Monday, December 21, 2020

Improving Engagement in Virtual Groups

 Many teachers have found students very quiet during Google Meets.  The reticence continues for many during the smaller breakout groups as well.

The following are two strategies that might encourage members of the groups to speak up and work together.

Collaborative Slides/Jamboards

You may have already tried having students work together in slides, in a doc, or on a Jamboard.  This technique tilts that idea on its side a bit.  Instead of focusing on the product (the slide, doc, or Jamboard), it focuses on the communication and collaboration.  

Students are assigned roles, but only certain team members have access to the slide/Jamboard. This encourages the students to work together in order to complete the task.

Esther Park (@MrsParkShine) shares templates linked here which designate a leader, a scribe, and a presenter amongst other roles.  Only the scribe and presenter would have access to the work.  The presenter would share their screen so others can see the work but cannot physically alter it.  The leader would encourage participation, the scribe would make note of what is discussed - guided by the task - and when done, the presenter would present to the rest of the class.

Could one person still complete the task?  Yes, but creating expectations and carefully choosing the roles can provide more structure to engage the group.

Collaborative Forms

A similar strategy can be used using Google Forms.  Instead of roles, the students get slightly different forms which encourage communication and working together.

So, each student wouldn't have all of the directions, information, questions, or answer spaces.  The teacher would divide those amongst several forms so that each group member has only one piece of the whole.  This encourages students to communicate and work together to get the task completed. As shown in Mandi Reinen's (@ReinenPhysics) to the right, you can get the sense that success depends upon the students'' collaboration.

For example, one student could be instructed to read the Pythagorean theorem aloud: a2 +b2 = c2. Another form could instruct a different team member to read the question asking to solve for "c," while the third could have the spot to provide the answer to this question on their form.

Because the work is physically divided, collaboration is necessary for any of the students to complete the task.

Each of these techniques could still encounter the difficulty of a student  refusing to participate.  The teacher  would then need to intervene so as to not hold back the other students who are willing participants. But these structures could increase the interaction amongst your students.

If any FPS staff have questions about either of these strategies or if you try them, please let us know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

FPS Teachers Attend Go Formative Train-The-Trainer Workshop

Approximately twenty Franklin teachers from across the middle and high schools recently participated in an hour-long train-the-trainer workshop for Go Formative.  Feedback from attendees was very favorable.  Even veteran users took away new tips and strategies for integrating this digital tool into their instruction.  The workshop included demonstrations of some new features such as collaboration, co-teaching, how to directly upload images on "show your work" questions and how to efficiently build a rubric using student answers.


The teachers that attended the training will be great resources within their respective departments.  In fact, Gayle Melko and Nikki Hafele will be sharing their knowledge at a math department meeting at FHS.  They created and shared this sample Formative to demonstrate the digital tool.  

Go Formative is not just for Math! All general education, special education and educational support professionals at the middle and high schools have premium access to this tool. A group of elementary teachers are also piloting the premium version of Go Formative.  Getting started is easy using one of the many formatives available in the shared library. The train-the-trainer session was recorded and teachers can view it if they are interested in learning more.  

Any FPS staff experiencing difficulty with their Go Formative account, needing support integrating this tool into instruction, or looking to view the recorded training session is encouraged to reach out to the DLI team.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Maintaining Connections during Hybrid and Remote Learning

In a typical school year, 8th grade ELA teacher Lauren Berolini can be found meeting one-on-one with students for writers' conferences. Ms. Berolini uses this format to provide specific, authentic feedback in a private and personal setting and values the opportunity it provides to make personal connections with students. In an effort to maintain these personal connections as students develop their writing skills in this hybrid and remote setting, Ms. Berolini requested help from the Digital Learning Integrationists to identify digital tools for providing feedback to students. Together they explored Mote, a google extension that enables voice note feedback within Google Classroom, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. Though the
"conversation" takes place asynchronously, it allows for a more personal interaction between the teacher and student than simple text commenting alone. Ms. Berolini reported that with this time saving tool, she was able to provide detailed, authentic feedback and that students responded well to the verbal format. Mote is free, data privacy approved and easily installed by clicking on the image here.  Mote voice comments are also automatically transcribed to text which, in turn, can be translated to many languages, making this an exceptional resource for both Special Education and English Language Development teachers as well. The DLI team is available to support teachers interested in exploring this feedback tool. Watch this quick video (1:31) to learn more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

FPS Students Travel The World Through Google Expeditions

Imagine traveling to different parts of the world from inside of the classroom, experiencing the different ecosystems that you have learned about in science, or stepping into one of Canada's National Parks.  With Google Expeditions this is possible, and it is happening right here in Franklin.

During the months of November and December, some elementary students had the opportunity to authentically experience their classroom learning through virtual trips to different parts of the world.  
Several fourth grade classrooms traveled to Canada, where they experienced many of the locations that they had been researching during social studies. This teacher led trip went from Kluane and Ivvavik National Parks in the Yukon to Torngat Mountains National Park in Newfoundland, all in 45 minutes!  "Explorers" were able to view these locations using virtual reality goggles, and were able to truly see each place.  These students were also able to use their scientific knowledge of animal adaptations and structures to respond to questions about different animals living in each location.  Students left this trip with a new understanding of life in Canada, as well as a more in depth understanding of the needs of animals in the location.

Some of Franklin's fifth grade explorers traveled to various ecosystems, from the marine ecosystem to the tundra. During these trips, students applied scientific vocabulary, discussing the producers and consumer as well as the biotic and abiotic factors.  Students even mapped out a food web based on the ecosystems they saw. 

Interested in taking your FPS students on a virtual trip?  Reach out to the DLIs using this form for more information.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Use Formative to Streamline Your Feedback to Students

FPS teachers are constantly seeking better ways to improve learning for their students. One digital resource they are beginning to explore more deeply is Formative.  This tool offers teachers the ability to build assignments and assessments so they can follow student progress and provide live feedback.

Teachers can use their own content or a bank of content within Formative to create opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding.  When developing their own content teachers can use entire Formatives created by others, individual questions from a content bank, or create custom Formatives using their own questions.

Teachers can view work individually by student, side-by-side with other students, or by question.  This information can be seen as the students are completing their work, allowing the teacher to intervene immediately.  Feedback can be given to students in a variety of forms: written, voice, or video.

Color coding within formative allows teachers to see when a student needs intervention.  It also allows the teacher to follow students' progress in regard to learning standards.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

FPS Staff Show Impressive Digital Growth Mindset

In the role of Digital Learning Integrationists (DLI), we have the opportunity to venture into a variety of classrooms across the district.

One thing has become apparent: since being thrown into virtual teaching, the Franklin Public Schools teachers have put forth great efforts to expand their repertoire in order to meet the demands of teaching in an unfamiliar setting.

One middle school math teacher is a self proclaimed disaster with technology. They are open with their
students about the struggles.  Before the pandemic, the teacher never would have thought to use technology in the ways that they are currently being used.  Now, the teacher is adept at making instructional videos for students, incorporating a document camera and screen recording software.

Elementary music teachers were searching for a way to both connect with their students individually and give them feedback on their individual progress. They reached out to the DLI to explore the option of Flipgrid. The teachers learned how to set up Flipgrid, so they could assign tasks simply to students, have the students create a video response, and give their own written and video feedback.

In October, teachers were faced with doing parent/guardian conferences virtually.  At Franklin High School, the challenge of scheduling so many families efficiently and effectively was daunting. The DLI helped generate a website from which families could access the conferences, along with directions to generate a sign up for the multiday event. Teachers unfamiliar with creating webpages were adding information to the webpages so families could sign up for a conference with a particular teacher and access a private video call with the teacher.

The efforts that the staff have made and continue to make in order to teach and to meet students' needs have been phenomenal. Their resolution to grow and learn the digital tools necessary to be successful is a benefit to the students and deserves great praise.