URockEdu Updates April 2021

A Publication of ESC Region 11

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A Real April Day by Lenore Hetrick

April for rainbows,

And April for showers!

April for a bright hint

Of lovely May flowers.

April for nonsense,

And April for play—

Best of all times

Is a real April day!

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? Check out these 10 Googley Poetry Projects from Eric Curts to help you celebrate poetry with your students all month long.

Summer 2021 Professional Learning

The URockEdu team is capturing all of the ESC Region 11 summer learning experiences in our region. We would like you to share when your district/school/charter is hosting a learning event that you are opening to outside people. Please fill out this form, and then, we will list all of these events in our newsletters, webpage, and on Twitter. We are looking forward to sharing your opportunities with all of Region 11 and beyond!

Also, the URockEDU team is planning professional learning sessions for this summer. What do you want to see us provide? What are the fan favorites? We want to hear from you! Please fill out this quick form with session ideas or needs.

Book Nook

Several digital learning team members are reading Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know. This is a great book to challenge your thinking and engage your mind with new thoughts. As an organizational psychologist, Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people’s minds–and our own. One of his guiding principles is to argue like he’s right but listen like he’s wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, harness the surprising advantages of impostor syndrome, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. In this time of division, Adam Grant encourages us to take a moment to listen and Think Again! If you've read this text too, share your thoughts with us on twitter @URockEDU.

Tool Talk

Podcastle AI

Most of us don't have the time to read all of the news, articles, and blog posts we'd like to read. Meet Podcastle AI: this chrome extension converts text news/articles to a podcast, with very natural human speech using machine learning.

With Podcastle, you can instantly turn your favorite news and articles into podcasts! 🎧.

Yes, this extension is a big time-saver, but it has plenty of uses in the classroom, too. Check out this TCEA blog post for lesson integration ideas as well as more info on using the Podcastle AI extension.


We love seeing all the amazingly creative ways educators are using Jamboard to make brainstorming and collaboration easy for students. An easy entry point to any new digital tool is to find templates to use as is or to make your own. Here are some of our favorite curated templates:

🎆 Bonus resource:

Five Google Jamboard Features you probably don't know courtesy of Ditch That Textbook

YouTube Tips

Did you catch our YouTube tips on the URockEDU social media? If not, check these out, save some time, and make your presentations with YouTube videos more user-friendly experiences!

Program Updates

Instructional Solutions and Support Contract

Don't miss out! Does your district or school have the Instructional Solutions and Support Contract with ESC Region 11? If so, the following digital resources are available to you:

Whether you need to get started or need to get reacquainted with any of these tools, contact Maria Collins at mcollins@esc11.net for support. To request free professional development for any of these resources, complete the District PD Request for ISS Contract form.

Blended Learning

Yeah... this time White Snake is teaching us something about the classroom, folks. Routines and procedures help any and every lesson run more smoothly. The more complex the task or pedagogical approach (like blended learning) the more you'll need to establish R&P.

Check out the rest of the latest blog post from the Blended Learning Team: ⤵️

White Snake, road markers, & classroom procedures

Canvas Corner

Can you believe we’re talking about the end of the school year? As Canvas users, one of the biggest advantages of the LMS is that courses can be carried over year to year while instructors are able to continually update and improve those courses.

What do instructors need to know and do? The Canvas Beginning- and End-of-Course Checklists are a great place to start! Your district or campus can customize the list by adding or removing items. The tasks are even labeled as either “Essential,” “Best Practice,” or “If Applicable.” Another great feature you’ll notice is that for each task, the “how-to” Canvas Guide is already linked so that your Canvas users have the instructions they need at their fingertips. We are in the home stretch!

➡️ Resource: Beginning- and End-of-Course Checklists Editable Copy

For questions about Canvas, contact Ann Marie Helou at ahelou@esc11.net.

Connect2Texas Connections

Check out these exciting connections offered this month by ExciteSpace! 🌜 🌠 🔭

ExciteSpace! Meet Mr. McDonald and Discover Our Dark Sky
Presented by University of Texas McDonald Observatory
Grades: 3-12
Date: April 9
Time: 11:00-12:00 CT
Cost: FREE
Celebrate Dark Sky Week 2021! Come visit McDonald Observatory without leaving your home or classroom! Learn about Mr. McDonald, who loved nature and science. Learn about what happens here and how the astronomers use telescopes to study all kinds of things in the universe. Students will be guided on a virtual tour of the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope, and we will discuss together the things that make McDonald Observatory a great place to do Astronomy, including our Dark Skies.

More Upcoming programs in April from ExciteSpace! 👇🏽

  • ExciteSpace! Meet Mr. McDonald and Discover Our Dark Sky – April 9 @ 11:00
  • ExciteSpace! Super Big Telescope Tour (Grades 2-6) – April 7 @ 1:00, April 16 @ 1:00, or April 27 @ 2:00
  • ExciteSpace! Super Big Telescope Tour (Grades 5-12)– April 7 @ 2:00, April 16 @ 2:00, or April 28 @ 1:30
  • ExciteSpace! Observe the Sun (Grades PreK-4) – April 13 @ 10:00 or April 21 @ 11:00
  • ExciteSpace! Observe the Sun (Grades 3-12) – April 13 @ 1:00 or April 21 @ 2:30
  • ExciteSpace! Meet Mr. McDonald (Grades PreK-5) – April 10 @ 11:00 or April 28 @ 11:00
  • ExciteSpace! Meet Mr. McDonald (Grades 5-12) – April 20 @ 10:00 or April 28 @ 2:30

To find out more about our unique virtual learning experiences and register go to www.Connect2Texas.net. To join the listserv, click here and select Connect2Texas from the list. If you have questions, contact Lori Hamm-Neckar at lhamm@esc11.net.

Discovery Education Exposé

Timely Content: Earth Day 🌎

Celebrated on April 22nd, Earth Day inspires awareness and gratitude about the planet’s natural resources. Whether starting a school recycling program or supporting a local wildlife refuge, students can learn the importance of protecting the planet in Discovery Education’s Earth Day Channel.

Tips and Tricks: Text Accessibility Features 👨🏾‍💻

Ensure your lessons are accessible to all students with text resources in Discovery Education! Every text resource includes three valuable features to support struggling readers – read aloud, page mask, and page ruler. These features make text accessible to all students and help them focus on the content in front of them to deepen their understanding.

Strategy of the Month: IDEA Share 💡

Encourage your students to provide meaningful feedback with the IDEA Share SOS Instructional Strategy. Students provide peer feedback in four categories – interesting, different, exciting, and advanced – in order to gain new IDEAs from the experience. This framework promotes a positive and supportive structure for feedback within the classroom.

For any questions or support with Discovery Education, reach out to Maria Collins at mcollins@esc11.net.

Seesaw Scoop

📣 Seesaw 7.6 is here, and it came with fabulous new improvements to the creative tools! Please update iOS and Android apps to Seesaw 7.6 and check out the wonderful new updates below!

🎤 Add voice to labels, shapes, and images

🎶 Upload audio files

🔐 Lock size of label, shape, or image

For more detailed directions on how to use the new creative tools improvements, please click 👉🏽 HERE!

Contact Nicole Adkins at nadkins@esc11.net for any Seesaw support.

VoiceThread Variety

New Assignments are here! 🎉 All institutions must move to new assignments by June 30, 2021. If you haven't opted in by then, you will be upgraded automatically.

What's new?
Too much to list here! Some highlights are:

  • A streamlined interface
  • More control for instructors
  • Editable assignments
  • A "student gallery" so students can easily see classmates' VoiceThreads
  • Better feedback for students

Is there any interruption?
Absolutely not! All of your older assignments will continue to work seamlessly, so you don't need to rebuild anything or warn your students about an interruption. There is no downtime as you transition, and no back-end technical work is required.

Do I have to use new assignments?
Not yet. You can start exploring and using new assignments today, but it is optional for now. You have until June 30, 2021, to migrate at your own speed, and then all remaining courses will be updated automatically.

Where can I get more training?
Join VoiceThread for a walkthrough! Workshops are open to everyone, and each one will be recorded so that you can watch it on-demand later. Register for the workshop on April 6 at 12:00 CST or watch the recording of the previous workshop VoiceThread offered on this topic.

Contact Maria Collins at mcollins@esc11.net with any questions about VoiceThread.

Upcoming Professional Learning

Canvas 101 Lite (Online Course)

If you are just getting started with Canvas, this course is for you! We have pared down our robust six-hour Canvas course into a lighter, more agile version of itself. In this course, you will first be introduced to the basics of Canvas, and then be asked to create artifacts for each foundational piece. This course is self-paced, and you can join at any time. Registration for this course ends May 3, 2021.

Register here to attend. Contact Charles Cooper at ccooper@esc11.net or Shelly Shaw at sshaw@esc11.net with any questions.

Engage by Design: Digital Tools Series

Do you like to learn at your own pace and on your own time? We've got some self-paced mini-courses just for you. Jump in any time before the ending date! In each course, you will create a product that you can use right away with learners, and you will earn 2.0 CEU hours per course!

The following digital tool courses are open for registration:

  • Discovery Education - ends 4/19
  • Jamboard - ends 4/19

Contact Lori Miniet at lminiet@esc11.net or Maria Collins at mcollins@esc11.net with questions about the Digital Tools Series mini-courses.

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Google Educators PLN

The Google Educators PLN is a one-hour meeting that provides a time to collaborate with other educators in the region who are using GSuite tools such as Classroom, Meet, Slides, Forms, and Jamboard with learners in face-to-face, blended, or virtual environments. We share celebrations, challenges, activities, and questions about using Google tools with learners.

🌟 We are excited to have two amazing Fort Worth ISD Digital Learning Specialists co-hosting the April 29th meeting! You won't want to miss it! 🌟

After you register for the April meeting, download the flyer to share with and invite your colleagues. If you have questions about the Google Educators PLN, contact Maria Collins at mcollins@esc11.net or Lori Miniet at lminiet@esc11.net.

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Seesaw Virtual Session

Engage by Design Digital Tool Series: Small-Group Stations and Seesaw on 4/28! Explore how Seesaw can support your students' creativity, independence, and choice during literacy and math small-group stations. Register today to save your spot!

Contact Nicole Adkins at nadkins@esc11.net with any questions about Seesaw.

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ESC Region 11 Digital Learning Team

We exist to honor and celebrate the work that teachers do every day! It's our goal to celebrate and support the amazing work that happens every day in classrooms in ESC Region 11 and beyond.
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LB 04.05.21