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Administrators' Digest

June 2018 (Vol. 9, No.6)

Newsela PRO Offers a Great Licensing Deal for WIOA-funded Adult Education Agencies (Pssst: It is a 50% savings!)

Over the past year, OTAN has partnered with Newsela to provide a pilot for WIOA-funded adult education agencies to use Newsela PRO for a full year. During that time, over 175 teachers signed up for the pilot project.

Through surveys and other data sources, teachers saw significant use of Newsela PRO by learners not only for reading leveled informational texts, but also to build close reading strategies using embedded annotations to interact directly with the text. Additionally, Newsela's standards-aligned quizzes and real-time reporting provide teachers with insight into students' reading behavior, allowing them to deliver targeted and differentiated instruction.

Because of the success of both teachers and learners using Newsela PRO, Newsela is pleased to offer a very special offer to all WIOA-funded adult education agencies. This special half-price rate will be available for one full academic year. Interested agencies must contact Newsela directly through Jacob Zachs, Senior Sales Representative, jacob.zachs@newsela.com  – call 860-345-1160 or set up an appointment. Teachers currently participating in the OTAN Newsela PRO pilot project will receive an invitation to participate in this special offer directly from Newsela PRO. The current license for the teachers in the pilot will expire on 6/30/2018. Teachers should contact their administrators about taking advantage of this offer before the expiration date to ensure continued access to Newsela PRO. New agencies taking advantage of the offer will start new licenses on July 1, 2018.

How to Buy AV: 6 Keys to Consider

Today’s presentation displays are far more high-tech than the overhead projectors and transparencies of the past. And while this technology seems to be moving at light speed, it is imperative for school administrators to step back and review their classroom needs to ensure the technology they purchase today works well? for both students and teachers and takes into consideration for unique classroom environments.

What should you consider when you’re in the market for new classroom AV? Here's a six-point checklist to walk you through the process.

Display size. You need a large display to make sure all students can easily see content. Our district uses a 100-inch display size. If the display size is too small, students will struggle, especially those in the back of the classroom.

Brightness. The Society for Information Display made color light output a new specification to consider in 2012, so look at both the white brightness and color light brightness specifications. An additional light-related consideration is the amount of ambient light in your classrooms.

Software and device compatibility. Like many districts, our district previously had a hodge-podge of presentation displays, which meant we had groups of teachers who were proficient on different interactive software. Additionally, we are rolling out a one-to-one initiative that allows schools to choose one of four devices for their users. Finding a presentation solution that was device and software agnostic was critical.

Interactivity. This will depend on how classrooms are used. If your district is doing more interactive lessons, make interactivity a priority. If classes are using displays just for video or text content, a non-interactive presentation solution may be ideal.

Installation. Where you plan on installing the presentation solution may influence what you purchase. While flat panels are relatively easy to install, it limits how you can use the wall on which it is installed. If wall space is limited in your classrooms, a projector is ideal because you can project onto a whiteboard and use the whiteboard when the projector is not in use, thus enabling multi-use wall space.

Warranties and replacement policies. Sometimes technology fails. Read the manufacturer’s replacement policy and look for perks such as free overnight shipping and advance replacement -- both will help you get your classroom back to normal faster.

Source: SmartBrief

Tips for Getting Started with Blended Learning

  1. Enter with the right perspective. 
    The key word that people miss in blended Learning is “blended.” Technology will not replace the great work you already do in your classroom. It should reduce the mundane, repeatable tasks that bog down your class time. Technology helps us become better teachers by identifying needs instantaneously and reducing wait time for valuable academic feedback.
  2. Start with Google Classroom. 
    Google Classroom is easy to set up and lets you send materials and instructions to your learners immediately. Also, most educational apps connect with Google Classroom to import rosters and post assignments. Start simple; post your daily agenda only on Google Classroom and make it part of your students’ entrance routine to check for the agenda and a “Do Now” activity online.
  3. Investigate different learning models. 
    Blended learning is going to look different in every classroom since each teacher will blend technology in their own way. Assess your comfort level by looking at some models used in successful classrooms. Check out: 
    • Station Rotation: Great when device availability is limited. Learners rotate through stations that include small-group instruction, collaborative paper-and-pencil tasks, and independent practice on the computer.
    • Flex Model : Learners work through content and course material online while the teacher takes the roll of facilitator and guide. In the flex model, learners are in charge of content and material.
    • Flipped Classroom : Learners access new concepts at home for homework while class time is freed up for hands-on learning and guided practice.
  4. Assign something. 
    Get started by giving learners a list of online assignments in the form of a playlist  or hyperdoc . Playlists and hyperdocs flip the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the students in the form of a self-paced list of assignments and resources. This frees the teacher to help individual students and provide more meaningful instruction in small groups.
  5. Ask for help. 
    Don’t be afraid to ask for help from administration, coaches, and other teachers who are successful in blending their classrooms. Remember, you’re just getting started. Keep in mind that technology shouldn’t be used just for technology’s sake—everything you do should be for the benefit of your students.

Source: eSchool News 

Four Digital Tools for Teacher Mentors

Remember how nerve wracking your first day, week, month or year of teaching was? If you could only go back and share what you know.

Unfortunately, we can't go back in time. We can, however, provide better assistance to new teachers, thanks to a number of digital tools now available. These technologies make mentoring first-year teachers a smoother, more efficient, and beneficial process. They support better communicating, demonstrating and critiquing, both synchronously and asynchronously. Here are four teacher-tested favorites:

Flipgrid is a video discussion platform used by millions of K-12 and college students across the globe. The platform lets mentors and mentees share daily reflections with each other, without having to be in the same room or building. By posing a prompt, the educator can share their thoughts, ideas, struggles, and questions via video with their coach. Mentors can, in turn, respond with feedback and suggestions asynchronously.

Slack is a communication platform that offers real-time messaging and information sharing. Teachers and their mentors can use it to connect, discuss issues, exchange content and build a workflow. You can connect directly with a specific user or user group. You can also create "channels" in the system, around specific topics. For instance, an educator can post a question or ask for assistance on a lesson or topic via a channel. Mentors receive notification and can respond with text, audio recording, or even video. If you're mentoring several educators, you can set up a channel for the whole group. This is a great way to brainstorm on best practices or get feedback on classroom challenges.

Google Hangouts is another communication platform. You can use it for SMS messaging as well as phone and video calls. It is cross-platform and device agnostic. Google Hangouts can help mentors work with educators who are spread out among various locations—and using different devices and operating systems. The videoconferencing feature lets users see each other and screen-sharing capabilities let them exchange content and lessons. Now, reviewing or demonstrating is possible from any location. Set up appointments in Google Calendar and add a video conference to the invite. If videoconferencing is not convenient, teachers and coaches can communicate using the platform's chat feature.

Hoonuit offers analytic tools and professional learning modules for educators. The professional-learning modules are available on a subscription basis. Mentees learn and demonstrate understanding through the platform's learning framework "Learn It, Do It, Share It, and Prove It." At the end of a module, educators receive a certificate of completion that they can use for professional growth credit.You were chosen to be a mentor because you have demonstrated the ability to be an effective classroom teacher, a great trainer of teachers, and understand how to personalize learning for your mentees. These digital tools can help support your efforts and the growth of your educator peers.

Source: SmartBrief

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.