Sunday Sources: January 24th, 2021

Teachers, get a lot of new tips and strategies sent our way. It’s hard to carve out the time to gain insights or sort our professional learning. I’m attempting to solve that problem by curating three sources, tips, or strategies every single week.

Rock Paper Scissors: (I forgot where I found this one. If you know who originally posted this, let me know.)

My students, like your students, are struggling with engagement and participation in virtual school.

In an attempt to fix this, I recently implemented Rock, Paper, Scissors. I pair all of my students with the person that is directly next to them on my screen. Everyone had to turn their camera on, and everyone had to participate not because I forced them, but because they wanted to.

We had multiple rounds, I pumped them up in between, students rooted for other students, and the ultimate winner lives on forever on the Wall of Champions.

Catlin Tucker: The Balance Episode 2 with Lisa Highfill

Here is yet another stellar podcast episode from Catlin Tucker about blended learning. This episode was so valuable I found myself taking notes while I was at the gym.

One of my favorite thoughts posed by Lisa was using the question, “What do you know that I did not ask you?” on an assessment. There are plenty of bits of knowledge and concepts that our students gain that we never ask them.

I’ve decided to add this question at the end of each hyperdoc as a catch-all. Not only does it allow students to explain what they know, but it also helps me explore questions that I could ask later on. 

The idea of treating the classroom as a laboratory comes up as well. It’s best to embrace the experiment rather than be right 100% of the time. That last one was crucial to me because as it shifted my mindset/pedagogical process (read as “I’m still figuring out how to be an expert teacher”), I found myself being incredibly anxious to try new things, but this anecdote put that to rest.

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think!

How I get the Kids Away From Screens

Most of us, our entirely virtual or on a hybrid schedule. That leads to a dramatic increase in screen time for the students and teachers. I find myself ending some of my days with a headache, and I imagine the kids do, too.

When the year first started, I discussed what kind of things we could do to make virtual learning better. Without a doubt, every single class had at least one student mention of getting a screen break.

I’m on the fence about giving an actual “step away” break, so I developed a different system instead. Each day, I aim to have some writing activity that occurs on a physical piece of paper. They show me their writing by holding it up to the camera, and later we have open conversations. Most activities can get us up to 15 minutes away from the screen! 

If you’ve made it this far, do me a favor and reach out to me on twitter to connect and let me know what you think.

Interested in reading more? Here are my last three bits of writing.

#06: A Teacher Combatting Imposter Syndrome

#05: One Word for 2021 #Explore

#04: Why I Didn’t Choose the Admin Route

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