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Guest post

8 Ways Parents and Teachers Support Remote Teaching

Corona virus has been difficult not just for teachers and students but for parents. They aren’t used to the homeschool aspect of remote teaching and it is a challenge to balance the needs of all of their children as well as their own personal circumstances. Here are thoughtful suggestions on how to make that work from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Emily, from over at My Tech Classroom. Her website is filled with innovative ideas on blending tech into education. Today, she’s focused her considerable experience on how parents and teachers can support remote teaching. You’ll enjoy this: 

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With millions of children out of school and trying to adjust to online classes from home, there is a big challenge for parents and teachers. The first thing parents need to arrange is online access. Not all families have computers at home and not all children are tech-savvy. Fortunately, most people have smartphones, and it is possible to access online teaching platforms from a phone.

If your child’s school is giving online classes, they will be live group classes and lectures as well as recorded material that your child can view later. This is very important for parents who have more than one child needing online teaching. The family can choose the time a child accesses her lessons.

  • Make a Schedule 

The organization of computer use timings is important if the parents need the computer for their work at certain hours of the day. Since we don’t know how long online classes will be required, it’s important to invest in an upgrade of your technology, so you and your child can keep up.

  • Help Children Relax

During the lockdown, children may become tense and nervous about their schooling. After all, they need to learn new skills on the computer and do their work by themselves. Parents can help their children to relax and take it one step at a time.

  • Trust the Teacher

Teachers will do their best to inform the parents about their aims and goals for online teaching as well as give a schedule for classes. This information will be posted on the learning platform such as Microsoft Teams, where you can see it. It may also be sent in easily accessible formats such as texts that make it easier for parents to stay connected to the teacher.

  • Make Sure Your Child Gets Facetime

Teachers are doing their best to give facetime to all of their students, but sometimes this isn’t possible. If the child has to babysit a younger sibling, or the Internet goes out or any other reason the student can’t get on the facetime part of the lesson parents need to know. All the experts recommend at least some time every week when the student can talk directly to the teacher. This helps develop security and reduce anxiety in the child. This article gives you a clear example of what to expect from the teacher.

  • Keep the Schedule

Another problem parents face is trying to work from home without childcare. That means they are not only trying to do their jobs and keep that paycheck but also look after their child’s or children’s education. This is where a schedule goes a long way to allow everyone to get what they need. If it means your child needs to access recorded lessons at a particular time, so be it. But, remember to let him have some facetime with his teacher at least twice a week.

  • Tips for Parents

Even if you are not doing all the teaching from home, this article gives tips for making your child’s online experience with his class and teacher better, starting with establishing a dedicated working space and establishing a routine to keeping track of what your child is doing. These are important steps for any parent to follow in order to give their child the best experience possible while they are stuck at home. Finally, make sure your child gets enough breaks and fun time between lessons. This is just as important as study time.

  • Check How Your Child Adapts to Online Teaching

While many students are struggling to adapt to online learning, some seem to thrive with it. Teachers in Northern California report that a few of the shy, highly creative and hyperactive kids seem to be doing better in their school work online than they did in class.This has inspired the teachers to consider keeping some days online even when schools reopen. Students can self-pace their learning and choose when they do their homework. It also gives students a chance to take a needed break and exercise, walk around, do something different for a while, which research shows are beneficial for renewed focus.

  • Contact the School

Schools use different approaches to online teaching. Some schools have a schedule that the student needs to log into for a video conference, but the majority of schools use a system of giving lessons to the student and correcting them every week. It’s up to the parents to make sure they do the work. Be very clear how your child’s school handles online teaching from the beginning, so your child and you don’t get off to a shaky start.

When Parents and Teachers Work Together

The learning curve for remote teaching was steep for parents and teachers in the beginning. But, as we get used to it, we find there are ways to make it easier and even more effective than solely classroom teaching. The main key is for parents and teachers to have open communication about the child and to each understand everyone’s challenges.

Emily’s Bio

Teaching young children, starting with my own son and daughter, is the joy of Emily’s life. She started teaching in a conventional classroom with a whiteboard and a laptop and learned quickly the many ways today’s technology can enhance the learning experience.

#coronavirus #covid19 @WeAreTeachers @TechLearning

More on parents in ed

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10 Great Posts on How to Involve Parents

Teaching Basic Cybersecurity Measures To Everyday People (For Parents of Digital Natives)

Categories: Guest post, Parents | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Connecting in the Age of COVID

I met Kiana Berkman in this traumatic time of moving teaching home through an invigorating discussion on education and how it’s changing. Kiana and her tutoring agency (Berktree Learning Center) were already ahead of the curve on that. I asked her to share insights on how COVID-19 is affecting her students and their passion for learning. I think you’ll like what she and her husband, Daniel (partner in the tutoring business) have to say:

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There is a popular saying that applies to learning: “you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink.” Any educator knows that you can’t force a student to learn, though that does not stop them from trying anything possible. A teacher could create the most gorgeous lesson plans, and employ all the best known tactics, and there may still be students that don’t want to learn. Yet students are not horses, nor are teachers horse-trainers. They’re both human beings with a latent desire to find and share knowledge. Some students have not accessed this desire yet, and their teachers are trying earnestly to connect with these students on an intellectual level, to release that latent desire. For a teacher, there is no experience more gratifying than helping a student search deep for understanding and watch as they finally discover it!

The Distance Before Distance-Learning

Connecting intellectually with students has always been the challenge addressed to teachers, even before social-distancing. Students face innumerable difficulties in their life that conflicts with regular attendance and consistent attention in the classroom. Many of these conflicts come from a barrage of social challenges, ranging from complex family tensions, lack of accessibility to adequate resources due to financial constraint, or just plain old emotional growing pains. Going to school each day is the most consistent life experience for many students, and teachers try their hardest to make the classroom experience as reliably consistent as possible.

Teachers who have the opportunity to work individually with students get a rare opportunity. Classroom sizes have limited the teacher’s reach to individual students, and standardization has normalized an almost industrial perspective of student pass-rates, as if failing students are merely the result of quality control. The more that students and teachers become statistics, the less that their human qualities are recognized and accessed. Needless to say, society has been widening the distance between students and teachers long before the Corona virus made it mandatory.

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Categories: Guest post, Online education | Leave a comment

How One Teacher Found Innovative Solutions to ELL Issues

I met Dr. Bill Morgan through a shared interest in keyboarding for youngers (see this article on A Conversation About Keyboarding and this article on Preparing Young Students for Home Row Keyboarding: An Unplugged Approach). In each other, we found kindred spirits, both passionate about better ways to teach today’s learners.

When Bill offered an article on a new class he started that helps English Language Learners, I was excited. It’s an important issue with not enough solutions. His approach is innovative, original, easy to implement (with some effort), and effective. Read on and see if this would work in your district. He’s included contact information so you can reach him with questions:

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Computer Literacy for English Language Learners

“Typing by the Numbers”

Dr. Bill Morgan, Ph.D.

Over the decades I have added both Educational Technology and TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) endorsements to my elementary teaching certificate. My graduate studies focused on integrating technology across the curriculum.

Along the way I began volunteering with various organizations, working with immigrants from other countries. One evening a man from another culture asked me how to spell a specific word. As I spelled the word out loud we both realized that the sound I was using to name a vowel was not the same sound that he was familiar with. It must have been Spanish, where letter A “always says ah,” letter E “always says ay,” etc. When I used the letter A in the spelling of a word, he heard the letter E. When I used the letter E he heard the letter I. It was nearly impossible for him to take dictation from me.

He then asked me to write words for him to copy in his notebook. He laughed out loud and then said, “You write like a doctor!” I took that to mean that he could read my handwriting no better than that of a doctor who had given him handwritten notes to read.

From then on I brought my laptop computer to class. When an adult English learner asked me to spell a word I would type the word then enlarge the font that could be read by all in the room. I didn’t need a projector nor a large screen TV, I only needed a laptop sized monitor.

Thinking of how I might integrate technology with instruction, I gathered a group of bilingual community members and started, “Computer Literacy for English Language Learners, NFP.” Find us on Facebook!

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Categories: Guest post, Keyboarding, Language arts | Tags: | Leave a comment

Multimedia content personalizes learning

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Josemaría Carazo Abolafia, is an educational researcher and teacher who lives in Spain–and doesn’t own a car! He has a Masters in Ed from Penn State University (any Nittany Lion fans out there?) and is working on his EdD. Josemaria and I share the belief that “…[technology] must be transparent, like a lens; otherwise, it hinders learning.” Here’s his take on the use of videos in education:

Multimedia content as a way to learning process personalization

People can learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone. It can be called the multimedia learning hypothesis (Mayer, 2005). My experience teaching with videos supports the idea that students not only learn more deeply but also faster. Consequently, the syllabus can be enlarged when classes take advantage of multimedia means -as it happened.

Moreover, multimedia content helps to individualize the learning process for every student, who really can learn at its own pace.

The multimedia content that I use consists of about 250 videos. Most of them are between 2 and 5 minutes long. Each video contains an explanation that happened during a real class, recording what students were watching -classrooms have a projector- and listening. They can be checked out at http://youtube.com/ldts1. It might be important to point out that my students are 17 years old and over.

However, using multimedia content to elicit learning does not lack inconveniences. The same problems that hinder learning when using textbooks occur when using videos. On the other hand, the same techniques can be useful in both cases. A constructivism insight and the cognitive load theory ground the solutions proposed to avoid those inconveniences.

Three difficulties when using multimedia content

I mainly found 3 difficulties when using videos as the main learning content format:

    1. Reception overload. More frequently than wished, the student doesn’t get the gist of an explanation on video format, and she or he has to re-watch the video 1, 2 or even 3 times. There’s no doubt, it’s frustrating for anyone.
    2. Lack of learner’s intervention. Passivity.
    3. Lack of variety -not related to the content but the format: video, text, website, lecture, and so on. 

Based on several learning theories, I focused on 3 ways to tackle these problems.

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Categories: Guest post, International, Videos | Leave a comment

Lessons Learned My First 5 Years Of Teaching

It’s always interesting to find out what new teachers learned in their early teaching that affected their later years. Here’s Elaine Vanessa’s take on that–5 bits of wisdom she acquired while surviving the early teaching years:

My first five years of teaching were the shortest and longest years of my life. I was living the best and the worst time simultaneously. However, it was the most memorable time of my life that I don’t want to forget. Also, those five years made me a well-groomed educator and a better person in my life.

Every teacher has a dream of having a classroom with respectful kids having fun activities and love while learning. It makes teaching easy if kids love to be in the room every day. However, my first years were not like that. As I continued, I got better every year. There was one thing consistent; learning. Below are five lessons that I have learned in my first five years of teaching. I am sharing them in the hope of being a candle in someone’s darkroom.

1.   Finding work/life balance is a process

You cannot work for more than 8 hours every day. You can burn out of exhaustion and fatigue. I have my husband to keep pushing me unless I would have been stuck within the first six months. I learned to keep my school work at school and find personal time at home with my family. You may need to work at home sometimes, but I recommend not making it a habit. Finding work-life balance is not easy; however, it must be a prior goal to achieve and maintain.

2.   Take time to get to know your students

Investing your time in understanding and taking care of your students will going to pay you ten folds off. It is not very tough to strike up a conversation with your students, make sure to ask relevant questions, and make a personal connection with them. It is also essential to make them aware of yourself, your family, and your experiences. This will help them to see a real inspirational person in you. Your openness will let them feel comfortable to ask for advice and help. Also, it will create a relationship of trust and respect by letting them explore and encourage them to try something new every day.

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Categories: Guest post, Teaching | Leave a comment

8 Practical Ways to Use AI in Learning

ai in education

Every year, education finds new ways to make learning more inclusive and diversified. The latest change agent is Artificial Intelligence (AI), now being used in classes to focus learning, simplify redundant tasks, and infuse lesson plans.  Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Kamy Anderson has eight practical ways to use AI in learning:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting the education industry. Traditional classrooms may not go extinct anytime soon, but edtech will certainly change the way we learn and think about learning. It’s already challenging us, as educators, to revisit our role as sole providers of formal knowledge and professional L&D. And we must admit, AI is making things better and easier.

These are the eight practical ways to use AI in learning:

1.      Smarter Content

The primary ability of AI is to collect and analyze data. Not only is this technology designed to sift through massive amounts of information but it is also ingrained with powerful curation capabilities. As a result, AI helps create smart educational content that’s being used in both classrooms and online courses. Using AI, we can deliver textbooks, lesson summaries, and flashcards that are highly focused, relevant, and applicable. Moreover, AI-empowered edtech can keep updating content with the latest findings from leading academic researchers and scientists.

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Categories: Education reform, Guest post | Tags: | Leave a comment

How Smart Tech and IoT are Making Educational Spaces More Accessible

Internet of thingsI haven’t written much about IoT (the Internet of Things–see the end of this article for more resources on IoT) and education. I do talk about it in my Digital Citizenship grad school class (if you click the link, it’s MTI 557) but haven’t turned those ideas into blogs yet. Thank you, Jane, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, for writing a quick overview of that topic’s intersection with education. 

Even though 86% of universities currently educate students with disabilities, only 24% of the schools say that they offer those students assistance “to a major extent.” The schools that do place emphasis on the needs of their students often have programs that encourage accessibility as well as accessible classrooms. Smart technology that is connected by the Internet of Things (IoT), however, is beginning to change all of this by making classrooms and campuses around the country more accessible while crafting a better learning environment for every student.

Crafting Smart, Accessible Learning Environments

Students with physical disabilities that affect their mobility can often find it hard to access learning spaces. Integrating smart, connected technology into college campuses is a way to prevent these issues from affecting disabled students or those with lower mobility. Mobility-friendly stairlifts and motion-sensitive doors, for example, are ways in which smart technology is used to allow students with disabilities to easily access buildings and classrooms. Using smart technology to accomplish this is nothing new. Other industries that cater to the elderly population, people with limited mobility due to obesity and the housing sector already utilizing technology to improve health and increase accessibility. All of these solutions have come to fruition based on, first, the concept of universal design and, second, the idea that technology can be used in innovative ways to enhance life in practically any way possible.

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Categories: Education reform, Guest post | Tags: | 1 Comment

How Readilearn grew from one woman’s dream to an exciting education resource

Norah Colvin, educator, writer, and consultant, is the brilliance behind the exciting education website, readilearn. It started as her dream and is now a go-to resource provider for the first three years of a child’s learning journey. I’ve gotten to know Norah Colvin online through her pithy posts about teaching. Every time I leave her blog, I come away better for having stopped by. I think if we lived near each other–or taught in the same District–we’d be fast friends. Norah used her deep knowledge on teaching to create resources for professionals in this field. I’m a big supporter of teacher-authors (anyone out there? I’d love to host you here) and asked her to share her expertise with my readers:

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lreadilearnThank you very much for inviting me to write a guest post on your blog, Jacqui. I am delighted. I always enjoy your wonderful suggestions for using technology in the classroom and wish I was still there to implement them. I have often said that I was born too soon. I arrived a little too early to enjoy the richness of technology that is now available to teachers in the classroom.

That’s not to say that I was slow to get involved with technology when it became available; I was just already well into my adult years.

Even before I purchased my first personal computer in 1985, an Apple IIe, I had tinkered with electronics kits to try to get an understanding of how computers worked.  I think there were cables and switches and various things to turn on and off a series of LED lights. At the same time, I was absorbed by the games we played on an Atari 2600, which was ostensibly purchased for my son, in 1984.

The purchase of the Apple IIe replaced my use of a typewriter, and I slowly adapted to using it for composing as well as ‘typing up’ work and stories that I had written, edited, revised and rewritten by hand. I loved using Publisher and thought the dot matrix images, now considered so primitive, were just wonderful. I taught myself BASIC and made some simple activities for children in my classroom to use. I also began using it to prepare lessons and activities, though I still made most by hand.

I had one computer in my classroom in 1985 and two in 1986. I was flabbergasted when I returned to the classroom in the early naughties, after a few years’ break, to find that most classrooms were lucky if they had two computers. While change may have been slow in the first twenty years of computers in the classroom, implementation intensified as the internet became more accessible and reliable.

You may be wondering why I would provide this information in the introduction to a post about readilearn, an online collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. But to me, it is a simple progression, a culmination of my life’s work. It allows me to combine activities I love with my passion for learning and education.

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Categories: Guest post, Kindergarten | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Teaching Basic Cybersecurity Measures To Everyday People (For Parents of Digital Natives)

As one who manages way too many online accounts, I read this article from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor and CyberSecurity expert (retired), Sam Bocetta with interest. My checklist (green for good and red for ‘need help’):

    • I’m paranoid about links and downloads
    • I check for virus and malware regularly
    • Ooops–don’t yet use a VPN
    • I should pay more attention to my passwords
    • I am religiously careful of email
    • Yep–switched to HTTPS for my blogs and websites
    • I update software when prompted (that’ll have to be black)

Read Sam’s article below. When you’re done, evaluate your cybersecurity safety.

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The topic of cybersecurity is becoming something people of all ages worry about. This is largely due in part to the rise in malware, ransomware, and infections people have experienced over the last year.

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Categories: Guest post, Parents | Tags: | Leave a comment

Physical Bookstores in The Digital Age

As a parent, I fondly remember browsing bookstores with my children. We probably went there with a specific book in mind, one required for school, but ended up taking our time exploring all the tomes available. Though bookstores remain, too often, parents simply buy books online–digitally or print, doesn’t matter–and miss out on that opportunity to discover new worlds.

That’s why when Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Alex Mitchell, suggested this article–The Future of Physical Bookstores in The Digital Age–I said yes almost before reading it. You’ll find Alex has written a thoughtful analysis of what’s going on with physical bookstores in an ebook era:

The Future of Physical Bookstores in the Digital Age

bookstores in the digital age

Brick and mortar bookstores have been a dying breed in recent years. It seems every time we turn around another handful of locations are closing.

When Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 authors began to see the end of times. Worries about cheap, sometimes poorly edited, and often over-saturated eBook markets seemed like they would be the death of the printed word. Another supposed threat to the print book is torrenting and online downloads of materials.

However, in recent years it seems that print books have been selling better and better.

It is surprising, then, that many noted names in the book industry have been hit hard in recent years. People have noticed that there has been a slump in sales for Barnes and Noble, and the company has closed many locations. Additionally, the popular entertainment store Hasting’s was bought and liquidated in 2016 after failing to gain investors during their bankruptcy protection period.

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