Virtual School Meanderings

January 25, 2021

Resources for effective online teaching and engagement

Note these resources related to remote teaching from one of the RELs.

Whether you’re starting off 2021 teaching 100% online, in person, or a hybrid of both, McREL is ready to help you and your teaching team home in on what works best to engage students in high-quality online learning and engage families in supporting education at home.
Resources and professional learning supports
Check out some of the resources below, and contact McREL to learn more about our professional learning (PL) services for:
  • Designing lessons that spark curiosity in any setting
  • Inspiring students to engage with their learning
  • Breaking down communication barriers and partnering with families
Free Download:
Digital Lessons Learned
Despite the challenges of shifting to online school in 2020, many teachers found some bright spots, things that worked well online that can also be adapted for better in-person learning. In this free paper, McREL’s instructional coaches share ideas gathered from teachers and research on ways to engage with students and focus more deeply on their needs. Download the paper now
Free Download:
To Make Big Changes for Students, Try These Simple Shifts
Teachers can get big results with their students by making modest adjustments in their classroom practices—online and in person. In this free paper, you’ll learn seven “Simple Shifts”—changes every teacher can make to turn dodgy classroom situations into engaging learning opportunities.
Customized Professional Learning
Contact us today to learn about our professional learning and coaching services, contextualized to your school’s specific goals and needs.
  • On-demand, self-paced online courses for teachers and school leaders
  • Live online presentations and coaching sessions
  • Online “office hours” for collaborative, consultative conversations
  • Onsite PL sessions being scheduled now for fall 2021
McREL International is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization that provides professional learning services to help educators and their students flourish.
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237

January 21, 2021

Changing Schools | January newsletter

Several relevant items for readers in this REL newsletter.

January 2021
Every School Has Bright Spots It Can Build on
When our team of coaches and consultants begin working at a school, we always take an assets-oriented approach, finding what’s working well and can be replicated and built upon, supported by good evidence-based strategies and processes. Together with teachers and school leaders, we identify these bright spots, recognize them for what they are, and learn to leverage them to help launch a schoolwide journey toward improvement, engagement, innovation, and accelerated achievement.
It’s in this spirit that we launch 2021 with new resources to help schools adapt to and overcome adversity, including two white papers and a blog series that all contend online and in-person learning are not opposites. Rather, the skills and relationships you build in one format can carry over, making you even more successful in the other.
Wishing you a 2021 full of the best gifts there are: joyful, successful teaching and learning!
Bryan Goodwin, CEO, McREL International
New From McREL
Digital Lessons Learned
The switch to online learning in 2020 was a shock and a steep learning curve for us all, but many teachers also found a few good things that can endure when we return to classrooms. In this white paper, some of McREL’s school improvement coaches and consultants share how the teachers they work with have seized the digital moment to focus even more deeply on students’ needs and master techniques that will help them succeed in any format or learning environment. Download the free paper.
And in case you missed these recent publications over the holidays, our special report on student engagement, produced in collaboration with student researchers, found that students perceive teachers as caring and effective (or not) for reasons that transcend online or in-person format. And our white paper on classroom walkthroughs looked at the origins, theory, and uses of walkthroughs, and offered adaptations for online and hybrid models.
New Online PD Course
Creating the Environment for Learning is an on-demand, self-paced professional learning course for teachers that explores the key ingredients for establishing a classroom environment that supports high levels of engaged student learning. This 3-hour short-form course gives practical, research-based insights and tips for building a positive climate, setting up intentional structures for learning, engaging students with feedback that reinforces effort and nurtures growth, and more. Learn more and sign up as a team or as an individual here.
The Six-Phase Learning Model: Online Adaptability
In a blog series based on the book Learning That Sticks, Bryan Goodwin shows that the six-phase brain-based model for learning is just as applicable to remote learning as in-person. The reason? Our students’ brains absorb new information in predictable ways, regardless of where the information comes from. This means that teachers have the opportunity to look beyond computers vs. bricks-and-mortar, and instead craft lessons and activities that tap into what’s happening within students’ brains at any given moment in the learning process. Read the first two posts of the series now.
Free Webinar With New England ISTE
Get more tips and insights on how to use the six-phase model for learning to design and deliver memorable online instruction. Join New England ISTE and Bryan Goodwin on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. ET for a webinar on tools and tactics that teachers can use right away, wherever they’re teaching. Learn more and register.
Research Roundup
A selection of research news that ties into our work on leadership, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning here at McREL.
Violence and student mobility. Exposure to violence and geographic mobility can each damage student learning. A study of Baltimore students says these phenomena should not be considered in isolation: As parents seek better conditions for their children by moving them out of schools where violence has occurred, they may inadvertently be harming their chances of keeping up academically. Read the paper, which was co-authored by McREL’s Faith Connolly, in the American Educational Research Journal.
Measuring the impact of effective schools. A working paper from a team studying Chicago high schools supports a point McREL has been making for years: A school’s overall effectiveness (as opposed to a narrow focus on just test scores) can significantly impact all students’ achievement, but especially for those students who enter school less educationally advantaged. Download the paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
General education teachers need ESL support. Specialists are a great resource, but they can’t be solely responsible for helping multilingual students acquire English. Much of that learning happens in general education classrooms, yet most novice teachers feel unprepared for this part of the job, according to a paper in the Journal of Teacher Education. Read the study and if you’re in need of professional learning related to teaching English learners, consider McREL’s online PD course Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners: Student Learning Strategies and the book it’s based on, Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners. Both are designed for general classroom teachers and ESL specialists alike.
Autonomy as key to academic engagement. Scholars are keen to learn what leads students to feel engaged with academic work so that teachers can develop strategies based on this insight. A new Taiwanese study identifies a precursor to engagement in eighth graders that could be useful: nurturing students’ autonomy, which helps them contribute more to their own success. Read the paper in The Journal of Educational Research and for more on student engagement, McREL has published several free white papers recently related to this topic.
Grant Opportunities for Schools, Districts, and State Systems
Every month we compile this list of current and upcoming grant opportunities that schools might use to fund a variety of improvement efforts. If you need cost-effective assistance with planning and writing an application proposal for any of these grants, contact us at info@mcrel.org. And if your grant project requires an external evaluation, we can be your partner.
Common abbreviations: institutions of higher education (IHEs); local education agencies (LEAs); and state education agencies (SEAs).
Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES)
The INCLUDES program seeks collaborative efforts to enhance preparation of, increase participation in, and ensure contributions from historically underrepresented and underserved groups in STEM, which will lead to new STEM talent and leadership to secure our nation’s future and long-term economic competitiveness. These grants can range from $1M to $2M per year. Letters of intent were due Oct. 5, and applications are due Jan. 26, 2021. Learn more.
Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Improving Retention of Special Education Teachers and Early Intervention Personnel
This program aims to help SEAs and Part C lead agencies in their efforts to (1) address state-identified needs for personnel preparation in special education, early intervention, related services, and regular education to work with children, including infants and toddlers, and youth with disabilities; and (2) ensure that those personnel have the necessary skills and knowledge, derived from practices determined through scientifically based research, to be successful in serving those children. These grants can range from $700,000 to 750,000 for up to 36 months. Applications are due Feb. 9, 2021. Learn more.
Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) SEA Grants
This program aims to build or expand the capacity of SEAs, in partnership with mental health agencies overseeing school-aged youth, and with three LEAs to (1) increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth; (2) provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues; and (3) connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues, and their families, to needed services. These grants can be for up to $1.8M per year for up to five years. Applications are due Feb. 15, 2021. Learn more.
Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Education Policy and Practice
Through this grant program, the National Center on Education Research (NCER) will focus resources and attention on specific education problems or issues that are a high priority for the nation, and establish both a structure and process for researchers who are working on these issues to share ideas, build new knowledge, and strengthen their research and dissemination capacity. Under this competition, NCER will consider only applications that address one of the following topics: (1) Adult Skills Network, which includes Network Lead and Research Teams; and (2) Digital Learning Platforms Network, which includes Network Lead and Platform Development Teams. These grants can range from $1M to $3.8M for up to five years depending on the chosen topic and role. Applications are due Feb. 25, 2021. Contact us for more information.
Transformative Research in the Education Sciences
Through this grant program, NCER will support innovative or unconventional research that has the potential to lead to new scientific paradigms, new and more effective approaches to education practice or policy, or transformative technologies that substantially increase learner outcomes. Under this competition, NCER will consider only applications that demonstrate the potential to produce a major impact in an area relevant to the Institute’s mission through innovative or unconventional research. These grants can range from $500,000 to $3M for up to five years. Applications are due Feb. 25, 2021. Contact us for more information.
WE’RE HIRING!
As a growing organization, we’re expanding our team of educators, researchers, project managers, and communicators to provide supports and services to more schools, districts, and education agencies. Interested in joining our team? Check out these current openings on the McREL careers page:
  • Managing Researcher (Honolulu)
  • Research Director (Honolulu)
  • Research Associate (Denver)
  • Researcher (Denver)
CONTACT US TODAY
Learn more about how our coaching, professional learning, and analysis services can help your school or system reach its goals.
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005

January 20, 2021

REL Webinar: Helping Young English Learners at Home

A regional education laboratory event that may be of interest to those engaged in remote teaching.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Helping Young English Learners at Home

Join REL WestREL Northwest, and REL Northeast & Islands for a free webinar designed for district and school staff who work with English learner students in grades K–5 and their families.

The webinar will—

Helping Young English Learners at Home: Simple and Fun Activities to Strengthen Language Development
February 3, 2021
3:00-4:30 p.m. PT
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

January 14, 2021

REL Webinar: Addressing Collective Trauma and Supporting the Well-being of Students and School Staff

This is webinar that isn’t really focused on the theme of this blog, but I think is important and I wanted to pass this along to readers.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Addressing Collective Trauma and Supporting the Well-being of Students and School Staff

COVID-19 and racial inequities are unfortunate realities that can lead to student trauma. This webinar will define and discuss collective trauma and provide educators with research-based and promising strategies to support student and staff social-emotional well-being in schools.

Join REL Southwest for a free webinar on collective trauma in the current contexts of COVID-19 and social injustice. In this interactive webinar presenters will discuss collective trauma and how it may affect staff and students. Afterward, participants will join a breakout session to explore one of the following:

  1. four-step model for working through collective trauma, particularly racial trauma
  2. a session to learn how integrating trauma-sensitive strategies and social-emotional learning (SEL) can support a holistic approach to meeting student and staff needs

Participants will—

  • Gain a better understanding of the definition and effects of collective trauma among adults and children
  • Become aware of the research base and evidence of the effects of collective trauma among adults and children
  • Understand how to engage in solutions-based discussions and collective reflection on community trauma related to social injustice and inequity
  • Understand how designing approaches that integrate trauma-sensitive strategies and SEL can help address collective trauma and inequity

This webinar is designed for a broad national audience of principals, instructional coaches, teachers, district staff, and state education staff.

Addressing Collective Trauma and Supporting the Well-being of Students and School Staff
January 21, 2021
3:00–4:45 p.m. Central Time
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

January 8, 2021

REL Southeast Director’s Email—January 2021

A newsletter from one of the regional education laboratories.

View this email in your browser

REL Southeast

Director’s Email

January 2021

Greetings from the REL Southeast,

We hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and are getting recharged for a brand new year. In our ever-changing educational landscape, the staff and researchers of the REL Southeast remain committed to providing our stakeholders with relevant and rigorous resources. This month we would like to share two new products: the Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy website, and an audio file regarding personalized learning and student ownership during virtual learning. We look forward to sharing more resources with you in the future, and as always, thank you for helping to improve education.

Dr. John Hughes
Director, REL Southeast

Product Spotlight


New REL Toolkit for Facilitating a Professional Learning Community on Emergent Literacy

Emergent Literacy PLC cover imageREL Southeast, in collaboration with the REL Southeast School Readiness Partnership, has developed a Professional Learning Community facilitator’s toolkit centered around emergent literacy. The toolkit is designed to engage preschool teachers in collaborative learning experiences to support implementation of evidence-based language and literacy strategies that, in turn, can benefit children.

Using the Facilitator Guide and accompanying suite of materials, a facilitator will lead a team of preschool teachers through Professional Learning Community sessions. The toolkit includes four modules: Print Knowledge, Phonological Awareness, Vocabulary, and Oral Language. Each module comprises the following:

  • Facilitator Guide that includes a structured plan to deliver professional learning, slides, and speaker notes
  • PowerPoint Presentation that includes slides to project during each PLC session
  • Authentic Classroom Videos of preschool teachers implementing evidence-based language and literacy instructional practices (embedded in the slides)
  • Participant Guide that includes the emergent literacy content, activities, and resources for participating preschool teachers

Explore the toolkit here.

Product Spotlight


Personalized Learning and Student Ownership During Virtual Learning

Audio file iconAs the need for remote instruction persists, it is essential that schools and districts implement lessons learned to improve upon its delivery. Educators must learn quickly to mitigate the widespread and detrimental impacts of inequitable and ineffective virtual learning practices by rapidly iterating on lessons learned to improve distance learning implementation and outcomes.

This audio file shares the work that partners of the REL Southeast are doing to engage students in personalized learning with an emphasis on students’ ownership of their learning during virtual instruction. It consists of a question-and-answer format featuring the principal, a teacher, and a student from Tri-County Early College High School. Guests answer questions about lessons they have learned for effectively engaging students in online learning, especially when relationships with their teachers have not been established, increasing student ownership of learning, and cultivating intrinsic motivation in a remote space.

Listen to the audio file here.

Ask A REL

Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 regional educational laboratories (REL) that by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. It provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations on research-based education questions.

To submit your question to Ask A REL, click here. Explore Ask A REL responses here.

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Our mailing address is:

REL Southeast at Florida State University

2010 Levy Avenue
Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32310

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