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Learning Communities in Transition

As Ontario transitions to a different approach in managing COVID, schools again have to adjust to new protocols for students at school and at home. These adjustments affect everyone – parents, teachers and students. Most students will be learning in the classroom but there will be times when children will be staying home to isolate. Schools will need to continue the balance of helping students adjust back to in-person learning but still accommodate interruptions in learning for students.

  • Take the pressure off and have grace for one another

School communities have persevered through many challenges – social, technological, financial, emotional, educational – and most members of these communities are exhausted from the constant adjustments to life during a pandemic. Students, especially, will have learned at various speeds and it will take time for students and teachers to find their footing. Feeling “normal” again will take time for students, parents, teachers, and administrators — and sometimes, things won’t go as planned. It will take time to adjust; nothing will be resolved immediately. An attitude of patience and grace for one another will go a long way.

  • Make relationships and social-emotional learning (SEL) a priority

Isolating at home and the frequent movement between remote and in-person learning have impacted personal relationships. School staff will need to prioritize relationship-building between students and between themselves and their students. Whether it’s spontaneously pulling students for one-on-one chats, greeting them at the door, or forming small group “get to know you”-style discussions, there are a variety of ways for staff to make connections. Nurturing students’ social-emotional learning will also affect their academic outcomes. Implementing a program that covers core competencies like self-awareness, social awareness and relationship skills will help foster a more inclusive learning environment and nurture the interests of all students. Practical ways to do that include providing opportunities to foster collaboration and build relationship skills (think-pair-shares, small group work, and cooperative learning games) as well as giving students opportunities to have choice and voice throughout the day (letting them choose a format for a creative project or deciding which book to read next).

  • Capitalize on the growth of technology skills and integration of internet resources

Students, teachers and parents were “forced” to grow in their use of technology over the past two years. It may have been stressful but that growth now provides educators with opportunities to integrate their learning into curriculum development and implementation. Teachers have discovered new ways of communicating curriculum expectations as well as providing creative ways for students to demonstrate their learning. Students have learned a wider use of technology and improved problem-solving skills. The combination of these two areas of growth can enhance classroom instruction and learning. Teachers now have added instructional flexibility as they can decide which format of learning tool makes the most sense for each lesson – traditional or digital – especially now that students are more familiar with a wide range of digital tools. They can also look through their resources, deciding what needs to be used in an asynchronous or synchronous format. These adjustments coupled with students’ increased independence using technology gives teachers an opportunity to better blend technology into daily classroom practice: a digital learning centre can be added to the rotation for a curriculum unit and collaboration between students in class and in isolation can be arranged through breakout rooms or shared online documents.

As learning communities continue to adapt to a “new normal” it will be important to be patient with each other as relationships are rebuilt, but it provides educators with new opportunities to engage with their students and enhance learning in the classroom and at home.

Karlene Patrick

As well as working for Fossie in customer support, Karlene has a B.Ed. and experience teaching in the classroom. Some of the suggestions and ideas for this article were pulled from articles at the following websites:

https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-tips-more-efficient-transition-virtual-person-teaching

https://blog.teacherspayteachers.com/how-to-transition-back-to-in-person-learning/

Posted in: COVID 19, Education

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New Security Features from Google

As a new school year approaches, Google is continuing to add security features to some of its apps for remote working, especially Google Meet.

In Google Meet:

  • hosts will gain more control over who can ‘knock’ to join (or rejoin!) a meeting;
  • a new feature will automatically block an attendee who has been denied entry multiple times;
  • hosts can now have more say in how others can join a meeting (eg. calendar invite or phone);
  • users who are not logged into a Google account will be unable to join a meeting
  • hosts will now have the ability to control which attendees can chat and present during a meeting;

Google is also implementing some changes for G Suite admins to help them keep devices and data secure. The ability to manage iPhones and iPads has been improved. Better Data Loss Prevention measures have been added that enable admins to block users from downloading, printing or copying sensitive documents from Google Drive.

Read about these improvements and other updates to Chat and Gmail at this article from ZDNet.

Posted in: COVID 19, Education, Google Apps

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Part 3: Voting – Electronic Meetings for your Not-For-Profit Organization / School / Church

This is our 3rd post looking at Electronic Meetings for Not-For-Profits. In this blog, we’ll talk about some ideas for electronic voting. There’s alot of solutions out there – the focus here will be a curated list that could work specifically with the tools in-place at our non-profit clients, many of whom are using G Suite, WordPress or both.

Google Forms Voting Solutions

WordPress Plugins

  • YOP Poll plugin provides easy survey integration in your blog post/page and pll management from within your WordPress dashboard. Polls can include both single or multiple answers, and provides options on how to sort your poll information, what details to display, whether you want to view the total votes or the total voters, to set vote permissions or block voters, and a whole lot more.
  • WP-Polls is very customizable via templates and css styles. Many options are available that make this quite flexible.  It now supports multiple selection of answers.

Web Based Solutions

  • VoxVote – free and easy Mobile Voting tool for ANY speaker or teacher. Use VoxVote to interact live with your audience. Create questions, ask your audience to vote and discuss the live chart results. Now with question and answer messaging module – Allow your audience to ask questions. Full version available for all teachers and educational institutes.
  • Slido – Empower your audience to ask questions, vote in polls and be a part of the discussion by using a simple Q&A and polling tool…educational plan is available.
  • Polltab – claims to be the…” Fastest way to create real-time polls free!”, and takes it one step further by requiring that participants log in to their Google, Facebook, Reddit, or Twitch account before they can cast a vote.

 

Posted in: COVID 19, Education, Google Apps, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to use ZOOM – some tutorials created / curated by Teacher Harry Blyleven….

In a post on the TICS (Technology in Christian Education)  mail list, teacher Harry Blyleven has provided some Zoom tutorials that he has made and curated:

Posted in: COVID 19, Education, Remote Computing

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Some things that can help students during the COVID-19 outbreak

eSchool News has published a great list of resources to assist you in keeping students engaged during this time of school closures. Resources include:

  • Krisp, an interesting tool that limits background noise while audio or video calls. Unlimited usage for for free for the next six months
  • Epic! , the leading digital library for kids 12 and under, offers free Remote Student Access for families.
  • Children’s author, Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) is offering live stories and live sessions online. Via the Kennedy Center, they are hosting a daily lunchtime doodle session where he invites kids to draw along with him. 
  •  Adventure2Learning is offering free access to its digital learning content and resources to students and families.

See the full list of resources.

Posted in: COVID 19, Education, Remote Computing

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