Three Myths of Distance Learning

By Ian Kelleher

I have a unique and marvelous job. I teach science to high schoolers every day, but I am also “Chair of Research” for my school, charged with answering this question: “How do we use the science of teaching and learning to improve every child’s whole school experience?” The days of COVID have been difficult, but a fascinating challenge – how can the science of learning help us in this unique time?

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Three Resources for Bringing the Joy Factor to Your Online Classroom

By Rachel Fuhrman

This post originally appeared on Tales from the Classroom.

As I gear up for the second half of the most unique school year I may ever encounter, I am focused on what I can do to provide an engaging, enriching, and exciting experience for my students. When I think about my classroom in previous years, I have always prioritized the joy factor through the use of humor and games. Now, I have shifted my focus to what bringing joy looks like online. While I hope to continue to bring my sense of humor to my students virtually, I know that it can be challenging to communicate as fluidly as we once did. Because of this, I am primarily focusing on the use of games and competitions to bring joy. Doing so not only allows students to be engaged with their content, but also provides students the opportunity to engage with one another. Below, I have outlined three of my favorite resources for bringing joy through games and competitions online.

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STEM and SEL in Tandem, at Home

By Eric Iversen 

For a long time, advocates of STEM education have worked to bring STEM learning closer to students’ lives outside of school. This year, though, COVID has made STEM learning a part of students’ lives in ways nobody ever imagined or wanted. As schools were forced to close, educators have been managing the switch to emergency remote learning to the greatest of their abilities, and the resources and strategies that have been shared across the K-12 world are voluminous. Even so, there is no doubt that uprooting STEM education from the school building comes with many kinds of loss, including carefully designed classroom and lab spaces set up with technical equipment and materials that are impossible to replicate in the home.

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A special offer for K-12Talk readers!

As a thank you for your loyal readership, Norton Books in Education is pleased to offer one FREE Quick Reference Guide (QRG) to our subscribers. Each QRG is an 8.5” x 11” multi-panel laminated card focused on an important instructional topic. Learn more about these new resources in a past post
here.

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The Power of Teaching Contemporary Poetry

By Melissa Smith

Imagine my student’s surprise when Elizabeth Acevedo complimented her analysis of her poem , or when Nate Marshall tweeted that a student’s blog on his poem was “dope” and “fresh.” Students feel recognized and validated, and these interactions are one of the most rewarding benefits to teaching living poets.

The #TeachLivingPoets movement started as a simple hashtag—a way for me to share my favorite poems and ways to teach them on social media. In 2017, after Skyping with poet R. A. Villanueva, whose poems we had read in class, my students begged me to set up another call; they wanted more. We ended up Skyping with him three times and the reaction I saw in my students was pure teaching gold. They were enthralled. They wrote guitar songs set to his poems. They wrote poems responding to his poems. They were excited—about poetry! The following year, social media interaction and Skype video calls quickly morphed into poetry readings and classroom visits.

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COVID has cast a dark cloud on education, but there are some silver linings

By Mary Burns, Education Development Center

With large-scale school shutdowns, the ensuing lack of academic and social supports for students, and the move to remote learning, COVID-19 has been an educational catastrophe for many students. Yet, as in many crises, the education community has responded with resilience and imagination about how we can emerge from the pandemic with a more equitable and high-quality education system.  Remote learning in particular has provided opportunities for rethinking instructional design, focusing on student wellbeing, addressing inequity, and embracing and experimenting with educational technology in ways that can be applied to the post-COVID classroom. These “silver linings,” upon which we can and should build, are discussed below.

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Collaborating with therapists to support your students during COVID-19

By Mary Eno

COVID-19 continues to have a devastating impact on our educational institutions. Therapists who work with kids are experiencing these reverberations along with teachers and school support staff, as we work hard to find ways to support our clients who are struggling. And, just like many school personnel, therapists are hustling to learn how to do their jobs online while worrying about when and how we might be able to open our offices safely again. While we might be tackling kids’ problems from different angles, we’re dealing with similar issues and share a common goal: ensuring that all children learn and thrive at school.

As a therapist who has worked for many years with kids who have school problems, I’ve learned that there are enormous gains when teachers, student support staff, and therapists collaborate. Each party has different insights to share and has access to different aspects of a child’s world. Together, we can pool our data points about a particular child to better understand their lived experience. Given the myriad problems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, it has never been more important for schools and therapists to work together to support vulnerable students and their families. So how can educators and student support staff best collaborate with outside therapists?

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What My Special Needs Son Has Taught Me about Learning

By Jonathan Gold

In a normal year my seventh grade history students would be preparing to debate the merits of the American colonists’ arguments for declaring independence. This year, which would have been my fifteenth in the classroom, is no normal year; instead of teaching history to socially distanced students, I am on leave, working as a full-time homeschool support teacher for my special-needs 9-year-old. My son, Neko, has an extremely rare chromosomal disorder that causes deafness, autism, and significant developmental delays. Neko’s amazing school opened fully remote, and with childcare unfeasible for a child with his profile, my family and I decided I would stay home with him. Neko’s needs are fairly significant and life with him can be challenging. In our best moments, we think of him as a mystery: a magical child who hums with the energy of the universe in ways we can’t fully understand. Serving in this new role as his teacher has given me a different perspective on the complexities of teaching and learning.

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Why Bellringer Activities Are More Important Than Ever

By Mary McConnaha

Since moving to virtual, hybrid, or socially distanced in-person learning, many of us have had to adapt our tried-and-true classroom procedures to fit these new environments. As a middle school English teacher, I have always enjoyed engaging with my students through my “bellringers”—activities I’ve established for the first few minutes of class while my students get settled. Though it took some trial and error, I’ve found ways to continue these traditions via hybrid and online learning. What’s more, I’ve found it to be more important than ever to engage with and uplift my students through these small routines. Here, I’ll share my favorite ways to kick off my English class, whether in-person or online.

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The Unexpected Benefits of Teaching Virtually

By Danielle McAuliffe

The absence of bells and the cacophony of announcements in the morning is replaced with an unusual, peaceful quiet in the virtual high school. There are no loitering students in the halls, no calls to cover classes, no broken copy machines or parking problems. The usual hustle and bustle of what we associate with school is gone, and we are left with, well, time. Uninterrupted time to prepare for the day has become the new normal for both students and teachers. And I don’t mind it—in fact, I enjoy teaching remotely.

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