Over 100 Granite educators joined us for our first GSD Tech Meet, a live virtual meeting for teachers held in Google Meet on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The meet was facilitated by Kacie O’Maley, School Technology Specialist at Upland Terrace Elementary and an incoming Team Leader for our department next year. In this first session, Kacie introduced the meet as a collaborative space for teachers to connect and share with one another, putting forth discussion questions that encouraged participants to share successes, ideas, and solutions they have developed during the distance learning period.
The chat was brisk and positive, with participants sharing many great ideas. Unfortunately, in a technical failure that demonstrates the complications of distance learning for students and teachers, the session was not successfully recorded. In lieu of that recording we are providing the session slides and highlights from the discussion below.
Discussion Highlights and Summaries
Q1: What is something positive that has happened in your class over the past month of distance teaching?
- Valerie Turner, a 2nd/3rd Grade Teacher at Sandburg Elementary, shared how she was having success using Google Translate with Google Meet to connect with her ESL students.
- Carissa Mudrow, a Special Education Teacher at Wasatch Jr. High, shared how she adapted and expanded her use of tools that she had already used with students and parents (ClassDojo, in her example) to provide continuity and procedures in a familiar format.
- Many participants shared how they had successfully learned to use new technology tools and developed new ways of doing things to facilitate distance learning.
Q2: What tool or program has made your job easier when teaching from a distance?
- Kristine Handley, a Kindergarten Teacher at Hunter Elementary, described how she collaborates on student-paced Nearpod lessons with her grade level team. (All Granite teachers have access to Nearpod, including a school and district library of ready-made interactive presentations. Teachers can collaboratively adapt these lessons as well as create their own Nearpod lessons from scratch, or add interactive features to materials they previously created outside of Nearpod.)
- Julia Henkes, Reading Specialist at Wright Elementary, uses Screencastify to record video read-alouds for her students. She used the decodables available to teachers in the Wonders ELA program, wearing funny hats and costumes to engage students. Students could then respond with their own videos using Flipgrid.
- Other helpful tools mentioned by participants included Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, ClassDojo, and Loom.
Q3: What is one tip you have for other teachers related to distance teaching? What has been a lifesaver for you?
- Create daily or weekly to-do lists for students and parents.
- Use your coaches and specialists: school technology specialists, LMETS, literacy coaches, instructional coaches, media clerks, and others have resources, knowledge, and other help that they would love to share with you and your students.
- Use materials that are already created through the district, such as Wonders materials shared on the Intranet, the tools and practices shared on the Granite Distance Teaching website, or lessons available in the school and district Nearpod Lesson Library.
Q4: Which types of learning are you using and how is it working for you? Asynchronous? Synchronous? Blend of both?
- Many participants reported that asynchronous activities gave the most access and flexibility to students.
- Some participants reported providing synchronous instruction for special events and social and emotional connection.
- Mysti Hedquist, Instructional Coach at West Lake STEM Jr. High, described how her school has started recording live meetings so that students unable to attend can watch asynchronously afterward. (Google Hangouts Meet and Microsoft Teams Meetings, two online meeting tools recommended for teacher/student use, both have built-in recording options.)
Q5: What are your biggest hurdles right now with distance teaching?
Participants mentioned these ongoing challenges and goals:
- Some students not connecting with teachers
- Some students not doing classwork
- Difficulty in differentiating classwork for students
Past and future meet participants are encouraged to provide feedback that will inform topics and formats for future sessions. You can also leave comments below or contact us with thoughts and ideas at our social media channels listed at the top of the right sidebar.
Next GSD Tech Meet – April 28, 2020
Our next GSD Tech Meet will be on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 11 A.M. The discussion will focus on ways to increase student participation in distance learning. Please join us, and invite your colleagues.
- Visit https://meet.google.com
- Sign in with your @granitesd.org Google account if you aren’t already signed in
- Click “Join or Start a Meeting” and enter the code: GSDTechMeet