Bullis teachers redesign lessons to keep collaboration alive and engage all learners – whether face-to-face or remote.
By Stacey Roshan, Director of Innovation and Educational Technology
How can we create a safe learning environment for all students to find their voice and build their confidence? At Bullis, we have been looking at ways to infuse technology into our lesson design for years to address this essential question and so much more. We can embrace educational technology (edtech) to create more equitable and empowering classrooms for all the unique types of learners we have in our classrooms.
If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to educational technology at Bullis, you can watch this video – Empathy in EdTech: How We Are Transforming Learning at Bullis.
We leverage technology to:
- hear from every student in the room,
- shine the spotlight on the multiple approaches students are using to answer questions,
- better understand full class and individual student needs,
- develop even deeper relationships in our classes, and
- give students a creative outlet to demonstrate their understandings.
That doesn’t even touch on accessibility, like the option for students to click a button to have a page read aloud to them at the speed they need.
I’m going to highlight three tools here that have been most helpful during our remote and hybrid learning and then share examples of how teachers have creatively leveraged these tools in the past year. Though these tools have been a lifeline in this unusual year, they will continue to be a part of our classrooms far beyond this year. In fact, nearly all of the edtech tools that we turned to during remote and hybrid learning were tools that we were already using at Bullis.
Three key edtech tools I will highlight –
- Flipgrid - video discussions
Goal: to allow students to contribute to a virtual, asynchronous discussion via video response
- Kami - document annotation & markup tool
Goal: to allow teachers & students to engage in a collaborative dialogue through marking up any document with rich editing tools such as voice & video comments, drawing, and more
- Pear Deck - make presentations interactive
Goal: to increase in-class participation & engagement; student-paced mode can be used for differentiation & homework
Flipgrid is a video discussion board. You can think of it a bit like Facebook in that it is threaded discussions, but here, students press a record button right on the platform to record a video response with their laptop or phone. As you can see from the examples in the slideshow, teachers have used Flipgrid for so many types of activities – from nature walks to presentations to peer critiques to participating in a global read aloud.
Kami is a tool that allows us to mark up any PDF or Google Document with rich media – including rich text, comments, audio, video, and even screen recordings right in this one Kami document. Kami is a collaborative tool that works just like a Google Doc in terms of students being able to work together, in real-time. And it’s all backed up in Google Drive so that changes are auto-saved and work can’t be lost. Additionally, Kami has rich accessibility tools built in that allow students to have any PDF read aloud at a playback speed that best fits their needs, a built in dictionary, and more. Both teachers and students can add text, voice, and video notes directly to any PDF, all with one tool.
Pear Deck allows teachers to build interactivity to any Google Slides presentation. Students then engage with the questions from their own device -- either in instructor-paced mode for full class discussion or student-paced mode for assignments and homework. Instead of only one student having a chance to share their thoughts by raising their hand or calling out, all students have a chance to respond with Pear Deck. In this way, we can hear from every student in the room. The teacher can view responses in real-time, which informs both individual and full class needs. For students who need more time to process or who might be quieter, their best response might be whatever they type in Pear Deck. For those students who are more vocal, their voice might shine when we bring the conversation to the board and engage in that oral discussion. Pear Deck provides all students a chance to formulate a response and share their ideas with the class, whether or not they choose to raise their hand.
If we empower students with the resources they need
and coach them through the process of using these tools,
then students can take ownership for their learning.
And that's where the magic happens!