps we felt like our students may have difficulty in doing. Thus, we decided to only integrate a few more features into Google Classroom for online learning like integrating Google Meet for live class sessions, Calendly office hour links (I’ve written another post on how to do this), and providing videos on our weekly content slideshows.  As a result, Google Classroom for our online freshmen math class includes the following features. Note: Features in bold were added as a result of moving fully online.

  1. Using the Tab Feature to Create Weekly Modules
  2. Weekly Slideshows Containing Notes, Integrated Videos and Screencasts, and Assignment Directions
  3. Creating and Assigning Math Formative/Summative Assessments on Google Forms and Student Reflection Forms
  4. Interface for Hosting Google Meet Meetings (Google Meets is fully Integrated into Google Classroom)
  5. Access to Important Documents and Resources (i.e., Syllabus Addendum, District Online Learning Documents)
  6. Linking Calendly Office Hour Sign-Up Document for Students to Access

googleclassroom

Now, let’s discuss our move to Seesaw as our second online platform for the class. We felt that since our class comprised of 90% paper assignments before moving online, we needed a learning management system that provided students an opportunity to write digitally onto our posted assignment, print out the assignment and then submit the work by taking a picture of it, or by copying the assignment onto a scratch piece of paper and submit the work by taking a picture of it. Additionally, we wanted a platform we could provide written digital feedback on student’s assigned work. After research and looking at how my wife uses Seesaw for her second-grade class (who’s also a Seesaw Ambassador; she has a YouTube Page dedicated to learning Seesaw), we decided to use Seesaw as the second learning management system for our class because it had all the features we felt were needed for our students to access and interact with our classwork. For the Seesaw component of our online class, we utilize it for the following features:

  1. Assigning Weekly Classwork for Students
  2. Provide Additional “How-to” Videos on Math Concepts with Posted Assignments
  3. Provide Formative Feedback by Digitally Writing or Commenting on Turned in Assignments
  4. Assess Student Written Work to be Graded for the Gradebook

seesaw interface

As a result of using Seesaw, we were now 100% paperless and had the same capacities as we had during our face to face class to grade and provide feedback on student work! The student interface of assignments on Seesaw demonstrate this. See how students can interact with the content we post below.

seesaw student inferece

Synthesizing Google Classroom and Seesaw Together & Content Delivery Model 

During our first week of online instruction, we knew we had to teach our students new class routines using Google Classroom and an entirely new platform in Seesaw. To ensure we taught them how to incorporate both platforms, we provided instructions of how to integrate Seesaw and Google Classroom in two ways. First, we sent an email to our students before our online class launched with their Seesaw remote learning code and a link to Seesaw. Then, we posted our first module in Google Classroom that included two “how-to” videos of how to access Seesaw, learn its interface, and interact with the content we have posted as well as turn in the work that is assigned on the platform. Lastly, during our first live online learning session, at the beginning of the first few classes we had, we provided a tutorial of how to access our content on Google Classroom and Seesaw. Ultimately, this helped the majority of our students learn the classroom routines. We further reinforced these routines during our following live class sessions to ensure students were on the same page with us.

Now, let me talk about how content is delivered using both Google Classroom and Seesaw as shown in the diagram below (which is from our online syllabus). We wanted to frontload content on each platform to allow students two full days to interact with the notes and tutorial content videos at their own pace before these directions and concepts were reinforced and re-taught in our live class sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays. During the live class sessions, we use an online whiteboard (Here’s a post on co-teaching math online using Whiteboardfox) and ask students to follow along on a scratch piece of paper as we model how to complete the work. Additionally, students get an opportunity for Q/A session throughout various points of the hour-long live class. Then, on Thursday, on our last self-paced student day, we post our four-question formative assessment Google Form on Google Classroom to help us inform our instruction for Friday based on student performance (not all students complete it; but, we get a good sample size on what to focus on). We suggest students complete the four question assessment before our Friday live class session. However, students have until Sunday evening at 11:59 pm to turn in all of the work for the week. Yet, as we all know, deadlines with distance learning can be extended to each student based on their own schedule and flexibility.

essofalg

Conclusion

Much of what we conducted in our face to face class has been moved online. Overall, we feel like this interface allows students to access our content in the most equitable fashion as possible. This is not to say there were several technical glitches and spending a number of hours helping a number of students access content. But, overall, we feel like it has been successful. More challenges still await us. We continue to struggle with how to make our class more collaborative. We are continuing to brainstorm how to develop more student to student interaction. We’ve integrated Flipgrid once a week for student check-ins and we may expand its use for students to explain how they solved particular problems we assigned throughout the week.

At the end of the day, I hope this post has been informative. I hope this motivates you to think outside of the box and think about how students can interact with math content online. You can integrate more than one learning management system to successfully teach math online. I recommend utilizing this multi-platform methodology to teach any level of mathematics from the middle school level all the way through the college level. If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990 or comment on this post. I hope your final takeaway is that you can go paperless with math instruction online and be equitable at the same time to provide your students with quality online instruction.

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EdTech Tools to Get You Started With Your Online Teaching! Start Now!

As classrooms in K-12 schools and university’s move online, there a many Edtech tools available to use. My district is beginning to implement online learning this week so I wanted to share some of the Edtech tools I have some expertise in teaching at the secondary level in English, Social Sciences, and Math. Here is the list of EdTech Tools I use often in my face to face classroom that can be also used in an online fashion for remote learning. Within this list, I define the Edtech tool and its uses in an online and face to face classroom. Additionally, I provide links to a resource that further discusses each Edtech tool discussed on this list. Lastly, I am developing videos right now for each of these tools on my YouTube Channel.

My hope is to continue creating content on YouTube to help facilitate this learning as we all continue to move towards online learning. Right now, try to find at least THREE Edtech tools you would like to check out and integrate into your lessons. Do not go overboard. Start simply and then expand over time. Each of these tools has many uses; think about all of the instructional strategies you use in your classroom! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and we can further discuss each of these tools you can use in your own online classroom.

EdTech ToolApplication/Uses

Google Classroom: An online learning management system, allows the instructor to post and grade assignments, organizes student work, online grade book, and student/family communication tool. Assessments can be posted and graded, writing rubrics can be developed on the platform, videos can be linked to assignments, etc.

Google Forms: Formative and summative assessments creation, climate surveys (i.e., student, parent, teachers, etc.), and student metacognition (i.e., self-assessment) surveys. There is a multitude of different question types that range from multiple-choice, Likert scale, to free-response that Google Forms can utilize. Images and videos can also be attached to each question or to various areas of the survey or assessment. Google Forms can be posted on any learning management system as it only needs student email addresses to track the data entered on the survey or teacher-created assessment.

Google Drive: Online data storage cloud that allows you to save G-Suite files, videos, images, PDF’s and more as well as organize your files in various folders. Files can be uploaded and downloaded from Google Drive. Additionally, Google Drive can be integrated with your Google Classroom or any other learning management software. Be aware to modify your sharing settings when this occurs as you will want to determine who has access to the online folders.

Google Slides: Google Slides is the PowerPoint of G-Suite. It allows users to build slideshows with information and resources embedded within them. Teachers can use Google Slides for oral/visual presentations, poster boards, online gallery walk, a-z vocabulary, and can be used to create individual and collaborative projects. Google Slides can be posted on Google Classroom, Canvas, Blackboard, and Schoology for students to either view or interact with directly for an individual or collaborative assignment.

Google Docs: Google Docs is the Microsoft Word of Google. For classroom or online use, Docs can be used to create digital reading passages where students can read/annotate, graphic organizers, essays, poems, and short works. Google Docs can be collaborative where multiple students can work on it at once by modifying the sharing options of the document. Also, Google Docs can be commented on by different users who do not have privileges to edit the document, which can be used for editing/revising pieces of writing. Teachers can use Google Docs as the main EdTech Tool for reading/writing assignments that can be added to either Google Classroom or any other online learning management system (i.e., Canvas, blackboard, and Schoology).

Google Draw: Google Draw allows users to develop pictures and graphics that can be placed on Google Docs, Slides, Sites, etc. Teachers can utilize Google Draw to have students develop graphic organizers, digital poster boards, infographics, and more. Google Draw can be posted on any learning management system.

Google Sheets: Google Sheets is the Microsoft Excel of G-Suite. Data can be recorded in an organized manner (this includes both text and numeric data). Teachers can use Google Sheets in Math and Science classes to help students learn how to analyze data, develop graphs, and conduct statistical analysis.

Google Sites: Google Sites is a platform where users can build an entire functioning website. It provides a platform for users to place text, audio, video, graphics, and more. Teachers can use Google Sites as a platform for students to obtain resources/assignments, an assignment where students develop their own website/blog, and much more.

Pear Deck: Pear Deck is an add-on to Google Slides which allows for students to actively participate during a Google Slides presentation. Multiple choice, free response, word webs/mind maps, formative assessment multiple-choice questions, and more can be used to facilitate student active participation. Further, Pear Deck allows the teacher to see overall student participation and responses to make data-driven decisions regarding the focus of the presentation/content based on student responses.

Flipgrid: Flipgrid is a student video/audio recording software that allows a teacher to pose a question online that students must respond to via audio and video. Students have the ability to see the question presented by the teacher in addition to other student responses. Assessment rubrics can be built in Flipgrid to assess student responses. This can be used for an in-class and online instructional setting.

Screencasting: Screencasting is the ability to record the video and audio of a user’s computer screen and/or a video of themselves. By capturing a computer’s video and audio, viewers can watch the video as a tutorial to help them learn the directions of how to do something. Teachers can utilize screencasts as a way to frontload content, model instruction, formative/summative assessment, and provide additional resources to their students.

Kahoot /Quizizz: Kahoot and Quizizz are two online formative assessment tools. Teachers have the ability to create a wide range of questions students can answer via a Chromebook or Smartphone. Data from student answers are given to teachers thereafter to determine how students did on the assessment. Kahoot and Quizizz can be linked to any online learning management system.

Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a free online class resource and tutorial where students can watch videos and complete practice problems on major subjects ranging from World History, Algebra 2, Biology, and ACT/SAT prep. Teachers can use Khan Academy as an additional enrichment tool or even as a differentiation tool for students who may need additional reinforcement of concepts covered in class. Khanacademy can be linked to any online learning management system.

EdPuzzle: Edpuzzle is a free online resource where teachers can utilize one of its many videos and assess student comprehension of the content being presented in the video. Teachers can use Edpuzzle as a tutorial to reinforce a concept, frontloading information, and as an option to assess student progress. Edpuzzle can be easily integrated into several Learning Management Systems, including Google Classroom.

Padlet: Padlet allows users to build online poster boards, documents, and webpages. It can also allow users to collaboratively work together on projects. Teachers can use Padlet for students to create infographics, websites, and graphics relating to the content being discussed in class. Padlet can be linked to any online learning management system.

Readtheory: Readtheory is a free online reading comprehension practice tool for students of all grade levels and reading levels. Students initially take a pre-test and then Readtheory adapts its passages and questions to their Lexile level from their score on the pre-test. From there, the passages and questions increase in their difficulty as students progress in their reading ability. On the teacher interface, teachers can see student progress overtime by seeing their current Lexile level, Lexile growth, and the types of questions students do well on versus questions students need improvement in.

Common Lit: CommonLit is a free online reading passage generator for students grades 3-12. Students receive a passage where they can read/annotate. Once they are done, they must answer a variety of question types ranging from multiple choice to short answer; many of which are CAASPP like. Teachers can set the passage provided to students in relation to the content they are learning in their class. In addition, teachers can see student growth over time in terms of their reading ability. Lastly, CommonLit can be linked to any learning management system.

YoTeach!: YoTeach! is an online collaborative chatroom that is developed for your class. Once the room is developed, students will always have access to the room through a password created. Within the chatroom, it functions as a place where content can be presented visually and through audio/video. Teachers can use this to tool to deliver content, use it as a mean to have student active participation, and it can be utilized for students to work together collaboratively in class and outside of class.

b.Scorative: B.socrative is an online formative and summative assessment tool. Teachers can develop their own assessments or choose from many different types of prebuilt assessments in all subject areas to give to their students. Students can complete the assessment on a computer or mobile phone. b.socrative provides real-time data to determine where your students are at on the content in a seamless and efficient manner. Teachers can export the data onto an Excel spreadsheet to be placed in their grade book.

Wiki’s: Wiki’s are an online information resource that students can develop individually or in a collaborative matter. We all know what Wikipedia is – Wiki’s are very familiar, in terms of their format and use. Teachers can develop Wiki’s for their class; students can develop Wikis for individual and collaborative projects. Wiki’s can be linked in any online learning management system.

GroupMaker: Groupmaker is a free online program that allows teachers to randomize groups on the fly in their classes as well as randomize cold calling on students in a class.

WhiteBoard Fox: White Board Fox is an online collaborative chatroom where students can enter and teachers/students can present content. Teachers can use this tool for active participation and groups/class collaboration. The link to the Whiteboard can be posted on any learning management system.

Geoguesser: Geoguesser is an online context clue guessing game. It utilizes Google Earth and Street to place the user on a random street somewhere in the world. The student must use context clues such as language, the side of the streetcars are going, the landscape, and more to guess where in the world the street view is located. This can be linked to any learning management system.

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Maximizing Live Synchronous Class Sessions and Google Meet – Strategies to Help Bolster Your Students Online Learning

As our transition to online learning has gone on, the platform my district has been utilizing is Google Meet for live synchronous class sessions. Google Meet is a platform offered through Googles G-Suite, which allows for live video conferencing of up to 200 people. After a number of class sessions using this platform teaching K-12 students along with my experience teaching university students online, I am going to provide a number of additional extensions to use Google Meet to its full potential as well as outline several strategies to heighten student engagement and participation in live online synchronous class sessions (that can be used on any online video conferencing software).

Integration of Google Meet with Classroom and Needed Extensions

Recently, Google Meet has been integrated into Google Classroom. This is a great development as it makes it a very quick and efficient process of launching a live Google Meet link from the Google Classroom interface. The settings to do this can be found in the settings toolbox once you have entered your designated classroom. Once this has been activated, a link appears in the Google Classroom’s heading with the Meet link students can click, which brings them directly to the online class session.

Beyond Google Classroom, there are two extensions teachers and students need to download to fully maximize Google Meet’s potential for live class sessions. First, teachers and students need to add the extension of “Google Meet Grid View,” which allows both teachers and students to see everyone’s video image in the live class session. Each student is shown within a grid when it’s been added as an extension. Without this extension, a grid view of an entire class is not possible so teachers cannot see everyone’s video image at once while class is being conducted. Second, teachers and students need to add the extension “Nod – Reactions for Google Meet,” which allows both teachers and students to raise a virtual hand as well as display various emojis such as a thumbs up or thumbs down to the entire live class session. This provides the teacher as well as their students with silent feedback and allows for active participation covertly by students in the lesson.

Ultimately, with the new development of integrating Google Meet to Google Classroom as well as adding the Grid View and Nod Reactions to Google Meet, it is an effective platform to conduct online meetings. With these two extensions in place, teachers can see their students as well as see non-verbal feedback while they are presenting content to their students during screen sharing mode. Be sure to remind your students to download the “Nod” during one of your first online sessions. This will ensure they can participate using the Nod Reactions for the non-verbal feedback you will want to receive from them while presenting content.

Online Strategies to Maximize Your Time on Google Meet Live Synchronous Sessions

When conducting live online class sessions through Google Meet (or Microsoft Team or Zoom), there are a number of strategies to maximize your class time and student learning. Below, I have provided a list to breakdown 10 successful strategies to help bolster your students learning and make your time with them during live sessions worth every minute!

  1. Microphones: Ask students to mute their microphones once the meeting begins. Having background noise can be distracting to the teacher as well as students. By ensuring this is a clear expectation from the beginning will help mitigate unnecessary background noises.
  2. Agenda/Goals: Provide an agenda and learning goals on the first slide you are sharing to the class. Then, review it with your students before jumping into the full lesson. This provides structure and allows your students to know what you will be covering during this live class session and learning throughout the week.
  3. Etiquette Online: Review online class etiquette. For example, what are the procedures for raising your virtual hand or providing insight either in the chatbox or by explaining their thoughts using their voice. Lastly, be sure to note that the chatbox is being logged so students need to be appropriate in their use of language and interactions with students.
  4. Check-in with your Students: When checking in with your students, you can either ask them to write a number out of ten representing how they feel. Teachers can also ask them to use an emoji to illustrate how they are doing. Then, teachers can call on two to three students virtually after they have initially checked in with the entire class to give these students an opportunity to share their thoughts with their voice to the rest of the class. Be sure to have your students raise their virtual hand to volunteer while in your online class.
  5. Early in the Week Live Class Sessions: For sessions at the beginning of the week, go over the content you have posted online and review the instructions. Frontload as much as possible. Lastly, ask students multiple times if they have any questions and remind them about signing up for office hours throughout the week.
  6. Later in the Week Live Class Sessions: For sessions at the end of the week, review content and re-teach as needed. During these sessions, it’s best to review what has been covered as well as see how your students are doing. If an assessment has occurred, go over the problems that students had the most trouble on and answer any questions regarding their confusion to bridge their understanding.
  7. Online Lectures/Direct Instruction: For sessions that may involve a lecture, use interactive slides like Pear Deck or Polleverywhere extensions to your Google Slideshows to actively engage your students. By providing live opinion polls, formative assessment questions, and interactive visuals, it helps maintain student engagement during a live online lecture as similar tools and strategies would be used during a face to face session.
  8. Office Hours: Always remind your students about virtual office hours and how to sign up for them. This is huge as many students may want one on one support or may not want to ask questions in a whole group setting regarding the content they are learning in your class. Also, office hours provide a medium to build relationships with students online as it gives you and the student time to work together and collaborate on their learning.
  9. Take Virtual Attendance: Have a Google Form or Doc to track your student’s attendance. On the Form or Doc have the date, class period, number of students missing, and the names of the students missing. This will allow you to contact students who have missed one or more live class sessions to check-in and see how they are doing.
  10. Be Engaging and Have Fun: While presenting to your students, have some energy in your voice. By having excitement and zest in your voice will allow your students to become more engaged in the live lesson. With anything in life, the energy that you are expressing through your voice and actions will help create more energy for the class session.

Conclusion

Online synchronous classes are much different than face to face. But, teachers can make these live class sessions effective by using the strategies I have provided above to create engaging experiences for their students. Be aware that throughout this process, it will take practice. We are all improving in conducting online lessons; I am sure they will get better as we continue practicing them more and more over time. Also, know that some lessons will go better than others. That’s the nature of teaching. As we continue with more online lessons this next month, I will post my reflections and more strategies we can utilize to make them more engaging for our students so they can get the most out of the time they spend with us synchronously online.

Note: Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @mattrhoads1990 or by email if you would like to share your experiences with teaching online during this time. I’d enjoy hearing from you.

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Scheduling Online Office Hours Using Edtech – Calendly and Google Appointment Slots

As we continue to transition to online learning, we all now have office hours to logistically schedule and make accessible to our students. Students need additional support for one on one or small group support. Therefore, creating an easy mechanism for you and your students to schedule office hours is critical to ensuring office hours are being utilized by your students.

There are two Edtech tools I recommend for logistically scheduling office hours online with your students: Calendly and Google Appointment Slots. Each Edtech tool provides teachers a mechanism to select time slots in their schedules and then create an interface where students have the ability to schedule meetings with their teacher for office hours, which then automatically blocks out the time in both the student and teacher’s online calendar for the planned meeting. What this looks like is that teachers and students both get a calendar event filled within their calendar with the meeting details to ensure the future event is on the books. Here, I have provided the Calendly graphic students are taken to when linked from your learning management system (Google Classroom, Schoology, Seesaw, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.) to see when their teachers are available for office hours and to select a meeting time. In this visual, students can see daily, weekly, and monthly availability, which allows them to schedule in advance, if necessary, depending on their teacher’s availability.

calendly

Tips to Get Started with Calendly and Google Appointment Slots

To get started for Calendly and Google Appointments Slots, I suggest doing the following. First, make sure you have your live class times blocked off in your calendar. Second, also have your off-hours blocked off in your calendar so not meeting times can appear after contract hours. Third, block off days or times in your calendar when you have faculty, content/department, IEP, and grade-level meetings. Ultimately, after doing this within your online calendar, Calendly and Google Appointment Slots can easily be set up because you will have designated times for when your office hours can occur.

Once those times are designated for live class times and meetings, Calendly and Google Appointment Slots will give you an option to determine the length of time slots for student meeting times during office hours. I selected 15 minutes per meeting to start as I teach secondary because I have over 100+ students. I wanted to ensure as much equity and access to office hours as possible because of the number of students I work with. However, as time progresses, I will determine if the 15-minute time blocks are working or whether more time will be needed for my office hour meeting time blocks for my students. Before setting up your calendar, be sure to take the number of students you have into consideration as that will likely dictate how much time you can dedicate for one on one student office hour sessions.

Setting up Calendly and Google Appointment Slots

Below, I provided two tutorials for how to set up each Edtech tool. In all likelihood, it should not take you longer than 10 to 15 minutes to set up your office hour appointments. Take a look and see how choosing one of these Edtech tools can help you logistically set up your office hours.

Calendly Tutorial 

 

Google Appointment Slots Tutorial

Conclusion

I ultimately decided to use Calendly because it can integrate into my Google Calendar (also I want to add it can integrate with most mainstream online calendars) and utilize its various functionalities to set my office hours for my students.  I personally liked the interface of Calendly better than Google Appointment Slots because I believe it’s much easier to navigate for students to see when time slots are available for office hours on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

At the end of the day, making your office hours accessible is key so your students can access their teachers when time is available for additional support beyond the synchronous live sessions and asynchronous content provided fort hem. Also, making it logistically simple on your calendar as well as ensuring scheduling time slots are accessible to your students is key. By doing both this, your students will want to participate and engage in your office hours, which will ultimately help them navigate your online course and the content they are learning.

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Case Managing for Special Education During Remote Learning: G-Suite EdTech Tools to Get You Started

Over the past few weeks, I have searched and explored through various Special Education Twitter chats and I am also a member of Special Education teacher Facebook groups, which made me want to compile several useful Edtech tools to help with case managing students enrolled in Special Education in K-12 schools. Ultimately,  I would like to share a number of tips for case management for remote learning by incorporating various Edtech tools to help facilitate this.

Before moving on, I want to specify that every state and district have different laws and policies regarding IDEA, which may change how your school may be moving forward with Special Education services. As a result, my goal here is to provide several Edtech tools and strategies to help case managers in K-12 education stay in contact with their students, collect student data, and conduct IEP meetings. Specifically, we are going to focus on Google G-Suite Edtech tools since the vast majority of schools and districts have access to these tools.

Communication with Parents and Students – Google Voice

Since we are all away from our brick and mortar office/classroom phones, one way to communicate with families and students while conducting remote learning is through Google Voice. Google Voice is a free service that allows you to use one phone number in place of your old phone number. This allows you to have a phone on hand with a number not designated to your personal phone, which is important as you never want to use your personal number for work duties.

Google Voice has several key features that can help Special Education teachers communicate with parents and students on their caseload. What’s great about Google Voice is that it can be accessed on a PC or smartphone, which gives users access to the service anywhere. Additionally, there is a feature that allows for all incoming calls using the Google Voice number to be sent directly to your current mobile phone (without your real number being used) to take the call. Also, when voice calls and text messages are sent, they are automatically logged into its memory and can be used as records of your phone calls and messages to ensure accountability and transparency (be sure to let your parents and students know that all communications are recorded). As a result, there is a repository of text and call records teachers and administrators can access if there is a need to review.

At the end of the day, Google Voice will help you communicate with your students to ensure they are participating in online learning on a daily/weekly basis. In addition, you will be able to contact families to ensure accountability with the student as well as assess how they are doing in their online learning.

IEP Meetings – Google Meet & Google Calendar

IEP meetings may look much different during remote learning given which directions districts are going regarding how they are going to implement IEP services. While some districts may continue to not have IEP meetings in the short term, they will likely be back one way or another before the school year is over. Thus, meeting on a platform that is safe is a must, which means at this point, Google Meet is currently the best widely used platform to conduct IEP meetings on as well as online classes.

Google Meet has all of the key features needed for IEP meetings; a scheduling apparatus through Google Calendar (click more options and then create your Meet), screen sharing, and video/audio recording. Also, just as important, it’s accessible because an active link can be sent to any participant by email if this is the mechanism you would like to send your IEP meeting invites to parents and/or service providers. Lastly, one major tip while using Google Meets, be sure you are the last person to exit the meeting to ultimately end the meeting using Google Meet. The meeting will not end until everyone has completely left the Google Meet session.

Collecting IEP Data – Google Forms 

Collecting IEP data remotely for academic goals may have some hurdles depending on how goals are written, but there are a number of ways to collect ongoing data throughout remote learning to help provide evidence students are making progress on IEP goals as well as moving forward with their present levels. Google Forms is an efficient and effective tool to send out present level surveys to your student’s general education teachers.

In the case of present level surveys, they can be generalized so teachers can provide input for reading, writing, mathematic, science, communication, and behavior. Questions on the survey can be open-ended and/or in the form of multiple-choice/likert scale; it’s your choice. Be sure to always provide a demographic section of the form for teachers to provide their name, date, and subject they cover. Also, remember to create a specific form for the student by writing their name at the top of it. Finally, be sure your survey takes no more than 3 to 5 minutes to complete as general education teachers will have other present level surveys to complete during the week. Ultimately, to make things much more transparent, school sites and districts should develop are standardized present level surveys Special Education teachers at the primary and secondary levels can access and send out to ensure general education teachers see a standardized survey they are familiar with to complete for their students.

In regard to goal data collection, a Google Form can be built specifically with the IEP goals in place and teachers will be required to complete the survey by providing evidence of whether students are making progress or not with the curriculum being provided online. Similar to the present level survey, the goal survey needs to have a basic demographic section for general education teachers and other stakeholders and then have the goal input questions be open-ended so teachers can input the data. Be sure to send the goal progress surveys out to teachers via email at least two weeks in advance before the meeting in order to give yourself enough time to collect the data.

Conclusion

Case management is one of the most difficult parts of the job for Special Education teachers. Through this post, I hope you were able to think about how you can apply the tools I discussed as you begin remote learning with your students. Also, I hope you can think about other Edtech tools you have at your disposal to help you with this part of the job. At the of the day, the goal is to be the most effective and efficient with your time case managing so you can serve all of your students to the best of your ability. It’s a tough job; but, I know with some great Edtech tools on hand and planning, it can be done effectively!

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Teaching Online with Whiteboard Fox: Math Instruction and Co-Teaching

This week I wanted to provide several posts aimed specifically at Edtech tools I am using now to instruct my students online. Today, I wanted to share an amazing Edtech tool that can be utilized during live online instruction and for screencasts. Whiteboardfox is an online whiteboard teachers can use to write, draw, add text, graphics, worksheets, etc. of the content they are using for their lesson. Specifically, for my online class, we are using it to teach high school co-taught Algebra. We will be using Whiteboardfox for our live online session synchronous sessions and for the development of asynchronous direct instruction videos for our students to interact with. Along with the information I have posted about its features, I have included a YouTube tutorial I created outlining these features visually.

A neat feature that whiteboardfox provides us is the ability to share the whiteboard with co-teachers and/or students simultaneously. For example, during an online meeting, a teacher can share the link with a co-teacher or student to either co-teach, collaborate, or work directly one on one on the content. This allows my co-teacher and me to team-teach during our live synchronous sessions or during the production of screencasts that can be used as online lectures for direct instruction.

Another amazing feature of whiteboardfox is its ability to allow you to generate the specific content you are working on by providing you the opportunity to paste a .JPEG of graphics you are using for your class to interact with. This could be a math worksheet, a slideshow, an infographic, and much more. Teachers and students can then draw and interact with the graphic in a multitude of ways. Additionally, it allows you to have the graphic side by side with your work already on the whiteboard, which allows notes to be included with the graphic you have posted on the whiteboard.

Lastly, whiteboardfox can be used effectively on a tablet or PC. My co-teacher and I could be either using an iPad or PC and can be collaborating on the whiteboard at the same time; very effective across multiple platforms. Also, whiteboardfox can be used on Google Meet and Zoom or any other meeting platform by going directly to whiteboardfox.com and sharing your screen during the meeting.

Overall, I highly recommend this tool to teach mathematics as well as all content areas. It’s an effective tool that allows for live co-teaching and working with students one on one in an interactive environment. Try it out today at www.whiteboardfox.com to amplify your online instruction!

Let me know your thoughts if you are currently using whiteboardfox in your online class by tweeting me at @mattrhoads1990. I am excited to see how YOU are using it in your online instruction!

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Student and Parental Engagement for Online Learning: Building Community Online through Edtech

As classes and entire schools transition online, building a community is huge to stay connected with students and parents. Students want to hear and see their teacher and stay connected with their classmates. I wanted to spend this time going over several edtech tools and strategies to help teachers stay connected with their students as well as provide opportunities for students to stay connected with their classmates. I also wanted to spend time discussing how teachers can facilitate parental involvement in their student’s learning with online classrooms through various means of communication. Through this conversation, we will see the power of communication and how it builds a community for online learners, which will heighten student participation and engagement in your online classroom.

Teachers Staying Connected to Students Online – Building an Online Community through Communication

Teachers have a number of options to maintain communication with students. The easiest method is to email each of their students in their classes. On email platforms like Gmail, teachers can develop templates and schedule daily and weekly emails to their students. Emailing students in this manner can also take place on learning management systems like Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. To get your students email addresses, student emails can be found on your student information system.  In terms of the contents of these emails, teachers can provide the daily/weekly agenda, inspirational quotes, videos, and images, and may even provide a personal update. Be sure to ensure all emails are bcc’ed to maintain the anonymity of the email addresses of your students. Remember, at the end of the day, all of these topics shared through email are important to touch on as it builds a connection with your students and establishes a schedule/routine with them in relation to your online class.

Another method to stay connected with students are through online discussion boards. Traditional discussion boards can be developed in many learning management systems. However, with all schools going to remote learning during this crisis, I believe students seeing their classmates as well as hearing their voices is critical to continuing an online community. Thus, in order to do this, Flipgrid is the best platform to develop a virtual online discussion board that utilizes video and audio for students to respond to prompts presented by their teacher and for them to watch/listen and then respond to their classmates. In this type of virtual discussion board, seeing and hearing their teacher and classmates is powerful; I guarantee it will heighten your student’s engagement and sense of community!

Outside of emails and online discussions, teachers can create their own interactive infographic/online poster to keep in contact with students and parents. This graphic can include an embedded video, hyperlinks to resources, an image relating to the week’s learning themes, and text, which could include a quote, agenda, or a short paragraph outlining important bulletins students and parents need to know about. An infographic/online poster like this can be built on Google Slides, Powerpoint, Canva, Photoshop, Padlet, and much more. To distribute this infographic/online poster, it can be sent via email or posted on a learning management system for students and parents to view.

Lastly, teachers can email to their students or post on a learning management system a daily or weekly video message outlining the day’s/week’s agenda, lesson, or just simply check in with students. By providing a video message, it gives your students an immediate connection with their teacher. Ultimately, by providing a regular video message, students get to see and hear their teacher, which builds and continues the connection they had before the class transitioned to online learning.

Teachers Staying Connected With Parents – Building Community through Transparency with Parents

Like with students, teachers need to continue building connections with parents. The easiest way to continue this connection is through emails. I recommend that teachers send out the same weekly emails or online infographics/online posters they send to their students to their parents. What this does is establishe transparency between students, parents, and the teacher. Each party then has the resource to understand what’s going on in the online class and the expectations of the teacher for their students.

Currently, teachers may have a hard time calling parents because they do not have a work phone at home. There is a solution.  If teachers want to call their students parents, Google Voice is an amazing service that allows teachers to call and text parents using a private number that is not a personal phone number. Google Voice can be downloaded as a smartphone app or utilized on your computer, which allows teachers multiple tech mediums to use the free service. One of the features that are incredibly valuable with Google Voice is its ability to record voice calls, voice messages, and log text conversations. This is an important mechanism to document conversations with parents. Ultimately, what makes Google Voice such a powerful communication tool during this crisis is that Google Voice allows teachers to have a work phone number that can be used while they work from home.

Conclusion

Building community and maintaining communication with students and parents is essential to maintaining engagement in your online classrooms. Without engagement and connection, the levels of participation among students may be lower than you would like. Therefore, building and maintaining an online community is critical for the first few weeks of establishing an online class. But, more importantly,  this community building and communication must be consistent over the next few months to ensure students and parents are plugged into the class on a daily basis. By maintaining this communication, it will ultimately increase participation and engagement, which will cause your students to learn more during these next two months of online learning.

Here’s the key takeaway: Keep communicating, it will increase learning!

 

 

 

 

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Differentiated Instruction: Online Instruction for Special Education and English Language Learners

Transitioning directly to online education is a huge undertaking and transition. Once our classroom is built online, we need to think about instruction, but also differentiated instruction. In my previous post, I discussed Implementing Instructional Strategies and Lesson Plans with Edtech and your Online Classrooms, which focused on various instructional strategies we can utilize with a multitude of edtech tools. Now, I want to focus on how we can differentiate instruction for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and English Language Learners (ELL). Much of what I am going to discuss are on how we can embed differentiated instruction into the content we create for reading, writing, and mathematics. Additionally, during this conversation, I will focus on describing how we can develop alternative assignments that we can specifically assign to individual students or groups of students that may need further support to allow them to interact with the content you are teaching in your online class.

Special Education & English Language Learner Online Supports

Before speaking more specifically about embedding supports within your content you are creating to differentiate your instruction, I wanted to touch on a number of factors I want you to consider while teaching students enrolled in Special Education and ELL’s in your classroom. I have five components I want you to first focus directly on while setting up your online class as well as in your content creation with these students in mind.

  1. Set and Model Clear Expectations and Routines: What this means is to initially show your students through a guided video or during your initial synchronous live class sessions how your online classroom functions. This means going through routines like how students turn in work, where do students access the weekly information slideshow, accessing the classroom calendar, reviewing edtech tools you will be using at first, the addendum to your syllabus that outlines the expectations for online learning, and how to best contact you. All of these facets are critical to your student’s understanding of what to do when interacting with your online content. Record your synchronous sessions reviewing these expectations and routines or post screencasts on your learning management system for your students to have resources to view if they need a refresher in these areas.
  2. Chunk Content as Much as Possible: While you are explaining directions/modeling to your students, be sure to chunk your content as much as you can. Be sure to ensure when you screencast or post video content, the shorter the videos, the better. Additionally, while you are editing your screencasts, you can make segments of the video by providing signposts signifying the steps you are on. Also, for your slideshows, chunk the content; do not put everything on one page and it incredibly dense!
  3. Incrementally, break everything down in steps so your students can review it multiply: This relates to chunking but in a different way. What I mean here is to write down step by step directions when you are providing your students with assignment directions on slides, on a document, or through email. You can also highlight various steps of different colors to signify what you must do for each.
  4. Foster Online Verbal Discussions to Develop Community: At least once per week, have a short synchronous live session to check in with your entire class or ensure your students visit you at least once per week for office hours. Also, utilize a platform like Flipgrid to develop online discussions among your students on the content you are working on or on a personal topic. Students can respond to you via video and their classmates, which allows them to still maintain some form of communication with their classmates.
  5. Provide Feedback through Email, Comments on Students Assignments, and by Video: Be available to your students. That does not mean you have to reply to their questions immediately. What this means is you respond via email, commenting on assignments, or by a video response during the course of the school day. This can also take the form of providing your entire class feedback, group feedback, or individual student feedback. It depends on the scenario; but, ultimately be available for feedback as it is the most valuable thing you can do as a teacher while teaching online.

Differentiated Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Supports

Now, I am going to discuss differentiating the content for your online classes. I will be providing several examples of how to differentiate and provide embedded supports in reading, writing, and mathematics. My hope is that each of these strategies can be utilized for both students in Special Education and ELL’s.

Differentiation Supports for Reading

One of the easiest ways to differentiate reading for your students to show your students how to utilize read aloud on Google Docs as well as how to highlight and comment on the documents interface. Once this groundwork has been completed, create two types of documents, the original document students will interact with and the rewordify document. Rewordify is a tool that allows you to copy and paste your reading passing and then reconfigures the difficult words/phrases of the passage and transforms them into words/phrases students with reading levels a third to fifth-grade reader would understand. Thus, with two documents, students can refer to the original document to highlight, paraphrase, and annotate digitally and then have another document they can refer to help them in interacting with the document they are reading. Lastly, Google Read and Write, is a paid-for extension schools can buy that supports students reading by providing images, vocabulary definitions/images, and read alouds to students to help breakdown complex text. I recommend all students have access to this extension as it can really help them comprehend and evaluate texts in a multitude of modalities (reading, seeing, and hearing).

Another great way to differentiate reading instruction online is to use adaptive software to meet your students at their current reading level. Readtheory, Achieve 3000, and Freckle are all platforms that initially assess your student’s reading levels. Once they are done assessing tudent reading levels, their reading lessons and passages are adapted to your student’s individual reading levels. Adaptive reading software can be used as independent practice that students can do daily and weekly to work on their reading comprehension skills like finding the main idea, key details, passage structure and syntax, and the synthesizing information from the text.

Differentiated Writing

Writing can be differentiated through a multitude of different avenues. For Google Docs, speech to text is one of the first tools your students become familiar with. This allows students to begin writing out sentences before going back to revise them. Then, to revise their sentences, I recommend you have your students download the grammarly extension to Google Docs, which is an AI-based grammar/punctuation revision application. Students can see where they have made grammatical or punctuation errors in their writing when grammarly is enabled. What this does is allows students to see their mistakes and then see how to correct them.

Another avenue teachers can take is to build sentence frames into the documents they want their students to complete their writing on. For various groups of students, the sentence frames can be more guided and less guided depending on the students’ needs. This can be done by assigning the differentiated assignments with the differing levels of sentence frames to targeted students to meet them where they currently are in their writing. Learning management systems allow you to assign different assignments to a student without having to post it for the entire class.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the importance of teachers using the revision/comment feature on Google Docs to provide students with feedback during the writing process. For online learning, this is huge as it can provide students several examples of areas they need to improve. It can also be considered for points of emphasis to discuss during office hours or a synchronous live class.

Differentiated Mathematics

Mathematic differentiated instruction online can be tricky, but completely doable. I first recommend providing multiple video tutorials of how a particular type of problem is solved. For example, if you are teaching your students how to do linear equations, provide at least three short videos that show step by step of how they are solved. You can find the videos online or develop your own screencasts. With screencasting tool like screencastify or screencast-o-matic, you can record your screen on a whiteboard tool like whiteboard fox to do live problems for your students. Ultimately, by providing multiple ways in which mathematical problems are solved, is one strategy that is evidence-based that has shown to help students learn a mathematic concept.

Another way to differentiate mathematics is to provide different groups of students in your class with step by step graphics of how problems are solved in their assignments. Coupled with this strategy, is to provide different groups of students in your class with a different set of problems. There could be an original problem set and then a modified problem set that covers the same concepts, but could be shorter and may only have one or two complex multi-step problems versus the original assignment having around ten of these problems.

One last area you can differentiate mathematics instruction is to provide your students access to adaptive edtech tools like Khan Academy, Freckle, and Mobymax. On Khan Academy, you can assign different groups of students or individual students individual tutorials and practice problems that relate to areas they need to improve in. On Mobymax and Freckle, students can take a pre-assessment where the software can determine what areas need improvement. Then, once the assessment is over, students are given individual tutorials and lessons geared towards what they need to improve in. Teachers can track student progress and provide assistance along the way.

Conclusion

I hope I have provided some insight into how you can differentiate your instruction. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can do. There is a multitude of different things you can do for your students that can take what I have explained here to the next level. However, my goal here was to provide some basics to help you begin differentiating online; because it’s something that takes work as you have to build additional content to what you are building for your general education students. My hope is that your Ed. Specialist and English Language Coordinator at your school site can work with you collaboratively to help you differentiate your instruction for these students. Give them access to your learning management system and email them to consult with you on some of the first decisions you are going to make to differentiate your online instruction. This will be key as you want to start off slowly and then add more differentiation as you go as you become more comfortable doing so as your online class progresses and evolves as time goes by.

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Implementing Instructional Strategies and Lesson Plans with Edtech and your Online Classrooms

With many K-12 university classes online or in the process of transition online, edtech tools and resources have been abundant. However, what needs to be further addressed and discussed by the educational community is in implementing and aligning various research-based instructional strategies with the edtech that is being used in our online classrooms. My goal is to provide you with a series of instructional strategies that are used in face to face classrooms that can also be utilized in an online classroom. Additionally, there will be a discussion of which edtech tools can facilitate the outlined instructional strategies.

While implementing various instructional strategies, we want to ensure our synchronous and asynchronous lessons are comprised of a listening, speaking, writing, and student work creation component to our lessons. Also, by having lessons that are multimodality in their composition, they fulfill the elements of the universal design for learning. This is important as we are trying to facilitate student learning for all students, which helps us differentiate instruction for students who may need additional support in their learning.

First, I am going to show you a list of instructional strategies we use in face to face classrooms that can also be used online. I am going to describe how they can implemented in your online classroom. Then, I am going to provide an example of a weekly online class lesson plan outline that employs a multimodality approach. While I go through this conversation with you regarding these topics, please refer back to my previous blog posts on Listing Etech Tools and their Applications as well as Selecting Edtech Tools to help you learn more about the edtech tools discussed here. Also, on my YouTube Channel, I provide examples of how to build your online learning management system infrastructure for your classroom using Google Classroom and G-Suite, which much of what I talk about is built upon.

Instructional Strategies Linked with Edtech

 Direct Instruction and Modeling in Synchronous/Asynchronous Sessions. As with any classroom direct instruction is used to provide instructions as well as give students information directly on the content. Within synchronous live sessions on Google Meet, Microsoft Team, or Zoom, teachers can share their screen and present Google Slides, Slideshare, Padlet, or Microsoft Powerpoint to depict the information they are lecturing on to their students. During direct instruction, teachers can use modeling to show their entire class or specific students how to perform a specific task or problem by sharing their screen with students and go through it step by step. Within this modeling technique, teachers can scaffold the tasks for their students and build a progression of videos their students can view within a module or unit of study. One major point of emphasis, all synchronous live direct instruction should be recording it for later use for students to review. Ultimately, this will provide your students with an opportunity to review the content at any time and at their own pace. 

For asynchronous sessions, teachers can use Screencast-o-Matic, Loom, or Screencastify to record a lecture that allows them to present content. Additionally, within each of these screencasting tools, they provide editing software to edit the recorded lectures to then be uploaded to YouTube, Google Drive, iCloud, or Drop Box. Once the lectures have been posted online within the storage cloud, teachers can use hyperlinks to place the links on a HyperDoc or HyperSlides, which can order the lectures in a progression for students to interact with in a specific order. Lastly, edtech tools like Edpuzzle can be used concurrently with your edited screencasts where questions can be added by teachers to break up the lecture to check their student’s comprehension of the material as the student moves through the lecture content.

Class or Small Group Student Brainstorming and Collaboration. Online collaboration or brainstorming can take many different forms. For example, a Google Doc can be shared with an entire class on a learning management system like Google Classroom where the class can collaborate together on an access to all editable document. Or, in a similar manner, it can be shared directly through a hyperlink on a HyperDoc or a HyperSlide for students to access the editable document.

In a different manner for smaller groups, a teacher or a student can share a Google Doc with their group mates, which only gives those specific students editing rights on the document. Another method for students to collaborate is on Padlet, which gives students an entire digital bulletin board to share their thoughts on a given topic. Students can share text, images, audio recordings, and videos, which provide many different modalities of learning as well as mediums to articulate and demonstrate learning.

Lastly, Flipgrid allows for students to work together in small groups or an entire class to collaborate or brainstorm. For example, when a teacher presents a prompt on the content, students can answer this prompt through their initial Flipgrid recorded response. Then, afterward, students can listen and respond to selected students for a small group activity or list to at least one-third of the class and then provide a written response.

Activating Prior Knowledge. Activating prior knowledge allows our students to utilize what they already know to help create a knowledge foundation on the content or skill being taught by their teacher. Doing this in an online setting can be done using a frontloading approach or a scaffolded approach. A frontloading approach can be best illustrated by providing students with a hook leading in tandem with a large bulk of the content to build a foundational association with the content. In an online class setting, this could be using a video, like found on Classhooks, of the content being alluded to or depicted on a TV sitcom. Or, in a similar manner, a YouTube video can be used that has been edited using Edpuzzle or Loom to ask students multiple choice, open-ended, or summarization review questions as the video progresses to activate their thought processes and working memory. Another example could be a Flipgrid teacher recorded response, which depicts a teacher modeling a think-aloud. Within this clip, the teacher asks their students to record their own think-aloud about the topic at hand. After their initial first response, students then can respond to several of their classmates think-aloud to develop an on-going discussion to further activate prior knowledge on the topic.

Scaffolding Content. For scaffolding content to work effectively as an instructional strategy for online learning, it can be embedded within asynchronous lessons. An example of this in action could be using an interactive slideshow where students are required to fill in various parts of it for notes. For example, if the content is on the Civil War, the first slide could be a link to a video  on the content students must respond to. Then, the next slide could be a graphic organizer in the form of a KWL or a Notice, Wonder, and, Know Chart where students must complete as they read and interact with the materials posted in the slideshow. At the end of the slideshow, students can respond to a writing prompt or be connected to a short assessment through a hyperlink to a Google Form, Quizzizz, Kahoot, or Formative quiz. Conversely, a teacher can present a prompt associated with a video that has been attached to a document, which would be utilizing the Think-Write-Pair-Share instructional strategy. The directions would tell the students they must watch the video, think, respond to the prompt, and then share their response in the form of a recorded video to at least two of their classmates that must respond to them in the form of an email or recorded video, students then revise their post, and then post it for the entire class to read or view on Google Classroom.

Active Participation during Synchronous Live Sessions: During synchronous sessions, the active participation of your students during the session is important to maintaining their engagement. One of the ways to ensure students are participating is to build a Google Slides presentation with the add-on G-Suite Pear Deck application. With Pear Deck, you can build interactive slideshows where students must respond to polls, multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, and drawing/draggable questions. In practice during a synchronous session, a teacher will share students the URL to where they can access the live slideshow. Then, instead of a teacher sharing their screen during the live synchronous session, students are viewing the live Pear Deck slideshow. As a result, the teacher on the backend of Pear Deck during the synchronous sessions can be presenting information as well as evaluating whether their students are engaged and answering the questions presented so they can assess their student’s learning. This can ensure your synchronous sessions are worthwhile in addition to provide data on student engagement as well as formative assessment data (as short quizzes can be built into your Pear Deck slides). Ultimately, by utilizing Pear Deck for your online live synchronous sessions, teachers can bolster active participation and student engagement. This will help students be more inclined to understand your directions for the content and asynchronous portions of your online class.

Summarization/Review: Summarization and review of content can be done in a multitude of ways. By summarizing and reviewing what has been covered, students can reflect and bring forth major ideas they have learned to future units of study. Additionally, teachers can review their students’ summaries and determine if there are any content gaps that must be filled through the re-teaching of content. Asynchronously, at the end of your slideshow for the unit or lesson, a link to a Google Form can be provided where students are required to summarize what they have learned. The names of the students, as well as their summaries, are recorded for the teacher to review. Or, a Google Doc or Slideshow can be posted as an assignment where students must develop their own infographic or slideshow that summarizes the major concepts discussed in the unit. Lastly, a teacher can instruct students to build a digital portfolio for the class over the course of the semester. Google Sites, WordPress, or Weebly are great website interfaces students can use to build a website that summaries their learning or skills learned in a class by allowing them to post/link student-created artifacts they have completed to demonstrate their learning. Furthermore, included in these website digital portfolios, teachers can instruct students to write a short blog post summarizing what they have learned in the unit of study. As you can see, there are a multitude of options available for teachers to instruct their students to summarize their learning. .

In a synchronous session, a teacher can employ Pear Deck and have students answer several free-response questions asking them to summarize their learning. Or, in a similar fashion, using Pear Deck or an application like PollEverywhere, teachers can pose a multiple-choice or open-ended question(s) that relate to the major themes discussed in a unit or lesson. Then, once the class is completed with answering these questions, the teacher can create breakout rooms or have a full class discussion on the questions to further dig deeper into student answers.

Metacognition. As with summary and review, metacognition is an opportunity for students to reflect on their progress and learning in a cognitively and socio-emotionally. It’s important for teachers to gauge their students’ learning through the reflection process as well as evaluate where individual students and the class are socio-emotionally; especially now during this crisis.

In practice, metacognition can take several forms. For example, a teacher can develop a survey on Google Forms (or SurveyMonkey, Formative, etc.) that allows students to answer on a weekly basis, which asks them a multitude of questions prompting them to reflect on their progress. Questions presented can ask students how much they understood the content, whether they liked how the information was presented, and how they can apply the information to real-life applications are great starters. Also, questions can ask students to select 3-5 of the most important concepts learned in the unit or lesson.

Besides a weekly survey, teachers can ask their students socio-emotional and reflection questions that require metacognition on a Google Docs and student-built slides assignment in Google Classroom (or another learning management system that may be in use). Lastly, during synchronous live sessions, interactive slides like Pear Deck can have several pre-built reflection/socio-emotional questions into its interface, which teachers can quickly add to their slideshow. Therefore, when students answer these questions, teachers have a live stream of answers to gauge where the class and individual students are socio-emotionally.

Assessment. Assessment allows teachers to determine if their students have a grasp on the content or skills taught in their class. For online learning and face to face settings. teachers can develop formative and summative assessments using Google Forms, b.socrativ, and Formative. On these platforms, teachers can use pre-built assessments on the content or build their own assessments and align them to standards. Each of these edtech tools provides teachers to ask a multitude of questions ranging from multiple-choice, free response, and drag and drop multiple choice. What’s great about these tools is that student data is created once students complete the assessments, which then can be exported to a spreadsheet. Additionally, there are data visualizations regarding the types of questions students answered correctly vs. incorrectly. By analyzing the collected data from the entire class, individual students, and question types, it allows teachers to monitor and adjust instruction and provide additional support for students, if needed. 

For writing assignments, teachers can create rubrics on Google Forms, Google Classroom, or other learning management systems such as Blackboard and Canvas to assess student learning. Rubrics on learning management systems take the rubric grades and transfer them to the grade book, which makes grading writing much more efficient in terms of the time it takes logistically to enter grades.

During synchronous live sessions, teachers can use Pear Deck to assess their student’s responses live during the session using multiple-choice or free-response questions. Teachers can view the student responses collectively as a class or for individual students. As a result, teachers can then monitor and adjust their instruction, if needed.

Weekly Lesson Plan Outline Example

Now, after seeing how various instructional strategies that can be used in a face to face setting can be used in an online classroom setting using a variety of edtech tools, it’s time to see how weekly lessons can be developed for online learning. Similarly, this template can also be employed for a blended learning model whereby the online synchronous sessions turn into face to face instruction. When viewing the template presented, teachers can utilize this template by inserting the content/skills they would like to build into the lesson outline for the week. Throughout the lesson plan template, office hours are built into two days when students are doing their work asynchronously so they can receive additional support from their teacher. 

Monday: Synchronous Sessions – Pear Deck Slides, Checking in with Students, Reviewing the Week’s Asynchronous Directions. Pear Deck slides include socio-emotional check-in questions, assignment direction review questions, and a quickwrite responding to a prompt or video prompt.

Tuesday – Wednesday: Asynchronous – Content Frontload and Interactive Discussion Board. Students will have a Google Slideshow to fill out self-guided/independently posted on the learning management system. This slideshow will include hyperlinks to documents and videos relating to the content they are learning. In various areas of the slideshow, students must provide a written response, which may include completing several graphic organizers. Once students have completed the slideshow, students will be required to participate in an online discussion board using Flipgrid. Within Flipgrid, students will be required to respond to the initial prompt and then be asked to respond to at least two to three of their classmates.

Office Hours: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. 

Wednesday/Thursday: Asynchronous – Student Assignment; Student Created Work Product. Students will be asked to take the content they interacted with on Tuesday/Wednesday to create a student work product. This assignment can be posted in your learning management system. In these assignments, you can give your students a choice to create a work product that incorporates the content discussed during the first three days of the week.  Teachers can provide students with the assignments choices to develop their own blog post, video recording, infographic, three – five-paragraph essay/response to a prompt, etc. There are many choices teachers can choose here based on their grade level, content, and student population. This assignment can be due Sunday at midnight or Friday at midnight depending on the teacher’s preference.

Office Hours: 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Thursday/Friday – Asynchronous/Synchronous – Assessment and Review. During these days, a teacher can assess their students’ learning by posting a teacher built assessment on their learning management system that gives students a testing window to complete it during a given time period. Then, once the assessment window is closed, a synchronous live class session can take place on Friday to review the results with students as well as re-teach any concepts within the content that need to be re-taught. Another method of assessment could take place in the live synchronous session where the teacher provides various assessment questions on Pear Deck their students will answer. Based on the assessment results, the teacher can then address specific questions students need further instruction on.

 

Conclusion

Throughout this conversation, I hope you can see how we can align various instructional strategies to the edtech tools we are using in our online class we are developing. It takes some thought, but on many levels, much of what we do in our face to face classes can be transferred over to your student’s online learning. Also, I hope the week-long lesson plan outline helps you in your weekly planning. I suggest two days of synchronous live sessions that are about 30 minutes to an hour long and three asynchronous days that give your students about 2-3 hours of work. For teachers, it will require a number of hours upfront to build your weekly lesson; what’s nice is that if you can build a number of weeks ahead, you can create a schedule of creating content, working with students during live sessions, communicating with students/parents, assessing student work and assessments, and office hours (which makes this very manageable). At the end of the day, we do not want to overwhelm our students as well as ourselves with our online classes.

I hope this has helped you during your transition to online teaching. If you have any suggestions regarding what I should discuss next in my posts, please contact me on Twitter @mattrhoads 1990 or via email. I would enjoy hearing your suggestions for future posts!

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Steps to Building Your Online Classroom for K-12 Educators

Building an online classroom in a matter of weeks may seem daunting. Many educators may argue that you are recreating the wheel; especially, moving from a face to face learning experience to an online one. However, with some judicious thought and planning, moving a class online in a matter of weeks does not have to as tumultuous as it sounds. I want to provide a few steps to ease any anxiety you may have as well as provide you a blueprint to successfully plan for a transition to online teaching. The goal here is to take you through my thought process of how it can be done as someone who is has a background in educational technology. My goal is to breakdown the steps I believe need to be taken to have a fully functional online class that you are comfortable teaching in.

I have EIGHT total steps that will aid you in your thinking and planning of transition your class online. There may be steps that may harder than others as well as steps that require a wait and see approach due to awaiting directives from your district regarding how conceptually online instruction will look like for teachers. That’s okay; because, some of the major legwork and planning can take place as information comes from our district offices. Now, take a look at the steps and put yourself back in your face to face class. Think specifically about your classroom routines, grade book, and instructional strategies you provided your students. Each of these facets must be taken into consideration during this transition because they may manifest differently once your online class has been built.

Note: Be sure to take a look at my YouTube page as I have several videos that relate to each of these steps; especially, steps 2, 3, and 5.

Step 1: Review your District’s Directive/Vision of Online Learning 

Understanding what the expectations are regarding online learning is huge. Some expectations may mean on one end of the spectrum an online class can be completely asynchronous, which means its module driven whereby a student goes at their own pace to learn the content provided by the teacher without much direct communication from the teacher. Or, in contrast, online classes can be more synchronous where instruction is live by a teacher going through the content, which means more time will be dedicated to actual ‘class time.’ Generally speaking, what I am seeing across the board is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction expectations being provided. What this looks like is one or two hours a week per class of synchronous instruction along with dedicated office hours that are optional for students. Then, outside of the synchronous instruction, the remainder of the class is built in an asynchronous fashion.

Above all, read the expectations and ask questions, if needed. At this point, there will be a little rigidity, but since it’s new territory for many districts, there will be flexibility to experiment and learn, which ultimately will be the best for your students. Consult your districts and stay proactive. As more information comes out, address it and move it into your thinking and development processes for your online class.

Step 2: Get familiar with the District Supported Learning Management System and Edtech Tools

Learning management systems are a centralized online infrastructure in which all content is created and posted by a teacher and then interacted with by both students and the teacher. Google Classroom, Blackboard, Canvas, Schoology, Powerschool, and Seesaw are all popular learning management systems being used in K-12 schools across the country. Either you as a teacher or as a student may have interacted with a learning management system before. Many of them have a learning curve, but that doesn’t mean they are not intuitive. What you need to do is focus on the following steps to get the most out of the learning management system, which includes:

  • Getting students to join your classroom.
  • Interconnecting content (i.e., Google Apps, Microsoft 365) as they are used to create content and assignments.
  • How to post assignments and ensure students have access to all of their materials
  • How to grade student work and transfer it to the grade book.
  • Student communication.
  • Content/assignment organization to create a userfriendly interface for your students.

For example, in Google Classroom, knowledge in Google Apps within G-Suite and how they interact amongst each is extremely important. If you know the basics of Docs, Slides, Draw, and Sheets, you should not have any problems creating content. It does not have to be extremely sophisticated to be effective content for your students. Then, once you have an idea of how to create content, Google Classroom allows you to post assignments and material under “classwork,” which allows students to get their own copy of the assignment or material to interact with. After creating an assignment, you see once a student turns in work, you can grade the assignment and leave comments within the grading interface. However, your grade book in your student information system is likely not interconnected, which means you will have to transfer the grades over from Google Classroom. Student communication is fairly intuitive as email addresses of all of your students are provided once they join your classroom (even parents can be invited to be auditing the class). Lastly and most importantly, Google Classroom allows you to organize it by providing tabs in which assignments and content material can be organized under. Ultimately, if students know where the assignments and content are, it will make much easier for them to navigate the interface.

Step 3: Determine how your Online Classroom will Function

This statement is ambiguous for a reason because all classes are different depending on their content, audience, and teacher. Let me provide an example of my math class that is transitioning to online. In the face to face version of the class, my co-teacher and I provide a gradual release model of instruction where we modeled how to complete math problems in a variety of different ways. Then, we allowed students to grapple with the content during either independent practice or student collaboration. Once we were able to monitor how the class was doing with the content, we made either individual adjustments or stopped the entire class to further provide modeling to help clarify with our students or address any conclusion. Formative assessment was conducted typically twice a week for us to see how our students were doing on content (generally in the middle and at the end of the week). This allowed us time to monitor and adjust instruction and help individual students with the content.

Now, when planning and developing our online class, we decided to provide online math videos (YouTube and Khan Academy) and screencasts asynchronously to model math instruction. What we will be doing is frontloading the content with this and allowing them to independently practice the material. Then, using formative assessment more directly, we will post at least two formative assessments weekly for us to monitor individual and whole-class progress on the content (assessment data is easy to collect using edtech assessment tools). Assessments will be posted intermittently throughout the week using Quizizz, Formative, and Google Forms. We will use our office hours and synchronous instruction time to attend to confusion by modeling and providing more resources to our students to help seek to address discrepancies in their learning.

Ultimately, the class is not entirely different. Each class is rather similar in structure but delivered differently. I believe many classes can be transformed in a similar manner as the fundamental structure of the classes may not be entirely changing. This is a good thing as your students will be accustomed to how the class is taught versus completely changing your class.

Step 4: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Time

What this comes down to is how much time are you going to spend delivering content and instruction live versus creating content for your students to do this on their own time. Depending on the type of teacher you are, one of these facets you are likely better than the other. Right now, as you get started with developing your online classroom, you will likely have to get better with creating content using a multitude of different edtech tools. Yet, the learning curve here is much less than successfully creating engaging live online synchronous sessions. Luckily, the synchronous learning sessions will likely only take once or twice a week in whole-class settings. Where most of the learning will take place during synchronous sessions will be during office hours and conferences times with your students.

Here are two types of online class weekly schedules outlining days dedicated to synchronous vs. asynchronous learning. As you can see each schedule dedicates the same number of synchronous minutes, but allocated throughout the week differently. I tend to like the first schedule more as I tend to frontload content and then at the end of the week we provide closure to what we have learned to review and re-teach if needed.

online class schedule 1

online class schedule 2

Overall, there is a multitude of different options relating to determining your weekly schedule. My hope is your district will give you some latitude of how much time you can dedicate to synchronous vs. asynchronous instructional time.

Step 5: Build Content inside your Google Drive with G-Suite Applications and Organize it into Weekly Folders

Building content can take time but if you build an organizational structure within the content creating edtech tools you have at your disposal, it can be done efficiently and effectively. Generally speaking, it will take the most time to build your organizational system and the initial content for your class to kick it off as you will be creating it for the first time. I am going to be using G-Suite as the example for this step as many school districts are using Google Classroom as their learning management system. Here are a number of things you need to build within your G-Suite Applications to create an infrastructure that is needed to develop an online class.

folders google classroom

  1. A class folder on your Google Drive. Within the class folder (as seen above), create several other folders that include: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc., Assessments, and Resources.
  2. Create a Backwards Planner on a Google Doc and place it into your class folder. A backwards planner allows you to build your weeks worth of asynchronous and synchronous content. Backwards planners are organized by day, have an underlining standard (for the week), and have hyperlinks to the content/assignments you will be sharing with your students
  3. Within each “week” folder, you will need to create a Google Slides Hyperdoc, which is an informational slideshow that provides your student’s links to content (videos, articles, infographics, images, quizzes, etc.) and activities they will interact with throughout the week.
  4. Also, within each “week” folder, you will need to develop at least one to two assignments you will want to post on your learning management system. These assignments can be short at first. You will want to make sure you go with the approach LESS is MORE as you get started. Assignments can be created using Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Draw in G-Suite; all can be posted on Google Classroom.
  5. Create at least ONE formative assessment per week, which can be done using Google Forms. The assessment can be placed within your “assessments folder.”
  6. Within the “resources” folder, you will place your digital syllabus and addendum to your original syllabus (which will be talked about soon). Also, you will put any necessary documents from the district or your school site that must be shared with families on your learning management system.

Each of these steps within this step is critical to getting started using G-Suite. Being organized digitally is just as important as being organized with paper. Also, this helps you build an infrastructure you can then continually build over time as the weeks go by.

Step 6: Select other Edtech Tools to Integrate into your LMS

This is an important thought process you will have to go through as you build your online classroom. Do not add many other edtech tools outside of the content creation applications (i.e., G-Suite, Microsoft 365) you are using at first when building your learning management system infrastructure and content. However, as time progresses, you will want to add one to five additional edtech tools to integrate with your learning management system to help with student engagement, assessment, and collaboration.  Here is an extensive list of edtech tools along with their applications in learning you can choose from to add to integrate with your learning management system over the next few weeks. Remember, less is more right now; but, over time, add a few more tools as you go (likely on Week 3 or 4).

When selecting these additional edtech tools to integrate into your online classroom, I want you to think about your audience, grade level, content, instructional strategies you have utilized in the past for face to face classes, and edtech tools you are already familiar with. These are all important variables to think about while making a decision. During the selection process, I recommend reading this past blogpost I authored to help with breaking down how to make these decisions regarding selecting the best tool that fits your online class.

Step 7: Create an Addendum to your Syllabus and Send to Parents and Students

Before launching your online class, you will need to develop an addendum to your syllabus to illustrate to parents and students the new expectations of your online classroom. Included in your expectations within the addendum, you should provide the following:

  1. A Weekly Schedule & Information About How the Class will Run
  2. Grading Policies (have they changed?)
  3. How to Communicate with you
  4. Attendance (districts will have to provide this information)
  5. Explanations regarding asynchronous and synchronous instruction
  6. Information on How to Join the Learning Management System for Students and Parents
  7. Any Other Information Provided by the District Parents Should Know

This list does not include any information your district may want you to add. Although, an addendum to your syllabus is key to provide in an email at least 3 to 5 days out of your online launch to prepare your students and parents with the new expectations. I would also post this addendum on your learning management system as well during the weekend before your online class launches. This will provide information upfront as to students and parents as to what to expect when the class begins.

Step 8: Post the First Week’s Content and Assignments and Hit the Ground Running

On the Sunday before your online class is about to begin, post all of your first week’s content and assignments on your learning management system. Have everything posted and ready to go so once Monday morning hits, your students will have everything they need for week one. Additionally, give yourself some time to test what you have built by accessing it via a “teacher made” (which is you making a student profile for your own learning management system and logging in as a student) student to test to ensure all of the content and assignments are accessible. Try to make sure all of the major bugs are worked out before your students arrive and join your learning management system. However, know that during the first few weeks, there will be hiccups, which is completely normal. You will be prepared to fix them appropriately; everyone, including your students and parents, will give you grace.

Conclusion

I hope this step by step process has helped you step up your online classroom. Try to give yourself some time to do this as it is a task that cannot happen effectively overnight. Also, I recommend seeking out help and looking at articles and tutorials online to help you learn the edtech tools you may need in order to successfully launch your online class. Remember, as with anything new you are learning, it will take practice. With practice, you will be a successful online teacher over the course we are called to be remote teachers. Lastly, I recommend going on Twitter and exploring various hashtags to help with your professional development and to keep up with edtech. Hashtags help organize various tweets made by users on Twitter, which allows users like you a way to search for them. I tend to follow #edtech, #education, #SPED, #educationaltechnology, #onlinelearning, #elearning, etc. Additionally, I also follow many prominent educators and educators who are experts in edtech that I learn from every day. On Twitter, I found a great article on moving to virtual learning that I also would like you to access. This is just one example of how powerful Twitter can be as you can find articles like this all of the time.

I want to end on a positive note. This is doable if you give yourself some time and are strategic about how you develop your online classroom. You can do this. Keep learning and practice!

 

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Selecting Edtech Tools for your Online Classroom

As we all transition to remote learning, we have been bombarded by a multitude of edtech tools we can utilize. At times, I am sure it is overwhelming as many are scrambling to build an infrastructure for their online classes. Therefore, I wanted to spend a few moments to describe the decision-making process for selecting your edtech tools for your online classes. Here are the FIVE STEPS in selecting the best edtech tools for the online class you are building and transitioning to.

Step 1: Think Less is More

In order to have a successful online class, you do not need more than three to five edtech tools.  You will not need to know more than this to be successful as an online instructor. You will need a learning management system to host your online classroom (i.e., Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology, Blackboard, Seesaw, etc), Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps to create content (i.e., Docs, Slideshows, PDF drawings, Data Spreadsheets, and Assessments), an online virtual meeting tool (i.e., Google Meet, Zoom [if approved by your district], YoTeach!, etc.), and one or two student engagement tools (i.e., PearDeck, Flipgrid, Hyperdocs, Quizzizz, Classhooks, Polleverywhere, Social Media interaction, etc.). Once you have these three facets in place, you will have enough edtech tools in place to develop an infrastructure for a successful online class.

Step 2: Focus on your Audience and Goals

Next, focus on your audience and goals. First, what content and grade level are you teaching? If you are teaching primary education or mathematics, Seesaw may be the best learning management system to use since students can interact with documents you publish in a multitude of different (i.e., photos, video, and drawing/text on the document) ways embedded in the software like taking a picture of the activity on a scratch piece of paper, drawing on the document digitally, or printing out the assignment and taking a picture of it. Also, you must think about your goals. Say you are a social science teacher with one or two AP classes. Utilizing Google Classroom and Google Apps may be your best bet as you can integrate videos, links, documents, and more within slideshows or posted shared documents that your students can interact with in an intuitive fashion. Lastly, you must also evaluate the ability and skill level of your class as well as assess how you can implement various accommodations and language supports for students enrolled in Special Education and English Language Learners. As we stand now, this third question has been the most difficult question of the transition to fully online instruction in K-12 education. Certain accommodations like highlighting key text, speech to text options, and read-aloud text functionalities are embedded in certain edtech tools, but not all. You must do your homework as to what accommodations can be best brought forth in the edtech tools you choose. Overall, these are three questions that need decisions before selecting any edtech tool(s) for your online class as each edtech tool may fit the answers to the questions in only one facet or in multiple facets as presented. Think thoroughly through these questions before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Assess your Face to Face Class & Edtech Tools you Already Know

Before having to transition online, how did your face to face class function on a daily basis? At the primary level, did you utilize centers on a daily basis? At the secondary level, how much direct instruction versus student collaboration and project-based learning strategies did you employ? These are important questions for you to ask yourself because your online class may need to function in a different or similar manner. Also, in the same thought process, think about the edtech tools you are already using in your class. I am sure for many classes out there a number of edtech tools are being used whether it’s tutorials on iPads, Google Classroom, Pear Deck for student engagement, or many more. For example, in my 9th-grade math class, we utilized a gradual release of students through guided practice and then through collaborative/independent practice throughout our lessons. Additionally, we used edtech tools like Google Classroom, Docs, Forms, and slides to build both online and offline functionalities to produce content and for our students to create student work products. As a result, we can develop an online class that fits this model as we can produce or find videos of math instruction that are embedded in instructional slides to lead our students through guided practice. Then, we can set up independent and collaborative assignments through a learning management system, whereby we chose Seesaw instead of Google Classroom as it’s much easier for students to interact with mathematics online versus face to face instruction. In terms of assessment, we utilized Google Forms and Quizizz for formative and summative assessments for our face to face classroom, which can also be used primarily for an online class. Through navigating through this step, I want you to realize much of what you may be already doing can be developed for online purposes with a few tweaks and one or two more edtech tools.

Step 4: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Sessions 

As an online instructor, you need to determine how much time you want to dedicate to synchronous versus asynchronous sessions. Synchronous sessions involve having a live online class tutorial or lecture where the instructor meets with the entire class online at a given time. Asynchronous relates to having the content already built for students in a sequential manner in which they interact with the pre-built content over the course of a given week or unit. Generally speaking, you want to avoid having more than one full synchronous session per week based on current online teaching best practices. Synchronous sessions are best suited towards having available office hours one to two times per week where individuals or groups of students can interact with you as you can review the content, assignment directions, build community, and go over general housekeeping. However, we must keep in mind each school district may have different philosophies’ s/directives regarding synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Right now, based on your district’s privacy agreements, synchronous sessions are typically on an edtech tool like Google Meet or Zoom [Zoom Premium is HIPPA approved].

Step 5: Reflect and Revise One Week at a Time

Transitioning online is like adding several new job descriptions for many teachers. Try to take this opportunity as a time to learn and build your tech repertoire. Ultimately, you are going to have bumps in the road as well as triumphs; especially, if you are utilizing a new set of edtech tools.  Take your time in this reflection process as it takes practice for you as well as your students to get used to the edtech tools you select for your online classes. Some days may be harder than others so give yourself some time process. Think about the following as you reflect on the online class you have built using the edtech tools you have selected. First, evaluate whether problems arose during the week when you began implementing your online class.  Second, assess whether your students were engaged and understood the directions. Lastly, determine if there was a digital divide in your class and time may be needed to be given to further teach your students how to use the edtech tools you have decided to utilize to build your online class. Also, during this process, reflect whether you have selected the sufficient edtech tools for your class. If something is not working regarding the edtech tools you select, go back to the drawing board and see if you can fix the problems you were having. Or, you may have to select a new edtech tool to fix the problem. This is revising your online classroom, as needed, as you continue to learn how to use edtech tools.

I hope these five steps have helped you narrow down the choices you would like to use in your online classroom. For more information on this as well as another great step by step process in selecting edtech tools, please check out the book I helped co-author and edit: Igniting Your Teaching Using Education Technology: A Resource for New Teachers.

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Launching YouTube Channel

Purpose

This project has been a long time coming but it was recently spurred by the effects of the Coronavirus on K-12 schools and at colleges/universities. For months I have been planning on developing a YouTube channel devoted to edtech tool “how-to’s” for all classrooms and data literacy tutorials to help build the capacity of teachers and administrators to make data-driven decisions. As schools and universities have moved online, I felt compelled to launch the channel now and share my expertise with educators of all levels.

Genesis of the Videos

This semester I have guest lectured at San Diego State University on Educational Technology tools for K-12 teachers to graduate student teacher candidates in the Dual Language and English Language Learner Credential Program. The first videos I am uploading to the YouTube channel will include tutorials on Google Classroom, Pear Deck, Flipgrid, G-Suite for assignment development, and formative/summative assessment edtech tools that can be utilized as mechanisms for assessment and data-driven decision-making.  All of these topics are ones I have lectured on this semester. As more videos are uploaded on a topic, they will progress from basic to more advanced levels of using the edtech.

What’s Next

Ultimately, my goal is to help teachers across all grade levels and content is to utilize these tools to bolster their instruction in-person and online. My plan over the next month is to create at least two videos a day to be uploaded onto the channel. Check back daily for updates on content and videos posted!

Click HERE to access the YouTube Channel

Cover Release: Navigating the Toggled Term – A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders

After much anticipation, the cover of Navigating the Toggled Term: A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders has released. This cover represents what modern education has transformed into over the course of the past few years; especially during the past 15 months. It also represents a variety of different pathways teachers and schools can take as they navigate integrating educational technology into their instruction as well as a variety of different instructional models ranging from traditional in-person instruction, blended, and online classroom settings. Overall, this book is structured as a playbook to help all classroom and school leaders navigate the present and future of education in our ever-changing world.

Pre-orders are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and major book retailers across the world. Additionally, take a look at a few early reviews of the book by prominent educators in both K-12, higher education, and in the EdTech business community. More reviews are anticipated leading up to the books release in July.

Pre-Order: Amazon.com

Pre-Order: Barnes and Noble

Peter Lang International Academic Publishing

Early Reviews of the Book

Phillip Cutler

PAPER, Chief Executive Officer

“The Teacher Training Manual for Post-Pandemic Teaching.”

Navigating The Toggled Term takes a pragmatic approach to exploring what education will look like for a teacher post-pandemic. Broken down and differentiated in a way only a teacher knows how, Dr. Rhoads walks readers through a journey that feels like it speaks to your own personalized circumstances. Whether you are just starting your teaching career, or filled with experience, Navigating The Toggled Term will provide you with insight to not only improve your teaching, but make you more comfortable with innovation in the classroom.

Alfonso Mendoza Jr., M.Ed.

District EdTech Coach and Host of the MyEdTechLife Podcast

“An Essential Resource to Navigate Our Changing Education Landscape.”

In his previous work Navigating the Toggled Term: Preparing Secondary Educators for Navigating 2020 and Beyond, Dr. Rhoads introduced educators to the new realities that all educators would face due to the pandemic. Now, Dr. Rhoads provides a guide for K-12 classroom and school leaders that provides many resources to help leverage the resources districts have on hand to he;p teachers and students navigate through the difficulties we are seeing in education. Dr. Rhoads does a fantastic job in walking you through many of the situations you are being faced with and provides effective, and sustainable strategies to help education leaders, teachers and students be successful during this unprecedented time.

Zach Groshell

Director of Educational Technology

“As I read the book, I found myself appreciating the teacher and school leader vignettes that were included in each chapter.”

As a Director of Educational Technology, I’ve yet to crack the code for how to best draw out teachers’ thinking behind their technology choices so that it is visible to others. I imagine that this book could serve as a resource to teachers who thirst for professional conversations around technology and instruction. Additionally, time and time again, Dr. Rhoads circles back to what becomes a consistent theme of the book: Let instruction drive your choices with technology integration.

Richard Bernato, Ed.D.

EduFuturist, Professor of Education and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University

“I will be using this book for myself and for my own graduate and doctoral classes.”

The highest compliment, actually the two highest compliments one author and professor of professional development can pay another such author are “I wish I’d written that book!” and, “I will be using this book for myself and for my own graduate and doctoral classes.” Such is the case for Dr. Matt Rhoads’ efforts in delivering this timely and futures – based book to fellow Educators.

Dr. Rhoads’ Navigating the Toggled Term – A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders, is the sum of his experiences, expertise, research, and most importantly, his passionate commitment to twenty first century education themes and trends. That these themes and trends have in large part been accelerated by a crisis that educational leaders should have foreseen and planned for long before it occurred only accents the importance of this book.

Each of Matt’s chapters address ideas, issues, and leadership matters that teachers and educators might address in transforming not only their own professional development plusses and minuses insofar as embedding technology into their personal high level instructional quivers but also for the capacity of the entire school systems they comprise for consistency of vision and for unanimity of purpose.

Stephanie Rothstein

Instructional Coach, Teacher, Mentor, Speaker, and Writer

“Focuses on the next steps we all need right now.”

Navigating the Toggled Term – A Guide for K-12 Classroom and School Leaders helps us focus on the next steps we all need right now. COVID has pushed us to look at the necessary shifts in our educational practices and professional development. This book guides us through reflection on the Toggled Term and where we want to be moving forward. With a better understanding of research, options in practice and applications, these steps become actionable and we are able to shift from planning to practice. I really appreciate thinking about the impact on professional learning. As an Instructional Coach, Chapter 11 speaks to my heart. With a focus on the innovator’s mindset and defining one’s brand, I am now thinking about the impact that this must have on my approach to Professional Development. While the Toggled Term has brought many challenges, it also provides many new opportunities that this guide thoroughly details.

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