Taking Distance Learning to the Next Level-5/3/2020

With a successful week of synchronous instruction accomplished, I had this moment of relief- yes, we finally did it. Third time's the charm, right? Unless the past few weeks where I was constantly putting out fires, this week I finally had a chance to reflect and plan next steps.

What went well this week?

  1. This week, my colleagues were finally able to accomplish four consecutive days of synchronous instruction.

  2. I was able to help close to 20 of my colleagues during my morning and afternoon office hours.

  3. My second grade team transitioned to using Google Classroom.

  4. I had time to start thinking about next steps and plan upcoming learning opportunities.

What adjustments might I need to make?

1. Find ways to help teachers and students interact more during lessons.

2. Provide learning opportunities for teachers for more interactive asynchronous instruction.

3. Provide less time for office hours in the afternoon, since they are not being used as much.

4. Provide a variety of options and times for learning opportunities.

1. The Power of Video to the Next Level with EdPuzzle

Last week, I shared how my first grade team have become video masters. Rather than relying on synchronous lessons, they have curated a library of instructional videos to help their students learn anywhere and anytime. With their creativity in mind, I decided to share EdPuzzle as one of my learning opportunities this coming week.

Why Use EdPuzzle?

That's easy. EdPuzzle takes ANY video and makes it your lesson. EdPuzzle allows you to take videos and add a variety of interactive questions: multiple choice or short answer. It helps you to monitor student progress as they watch videos.

If you are already making amazing videos like my first grade team, think of how amazing it would be to give students opportunities to respond at planned points. You could then go back after the lesson and see what your students struggled with and plan next steps.

If you haven't made any videos yet, EdPuzzle has a full library of curated content and allows you to upload any YouTube videos as well. In these uncertain times, EdPuzzle becomes the perfect tool for sharing asynchronous content.

2. Taking Google Slides to the Next Level- PearDeck

Two weeks ago, I shared how my third grade team was using Google Slides for their choice boards. This past week as I looked at their Google Classroom sites, I noticed many of them have begun to organize their days into slide decks where they can share a variety of activities throughout the day. With their amazing idea in mind, I wanted to share with teams like theirs how PearDeck could take those slides to new places.

Why Pear Deck?

That's another easy answer. But adding Pear Deck to an existing Google Slides deck, you make it interactive. If you are like my third grade team and making amazing slide decks, you can transform it into a Student Paced Pear Deck and watch your students "work." You can add in any of the six interactive questions to monitor your students' understanding of the asynchronous content. Once finished, you can give individual feedback using Student Takeaways that save to each student's Drive.

If you aren't already making slide decks, Pear Deck has amazing premade templates for all subjects and ages. You can use these templates or your own slides to provide either synchronous or asynchronous instruction. Plus, did you hear the great news: Pear Deck now has Audio! You can now add your voice to your Pear Deck slide deck for students!

3. Staying connected with students using Flipgrid

Last week, I was honored to share with my fellow specialists how to use Flipgrid to asynchronously connect with students. I am so excited to see how they use this dynamic platform to connect with students. In the past, I have always talked about Flipgrid as a way to empower student voice and I still believe it is one of the best edtech tools for students to use to empower their voice. But in times like these, Flipgrid has become even more powerful and it enables us to connect with our students and for our students to connect with each other asynchronously.

Why Flipgrid?

Using a video discussion platform is such a great way for students and teachers to stay connected. Many of my fellow specialists are using moderated discussion boards as virtual office hours. Our school's band teacher is using it as a way to assess student progress and give video feedback.

The fourth grade teachers at my school demonstrate so many great examples of how you can use Flipgrid to make connections. In Mrs. Pritz's class , students are using this platform to showcase shared learning such as book recommendations. Mrs. Biberaj's class uses it for a morning meeting share and reflections daily. Mrs. Mangan's class even used Flipgrid to recite poetry. So many fabulous ways to connect- I can't wait to see what other ways the teachers at my school come up with.

As we get ready to begin Teacher Appreciation week, I want all of my colleagues to know how much I appreciate them.I am so proud to represent all of these amazing educators as my school's tech coach. Their dedication and perseverance inspires me daily. It makes me want to do "whatever it takes" to support them.

This week, in addition to my virtual office hours where teachers reach out to me, I am so excited this week to begin some optional shared learning opportunities about the edtech tools I highlighted in this week's blog post. I am looking forward to not only sharing these tools and how they can take distance learning to the next level but seeing the magic my colleagues create as they add them to both synchronous and asynchronous instruction.