Saturday, May 02, 2020

One Month into Distance Learning - What Have We Learned?

It's the last #learnbpschat Twitter Tuesday of the '19-'20 school year!   We did it!   

Teachers have done at least a year's worth of learning in just over a month!  (insert a pat on the back to yourself)   

Here are just a few things to think about & reflect on as we wrap up the school year and look back at our first month of distance learning.    

  1. Which qualities do you feel you've had to exhibit with distance learning?  How about your students?
  2.  What changes (if any) are you making to your assignments or assessments as a result of distance learning?   What are you seeing from students as a result?  
  3.  Share something (an assignment, routine, technique or tool) that's seemed to resonate or work especially well with your students during distance learning.   
  4.  If you could read the minds of your students, what do you think they are saying?  What about your co-workers?  
  5. If you could make one change to improve the experience for you and/or your students, what would it be?   

Have a well-deserved, relaxing summer and we hope to see you #learnbpschat 'rs all back here next year!  

Friday, April 17, 2020

Self-Care during eLearning

Take Care of Behavioral Health
I'm blaming it on Covid brain mush, but I was struggling with fresh ideas for the blog this time.   After visiting with Melissa Korslien and Danielle Weisz, they reminded me of the valuable resources that BPS has sent out on self-care.  I'll be honest, I missed these helpful documents when they were first sent out but we are thinking that they are worthy of revisiting.

Renee Walker sent this out earlier...

TO: BPS Staff

The Importance of Self Care

The past few weeks have provided us many opportunities for new learning. While some of the new learning has been exciting, it can feel overwhelming. As we adapt to these changes and juggle work and home life, self-care has become even more important. When we are taking care of our own well-being, we are healthy for those we care about the most.

Self-Care Strategies:
Brochure on Wellness Resources 

  • Ø  Set boundaries: Setting boundaries with people and actions helps to limit feeling overwhelmed.
  • Ø  Limit access to the news: Focusing on the positive is a helpful coping strategy.
  • Ø  Make time for yourself: Even 5-10 minutes a day can make a difference!
  • Ø  Let go of the guilt: It’s ok if things are not perfect. Go slow to go far.
  • Ø  Develop a routine: Change can be difficult. Routines bring structure and feelings of safety.

This serves as a good reminder for all of us and our families.

Twitter Tuesday Questions:
  1. Why is self-care important for educators?   (9:00)
  2. What is one way you are maintaining self-care during this time?   (9:06)
  3. What is one way you are challenging yourself during this time, professionally or personally?    (9:12)
  4. How can we encourage self-care with our students and co-workers as well?    (9:18)
  5. Long-term, what self-care practices can we continue with ourselves and encourage with our students and co-workers?    (9:24)

Friday, April 03, 2020

BPS eLearning Kickoff Reflections

We are a week into BPS's transition to online learning!    Let's chat about how it's going.

Q1:  What's working so far?  What's going better than expected? What can you do now that you couldn't do a few weeks ago?    (first question will post at 9:00)

Q2:  What's still a definite 'work in progress'?   (9:06)

Q3:  In what ways are you seeing that this experience will make us better educators in the long run?   (9:12)

Q4:  Share any resource(s) (tutorials, Facebook groups, other Twitter chats, blogs, lists, websites in general, etc.) that have been helpful to you during this time.  (9:18)

Q5:  Share any words of wisdom or encouragement.... or appropriate memes or gifs :).  (9:24)

Take care and we got this!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Transitioning to Online Education

We are in new times and are likely overwhelmed with information, so I am keeping this post as brief as possible.  We changed the Twitter Tues topic for this week to respond to 'just-in-time' needs.  We will get back to our 'normally' scheduled educational topics for the future dates starting again on Tuesday, April 7th.

Q1:  What's your name & area of teaching?   (first question will post at 9:00)

Q2:  What's your biggest concern moving forward in this online environment?  (9:05)

Q3:  How can we best keep our student's needs at the center of the learning?    (9:10)

Q4:  Share any resources (personal or educational) that have been helpful to you during this time.  (9:15)

Q5:  What areas of expertise do you have that you'd possibly be willing to help others with? (9:20)

Q6:  What else is on your mind?  How else can we help each other? etc. (9:25)

Take care and we got this!

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Voice and Choice: Independent Reading

When students have the chance to select their own books to read, they have opportunities to read what interests them and discover books they enjoy to read. Self-selecting books does not always work the same way for striving readers as it does for proficient and advanced readers.

A few years ago after one of my read-alouds, I told my students: “In this class you’re always safe. Everyone will celebrate reading by choosing books you can read and enjoy.” That comment seemed to be a turning point because during independent reading time, several students selected books they were able to read and enjoy. However, it took several weeks for all students to feel positive about selecting books they could read with ease.

This story was crucial that students had the opportunity to make the decision to choose books they could read. Striving readers often need time to feel safe that no one will make negative comments about books they select. Give the students time and create an environment where everyone feels safe and truly learn to enjoy independent reading. Self-selection develops responsibility and independence, and gives students control over their learning.

In addition to choice, there are other things that create joyful reading and allow students to spread the word about a beloved book to peers.

Reflection Time

Have you ever closed the last page of a book and wish you could read it again? The need to revisit events in a book and to think about the characters and their decisions is often achieved through reflection. You feel obliged to ponder over and relive favorite parts of a favorite book. These moments in reading are special and it is important to offer students a time to reflect and savor parts of a book that were memorable or impacted their lives. Reflection can be accomplished through discussions and recommendations of books.

Power of Discussing Books

Reading is social and that is why students love talking about books with a partner or in a small group. Discussions reveal a range of interpretations supported with evidence from the text. Students also practice their active listening skills and communicate their thinking to peers. It is also valuable to offer students ways to promote or advertise books to their peers. Promoting and advertising books provides students with a list of books their peers enjoyed. Book recommendations offer students choices they may never have considered.


The following are four ways students can hear about and explore books that their peers enjoyed. The students then have knowledge about books they can check out to read.

1. Elevator Talk: Vendors often have to sell a product quickly by focusing on what makes the product special or different from other products. Students set up an appointment with their teacher when they complete a book and want to present an “elevator” talk. Have students jot some notes they want to include in the brief talk. The presenter has sixty seconds to sell the book to classmates.

2. Graffiti Wall: Students have the opportunity to write short book recommendations to their peers. Place a large piece of paper on a bulletin board or wall. The students write short reviews that are positive, point out one important reason why the book was a great story, and to recommend the book to a peer who may enjoy it.

3. Class Blog: Set up a class blog and invite students to create and post original book reviews or trailers. Students read the blog to explore books classmates posted and also to add a comment to a peer’s post.

4. Flipgrid: Students enjoy sharing what they are currently reading or have read in the past. Set up a class Flipgrid to allow the students to give book recommendations, share their stories, and to reflect on reading strategies and story elements (character, setting, plot, theme, etc.). The resource allows students to answer questions or respond to a peer by simply asking students to use their voice.

Discussion Questions:
1. How do you engage students in book reflections and discussions in the classroom?

2. In what ways do you promote voice and choice to your students in reading?

3. Do your students promote and/or advertise books they have read and enjoyed reading? If yes, how?

4. What was a personal experience where you had the opportunity to share a book you enjoyed reading? How did the experience make you feel?