When one door closes, a virtual one opens

This week has been a flurry of learning for teachers across the country as our classroom doors have closed, our virtual doors are getting ready to open. This is causing many teachers to have to learn a new way of thinking about teaching and this potentially involves learning to use new tools. While many of these tools may have been shared in the past, there was always the option to look and try later. As of last week, later has become now and we are all learning to adapt to this new way of teaching and learning.

With the news that schools are closed for an undetermined amount of time, sites are providing opportunities for teachers and students to learn from the comfort of their home, keeping a social distance while gathering in online spaces.

Here are a few more things you might want to check out:

Share My Lesson has thousands of lessons, resources, and webinars for all subject areas, all grades, all levels, for English speakers, English language learners, things for parents, teachers, for all times of the year. This particular collection is their Free Online Resources for Educators, Parents, and Students. It is broken down by topic, school level, and subject area, is very easy to navigate, and links to many of the sites and tools offering free access. You can scroll through the linked page or filter through the tabs along the top. Don’t forget the virtual learning conference they are offering March 24-26th.

Way back when in 2009, my colleague Wendy and I were part of Powerful Learning Practice (PLP for short). It was at a PLP in-person conference that I first signed up for Twitter and created my account all the while thinking, “what do I have to say and who is really going to care?” Plus, at the time I had zero followers so whatever I was going to say would go nowhere kind of like the proverbial tree that falls in the woods. If no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Anyway, the PLPeeps are offering a 3-part webinar series (which at this point is 2 parts over the next two Thursdays) on best practices for teaching remotely based on their twelve years of doing so.

If you are looking for ways to engage your students with books, Vooks and Audible are offering their sites for free. Vooks brings stories to life (in animated versions) for elementary school students and is giving teachers their first year free. I have been doing some clicking around and they have all the well known books with reading guides and each day they are going to offer a week’s worth of daily activities to do with two Vooks titles. This is week 1. Audible is a whole collection of audio books and they too are offering free streaming for kids. From the very young to the teens and the literary classics, just click, listen (in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Mandarin), and learn.

This resource doc is a living document with resources, tips, tools being added often. The last edit was yesterday dinner time. You will find resources on creating tutorials, lesson plans, help guides, and this fabulous read aloud and activity guide with authors offering read alouds both live and recorded each day. You will definitely want to take a look at and share this with your students. Other authors are sharing both read alouds and accompanying resources to complement their stories and to show that learning can happen anywhere. One thing to note: I have seen on Twitter that authors are ok with teachers reading aloud their books to their students but would like us to pause and ask questions, do some think, notice, wonder so that it is not a straight reading.

Speaking of read-alouds, how about listening to a story being read from astronauts in space? This just in: Virtual School Activities from Africam (live action cams from Africa) and aquariums to You-Visit, 360 degree virtual reality experiences. There are so many things in between including storytime from space, the U.S. Holocaust Museum online exhibits, and the Vatican Museums. with updates every couple days. This will provide you and your students different experiences each day.

This next resource come from Pernille Ripp, creator of the Global Read Aloud. She has created a “Choose Your Own Adventure” for virtual learning. These are two week adventures and include an independent reading adventure, a picture book read aloud, an inquiry project and a creative writing project. She includes everything you need to introduce this to students and use with your classes. While Pernlle is a 7th grade teacher, I can see teachers of all grade levels being able to adapt these adventures for your personal students.

And here is a final fun idea for all you who are missing sports. Last night while my husband and I were watching Slippery Stairs competition on ESPN (which tops our watching of the 2019 corn hole championships #emptynesters) my husband showed me a March Madness bracket sports movie version (here is ESPN’s version) and then this morning I saw this one from a band teacher with composers. I can see this idea adapted for English teachers with novels or writers, and students submitting their picks, art teachers with artists or paintings, and history teachers with battles, leaders, eras.

So, while we are all making this transition, we can feel positive about the way teachers have come together to share resources, learn together, and model resilience for our students and each other. And to think we did this all in a matter of days. Imagine if we had time to really plan!

It’s All About Who You Know #IMMOOC


Image from Pixabay

“I believe isolation is the enemy of innovation. I will learn from others to create better opportunities for others and myself.” ~George Couros

Week 2: Take one of the “Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset” and write an example of how you exemplify it in your own work.

I fell into my job 10 years ago and was only supposed to stay until they found someone to replace the teacher who had left. I was not “techy”, I was not digitally literate, I did not even know how to make a Power Point (which at the time was the benchmark as it was a term I knew). I was basically learning things right before I was teaching my classes.

Because my classes were scheduled intermittently throughout each day, I had blocks of time where I could “play and learn” and basically figure things out. I browsed, I searched, and found Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers and Kelly Tenkely of i learn technology (and later, founder of Anastasis Academy). I basically hit the learning jackpot! By then I went from being temporary to having a full time contract. At the same time I learned about Powerful Learning Practice because there was a cohort in my school. I did not become part of the PLPeeps until year two of my job, but that was ok, because I had plenty to learn and try until then. Plus, I had become friendly with one of the fifth grade teachers with whom I enjoyed brainstorming so I had plenty on my plate.

It was during my second year of teaching that I joined PLP and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach encouraged all of us Peeps to create a Twitter account. At the time (September of 2009), I did not know what I would tweet about. Who would want to listen to me or anything I had to say. Who wold really care? I let that Twitter account sit there for a while, idling, laying dormant until later that spring. I went to a PLP conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center where there were speakers like Will Richardson and many others to connect with. It was the first time I saw a hashtag used and so I decided I would tweet interesting things from the conference and use that hashtag. One tweet led to another and I was hooked.

I started following people from the conference, especially those whom Sheryl followed and suggested.  I found Eric Sheninger, Jackie Gerstein, Jerry the cybraryman, Tom Whitby, Steve Hargadon, Alec Couros, and George Couros. I learned about virtual spaces like Nings, blogs, and wikis; massive open online learning sites like Coursera; educational chats like #edchat, #ntchat, and #sschat; conferences like #edcamps, Teachmeets, and TEDx, and began going to those to meet and connect with more people. It was fortunate that I had a built-in conference partner in my friend and colleague Wendy who was always up for a good conference.

I made connections and learned from people who in the Twitterverse and educational sphere are rock stars.

Being connected is just one of the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset. It is these connections that excite, motivate, and inspire me to try new things with my students, share what I learn with my colleagues, and continue to evolve and grow as an educator and learner.

Get Inspired for Free! Who’s In?

This is what I’ll be reading next: The Connected Teacher: Powering Up from Powerful Learning Practice. Nothing gets better than good PD than good, FREE PD. I’ll be reading and sharing tidbits, quotes and thoughts as I go along BUT would love to find other people to read with and share.

So, who’s in? Who wants to read and have a virtual book club with me? Anyone??