I have been getting a lot of questions about learning management systems for 2020-2021. My only advice is that you need one. Two challenges: information on pricing is challenging to get without contacting sales reps. Personally, I have only used Blackboard, Canvas, and Schoology. I definitely prefer Canvas and Schoology in this comparison.
The most helpful comparison site I have found that does not just seem like advertising is here.
More thoughts welcome.
For our Baylor Virtual Learning Academy, we broke student engagement down into five categories and shared these tools. The first two categories are more teacher driven, the final three are more student driven. Before you go adding more tools are spreading yourself too thin, please remember that there is "NO" in InNOvate."
May 18 at 8:00 Eastern - Facebook Live to discuss findings from recent study funded by 100Kin10 through that National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Link here.
Link to Assessing Distance Learning: A Virtual 101
By Jon Eckert
This article is 398 words. How many distractions will you experience in the time it takes you to read those 398 words? Our students are growing up in an increasingly distracted world. However, true value is found in hard, thoughtful work.
Deep Work by Cal Newport describes rules for doing meaningful work in a distracted world. He makes a case for the value of thinking for hours at a time about challenging things without any distraction. Primarily, he is writing about adults and professional work, but I see an application for our children this summer.
What if we …
Set Aside Time
If we could protect an hour of time each day for thinking deeply about something we care about or want to get better at, how much could we improve? What if we set aside two hours? The key is to identify something hard that we want to learn or deepen our understanding of, and then clear our environment of distractions. Whether we want to tackle a long-term project, skill, or body of knowledge, we accelerate improvement through focused concentration.
Disengage to Engage
Disengagement might be harder for us than for our kids. In the time it has taken me to write the first half of this article, I have checked my email four times and my calendar once. If we want our kids to set aside time to think deeply, then we have to do the same thing. We have to separate ourselves from our phones – have someone pry it from our fingers and lose the phone for an hour a day. Maybe our deep work can’t be on a computer because we can be too easily distracted. To do deep work, we need to identify the necessary tools to do focused work – maybe those tools are books, paper, and a pencil.
Celebrate the Work
As our students do hard, intellectual work, we must celebrate what they create. My eleven-year-old daughter loves to write creative stories that are chapters long with outlandish dialogue. Hearing her read her work aloud is better than any reading by a famous author. We need to celebrate the deep work of childhood.
In Philippians 4:8b, Paul describes meaningful deep work: “Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”
By Matt Thomas
I love being a dad! I even love being a dad during COVID-19. As I write this, I just finished praying with my middle daughter, Elli, because of her frustration with schooling at home. Like, I said, I love being a dad during COVID-19.
What I love about being a dad right now is the unique opportunity to step into moments that I normally would not have. But, these opportunities are also accompanied by feelings of inadequacy and being overwhelmed. Schooling at home is hard. Re-learning math or science was not what I signed up for this semester. So, during this time as a parent, I find that I often need encouragement to remember what matters most.
This is a lesson that Zach Johnson taught us after winning the 2015 British Open at St Andrews, Scotland. While being interviewed after his victory, Zach said this,
“I feel like God gave me the ability to play a game. I try to take it seriously. I realize it’s just a game . . . this [win] isn’t going to define me or my career, at least I hope it doesn’t. It’s not my legacy. Granted, as a professional athlete and as a golfer I’m going to relish this. I’m going to savor this. I’m humbled by this. But my legacy should be my kids and family.”
What Zach Johnson reminds us of is that when it comes to life there is no real success without succession. So, as I wrestle with what matters most during this season, I am learning that what actually matters most is that I pass on to my next generation that which matters most; a legacy of faith in Christ, obedience to Scripture, a love for His church, and a concern for the lost. The Bible says in Proverbs, “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him” (Prov. 20:7). While each of us strive to leave a financial legacy to our children, more importantly, may we strive to leave a spiritual legacy of faith in Christ and the riches of His grace (Prov. 13:22; 19:14; 2 Tim 1:3-5).
So, what does a legacy look like? I would say legacy involves a
Love for God and others;
Example of gospel humility;
Guidance through Scripture;
Availability and presence;
Consistency of character;
Yearning for heaven.
School leaders, the families you serve need encouragement more than ever before. This is a hard season for all of us, but it is especially hard for the parents of your students. Would you reach out to them today? Would you remind them that nothing is more important in this life than being one of God’s tools used to transform the soul of their child? Would you remind them that the repeated cycle of unplanned moments is the soul-shaping work of parenting?
Every parent in your school needs this encouragement today. Encouragement that the most important work they are doing cannot be measured in grades or academic accomplishments. Remind them that they are leaving a legacy that will not be soon forgotten. This is the only legacy worth leaving after COVID-19.
Today, on two more great micro xchanges with education leaders from across the country, we tackled STUDENT ENGAGEMENT. Instead of a bunch of tools (see below if you need more of those), I want to share some of the great insights I heard. The quotation at the top of this entry was from Chuck Commeret who shared this as a 6-word memoir about his experience related to distance learning. Students will create their own tomorrow. Such a profound statement about the connection between engagement, learning and trust.
Other key insights:
Here are some great tools that will help you organize curriculum, assess student learning, and have some fun - all at distance.
Best Learning Management Systems I have seen:
Tools that are helpful for assessment:
Gimkit - built by a high schooler as an improved Kahoot
Nearpod - great for building lessons and assessments
Quizlet - great for student driven review
Parlay - great for virtual discussions - can track and assess
Floop - give graphic feedback easily
Edpuzzle - create videos with embedded prompts and questions
Flipgrid - great for any levels - various video projects possible
SeeSaw - great for virtual feedback at elementary level
Mystery Science - best elementary online science - every lesson set as a mystery
Newsela - provides same texts at different lexile levels in English and Spanish