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The Just ASK Team joins with the novice teachers you are working so hard to support in saying thanks so much for your efforts to ensure there is a fully qualified and satisfied teacher in every classroom, be it virtual, hybrid, or traditional.

We feature this month my own list of favorite digital tools and web resources. Please take a few minutes to read through that list and see which one or two might be just what those you are mentoring could best use right now. Several Just ASK Team members shared their lists with one another in October and we all found it an engaging, enlightening, and informative experience. Add your “go-to“ digital resources to the list found here and ask other colleagues to do the same. The results will be amazing!


Paula’s Top Ten List of Digital Tools and Web Resources
(With an Eye on Equity, Engagement, and Empowerment)

Edutopia is high on my list because it hosts tons of short accessible articles as well as some great short video clips.  Some are clearly better than others, but generally speaking, they are well worth the scroll. For sure, you do not have to worry about outlandish claims and bait and switch approaches so common on ed tech sites. Let’s hear it for the George Lucas Foundation!

Zoom Breakout Rooms
I have heard rave reviews about Zoom’s Breakout Rooms from students and parents… that is a really good thing! I have to admit that I have not myself “broken out” but have complete faith in the importance and ease of doing such a process. Why? As Vicky Davis writes on Edutopia that “When students knew we were using breakout rooms, attendance was significantly higher. As in the physical classroom, the online classroom must be collaborative.”  

This tool is owned by Microsoft and is free; it is a great tool for recording class conversations. Kelly Gallagher’s students at Magnolia High School in Anaheim, California, and Penny Kittle’s students at Kennett High School in New Hampshire had a transcontinental book club using Flipgard

You can, at no cost, join #GridPals  and have your students connect with students in other classrooms nearby or far away.

Vicky Davis also writes on Edutopia about a Sherwood Christian Academy fifth-grade teacher, Jill Johnson, who used Flipgrid to record her students presenting their learning in a video titled “Famous People in History- A Wax Museum. The students researched historical figures and then dressed as them in their brief presentations.
View www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqTecavlbM4. 

Equity Maps
This iPad app costs $1.99 for 20 students. It allows teachers to track who talks, record gender, ethnicity, or other information and see data on talk time, the number of times a student talks, and patterns of who converses with whom.

Vicki Davis writes on Edutopia “I started out using Equity Maps without showing students the results, although I told them what I was doing. Then, I began to show it on the board and asked the class to make sure everyone was included in the conversation. Our class goal was “an equitable conversation where everyone contributes.” When we completed a conversation, we discussed the patterns.”

75 Digital Tools and Apps Teachers Can Use to Support Formative Assessment in the Classroom.
This blog post from NWEA is amazing. I certainly have not seen all of them in action but hold NWEA in high regard and include the link in the 3rd edition of Why Didn’t I Learn This in College?

Khan Academy
What can I say except that our four college-age grands are still using this site, especially for math and science support. Sal is like part of the family!

Smart Phones
This digital tool has much to offer in terms of communication: regular phone calls, emails, texts, WhatsApp video calls, Internet searches, camera, Facetime, Messenger, audio and video recording, podcasts, streaming services, QR Codes, access to a zillion apps, etc. In the interest of equity, a recent Pew Research report says that 97% of households have at least one smart phone. Why in the world wouldn’t smart phones be at the top of our list of favorite digital tools?

Ki Sung is the senior editor of this PBS/NPR station’s weekly email newsletter on education titled Mindshift and co-host of related podcasts also titled Mindshift. Both can be somewhat provocative but certainly cause me to think deeply about how equity issues and racism impact teaching and learning. (I know Ki Sung’s name because it appears in my inbox each week.)
www.kqed.org/mindshift and www.kqed.org/podcasts/mindshift 

Television makes all the sense in the world to me because there are so many TVs in homes and no Internet connectivity is required to access the programs. An article titled “Public Media Education Resources in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic” provides a state by state listing of collaborative efforts to provide educational resources aligned with state standards.

A related digital tool is ChromeCast which allows users to cast whatever is on their computer screens onto their television screens. We know this tool well because we use it for Zoom Happy Hours; we simply place the camera on top of the TV, pour our drinks, and settle in our comfy chairs. There is NO need to stare at a small screen all day! Another way to cast the picture is to connect your computer to your television with a HDMI cable. For example, I just led an over three-hour Zoom meeting and having participants and their visual artifacts displayed on my TV screen made a ton of difference. (If you have a Smart TV, it connects with the Internet without extra tools… just program the TV!)


A Few of the Just ASK Team’s
Favorite Blogs, Newsletters, and Podcasts


Be sure to check out the Mentor’s November 2020 Calendar
It has been updated to reflect our current ever-changing realities.


Distance Learning Collection

The Just ASK Team has written new articles and updated some older ones as 2.0 versions to support our many colleagues who are tasked  during the 2020-2021 school year with creating positive and productive learning experiences from a distance and/or in hybrid environments that are ever evolving. We will continue to add to this collection and hope that you find it useful in your challenging work. Please feel free to share with colleagues near and far, and do be sure to check back often to access newly posted articles.

Click here to access the collection


Best wishes for a relaxing and rejuvenating Thanksgiving break,




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