Tech & - PD Prep for the Year Ahead Guide - July/August 2021

Page 1



PD PREP FOR THE YEAR AHEAD Advice, resources, and more to boost your professional learning


Interactive & Non.Interactive Displays

PD for Teachers

3D Printers Portable Interactive Whiteboards

STEM Curriculum

Hybrid Learning Solutions

Interactive Lessons






-------------------------------------· A CLASS OF I TS OWN ----------------------------------------Inside the Connected Classroom, curiosities are ignited, teamwork thrives, and futures take flight. This is where the doors to collaboration and critical thinking are blown open, the digital divide narrows ... and where bridges are built to connect people with potential and passion with purpose. The Connected Classroom is a learning environment where Boxlight's technology and teaching professionals come together to illuminate human possibilities and bring more power to knowledge. We are transforming the educational experience and taking learning to the next level to answer the growing demand for distance, flipped, and blended learning opportunities through customizable plug-and-play technologies, award-winning course designs, and data-driven learning assessments. The Connected Classroom is the future of education, and now is the time to grasp it.

connected ®


Check out our robust portfolio at Boxlight solutions are US based and available now.





Educators: Returning to 2019 is a Mistake By Erik Ofgang


By Erik Ofgang

5 Summer Professional Development Ideas for Teachers


By Kecia Ray



34 How to Use Cybernetics in Education How To Teach Coding with No Prior Experience By Tom Glynn

42 11 Edtech Tips for New Teachers

How to Boost Creativity In the Classroom

By Stephanie Smith Budhai

By Matthew X. Joseph & Alfonso Mendoza


Micro Lessons: What They Are and How They Can Combat Learning Loss


By Erik Ofgang


20 Reimagining Education: What to Keep/What to Ditch By Matthew X. Joseph

24 Video Lectures: 4 Tips for Teachers By Erik Ofgang


How to Launch a Flipped Classroom By Erik Ofgang

Group Publisher Christine Weiser CONTENT Managing Editor Ray Bendici

Senior Staff Writer Erik Ofgang

Production Manager Heather Tatrow Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban

Senior Design Directors Lisa McIntosh & Will Shum

MANAGEMENT Senior Vice President, B2B Rick Stamberger Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Head of Design Rodney Dive

ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager Allison Knapp, VISIT US


46 5 Edtech Books Every Teacher Should Read By Stephanie Smith Budhai

50 How to Encourage Transgender Students to Pursue STEM Careers By Erik Ofgang

54 Resources

All contents © 2021 Future US, Inc. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein.

FUTURE US, INC. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036

If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.


| JU LY/AU G U ST 2 02 1 |




As pressure mounts to get back to normalcy, some educators stress that we need to remember the lessons of the pandemic.


By Erik Ofgang


ome school districts are permanently muting their remote learning programs. States such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois, and large districts from Florida to New York, are eliminating virtual learning options or greatly limiting programs. “You can’t have a full recovery without full-strength schools,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during an appearance in May on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss New York City’s decision to eliminate remote learning for the coming school year. Synchronous hybrid classes can be difficult for already overworked educators to manage, and many students and teachers are ready for a return to relative normalcy. However, some educators worry the rush to move away from remote learning is a symptom of a larger effort to ignore any gains made since March 2020. “I think there’s a big push to kind of go back to the status quo from before the pandemic,” says Justin Reich, an educational researcher and director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab.

| J ULY/AUG UST 2 02 1 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

This, Reich and other educators say, is a missed opportunity. “People don’t necessarily enjoy teaching through Zoom, but it’s shown us that if a kid is absent, we can still connect with them,” says Dan Jones, an 8th grade social studies teacher at Richland School of Academic Arts in Mansfield, Ohio. Jones, who specializes in flipped learning, says other pandemic lessons that should not be put away with masks include an increased emphasis on relationships. “Sometimes, I think, relationships are taken for granted -- it was just a natural occurrence. And then this year, teachers really had to work exceptionally hard at building those relationships,” Jones says. Bringing that pandemic-level tenacity to building relationships with students, even when they’re in person, could pay dividends in teaching going forward. The pandemic has also led more educators to rely on active learning strategies. “We now know more than ever how valuable our time with students is, and that we don’t have a minute to lose when it comes to spending time with the kids,” Jones says. “To then use that time purely for [lectured] instruction is definitely not the best use of our time.” As a flipped learning advocate, he suggests that class time be used instead for more active and engaged learning opportunities.


THERE ARE A LOT OF STUDENTS WHO SAID THAT THEY REALLY APPRECIATED HAVING MORE EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING TEACHERS, AND WERE HOPING THAT TEACHERS MIGHT CONTINUE SOME OF THAT.” — JUSTIN REICH wanted to. They could learn while wearing a sweatshirt, even a sweatshirt that had a hood covering on it.” There was also more flexibility in terms of time management and learning pace, which worked well for some students. “People are interested in finding ways of building on that autonomy and nurturing it,” Reich says. “There are certain ways we just kind of made school more humane [during the pandemic]. We tried to do fewer things well. And I think there’s some good evidence that that’s actually a recipe for good schooling in all times.”


The pandemic uprooted traditions in education and, overnight, once unthinkable practices became commonplace. Many would like to see that spirit of innovation continue. “I think people are empowered by having seen how many things that seemed fixed could be moved,” Reich says. “But the entire education system right now is really exhausted, so schools aren’t going to be reinvented in September. And that’s okay, that’s understandable. What I’m interested in trying to figure out is if there is a way we can encourage schools to hold on to that energy that they applied so marvelously during the pandemic.” Reich and his colleagues asked more than 200 teachers to survey their students about what they liked and did not like about pandemic learning. “There are a lot of students who said that they really appreciated having more empathetic understanding teachers, and were hoping that teachers might continue some of that,” Reich says. “Teachers literally saw into kids’ homes, and developed a deeper empathy for the challenges they had while they were trying to do school.” Insight and understanding such as this might result in a more competency- and mastery-based learning approaches, says Reich. In addition, students enjoyed new autonomy during the pandemic. “They could snack when they wanted to. They could take a little nap when they needed one,” Reich says. “They could go to the bathroom when they


| J ULY/AUG UST 2 02 1 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


5 SUMMER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IDEAS FOR TEACHERS Summer professional development opportunities can be done by the pool or while on vacation By Kecia Ray


| J ULY/AUG UST 2 02 1 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


he last thing some of us want to do in the summer is take a class but the reality is summer is the perfect time to take advantage of great learnings and have enough time to put those learnings into practice in your planning for next school year. Several conferences will continue to be virtual; ISTE, for example, was a virtual conference this year, but the Digital Learning Annual Conference kicked off as a hybrid conference earlier this month. However, if you are more than tired of virtual conferences and can’t find any in-person events to attend, here are five ideas for summer professional learning.


Once you become certified with an organization, you become part of the community of certificated professionals and typically have access to resources that are only available to that select group. These certifications can help improve your resume and enhance your teaching for next year, too!


This is a great way to keep your community connected over the summer with very little effort. Some incredible books are coming out this summer and you can always read those that you didn’t have time for. Some favorites include:



■ Educational Technology for School Leaders ■ Planning for Technology: A guide for school administrators, technology coordinators, and curriculum leaders ■ Happy Teachers Change the World ■ No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching ■ Cultivating Genius ■ Disruptive Thinking ■ Breaking Bold

Most national and local parks have professional development programs for teachers that are year round! For example, the Bureau of Land Management has Project Archaeology, which teaches scientific and historical inquiry, cultural understanding, and archaeological stewardship. Teacher workshops are offered across the country and online. The National Park Services offers the Teacher Ranger - Teacher program to 250 educators for a summer professional learning experience. The Department of Interior hosts a website with all of the details related to professional development for educators, and most everything is FREE!




Several organizations offer certifications now, including ISTE, CoSN, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many others. These certifications are typically free and you can take the classes at your own pace so you can spend time at the beach and then check when it’s convenient.


Several organizations offer free online PD to teachers year round. You can complete the courses in your own timeline, even while sitting poolside catching some sun. Here are just a few sites that offer free courses: PBS TeacherLine offers a wide variety of online courses to teachers, and some even offer an opportunity to earn graduate credit. Coursera is widely used in higher education and offers incredible courses developed by universities and made available through this open university format. Courses are completely free, online, and self-paced! Sanford Inspire offers free resources for SEL that include recorded webinars, plus complete courses that enable you to earn a certificate. Learning for Justice offers self-guided learning resources supported by recorded webinars focused on social and emotional learning and other topics, including diversity, leadership, and empathy. The Library of Congress lets you create your own path and personalize PD with documentation that can be submitted to earn CEU with your district if you need that service. Completely online and free! The STEM Connection offers STEM PD designed to help teachers implement STEM in the classroom. Some sessions to highlight are STEM Quick Wins and STEM for Unique Needs Youth. And don’t forget Tech & Learning, and the rich resources available through on-demand events.




| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


You may not be able to earn CEUs for this professional development but summer is a time to think about how you navigate your instruction, leadership, and overall management of time and task in the previous year, and reflect on how you might improve your efficiencies and processes next school year. Journal new tools you’re exploring so that you can recall what you want to use in the classroom when you are planning for next year. Now is also the time to record any celebrations or noteworthy moments from last school year that can motivate you next year! Keeping a mind on continuous improvement is always a winning way to develop your skills! So, five tips on PD you can do in your PJs or swimsuit all summer long. Have a wonderful summer! You’ve earned it!!!




By Matthew X. Joseph & Alfonso Mendoza

IN THE CLASSROOM Boosting creativity in the classroom is essential and easy with the right apps, websites, and best practices


reativity is an essential skill students need to succeed in school and, more importantly, in life. It improves problem-solving, contributes to happiness in school, and gives students a sense of purpose. Almost every educator would agree that creativity is essential; budget cuts to areas of education like art and music programs demonstrate differently. Creativity in the classroom is invaluable, and there are common strategies teachers can use to help students develop it.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

HOW TEACHERS CAN BOOST THEIR OWN CRE ATIVE SKILLS ■ Generate ideas: The best way to come up with novel ideas is to generate as many as you can. Try to do this in an organized way, using exercises that include techniques such as listing, brainstorming, and mind mapping. ■ Use your imagination: One technique for improving creativity is to imagine what would happen if you could control one of the variables

BOOST CREATIVITY in a given context, or if you could change something about the context altogether. ■ Make mistakes: It’s important not to be afraid of making mistakes when coming up with new ideas; you should come up with new thoughts by changing existing thoughts and see where they lead you.

HOW TO BOOST STUDENT CREATIVITY With technology filling classrooms across the country, teachers have the tools to enhance student creativity and turn consuming information into creating content. A plentiful bounty of websites and apps are available to help teachers encourage the use of student imagination. Many of these are free and easy to use, making it even more convenient for teachers to implement. Here are a few we would recommend: Glogster - Glogster EDU is a global education platform that allows students and educators to create interactive online posters that include text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, and much more. Storybird - Storybird finds visually striking artwork and images from artists and illustrators from around the world and invites students to turn those images into creative stories. Prezi - Students and teachers can implement images into presentations using Prezi’s easy-to-use platform, allowing them to combine all the standard components of a normal presentation with visually stunning effects. Slidely - Slidely is a free website and app that allows students to create eye-catching video slideshows that are accompanied by music and other effects.

TEACHERS WHO FREQUENTLY ASSIGN CLASSWORK INVOLVING CREATIVITY ARE MORE LIKELY TO OBSERVE IN THEIR STUDENTS HIGHER-ORDER COGNITIVE SKILLS, PROBLEM-SOLVING, CRITICAL THINKING, AND CONNECTIONS BEING MADE BETWEEN SUBJECTS. Generator - Students can create their own storyboards using provided scripts and other free resources. Tiki-Toki - Tiki-Toki is free web-based software that empowers students to create interactive and visually stimulating timelines with captions. ThinkLink - ThinkLink is a platform that helps anyone create and discover rich and amazing images. ThinkLink allows students to transform those images into interactive and educational stories by adding music, videos, and text to any selected image.

BEST PRACTICES TO BOOST CREATIVITY IN THE CLASSROOM Creativity is a skill that can be developed in students and yourself with practice. Take frequent breaks from work. This can be as easy as spending 10 minutes outside or getting up from your desk to take a walk around an office or classroom. Going back to work will give you fresh ideas and make you more productive. Limit distractions. Close any programs you aren’t using and create an environment in which there are minimal distractions, such as music or phone calls. Talk to people about their creative process. This helps you come up with new ideas while giving them some insight into yours, too!




| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

We believe in you! Let’s change our mindset and start creating! Teachers who frequently assign classwork involving creativity are more likely to observe in their students higher-order cognitive skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and connections being made between subjects. And when teachers combine creativity with transformative technology use, they see even better outcomes.



WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY CAN COMBAT LEARNING LOSS Targeted, specific lessons — sometimes called micro lessons — may be an underutilized tool for educators. By Erik Ofgang


icro lessons seem like a simple educational concept: Targeted lessons for students based on their knowledge of the subject matter rather than grade or age. “It sounds very obvious, but it almost never happens in education,” says Noam Angrist executive director and cofounder of Young 1ove, a Botswana-based organization that implements evidence-based health and education policies in Eastern and Southern Africa. Micro lessons, often called teaching at grade level or differentiated learning, can help students who have fallen behind catch up rather than


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

continue to fall further behind. “When children are behind, a lot of instruction tends to be over their head,” says Michelle Kaffenberger, a RISE Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, who has studied teaching at grade level. For example, a teacher is teaching division to children who haven’t mastered basic addition yet, so they may not learn anything from that lesson. “But if you instead adapt the instruction to teach addition, and then move them up to subtraction, and then multiplication, and then division, then by the time you get there, they’re going to learn a lot more,” she says. Kaffenberger recently modeled how these types of strategies could be

MICRO LESSONS used to overcome learning loss that occurred as a result of disruptions caused by COVID-19 in a paper published in the International Journal of Educational Development. Other research also supports the practice. Using this educational strategy in low-income countries was pioneered in the early 2000s by Pratham, an Indian nongovernmental organization, that formalized what became known as Teaching at The Right Level (TaRL) and it has proven successful in many instances. “It is probably one of the most well-studied education interventions and reforms in low- and middle-income countries,” Angrist says. “It has six randomized control trials showing it’s one of the most cost effective ways to improve learning.” But the strategy can also work in high-income countries. “It’s translating across contexts very well,” Angrist says.



Schools that have implemented teaching at grade-level strategies have seen tremendous results. “We have not yet run a randomized control trial, but we collect data actually, every 15 days, to really see learning progress,” Angrist says. Before the teaching at grade level program was implemented, only 10 percent of students were at grade level with math. After these programs were implemented for a term, 80 percent were at grade level. “It’s extraordinary,” Angrist says.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE START OF NEXT SCHOOL YEAR In high-income countries, this style of teaching, with some variations, is often called differentiated instruction, Angrist says. “But it doesn’t get as much attention any more. And I’m not entirely sure why.” Kaffenberger says educators across the globe should be aware of the potential of teaching at grade level. She worries that in the upcoming school year teachers will just assume students are fully prepared for their new grade level despite the pandemic learning losses. “I think that would be really devastating for a lot of children, because they missed out on material,” she says. Her advice: Teachers need to take seriously that many children will likely be behind. “Start the school year, armed with some basic assessments,” she says. “Then do some grouping by learning levels. And then focus on getting the children that are most behind caught up.” The research indicates that doing this could make a huge impact on student achievement. KLAUS VEDFELT/GETTY IMAGES

In the division example above, what the teacher or instructor would do is first administer a simple, kind of back-of-the-envelope assessment across a certain set of skills, Kaffenberger says. From that, they could determine which level each child is at and group them accordingly. This typically results in three or four groups. “The children who can’t recognize numbers yet, they’re going to be together and you’re going to focus on recognizing numbers with them,” she says. “And for children who can recognize numbers, but can’t do addition and subtraction, you’re going to focus on those skills with them.” Many of these programs focus on reading and math, two subjects in which knowledge is cumulative. While there are edtech tools that give children exercises that are at their level, Kaffenberger says those programs tend to work best when they are employed by good facilitators and teachers. Angrist has been working to implement teaching at grade level strategies in Botswana where many students are not at grade level; for instance, only about 10 percent of fifth grade students can do two-digit

division. “That is the bare minimum expectation at grade five,” Angrist says. “Yet you’re teaching a grade-level curriculum, day after day, year after year. So of course, that’s flying over everyone’s head. It’s a very inefficient system.”


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


WHAT TO KEEP/ WHAT TO DITCH When reimagining education, the focus needs to be on finding and keeping the best learning practices By Matthew X. Joseph


he expression “reimagining education” has been the phrase educators and school/district leaders have heard since students returned to in-person learning. We are excellent in education in creating “catchphrases” or rallying cries, but we often forget to share the what and how. In addition, with so many new initiatives and instructional practices launching in the last 18 months, it’s hard to pick and choose what should be kept or moved off of when school reopens in the fall. Too often, “reimagining” really means adding more and more education technology into schools, kids spending more or virtually all of their learning time on screens with programs supposedly individualized for each student. We have a unique opportunity to look at programmatic and philosophical shifts to promote energetic and curious learners.



Here are ideas to keep that will help educators serve students more effectively post COVID-19 and beyond.


STUDENT CHOICE IN LEARNING. Differentiation and student engagement are vital to student learning outcomes in the virtual space and in-person. As a principal for eleven years and district leader the past five, I have seen teachers create lessons that can be modified for students at various content-mastery levels and give them a choice in learning. Unfortunately, those lessons were the “special” lessons done after a traditional unit. Let’s make student choice and discovery learning the norm moving forward. This could look like students moving ahead or getting direct teacher time based on their experience and

| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


Power Lessons with Pear Deck

For powerful learning moments, students need to be engaged, participating, and processing. Pear Deck is designed to encourage instructional best practices in every lesson regardless of content, age level, or format.

More than 80% of educators agree that Pear Deck supports these best practices: Promoting critical thinking

Using formative assessment to adapt instruction

Promoting metacognition

Allowing adequate processing time

Get started with Pear Deck today to deliver powerful learning moments to every student, every day — in the classroom or online. New users can get started with a 90-day free trial of Pear Deck Premium at | |

REIMAGINING EDUCATION understanding of the material. Online learning allowed students to spend a lot more time incorporating their interests into the lesson. Let’s keep that mindset when we return to school.

STUDENT VOICE IN THE CLASSROOM. When students have a voice in their learning, they are more likely to be engaged because learning is relevant. Especially in today’s educational setting, where there may be an absence of in-person interactions. Educators must strive to ensure that students’ voices are not lost. Choice boards, flex blocks, passion projects, genius hours, and makerspaces were a staple during home learning. Let’s ensure it is a staple for in-class learning as well.

Teachers do not need more technology; they need more time. Time with the ed-tech tools, time to learn the features, and time to understand the scope of effectiveness in their classrooms. Over the last 18 months, teachers have been introduced to technology and given ample opportunity to learn it. Keep this practice moving forward. Provide a few resources and allow time for educators to become familiar with tools. More isn’t always better, unless it is time.

RISK-TAKING. Educators and students showed grit and drive to learn and try new technology--continue this mindset and culture when teachers and students return in person. Maintain an environment in which attempts are celebrated, and not just correct answers. This process will foster a culture of discovery learning.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING WITH FAMILIES. Forging relationships with students and their families takes time. When COVID hit, educators went into high-speed building relationships online and ensuring families were included in the learning process. This same vigor should continue when kids fully return. Let families know that they are equal partners in their child’s education and that you are walking alongside them. Using the platforms incorporated during COVID and taking time to make personal connections with each student’s family will keep open communication lines.

LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS. Pre-pandemic, many teachers had “their way” to disseminate learning and gather student work. Virtual learning taught us quickly that being efficient and consistent when students were not in front of us was essential. However, this efficiency didn’t end when we returned to school. Learning management systems (LMS) will continue to help teachers deliver lessons, share reading materials, and grade assignments. In addition, these platforms can streamline much of the work for teachers by centralizing several features on one platform, including the tools needed to run a virtual, hybrid, or in-person classroom, track student progress, and connect with parents.

FLEXIBLE PD. With the comfort and efficiency in virtual meetings and learning the past 18 months, teachers will expect to have synchronous and asynchronous PD sessions in the fall. In addition, a combination that includes online and video tools will give teachers more time to reflect on their practice and make effective adjustments.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M





If I am going to identify strategies that need to continue, we also have to take some things away, or else the keeps are just one more thing. Saying that “it has always been this way” doesn’t count as a legitimate justification for why it should stay that way. Teachers and administrators worldwide are doing amazing things, but some practices should not be kept when students return.

COMPUTER ROOMS. The idea of taking a whole class to a computer room with outdated equipment once per week to practice their digital skills and then sending them back to the classroom 40 minutes later is obsolete. Instead, we learned should be an integral part of all the subjects and built into the curriculum. Technology is an essential part of learning, not just a location to research topics.

BANNING STUDENT DEVICES. Instead of taking phones and tablets from students, we should use these devices to enhance learning. Teach students digital citizenship and then let them use their phones for creating videos, podcasts, and anything they can think of that allows them to share their learning and voice.

KEEPING IDEAS TO OURSELVES. Teachers who work silently, don’t tweet, blog, or discuss ideas are becoming obsolete. Educators are no longer teaching just locally but globally, and it’s our job to share what we do and see what others are doing. Education is a team sport, and we should all be tweeting, blogging, and sharing what works and what doesn’t, as well as getting and giving advice to and from colleagues around the world. If we want to reimagine education, we should start in our own classrooms and school. Keeping effective practices and moving away from those “we always do” that don’t enhance student learning is the start.


VIDEO LECTURES: 4 TIPS FOR TEACHERS Creating short and engaging video lectures for students is a growing trend at education institutions By Erik Ofgang


ndiana University has lecture capture technology in place in nearly every classroom, giving instructors the option to record their lectures to create video lessons. The university has been utilizing this in-class, live-lecture capture technology for more than a decade, but it has its limitations, says James McGookey, the university’s manager of collaboration technologies and classroom support. “We would have faculty members who had demonstrations or guest speakers, and we’d get these lecture capture or video conference recordings, and they tried to reuse them semester after semester because the content was really good, but the quality was really not that good,” he says. “If it’s


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

just a review, that’s okay, but when it’s three years down the road and you’re watching this terrible recording, it’s difficult to watch.” To encourage a more professional type of evergreen video resource, the institution has invested in lecture capture studios, adding five new ones over the past year so each campus has at least one. Some of these studios are DIY, others require a crew, but all enable professors to record lectures in a professional recording environment, complete with green screens and highquality lighting and audio. The recordings are then edited by the studio team who can help the professor follow the best pedagogical practices for video recordings, including keeping videos short and engaging. New research suggests students learn better from video lectures than in-





person lectures, while the pandemic has forced many institutions to rethink how to deliver educational content. Indiana University and other higher ed institutions are upping their lecture capture game. This is being done both for online students and as an asynchronous resource for in-person students as more professors see the potential of the medium. “The feedback that I’ve heard from faculty is, ‘Well, now we’ve done Zoom recordings. How do we take it up to the next level?’” McGookey says. Whether teaching in-person or online, high-quality videos assigned outside of synchronous class time are a good tool for flipped learning and active learning strategies.

Today, every professor has the technology to capture video on their smartphone or laptop. But not all videos are created equal, says Chris J. Foley, associate vice president and director of the office of online education at Indiana University. “There’s a real difference between watching a 40-minute video of somebody writing on a whiteboard, looking at the back of their head if they’re in a classroom, versus maybe creating 10 five-minute lectures, where you have a front-facing individual,” he says. The pandemic also taught students and educators alike how draining it can be to stare at a screen for eight hours per day. Foley says if you can tighten up a 15-minute lecture to under 10 minutes, that will make it easier for students reviewing the material to zero in on the key concepts.

Gina Londino-Smolar, MS, senior lecturer Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at IUPUI, conducts a lecture for video.


Beyond investing in recording and lighting equipment, Indiana University is also providing tools for faculty to make their videos interactive. “We want to ensure that we have other support mechanisms in place so that these videos can be engaging,” says Julie Johnston, acting associate vice president of learning technologies. “We really push forward the interactive quizzing to engage the students more in the content versus just, ‘Watch this video.’”



Successfully implementing a strong video program at your university requires institutional commitment. “Develop a strategy for systematic video support,” Johnston says. At Indiana University, specific practices and procedures are in place for how videos are posted. “There’s a formal process that all faculty use for where they post their videos and where they’re just embedded.” Johnston also advises universities to develop a framework to support entry into video in low-, medium-, and high-production value capacities. “Our low entry would be things such as using Adobe Rush with your phone for video editing. Then medium would be our self-service studios. And then


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M



the high production would be our production studio. So we are supporting all three levels, in some way, shape, or form.”



“Be humble about your ability to create something new,” Foley says. “Don’t create what already exists.” He adds, “Why would I spend time giving a lecture on Jim Collins’ [book] ‘Good to Great,’ when I can go to YouTube and have Jim Collins explain ‘Good to Great.’ I should talk about why it’s valuable to me and how to apply it to my students.” Using existing video lectures when appropriate saves time for the professor and can make things more interesting for students, Foley says.



A FLIPPED CLASSROOM Flipped classroom enthusiasts say the pandemic has eliminated the technical barriers to flipped learning. By Erik Ofgang


he realities of pandemic teaching have made the concept of a flipped classroom and flipped learning more appealing than ever before for many educators. “The entire conversation has changed in the last 12 months around flipped learning,” says Matthew Moore, a high school math teacher and board member of Flipped Learning Network, a nonprofit online hub for flipped classroom practitioners. Previously, an educator’s lack of experience with technology was a potential barrier to establishing a flipped classroom. “It used to be, where you would start would be, ‘Well, what kind of technology are you working with?’ ‘How adept are you at using technology?’ But in the last 12 months every teacher in America and around the world has gone into tech boot camp,” Moore says. Now the vast majority of educators are comfortable using an LMS and video conferencing. “People who would never have been on camera in an old flipped classroom -- ‘Well, I don’t want to show my face’ -- we’ve all gotten over that,” Moore says.

WHAT IS A FLIPPED CLASSROOM? “Flipped learning always asked this one simple question: what’s the best use of your face-to-face class time,” says Jon Bergmann, a high school science


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

teacher and a pioneer of flipped learning who has written more than 13 books on the topic. In flipped classrooms, material that would be traditionally introduced during in-class lectures is assigned to students outside of class time often in the form of videos or reading. Class time is reserved for students to actively engage in higher-level concepts and problem solving with the teacher available to help them. While simply “flipping a class” is relatively easy, flipped enthusiasts say that to truly offer “flipped learning” educators need to create an individualized flexible learning environment built around active learning and student-centered education. In this environment students are given feedback relevant in the moment.

I WANT TO CREATE A FLIPPED CLASSROOM. HOW DO I START? It sounds obvious but making sure you’re actually interested in teaching a true flipped classroom, incorporating flipped learning, is an important first step. Moore is frequently contacted by colleagues asking about flipped who are actually interested in adding some video or some asynchronous tools to their class but not in fundamentally shifting the way they utilize synchronous class time. “The first thing I’m going to ask is what’s your

educational goal. Is your goal to make more time in whatever the group environment is for interaction by moving some learning components to the individual space?” he says. If a teacher is truly interested in creating a flipped classroom, he advises looking at your classroom material and deciding what lessons you need to be synchronous. “Vocabulary components, basic learning and Blooms, I don’t need to be livepresent with most kids in that component of learning,” he says. “I can introduce to you what sine, cosine, and tangent is in a video or in a reading or in whatever it happens to be. What you need me for is, ‘Great, now that I know that this equals this over this, now let’s put it to work.’”





While many flipped classroom educators do make their own videos, it’s not Students in a flipped classroom may need to learn how to watch videos in a requirement. an education setting and do other necessary work outside of class. “My first “There’s this mindset around flipped learning: that one, it has to be video is how to watch a video,” says Andrew Swan, a middle school social video; and two, that it has to be you,” says Angela Barnett, a third grade studies teacher in Massachusetts. “You know it’s different than when you’re teacher in California who runs flipped classrooms successfully without just binge watching a Netflix show or something you can tune out for five making her own videos. Instead she uses existing videos from BrainPop and minutes and come back and see some drama. You can’t do that with a Mr. National Geographic Kids. Swan video.” Some flipped class enthusiasts are dedicated to making their own While students grow up watching YouTube and other videos they need videos and believe that helps foster a deeper connection between the to be reminded to actively engage with class videos as well as other material instructor and students. Barnett acknowledges that can be true in and readings assigned outside of class. some cases but hasn’t found using video resources made by others has Videos should be kept short in general, and shorter still for younger hampered her. “My kiddos, they see me everyday, 8:30 to 1:40,” she says. students. “The age of your child is the maximum number of minutes that “I’m like, ‘Do they really need to you can have a video, and never, ever, hear my voice?’” ever, ever over 15 minutes,” Bergmann The videos she can find online says. “Most of my videos for my classes feature animations and vibrant are seven to 12 minutes. I’ve seen some colors that help make them more teachers who argue that that’s too long.” kid-friendly and engaging than what she’d be able to make on her WHAT IF STUDENTS’ I CAN INTRODUCE TO YOU WHAT own. DON’T WATCH THE SINE, COSINE, AND TANGENT IS IN Bergmann agrees that running VIDEO OR DO THE a flipped classroom does not FLIPPED CLASSROOM A VIDEO OR IN A READING OR IN automatically mean you have HOMEWORK? WHATEVER IT HAPPENS TO BE. WHAT to make videos. “A lot of people If students don’t do the outside of class YOU NEED ME FOR IS, ‘GREAT, NOW think flipped is all about watching work in a flipped classroom, repeating THAT I KNOW THAT THIS EQUALS videos but my students were the material in class is a mistake as that THIS OVER THIS, NOW LET’S PUT IT reading textbooks or other texts will signal to the students that they TO WORK.’” — MATTHEW MOORE as the pre-learning activity,” don’t have to do that work. Instead, Bergmann says. educators should have the students


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

FLIPPED CLASSROOM watch the video or do the required readings in the back of the class while the prepared students work with the instructors. Bergmann doesn’t have this problem much anymore but in the past he would have those students watch the videos during class time. “What happened was that the kids who are watching it in the class weren’t getting help on the hard stuff, and then they had to take the hard stuff home,” he says. “They said, ‘Wait a second. Number one, Mr. Bergmann took off some points for me having it late, and then I had to do these extra problems that all my friends finished in class and I had to do this hard stuff at home. And mom didn’t know any chemistry where Mr Bergmann knows chemistry ... hmm.’ Most of them have that epiphany and learn it’s actually easier to do the work ahead of time.”

two groups were similar, the case-based learning students who had previously struggled academically did better than their problem-based counterparts. “This style is much more engaging for the students and the faculty. They feel like they are ‘real doctors’ finally,” says Richard M. Schwartzstein, MD, and Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Medical Education at Harvard Medical School. “An engaged student is usually someone who is learning.” Though most like the new style, there are some students who find it challenging, Schwartzstein says. “Some complain about the amount of prep work they have to do and that we don’t give them the exact right answer because we deal more with nuances and how one thinks about the problem.”



Flipped classrooms have been incorporated throughout K-12 and in higher ed at both the graduate and undergraduate level. In 2015, Harvard Medical School launched a new curriculum designed to enhance critical thinking and encourage students to take ownership of their education and flipped classrooms were implemented across the institution. The change was implemented after Harvard conducted a study comparing medical students who learned via case-based collaborative learning compared to traditional problembased learning curriculum. While the overall scores between the

Bergmann offers a wealth of advice on flipped classrooms and flipped learning on his personal website as well as through the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. At the Flipped Learning Global Initiative, there are certificate courses available for educators working in both K-12 and higher ed. The Flipped Learning Network also offers free resources, ranging from videos to podcasts. Opportunities also exist to connect with other educators interested in flipped classrooms and flipped learning through a dedicated Slack channel and Facebook group.

Certified Professional Development for Teachers Part of the Boxlight Mimio Connected ClassroomTM At Boxlight we understand the importance of purposeful and engaging professional development and we take a collaborative approach to teaching and learning with technology. With our robust portfolio of certified professional development courses,

Professional Development

we strive to equip administration, teachers, and staff with the skills, practical and pedagogical, to effectively design learning that fully integrates available technology.

Learn More





Feedback loops and understanding systems are key components of cybernetics that lend themselves to classroom learning. By Erik Ofgang


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


ybernetics is the study of systems of communication and control in machines and living things. “Cybernetics can be applied to any subject in which systems are the object of study -- a literary genre, a sporting event, hospital administration, a historical event, business models, to name just a few,” says Dr. Kelly Frame, educational developer at the School of Cybernetics ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science at The Australian National University. She adds, “The emphasis is less on what students already know and more on how they can ask the right questions and become lifelong learners.” Frame recently conducted a workshop on cybernetics at the NYCSchoolsTech Summit 2021. During the virtual conference, which is available on demand, Frame explores how

CYBERNETICS educators can bring cybernetics into their teaching. “Attendees of the NYCSchoolsTech Summit will be able to access a workshop and resource pack that includes lesson plans, activities, and guidance on how to incorporate cybernetic thinking tools in their classrooms,” Frame says.


A core component of cybernetics is feedback loops, but as any educator knows, all feedback is not created equal. “Cybernetic feedback loops involve a balance of actionable positive and negative feedback delivered in a timely manner,” Frame says. “This prompts us to think about how can we design an assessment regime so students are receiving feedback as they embark on a task in which they must apply the same skills.” Frame suggests accomplishing this by making connections between past feedback and future assignments. “One simple way to do this is to make two copies of the feedback you give to students after a task,” she says. “Hand a copy to the student and keep a copy for yourself. When the next assessment task is about to begin, give the feedback to the students again. Ask them to reflect on which parts of the feedback they will need to be mindful of when they do the next assessment task. Before they submit the new assessment task, get them to review the feedback again, peer-review each other’s work with reference to the feedback, and do final revisions.” “In my experience, students struggle to absorb feedback when it doesn’t feel immediately relevant or applicable,” Frame says. “This approach makes sure that the students benefit fully from the feedback you’ve provided.”

CYBERNETICS AND SYSTEMS Another key component of cybernetics is its emphasis on systems and how they work and interact. “Cybernetic pedagogy positions the student as a constituent within a system,” Frame says. “This imbues students with both agency and responsibility, as their actions or inactions will have consequences for the system and its other constituents. For example, we know that students learn by co-constructing knowledge together, but if a student does not engage earnestly in that co-construction, the impact is not just on their learning but on the learning of their peers.” By understanding the system and their role within it, students can learn how to manage and transform systems for the better. “In the classroom it might be as simple as supporting their peers or communicating their needs to the teacher,” she says. “In the world, this might mean being reflective about consumer habits, identifying the best routes to communicate with local and national representatives, or designing things that solve problems.”


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

To get students thinking about systems, Frame says educators should: ■ Engage in a discussion or task about a system, which can include anything from an art movement to the steam train to a political system. “Ask your students to answer a series of questions about the ecological, social, and technological factors that informed the design or coalescence of that system,” she says. During the NYCSchoolsTech Summit 2021, the School of Cybernetics’ vendor booth will allow educators to access a resource pack, including a free lesson plan and a detailed “cybernetic thinking” scaffold. ■ Simulate the system itself. “It’s often more powerful for us to learn by experience rather than observation,” Frame says. “You can ask students to role-play parts of a system and then ask them how they felt, how their actions were hindered or helped by the design of the system, and how they would improve the system.” She adds, “Students are more likely to remember the different parts of a system, their constraints, and their impacts, if they’ve been plugged into that system on an experiential level.”

CYBERNETICS ISN’T ONLY ABOUT TECH “The main misconception people might have about cybernetics is that it is just about computers, AI, robots, and machines,” Frame says. “These associations often lead us to pigeonhole cybernetics as a field in which only engineers or computer scientists have authority.” This harms the field because it decreases the input into cybernetics from artists, lawyers, philosophers, and others, and enforces the false notion that some people are technical while others are not. “A cybernetic approach isn’t just about the construction of technology, but a macro-level vision that interrogates the design and potential impacts of a complex system, technological or otherwise,” Frame says. “Effective systems that contribute to a better world need people who specialise in the human and the ecological, not just the technological.”


HOW TO TEACH CODING WITH NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE Learning to teach coding involves enthusiasm and being ready to learn


By Tom Glynn

an a classroom teacher—or parent volunteer—who knows nothing about coding actually teach coding to a classroom of elementary or middle school students? Yes! With a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and the right supports, anyone can teach coding and have fun doing it. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned on my journey from classroom volunteer to coding instructor.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHERE TO START; JUST BEGIN I stumbled into coding when I volunteered in the classroom at my children’s elementary school. When my youngest was in the second grade, I saw an


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

article about the Hour of Code. I thought it might be fun so pitched the idea to my child’s teacher. Although I knew almost nothing about coding, I offered to teach the class. The first Hour of Code was a success, so the teacher asked if I wanted to teach more coding. I found Scratch, a free programming language, and thus began my coding career! A few months later, a parent who was a friend wandered by my weekly coding class and asked if I wanted to help her start a STEM Club. I had to go home and Google the meaning of STEM, but I said yes again. Within a month, 30 kids signed up. A year later, we were running several classes per week. When some of our kids hit middle school, we started an in-school STEM class there. We also launched an after-school program and taught

CODING ENGAGE RELUCTANT LEARNERS AND BUILD REAL-WORLD SKILLS about 200 kids per week. Each week with coding and STEM, I winged it. Then a teacher at Bella Vista Elementary asked if I’d like to volunteer in the Academic Talent Program (ATP), a magnet class program for students in grade 4 through middle school who are identified as highly gifted. I now teach a weekly technology course there to several classes. What I learned from these experiences is that we don’t have to know anything about coding to start. Students’ enthusiasm more than made up for my lack of confidence, and it helped propel me deeper into the world of STEM.


One of the unexpected benefits of coding is that it engages students who might not otherwise find their place in school. Every year I see about 20 kids who break out of their shells and come alive with coding. They’re not the “A” students or the “D” students but somewhere in between. These students—who used to be bored or uninspired—suddenly begin to develop a passion for school. Coding gives them a chance to do something they might not normally get to do, and they excel. They get excited about their projects and enjoy sharing their ideas and teaching other students. Their enthusiasm and creativity is contagious. I often get emails from parents expressing how happy they are to see their children so inspired and confident about something at school. Another great thing about coding is that it helps students build real-world skills they can use no matter what field or career they choose to pursue. Through coding projects, students learn how to collaborate, problem-solve, troubleshoot, and persevere. They learn how to present, critique each other’s work, and provide positive feedback. They also learn that there may be many paths to solving a problem.

In the magnet class, we had a platform that had students creating programs using a text-based programming language called Python. Like other platforms we’d tried, students liked it for about a month but then found it to be too cut-and-dry. Last spring, a parent suggested that I CODING GIVES [STUDENTS] A look at a K-12 program called STEMscopes TAKE THE LEAP! CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING THEY Coding, powered by Bitsbox. I paid for I know that many teachers (and parents) MIGHT NOT NORMALLY GET TO it out of my own pocket and began using are intimidated by the idea of teaching DO, AND THEY EXCEL. THEY GET it last fall. It was an instant hit with my coding. In the business world, I’m a EXCITED ABOUT THEIR PROJECTS students. I now spend an hour a week Certified Public Accountant. When I meet AND ENJOY SHARING THEIR on coding in one third grade, two fourth my students’ parents at Back to School IDEAS AND TEACHING OTHER grade, and two fifth grade classes. Night—many of whom work for high-tech STUDENTS. THEIR ENTHUSIASM In my classes, we use the coding companies—they’re often stunned to hear program to walk through the process of that I don’t have a tech background. When AND CREATIVITY IS CONTAGIOUS. creating and sharing a digital app. We do I tell them I’m not a coder, they think I’m three types of projects. In the first, students joking. see an example of the code and follow along. What is helpful though is that almost The second walks them through a task. In the third, they get to apply what everyone is fascinated with coding, and kids and parents love it. Coding they’ve learned using real-world JavaScript code to write their own code. captures students’ attention and holds their interest. Despite our worries Students like that the projects are open-ended and that they can create as instructors, it doesn’t bother students if we’re not experts at coding. In their own games, simulations, and storytelling apps with graphics, sound, my classes, I like to tell students that after a couple of months of working animation, and interactivity. What I like is that the program provides all together, they’ll probably know more about coding than I do and they can the hand-holding I need to feel comfortable with coding. I can access teach me. resources such as lesson plans, videos, and coding tips and tricks whenever Coding programs for schools have come a long way over the last couple I need them. Even though I’ve been teaching coding for a few years, I know of years, so it’s easier than ever to get started. And if a teacher isn’t available, I couldn’t do it without support, so I appreciate having a safety net. My maybe a parent volunteer — even one with no prior coding experience — students, on the other hand, like to just jump in and code, and they easily can help. figure out how to use the program on their own. Tom Glynn is a parent volunteer and technology instructor at Bella Vista I also appreciate that the coding program has worked well with remote Elementary in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in Danville, learning. During the pandemic, I taught coding over Zoom, and students Calif. coded on the program website. Since their apps were cloud-based, they could code from anywhere. When students completed their projects, I’d ask them to share their screens and show their app, which they loved. Listen to the funny sounds in this app! Look at the cool animations in this one! The show-and-tell was entertaining, and it helped spur their creativity as well.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


11 EDTECH TIPS FOR NEW TEACHERS These edtech tips for new teachers can assist with intentional and purposeful integration within PK-12 classrooms By Stephanie Smith Budhai


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M



s preparations begin for a new school year, it is important to think intentionally about the ways in which you will use instructional technology to support student learning. Learning technologies are ubiquitous and have the power to transform teaching to create innovative content, engage students, and efficiently assess student growth. It can be both exciting and overwhelming to sift through the innumerable edtech tools that are constantly emerging. Also, the amount of edtech tools available vary widely in terms of functionality, availability, and cost, and new teachers who are already consumed with navigating other onboarding experiences may not know where to start. These edtech tips are designed to get new teachers started with purposeful implementation of digital tools in their classrooms to transform learning experiences.



Everything we do in the classroom must be grounded in learning! We are not using edtech tools because they are widely available or fun to use, although these are certainly advantages to using any tool. We are using edtech tools because it can help to more efficiently or effectively assist students in learning. Before you decide on a tool to use, answer these questions: What do you want students to learn as a result of instruction? How will a specific type of edtech tool aid in this effort?



Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR Model provides a framework for technology integration at 4 levels: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. The SAMR model illustrates that technology does not always need to be used to modify or redefine learning through artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality, for example. Technology can be just as useful at the substitution level or argumentation level, by having students record presentations online instead of standing in front of the class. Through the recordings, students will have the chance to go back and see themselves and grading can be more comprehensive as you have the opportunity to go back and review presentations.



You do not have to try every new tool that emerges. Focus on how the functionality of the tool will positively impact teaching and learning in some way. Hundreds of edtech tools have a similar function. For example, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are all video conferencing tools that can be used for live synchronous class or peer learning activities. This means that you do not have to use only Zoom as Teams and Google Meet have similar functions. Think about the function of the technology that you would need to carry out the lesson, and then start looking for tools that would be an option.


4 5

Be sure to determine what type of device(s) are compatible with your selected tool, before implementation. You do not want to spend time planning an incredible lesson with the support of an edtech tool that only works on tablets when your students only have access to Chromebooks.

TEST FIRST Preparation is key in teaching. We know this and it is why we lesson and unit plan well in advance of carrying out instruction. The same goes for using edtech tools. Before using one in class, try its various features and functions. You will be better positioned to respond to questions from your students about the tool and having that experience will make the implementation in class with students more seamless.



Do not get stuck in using only one edtech tool. Remember, you are using one to help students meet the learning objectives, not just for the sake of trying the newest and coolest tool available. Maybe you want to measure students’ ability to use their critical thinking skills to


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

respond to questions. You initially choose Poll Everywhere because of the functionality of creating polls, but realize that some of the advanced functions require a paid membership. You could try Kahoot! instead since it has a similar function, and then can see if the desired functions are available with the free version.


7 8

When introducing new edtech tools to students, you will often find yourself repeating instructions and demonstrating processes. A more efficient way to do this is to use screencasting technologies. This not only saves time but also can be helpful to families if you are requiring students to use a tool at the home.


Work with your grade partners and other teachers in your school as much as possible. Chances are, you will not be the only one using edtech tools to support student learning. Other teachers may be using the same tool in different ways that you have not previously considered, or using tools you have heard of yet. Exchange ideas and best practices, which will result in your own informal professional development.



There may be some temptation to try several edtech tools at once, but try to resist the urge. We do not want to compromise the learning experience and spend too much time acclimating students to a new tool each day. This takes away from learning, which is at the crux of the educational experience. As students gain fluency with using each edtech tool, you can introduce more.



Technology is great when it works, but there can always be hiccups--even if we do plan in advance. If the internet stops working or a feature within the edtech tool loses its functionality, we need to be able to pivot quickly. Have a plan in place to do so.



Having accessible and practical resources available throughout the school year can be extremely beneficial to your own professional development. Continue to use Tech & Learning as a resource, with tons of curated content to support teaching and learning in your classroom.


5 EDTECH BOOKS EVERY TEACHER SHOULD READ These edtech books support professional learning for teachers in all academic areas and grade levels By Stephanie Smith Budhai


ummer is quickly coming to an end, and preparations for the upcoming school year are within close reach. With the impending return to in-person learning for many, continued online learning for others, and even dual audience learning for some, now is the perfect time to re-imagine, re-envision, and re-think how we leverage edtech for teaching and learning in our new educational landscapes. Dozens of interesting edtech books offer useful content that we can all leverage in some capacity. However, sifting through all of that would take months! To support your professional learning journey, start with this list of edtech books that every new and seasoned K-12 teacher, from all academic subject areas and grade levels, should read.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M



Edtech and digital environments will be a more prominent, and likely a permanent, aspect of teaching and learning moving forward. We must also ensure that there is digital equity so that all students can have equitable access to digital content and experiences. In Closing the Gap: Digital Equity Strategies for the K-12 Classroom, authors Sarah Thomas, Nicol R. Howard, and Regina Schaffer identify issues of digital equity through the lens of a problem of practice and provide ways that teachers and tech coaches can respond to these challenges. One of the most practical elements of this book comes from the research-based vignettes by teachers who have encountered and conquered some of the challenges highlighted. Key issues that are discussed include access, connectivity, limited resources, digital divide, and the homework gap. Strategies for connecting the ISTE Educator and Student Standards are also provided. This book is a tremendous resource for teachers who want practical strategies, examples, and recommendations for addressing the challenges that come with teaching in the digital age.

tools to enhance learning. This book has featured ideas for communicating with families, increasing collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity, and empowering both teachers and students to reflect on and share learning.



Teaching and learning must go beyond the class environment. Today’s students have experienced learning at home, online, and in the classroom, and have seen many issues that impact society. In Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good, author Jennifer Williams provides pathways to using edtech tools and resources, for the larger good of humanity. The book details how to use edtech tools to amplify student voices and provide them a space in which to be creative and think critically about addressing the needs of people around the world. The book provides teachers with simple ideas for transforming learning and classroom culture through space while using edtech as a catalyst for change. Tips for taking action now along with integrative activities are included.



Who said learning and fun cannot coexist? The opposite is actually true! To make learning relevant and interesting for students, they must enjoy the educational experience. In Tech Like A Pirate: Using Classroom Technology to Create an Experience and Make Learning Memorable, author Matt Miller approaches using classroom technology in exciting, fun, and meaningful ways. Game-based learning, global expeditions, and communication, along with social media and video apps, are discussed. In addition to the strategies and ideas, downloadable templates for class, a companion website, and pirate engagement hooks are all provided.



Student-centered learning should be at the core of every classroom. While technology has the potential to support this, there must be intentional ways to strengthen and augment traditional teaching and learning practices. In Illuminate: Technology Enhanced Learning, author Bethany Petty provides a myriad of tips, tricks, and strategies to enhance learning and increase student engagement with technology. One of the major themes of the book, which is a useful reminder for all teachers when using edtech, is to not focus on specific tools but on the ways in which we use


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M



This final book recommendation is in the format of a quick reference guide. If you do not have time to read through an entire book, myself and co-author Laura McLaughlin provide in Increasing Engagement in Online Learning a wealth of information on increasing engagement in online and hybrid learning environments. In addition to strategies, examples, and edtech tools to support collaboration, participation, and formative assessment strategies, topics for effectively navigating dual audience engagement, and home-to-school engagement ideas are covered. Some of the topics addressed are engaging students in breakout rooms, avoiding zoom fatigue, and planning for both asynchronous and synchronous learning.

HOW TO ENCOURAGE TRANSGENDER STUDENTS TO PURSUE STEM CAREERS Engage transgender students in STEM classes with awareness of pronouns, inclusivity, kindness, and representation, among other practices. By Erik Ofgang


aking transgender students feel welcome in your class and encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM does not have to be difficult. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking the time to learn your students’ preferred pronouns or designing coursework that connects to who they are as individuals. And there’s evidence that by doing a better job of connecting and encouraging your transgender students, all students will feel more welcome and encouraged.




Checking each student’s preferred pronouns and name is vital to making trangender students feel accepted in a STEM class or elsewhere, says Sam Long, a science teacher at Denver South High School and transgender man. Teachers should remember that a student might go by a different name than what’s listed in the school’s roster and that they may not want to go by the same name all the time.

| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


Long researches how biology can be taught more inclusively and has found there is room for improvement. “For most of us, the biology that we were taught is pretty incomplete,” Long says. “We’re usually not taught the difference between sex and gender, or gender identity.” In addition, many students are taught about animal relationships in a way that enforces existing stereotypes. For example, they learn how birds are monogamous and mate for life. “That’s one of thousands of different patterns found in animals; there’s no reason to only highlight that one in school where students are developing those social values,” Long says. Math word problems can also be exclusionary. Often these contain some variation of a problem setup along the lines of, ‘If there are 20 total students and 8 are girls, how many are boys?’ “People will write these problems with the assumption that a boy or girl is mutually exclusive and covers all possible people. When you realize that that’s not true a lot of the problems become unsolvable,” Long says. “We can be more creative than that and do better than that.”

MAKE STEM EXERCISES PRACTICAL AND RELATABLE Relating the class material to your students’ lives while also showing them you care about them as individuals can boost content engagement.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M



“I’m a big believer in critical care theory,” Whipple says. “It’s something that I think many teachers practice without having a name for, and it is this idea that when we, as educators, show that we care about the entire student, not just whatever content area we’re trying to teach them but everything about their lives, they do better.” In STEM classes, many lessons can become abstract. “Strangely, as we move up, in difficulty level, we have a tendency to focus completely on procedure instead of context,” Whipple says. “It’s not uncommon in physics, for there to be a problem that just says, ‘An object that weighs…’ or ‘An object is moving...,’ and you don’t even know what the object is. And that’s like the antithesis of how to get students engaged.” Instead, Whipple says you can engage students who might soon be getting their license by teaching them about car speeds and acceleration. For a computer class, he suggests using app creation tools to foster inclusivity and representation. “There are apps now that identify gender neutral bathrooms,” Whipple says. “It’s fun to have this as an assignment for students -- create an app that someone walking into our building could turn on, and it would direct them to the nearest gender neutral bathroom.” “We know from critical care theory that the more we tie whatever it is we’re trying to teach, whether it’s computer science, or mathematics, or physics, to students’ real lived experience, not only are they going to be more successful with the material, but they’re going to see themselves in it, which then makes them more curious about what comes next,” Whipple says. TY ET G Y/ M M PI G N O N

“Some people want to go by one name at school and something else if you’re communicating with their parents,” Long says. “They may not be out to their parents.” To make sure he is referring to each student in class and to their parents correctly, Long uses Google Forms to ask each student to share their preferred names and pronouns. He also asks if it is alright to use this name when he communicates with parents. “Throughout the year students should also have opportunities to make changes,” he says. This is also an easy way to foster inclusivity, adds Kyle S. Whipple, a professor of Education for Equity and Justice at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “That is just one of those things that I think is so silly that people fight over because I have never been in a school where William didn’t get to go by Bill,” says Whipple, a transgender man and former K-12 math teacher whose research focus includes LGBTQ mathematics, inclusion, and care theory, among other topics.

REPRESENTATION AND KINDNESS MATTERS To get transgender students engaged with STEM, it can help to see others from similar bacgkrounds who have had success. “I’m a big proponent of the idea that we need to be able to see ourselves doing the career,” Whipple says. “So, for example, introducing historical computer scientists who are LGBTQ.” Whipple mentions Lynn Conway and Sophie Wilson as possibilities. He also suggests putting up a STEM person of the week with a picture and talking about their background and their contributions to their field. Doing this and implementing other inclusionary strategies can help engage all students, regardless of their backgrounds. “At inclusive schools, all the students are more happy,” Whipple says. “If you’re kind to the person who is most likely to be picked on, all the students go, ‘Oh, if they’re kind to that student, they’re definitely going to be kind to me.’ It builds its own momentum.”



Tech & Learning, along with support from innovative tech partner AVer Information, surveyed 622 educators to gauge the current realities of teaching through the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, this era of uncertainty will continue to pose unique opportunities when it comes to achieving success in the classroom. Pivoting and flexibility are key, with hybrid learning being an integral part of the new normal. Educators offering their honest feedback can guide decision makers in preparing their school communities for the next chapter of learning; whether remote, hybrid, or a welcome return to students in person.

Brightspace by D2L is an integral part of iLearnNYC. The Brightspace learning management system (LMS) combines the powerful tools, services, and support you need to deliver the best teaching and learning experience for teachers and students. Now available to all NYC schools, free of charge, iLearnNYC can meet the diverse needs for remote, blended, and online learning.


Today’s digital world provides opportunities for students to learn in highly personalized ways. When teachers and students become co-creators in the K-12 learning process and leverage technology in meaningful ways, the learning experiences can inspire all learners. With a dedicated team of former educators who have extensive backgrounds in successful technology implementation, Dell Technologies is uniquely positioned to support districts in designing student-centric learning models to develop future readiness of students.

Canva for Education is a visual communications platform with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere. Bring your ideas to life with more than 60,000 ready-to-use educational templates from presentations, posters, newsletters, worksheets, lesson plans, book reports, infographics, and more. It’s 100% free for K-12 districts, teachers, and students.


EPSON CATCHON As a student data privacy management tool, CatchOn protects student data and empowers districts with the information required to ensure data privacy compliance. In addition to providing district and school leaders visibility into their students’ application usage data on their district-owned devices, CatchOn’s third-party badging and security reviews enable school districts to quickly vet app security with integrated data privacy certifications from IMS Global Learning Consortium Global and the Student Data Privacy Consortium.

CODERZ Engage your students in computer science! Transform how computer science is taught by engaging students in concepts like acceleration, slopes, and computational thinking with CoderZ! Even better: it’s gamified, standards-aligned, packed with teacher resources, AND Chromebook accessible.


| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Epson’s award-winning education solutions are designed to empower teachers to rise above digital distractions and deliver interactive, creative, and laser-focused learning environments with super-flexible, lowmaintenance, and budget-conscious technology. Epson laser displays deliver big, bright, immersive learning experiences to captivate, engage, and inspire every student in the room – without compromising whiteboard space. Epson’s innovative presentation display and projector technologies make bright, collaborative learning environments a reality.

GIRLS WHO CODE Girls Who Code is an international nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology and leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip students with the computing skills needed to pursue 21st-century opportunities. We offer free and flexible computer science programs for grade 3-12 students to learn how to make a positive impact on the world through code, and we’ve reached more than 450,000 girls and young women since 2012.

RESOURCES ILLUMINATE EDUCATION Illuminate Education equips educators to take a data-driven approach to serving the whole child. Our solution combines comprehensive assessment, MTSS management and collaboration, and real-time dashboard tools, and puts them in the hands of educators. As a result, educators can monitor learning and growth, identify academic and social-emotional behavioral needs, and align targeted supports in order to accelerate learning for each student.

With more than 20 years of experience in K-12 classrooms, Promethean is a global leader in education technology. Promethean’s combined hardware and software solutions are designed to transform learning spaces into collaborative and connective environments, promote student participation and engagement throughout the learning process, and provide access to limitless interactive teaching and learning resources that bring lessons to life.



Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In education, it’s to empower every student. We believe limitless potential is within every student, every educator, every school. Together we can unlock this potential by providing technology that empowers educators and inspires students. Learn more at; Introduction to Reading Progress Microsoft Educator Center

Soundtrap is your everywhere studio by Spotify. It is an online music and podcast studio that’s easy to use and highly collaborative. Soundtrap for Education is on a mission to make music creation and storytelling simple and collaborative for teachers and students. Soundtrap enables music makers to create, podcasters to tell stories, and students and teachers to explore communication and creativity in and outside the classroom.

operoo OPEROO Operoo is a school workflow management platform. We streamline routine and recurring operational tasks with process automation and digital workflow management. In 2021, we helped over 350 NYC schools and districts to streamline more than 200 slow, expensive and repetitive paper-based processes: From managing blue cards and student onboarding, to staff reimbursement requests. With Operoo, ensure every dollar and every minute possible is focused on students, rather than wasting resources on operational inefficiencies. Book meeting:

PEAR DECK Rooted in learning science and built to integrate with Google Apps for Education, Teams, and Microsoft Office 365, Pear Deck makes it easy to connect with your students and deliver powerful learning moments. Now you can bring your presentations to life with formative assessments and interactive questions that let you see, in real time, how every student in your class is doing.



| JULY/AUG UST 2 021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

TEQ OTIS for educators: OTIS for educators is an online professional learning platform that offers courses on how to effectively integrate technology into instruction. Between our on-demand PD library and calendar of live sessions, we make it easy to access hundreds of courses, with topics on STEM, SEL, literacy, ENL/ELL, and more. We are a Google for Education Partner, Microsoft Training Partner, and ISTE Standards-aligned. SMART Technologies: There’s a SMART Board interactive display for every classroom. Discover a range of high-quality interactive displays engineered for the simplicity teachers want. Easy to deploy and support, SMART Boards are a solid investment for any edtech budget. Connect your devices and classroom technology, optimize learning, and get students engaged – all while inspiring learners and teachers with powerful teaching tools and world-leading interactive education technology.

WIX EDUCATION Wix Education is a space for future web creators to nurture their design and coding skills, be creative, and make their ideas come to life. Our free lesson plans and activities are designed to give you and your students everything you need to dive into the world of web creation, design, and coding — no matter what subject you teach. Sign up at to start teaching web creation today!


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.