As many educators around the world embark on a new school year, there seems to be a feeling of hopefulness and eagerness in the air.
Quarantines and pandemic restrictions have, for the most part, been lifted and many teachers are ready to dive in to build upon what they learned during remote and hybrid learning.
With this in mind, we reached out to educators on Connect, an exclusive community for ISTE members, and on Twitter to find out what projects, ideas and strategies educators are planning to try this year. Here’s what some of them said:
From ISTE Connect
On ISTE Connect, we asked educators what tool, idea or strategy they are eager to try out.
Developing an agile mindset
We do PBL, and we are now working on empowering our students to develop an agile mindset. We are using an agility/scrum framework adapted to a school setting. Kids learn how to collaborate and work in teams effectively, enhancing future-ready and critical thinking skills. It also gives them voice and choice and nurtures creativity. SEL is deeply embedded in this framework too. We use several digital tools: Canva, Jamboard, Slides, etc.
We are also developing a global collaboration project that connects the FIFA World Cup and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. We believe this project will help our students learn about other cultures and empower them to take action and promote social good. Most probably, we'll be using Flip, Meet, and Canva.
—Greta Sandler, teacher-trainer, Belgrano Day School, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tracking coaching data
This year the coaches I support will keep track of coaching data with a program called TeachBoost. This will ensure that our focus remains on coaching cycles and will allow us to collect and present data on the effectiveness of our coaches across the state. I'm hoping it will act as an advocacy piece for coaching in general and will keep us accountable and streamlined.
—Nicole M. Zumpano, director of instructional technology coaching, Learning Technology Center of Illinois
Engineering design with iBlocks
I recently learned about a tool called iBlocks and have been looking into all that is available with it. It’s great for STEM and PBL. It offers a series of lessons and activities, which are teacher-guided but provide students with opportunities to drive their learning, work with technology and create a capstone project.
I’ve been looking at the Rube Goldberg example, which is for elementary level, and also the other samples that are more focused on engineering design. I’ve been wanting to get more into PBL with my STEAM course and this is on my list.
Always on my list is finding more ways to focus on SEL in my classes, whether through methods or using different digital tools.
I am going to start a class podcast. I typically have kids keep a portfolio with audio entries as an option. Last year, a group of students decided to turn their entries into a podcast. Even in that informal format, it was a great success! This year, I'll have more supports and resources in place and ask all students to contribute in some way. My vision for it right now is for students to work on design teams (cover art, script, intro/outro) and have one episode per class per instructional unit.
—Bonnie Nieves, science teacher, Nipmuc Regional High School, Upton, Massachusetts
Teaching AI with a virtual assistant
Something I want to roll out this year is using a virtual assistant (probably Alexa) in the elementary classroom. The hope is to have conversations about how AI is so important to us and what goes on behind the scenes.
I am looking into building some simple Alexa skills, particularly where it may provide us with feedback that may not be true. This will hopefully ignite a debate about how we trust information we receive from our digital sources as per ISTE Standard 1.3.b.
I plan to send out permission letters to see if parents will allow me to have it in the classroom, which can be a sticking point! The problem I have is that so many groups use the room that I’ll either have to get permission from everyone or remember to unplug and hide it!
—Dominic Hill, technology director and learning technology & maths specialist, Tokyo, Japan
Learning to code with drones
Last school year, we decided to pilot a drone program from NextWaveSTEM with my robotics club students. It was a huge success, and we will be bringing it again this year.
The program utilizes the 5E's instructional model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate. Students learn how to code, pilot, follow safety rules, etc. Due to FAA regulations, we also purchased a drone arena to be in compliance with flying restrictions.
—Daniela Jahnes, technology director, St. Anthony Catholic School, Hollywood, Florida
—Stephanie Howell, instructional technology coach/director, Pickerington Local School District, Ohio
Helping students share their thinking
I am in a new role this year and will serve as our elementary school's instructional facilitator of technology, and I am hoping to work with teachers to use our existing resources to create a choice board of tools students can use to show their thinking. I used something similar in my classroom and the students enjoyed having a say in how they showed what they learned.
I was lucky enough to participate in a Weston Kieschnick workshop at ISTELive 22 this summer. I was struck by his enthusiasm and knowledge about engagement. I plan on using this ATLAS Model, a simple, five-point strategy for capturing student engagement. I am almost finished with his book The Educator's ATLAS: Your Roadmap to Engagement. By the time I finish, I hope to have a solid plan to start the school year.
—Lori Marsh, district lead tech teacher CTE, Columbia Falls School District #6, Montana
Gamification to boost engagement
This year I plan to implement gamification, something I started recently and which improved student interaction increased their motivation, enthusiasm and activity. Gamification guides your entire classroom, not just one lesson or class, but throughout the semester.
It makes your teaching more fun and interesting! When teachers believe in what is being applied and are enthusiastic about it, students will be too!
—Najla Ahumairi, teacher/faculty (PK-12), Erqah School, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
On Twitter, we asked educators, "What are some edtech tools and strategies that you'll be utilizing for this upcoming school year?"
Coding for littles
I’m planning to use Pear Deck to create presentations that my students can respond to in real time, and also implement some coding apps like Scratch Jr. or Tynker with my pre-readers/beginning readers in K-1.
The first week is about KNOWING MY STUDENTS so I will use @Google forms survey, @Google slides for getting to know each other, @Google for Education Applied Digital Skills, @mentimeter for daily emotions/feelings.