Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wide Open School from @CommonSenseEd

Screenshot of the Wide Open School website

Common Sense just created a powerful resource for teachers, students, and families called Wide Open School.  It helps make learning from home an experience that inspires kids, supports teachers, relieves families, and restores community.

More than 25 organizations came together to support this effort and more are joining. Wide Open School is a free collection of the best online learning experiences for kids curated by the editors at Common Sense. There is so much good happening, and Common Sense is gathering great stuff and organizing it so teachers and families can easily find it and plan each day. 
On the site they also address the importance of connecting all kids. For those yet to be connected, Wide Open School offers many resources that can be completed offline and on smartphones, as well as bilingual and English-language learner resources.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Learn to Make Remote Content Accessible to Those with Disabilities

Common Accessibility Terms and DefinitionsRushing to create online curriculum and activities? That content must be made accessible. If you are taking screenshots or pictures of documents that you share or post online, it's probably not accessible. At this point, you should assume that the documents you create will end up on the device of a person with a disability.

There's a lot of support to ensure they access it!

In NYC, The Office of Digital Inclusion & The Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities are partnering to support schools with this work.

Here are some classes and resources for educators:
Innovative educators understand the importance of including all learners and their families in the content we create—and they help others do the same.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tips for Remote Meetings / Video Conferencing

In 2017 MarketWatch predicted 50% of the workforce would be working remotely by now. They were wrong. An unforeseen pandemic has made remote working an essential component for much of today's workforce. Many, who had not worked this way previously, are being thrown into this method of working. They need a little support in getting on top of their video conferencing game.
Top 3 Trends Defining the Future of Video Conferencing - Let's Do ...

Here are some tips


While some people may question the use of video, it is an important tool to help people who are apart feel connected. 
  • Enter the conference with video on 
  • After initial greeting, it's fine to turn off your video if you don't want to be on camera the whole time. This can also help with bandwidth.
  • If you will be talking for more than a quick response, put your video back on.
  • Look into the camera and make sure it is framed correctly.
  • Turn the video back on when signing off.
  • Dress for work, at least from the waist up. You don't want to look like you just got out of bed.


Even if you are not speaking and even if you think you are being quiet, these tips are important to keep in mind so you don't distract and annoy other participants.  
  • Enter conference with mic off.
    • Most microphones can pick up minor background noises, like coughs, sneezes, or typing.
  • Unmute only when you are speaking.


Assigning roles will help your remote meetings run more smoothly.
  • Facilitator
  • Chat monitor 
  • Note taker(s) 
    • You may want to assign more than one note taker. 
    • Share the link to a shared notes document at the start of the meeting and let everyone have edit access so they can share relevant materials or documents there.  

Your turn

What do you think? Do you agree with these tips? Do your colleagues follow these? Anything missing?

Free K-8 #RemoteLearning Curriculum from @TeachingMatters

Teaching Matters gives us another week of remote learning materials. Get a weeks worth of student-facing home learning resources aligned to the NYC schools' remote learning curriculum. It's also available in Google Classroom.

Visit the Teaching Matters Site to download the curriculum for your grade and subject. Watch the video below to learn how to use the curriculum.

Learn from Home Resources from Teaching Matters on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Practical Advice for the Remote Teachers & Families

The most important thing to know about remote learning is that it is not simply doing school at home. It's different. Throw the bell schedule out!


Book: A Realistic Solution to Structure

  • Teacher

    • Posts assignments with support materials like instructions and videos.
    • Provides optional times throughout the day for students to come together to chat, get support, discuss, and answer questions.
    • Sets times for students, pairs, or groups, to schedule appointments. 
    • When students submit work, the teacher is commenting on that work, giving feedback, and perhaps chatting via voice, video, or text with the student.  

  • Students 

    • Follow a schedule that works best for the family. 
    • Submit work as their schedule allows within a recommended time frame.
    • Know how to request both synchronous and asynchronous help from their teacher.

  • Families 

    • Make schedules for their day
    • Know how to make appointments to connect and conference with their teacher. 

Not only will the student's schedule be different, so will the teachers. The school day no longer exists. Learning, feedback, and assessment are more fluid and aligned to the natural schedules of teacher, student, and family. If you're new to this, it will take a bit of time to get used to. The "Realistic Solution to Structure" from seasoned homeschooler, Sue Wolf Patterson, may help.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Remote Presenting Guidance

Image result for remote meetingsPresenting through online platforms requires unique skills. Presenters need to be able to multitask and know how to troubleshoot in the moment. Below are some best practices my colleagues (ClayCodesLauraOgando7PatriciaPaddock)  and I collected which are helpful to keep in mind while presenting remotely. 
Roles can be combined depending on the person’s skills. If a live audience is present, it’s recommended to have the presenter support those in physical attendance and a facilitator support those online. 

If the presentation is strictly online it’s recommended to have a remote monitor to support questions but the presenter can also build in breaks to answer any questions that may have come up. 

For teachers, think about which students might be good in each role.
  • Remote participant monitor
    • Greets people who enter remotely
    • Answers questions
    • Provides resources
  • Tech Support
    • Helps people access the agendas and slides
    • Helps open application or download extensions
    • Helps participants if they’re having tech issues
    • Mutes participants
    • Pins participants
  • Facilitator
    • Presenting
    • Engaging with the audience
    • Responsive to questions and feedback
Best Practices
  • Start with going over housekeeping 
  • Bring the energy!
  • Be sure to pause slightly longer than normal for any questions that expect a response.
    • People may be struggling with technology and need time to respond.
  • Create a check off document of everything needing to be done prior to presenting.
    • A checkoff document is a great reference point and inevitably the times it’s not used will be the times something goes wrong.
Lessons Learned
  • Set up and test all the tech as soon as you access equipment
  • Test sound, microphone and all other components
    • Consider having another device that can be used to pick up audio if the main device doesn’t have a working microphone.
  • Give yourself enough time to tinker and troubleshoot (at least 45 minutes)
Tech Tools
  • Microsoft Teams
    • Directions for set up:
      • Schedule the event through teams.
      • At the time of the event join from your calendar. 
      • Use the present screen button to present your screen or a document. 
  • Extensions
    • Prior to session
      • Check that extensions to be used are installed.
      • Log in to any extensions if they require it. 
      • Test the extension use as it would be done during a training. 
Tech Specs
  • Speak close to the mic 
    • A headset would be helpful if you want to move around 
  • Mute all participants so their sound doesn’t interfere with the presentation.
    • Remind participants to enter with mics muted. 
    • Provide them with protocols for speaking i.e. indicate in the chat you'd like to speak.
    • Participants can control their own mic and verbally participate in the session one at a time.