CCTI Newsletter 2020-2021


Cohort 4 Launch a Success!


The CCTI launch programs on Saturdays, August 8th and 29th were a success! We look forward to our collaborative efforts with our teachers in this 2020-2021 cohort.

During our E-Conference, we participated in collaborative, relationship-building activities, established norms and FAQs for students and families, modeled virtual rotation models for learning, joined chat lounges with guest speakers, and shared our student surveys to prepare for new learning in the upcoming school year.

We are very excited about this school year and also impressed by this cohort of teachers. Already, they demonstrate flexibility and creativity at a time when these skills are as critical as ever. Our teachers are anchored in an equity mindset and the need for incorporating social-emotional learning as a consistent practice. With nearly half of our teachers already Google Level 1 Certified, and the balance working toward certification, we know that we will parlay this synthesis of extended knowledge to grow our learners, and each other, in this dynamic learning environment.

Cohort 4 E-Conference Keynote, Leaders & Participants

Click here to read more about Dr. Will Chavis, Keynote; Lisa Sonricker, Program Director; Kathy Saunders, Content Develop and Facilitator; Dr. Trish Steinbrecher, EC Facilitator; our coaches and presenters.

Dr. Chavis Returns this Year as our Keynote Speaker!

Particular thanks goes out to Dr. Chavis, our keynote speaker and 2019 Wake County Schools Principal of the Year. Dr. Chavis shared strategies for equity and inclusion in schools and in the classroom, and his "My Why."

Dr. Chavis shared his knowledge and best practices for Equity and Access, as well as Culturally Responsive Teaching, to our newest teacher cohort.

Later in the day, he graciously joined us in our chat lounge, to answer more questions and provide support for our resident teachers.

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Chat Lounge

Cohort 4 members participated in a an E-Conference setting to discuss key topics in education. The chat lounge topics were extensions of learning from earlier in the day and were designed to provide additional opportunities to expand inquiry and conversation.

Thank you to our panelists: Dr. Chavis, Ms. Shaw, Dr. Steinbrecher, and Ms. Gilbert

Our cohort members had great questions and you were informative!

Some highlights included the following advice:

  • Develop positive relationships with your students in your redesigned learning setting through intentional strategies.
  • Engage in opening and closing practices to support social and emotional learning.
  • Don't be afraid to be yourself, but also practice what you want to say.
  • Engage in inclusive practices, but also be intentional in redressing bias and celebrating diversity.
  • Practice self care.
  • Understand diverse learners while celebrating and supporting their unique needs and contributions.
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Collaborative Coaching

The session involved also involved an opportunity to meet the coaches. Joining Lisa Sonricker, Kathy Saunders, Trish Steinbrecher, and Tinisha Shaw, are Mayra Szeto and Carlos Sousa. We are excited to introduce new members of our coaching team in our next newsletter.

We are excited to start the new coaching structure with our cohort members to support instruction, collaboration, and best practices.

Back to School Resources for Learning Environment Support and Instruction

Participation, Engagement, and Equitable Practices

Provide low-stakes, diverse participation opportunities which invite students to share new ideas and learning.Silence in students does not necessarily correlate with a lack of understanding, it may simply be a lack of options to respond comfortably.

How to Keep Students' Attention in a Virtual Classroom

Teachers worried about students zoning out during distance learning can lean on program features for help. (Caveat: make sure you use aligned, approved district platforms.)

By Liz Krulder

June 16, 2020

We’ve all been there: We ask our class a question and no one responds. Awkward silence. Students start to look at the ceiling or flip through their notebook to avoid eye contact. Eventually, someone volunteers an answer, someone is called on, or worse, we simply move on without any participation.


Video chat polling features: Many video chat platforms come with polling features where the students see a question pop up on their screen. This is a great feature for a few reasons.

It helps you gauge what your class understands and what they may need you to review again. If you just spent five minutes reviewing a concept and end with “OK, any questions?” what do you usually hear back? Crickets.

Instead, ask a comprehension question using the poll feature. If only 35 percent of the class answers the question correctly, maybe it’s worth spending a little extra time reviewing.

Discussion breakout rooms: Polling is great for helping break up concepts in a lecture, but what if your class is discussion based and you want your students to break out into small groups to work on a shared assignment?

Read the whole article with resource links here

Good discussions are respectful, equitable and inclusive, and hand signals can be a powerful tool to engage more students.

Using Hand Signals for More Equitable Discussions

Whether your class discussions are online or off, hand signals enable students to engage in multiple ways.

Because hand signals allow students to engage both verbally and nonverbally, conversations that use them can be more inclusive. Teachers can post the hand signals in the classroom or share them online so that students can easily refer to the visual reminder.

Watch the video below and post the hand signal guidelines to your learning environment to establish norms.

July 31st 2020 George Lucas Education Foundation

Using Hand Signals for More Equitable Discussions

What shifts do we need to make in our face-to-face teaching practices to make the most of online learning?

Preview #5 from 9 Ways to Teach Online Learning Differently by Cult of Pedagogy,


Online instruction is made up largely of asynchronous instruction, which students can access at any time. This is ideal, because requiring attendance for synchronous instruction puts some students at an immediate disadvantage if they don’t have the same access to technology, reliable internet, or a flexible home schedule.

But you’re likely to offer “face-to-face” or synchronous opportunities at some point, and one way to make them happen more easily is to have students meet in small groups.

You can locate the full article here for more details.

We encourage you to listen to the podcast by clicking the button below to hear a discussion between Melanie Kitchen and Jennifer Gonzalez on best practices for online instruction.

The Power of Relationships in School

Research shows that students who feel safe and supported by adults at school are better able to learn.

Prioritize Relationship Building

Consider the value of connecting with students. Simple gestures like saying hello, and calling a student by name, can make a significant difference in the lives of our learners.

As educators, we have the ability to shape how students see themselves as learners and also how families see education as a way to bolster student confidence and self-efficacy.

We know it is challenging, particularly in new and changing learning environments, to balance new learning and building positive student relationships. Consider the following visual, podcast, and video to guide your thoughts. Set reasonable and meaningful goals, and remind students you care for them and you are learning along with them. The point here is not that you should memorize 150 new names in a week, it is that students need to be seen, and acknowledged as individuals. Set goals to learn names, use surveys and other safe, creative means, to connect the person to the name, and have fun getting to know your students with an understanding of how much a name, pronounced well, means to a student and their family.

Mindful Practices Relevant in any Learning Setting

We shared the impact of pronunciation last year, and it's a great complement to acknowledging our students. This is critical to relationship-building practices and letting students know you see them.

This is beneficial in any learning environment.

Here is a list of mindful practices from Hattie, Fisher, and Frey:

  • Gesture when talking.
  • Look at students and smile while talking.
  • Call students by name.
  • Use we and us to refer to the class.
  • Invite students to provide feedback.
  • Use vocal variety (pauses, inflections, stress, emphasis) when talking to the class.

Hattie, Douglas Fisher; Nancy Frey; J. The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K-12. SAGE Publications, Inc. (US), 2020.

The Impact of Pronunciation

As we learn new names this school year, consider the value of pronouncing names correctly.

This article, podcast, and video respond to the age-old question, "What's in a name?".

Click on the picture to interact, listen and view.

Educators Turn to Bitmoji to Build Community and Engagement

By now, you've seen our Bitmoji office. If you look on Canvas, you will see a scrolling of four pages to provide information and video tutorials on how to create you own, while also providing you information at the same time.

Here is an article, with links, to help you imagine your own Bitmoji classroom for unique forms of information, community-building activities, and classroom interaction.


Educators Turn to Bitmoji to Build Community and Engagement

Both fun and practical, Bitmoji classrooms are adding some levity to fall planning this year.

By Emelina Minero August 14, 2020

Since remote learning started this past spring, Bitmojis have taken the education community by storm.

Available through the Bitmoji app, these customizable, mini-me avatars have become stand-in teachers running virtual classrooms, enforcing rules and expectations, collecting assignments—and making students smile, we’ve heard. Simply put, they’re fun.

Keep reading here

Locate resources from CCTI's own Bitmoji Office!

Click on the table in our Bitmoji Office hallway to find resources for creating and using your own Bitmoji Classroom in Canvas or Google Classroom, or in other platforms.

Create Breakout Room Note Taker in Google Slides & Zoom

This is one of our favorite finds from @shanateaches. You can download the template, use the grid view in slides (yes slides not Google Meet or Zoom) and use the 'anyone with the link can edit' function to have your groups work from the same hub.

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Find a Balance for all Stakeholders

Reflect on the information, resources, guidance, and tips provided. Measure what you implement against to see what is feasible for your students, families, and yourself. This chart is a good checkpoint for balance.

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Thank you for reading our newsletter. Have a great start to the school year!