Planning for the 20-21 School Year
One thing we all have in common right now is that we have NO IDEA how to plan for this year. While chatting with some educator friends last week, we decided it's a no-checklist kind of year. Don't get me wrong, we'll have tons on our to-do list, but there isn't a checklist to follow to make back to school easy because no one has done it before!
So here's my attempt at making this year less painful...
As a coach, I'm trying my hardest to gather things that will help my teachers through an interesting mix of face-to-face and virual learning. They were just getting the hang of the virtual part, then we had to throw in the face-to-face part. That's out of our control, so we are going to try to make the best of it! My first thought was to help them create a workflow to their day so they aren't "live" all day, but they can include their virtual students during the most important times. Below are some guiding questions I found from NIET that might help with the planning process. In our school, we'll also be setting up a clickable schedule where teachers and students can click on the link they need at the right time to join a live meeting with their class. To start with, we'll be setting up a morning, mid-day, and afternoon time that's required. The rest of the live times (since you can't always plan the best teachable moments) will be linked in Google Classroom for easy acces. I'll be posting more after we officially start school to try it out.
✅ Helpful Resources:
Google has been sharing a ton of resources to help educators make the best of our current situation and new trends that have surfaced to meet the needs of our students. Here are a few that can be shared with families since they will be in this with us. I'm thinking these would be great to share in your first newsletter or virtual introduction for the year.
If you are a GSuite district, there are tons of tools you can use to help make your instruction easy to navigate whether or not you are face-to-face, virtual, or a mix of both. Here are the tools & Extentions I have found really useful since last March when all this started.
📅 Google Calendar
Google Calendar can be a life saver for you when you are working in a digital enviroment. Using calendar events with a Google Meet link can make it much easier to keep track of time. I have notifications settings for anywhere from 15 to 5 minutes before an event to make sure I stay on schedule. Here are a few posts and resources that might help you if this sounds like something that will help your workflow (including a link to my post on surviving remote learning).
🎥 Google Meet
There's a few different ways to use Google Meet. Right now, the safest way to use it with students is to either go to meet.google.com and create a nicknamed meet from there, or use the Google Meet link in Google Classroom (which also serves as a nicknamed meet where students can't join without the teacher). Below I've linked Eric Curts Google Meet series so you can choose what you need to know.
🖼️ Google Slides
Google Slides is one of my favorite Google tools! It's not just about making presentations pretty, but making them effective and engaging.
Some of the ways you can use Google Slides to help you teach right now can include:
👩💻 Google Classroom
I won't even try to create my own resources for Google Classroom tutorials when I have access to Kasey Bell's resources! Check out all that she has to offer here. Also, she has an amazing Google Classroom Master class (that I've taken myself) that includes EVERYTHING you would need to know, and then some. If you are new to Google Classroom, do yourself a favor and take this course (which is on sale right now, because she's awesome like that)!
Here's the link to the course if the free resources linked above isn't enough for you.
Another thing I'd recommend is to listen to her latest Podcast on "How to Create Google Classroom Blended Learning Lessons" (part 3 of a great back-to-school series).
Some of my favorite extensions to use with the apps mentions above are linked below.
🔗 Wakelet, Edpuzzle, SeeSaw, and Flipgrid
These aren't Google tools, but they are sites we will be using a lot this year! As I've mentioned before, I use Wakelet for my #PottyPD and our school newsletter. We also started using it as a "hub" for lesson plans. Here's a post on some of the many ways you can use Wakelet.
Flipgrid is an amazing tool to keep your kids engaged and seeing each other even if they aren't in the school building with you. One of my favorite app smashing ideas is to start your Wakelet off with a Flipgrid short (embeded in Wakelet alread) to add your personality into your Wakelet collections. Want to know more about Flipgrid? You can check out the tons of resources already created for educators here.
SeeSaw! I haven't used SeeSaw myself much, but I know our K-2 teachers LOVE it! We bought a subscription for our teachers to use this year and they are super excited! I'll be able to share more on how we use it soon. In the meantime, check out their resources for educators here.
💡It's about the instruction & pedagogy, not just the tool!
As with any technology integration, you have to think about the purpose before you pick the tool. Here's a Toolkit from Shake Up Learning that will help you plan engaging lessons regardless of the tools you choose to support "Dynamic Learning" in your classroom. Just make sure to not overwhelm yourself and keep self-care on your calendar. I'd also love to hear what you are doing to try to keep yourself same this year. Tag me on Twitter or comment below with you thoughts! ~Pam
2nd Annual #PD4uandme Blogging BINGO
Last year we started a Summer Blogging BINGO Challenge during our #PD4uandme chat (Saturdays 8:30-9:00 am EST) and had such a great response that we had to do it again this summer! We figured it would give us all something constructive to do during all this craziness.
How It Works...
1. Check out the topics to see what you might want to blog about.
2. Click on the link in the middle, which takes you to a Google Form to share your blog link.
3. The first time you fill out the form, make sure to copy the link from the response message so you can access the links to all the other blog posts for your reading pleasure.
4. Add to the Google Form each time you write a blog post that fits one of the topics (choose whatever fits best, even if it's not exactly the same).
If you want to participate, even if you've never joined our chat, please do! We'd love to meet new blogging friends!
I Want My Own!
I created the BINGO board with Google Drawings. If you want to make your own, here's a template for you. The Google Form is very simple to recreate (or you can copy ours here) then link to your own image in the middle of the BINGO board. Make sure to change your response message with the link to the Form responses Google Sheet.
That's it! It's super easy!
This would be a great thing to do for classroom blogs for students or for teachers in your building.
If you make your own, please share it with us (Me, Emily Francis, and Teresa Gross) on Twitter using the #PD4uandme hashtag anytime. We'd love to hear your ideas! Happy Blogging! ~Pam
Usually, I’m at least 5 summer bucket list items deep by now, but not this year. Not because I can’t… just because it doesn’t feel like summer.
In some ways, it feels like we’ve been on summer break since the middle of March. Being in the south, the weather has been amazing, and working from home with older kids hasn’t been so bad. In other ways, I feel like I’m still supposed to be at school since we didn’t have an official send-off. It’s just strange…
Between staying informed on all the crazy things happening in the world and our normal day-to-day family responsibilities, I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster.
One day, I feel like I really need to make sure I’m doing my part to understand what it means to be anti-racist (which I feel like I am, but my next read is How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi to make sure I’m doing my part), then the next day I’m dealing with putting my mother-in-law in an assisted living center in the near future as well as moving ourselves. Next thing I know, I’m doing a recording with some amazing EDU rockstars and I feel like I’m back in my normal world again. Now, we’re talking about what August will look like in our schools. It all makes me want to just drive myself out to our family property and stay there until our normal world returns.
All this is to say that I haven’t really felt it in my heart to write a blog post. I don’t know enough about the topics being discussed on social media to add my thoughts, so I haven’t. Actually, I tried once and it went south quickly. After deleting my (1) tweet and the (10+) responses and blocking a person who was basically threatening me, I realized why I was trying to stay out of it.
I do want you to know that I agree that we live in a world that isn’t always fair, but we all still live in the same world. I just keep praying that our world will learn to work together again soon and see each other as brothers and sisters with the same father (as a Christian, this is a belief I refuse to apologize for). #bettertogether
I’m hoping that writing this post will be a way to reflect on what’s going on in my head and in my heart so I can continue to support educators who need to move forward one way or another for our kids. We can’t lose educators now...If anything, they are the people who can really inspire our kids to be the future leaders we all need. Hang in there, educators! You can do this… we can’t lose you now.
Google Teacher Podcast: Episode 65
A while back I had the opportunity to do a podcast with two of my favorite EDU Rockstars, Kasey Bell and Matt Miller. The Google Teacher Podcast has kept me company in the car or on evening walks since January 2017! If you haven't listened to it, you have to check it out! I wasn't a podcast fan until I started listening to this Dynamic Google Duo. When I was on the show, I shared the Google tips and tricks I use as an Instructional Coach. I also created a resource document that included a tracker that I still live by. Since we're wrapping up the year (as crazy as it's been), I've updated the resource page with my 2020-2021 tracker if you'd like to use the template. There's a tab for each month and it's already dated for you! Check out the show notes and the Google Teacher Podcast episode if you want to hear about the other tools I use.
Google Sheets Daily Tracker
My tracker gets a little busy by the end of the month, but it's a tab I have pinned in Google Chrome at all times and shared with my work and personal Google accounts. What I love most is that I can access it on any device.
You can see that I link everything to this tracker! Anything I need to refer to from my to-do list is linked so I don't need to search for it. I use the left side under my codes for monthly resources, then I use the "Notes" section on the right for teacher names that I have to touch base with as a part of a coaching cycle or flexible check in of some kind. Some of the schedule you see here is copied from week to week, then I fill in the rest as I go.
I'll often leave this up on my computer when I leave my room so teachers that stop in can look to see where I am at any given time. Sure, I could use a shared Google calendar to do this, but the time it takes me to create events for every part of my day isn't worth the lost time. Having an entire month on one tab makes it so easy to scroll back and forth so I can fill in my schedule easily.
Get your copy of the template today and start planning for next year!
Bonus: New Google Sheets Feature!
Google Sheets has recently added a long awaited feature which will make this tracker even more useful! You can now add multiple hyperlinks in the same cell! It's pretty self explanitory, but here's a blog post from Alice Keeler if you want to learn more.
I know it's a little hard to plan too far ahead right now with school closures and 2020-2021 school year uncertainties, but at least you can start exploring what might work for you.
Take care! ~Pam @specialtechie
I'm an Instructional Coach at Daniel Island School in Berkeley County South Carolina and a Google Certified Trainer.