Back to (Virtual) Reality

Find this Pin and more on Quotes by Terri Terry

In just a few short days, we will be back to school. I say “to school” because for some, they will be in the building and for others, they will be teaching or learning from home. Summer, if you had one, is nearing its official end (though I am going to wear white just for spite) and the reality of school is quickly approaching. With this new school year upon us, it’s time to look at what kinds of tools, tips, and ideas teachers are sharing.

First is a Distance Learning Wakelet library housing several additional Wakelets (collections). As you may recall from an earlier post where I introduced Wakelet, it is a curating and sharing tool for collections of links, documents, PDFs, videos, and more. This Distance Learning Wakelet has a collection of 21 other Wakelets including subject-specific collections for Math, STEAM, History, English, Art/Music/Theater, PE, and more that you may find helpful as we try to navigate this “year like no other” as our HOS likes to say. For my elementary teaching friends, this Elementary Level Distance Learning Resources with, among other things, is this document of virtual community building activities (that are not just for elementary school teachers/students). I am not going to link to each aforementioned collection, clicking is for you to do; I am just leading you to the water

Next, from Khan Academy, is Refresh, a collection of 5-minute warm-up, mid-lesson brain breaks, or fun way to wrap up class time activities that you can use with your in-person and remote learners. I can see these as prompts as students arrive to your virtual class time, as an announcement on your LMS, or projected on your whiteboard as you transition to class time.

Speaking of brain breaks, you will want to keep Brain Breaks Zoom Edition from the Institute of Positive Education open on and ready to use each day with your students.

If you teach children ages 8-12, live with them in your home, or know kids this age then you will want to add this book, written by my friend, AP Gov teacher and mentor to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas activists, Jeff Foster. For Which We Stand is a book about government, how it works, why it is important, and how you can take a stand to bring about change.

Get your “Jam” on with this collection of 20+ Jamboard tips, ideas, and templates (you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the linked post for the templates) you can use with your students. Jamboard is a Google app (and physical tool) that in our school we enabled for all our users so teachers and students can easily collaborate whether you are teaching the students in the room, in the zoom, or in the Team. Want to know more about Jamboard? Then you’ll want to open the post.

The next thing I am sharing is EPIC! No, this time it is not the Netflix of books I am talking about but this free, EPIC e-book of tech tools and apps that a group of Awesome Educators put together using Book Creator. You’ll love the clickable index that will take you right to the page of your choice where you can then learn about that tool. While some/many may/will/should be familiar (like Padlet and Pear Deck), there are many others (like Actively Learn and Wizer) that you might not have heard of yet that could just be your next best teaching tool.

Finally, I woke up this morning to a Twitter notification of a series of tweets from Jennifer Gonzalez asking teachers to pool their suggestions for teaching students both in the room and in the zoom/team. Among the many excellent suggestions like:

“Break up the time into manageable segments! Just because you have a 40 min synchronous meeting time doesn’t mean you need to be on stage for 40 min trying to accommodate kids online and in person. Think breakout groups and independent tasks and discussion time.” and

“I think getting student input is crucial. Ask the students in class and the students at home for their suggestions. And after 1 week, do a check in. What is going right? What is frustrating? Shows students you value their voices, but also models problem-solving and collaboration.” and

“I just know I want to try keeping the interaction going between the two cohorts, rather than separating their experiences.”

Included in the tweets was this YouTube video on using Pear Deck to promote peer-to-peer learning, and this Slides presentation for Organizing Simultaneous Activities when you are teaching in-person and remote learners. While the look and feel of the template might make you think elementary (the author of the tweet said), most if not all the ideas and suggestions is really applicable to all ages of learners. Eric Sheninger also shared his suggestion for managing the in-person and remote learners by creating station rotations.

So whether you are heading back to the building or your remote classroom to students in the classroom, in the team, or both, I wish you the best. You can do this.

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