Changing Perspective

So I have written about perspective before, https://edtechease.com/2020/02/02/perspective/. In that blog piece I touched on how I use perspective in school.  But I have been thinking more about perspective the last few weeks. It came fully to my attention this week when talking to a student’s parents. They told me how their daughter was feeling about her class. I did not agree with how the student was relating her experiences in class. But I stopped myself from arguing and instead said “her perception is her reality.” And this is true. Regardless as to how the teachers are approaching supporting this student in class, if she is not feeling this support, then the support is only partially working. 

Often, perspective comes into my office when I have two (or more) students who visit because of a conflict. My procedure is to give each student the opportunity to talk uninterrupted. My hope is that the other child(ren) will hear the perspective of the child talking. Usually, I need to guide all the children in “seeing” and acknowledging the other perspective(s). But learning to look at other points of view takes practice and patience. Practice for students and adults. Patience by me, teachers, and other adults. 

For those who follow me on Instagram (@edtechease), I routinely look for, and post, book recommendations. Recently on Instagram, I saw a post that included a variety of books and Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld was one.

I was intrigued and ordered it. I was a bit disappointed when I received it because it was a board book. In my experience, elementary students equate board books with preschool and will dismiss the book. That was not what I had intended when I bought it. But just looking at the cover, I changed my mind (and perspective). This would be great to project at a faculty meeting to start a conversation about perspective! I will confess to first seeing the Rabbit. But with an adjustment to my eyes (and my perspective) I saw the Duck. After school one afternon this past week,  I had it on my desk and when another admin’s daughter came by, I asked her what she saw. She said the Rabbit. I asked her if she could see something else and she said no. With some conversation and direction, she did see the Duck. Her little Kindergarten sister walked by and when asked, she saw the Duck first. With some hints to where to look for the ears, she saw the Rabbit. Finally, we asked the oldest sister and honestly as I write I do not remember which she saw, but it did take some time for her to see the other one. In fact she read several of the pages before she changed her perspective enough to see the other character. 

These encounters with the book just confirm my thoughts on using this as a Literature Lasso. A book to lasso teachers’ and students’ attention to the idea of perspective. Then discuss perspective taking from a neutral, non-personal direction. I will continue to tryand see student’s perspectives as well as my colleagues. Because as I said, this takes practice and patience. 

Looking for other Literature Lassos? Check out my Padlet: https://padlet.com/swladis3/xh6aytbp3ht  or follow me in one of the ways below. 

Let me know how you discuss perspective or use perspective when talking with students.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

Practice, Practice, Practice Revisited

So it happened again! Sent home scores for the first progress monitoring assessments and parents are calling, texting and stopping at carpool to ask how to improve their child’s reading scores. First, the true question is how to improve their reading skills. Second, READ! So I started to write down my thoughts and said to myself this sounds familiar. And it was…I have written about this before. so here it is again:

Want to get better at something? Then practice it! Been feeling a bit frustrated that some educators and parents seem to think that students will improve in reading just because we are assessing their reading skills. No. Some think that students will improve their individual reading skills because they are reading short passages in an anthology once or twice a week. No. Just like all skills, reading must be consistently practiced.

That is not to say that there are not other factors that contribute to reading development. Having plenty of books available for our readers is one. Modeling good fluency and reading comprehension when reading aloud is another. Making personal connections to the story. And there are abundant articles for parents and entire books written to support reading instruction in the classroom.

The bottom line…all the articles, books, and advice have one thing in common. One must read to get better at reading. Set aside reading times in class and at home.

A basketball player is not going to have a consistent 3-point shot without hours of practice. A dancer will not learn a new routine or a new dance move without practicing. A pianist must practice to grow into move difficult arrangements. Gamers practice their digital prowess.

So let’s talk with our reluctant readers about topics they like and show them book after book till they find one they enjoy. Let’s do book talks to introduce new genres and titles to all our readers. Let’s DEAR. Let’s integrate science and social studies into our Language Arts classes through novels. Let’s use picture books to introduce a STEAM challenge. Let’s fill our classroom and school libraries with books!

Mostly, let’s have the students read!!

How are you encouraging reading in your classroom or school? Reach out with your ideas via Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, swladis@edtechease.com

Originally posted on Thursday, 27 December 2018.

What I Have Learned the First Week of School…

Each week during the past Spring’s sequestering due to Covid I wrote an Instagram post (and 1 blog post) about what I had learned. These thoughts mostly came from the distance teaching I was doing with Kindergarten and my talks with my other teacher colleagues about their experiences. So while walking the other day I started making a mental list of how this first week  of school had gone. I realized Iwas doing the same thing I had done in the Spring. What had I learned and what can I change moving forward.

So a little background on where these learnings are coming from. I am consulting with a small private school and not teaching right now. I helped design their Covid policies and their VIP program during the summer. VIP – Virtual/In Person is this school’s version of a hybrid program. Most students are in person but a few are learning virtually along with their in-person classmates. 

So What Have I Learned:

  1. VIP teaching is hard but not impossible.
    1. Connections are imperative! Making time in the already busy day for teachers to have small group time with their VIP Kids. 
    2. Finding ways for the parents and kids to let the teacher(s) know they are having an issue (need more instructions; can’t hear; going to step away from the screen todo their independent work).
  2. Internet and wireless projector issues are the bane of my school day right now.
    1. Daily adjustments and facing these issues calmly (then going into my office for a silent scream)
  3. It is awesome to see kids in school!!
    1. They are all doing great with mask wearing (reminders are often necessary but are met with understanding by students).
  4. As with any challenge – an open mind and preparedness are key.
  5. Teachers are SuperHeroes!

Will add more on my instagram feed as this year progresses.

So what have you learned? If you have not started school, Good Luck and let us know later what you have learned.Share in one of the ways below. 

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

What can we make kids do?

This is an excellent question. I have had parents tell me that I can and should “make” their child sit and do his/her work. Now let me be clear… I can’t “make” kids do their schoolwork. I can encourage them, I can support them, I can reteach the material, I can praise them, I can even bribe them with a reward system. But I can not “make” kids do their work (If it is ok with you all, I will leave out the “” from here on, but know that I am mentally putting them in).

In this age of Covid-19, we will need to make kids wear their masks. It is a safety thing, like wearing a seatbelt. I will search for books that can be a literature lasso to open a discuss about their feelings on wearing a mask. Teachers may do cutesy things to make young kids feel more comfortable with seeing their teachers wearing a mask (even if they get criticized on social media for doing it – keep doing it, your heart is in the right place!). We may use masks with a clear area to show our teacher smiles. All to make kids wear their masks.

We will start school, in-person or virtually, and make kids comfortable in their new classroom community. We will do it with read alouds, all-about-me posters and stories, as well as creating classroom expectation anchor charts. 

We can make kids have opportunities to socialize even if it is done through a screen or socially distanced classrooms. 

We can make kids have classrooms filled with literacy opportunities.

We can make kids have lessons planned with their academic and social needs in mind. 

What can you “make” kids do? Share in one of the ways below.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

Reflections

This time last year I wrote a blog post entitled Reflection. Sound familiar? Yes, I chose to use the same title but added an “s.” Why? Because for most weeks of the last few months I have written social media posts and even a blog post about what I have learned during quarantine, distance learning teaching. This morning I woke up and needed some closure on this time period. 

Yesterday was the last day of school at my main client school and I spent the afternoon gathering materials and computers that were being dropped off by families. This was bittersweet as I got to see some students and parents. Some I had seen at our car parade a few weeks ago but some I had not seen since mid-March. 

The questions started as I drove home:

  • How to “open” this school and all schools in August?
  • What does “open” even mean? 
  • How to assess where the students need to start? Review? Support?
  • Did we get back all the materials? Need to count and then order.
  • Do we add platforms to the typical school day so that if we have to close for a time we are ready?
  • Go-Bags for the students in case of closure? What to put in them? 
  • What worked during distance teaching? What to change?

Then came the reflections:

  • Learning Continues…
  • Every day Google Meets worked well with middle school.
  • Would add more Google Meets to a schedule for 4th and 5th grade.
  • Would include more small group and 1-1 Meets for K-3rd grade. This was a helpful way to do formative assessment.
  • Meet with parents in person at the start of school to set the expectations for work submittal in case we close again.
  • ‘Do with Me’ instructional videos worked really well with K-2nd grade.
  • Google Meets with teachers works to maintain connections and support.
  • Texts and emails to connect with parents always is effective for good relationships, in school or out.
  • A platform for younger students (Maybe Seesaw) for video responses or work turn in. 
  • Google Classroom is efffective in school or out for older students.
  • Loom or Screencastify work well for instructional videos (need premium subscription). May work well for video responses from older students. 
  • There is no one way to remote teach effectively.

 Big reflection >>>>> To make meaningful connections on a regular basis works great in and out of school!

Links to previous blog posts mentioned: 

What I Have Learned: https://edtechease.com/2020/04/05/what-i-have-learned/  

Reflection: https://edtechease.com/2020/02/02/year-end-reflections/ 

What have you learned? Share in one of the ways below. If you are looking for some ideas for your children – feel free to contact me.

Join me in July for a virtual workshop: Digital Citizenship – How Do I Teach This? Information on the website.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

Learning Continues…

A decision by the state governments put administrations of almost every school in the U.S.A. into action. Actually all over the world. School was going virtual.  Plans were created and preparations began in earnest. Teachers arrived  to their classrooms with set time periods to gather materials. Decisions were made abut asynchornous and synchronous teaching. Which video conferencing system to use. Tutorials were done on how to use virtual tools. School continues… 

Many schools started distance learning in Mid-March. Adjustments have since been made over the last 7 weeks. Some added Video Conferencing classes to their asynchronous instructional videos. Or visa versa. Some teachers have “office hours” that students can pop into a video conference for support. There are  1-1 video conferences, phone calls, video text calls and even some social distance visits from the sidewalk that happen between teachers and students. Student/teacher connections continue…

Through parent hubs, emails, social media posts – additional resources for distance learning are continually added. Websites that have digital books or audio books. Sites that have animal and sea life webcams for taking virtual field trips. Learning websites to work on skills, keyboarding, or comic creating. Physical Education teachers are doing virtual sessions. Art lessons and Music appreciation are creatively provided by these special area teachers.  Opportunities to have a range of experiences continue… 

Some Principals and Head of Schools start the day with a whole school video conference. Maybe this mimics their morning news programs or just a ‘Hello, have a great day of learning.’  Some have celebrated holidays together virtually. Some have had school assemblies. Many have had car parades to have some social distanced face to face time!  School communities continue… 

Teachers are reading to students through videoed Read Alouds or at Zoom and Google Meets. Novels are being devoured in other upper grades (sometimes through ebooks). Students and parents are searching the book review websites supplied by teachers, schools and librarians. Reading continues…

School buildings may sit empty but the spirit of learning continues in our students, parents and faculties! 

How is learning continuing for you? Let me know.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease  https://www.instagram.com/edtechease/ (Instagram)

@edtechease  https://twitter.com/edtechease (Twitter)

www.edtechease.com (website)

Silver Linings

I have always tried to find the silver lining in any situation. But this social distancing due to Covid-19 has been a tough one for me. Sleeping in a bit each day that is a good thing. Having two of my sons at home (one from college, one opted to remote work with us) another good thing. One son in NYC with his girlfriend is very worrisome for me. Not having my mom and mother-in-law join me earlier in April for the holiday not good. 

Not being able to physically be in a school to teach, coach, prepare for next year is awful. When I read that Florida schools will not return to the classroom this school year, I felt a huge weight drop on my shoulders!

Distance teaching has not been easy to transition to but here is the silver lining: I have learned to do things that have been on my to do list for a while. I have also renewed some tech skills that I had let lapse, particularly using iMovie. My next post or two will be about the programs that I have learned to use to support my distance teaching but will ultimately enhance my coaching of other educators in integrating technology effectively. 

Genially is a program for creating interactive content. I first learned of Genially last summer at ISTE in Philadelphia. I was intrigued. I am a big fan of Canva for my blog posts and other graphics but the idea of interactivity was interesting. But as often happens, many other things took my attention. Then as we started to distance teach, I was contacted by a representative from Genially that I had met at ISTE. She had seen the information on the EdTech EASE website and asked if I had tried Genially yet. This gave me a spark as I could imagine immediately how I would use this in remote learning. I started a Genially creation focused on curating the at-home resources that my parent contacts had told me were most helpful from the huge amount of resources I had sent them. I started this project with a free account to Genially. I was very impressed with the amount of resources that accompany the free plan. All resources for your creations are available in this plan. Check out the At-Home Resources guide I created.  

Full disclosure, as I finished this creation, I did receive a complimentary EDU plan from Genially. This plan allows me to share my creations publicly or privately as well as a variety of download options. Free plans do allow you to share your creations in a public link, so you should be careful of the information placed in the creation. 

I have found Genially fairly easy to learn. Watching the tutorials offered may have been helpful but I like to play first. The animations and interactive features are fun but I soon learned that to maintain them on the creation you must adjust the setting or they disappear after the entrance. Here are a few things I have created (some with animation some without):

Here is a Brag Board that I send out each Friday to my Kindergarten students along with a Week in Review video:

Currently I am trying out creating my Week in Review video in Genially. There are a number of template options, infographics and gamification, to name a few. I like to start with a template and then adjust to my needs. You can start with a blank creation too. I am looking forward to exploring this further, not just now but as we return to “normal.”

A colleague of mine has recently begun talking a lot about gratitude and how attitude plays a part in our having gratitude. So I have decide to adjust my attitude and find my silver linings of remote teaching. Truly for me it is the opportunity to try out new programs and see how they fit into my teaching and coaching world. 

Have you tried anything new to make your remote teaching more effective or just go easier? Let me know.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease  https://www.instagram.com/edtechease/ (Instagram)

@edtechease  https://twitter.com/edtechease (Twitter)

www.edtechease.com (website)

What I Have Learned…

Just finished my third week of distance learning. Here are some Instagram posts I’ve written about what I have learned on this journey.







Some responses to these posts:

I am starting a break as the school I am consulting with (and teaching Kindergarten remotely for) is having their Spring Break. I will take some time to do my needlepoint, sit outside and go walking, read the stack of books waiting for me, work on some upcoming workshops, learn a new program called Genially (more on that in a later post), and prepare for the restart of distance learning. Not totally different from what a typical school break looks like for me but I will do it without meeting friends for coffee or dinners. Virtually yes but not IRL (in real life).  I hope that all this social distancing reminds us to be nicer to each other, take time for family and connecting face to face not just through texts. 

That is what I have learned. To make meaningful connections on a regular basis. 

What have you learned? Share in one the ways below. If you are looking for some ideas for your children – feel free to contact me. 

swladis@edtechease.com, (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

Connections

Been staring at this screen for 10 minutes. What to say, do I have anything to say? Is what I say important to read at this time? Well maybe the point is just to make a connection as we all experience social distancing. So here goes my thoughts:

  • Connections are more important than ever! 
    • Reach out to someone who is living alone.
    • Reach out to family, friends.
      • Make a group text to family each day as a check in. My husband sends one out each day to me and our kids. One of my sisters-in-law created one and we check in and share educational resources and other stuff.
    • Don’t know how to use a video conferencing program, reach out to me (swladis@edtechease.com, @edtechease) and I will help you.
  • Take a walk outside, sit outside, play catch with your child outside, go outside!
  • READ, READ, READ
    • That is my mantra to my students and their parents.
  • Use social media for the good it can do: sharing of ideas but turn it off when it gets overwhelming!
    • Facebook has taken on a new meaning for me- connection. Although that is its intended idea I had been decreasing my time on it because it is a time suck for me. But now I want to see more than ever the faces of my friends who live a distance away.

Ok, that’s it! Just wanted to get a few thoughts out. If you are looking for some ideas for your children – feel free to contact me. 

swladis@edtechease.com, (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)

https://www.pinterest.com/edtechease/boards/ (Pinterest)

Parent Conferences: The Good, The Bad, The Effective

The likelihood is you either just had or will be having parent conferences at your school. For me, parent conferences have always been a time of anticipation mixed with anxiousness. When I say that I refer to my conferences as both a parent and as an educator.

During this school year, I have spoken to both parents and teachers as well as seen the social media posts regarding parent conferences. What do these two groups hope/expect from the Parent Conference?

Some quotes from teachers:

“Understanding”
“Collaborating”
“Express what their child wants to achieve (“no concerns” is often heard)”
“Teachers want to use it as a chance to convey their difficulties with students versus parents only want to hear how great the student.”
‘Dichitomy between parent and teacher expectations of the parent conferences.’
“Teachers need to be ready with suggestions for parent support.”

From parents:

‘Help me understand what happens in school.’
‘I don’t want to teach my child at home.’
‘How can I help …. do better.’
“Don’t just tell me what is wrong with my child, tell me some good too.”

Clearly what we all want (parents and educators) are effective parent conferences. We all want to use this time as a means of communication and action planning. So what can we do to create this effective communication environment? One teacher I spoke to summed it up:

For teachers:

  1. Be prepared to show student’s portfolio of academic performance.
    In other words, have student work available to demonstrate their growth.
  2. Have resources available if there are signs of needing support, such as names of speech/language or OT therapists, or the email of the resource person in the school. For therapists this can just be a listed of local support people with the disclaimer that this is just a list with no recommendations.

For parents:

  1. Prepare a list of questions or concerns ahead of time.
  2. Ask what you can do at home to support your child’s academic success.

Here is a great graphic from Katie Martin (@katiemartinedu) about parents and conferences:

Maybe sending out these parent suggestions the week before conferences, or when the schedule goes out, may be helpful. When a parent misses Parent Conferences, we educators often jump to the conclusions that they don’t care enough to attend. Parents, with very few exceptions, want the best for their children. I have discovered that this may not always be the case. Many can not take off from their jobs because any time away from work results in an inability to pay rent, buy food or the many school supplies that students may need. Paying a babysitter is a luxury some can not afford. And some parents are tired of hearing the negative from the teachers (this will be another blog post on sending out positive messages more often than negative). 

If a parent misses a conference, reach out by phone or email. Try to set up a phone conference. The parent will likely feel encouraged that you care enough about their child to want to speak with them about the child’s educational growth. This will go a long way in getting the support from the parent you (and the child) need. Just recently, well after the official parent conferences,  a teacher emailed me asking if I could teach her classroom in the next few days as a parent finally agreed to come in for a conference. Kudos to that teacher for her persistence!

This year, one school I work with, had the teachers fill out parent conference guides. This was a place to write positives, concerns, assessment scores, a place for parent concerns to be written, and a reminder to have work samples available. The consensus was that this helped the teachers remember to include positive comments as well as everything else they wanted to say. 

So I am thinking that maybe we all need to remember that the definition of confer includes: consult, have discussions, discuss things, exchange views, and talk. Also we should remember that a person is being discussed not an abstract idea.

“So, how do you or your school encourage effective parent conferences?” Reach out with your ideas via Twitter (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, swladis@edtechease.com.