Blended Learning Best Practices

EdTECH monthly WEBINAR november 2020

In 2020, it has been incredible to see the inherent skills, creativity and grit our teachers and educators have. You have all stepped up, literally overnight, to share resources and techniques, ideas and encouragement about what is working for you. And some of those are the things that I’m going to share with you today.

The transition between remote learning to in-class instruction is tough and it is even tougher to have that be a seamless transition. Also, it is extremely important to keep students safe online as virtual classrooms and learning is new to a lot of people. We’ll be going over some tips to keep students engaged, reviewing some of the available resources, and answering your questions.

Additional Resources:

Group breakout session suggestions using Zoom or Google Meet:

For Teachers using Savvas Realize, the following link shows how to assign students to different groups. They can create assignments by group as well as discussion prompts to have the groups participate asynchronously.

Read the transcript below:

Lacey Woolfrey:

Thanks for joining me, everyone. Today is the Blended Learning Best Practices webinar from EdTech Solutions, and I’m Lacey Woolfrey. I am the teacher trainer here at EdTech. Very excited to be hosting this today and so thankful that you all took the time out of your day to join me. I know that you’re all very busy. The goal is to make this worth your while. You will be receiving an email tomorrow with a recording of the session and also some additional links to the resources that we’ll be discussing today.

I love that I’m seeing some familiar faces too. So thank you all for joining. We’ve got just a few more people entering from the waiting room. So thank you for your patience and we’ll get started here.

And for today, we’re going to be talking about some of the challenges that I’m sure many of you are facing, specifically how to transition between remote learning that to in-class instruction and have that be a seamless transition. Also, extremely important to keep students safe online as this is new to a lot of people. We’ll be going over some tips to keep students engaged and also reviewing some of those available resources that you may already have access to or that are free to get.

I’d like to have you just bear with me for a moment and kind of take a trip back in your memory too not that long ago, but fall of 2019. And just imagine what your classroom looked like, what your situation was like within your classroom with your students. Likely it looked a lot different than it does today.

And then fast forward to March of this year, how many things changed and how quickly did all of us have to transition to kind of that new way to connect with our students and to get that information across. Definitely it was not easy, but there is the African proverb that says “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

And 2020 has been anything but smooth, and it’s been really incredible to see all of the teachers–the skill and the grit and everything that I think every teacher I’ve ever met just naturally inherits–those traits, which kind of leads them into teaching. But really, overnight, teachers were stepping up and sharing resources and sharing what was working them. And some of those are the things that I’m going to share with you today.

The first thing is building classroom community. For many teachers, we work with a lot of schools that didn’t start the first day of school in-person. It was remote. The typical first day high-fives and smiles, face to face and kind of side chat conversation, getting to know those students didn’t look the same this year.

One of the challenges then with a blended learning format starting out remote, that hybrid type model is, “how do you continue to build that classroom community?” There have been a lot of great ideas that have popped up for some of that.

Really taking a look at involving the students in creating what that classroom community is going to look like, whether they are joining you from across a computer screen, or you get to be face-to-face with them at some time. The number one thing is getting to know your students individually as well, and that can be done through individual breakout rooms, individual links to conferences. Just finding a time on a regular basis to connect with those students, have them be able to get to know you.I think that helps a lot to be able to build that connection with each other.

Different icebreakers that can be done remote or in-person if you have that luxury. Different involvements. I’ll show you a resource later in this webinar that is starting out the beginning of the year with building that culture and that community and having the students be a part of it.

The other really important thing is having flexible technology, having the ability to be able to connect with your students seamlessly, whether it is in-person or whether it’s remote or whether you’ve got a mix of both. Having technology that’s flexible is very important to that. A lot of it you probably have access to via publisher platforms.

We work with all sorts of different platforms, and there are some really great dynamic ones that give you that ability to have assignments done online, but you can also have that classroom environment in person or online remotely as well. Pear Deck is another great one that this year especially has popped up with all kinds of great resources that can be shared. I’ll show you some of those today as well. HyperDocs is another, and then a lot of us worked with Google Slides, Forms, Jamboard, so many awesome templates.

As teachers, you’re experts on your content and what you’re working to teach. So much that is new this year is really, “how do you connect to the students? How do you get that information to the students?”

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are teachers that have willingly shared the information and it’s out there and available. So I’ll share those with you as well.

Another issue that we’re running into is technology fatigue. It’s a thing. You’re joining me on this Zoom call today, and I appreciate that. It’s the best way to share information when you’re not all in the same place.

Some ideas to avoiding the technology fatigue is assignments that you can give online or in classroom during a discussion that students can work on on their own time that it doesn’t necessarily involve logging into their online classroom or submitting something online. Some of those ideas could be journaling, a journal assignment, or worksheets that they complete.

And if they’re not turning things in in-person, taking a picture or submitting that online once it’s completed. We used to kind of break up the screen time, the time in front of the computer, to be able to break that up a little bit to avoid that fatigue.

Another great one is group discussions. If you do have that hybrid model and the ability to kind of break up with social distancing to be able to involve that peer to peer learning as well.

And then just continuing with that community building, finding ways to do the socialization and connect to the individual student. Allow the students to be able to connect to each other is very important as well.

So many things popped up this year that you never would have thought of before, and that is how to keep students safe. So many times there were students joining Zoom calls, and I’m sure you saw all the horror stories about people were popping into these classes that shouldn’t have been there.

Keeping students safe with digital citizenship is the most important thing to have everyone be respectful of. So you want to avoid bullying. Have them be aware of what your school’s policies are, make that very clear upfront as far as what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable, and then keeping all of the student information private.

I’m sure it goes without saying, but not sharing any of the student names or information, keeping any of those, whether you use Zoom or Hangouts or any of those web conferencing links, keeping the links private, the meeting IDs private to where it’s only going to be your students and they’re not exposed to anything that they shouldn’t be exposed to. And then choose your tech wisely. This year has seen an influx of all sorts of great, wonderful bits of technology and apps.

Some don’t have the best intentions and are taking information that they shouldn’t. So make sure that you’re vetting the technology that you use, the apps that you use, that it’s going to be safe for your information, your student’s information, and that it complies with your district policies as well.

I did have a question come in from the chat, and please feel free to drop any questions in there. I appreciate it.

The question is about group discussions in three different groups. Great question. Depending on what you’re using, there are different things available. I know within the realized platform with Savvas, which was Port formerly Pearson, there’s the ability to create discussion groups and create groups by mastery of assignments, and so you can create groups within that format. There are other ways that you can group them with breakout rooms, depending on the technology that you’re using.

In the follow-up email that I’ll send out tomorrow, you’ll receive some options that are there as far as the group sessions, because I know that is definitely top of mind as far as how to break people up. Great question. Thank you for sending that. And anyone else, please feel free to drop any questions in the chat. I appreciate it.

The next big one: Keeping students engaged. It’s been a lot of screen time for everybody, for us, for the students.

It’s definitely one of the biggest challenges as far as what to do to keep everyone from zoning out. At the high school level you, and even probably elementary school, you end up seeing a lot of ceiling fans come in with the Zoom. It’s definitely a challenge to keep the engagement, keep it interesting, the participation level up. You don’t have the ability to move yourself around a physical classroom like you would normally do to keep that engagement.

It’s finding ways to duplicate that idea, but across a computer screen. I think the number one thing is make it fun, right? Granted that the content may not always be the most fun, but interspersing different types of things to make it fun. That helps you as a teacher as well because it’s not fun to stare at a screen and see eyes glazing over and knowing that you’ve got to make something up. So having a few of those bags of tricks definitely helps to be able to break things up.

Things with technology, the one thing that you can plan on for sure is that things won’t go as planned. And so having different kinds of backup plans for when the awesome video montage that you put together doesn’t want to play or it’s freezing. Don’t let those types of things kind of shake up what your plan is. Be able to transition quickly and work with the challenges that are bound to pop up.

Another great tip to keep students engaged is digital choice boards. I’ll show you a couple of examples of those.

There have been some amazing ones that teachers have shared. You as the teacher, you’ve got your content that you need to teach and having the students show that they’ve mastered it. There are a lot of ways that you can have the choice to be there. So giving them the parameters, but having them be able to choose. I’ll show you some examples of those digital choice boards. It gives them a little bit more buy-in.

For example, if they’ve read a book, different ways that they can show mastery versus just writing a paragraph of what they read. Keeping it fun. Keeping it engaging. Keeping the 4 C’s. There are some great learning menus that focus around the 4 C’s, the critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Finding ways to incorporate those within your lessons, whether you teach high school science or third grade. There are so many resources, and I’ll show you all of those as well.

Digital collaboration is another great one. Again, working with those groups and breaking the groups up. And it doesn’t all have to be within the specific lecture time. It could be something that’s broken up and different groups can meet with… Having their guidelines there, but they can meet to collaborate on different projects. Jamboard is another great one with Google that allows them to have that digital whiteboard that they can all participate, they can all brainstorm, even if they’re not in the same room.

Some great ways to do that as well. All right. Here is where I’ll show you some of these awesome resources that are available. This is one of the… I’m trying to make sure it’s sharing the screen here. All right. Digital choice board. This would be for a nonfiction reading response, and this is an example here from middle school English language arts. It’s tic-tac-toe, so the students get to choose three different activities to complete by creating a tic-tac-toe and passing through the center.

You’re able to create these forms. The teachers that have created these are amazing. You can save it and you can edit it so you can change what’s in these squares, but I loved this example. I thought it was a great way to have the student be able to decide what they wanted to do. The way you position where everything is ensures that the three that they pick are going to be three that will demonstrate that mastery and show what they read.

This is another example here on the bottom, something to take them off of the computer, off of the screens, to be able to complete it, and then cut them out and glue them into a reading notebook or a journal, whatever it is that you’re using within your classrooms. I thought that was a great option there to be able to do. All right.

The next one here is the student challenge HyperDocs. This is a great one. HyperDocs are also amazing. There are a ton of resources that have been shared here that are editable and that you can use to really kind of bring the material alive. This one is awesome because it helps you to kind of set up that buy-in for the community at the beginning of the year. This could also be used at the start of the new semester in January. It could be used at any time. There’s different elements in here that are also great. This one, if you’re using Google Classroom, it ties directly with that.

However, if you’re not using Google Classroom, there are elements here that you can use separate from that. There are different ways to use it, but the thing that I liked is this expectation from activities. It’s showing students working together to create a community space where everyone can contribute and be supported by each other. It lays out the different expectations of the activities, to engage, explore, explain, apply, share, reflect, extend, review.

And on the engage portion of it, I really liked that one because there’s different responsibilities that it lays out in the class. And again, this is editable. You can customize it to meet whatever your needs are, but you can have the students apply for certain positions. Different things that you can do to have them really participate in that creation of the classroom set up and building that community. I really liked that one. Here are some examples of the learning menus and the choice boards.

If you haven’t checked out all of the resources, for example, Teachers Give Teachers, there are several different Pinterest boards that have all kinds of options here. So here’s a 4 C’s learning menu, different interactive learning menus, so many awesome creative choice boards and different things that have been created and that are out there as resources to be able to use and to customize. I love what’s been created and put out there by all of the teachers.

Here is another HyperDoc. This is my happy place. So this is another one. Again, building that community, getting to know your students, have your students get to know you. This is another example of a free resource that is out there. So many different things like this that have been created and are shared on HyperDocs.

And if you haven’t checked that out yet, I’ll include the link there too because they have it broken out by subject, by secondary, elementary school, all different ages, all different topics, all of these amazing resources that have been created. This is cool because it’s got a video here to explain and give the example that the students can click on. It has a spot for them to give a story about what their favorite places.

And then it walks them through to Google Maps to be able to mark their spot on a map, add it. They can add the title. They copy and paste the story that they wrote about it. And then if they’ve taken any pictures or find pictures online to create this my happy place. Different hyperlinks to a video tutorial. It takes it to YouTube to show them an example of how to make it.

But I really liked this example of just in one doc you can have your directions and, again, customize it, make it anything you want to make to explore either their area or to share something special in a story about what their special place is and their happy place. So I liked that example as well. And I’m sure all of you have other great resources that you shared with each other. Please feel free to drop any links in the chat to the group as well to share.

And I can include any of those in the follow-up email too, but it’s definitely some great resources if you haven’t checked out. Pear Deck has that’s ton of options. I’ll show you a couple of those here. We’ve got a few more minutes. All right. Some of these as you’re going through, again, breaking up the content, the information that you’re sharing and teaching the class. Once you see kind of you’re losing the class, different things like that, you can do some check-ins.

These are all different templates that are available on Pear Deck. They also have options that you can use within the classroom if you’re face-to-face to do these check-ins with the student devices, or you can also do it remote. It gives them a code that they put in, so then you’re in your own password environment. It’s interactive, which is awesome. This is a slider example.

The students, once they log in and they’re in your Pear Deck that you’re presenting from, they can mark where they are, I’m in a good space and can focus, something is bothering me, but I can still focus, or things are not good. So different ways that they can check in. With Pear Deck, you have your own teacher panel. The things that the students are entering in can only be seen by you, and then they can be shared with the class, but anonymously, which is kind of great.

Here’s another one that is kind of a check-in on getting a pulse on how the lesson was. This is another kind of drag and mark for your spots. All right.

I’ve got another great question about what do you do when they are at nine or 10 and can’t work? Granted as the teacher, there may be some things that you’re not qualified or in a position to help with. But it’s a huge ability for you as the teacher to be that kind of safe place for them to check in and get them connected to the resources that you have available from the school. But just having them have that ability to share that with you I think is huge. And of course, I would suggest an offline follow-up with that.

And then another question that came in is yes, you’ll have access to this deck and then also links to Pear Deck. Again, these are free resources that are available, which is pretty awesome. So we’re getting low on time, but I just wanted to show you a couple more of these because I think they’re great. Students, it’s time to stop whatever they’re doing, and then start.

So these are all customizable. You can do instructions on the screens here. Students can follow along there. Another one, depending on how long you’re on there, just a quick five minute stretch break. Some cute fun slides here. Another interactive one. With Pear Deck, you can draw anywhere on the slide. There’s text options. They can draw a picture depending on the age, what was easy about the lesson, what was interesting and challenging about it, and what was hard about the lesson.

Just those critical thinking questions to get that participation from the students. And again, with Pear Deck, you can use these in the classroom physically, or you can do remote as well. Draw or type two things you learned in today’s lesson, and then a reflection on the activities. What did you like? What didn’t you like? What was easy? What was hard? Tons and tons of customizable options that they have there.

So again, I’ll be sending you the links to HyperDocs and Pear Deck are the two that have just so many resources to be able to check out. And then this will be recorded. The other thing that you’ll be receiving is a little more in depth. It’s a recorded workshop that goes into a little more detail on blended learning. There’s a participant guide and that will be sent out to you as well. And again, I’m so happy that you joined. I appreciate the questions. We have just another one minute.

So if anyone else has any questions before I wrap it up, go ahead and type it in the chat. All right. Well, thank you again. I know your time is valuable. I hope that you got some value out of today’s webinar.

And again, if you’ve got any questions, check us out at We do eBook implementation for schools, but the thing that I pride us on the most is our support for teachers. We’re here to make sure that teachers are able to do what you went into teaching for is to teach your students.

So thank you again. You’ve been great. The questions were great, and keep an eye out for those resources. If you have any questions afterwards, please feel free to email me. My contact information will be in that email. I hope you have over eight rest of your day. Thank you so much.

The sudden transition to remote teaching has left many teachers and families scrambling for resources. Students who fall outside the normal range of development have specific challenges that must be addressed for continued success. In this webinar, we will discuss ways teachers can create equitable remote learning experiences for students with additional needs.

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