Thank You, 2020!

By Diego Ojeda
www.srojeda.com
@DiegoOjeda66
@Sr_Ojeda

The end of the year is a special time.  Starting with November’s Thanksgiving celebrations, we begin to publicly acknowledge our gratitude for those who have inspired and challenged us. However, this year has been different, and much more stressful, than past years. Typically, there would be social media threads dedicated to enhancing collaboration and mutual support, but this holiday season, social media has been full of messages about how 2020 is a year to forget, not to be thankful for. 

Christmas is approaching, and I am already beginning to hear voices clamoring not to celebrate it or even mention it. I understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but I also know that the end of the year is a special time when we love to feel closer to the important people in our lives. There is nothing religious about that, and celebrating does not hurt anyone.

We teachers always want to motivate and empower our students, especially when they may be feeling defeated in their academic, social or family lives. We are aware that we are responsible for academic content, but we also know deep down that nothing teaches more than the constant support we give our students through a positive and hopeful attitude. However, I keep finding the same kinds of messages: “2020 is to forget. 2020 has been the worst year in the history of the world. There is nothing to celebrate in 2020. I hope 2020 will end soon.”

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4 Hybrid Teaching Strategies to Engage Your Students in School or at Home

By Elena Spathis
@elenaspathis


My district, like so many others, opted for a hybrid model this fall, combining in-person classes in the mornings with online classes in the afternoons. As you can imagine, I realized quickly that I had to rethink my methods, get creative, and be innovative. 

My Spanish classes have always been communicative and collaborative. I want my students to immerse themselves in the language by using it with each other because what’s the sense in me talking at them and them zoning out? So, I have always focused on interactive paired or group tasks that make my classes flow. But due to the current restrictions limiting student group size and mandating social distancing, accomplishing this became more challenging. I knew I had to think differently about how I could truly engage my students in person and online. Fortunately, I found four ways to meet the needs of classroom-based and online student groups. 

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The unexpected benefits of distance learning

By Alexis Buschert
@SrtaBuschert

We all know the challenges that we faced (and often overcame) with distance learning last spring.  Our social media accounts are full of memes and articles about all of the problems and struggles that we had. 

But I have yet to read an article or blog celebrating some of the unexpected benefits that came along with distance learning!  There were some aspects of distance learning that I LOVED even as a public high school teacher with a huge caseload of students.  I experimented with different techniques and technologies and I learned some valuable lessons along the way that will help me be a better teacher in the future.

Here are some of the successes that I had or helpful lessons that I learned during my time as an online Spanish teacher during the spring of 2020:

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Decluttering your curriculum

By Jennifer Carson
Curriculum Coordinator

Last semester’s transition to virtual teaching was abrupt and left many of us feeling like we were catching up to learn new technologies instead of focusing on communicating content to students. Now, as we look forward to next year, which appears to be an amorphous hybrid of virtual and limited face-to-face instruction, our worries turn to what students missed this past semester and how we can catch them up. Part I of this series focused on decluttering the mind, which is the necessary first step. With a mind freed from constraints, you can now turn your focus to decluttering another messy place, your curriculum.

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Decluttering your mind

By Michelle Olah
Instructional Strategist

The 2019-2020 school year is in the books. It was unprecedented to be sure! It’s time to let go of 2019-2020 and take some time to relax and practice self-care, before starting to think about and plan for next school year. Unfortunately, right now there are still more questions than answers about what the 2020-2021 school year might look like. One thing is for sure, no matter what our classrooms and schools look like next fall, there are going to be challenges that all teachers will have to address, such as curriculum planning.

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Remote learning: Opening new doors to planning, tools, strategies, and more

By Jennifer Cornell
Specialist for Digital Innovation and Instructional Technology

I am in awe at the work teachers do every day. I am especially amazed at all that teachers have done these past few months adjusting to remote learning. There has been so much newness and change that has happened during these unsettling times. Moving from a face-to- face environment to one that is completely online, they had to do more than ever before at an incredibly fast pace and with varying tools, resources, and training.  

While we are in a time of unique change and difficulty, change can also bring new possibilities and open doors of opportunity.  This may include exploring new pedagogical practices, connecting with more students, varying instructional strategies, experimenting with new tools and resources, as well as engaging in practices of reflection to positively impact learning and instruction.

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10 tips for providing comprehensible input when teaching remotely

By Helen Small
Curriculum Coordinator

As a former comprehensible input (CI) German teacher, I’ve been thinking lately about how to provide adequate comprehensible input in an online environment. After 18 years of more or less traditional teaching, I switched to CI teaching for my last five years in the classroom before pursuing world language administrative positions. Now, as a curriculum coordinator at Wayside, my goal in working with our French and German authors is to create proficiency-based, CI-friendly resources that promote the use of the target language for teaching and learning. 

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Supporting your colleagues, supporting yourself

By Elena Spathis
@ElenaSpathis

In what seemed like a span of a few hours, teachers needed to frantically shift to virtual instruction. All schoolwide events and extracurricular activities were suddenly cancelled. Feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and disappointment slowly settled in and took charge.

Like many other professionals, teachers’ roles changed overnight. Rather than being on stage all day in their classrooms, teachers would now be delivering instruction through their computer screens.

I immediately felt a pang of worry as I started to create online activities for my new virtual Spanish classes: Would my students truly learn this way? Would I be able to maintain a sense of community with them? What would my assessments look like?

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Who and Why before What and How: Planning in the time of Coronavirus

By Michelle Olah
@michelleolah
Instructional Strategist

These are crazy days indeed. Teachers all over the country (and world!) are being asked to switch from in-person teaching to some variety of online teaching and learning in a matter of weeks. The question that is on many teachers’ mind is How do I effectively plan instruction during these unique circumstances? There are a lot of people and companies out there giving teachers all kinds of opinions on what to teach, what not to teach, and how best to teach it. In this blog post I am not going to give you any answers. Instead, I want to offer some questions to consider that can help guide your instructional choices in whatever situation you find yourself.

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Tips for synchronous & asynchronous teaching

By Jennifer Carson
@jncar4
Curriculum Coordinator

During this time of uncertainty and school closures, many teachers have had to jump into teaching remotely without a moment’s notice. I have worked for several years as adjunct faculty at a local university, which has forced me to become familiar with teaching both synchronously online (broadcasting on a platform like WebEx, GoToMeeting, or Zoom to students at a scheduled time) and asynchronously (distributing lessons that are accessed during a range of time much like a webinar).

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