As we continue to teach, work and learn in these challenging times, we all need brain breaks. A brain break is a break from whatever we are focusing on. They may have an elementary notoriety, but they are also needed for teenagers and teachers. The key is to get them in BEFORE fatigue, distractions, or academic overload sets in. According to Morin, “For grade-schoolers, that’s typically after 10 to 15 minutes of work. At that point, they may need a three- to five-minute break. Middle- and high-schoolers can work for longer—up to 20 to 30 minutes before a break.”
Brain break research has continued to show positive effects on academic performance and behavior management. A simple brain break can decrease stress, increase productivity, boosts brain function, and provides opportunities to learn social skills. These can all lead to replenishing attention, improving learning, and boosting creativity.
Here are a few tips to get you started (from Understood.org)
Here are a few digital & Socially distanced ideas
Check out our C & I partner's blog - https://www.thepulsefromcandi.com/
Look around your tech filled world. Beyond the screen used to read this blog, technology and the computer science behind it is in everything we do. We can help students not only understand this world through computer science education; we can lead them to design and innovation. The goal of computer science is to teach your brain new, general purpose, and widely applicable ways to think. The concepts are applicable to everyone and help students think in ways that apply across content areas.
What does it look like?
How can we start this foundation early?
Code.org, Tynker, and CodeSpark Academy all have free and approved curricular resources to use in the elementary classroom. Although students can lead this learning, here are some ways to dive in for your own learning:
Try this 2-day virtual workshop through mindSpark Learning:
Code.org Computer Science Curriculum/Robotics
Over 80% of Jeffco Elementary schools have had teachers attend this learning and 35 schools have received Robotic kits from the Gill Foundation!
Ready to Learn on Your Own?
TRY THESE ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:
Teaching CS Fundamentals
Teaching CS Fundamentals K-5 is intended as an introduction to Computer Science Fundamentals and the Code.org K-5 resources for elementary teachers. Through reading, viewing videos, completing interactive puzzles and reflecting on your learning, you'll develop your own understanding while preparing to teach computer science in your classroom.
No previous experience with coding or computer science education is assumed. This is a beginner's course.
Brand New Robot Modules!
Checkout a robot to take home and learn in these modules!
Get to Know Dash and Dot! In this self- paced asynchronous course, you will learn by doing! After checking out a Dash robot kit (including Dash, Dot, accessories, and challenge cards), learn what these sassy and mighty robots can do and how to incorporate computer science thinking and problem solving into your classroom.
Just want to focus on coding?
Ready for something more advanced? These tools are approved and have free tutorials:
Popfizz Computer Science is created for Middle and High School teachers and students. With hundreds of exercises, auto-grading features, and step-by-step tutorials, learners are able to progress from basics to Advanced Placement Computer Science.
School budgets are always a sore subject--especially when we are also experiencing a pandemic. Often, schools need to be creative on where to find extra pots of money. This year, like past years, schools and districts looked to grants. One grant that provides many school district library departments and public libraries with funding is the Colorado State Libraries Grant.
The Colorado State Libraries is a division of the Colorado Department of Education. Their mission is to help libraries, schools, museums, and other organizations improve services, making it easier for all Coloradans to access and use the materials and information they need for lifelong learning. Every year they offer the State Libraries Grant for school districts as well as public libraries to apply for funding. These funds help libraries provide resources they would otherwise be unable to afford.
Once again, Heidi Floyd, Library Services Coordinator, applied for the grant and was awarded a little over $20,000. Heidi spends countless hours to ensure that the funding will affect as many of our students as possible. She begins by gathering feedback from DTL’s (Digital Teacher Librarians) on what resources they feel will be most helpful to their staff and students.
In previous years many of our students have benefited from these funds. Last year, over half of our elementary schools received a one year subscription to one module from the online database Pebble Go. This is a favorite database for both students and staff. It is a safe, fun, curriculum-based research tool to use with our younger students that allows them to research a topic on their own. Not only does this database provide engaging material, it also will read the text to students which improves accessibility for all students.
Another purchase with last year's grant money was padcasting and podcasting (videocasting) kits. These kits have all the necessary supplies one would need to create a podcast or a padcast/vlog. Using these kits empowers students to become creative communicators (ISTE Standards). Schools may check out the kits for two weeks at a time. For more information go to the Ed Tech page.
With this year’s grant money we will again be purchasing a module from Pebble Go. The exciting part is that we get to purchase it for ALL our elementary schools. After gathering feedback from our DTL’s, we are changing it up this year and will be purchasing the Science module. This will offer all elementary students the opportunity to use Pebble Go to research or just to learn more about different science topics. Some of the topics are Physical Science, Important Inventions, Math, Science and Engineering Practices and many more. All in all, teachers and students will be learning a lot over the next year as they dive into this engaging online resource.
The State Libraries Grant will be supplying middle and high schools with sets of Lightbox interactive books. These books incorporate videos, Google Maps, worksheets, audio, quizzes, and other exciting interactive features. Each bundle provides unlimited access the ebook, along with a hard copy for the library. Middle schools will receive an Ancient Empires and Civilizations bundle made up of 6 different titles and High schools will receive a Psychology bundle, consisting of 5 unique titles; both supporting the social studies curriculum.
These resources are a great addition to our schools this year when so many things are in flux. Students will be able to use these resources to complete assignments, but also have the opportunity to just use them to explore new topics on their own. If you have any questions please ask your Digital Teacher Librarian.
Using Digital tools to create in the classroom
Book Creator allows you to bring creativity and critical thinking to your classroom in any grade level or subject area through the creation of digital books. Combine text, images, audio and video to create: interactive stories, digital portfolios, research journals, poetry books, science reports, instruction manuals, 'about me' books, comic adventures and more! All Jeffco K-12 students have access to premium Book Creator accounts.
How can book creator be used?
Book Creator can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. It can also be used for professional learning and as a way to communicate with other teachers, parents, and students.
Teachers can create exemplars, how to books, or even a course guide or textbook. Book creator can be used as a way to communicate with students and parents.
Students can use book creator in a variety of ways too! Check out these great examples.
New to Book Creator-Templates
Adobe Spark is an integrated suite of media creation applications for mobile and web developed by Adobe Systems. It’s comprised of three separate design apps: Spark Page, Spark Post, and Spark Video.
Adobe Post allows students to make graphics, posters, flyers, and infographics. These single images can combine text and images. They’re saved as picture files. There are numerous templates or you can start from scratch. Here are some ways to use in your classroom:
Adobe Spark Page is a web page builder that puts the power of creating a web page in the hands of anyone with a story to tell, a product to sell, or a passion to share.
Adobe Page is a great tool to create web pages, slides, and web stories. Some ideas for the classroom include:
➊ Photo Essays
➌ Online Journals
With Adobe Spark Video, you and your students can create compelling videos in just a few minutes using professional looking themes and music. Adobe Spark Video is a free online video making software that allows you to easily combine images, video clips and icons into a beautiful, shareable movie. Add text, music and your own voice to personalize your video. Here's a video made with Adobe Spark Video:
Making it work in the classroom
Both Book Creator and Adobe Spark are great tools for creation and allow students to express themselves. Students can create original works, communicate complex ideas through a variety of multimedia tools within each of these and publish and present their work to their classmates, teachers, and globally if they choose. Check out the Technology Integration Ideas for Upcoming Units for ways to use these tools in the classroom.
For more information on these tools check out the Jeffco Ed Tech website or our YouTube channel.
Teachers are incredibly resourceful and multi-talented. But, when it comes to balancing: a hybrid, an In-person, a remote classroom, or a conglomeration of all three, it gets wobbly for all.
Here are a few tips, tricks, and strategies to keep you from teetering off the teaching high-wire.
Balancing In-person and Remote Learning Strategies
Differentiating engagement opportunities is a priority, especially for students online. Teachers can bring a lesson to life for all students with just a few implementations.
One advantage students have who learn remotely, is they often don’t need to wear a mask. Plan ahead and ask one of them if they would like to be the discussion leader. Give them the topic and questions ahead in case they are interested in looking into the content. Project the discussion leader on the “big screen.”. This gives the remote students a voice and an audience.
Ask a remote learner to be a Search Expert. They can research the topic or questions asked in class and drop the information or link into the chat, or a JamBoard etc.
Have a student summarize the lesson using a few sentences, a meme or a phrase. The next day, start the lesson with the student's summary from the day before.
Designate a chat monitor in-person. The student chat monitor can answer questions in the chat and can raise their hand in class to ask a question out-loud on behalf of a remote learner.
Provide Break-out rooms by differentiating group assignments to meet student needs. Change it up and once in a while; give the online learners a different objective than the in-person learners. Make sure both are aware of each others' outcomes and the groups' outcomes are both valued and shared.
Seek for Cross-Collaboration with online and in-person students by requiring students to comment and question on each other’s contributions.
Up the engagement by providing interactive opportunities such as: Polls, Kahoot, PearDeck, Wordle, Word Cloud etc. Both online and in-person students can interact and learn collaboratively.
We know through research that teachers who augment engaging lessons and ignite communication give their students a better chance to grow and improve. Investing time to blend and build meaningful online and in-person learning balances out and levels the playing field for increased achievement for all students.
Albert.io. Image of a student looking at teacher online. Publicdomainpictures.net. 2020.
Cook, Emily and Travis. 6 Tips for Teaching Online and In Person Simultaneously. 2020.
Dorn, Emma. Image of Teacher in Mask sitting at computer. McKinsey’s Silicon Valley. 2020.
Flaticon.image of a breakout session. 2020
Publicdomainvectors.org. Clipart heart designed with people. 2020
Shutterstock. Clipart of Remote Learning. 2020.
Spataro, Jared. Image of smiling student. Microsoft.com. March, 2020.
Swartz, Sarah. How to Make Lessons Cohesive When Teaching Both Remote and In-Person Classes. Education Week. August, 2020.