Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Three Areas That Can Help Teachers Improve Hybrid Learning for All Students

This is a guest post from Hali Larkins (@HaliLarkins), communications intern at The Learning Accelerator and Master's student at Columbia Teachers' College.


Across the country, teachers, students, and families have been engaging in simultaneous learning (often referred to as hybrid learning, or “Zoom and Room”) for quite some time. A year into these practices, we have become more familiar with the unfamiliar, but there is still so much for us to learn. Some of the challenges that teachers face in simultaneous learning are related to questions around, “How can teachers equally engage, monitor, and support groups of students who are both in-person and at home ?” We know that this is not the optimal practice, but at The Learning Accelerator, we have identified some tips that can hopefully help to provide success in classrooms during this time.

  1. Make the plan and content visible. The use of tools such as virtual notebooks, online agendas, and communicating the plan, can provide consistent structures, routines, and access to virtual materials and content. 

  2. Build Culture and Community. We understand that community building is difficult in simultaneous learning environments, but providing remote classroom jobs, virtual reward systems, and opportunities for fun can go a long way in strengthening collaboration and connection amongst students. 

  3. Create Opportunities for Student Agency. Simultaneous learning does not always have to be synchronous. Provide students with a variety of opportunities for engagement such as through playlists, choice boards, and task lists. Such strategies cam empower students to drive their own learning
While simultaneous learning is new for most of us, the tips above only scratch the surface. The Learning Accelerator continues to learn from educators and school systems across the country about what is working and what is not working. One of the tools that we have found to be helpful for designing instruction for simultaneous learning is the Concurrent Classroom Model Toolkit, a guide created by Mendon-Upton Regional School District. In this guide, teachers will find additional resources and models that can continue to enhance hybrid learning for their students.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Free Webinar This Thursday - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Every other Thursday Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I host a free webinar called Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. The next one is this Thursday which happens to be April Fools' Day. 

As the title implies, during each webinar we answer questions from anyone who attends as well as questions that have been sent to us in advance. You can email me or Rushton with your questions. In each episode we also share a couple of interesting apps, websites, or videos that we've found during the last couple of weeks.

Watch one of the recent episodes to get a sense of the webinars are all about. Register for this week's webinar right here

And on a related note, PBS Learning Media offers this short video explanation of April Fool's Day

Record and Send Voice Notes in Gmail

A couple of months ago I started dabbling with a Chrome extension called Mote that lets me add voice notes directly into Google Classroom, Slides, and Docs. I have found it quite helpful for adding clarifying comments to the announcements that I post for my students in Google Classroom. Recently, Mote added the capability to record and send voice notes through Gmail. This is a feature that I foresee myself using quite a bit as well. 

With Mote's Chrome extension installed you'll notice a little "Mote" icon in the Gmail composition menu whenever you open a message. Just click on that little icon and you can start recording a voice note that is then automatically inserted into your message. As I demonstrate in this short video, you can type above and below the inserted voice note. 

Watch my short video about using Mote in Gmail to learn how to record and send a voice note. The video also shows how recipients can play your voice notes even if they don't have Mote installed in their web browsers. 


Check out this post that I published on PracticalEdTech.com to learn how to use Mote to record voice notes in Google Classroom, Slides, and Docs. And take a look at this post for a dozen Gmail productivity tips

Three Ways Teachers Can Improve Remote Learning

This is a guest post from Hali Larkins (@HaliLarkins), communications intern at The Learning Accelerator and Master's student at Columbia Teachers' College.


Right now, many students are still trying to navigate major changes to their environments, learning formats, and wellbeing —all factors that can impact their ability to do well in remote learning. Teachers can help students to do their best by introducing them to tools and skills that allow them to manage their own learning. We found that not only do skills in self-directed learning help students to take initiative and set goals, as well as to identify and choose the right resources, but it can also lead to success in remote learning. Here are three areas that teachers can focus on to better help students develop the skills that they need to do well during these times:

Build Independent Learning Skills: 
Independent learning, whether synchronous or asynchronous, requires students to exert greater effort to self-regulate and direct themselves. Teachers can help students build these skills by giving them tools to track their learning through goal setting— a fundamental skill that can help students track their learning progress. With the help of their teachers, students who are learning remotely can co-create schedules and goals in order to manage, monitor and reflect on their learning to know when and where to seek help.

Partner with Families: 
Remote learning also provides a tremendous opportunity to increase partnership with families. Teachers can establish open lines of communications using tools such as Google Classroom to provide weekly guardian summaries and offer frequent communication through emails, texts, and virtual check-ins. These mechanisms can empower parents and guardians tooth guide students and provide valuable feedback to teachers.

Foster Supports for the Whole Child: 
Students’ abilities to fully engage in learning is ultimately influenced by their social and emotional wellbeing (SEL). In remote learning, teachers can implement SEL supports by providing time for students to reflect, journal, and share their feelings, through the use of emojis, and by providing “brain breaks” during instruction time. These strategies not only help teachers to fully understand students’ emotional needs but also provide them with valuable information to adjust instruction as needed.

Navigating remote learning continues to be a challenging task for students. The areas and strategies mentioned above can be applied at every grade level and with all students to provide skills in self management that are valuable beyond academics.

Monday, March 29, 2021

A New Citation Generator from ClassTools

Russel Tarr at ClassTools.net has developed another handy tool for students. This time he's made a citation generator. The ClassTools Citation Generator will create a MLA, APA, Chicago, and HAD citations for any URL that you enter. It will also create citations for books from large publishers. I gave it a try this morning and made this short video about how it works. 




I didn't demonstrate it in the video, but there is a ClassTools Citation Generator bookmarklet that you can install in your browser. With that installed you can simply click it we you're visiting a website and have a citation instantly created for you.

Applications for Education
Like most citation generators, this one makes it a little bit less of a chore for students to cite their sources when writing a research report or assembling a presentation. And if it's less of a chore students are more likely to do it and get in the habit of citing their sources.