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Adapting Ideas to Drive Real Change

One of the joys and challenges of blogging regularly is trying to come up with original content that has substance. I can tell you firsthand that this is no easy feat as it seems like virtually everything has been written about in some form or another.  In many cases, content and ideas are remixed into something that is or seems, new. My angle has always been to use coaching experiences in classrooms and schools to illustrate how specific strategies are successfully integrated resulting in changes to practice.  Without these opportunities of working side by side with educators, I would have run out of things to write about years ago.  However, this doesn’t imply that it is still easy to come up with blog ideas. 

With the onset of the pandemic, new ideas began to percolate as remote and hybrid learning quickly became the norm.  These were foreign areas for most of us, especially in relation to PreK-12 education.  Thus, since March 2020, almost all of my posts have been dedicated to this topic because, quite frankly, there weren’t really any applicable content or practical strategies out there.  While I have focused on sound pedagogical techniques that have just as much value now as they did before COVID-19, I explored emerging aspects of personalization to provide a relevant angle that could help educators implement remote and hybrid learning with fidelity. In particular, one post addressed the challenge of managing face-to-face and remote learners at the same time.  As a result of my work with a school, I developed a template for educators to use or adapt as they see fit.  Below is what I created.

It has been fantastic to hear how the above image is being used in classrooms around the world.  The other day I received a message from Kate Tinguely on Twitter, which led to a conversation on how she adapted it for a recent lesson. Here is her take:

This year has been so full of change, adjustment, and anticipation of the unknown due to COVID-19. As a specialist, I have had to completely change the way I approach my lesson planning due to the frequency of times the classes come to me, the arrangement of my space & materials (for social distancing), being new to the school, and keeping in mind how I can foster connections with my students.  Your template and ideas were so helpful and inspired me to act on what I was hoping would be a change for the better. 

I was humbled, to say the least, by what Kate shared, so I asked for a visual as to how she tweaked the template.  You can see what she created below:

Here is how the lesson was structured in her words:

  • Beginning Connection: I always begin class with a question to help connect with my students, give them a chance to share, and learn all of their names. The question was to name one animal they know that hibernates in the winter (first grade). They can answer or say pass.
  • Then I read Bear Snores On (with the Novel Effects app)
  • Station one: Seesaw activity (Animals in the Winter)
  • Station two: Polar Bear Arctic Virtual Field Trip    
  • Wrap up: Think-Pair-Share one fun fact they learned about winter animals or polar bears.
  • The lesson the day before was all about algorithms and coding, so the stations had to do with those concepts involving Kodable and a Seesaw Activity.

It is great to see how educators like Kate are innovating their practice during these difficult times.  Information was used to construct new knowledge and then actively apply it to practice. Since this is what we want from our learners, it is critical that adults model this as well.  On a personal note, her message about why and how the template was used provided validation for why I blog consistently in an attempt to share valuable information.  The lesson learned here is that ideas are great, but it’s what we do with them aligned to effective strategies that truly matters.