Pushing Our Pedagogy

Most middle school educators have spent at least some time in the virtual classroom this year, and especially in March when each minute of class time took hours of prep work to translate from traditional modes into digital ones. It’s safe to say that we have all developed new tech skills that will serve us well in years to come by solving a brand new set of problems with new and unfamiliar tools. The hardest days are behind us, but this large-scale “experiment” with remote learning is far from over. At nine months in, our work is paying off in some clear and specific ways: we are seeing some actionable insights and honing them into new pedagogical practices.

Some of the most popular presentations at #AMLE20, with the theme of Building the Classroom of the Future, were tutorials on using new technology to connect with your students and facilitate learning in impactful ways. We were so blown away by some of these sessions that we wanted to make them more accessible to more educators. We are excited to partner with these brilliant speakers on a series of free webinars! Take a look at what’s coming up December 8, 9, and 10 and RSVP to join us:

Designing Online Instruction for the Middle Grades: What Makes for Effective Learning
Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 4:30-5:30pm ET
In his presentation at #AMLE20, Bryan Drost explored some answers to the question, “What makes the difference” in outcomes for effective learning in the virtual classroom? It’s not tools, organization, or communication systems, though all of these are important. A focus on pedagogy is the crucial piece that makes the learning magic happen, and in this upcoming webinar, Bryan will ask you to “notice and wonder” along with him as he fleshes out a few pedagogical models that work effectively in the virtual space and shows you some specific tools you can use to bring them to life in your classroom.

The techniques Bryan will share apply to both synchronous and asynchronous models, so they are extremely flexible. His approach uses instructional design elements that connect familiar, traditional face-to-face instruction with perhaps the more unfamiliar, online components. He blends the three areas of digital apps, visible thinking routines, and formative assessment to create a comprehensive learning unit that accommodates students of all learning styles and abilities. Don’t miss this thorough overview of virtual classroom best practices combining Bryan’s expertise on instructional shifts, assessment, pedagogy, and technology integration.

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Getting the Most Out of Google Slides

Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 4:30-5:30pm ET
When her school district made the switch from iPads to Chromebooks, Erin Scholes had a momentary panic—touchscreens were vital for her math students, and she couldn’t find a great alternative to Explain Everything that would work on the new devices. By trial and error, Erin found a way to create visual notes and activity pages with Google Sheets that are completely customizable, easier to use than Microsoft Word, and versatile to use digitally or print and color!

Open a blank Google Sheets document for this webinar because you’ll want to try the fonts, features and design tools as Erin demonstrates them. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get creative and you will come away with an activity sheet you can use with your students immediately. The presentation includes feedback from Erin’s students, examples of her own work and examples of student work so you can visualize exactly how this new tool will function in your classroom.

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How to Do Virtual Teaching – Even if you Have a Face for Radio

Thursday, December 10, 2020, 4:30-5:30pm ET
Jack Berckemeyer might make virtual instruction look easy, but it’s his understanding of the middle school age group, a healthy sense of humility, and a dose of humor that completes the effect. These are all things that can be learned, and in this webinar, Jack will share some of his best tips for keeping your cool on camera while facilitating a real connection with students whether you are pre-recording or teaching live. (You’ll have to find your own jokes though!)


The title of this session comes from Jack’s new workbook, which helps instructors develop confidence in front of the camera and includes guidelines on student etiquette during virtual teaching time. Classroom management in the virtual space is different than what we are used to, but with clear intentions, appropriate policies, and a little practice, we can all be virtual rockstars!

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