Virtual School Meanderings

January 16, 2021

Register for January’s Great Teachers in Action Sessions

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 11:01 pm
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An item from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Free professional learning workshops led by teachers, for teachers


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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Registration is open for FREE Great Teachers in Action PD sessions on January 25
  • Join Fielding International for its 3-part Equity Series
  • Volunteer as a judge or moderator for the Virtual RI High School Ethics Bowl 
  • Amplify offers free pilot access & resources to RI districts

Registration Now Open: Free Virtual Workshops on January 25

Monday, January 25 is the next professional development day on the statewide calendar for Rhode Island schools. Join us, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Education, for our third round of the Great Teachers in Action series, a yearlong project highlighting the best practices of RI District Teachers of the Year and Fuse RI Fellows. Learn more about the 3 sessions & register through the links below.

Session 1: The Student-Centered Math Classroom, facilitated by Chuck Branchaud (Coventry) & Lisa Garcia (North Kingstown) from 1:00-2:00PM. 

Playlists offer students an opportunity to learn at their own pace while developing valuable real-world competencies for future success. Teachers using playlists create more time to connect with individual students or small groups, while targeting those interactions specifically to what the student(s) need. In this session, you will have the chance to engage through the perspective of a student exploring a playlist for an Algebra 2 online lesson and later engage in a discussion centered around what can work for your in your own classroom, tomorrow.

Session 2: Engaging Students Here, There, and Everywhere, facilitated by Kayla Brimlow (North Kingstown) & Darshell Silva (Providence) from 2:00-3:00PM

In this session, we plan to share different tools and strategies to engage students in their learning regardless of where the learning takes place. These tools and strategies can be used across all content areas. Our hope is you leave with something new you learned or something you already knew but learned more about that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.

Session 3: Teaching High Level Vocabulary using TPR (Total Physical Response), facilitated by Melinda DeCorte (Pawtucket) & Carrie Champlin Sorensen (Hamilton School at Wheeler) from 2:00-3:00PM

In this session, participants will explore how to leverage Total Physical Response (TPR) with their students. TPR is a method of teaching language or vocabulary concepts by using physical movements to make students physically involved in the learning, thus enabling easier comprehension to the new terms. TPR strategy is useful for all learners but specifically helpful to Multilingual Learners and students with specific learning and reading needs. With TPR, students can easily recognize a new word’s meaning by connecting it with an action.

From Other Organizations

Join Fielding International for its 3-Part Equity Series

Designing equitable learning means cultivating ecosystems in schools and across communities where every person is seen, heard, valued, and loved. It means dismantling historical injustices, building trusting relationships, and honoring every person’s unique gifts to contribute to an equity movement – in education and throughout society.

Registration is for all three sessions – join for whatever you can. Each 90 minute session starts at 12:00 p.m. EST

  • Session 1: MLK Day, January 18, 2021 with Karla Vigil (The Equity Institute) & Kaleb Rashad (Center for Love and Justice at High Tech High GSE)
  • Session 2: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 with Michael Lipset & Tony Simmons (both High School for Recording Arts)
  • Session 3: Thursday, February 4, 2021 with Alexis Gwin-Miller (Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope) & Carlos Moreno (Big Picture Learning)

Seeking: Virtual Ethics Bowl Judges & Moderators 

The 5th annual Rhode Island High School Ethics Bowl Tournament will be held online on Sunday, January 31. Each year, we invite members of the community to take part during the event. As a judge or moderator, you will have the chance to listen to high school students from across the state discuss scenarios and explore the ethical questions they present. A judge’s role in the ethics bowl is to gauge a team’s breadth and depth of thought as applied to a specific ethics case. The role of moderator is especially important, since you will be relied upon to “run the room” for the matches to which you are assigned. Brief training will be provided to help explain how to evaluate a team’s performance in combination with the score sheet and scoring criteria or how to run the match. Interested individuals should fill out the quick Google Form linked here. You can reach us at or contact point-person Derek Bowman directly at

Rhode Island Pilot Access & Resources 

From now until June, Amplify Reading is providing any interested Rhode Island school district free digital access to our platform. In addition, we have created a Rhode Island-specific website listing all our high quality curriculum offerings. We are proud to be chosen by the Rhode Island Department of Education as a high-quality curriculum publisher. Equitable access to high-quality curriculum and professional learning based on the science of reading, and culturally responsible resources are important initiatives in Rhode Island and at Amplify.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

January 9, 2021

Starting 2021 with a Message of Support

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:07 pm
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An item from a US-based blended learning organization.

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

A Message of Support

Wednesday, January 6 began with news about the historic Georgia run-off election led by Stacey Abrams and many other Black organizers. The day ended with a domestic terror attack bolstered by Trump and enabled by the police. The historic context of this moment is important, as we’ve seen time and time again that Black advancement and power is consistently met with violent white rage.

We want to acknowledge the pain and distress many of us are feeling. We know many of you who read this newsletter are teachers or are supporting teachers as they try to make sense of how to address the insurrection with students. Here is a link to the list of resources started by Malika Ali, our Director of Pedagogy, that includes articles, questions, and ideas that we hope are helpful. We also wanted to highlight this robust guide created and distributed by our colleagues at the organization Generation Citizen.

We are grateful to be in community with you all. We remain committed to the importance of open conversation and the value of teaching and learning as an antidote to fear. Please reach out if there’s anything you need.

– The Highlander Institute Team

January 6, 2021

A New Year’s Message from TLA

A quick message to end the day.

Collage of students families teachers
Education changes the world.
Every child deserves an equitable, effective, and engaging education to reach their full and unique potential.
We are deeply grateful for the students, educators, families, guardians, health practitioners, and others who persevered through extraordinary challenges towards this vision in 2020.
We are excited to partner with you to build a better, more resilient future for all in 2021.
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The Learning Accelerator | 103 Roaring Brook RoadPortland, ME 04103

December 25, 2020

Season’s Greetings

The fourth season greeting for today.

Happy Holidays 2020

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

Wishing you all happy holidays & a much better New Year from the Highlander Institute team!

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

December 12, 2020

Extending Our Gratitude

A newsletter from a US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Thank you to those who make our work possible

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Thank you to our Giving Tuesday donors!
  • Spotlights on our Mission Sponsors: Edgenuity, IXL Learning, and Newsela
  • Diversity Talks is now hiring for Chief of Staff & Curriculum Specialist positions
  • New book release: Humanizing Distance Learning by Paul Emerich France

Extending Our Gratitude

We want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who supported us during this year’s Giving Tuesday appeal. Your donations make it possible for us to provide free and low cost supports to educators, schools, and districts each day. Your financial support allows us to share our learning widely and push on systems to become more equitable, adaptive, and liberatory for all learners.

Today, we shine a light on three amazing companies that have stood by us through this challenging year. Our Mission Sponsors provide us with generous levels of financial support which we in turn use to power programming such as our free and low cost webinars, Spotlight Series of resources, events, and more. During these difficult times, companies such as Edgenuity, IXL Learning, and Newsela are going above and beyond, ensuring that educators utilizing in-person, hybrid, and distance learning models are able to provide high-quality, culturally relevant, and differentiated content for students.  Read on to discover what our Mission Sponsors have been up to this year.

Edgenuity has been busy supporting new and existing clients as they navigate the challenges of hybrid and remote learning for the new school year. It has never been clearer that rigorous and aligned digital curriculum has been a game changer for many districts. However, the most important asset behind the tools supporting any new learning model has and always will be teachers. Students continue to need consistent check-ins and support to be successful. Edgenuity understands that the social and emotional well-being of students and teachers is more at-risk than ever before.  If any school or district is looking for a CASEL-aligned Social and Emotional Learning program that can be offered within a synchronous or asynchronous model, please visit this link for additional information.

Edgenuity wishes to thank all of the educators who are working tirelessly to support students, families, and local communities. We wish you all a healthy and safe holiday season

IXL Learning is a leading educational technology company on a big mission: delivering an immersive learning experience to all students, in all grades and subjects, in schools and homes worldwide. In the new year, IXL continues to share free professional learning opportunities for educators. Here’s a glimpse at one of the exciting upcoming events – make sure you save the date!

A Path to Post-Pandemic Success: One District Leader’s Plan for Personalized Learning: Supporting students with personalized instruction is an ongoing challenge during a normal school year. Add a pandemic to the mix, and it can seem an impossible task. But Director of Curriculum Dr. Gregg McGough and his team at Columbia Borough School District have developed a three-pronged approach that allows them to reach all students at the right level at the right time no matter where they’re learning. Join Dr. McGough at 1pm on Wednesday, January 27, for this webinar hosted by IXL Learning to hear about the district’s success so far this year and how their flexible plan will continue to support students during the transition back to the classroom and beyond. Register today!  

Newsela believes that every teacher should have accessible, standards-aligned content that excites at their fingertips so they can focus on what matters with their students – inspiring a love of learning for life. Newsela content is authentic, accessible, active, aligned, and accountable. Check out their newest Black Lives Matter free resources for anti-racist teaching.

This week, Newsela partnered with Turnaround for Children on a webinar featuring TFC’s CEO Dr. Pam Cantor to discuss How to Surmount Uncertainty, Reduce Stress and Ignite Learning. Newsela maintains a robust archive of webinar recordings, so you can also watch a previous session with Highlander Institute’s own Director of Pedagogy Malika Ali.

Are you interested in learning more about how your district is motivating students during the COVID crisis?  Take this engagement quiz.

From Other Organizations

Now Hiring: Chief of Staff & Curriculum Specialist

Join the Diversity Talks team! We currently have two open positions for a March 2021 start date.

Chief of Staff Responsibilities:

  • Serve as the key liaison between the Diversity Talks team and the CEO.
  • Help shape the direction of Diversity Talks through continuous thought partnership with the CEO.
  • Ensure effective recruiting, onboarding, professional development, performance management, and retention of staff.
  • Create and maintain cross-departmental relationships to ensure Diversity Talks’ success.
  • Oversee large, cross functional organization-wide projects and initiatives.
  • Monitor performance and establish corrective measures as needed.

Curriculum Specialist Responsibilities:

  • Establish a national presence for Diversity Talks by developing a certified anti-racist curricula.
  • Provide ongoing coaching & support to classroom educators receiving Diversity Talks professional development.
  • Conduct routine classroom observations on an ongoing basis.
  • Develop a classroom playbook as a supplemental resource for Diversity Talks programming.
  • Shift society’s narrative of youth of color by using asset-based language in all efforts.

Humanizing Distance Learning

“In some ways, shouldn’t we always be teaching from a distance?” Paul France asks this not as pitch for distance learning. But because part of the reason distance learning has been so challenging, Paul asserts, is that we’re replicating long-standing practices that promote dependent learning in our students. Why not use this unique moment of time to reconnect with the true purpose of teaching: to help our students become liberated learners and free thinkers?

“The future,” Paul writes, “may be unclear, the road may be rocky, and the story may continue to be long and winding as we push forward through this global crisis. But the answer will always be simple: We must teach and learn in pursuit of a deeper sense of collective humanity—and for no other reason.” Learn more about the new book Humanizing Distance Learning: Centering Equity and Humanity in Times of Crisis through the link below.

Highlander Institute thanks our Mission Sponsors for their generous support:

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