March TSP Newsletter

Courtesy of the LUSD TSP Team

Covered in this Issue: Transitions

  • Special Education: Accommodations vs. Modifications
  • SEL Corner: Self Management
  • Tech Tip: PolyBar and Teaching with Videos
  • Wellness Tip: Virtual Calming Room
  • Instructional Strategies: Instructional Resources for Hybrid/In-Person Teaching
  • Meet the New Teachers
  • TSP Resources
  • Summer School Information
  • Newsletter Feedback Survey

Special Education

Big picture

Accommodations vs. Modifications

Students in special education often receive accommodations and/or modifications. Often these terms are confused and used interchangeably, when they actually have very distinct meanings and serve two different purposes. The decision to make modifications to the general education curriculum is decided by the IEP team. Accommodations should be tried and exhausted before making the decision to modify.

Accommodations are given to students to provide a change in how a student learns, they do not change what the student is expected to learn. Accommodations might provide a slight change to the learning environment, how the assignment is presented, and the supplies given to the student to complete the assigned tasks. Accommodations will not affect a student’s grades or credits and are on the lower end of the continuum for support. Some examples of accommodations could be reading the answer options aloud for the student, an open book test, or use of a timer to cue task completion.

Modifications are individualized changes made to the content and performance expectations so that students can make effective progress in school. Modifications include actual changes made to the general education materials. When you have a student who is working significantly below grade level, the IEP team may decide the student will need specific modifications. Modifications can include an assignment with multiple choice answer options instead of open-ended questions, reduce the amount of material to be read, or a modified assessment.

It is important for both the general education teachers and special education teachers to be aware of any accommodations and modifications special education students need to ensure their success in school!

SEL Corner


This month, our Social and Emotional focus is Self-Management. CASEL, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning has identified five major competencies as a framework to foster and enhance all students’ academic, social, and emotional learning. defines Social Awareness as, “the abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures and contexts.” This competency includes the ability to feel compassion for others and understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings.

For more information, click the video link below.

PBS Learning Media Video- Social Awareness

K-6 Second Step Program:

Need help getting started with the Second Step, SEL program?

Check out this presentation for more information or join us for our SEL Office Hours (see below).

Second Step K-6 Orientation

K-6 Second Step Office Hours

Thursday, April 29th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 831 8990 7222

Passcode: 234144

Tech Tips

What is Poly Studio/USB Video Bar?

Poly Studio is a premium USB video bar for classrooms or conference rooms. It delivers quality sound and video for both your virtual learners and your in-person class.

Why Poly Studio?

Poly Studio has an automatic speaker tracker. its camera has a 120-degree field of view, and will frame the active speaker in the room. You can teach anywhere in your classroom without having to worry about the students missing a part of your lesson.

Poly Bar Resources

Setting Up the PolyBar with Other Technology in LUSD’s Classroom:

Hybrid Tech Set-Up: PolyBar, Projector, and Document Camera

Hybrid Tech Set-Up: PolyBar, Desk Monitor, and Television

5 Tips for Increasing Engagement when Teaching with Videos

  1. Use countdowns- Visual coundowns provide clear communication and expectations for smooth transitions. Students will know exactly when the activity is finished or when to start notetaking. Try these timers: Timers; Google Timers and StopWatch
  2. Play video on half screen- Playing video on half screen leaves room for displaying guiding questions so students are clear on what to focus on while watching and what to discuss or write about after viewing the video.
  3. Set the start and stop points in advance- Focus on what’s important. You can trim videos using the “Format options” in Google Slides or “Playback” in PowerPoint to set up start and end times, take note of the time stamps.
  4. Check for understanding- Mute video and provide voice-overs to reinforce main points or ask questions. Students can use screen recordings or extensions like Loom, Screencastify, or other tools to record their own voice summary or responses on top of the muted media.
  5. Keep it around 3 minutes- An Empirical Studies of MOOC Videos showed that 0- 3 -minute videos had the highest engagement rate, and students often do not make it halfway through videos that are longer than 9 minutes.

Employee Wellness

Virtual Calming Room

In our search for ways to care for ourselves in difficult times, we as the TSP team are exploring solutions that are easily applied in daily life. Take care of yourself today however works for you!

This month's suggestion:

In this virtual calming room from Sacramento City Unified School District, you can explore sounds, meditations, visual relaxation, coloring, mindfulness, exercise, puzzles and games, and a self-care kit.

Instructional Strategies

Hybrid Teaching Resources

This month as all students return to in-person or distance learning, LUSD educators are having to learn another modality of teaching. While there are no perfect solutions, the TSP team has put together instructional strategies and how those strategies can be modified. The following three documents are live. If you have strategies you feel would be beneficial to add, please email the TSP team at:

Meet the Teachers!

John Bergmann

Jennifer Becker

Hi, my name is Jennifer Becker & I am a new teacher in LUSD. I began as an Itinerant Substitute teacher in February of 2020 and I currently teach 2nd grade at La Canada Elementary. Although this is my first year as a classroom teacher in LUSD, I have been an educator for over 16 years. During this time, I have taught Kindergarten, 1st Grade & 2nd Grade in Mission Viejo, Harbor City & Santa Ana. I attended Fresno State University where I earned my BA degree in Liberal Studies and later received my teaching credential from National University. My interest in pursuing a teaching career began when I was working as an assistant teacher at a preschool, where I realized how much I loved watching and helping the students learn. I am dedicated to creating & maintaining a supportive, engaging and positive classroom environment that allows students to reach their fullest potential. I am a strong believer that all children can succeed in whatever they do if they believe in themselves & am passionate about teaching and making a difference with the students in my classroom.

Virtual Teacher's Lounge

Thursday, April 1st, 2:30-3:30pm

This is an online event.

This virtual teacher's lounge is hosted every Thursday at this time.

Meeting ID: 896 0099 7077

Passcode: 378214

Transitional Resources From the TSP Team


Focus Topic: Hybrid Instruction

16 Hybrid Learning Tips by and for Teachers

Eric Hudson posted a tweet asking teachers who use the Hybrid teaching model, what are the “do’s” and “don’ts” of hybrid learning. The responses all had a common theme: make the hybrid classes as interactive as possible. To read more of these tips from teachers, HERE is the link to the article.

6 Tips for Teaching Online and In Person Simultaneously

This article outlines strategies to promote meaningful engagement for online students while at the same time providing a rich face-to-face learning environment. To read more about these strategies, HERE is the link to the article.

10 Invaluable Tips to Develop Asynchronous Learning

A list of tips to help develop an effective asynchronous learning experience for your students. To check out these tips, HERE is the link to the article.

Juggling “Roomers” & Zoomers: How Teachers Make Hybrid Learning Work

This article provides three pieces of advice from teachers who have been teaching using the hybrid model & teaching students online with others in the classroom. The three pieces of advice addressed in this article are; Building a Strong Culture, Fostering Ownership Accountability & Clarity is Key. Click HERE to read more about these three pieces of advice.

How to Simplify Hybrid Learning

This article focuses on the practical methods for online and hybrid learning to lighten the cognitive load. Click HERE to check out this article.


Instructional Strategies for Hybrid Learning

Virtual Manipulatives for Online Learning & MyMath Manipulatives for In-Person

For grades K-5, MyMath includes virtual manipulatives for some lessons. These virtual manipulatives can be found in the “Resources” section of the online Teacher Edition. Select the chapter and lesson being taught and you'll see that you have the option of selecting "Virtual Manipulatives." Alternatively, you can use the search bar at the top to search “Virtual Manipulatives for Chapter ___, Lesson ___.” Students can find their virtual manipulatives if they log in to their ConnectEd account. For in-person instruction, it may be useful to provide each student with their own Math Tool Box for the unit or chapter. The hands-on materials from the MyMath manipulatives tubs include all suggested manipulatives for lessons in grades K-5.

Visible Thinking Routines: A collection of thinking, observing and questioning routines that can be implemented to promote productive classroom discussions and scaffold/support student thinking during in-person instruction or between remote students and in-person students (if teaching both simultaneously).

Teaching Students How to Learn From Videos: Instructional videos can help students learn at their own pace, but only if they know how to use them. Click HERE to read more about this teaching strategy.

Discussion Strategies: A collection of strategies and moves from Better Lessons that can be combined and used to plan and support discussion during almost any activity. These strategies can be modified to use during in-person or online learning. This resource includes multi-modal approaches for helping students comprehend complex language and ideas via discussions. Click HERE for the Better Lessons Discussion Supports Resources.

Movement: Implementing movement into lessons has shown to engage students and have positive impacts on their motivation & learning. Below is a list of ways movement can be implemented in the classroom. These movement strategies can be easily adapted for in-person & remote learning. Click HERE for the list of ideas for implementing movement in the classroom.

Lesson Plan Template & Strategies

Click HERE for a lesson plan template & Five Strategies for Facilitating Small Group Instruction In-Person or Online

Digital Tools for Hybrid Learning

  • Digital Notebook Template: This notebook can be used by teachers and students. Teachers can use it as a lesson planning notebook and students can use it for their class notes, assignments & important resources/links.

  • Online Whiteboards: Using online whiteboards allows teachers to see their students white board work. HERE is an article on Using Online Whiteboards to Boost Student Engagement & Confidence in Math


Lynette Martin, Lisa Cordes, Amanda Wildhagen, Jessica Jette, Vicky Acton, Rebecca Ingrahm, Luisa Parkinson

Thank you for reading our newsletter! Please leave feedback and suggestions below.

2021 Summer School Information

Teachers interested in applying, please contact:

Jessica Jette (Elementary)

Lynette Martin (Secondary)

Erin Williams (Extended School Year)

Check Back April 2, 2021 for Secondary and ESY!