Whether or not you consider yourself an organized teacher or person, in the era of pandemic teaching, I've learned that it is crucial to organize courses within my learning management system (LMS) in a way that helps students who are not in class for whatever the reason. It took a pandemic to make me reconsider how I structure my activities and assignments within the LMS so that all students are clear on what we are doing, when we are doing it, and how we are doing it. I should have thought of this a long time ago, but the pandemic really brought this need to the forefront. Now that I know better, I do better.
As you know, I love to teach students several tools and then let them choose the one they prefer for different activities we do in class. It can be challenging to find the time for students to learn those new tools in this fast paced data driven world we've created. When you are in a smaller district and are the only one who teaches those subjects or classes, then finding time isn't so hard. However, for those in larger districts who have to keep pace with all the other teachers of that class or subject, that's when we have to think "inside the box," as George Couros would say. How can we we still allow for student choice and creativity when time constraints mean it is hard to teach a variety of tools quickly?
We've all had to deal with others who call us names, and those who make assumptions and judgements about us. How we handle those and the resulting after waves of self-doubt can determine current and future successes, well-being, and resiliency. I've frequently looked back on that old saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me," with amazement. Words certainly can hurt us.
As an English teacher, reading as always been a love of mine personally, as well as a focus of mine professionally. As a high school teacher, though, I have not been taught HOW to teach the reading skills. My expertise is in the analysis and comprehension of texts, so when the district begins to talk about having the English teachers facilitate reading intervention, I throw up my hand to point out that I have no literacy training. I'm probably not the only teacher this has happened to, and if we're being honest, it is up to everyone in a district to ensure all students can read and have the tools necessary to help them be successful readers.
My hat is off to all educators out there who just survived one of the hardest years, if not THE hardest, in education to date. If we never hear the words “flexibility” and “pivot” again, life would be grand. However, as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year, there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it.
While there are a lot of ways to promote SEL and prosocial behavior in the classroom, one powerful way to do so is by leveraging the creativity of educational technology tools. Creative tools like Buncee can be a powerful resource for teachers wanting to embed SEL practices into their regular curriculum.
Let's talk assessment! Before we dig into a few tools, let me just remind us all that any tool that students can use to create something are also tools that teachers can use for a formative assessment. So before you begin digging into these fabulous tools, keep in mind that the main focus is what you want students to demonstrate that they know. Once you have that firmly fixed in your mind, then contemplate which of these creative tools can help students show what they know the best. Where possible, allow students some choice in the tool they use also. Okay, with that out of the way, let's get to it!
As state testing (for some this year and for most or all of us in a normal non pandemic year) looms in the near future, days get warmer, and the school year winds down, many educators are thinking towards next year. Sure, a lot of thoughts are also aimed at the summer and vacation plans, but some thoughts are focused on the next school year. We have almost completed what might very well be the toughest school year of all time. One for the record books for sure, so naturally we need a summer break, but thoughts of next year still linger.
Life has been busy, as you may have noted from the fact my last post was from the middle of February. As I pondered how to bring some fun into my classroom for my students in my last hour Spanish class (I teach English II, Mythology, Yearbook, and Multimedia Communications the rest of the day), I thought about making a game. Then I recalled how much fun my students in other classes have had creating their own games to help them learn the content, and that settled it for me. I would have my students create the game or games.
Right now, you are thinking I could be a bit off center or right on target for talking about blogging with littles, but hear me out. Even if your students can't write or type yet, they can respond to a prompt with visuals, clipart, or drawings. You can do that without any setup or prep when using Buncee, but if you don't have an account, then Slides or Powerpoint make good free options with a bit of work up front. Whichever tool you choose to use, giving students another way to share their voice and ideas is always the right thing to do