Technology Newsletter

April 2020

BPS Alternate Learning Environment - Expectations

Who would have ever thought we would be teaching from home! I am so impressed by what many of you have done. I know I will be incorporating some of your ideas as I plan for the rest of the school year. As I listen to staff meetings and hear your concerns, I would like to take this opportunity to point a few things out.

  • We are NOT "business as usual"! This is a new platform for all of us. The expectations are that we do the best we can. This means very few of us will actually be able to teach our exact or entire curriculum between now and school end. Please remember that whatever you are able to teach is better than the alternative - which is nothing at worst - or whatever kids can glean from worksheet packets or virtual assignments with little to no teacher guidance as some schools are doing. Rigor is important, but we must adapt our expectations to fit our circumstances. Focus on the content and standards that are essential for students to be prepared for success next year.

  • Take time to plan. Use your afternoons to rethink assignments and how to teach the key points in 20 minutes. This is NOT going to be easy, as teachers we don't want to let go of content - but I think we are going to have to give a little (or a lot). Students will not have as much guided practice as in a classroom, again any direct instruction is better than no direct instruction.

  • Relationships are key! EVERYONE IS STRESSED! Take time to talk to your students and parents (if they are with their kids) and constantly remind them that you will work with them regardless of their ability to be online at a given time. Our Alternate Learning Environment is not a punishment, it is an opportunity. It is not "normal" and neither are our expectations, attendance or grading practice going to be "normal" either. We are only 2 weeks in. Change, adaptation and flexibility are our new "normal".

  • Many parents have an extremely limited experience with technology of any sort. Therefore, they do not have the experiences associated with internet issues or device issues to help them troubleshoot or even just to know that it is normal to have these types of problems. Those situations cause IMMENSE stress to people who are not expecting difficulties and the knee-jerk reaction is to panic, deflect responsibility and get mad. We are working with students and parents as best we can without the ability to be face-to-face. We are all going to be very good at practicing patience by the end of this!

  • If you can make your assignments available to view outside of class time for families to be able to access - we need to be doing that. WiFi was not 100% reliable before a few billion people starting logging on at the same time. We need to provide access to resources in an easy-to-find manner. Several teachers have started posting weekly assignment lists and made all due dates on Friday to try to give flexibility to our students. I'm not saying that is for all of us, but those types of decisions are what we need to focus on. Do your students know what to do and where to go if they can't login during their scheduled zoom session?

  • Think outside the box. Many of us have concerns about screen time. If possible, find assignments that don't require a device. You all know I love Nearpod and online assignments, but giving EVERY assignment online may be too much, especially for our younger students. Read to a family member, take a nature walk, teach a sibling - any type of modification will be appreciated by our students.

You are all doing great! I know that sounds like a meaningless platitude, but I really mean it. What you have done with a week's notice is seriously amazing and makes me so proud and humble to be a member of this faculty! Be kind to yourselves, let yourselves off the hook a little and whatever your best is on any particular day -just continue to do your best!

Video Recording Tools

If you would like to find something to create recordings other than Zoom.

Screencastify and QuickTime Player are free. All the quick how-to videos I have shared with you this year were made with screencastify. It is pretty easy to use and install on any device. QuickTime is on all MacBooks and a bonus feature is you can plug your iPad into your MacBook and choose to record what you are doing on the iPad, which may have better whiteboard apps for demonstrating to students. The videos below are quick tutorials to show you how and what to do. If you need help let me know. :)
Screencastify Tutorial 2019
Mac Tutorial: Use Quicktime Player to record your screen!