This year is going to be interesting. After looking at all the possibilities and combinations of plans, I built a mission statement. Resources are not unlimited. Time is in short supply. Making decisions requires clear and understandable guidelines. This year to be ready for what could happen the mission is for every workflow, resource, and solution to meet this criteria:
We are innovating outside of the normal spaces we rely on, and developing ideas that transcend physical boundaries to provide a level of access and accountability that are flexible.
-Tony DePrato, Chief Technology Officer
Sometimes the word “innovation” carries with it an air of the utopian, the gratuitous. Shiny, sleek, impressive tools merge with brilliant minds and flawless ideas. But really most of the time, innovation is actually something more down to earth and a whole lot more human. Innovation is about taking the tools, materials, people, and goals you have, and making do. It is about adapting to fit ever-evolving circumstances and needs. Put simply, innovation is about survival. If this is indeed the case, it seems to me that as we consider the fall semester with all of the uncertainties surrounding COVID, in person instruction, and virtual instruction, we could all use a dose of innovation.
That’s what today’s email is about — a series of resources to help you think about the various possible challenges that will hit us this fall alongside teaching/learning tools and approaches that might make your job easier and more effective. Because none of us are interested in innovation if it’s just for show, but we all want to do our job with as many tools and knowledge bases that we can have at our disposal.
Things to read:
- 3 keys to a better 2020-2021 (Spoiler: wellbeing, engagement, feedback top the list.)
- For a rich list of ideas for how to maintain student engagement even when remaining physically distanced or livestreaming in a few students, check out Active Learning in Hybrid & Physically Distanced Classrooms
Things to listen to:
- This Cult of Pedagogy podcast and accompanying article explore 9 ways online teaching should be different from FTF.
- Listen to Google Classroom Tips for Remote Learning, one of a multitude of practical, tip-packed podcasts available on Google Teacher Podcast.
- In this episode of HybridPod focusing on maintaining connection with students during a pandemic, Sherri Spelic, an elementary grade PE teacher, discusses how she transitioned to online learning in the wake of the global pandemic.
Things to watch:
- Take five minutes to check out how educators (from math to history) integrated blended learning, self-paced-structure, and mastery learning “A Student-Centered Model of Blended Learning”
- Will you be creating short videos for students to view on their own time? Check out this less-than-two-minute video for some tips on how to make them effective.
- Concerned about how you are going to accommodate students that are in-person alongside students that are live-streaming from home? Here is a short example of a very doable class activity that uses a google doc as a central navigation tool.
Things to browse:
- Our very own St. Andrew’s Continuity of Learning Plan has a host of tools & tutorials, and even a faculty-authored google doc of lessons learned. (Consider adding on a bullet point or two today!)
- Hybrid Pedagogy is my favorite online journal for all things digital + pedagogy because it is filled with critical, thoughtful stances toward what is and isn’t possible. The website centers the human rather than the tech. Check out their collection of stuff on online learning here or digital pedagogy here.
- Want some ideas on interdisciplinary authentic projects you can incorporate this fall? Use the grade level and subject area filters to get inspired on this rich site of “Models of Excellence.” Worried about your students working from home? Projects at home pulls out exemplar projects especially easy for students to work on from home.
Things to subscribe to:
- All the podcasts!
- The Educator’s Notebook is a weekly collection of education-related news and resources. If you feel overwhelmed with the amount of education-related information out there right now, then this is for you. It is a fantastic, curated list that is organized by topic so you can easily find what you are looking for. Here is an example from earlier in June.
Tools to use:
- Remember hearing your colleagues talk about the same few tools during last Spring’s Lunch & Learns but feeling like you didn’t have the time or energy to try them out? Maybe this fall is your time!:
- Need to capture a screencast/lecture? We just purchased a school subscription to Screencastify; just log in using your school email. Here are some ways to use it you may not have thought of.
- Flipgrid enables students to quickly make videos for each other and you to explain their learning. (Here’s 9 ways to use it/)
- EdPuzzle makes video watching more interactive and helps you check for understanding as you go. (Here’s why one teacher uses it.)
Things to do:
- Don’t forget to “take two for i2” before Workshop Week to share on Flipgrid what you’ve learned from building up your technology skills this summer!
- Want to try something new that will work well in both in-person and virtual formats? Considering implementing “playlists” into your fall plans.
- Feeling shaky about how to best assess student learning when they are online? Sign up for this Global Online Academy Course Designing for Online Learning: Assessment by 6pm CST on 8/6.
- Begin to build out your Google Classroom or MySA pages with these emerging and unfinished guidelines in mind. As you do so, think about this design as the hub for all of your students, both online and face-to-face, to get a sense of your course and what is expected when. Ask yourself these questions as you go:
- Can a student look quickly at my page and understand how the unit is organized?
- Have I leveraged visual and textual elements (labels/categories, images, white space, icons, lines, etc.) to clearly distinguish between individual tasks (chunks)?
- Build out assignment sheets and rubrics for the fall with clarity in mind. (Here is a SAMPLE exemplar.) Make sure you answer the following questions:
- Who is doing the work?
- What is the intended outcome?
- Where is the work done?
- When is it due?
- Why is it important?
- How is it to be completed?
FACULTY RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK
(Featuring Emily Philpott!)
I came across this cult of pedagogy blog post over the weekend and think it is worth sharing. The title “9 Ways Online Teaching Should Be Different From Face-to-Face Learning” speaks to its relevance. It has some good ideas and echoes much of what we are doing at SA…yay!
Also, have you heard the term “dogfooding” before? It was used in the post. If not, check this out! I didn’t know there was a name for it, but think it is good practice, especially if students will be completing the assignments on their own during virtual learning.
Another resource I regularly read is the The Effortful Educator is a blog that focuses on applying cognitive science to the classroom. Written by a fellow AP Psychology teacher, I find his work to be relevant not only to my psychology course but to all teaching and learning. Right now there is a series called “Ask a Researcher” but it is worth going back to look at some of the blog posts from earlier in the year. If you are looking for ways to innovate, I encourage you to subscribe!