All of these recommended reads for teachers and instructional coaches are on the nice list! Here are a few articles for educators about professional development. This month’s recommendations include creating virtual literature circles, making remote learning work, and strategies learned on how to combat the Covid learning loss.
Tis the season of creating safe spaces for students, try virtual literature circles
Discussions that are tailored around a student’s experience produces more text-to-self connections and allow students to internalize important concepts such as empathy.
Armed with the reminder that children are hungry for books that are relevant to the here and now, I made read-aloud and literature circles a central part of my virtual instruction so that deep discussion in which we could explore a book’s relevance to today’s world was a clear priority and had plenty of room in our days. I decided to use Screencastify to prerecord read-alouds and share them online.
Pre-recording allowed me to better observe student reactions while my reading played because I could be two teachers at once: one who read and one who interacted with the kids. I could watch and respond to moments I saw resonating rather than stop at preplanned points because my attention wasn’t glued to the book in front of me. The pre-recording strategy led to wonderful and authentic conversations based on emotion as much as logic. Kids began to recognize quickly that those emotions were going to be grounds for discussion, which was exactly what I wanted. I now give students a Google Classroom question to debate or a Jamboard assignment that is paired with each read-aloud. We discuss our thoughts using accountable talk, often centered around the students’ own questions. This often sparks the best debate and the largest text-to-self connections.
Read more on Edutopia: Virtual Literature Circles Create a Safe Space for Students
Santa’s elves have made remote learning work, how do you think they go to school year-round?
Remote learning is here to stay, at least for the time being. As a result, a new report has detailed “10 ways to make online learning work,” covering a variety of best practices.
The report also includes a foreword co-written by five former U.S. Secretaries of Education, from both Democratic and Republican administrations. “The nation must act with urgency and purpose to ensure all students have access to high quality online learning opportunities,” they write. “This national crisis demands that we innovate toward a better future. With the futures of millions of students on the line, we don’t have a moment to lose.”
Ensuring that all students have high-speed internet access and functioning devices is a baseline requirement for virtual learning. The report highlights states (Tennessee, Mississippi, Massachusetts) that have used state and federal relief funding to purchase devices and expand broadband connectivity. Individual school districts, too, are getting creative in meeting this need through solutions such as portable Wi-Fi hotspots.
Teachers are feeling anxious, overwhelmed and out of their depths as they navigate their roles in the pandemic. This is especially true for newer teachers who have not had the benefit of time and experience in the physical classroom before moving online. Supporting teachers by meeting their social-emotional needs, compensating them adequately and offering training on how to provide high-quality virtual instruction will have high payoff for students down the road.
Schools should use asynchronous (self-paced) and synchronous (live virtual) learning strategically. Synchronous learning is best for class discussion, small group work and social-emotional learning exercises. Asynchronous learning is better for independent study and when students are completing their individual assignments. There is a place for both, the authors argue. Additionally, teachers should consider offering “office hours” for students who want to talk one-on-one or need extra assistance.
Read more on EdSurge: Remote Learning Is Not Going Away Soon. This Is How to Make It Better
Don’t let Covid-19 learning loss be a grinch, here are two strategies to reverse the Covid learning slide
Extensive tutoring programs, both locally and nationally, and accelerated academics are two strategies that could help students recover from Covid learning loss.
“For a lot of kids, COVID is a disaster. For a whole lot of kids, it was a disaster long before COVID,” said Katharine B. Stevens, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of “Still Left Behind: How America’s schools keep failing our children.”
A tutoring model exists in the Minnesota Reading Corps, an initiative now expanding to 12 other states. The program trains AmeriCorps volunteers in reading science so they can tutor students from age 3 through grade 3 in one-on-one or small group settings. Research has shown this type of tutoring can help students gain a year of progress, Stevens said.
For this approach to be most effective, tutors must be well-versed in a district’s curriculum and the students who need help most must be encouraged to participate, said Julia Kaufman, senior policy researcher and co-director of the American Educator Panels at the RAND Corporation
Accelerated academies—conducted during school breaks—are another strategy some districts have used to help students catch up quickly, said Bryan Hancock, a partner at McKinsey & Co. “If left uncorrected, if we don’t take measures like accelerated academies to catch people up, you will see this having an effect into higher education and beyond,” he says.
Read more on District Administration: 2 Strategies Emerge to Reverse Covid Learning Loss