Practical Communication Skills to Help Your Coaching Get Off The Ground

Communication is at the crux of our society. And while it is such an important part of our daily life we stop explicitly teaching it as our kids get older. Right now I have a baby and toddler at home and we spend a large part of our time teaching …

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The Roles and Responsibilities of Successful Coaching-Teacher Relationships

Coaching is a powerful practice schools can adopt in order to provide support for their staff and encourage continuous professional growth. Like the quote states above, school leaders should aim to create a learning community for teachers that are focused on trust, collaboration, and growth. Too often teachers chat in the halls but carry out their work in the silos of their classrooms. Coaches can help remedy this situation. They play an integral part because they can come alongside teachers and meet them where they are at. Just like we wouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all curriculum for our students, we should recognize that our teachers have varying needs, skill levels, and interests. And while PD time may provide new ideas for teachers, coaching can help transfer that knowledge back into the classroom and put it to action (Wang, 2017, p. 23). Many people struggle to define coaching in an educational setting. That is largely due to the fact that coaching roles and responsibilities vary from school to school. There are peer coaches, instructional coaches, or coaches who work in a certain subject such as math or literacy. “…coaches’ functions are as varied as the students and teachers they serve.” Wolpert-Gawron, 2016 So what are the key roles and responsibilities coaches and teachers assume when working together? Let’s first start with coaches. Coaches can wear many hats….. instructor, facilitator, cheerleader, curriculum designer, analyst…..  And while the list can be quite extensive, I found some reoccurring ideas when researching. Coaching Roles: Facilitator One part of facilitating is planning and leading professional development for both large and small groups. However, the role of the facilitator can also be used in one-on-one sessions with teachers. One of the coach’s most important skills is the ability to guide the teacher through the coaching cycle and to ask meaningful questions that help a teacher reason, reflect, and refine their instructional practices.  Expert Coaches cannot be experts at every grade level’s standards and curriculum, but they should be skilled communicators who are experienced at lesson design, best practices, and tech integration and be able to interweave all of these components when helping teachers design curriculum and assessment (Mraz et al., 2016). Sometimes being an expert involves model teaching or observing a teacher to provide helpful feedback. In order to stay an expert, coaches must also be researchers and curators. They need dedicated time to learn new and innovative instructional practices so that they can then share with other interested staff members (Wolpert-Gawron, 2016). Collaborator Coaches come alongside teachers to help them “plan, implement, and evaluate activities” (Foltos). To take it a step farther, they could team teach the lesson. This can be a powerful practice so that the educator can see what strong teaching looks like. This usually involves pre-teaching meetings to discuss what the goal of the lesson is, and then again afterward to reflect on what occurred, how the collaborating teacher might adopt these ideas, and what kind of support the teacher might need moving forward (Foltos, 2013, p. 5). However, the coach needs to be wary of taking on the brunt of the work and encouraging learned helplessness. The goal of the coach should always be to help the teacher build capacity. Les Foltos (2013), said it best: “Ensuring that the learner is taking responsibility for learning is a key strategy coaches use to help their peers develop the capacity to improve their teaching practices. In other words, the coach’s role is to facilitate learning” (p. 15). Catalyst This could also be called change agent or empowerer. Coaches help “teachers reflect on and improve their practice by using question strategies and skills that assist colleagues to become effective instructional decision-makers.” (Foltos).  Heather Wolpert-Gawron (2017) comments that coaches have a powerful position of influence since they can establish partnerships based on trust and respect. Teachers usually feel more comfortable opening up to a coach or TOSA (teachers on special assignment) compared to their principal, and can see best practices modeled in ways teachers can relate to. Coaches can empower teachers to try new things and help the school embrace new pedagogies and practices, such as culturally responsive teaching. However, coaches are just one piece of the puzzle. Progress could not be accomplished without their partners, the teachers. Teachers also have specific roles and responsibilities in a successful coaching-teacher relationship. Roles for the teacher: Expert Teachers should be experienced with their grade-level standards and curriculum. Reflective Learner Teachers should be open-minded and willing to learn new things and grow. Having a growth mindset will enable them to tackle innovative practices and problem solve issues in their own classrooms. They understand that being a life-long learner is essential to meeting the diverse needs of their students and that collaboration with a coach can help them achieve their goals. Risk-taker Be okay with “failing forward” and trying new things. No one learned how to ride a bike overnight or was able to sit down at the piano and play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on their first try. Teachers too need time to perfect their craft of teaching. Like it is for all of us – learning something new takes time. This can be uncomfortable for teachers to be so vulnerable with a coach and have their “failures” visible. That is why trust is essential in the coaching-teacher relationship and teachers need to be confident in the fact that the work they do with the coach is private. Coaches can come alongside the teacher, empathize, and be their cheerleader reminding them that we really only grow when we take risks, make mistakes, and are able to learn from them. Going back to the quote at the beginning, school leaders should try their best to create a learning community that encourages risk-taking and innovative practices. Teachers need to know their administrators have their backs before they try and branch out.  “Improving instruction is a long-term, iterative process” (Foltos, 2013, p. 12). And one that we should not try to undertake alone. Our diversity and range of experience can only make us stronger if we are willing to meet at the table, have open and honest conversations, and try new things.  Works Cited Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin. Foltos, L. (2018). Coaching Roles. Peer-Ed, Mill Creek  Mraz,  M., Salas, S., Mercado, L., & Dikotla, M. (2016). Teaching Better, Together: Literacy Coaching as Collaborative Professional Development. English Teaching Forum, Vol. 54 n4, p24-31. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1123196 Wang, S. (2017). “Teacher Centered Coaching”: An Instructional Coaching Model. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, Vol. 29, (1). https://www.mwera.org/MWER/volumes/v29/issue1/V29n1-Wang-VOICES-FROM-THE-CLASSROOM.pdf Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016, June). The Many Roles of an Instructional Coach. ASCD. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/jun16/vol73/num09/The-Many-Roles-of-an-Instructional-Coach.aspx

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Service-Learning IGNITE Talk

Combatting Apathy With Empathy: A Focus on Technology and Service-Learning

Two years ago I sat down with the fourth-grade teachers at our school to co-write a persuasive writing unit for ELA. We wanted to use project-based learning (PBL) to gi…

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A Roadmap for Choosing New Technology

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away…. wait, wrong story. 

A long long time ago in a classroom far far away there were students dreaming of one to one devices and teachers advocating for interactive whiteboards and student-adaptive te…

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Shaking Up PD

Redesigning your professional development to be effective, meaningful, and powerful. What is the problem with PD?  Imagine plopping down into a seat at 3:30 pm. You look up at the clock and pray that this professional development session goes by quickly. You pull a snack out of your bag or perhaps you begin to sip your second cup of coffee as your brain shifts to thinking about the stack of papers you have to grade and the lesson you need to finish preparing for tomorrow. Your principal emailed details about today’s training, but it didn’t spark your interest and you’re not sure how it will relate to your teaching.  Ever been there? Surveys show that very few teachers (29%) are highly satisfied with current professional development offerings (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014). A study was done by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2014) also revealed that a large majority of teachers do not believe “that professional development is helping them prepare for the changing nature of their jobs, including using technology and digital learning tools, analyzing student data to differentiate instruction, and implementing the Common Core State Standards and other standards” (p. 3). And unfortunately, many teachers surveyed shared that they viewed professional development (PD) more as a compliance exercise than a learning activity- and one over which they had limited, if any, choice (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014, p. 10). What do teachers want? Relevant – teachers want PD that is personalized to their needs and classroom Interactive – teachers want to be able to participate and do “hands-on” learning activities  Teacher-Led – teachers want to learn from their peers Sustained Over Time – teachers want time to put what they learned into practice over the course of a semester or a school year  Professional – teachers want to be treated like adults, rather than children Possible Solutions: 1. Individualized PD Carla Meyrink, founder and director of The Community of Learning in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, bravely moved her teachers to an individualized professional development approach back in 2016. Through past PD experiences, the leadership team had learned that teachers wanted to be in charge of their own learning – choosing when to learn and what to learn. Meyrink (2016) shared, “We constantly tried to model good teaching techniques for our educators, but we were failing miserably when it came to individualizing. How could we ask our teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of their students, if we couldn’t find a way to do it for them?” So they set off determined to develop individualized PD for their staff. Soon they realized that it would be helpful to have a framework for teachers to use when setting their own learning paths.  The Framework for Individualized Professional Development:  Setting Learning Targets  First, they shared with the teachers the leadership’s desired learning outcomes for all staff (i.e. I can check for understanding and use the information to improve my teaching and individualize instruction). At the first PD session of the year, the staff brainstormed smaller objectives for each large learning target. It was a great way to discuss different ways a teacher could be meeting that large learning target in their classroom. From that discussion, a self-evaluation was created that listed the large learning targets with smaller objectives underneath and asked teachers to self assess themselves with B (beginning), D (developing), or S (secure) on each of the targets (see picture below). Courses in Google Classroom  After teachers had evaluated themselves, they chose two areas they’d like to focus on. The leadership team took that information and started to design mini-courses for each of the targets teachers wanted to do. They posted the course work in Google Classroom. However, they also wanted to empower teachers during PD so at the beginning of each Friday session, a different teacher presented on one of their strengths from their self-evaluation. After the teacher presentation, teachers choose a course to take from Google Classroom, and either worked independently or collaboratively. At the end of the PD time, teachers were asked to reflect on their growth and add it to a portfolio.  Portfolio Documentation  To help facilitate reflection, teachers were asked to provide documentation for those learning targets they identified they were “secure” in. They could choose to do a digital or paper portfolio and collected samples of: pictures of students working lesson plans videos of their teaching feedback from their coordinators quotes from students examples of student work Benefits:  Depending on their preference, teachers could work independently at their own pace or collaboratively. This PD format also showcased different teachers and their areas of expertise, removing the top-down approach to professional development. Individualized PD allowed teachers from different grades and subject areas to connect. Cross-curricular projects were being developed as teachers learned from each other.  Teachers could pursue a goal that matched their interests, ability level, and classroom needs. That way leadership could support new teachers as they developed their craft, while also challenging veteran teachers.  Teachers were more engaged as they had a say in what they learned and could do “hands-on” self-paced work.  It was easier to incorporate small group book studies around professional books that interested teachers. This form of PD could work for large school districts since Google Classroom courses can be easily shared with large groups of people.  Teacher portfolios are a good way to assess if the PD was successful  Concerns:  The amount of time it would take for school leadership to design courses for each of the learning objectives, especially if the topics changed yearly.   Another concern I have about this PD format is time. The Community of Learning met every Friday from 12:30-2:30 pm, but a lot of schools do not have a dedicated time each week for PD. What if your school only has PD one whole day every couple of months?  2. Inquiry-Based PD  Wouldn’t it be awesome if teachers could pursue their own interests and questions during professional development time? That is exactly what Inquiry-Based PD does. After doing Individualized PD with her staff for a handful of years, Carla Meyrink wanted to try another approach.  In 2020 The Community of Learning had two growth goals for the year: student engagement and differentiation. However, the teachers’ interests varied within those two topics and the school’s leadership team wanted to give teachers choice (Meyrink, 2020). Therefore, they decided to try out an Inquiry-Based PD system. “Teachers would have the opportunity to focus on their own inquiry by coming up with questions that interest them, researching ideas and strategies, trying them out in their classes, reflecting on the effectiveness, and beginning the cycle over again” (Meyrink, 2020). They also thought it would be good for teachers to experience inquiry-based learning first hand since they wanted teachers to use it in their classrooms.  Step 1: Teacher Survey They began by sending out a survey at the beginning of December 2019 asking teachers to let them know their needs and interests in the areas of engagement or differentiation. The leadership team then gathered their answers and grouped their ideas into 8 categories (4 on engagement and 4 on differentiation). They then gathered books, podcasts, blog posts, webinars, articles, videos, etc. for each category that teachers could use when researching their inquiry question.  Step 2: Give Teachers Choice  For the first PD session in 2020 they set up 8 tables. On each table they placed the resources they found for that category. They took the time to print quotes, graphics, and QR codes to help spark interest and get teachers quick access to more information. Teachers then browsed and chose an area they would like to study and formed a team with other people with similar interests. Step 3: Driving Questions  During the 2nd PD session, they introduced the teachers to the idea of inquiry. In small groups they decided on a question to pursue.  Step 4: Start the Inquiry Cycle  Do research about their question(s). Decide on a plan of action to try out in their classroom. Reflect on how it went. Tweak and make changes if necessary. Begin the whole cycle over again with a new question. Step 5: Research and Discussion  Three sessions in a row were dedicated to research time. Teachers kept adding their findings to the group Wakelet page that helped curate artifacts and then they discussed what they discovered. Teachers then devised their own action plans.  Step 6: Experimentation and Reflection Teachers put their action plans to work and reflected on whether or not they had been successful. If they weren’t successful they would tweak things or drop it and try something else. As a group, they shared their experiences, supported one another, and learned together.  Benefits: Teacher-directed learning. PD is personalized for each individual teacher giving them voice and choice in their learning. Promotes curiosity, critical thinking, and inquiry. Gives teachers a dedicated time for research and discussion on bettering their craft. Reflection time is built-in and an important part of the process.  A great way to focus on district or leadership’s goals, but also allows teachers to choose topics that are interesting, relevant, and applicable to their classes and also match where they are in regards to their own professional learning journey. The inquiry-based model allows teachers to work collaboratively and learn from each other. Concerns: Once again, you need built-in work time regularly for teachers to work together. If you do not have weekly PD sessions, how could you still use this inquiry-based model but not lose momentum between the meetings?  Another concern is that teachers come up with a plan to try in their classroom but never follow through. There needs to be accountability built into the inquiry-based format. Perhaps this would be a great place for coaches to come alongside teachers one-on-one and support them during implementation and help teachers reflect on how it went.  3. EdCamp PD A third way you can shake up your PD sessions is by trying out an EdCamp. Edcamps are free informal professional development sessions that are focused on learning from other teachers. There are no predetermined topics or presenters, no sage on the stage. Just a group of educators sharing experiences and ideas (Meyrink, 2016). Teachers come the morning of and offer suggestions on topics they would like to discuss. This is usually done by attendees writing questions or topics on sticky notes and posting them on a blank schedule. Teachers then choose which sessions they would like to attend. I love this model because it empowers teachers to be the learners and experts, and places significance on collaboration and being a community. Benefits:   Individualized PD for teachers  A great way for teachers to collaborate with other educators outside of their building or district Free “unconference” model makes it more accessible for people to attend  Conclusion Well, I hope these ideas have started turning the gears in your brain. Research clearly shows that there is a disconnect between what school leadership intends for PD and what teachers actually experience. PD can be more powerful if we can personalize it for individual teachers and provide them relevant, interactive, peer-led training, and the opportunity to reflect on their craft. I’d love to hear about your favorite PD experiences. What was the format and what made it a meaningful experience for you? Check out my Wakelet on new ideas for professional development. Wakelet is a collaborative curation tool that allows you to save pdfs, websites, videos, tweets, FlipGrid videos, etc.  Resources Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014, December). Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0SUlzb19fX0lpaXM/view Edcamp Foundation. (2018, December 2). Edcamp: Empowering Educators Worldwide [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=31&v=rgIqaduELP0&feature=emb_logo Meyrink, C. (2016, August 8). Common Professional Development Challenges. The Teaching Experiment. http://teachingexperiment.com/2016/08/2017/ Meyrink, C. (2020, February 15). How To Set Up Inquiry-Based Professional Development For Teachers. The Teaching Experiment. http://teachingexperiment.com/2020/02/how-to-set-up-inquiry-based-professional-development-for-teachers/ Meyrink, C. (2016, April 10). EdCamp For Professional Development. The Teaching Experiment. http://teachingexperiment.com/2016/04/1900edcamp/ Meyrink, C. (2016, August 15). Individualized…

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Culturally Responsive Classrooms: Where to Start

As people have taken to the streets lately to demand equality, I have watched, reflected, and dialogued with loved ones asking the question, “How am I advocating for equity in my own spheres of influence?” Educators are in such a special a…

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Redesigning Math Courses for Distance Learning

Nearpod  Nearpod is an ingenious platform that allows teachers to create tech-infused lessons. I believe Nearpod can help teachers deliver quality instruction during distance learning that is also fun and engaging for students. You can find Nearpod online or by downloading the free app. There are synchronous and asynchronous options for teaching. On their website, Nearpod advertises: “Easily synchronize and control live lessons across all student devices. Seamlessly use your favorite web conferencing platform for distance learning settings.” However, there is also the option for asynchronous lessons that can be assigned to students so that they can access them anytime and anywhere. Perhaps you’ve also been trying to figure out how you can still differentiate to meet your diverse student needs? It would be easy to assign individual lessons to students after you have tailored the content to accommodate your student. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome tech tool.  What Makes Nearpod Stand Out in the Crowd  With Nearpod it is possible to find or create interactive lessons in minutes. In your lessons, you can embed videos, quizzes, polls, sways, Phet simulations, FlipGrid discussions, and mini slideshows (just to name a few!). There are various ways to keep students engaged during the lesson by allowing them to actively participate. For example, you can include interactive whiteboards for students to participate by drawing or showing their work. Or add virtual field trips to your lesson so that students can “experience” real-world examples and see places from around the world. You can also record your own voice over each slide or activity so that it feels like the presentation is happening right in your classroom. The audio recording tool is a great way to give students directions, encouragement, and support as they move through your asynchronous lesson. Another helpful feature is the ability to embed a website right onto a slide. That way students don’t have to go anywhere else to do their work. When you go to that slide in your lesson it will automatically load that webpage and students can interact with it just like they normally would online. Nearpod has great tools that you can use as formative assessments throughout your lesson, such as quizzes, polls, and the student draw tool. You can monitor student work on your teacher dashboard and give students timely feedback. If you choose to assess student’s learning by giving a quiz, they will be automatically graded for you and analytics provided. Creating Lessons  “Upload and tech-enhance your existing materials or customize over 7,500 pre-made, standards-aligned lessons for all K-12 subjects.” Nearpod.com When creating Nearpod lessons you can use your own Powerpoint, Google slides, or PDFs as the basis for your instruction. After uploading your files, customize your lesson by inserting videos, interactive polls, or quick quizzes to keep students engaged and assess understanding.  Another really cool feature for Google users is to use their new Google slide add-on feature. After installing this add-on in Chrome, you can use the Nearpod tools while working in your Google slide presentation. All of the changes will sync automatically with your Nearpod lesson. If you don’t feel like designing your own lesson, feel free to scan the thousands of premade lessons and edit it to fit your needs. Another bonus for teachers is assignments can be integrated with your Learning Management System whether you use Google classroom, Microsoft Teams, Schoology, or other various platforms.  Nearpod Activities  “Classroom communities stay connected with collaborative activities and formative assessments like virtual reality, polls, collaborate boards, and game-based quizzes delivered through one seamless learning experience.” Nearpod.com Nearpod has a range of activities designed to increase student engagement.  Collaborate: Students are prompted with a question and they can respond with text or pictures. It is a great way to conduct a live discussion or brainstorming session.  Time to Climb: A gamified quiz. Start by adding your own question and a picture if you’d like. Next, fill in the multiple-choice answers or use images (great for pre-readers). One bonus is their additional options for older math students, such as the use of exponents or square roots. Teachers can set questions on a timer or easily edit their work by dragging questions or multiple choice answers around to rearrange. I found it very user friendly. However, the biggest drawback is that it is only multiple-choice questions, instead of having a range of choices like true/false or extended response.  Bell Ringer Writing Prompts: Teachers can write a prompt and include an optional reference image or timer. You can allow students to submit text or audio recordings. I thought the audio recordings were really cool, especially for young students who have a hard time typing or for accessibility for other students who need additional support.  Polls: Survey your students and receive feedback instantly. You can display the results for your class, choosing to either show or hide student names for privacy. This would be a great way for students to self-assess and provide teachers with quick feedback on who they need to pull and re-teach. More resources: There are other resources available for teachers include engaging Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons or brain breaks. If you want to try out Nearpod with your students check out their youtube channel, sign up for a webinar training, or access their collection of free pre-recorded webinars to watch on your own time.   Redesigning Your Math Course with Nearpod We are all on a steep learning curve as we dive into distance learning. However, I think we’d all agree that traditional teaching methods are not as effective in a digital learning environment. Therefore, it is time to change it up! I watched this video from Edutopia on a highschool in Washington D.C. that had thrown out lecture-based teaching and replaced it with a self-paced, mastery-based approach to learning. I thought this flexibility would lend itself well to distance learning. Therefore, I started to brainstorm how Nearpod could be used to design an engaging, individualized digital learning environment for students that also allowed for student collaboration. Here’s my proposal: Online Instruction  Teachers design asynchronous Nearpod lessons they students can access and complete at their own pace. This seems like it would lend well to a distance learning environment since every family’s schedule is different.  Students participate in answering questions throughout the lesson with the “Draw it” tool. This is a great way for teachers to check for understanding and catch misconceptions quickly.  Since the lesson is not live, students can pause and rewatch parts as needed. When done, students will be required to complete a task to show mastery. Teachers can schedule “office hours” or collaboration time throughout the week for students to ask questions and work through questions together synchronously. Mastery-Based Grading Students progress to the next lesson when they demonstrate mastery. This part must be done independently by the students.   There are lots of fun tech tools that can be embedded in Nearpod lessons for students to show mastery. For example, teachers can use Nearpod’s own quiz feature or embed a Flip Grid discussion page for students to record videos explaining how they solved the problem. Or teachers can embed any website! For instance, check out Explain Everything. They have a digital whiteboard that allows students to demonstrate a problem and record audio. Or they could also complete a quick quiz on Quizlet or do an online Google form as an exit ticket.  Teachers can schedule one-on-one reteach sessions with students if needed and then students can try to demonstrate mastery again. This is possible because there are no live lectures-  the daily synchronous “classtime” becomes live sessions working with students. Critical Questions: Q: How do you effectively differentiate?  Perhaps teachers can create different Nearpod lessons for below, at level, and above grade level learners? However, this does seem like a large amount of work for teachers to create. Another option could be to let high students work through the “at level” lessons and then have an extension project for them to do. Q: Is there a cut off at some point so that you can move on to the next math chapter?  I recognize teachers may run into a problem with this mode of learning if students don’t participate or struggle with managing their self-paced lessons. One idea I had was to create a student pacing guide that students can refer to in order to gauge if they are doing a good job staying on top of their lessons (i.e. by the end of week two complete 4 lessons). Just like in a Gen. Ed. classroom, we will always have students that struggle with different concepts. I would encourage teachers to reteach concepts to students and allow them to repeat lessons until the end of the chapter. If they only completed 3 out of the 6 lessons, they would receive a grade for the standards covered and they would receive a “no mark” for the content they did not cover.  Q: How can we involve more collaboration for students?  I think we need more contact and community activities besides live office hours where students can ask questions and work through problems together. I love the idea of having an end of the chapter collaborative performance task where students have to use all the skills they’ve learned from the chapter to solve a real-world problem or authentic task. But at this point, I’m not sure what that looks like with social-distancing. I’d love to hear any ideas you may have.  Helping Staff Implement Nearpod I watched Nearpod’s webinar on “Implementing, Training and Supporting Teachers with NearPod”. They had some great suggestions for getting Nearpod off the ground at your school.  Start by modeling Nearpod for your staff during your professional development session. Then they can see the product through the lens of a student. This directly ties in with ISTE Coaching standard 4d: Model the use of instructional design principles with educators to create effective digital learning environments. Try and engage teachers the same way you want to engage students. Let them experience how fun it is to go on a virtual field trip or see how engaged learners are when using the“Draw it” tool. This will help teachers buy-in. Try and hook their attention at the beginning of the Nearpod lesson. Show a video or a funny meme. Ask “How do you feel today about this training?” and let teachers respond with the Draw It tool, Take a virtual field trip to the beach and talk about what you’re going to do for your summer vacation.  Use the Collaborate activity to pose an open-ended question or do a poll to ask staff if they are familiar with Nearpod.  Gage the direction of your training by getting live feedback from interactive activities. Use a poll in the middle of the training on which Nearpod activities they want training on since you don’t have time to cover them all. Could use Collaborate at the end to brainstorm ways teachers can use Nearpod in their classroom.  The objectives of your training should not just be to teach them about Nearpod, but also to motivate them to try using new technology. They are equally important!  Give teachers time to use Nearpod and begin to develop a lesson for math or their specific content area. Be available to help when needed or give feedback.  Create a Nearpod Planning Resource for teachers to use when creating a lesson.  Besides the webinar, Nearpod has other resources Digital Learning Coaches can use when introducing this tool to staff including a free Nearpod training lesson, facilitator guide, and audience checklist.  I’d love to hear about your experiences using Nearpod or your thoughts on individualized digital learning environments for students. Please comment below. Resources Basye, D. (2018, January 24). Personalized vs. Differentiated vs. Individualized Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/explore/Education-leadership/Personalized-vs.-differentiated-vs.-individualized-learning Edutopia. (2019, May 9). A Student-Centered Model of Blended Learning [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrR-KIoggf4 Implementing, Training and Supporting Teachers with NearPod [Webinar]l Nearpod. Retrieved from: https://nearpod.com/blog/resources/#instructionalVideo ISTE…

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The Power of a Podcast

Ever wonder what it would be like if sharks had legs?  How about if it was possible to teach science through silly songs?  Or where you can hear music from the Jelly of the Month Club and the Boogers?  Then you need to check out podcasts. From exploring little-known moments in history to discussing questions like “Is it okay to fight bullies?”, podcasts will get you thinking, laughing, and questioning. Why podcasts should be a part of every classroom: Podcasts are a great way to give students voice and empower them to creatively share what they’re learning about. They can become a summative performance task for virtually every subject. For example, students can use podcasts to publish their narrative writing stories or explain a hypothesis they tested in science. Or their podcast can connect with social studies standards as students work in small groups to bring to life a moment in history and then explain the cause and effect. Not only can podcasts connect to learning standards, but they are also a great way to build a classroom community and help students practice being part of a team. Consider starting a classroom podcast where students co-author episodes synthesizing what they are learning into bite-size audio segments or have students discuss social topics such as “Is it ever okay to cheat?” or “What is safe information to share online?” By assigning different roles to your students such as hosts, producers, editors, recording technicians, etc. everyone can participate.  I think podcasts are so alluring because they give students an authentic audience. Matt Miller, the well-known author of Ditch That Textbook, comments that sometimes students do not produce their best work when they know their teacher will be the only person who views it. Podcasts give our students a real audience from all over the world. “What if they (our students) knew that people they knew – and people they’d never meet – were benefitting from their work? (Miller, 2018). They would be more motivated to do their very best. However, before posting student work it is always wise to check what your school’s student privacy policies are.  Podcasts are a powerful tool to use in our classroom to foster 21st-century skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. “Our world is craving smart, responsible problem solvers and critical thinkers” (Miller, 2018). Matt Miller (2018) argues that we’re missing a piece of the puzzle if we raise children who can problem solve but can’t articulate their vision. We need to spend the time NOW helping our students develop their communication skills. Podcasts are a great opportunity to do just that. The New York Times (2020) also emphasizes podcasts “offer an engaging way for teachers to merge project-based learning with digital media analysis and production skills.” They also provide students with the chance to work on their computational thinking skills. They can work on decomposition by breaking down their podcasts into smaller audio segments to record, edit, or rearrange. They also will use abstraction when writing their scripts and determining what information is needed and what is not. I hope you can see why podcasts are worth your time.  They…  Give students voice and an authentic audience Encourage creativity, collaborating, critical thinking and communication  Empower students to demonstrate learning in a creative way Foster classroom community  Help students develop digital literacy skills  Critical Questions: Some teachers might worry that creating podcasts are too much work and will take up too much classroom time to produce. If you’re feeling that way I would encourage you to check out Anchor, a podcasting recording app below. The app was super easy- even kindergarteners could do it. Plus, remember that you’re giving up classroom time to teach your students other skills and concepts besides just the academic standards – such as being a good teammate and effectively communicating ideas. Those skills are needed to be successful in any job. They are worth our time and our students need guidance in those areas too.  I also wondered if kids would be engaged? Will they be excited and motivated to make podcasts? Our students are stimulated by screens all day long, so I questioned how they would feel about auditory learning and production. I say try it out and see! Every year you have different students with varying interests. One year the kids might not take to it, and the next year it could be a home-run!  I personally think a change in scenery would do them good. Perhaps by exposing them to podcasts written for children it will peak their interests and get their creative juices flowing (see the end of the blog post for recommended podcasts). Recording Tools: So you’re now excited to try podcasting in your classroom, but where do you begin? When looking online, I found a variety of options for recording podcasts. Below are reviews of my top 3.  Anchor  Created by Spotify. Free mobile app or web tool.  An account is needed to create podcast episodes. You can collaborate with others at the same time or people can send voice messages for you to include in your podcast. Anchor has user-friendly tools that allow you to trim segments and also add transitions, sound effects, and background music. There are no storage limits – that means unlimited student projects! Podcasts can be published to multiple platforms, such as iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and more.  It is important to note that the terms of use for Anchor are 13+. So younger students will need to be supervised by a teacher.  Another thing teachers should know is that there is a wide variety of content on the Anchor app of other podcasts that have been produced by people around the world. Some of these episodes are inappropriate for the classroom. It is easy to record without listening to other shows, but these boundaries should be explained to the kids.  Sound Trap  “Soundtrap is an online, collaborative music workstation that can edit and record vocals and instruments” (NPR, 2020).  Soundtrap is also a great platform for creating podcasts as well. Sound Trap is web-based so there is no installation required. Soundtrap for Education was specifically created for teachers. It allows educators to integrate Soundtrap with the LMS of their choice, create and distribute assignments, and view student projects. Student projects are saved to the cloud which allows students to access their work from different devices or at home. Sound Trap gives students more in-depth audio recording and editing capabilities but is easy to learn on their user-friendly platform. One great capability of Sound Trap is that they will generate a transcription of your podcast. By editing the text, it will also edit the audio. It’s a quick and easy way to delete parts you don’t need or rearrange your recorded audio. The transcripts are published with the podcast which is a great feature for schools so that we can be equitable and support all learners.  They also have a large database of sound effects and background music to choose from.  Another great feature is that Sound Trap is designed for people to collaborate from around the world. Invite people to join your recording session by sending a link- they do not need their own sound trap account.  Podcasts are published to Spotify. First 90 days free for teachers! Soundtrap’s Youtube account has quick tutorial videos for music and podcast creation. Audacity  A free and popular recording and editing tool. You will need to download the software onto your laptop. Audacity allows audio recording and editing on your laptop (Windows and Mac users). With Audacity, students can record directly with their laptop’s microphone or use an external one.  Audacity has basic tools for beginners but also more advanced features for those students who have some experience creating podcasts.  You can export files in various formats However, I did not find it as user-friendly or visually appealing as Anchor or Sound Trap. I think students would need to watch tutorial videos like this one, or be trained on the software before using it.  Podcasts For Kids: Before sitting down to create podcasts with your students, I encourage you to check out some examples from the links below. There are so many creative, whacky, and thought-provoking podcasts out there for kids. By listening, students can study common characteristics and also determine what styles they want to recreate. https://www.weareteachers.com/best-podcasts-for-kids/ https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/10-must-listen-podcasts-for-tweens-and-teens https://www.fatherly.com/play/the-best-podcasts-for-kids/ Other Resources For Teachers: NPR’s Teaching Podcasting: Curriculum Guide NPR’s Podcast Guide for Students  I’d love to hear how you have used podcasts in your classroom. What is your favorite platform or tool? Comment below! Resources Anchor. (2018, August 16). Anchor: The Easiest Way to Start a Podcast [Video]. YouTube. Common Sense Education. (n. d.). 10 Must-Listen Podcasts for Tweens and Teens. Common Sense Education. Retrieved from  Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/10-must-listen-podcasts-for-tweens-and-teens  Common Sense Education. (n. d.). Best Podcast Apps and Websites for Students. Common Sense Education. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-podcast-apps-and-websites-for-students Fatherly. (2020, April 23). The Best Podcasts for Kids That Adults Will Like Too. Fatherly. Retrieved from https://www.fatherly.com/play/the-best-podcasts-for-kids/ Gonchar, M., Hicks, J., & Winnick, L. (2020, April 14). Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/learning/lesson-plans/project-audio-teaching-students-how-to-produce-their-own-podcasts.html Kokias, M. (n. d.). 26 Best Podcasts for Students in Elementary, Middle, and High School. We Are Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.weareteachers.com/best-podcasts-for-kids/  Miller, M. (2018, February 28). Why your students need a podcast: How to do it fast and free. Ditch That Textbook. Retrieved from https://ditchthattextbook.com/why-your-students-need-a-podcast-how-to-do-it-fast-and-free/ NPR. (2020, February 21). A Studio At Your Fingertips: 5 Apps Teachers Are Using To Make Student Podcasts. NPR. Retreived from https://www.npr.org/2020/02/21/807372536/a-studio-at-your-fingertips-5-apps-teachers-are-using-to-make-student-podcasts  Soundtrap for Education. (2019, May 14). Storytelling in your classroom with Soundtrap [Video]. YouTube.  Transverse Audio. (2018, April 11). How To Use Audacity For Beginners (2018) – V 2.1.2 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAMAmeWMr7I

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The C’s of Distance Learning

Exploring Best Practices This worldwide pandemic has pushed millions of teachers and students into the realm of distance learning. While the concept of distance learning is not new, it is for many of us and it offers a new set of challenges that differ from classroom instruction. So today I would like to explore the question together: What are best practices of distance learning? My principal has asked me to lead a professional development session on this very topic. And my first thought was “Me? I don’t feel equipped.” I wouldn’t want to stand and lecture as the “expert”- I am by no means the expert on distance learning. So similar to a student-centric classroom, my plan is to facilitate a conversation with our staff. That way teachers can share their own successes and challenges, research various perspectives together, brainstorm solutions, and walk away excited to try something new. So I invite YOU today to be part of the conversation. I would love to hear what you have learned so far as you have transitioned to a distance learning environment. We are stronger together. Communication We must communicate clearly, consistently, and with a common channel. If we use too many platforms (email, class website, shared google doc, texts via Remind, etc.) we will confuse our students and parents and things will start falling through the cracks. Therefore, it would be beneficial for your school’s leadership team to decide on teacher expectations for how to communicate (i.e. will everyone use Microsoft Teams or Google classroom) and how often they are expected to communicate with students and parents (having scheduled class times or office hours to answer questions). Having expectations for staff will help streamline the process of distance learning for families with multiple kids. In addition, the uniformity of platforms will help the technology department support teachers and will hopefully give teachers enough direction for them to feel comfortable and confident in moving forward. There are two types of communication: asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous: people can access and join in the conversation whenever it is convenient. Teachers can give directions, share announcements, or post pre-recorded lessons via email or their current Learning Management System (LMS). Likewise, students and parents know how to reach out to the teacher if they have any questions or concerns. Synchronous: people are together in a virtual space chatting at the same time. The benefits of synchronous conversation are being able to have an open dialogue, students can participate and ask timely questions, teachers can gauge understanding and correct misconceptions, and classroom community can more quickly be built. This can be done via text-based conversations or online video conferencing. Text-Based ConversationsLearning Management Systems (LMS) have built-in ways to have secure and ongoing conversations with your students. Whether your school uses Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or a different LMS like Schoology or Blackboard, teachers can use these platforms to communicate with students in an online discussion board. Another alternative option to consider is using YoTeach to have a backchannel discussion with your class or small group. Video conferencingBecause of Covid19, many video conferencing tools have been made available to schools. Some of the most common are Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, and Microsoft Teams. While each platform has small differences and pitfalls, they each do a nice job of bringing people together. However, it is important you seek permission from your principal and/or district before using any of these tools since they may violate your school’s privacy policies. I think it would be beneficial to teach video conferencing expectations and etiquette to your students since this is likely a new experience for them. The following poster can be used to set expectations with older students. There are a lot of other resources out there on video conferencing etiquette. Here are a few you might find helpful. Instructional YouTube video for younger students Zoom etiquette guide to share with families Zoom checklist for primary grades Teaching audience etiquette to older elementary students How have you taught expectations and etiquette to your students?  What forms of communication have been the most successful for you?  Community and Belonging Experienced teachers have an arsenal of ice-breakers and get to know you games to do at the beginning of the school year to help build community. However, how does one go about establishing a community online? I think teachers should treat the shift to distance learning like you would the beginning of the school year. Take the time to establish relationships and routines before digging deep into learning. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to establish a community of learners and help everyone feel like they belong. Together create a digital community agreement. This could be especially effective with older students as they brainstorm together a set of shared norms such as agreeing to attend synchronous events or how to give constructive feedback to one another. With little kids, it can be beneficial to go over do’s and don’ts of online learning. For example, do not talk over each other during the classroom Zoom call. By taking the time to discuss and agree on how to act online it will pave the way to a smoother online experience.  Get to know each other and establish trusting relationships. Take time to do “Show and Tell” with your primary students or have older children answer ice breaker questions such as “What are you most proud of?” or “What are your highs and lows of last week?” By taking the time to connect and listen, students build empathy towards each other and a sense of belonging. I would encourage teachers to participate as well.  Encourage students to work together. Set up a group discussion feed for students to be able to talk and ask each other questions. Or have students become the teachers and have them show how they solved a math problem via video and post it on the class page. Lastly, design assignments that partner students together to view each other’s work and give feedback.  How have you created community online?  Creating One way we can empower our students during distance learning is by giving them a choice in how they demonstrate their knowledge. Allowing them choice gives them autonomy and control over their learning and encourages them to be creative and critical thinkers. The technology options out there are endless, so try and rotate through tech options that meet diverse learner preferences or create a choice menu for students to choose from (if you’ve never heard of choice menus before check out John Spencer’s blog).  Tech tools that connect to learning preferences A couple items to keep in mind: When choosing apps or creation-tools consider which ones are user and kid-friendly. If you have a hard time learning how to navigate it, your kids will too! You need to keep things simple since you won’t be able to walk them through how to use the app face-to-face.  Remember pedagogy first, technology second. We don’t want to get wrapped up in the use of technology and forget what matters. Carefully test and select tools that will help students demonstrate their mastery of learning goals. Or skip the technology altogether and use other creative ways students can show their learning (posters, sketches, 3-d models, etc.) If you are a teacher who doesn’t feel confident with your digital literacy, try and master one or two new tech tools to start off with. Don’t try and tackle all the coolest latest apps. Work on developing your tech skills at your own pace and take pride in your growth. How do you give students autonomy and choice in their learning?  How do you give your students the opportunity to be creative? What are your favorite tech tools? Collaboration and Connecting Students have been thrust into distance learning (just like us) and are missing the opportunity to socialize and work with others. No longer can they turn and talk to a partner or work in a group to solve a problem. Imagine how hard this is for our extroverted kids who thrive off of social interactions, or the kid who academically struggles and therefore benefits from the support that comes from learning alongside his or her peers.  I would challenge you to try and still give them opportunities to work with others:  To brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other  To explain and justify their thinking To give each other constructive feedback To collaborate on a project We can also add more authenticity to their work by connecting with other classrooms in order to give them a range of audiences. Find classes to work with by networking on Twitter or Facebook. Also, try your best to connect one-on-one with your students. I’ve heard that this personal connection can be a game-changer. Consider choosing one or two modes of communication (email, video messages, comments on shared documents, etc.) and stick to them. You could also hand-write cards or invite small groups to have lunch with you via video-conferencing. How can you give students the opportunity to work together? Are there collaborative websites or apps that you have used and liked?  How have you fostered your personal relationship with students? What impact has it had?  Content Several BIG questions have surfaced for me in regards to how we teach via distance learning. As I started to research and dig deeper I realized that this blog post was turning into a novel. Therefore, I think I will save the “Content” portion for another post. That way I can give myself the time and space to research these questions more thoroughly. Please look over the questions below, digest them, and let me know your thoughts.  How do we effectively teach via distance learning? What changes do we need to make to our lessons, delivery, and assessments compared to how we normally teach?  What are different ways we can deliver our lessons (i.e. video, audio, readings, interactive experiences such as NearPod)? How do we differentiate for our diverse learners? How do we meet the needs of our students with IEPs/504 plans? How can we include trauma-informed practices that support students during a crisis? How can we include Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons into our instruction? General Tips To close I thought I would share some tips Jennifer Gonzalez talks about in her popular blog Cult of Pedagogy: Keep home responsibilities in mind. Be flexible with deadlines and show extra grace knowing that this is a big transition for families as they work out a new routine that balances learning, physical exercise, chores, and parents still themselves working. Especially if they are juggling multiple kid’s schoolwork and synchronous events. Less is more.  Prioritize social interactions. You don’t have to use 100% of your time for teaching. Allowing students the time and place to share about their feelings, laugh together, and just interact with their peers can be much more valuable for their emotional and mental health than learning how to count to 5 or identify a paragraph’s main idea. We need to keep in mind the mental and emotional toll large-scale social isolation is having on us all and know those other academic skills will come with time.  Keep. Things. Simple. Limit the platforms you are using for distributing information and keep messages to a minimum. “Give parents and students one place to look for all important information, and that “place” will be clean, simple, easy to navigate, and updated regularly so everyone can count on the information being current (Gonzalez, 2020). I feel like we’ve just started to uncover the tip of the iceberg as we try and answer the question “What are best practices for distance learning?”. I strongly believe we need to focus on communication, community, giving students autonomy with choice, collaboration, and of course content. There is not a one-size-fits-all or correct way to do distance learning. Educators will have to thoughtfully, by trial and error, design a system that works for them and their students. And above all…

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Should I Join the Maker Movement?

And the Learning Sciences Behind Them What is a MakerSpace? Makerspaces have been a hot fad in the educational world for the past couple of years. What are they all about and are they worth our time and money? What do the learning sciences tell us about makerspaces? Jennifer Gonzalez, the author of the popular blog Cult of Pedagogy, interviewed John Spencer on his expertise in makerspaces. Spencer has co-authored two books, Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, and Empower: What Happens When Students Own their Learning. When asked to explain what a makerspace was Spencer (2018) said: I see a makerspace as simply a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity and the key thing here is they’re actually making something. Creativity is sometimes idea generation, it’s sometimes problem-solving. But (in) a makerspace, you’re actually going to create some kind of product. John Spencer He goes on to explain it could be a digital product (green screen video, coding algorithm, iMovie, etc.) or a physical product which could be as broad as using cardboard and duct tape, to 3-d printing a design. Spencer also notes that makerspaces can look very different from classroom to classroom or school to school. Sometimes schools set up a defined makerspace area with the tools and materials students need. Or perhaps the school has a roving makerspace cart. Othertimes classroom teachers will set up their own “tinker” area in their classrooms. There is no one right way to do makerspaces – the emphasis should be on allowing students the opportunity to create.  The Neuroscience Behind Makerspaces What’s Happening In Our Brains When We Learn Brain research has shown us that when we acquire new information there is an actual change in the makeup of our brains. We have billions of neurons that add new pathways when we learn. According to The Science of Learning Part 2: How the Brain Learns, these pathways, or dendrites, are strengthened by repeated use by developing a thick fatty coating (Envision, 2015). The thicker the dendrite, the faster it passes signals in your brain. And your existing dendrites can grow more dendrites, just like a tree sprouting twigs from an existing branch (Envision, 2015). You may have heard the phrase: “The neurons that fire together, wire together.” This means that the more you activate and use those neurons, the stronger they will become. Just like when learning to play an instrument or riding a bike. It’s hard at first, but the more you practice the easier it gets. This scientifically proves that “practice makes perfect”! (Envision, 2015).  Learning Through Play The front part of the brain is called the prefrontal cortex and is responsible for executive function.  Like we discussed above, the neurons here are strengthened by repeated use. In an article titled The Brain Science of Making, Conn McQuinn explains that when children have unstructured playtime they can practice making decisions, testing hypotheses, evaluating results, and using other types of executive function skills (2018). McQuinn states that if we over-structure children’s lives and school experiences they lose the opportunity to learn how to self-direct (2018). This is why makerspaces are so important. They can have self-directed exploration and discovery. They can learn from their mistakes and express themselves creatively. By allowing them to tinker they can develop important executive function skills.  Hands-On Learning is Essential Your brain thinks your hands are the most important part of your body. When explaining the picture below, McQuinn (2018) states:  This little critter is called the homunculus. It is a physical representation of how many motor neurons you have in your brain for different body parts. When you see how gigantic the hands are, it tells us that as far as our brain is concerned they are by far the most important part of our body. Conn McQuinn No wonder students love to explore, play, and create things with their hands. A makerspace is the perfect place for students to design, build, test, and modify their own creations.  Learning Should Be Fun The hippocampus is a special part of your brain that helps form long-term memories. It is part of the larger limbic system which controls your emotions. “This is a critical point because it underscores that learning and memory formation are emotional events” (McQuinn, 2018). The take away: learning should be fun! Neuroscience shows us that students will learn better if they are having a good time, and what better way to do that then allows our students to experiment, tinker, and play in a makerspace. Having a Growth Mindset “I love making mistakes!” – said no one ever Makerspaces are centered on learning from your mistakes. During my time teaching, I noticed that students these days don’t like to fail. In fact, they avoid failure at all costs and immediately ask for help when they reach a roadblock. I frequently complained to my colleagues that my students were SO needy! Makerspaces provide a safe environment where we can encourage our students to experiment and make mistakes. We can teach what it means to have a growth mindset and how to “fail forward” – the idea that we can learn from our failures and use that knowledge to try out another solution. Teachers can even join in the fun, get their hands dirty, create something new, and model what it looks like to make mistakes and learn from them.  Hopefully, by now you can see how valuable a makerspace can be. “They align powerfully with what neuroscience tells us about how the brain works!” (McQuinn, 2018). If you are interested in setting up your own makerspace or levying for one at your school, check out these resources below. How to Get Started Starting a School Makerspace from Scratch  What is the Point of a Makerspace? Makerspace Master Course by John Spencer Create a Makerspace in a Week  The Kickstart Guide to Making GREAT Makerspaces Check Out These Awesome Makerspaces In Action! Lindsey Own (@Lindseyown) at @EvergreenBIGLab Krissy Venosdate (@krissyvenosdale) Project Makerspace (@ProjMakerspace) at ML Public Library Makerspace 3D Printing and Makerspaces One tool you will want to consider having in your makerspace is a 3D printer. It is a great tool that allows students to design, problem-solve, and end up with a product to show for their hard work.  What is a 3D Printer and How Does It Work?  Here’s another video to watch with your elementary school kids if you’re wanting to teach them about 3D printing 3D objects are created by a process called additive manufacturing, where the material is laid down layer by layer to create a larger design In order to know what to print, you must give the 3D printer a plan or graphic model to follow. These designs can be created by using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. There are various free online CAD platforms that are easy for beginners to use, such as TinkerCAD and Sketchup (McFadden, 2019). What Materials Would You Need to 3D Print? 3D printer CAD design software Filament, a.ka. printing material. Two common filaments are Polylactic Acid (PLA) which is made from a variety of natural sources including sugar, corn starch, or sugar cane. It is biodegradable and safe to breathe in. Another frequently used filament for 3-d printing is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) which is oil-based. It is extremely strong and is used to make a lot of children’s toys. You can buy both of these filaments on Amazon (3D Insider, chapter 6).  Why You Should Consider Having a 3D Printer In Your Makerspace Students can go straight from concept ideas or digital models to 3D printed models Students can solve real-world problems with their designs  It is a great way to work through the design process with your students  Helps develop creative and critical thinking skills It gives your students the opportunity to be innovative   Challenges To Consider The learning curve can be steep when using CAD software or a 3D printer,  but don’t let that scare you off. It’s a great opportunity to learn alongside your students and model having a growth mindset.  Do your research and buy the right printer. There are a lot out there to choose from and you want to find the right fit. If possible, find someone who has experience 3D printing at your school so they can walk you through the process and give you tips and tricks. Be prepared to frequently troubleshoot problems when learning. Think about sustainability. Before buying this piece of technology, think through how your school will be able to afford the upkeep and cost of supplies.  Use your printer with purpose. Carefully integrate the use of the 3D printer with your current curriculum. The learning sciences show us that students learn better when there is a connection with the real world and they can demonstrate their knowledge in a practical way. Resources 3D Insider. (n.d.). Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing. Retrieved from https://3dinsider.com/3d-printing-guide/ Gonzalez, J. (2018, May 20).What Is the Point of a Makerspace? Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/makerspace/ Graves, C. (2015, July 16). Starting a School Makerspace From Scratch. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/starting-school-makerspace-from-scratch-colleen-graves  Lynch, M. (2019, June 27). What Teachers Must Know About the Neuroscience of Edtech Learning. Retrieved from https://www.thetechedvocate.org/what-teachers-must-know-about-the-neuroscience-of-edtech-learning/  Mashable. (2014, May 8). What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work? | Mashable Explains [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx0Z6LplaMU McFadden, C. (2019, November 23). How Exactly Does 3D Printing Work? Interesting Engineering. Retrieved from https://interestingengineering.com/how-exactly-does-3d-printing-work McQuinn, C. (2018, September 25). The Brain Science of Making. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=brain-science-of-making  National Geographic Kids. (2018, November 5). How 3D Printers Work | How Things Work with Kamri Noel [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlvK6DLwCz4  The Science of Learning Part 2: How the Brain Learns. (2015, September 15th). Envision. Retrieved from https://www.envisionexperience.com/blog/the-science-of-learning-how-the-brain-learns

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