Getting to the Core
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Richard Bacolor: Alright. Hello everybody, my name is Rich Bacolor. I'm a science consultant for Wayne RESA and I'm here on the line today with Kristi Hanby math consultant. Hi, Kristi.
Kristi Hanby: Rich.
Richard Bacolor: And also our ELA consultant Michelle Wagner. Hi, Michelle.
Michelle Wagner: Hi, Rich.
Richard Bacolor: You guys, one of the things that I miss most about working with you guys is actually being able to walk into your office or down the hall and have a conversation. And so, I'm really appreciate you guys jumping on the lunch hour conversation. With me today and we're going to have a little chat about the distance learning playbook. So, before we get started into that. I was wondering, you know, we're all teachers and we're all parents as well. So just as a little check. And I'm wondering if you could tell us a little bit about how your experience has been going in the distance learning space as a parent, and as a teacher.
Kristi Hanby: So, I can start I think probably what a lot of people were experiencing the in the in the spring was That there was this initial excitement at least my students are older, or my kiddos are older. So, they had some excitement when they first got sent home from school, but that ain't it pretty quickly. There wasn't a lot of pressure in the spring. And so, there wasn't. Awesome. There was just wasn't a lot of stress in the spring. I think it wasn't working very well, but everybody knew that and they were okay with it. This school years been quite a bit different. I think my kids had some expectations of things being better and to some extent they are. There's a lot more structure. There's routine. There's a lot more organization. I do think that some of their frustrations that were frustrations in the face to face environment are actually amplified in the virtual setting. So, like, not wanting to do, for example, repetitious math problems are searching for definitions and text. It wasn't something they enjoyed in the face to face environment and in a virtual setting. I think that those frustrations have become even more amplified so I just think that they want to be more creative and inventive than that and there isn't any sort of structure that says to them, you have to keep persevering on this. It's easier frustrated and walk away.
Richard Bacolor: That's interesting. And I, my kids are also a little bit older, I have two college age kids and you know they experienced the same thing. Where they're really interested in the classes they're taking because they have complete control over that. But they would really like to have a little bit more engagement in terms of how the material is or how they're experiencing the material. So, Michelle. What about you,
Michelle Wagner: So, I concur with Kristi. There's definitely much more structure this fall, than there was in the spring. I also I have little ones. And so, there's definitely less fear and uncertainty in terms of what's going to happen tomorrow. I think when all of this started my son, in particular, who was in second grade didn't understand why. Suddenly he couldn't see his teacher couldn't see his classmates. And I think that now this has been going on long enough, where he understands kind of where we are in terms of Just the pandemic in general. And so, there's less fear in that way. But I also think it's really hard for the little ones to get into a routine because they can't anticipate what tomorrow will be especially If they're hybrid. So, my children are hybrid. So, some days they're learning from home and Sunday to go to school. And it's never it's never consistent enough to feel like they're in a routine where they know what's happening next. So that's been really strange. And then the final thing I'd say is really hard, even for me is that the lines are so blurred now between home and school and there's not that clear cut. It's 330 we're done with school. School kind of stretches throughout the evening as well and Yes, there are lots of breaks. No one's consistently looking at a computer screen for seven hours. However, there's that looming pressure of I've got to get this assignment in before tomorrow.
Richard Bacolor: Yeah, it's funny you mentioned that the idea of routines, because I in my neighborhood. There are a number of little kids and I can always tell when they're on break. Because they come running out of their houses and run around the neighborhood, and then you know 10 minutes later they go back inside and It's, it's pretty weird to see that as a, you know, an effect of the pandemic and teaching and learning in that space. But so, the playbook that we got from Fisher fry and Addie well known researchers You know, is based on some observations, they made back in the spring. I think they interviewed something like 70 different teachers. So we should say there's a little caveat to this, that, and you guys have mentioned this already that What occurred in the spring and what is happening, you know, here in the beginning of the school are not really the same thing, like we were in crisis mode at the beginning. And we've had the summer to sort of plan and think and grow and learn from those experiences, but the playbook has some interesting topics. And so, I thought we would dive into that a little bit. Where do you guys think you know we're We get to sit at the Intermediate School district level, and so we're, we're in this weird medium space between research and practice. Where do you think this book fits in that sort of space, like how do you see teachers using this this kind of book or other resources.
Michelle Wagner: So, I can address that a little bit. I think that one of the hardest things about being a teacher is trying to sort through all of the noise that might be out there with you know just different edu-celebrities or, if you like Twitter and just following different people and on top of that, just the different initiatives and programs. And so, I really think that we have to approach any new thing. In this case, the playbook with a critical lens and I'm all about reading critically anyway. But trying to make connections between what we know to be true of the subject area which we are teaching and then also how we can make that fit within the current realities. So, I know that, personally, whenever I see something that john had he has written, I immediately think about effect size. So, when I pick up a text like this. I'm really looking for those practices that have the greatest impact on students. So, I'm looking at where I'm going to get the most bang for my buck. And I'm also looking for those connections to literacy and those ideas that make it easier to reach
Richard Bacolor: You have a friend with you.
Michelle Wagner: She's about to go outside. Sorry. Okay, so I'm also looking for those connections to literacy and those ideas that it will make it easier for students to read to right to speak into listen to one another. Because I think that that's in the end really what I want my students to be doing. So really looking through that lens. Yeah.
Richard Bacolor: Chris, how about you, where do you, where do you feel like this book sits in the List so resources.
Kristi Hanby: Yeah, so we were as similarly in the mathematics consultant world we were inundated with resources in the spring, and I think Teachers, even our curriculum directors were saying, you know, it's just so many resources, help us sort through them all. So, the guidance that I was reading in mathematics, and it's the guidance that we knew, you know, previous to being virtual is Really focusing on creating spaces that are collaborative in nature that position students to figure out something interesting. Something engaging encouraging them to work together. And work on interesting problems or what you in science call phenomena that lead to learning really important ideas and math and science. So, for example, I'm like, what happens when I divide by a number smaller than one. And why does that occur. Some, not just doing division with decimals as denominators, but just asking ourselves, what happens when we divide by a number that's less than one. And why does it happen when I divide that thing is getting bigger. That didn't happen when I was younger elementary school. Um, and so when I look at this book. I'm looking for those places where they give the kind of guidance for how I work in those collaborative ways How do I give students voice and flexibility in the work that they do in math and science and do it in a virtual space. So, there are a few places in the book where it addresses that. I think I'd also say that Fisher and fry are first and foremost literacy researchers, I believe. And so, there's also a lot of practices in here that are related to literacy practice. And so, I've had to kind of weed through and look for those opportunities that really highlight best practice in math and science. Yeah.
Richard Bacolor: I would agree with that. I mean, almost everything that we see coming out starts with math or ELA so as a science person. I find that to be always, always the case. Right. Like how do I find the science niche and these strategies. So, it's interesting you bring that up. One of the things they talked about, or they begin in the book is they talk about self-care strategies. Not only for your kids, but for the teachers as well. You guys have any successes in that space right now.
Kristi Hanby: Um, so I will say that even as an adult. I have found it difficult to set the boundaries between work and home. Especially and those of us that are working in is do tend to be working a lot of later afternoons and evenings, because that's when teachers have more availability. And so that's made it even harder. You know, sending text messages to the kids at three o'clock saying this is what's for dinner. It's in the kitchen, but I'll be working until seven So it's been really hard to find those boundaries but I'm starting to get better at it. Um, But it's hard for me. Then I have to remind myself that it's even more difficult for my kids because they maybe don't understand why it's important to separate those things for their own self-care. Um, so some of some of self-care has been taking care of my own boundaries and routines and keeping things separate um but it's also been recognizing that I live in a house full of adolescence and If they haven't figured it out just yet. That's okay. And so I want them to, you know, set up and do their work from 750 to 242 But they're tending to work more like 830 to 1130 in the evening and I have to let that go and hope that they get to a point where they recognize that it's easier for them to just put in a day from eight to three and be able to walk away from it at three o'clock.
Richard Bacolor: Yeah, it is really tough with the boundaries. That's all about, like, kind of creating these new habits because we're not bound by space and time in the same way that we were before. Michelle How about you.
Michelle Wagner: So, I again I agree with a lot of what Christy just shared and I'm sure I'm not the only educator mom who lives this consistent struggle of trying to separate herself from her job. And so, I think even in the best of times, I have a hard time turning off. There's always one more thing I could do, you know, and one more thing that I feel like I need to do in order to help further whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish. But I think that now that I'm working from home. That is magnified tenfold. And I think that that's a real struggle, and especially with littles at home. You know, just because I'm working from home, doesn't mean they don't need lunch, or does it need me mean that they don't need that chance to go outside for a quick run around the block. And I'm the one who has to make sure all those things happen if they're home with me. And so that's been a struggle to try and to navigate all of that. Where I think when under normal situations, you can get them all ready and then you put them on a bus or you drop them off at school and they're occupied for that full eight hours when you see them again. And it's a different time or a different part of the day we're now that's all kind of mesh together as one. So, I think we're just trying to navigate that. And I also think That it's really one success that I've had is, I've had to be really intentional with saying there will be no work between these hours because we get so little time with our kids. We need to make sure that we're keeping bedtime sacred and dinnertime sacred and so I'm I feel more successful at that.
Richard Bacolor: super important to have those routines and can set those limits, um, No, which the book kind of goes into one of the models in the books talks about starting with the standards and as you know is d consultants. I think one of our, our main objectives in our work is to help teachers use standards aligned research-based curricula and also to implement those things with You know with, I don't want to say fidelity, but with good quality classroom practices. Right, so What do you think the biggest challenge has been in translating research based aligned curriculum and practices to remote settings or to distance learning
Michelle Wagner: So, I think this is a challenge even beyond just remote settings right it's if you have the curriculum. How do you make it work for the students that you're serving And I think that being remote adds that extra layer of making sure that the students understand what's expected But then also making sure that they have the tools to access that that curricular resource. So, I think it's just that extra layer of stuff that needs to happen to make sure that the kids can access the learning. And I think that this is something that teachers are really good at in terms of figuring out Hey, this is the goal. How am I going to make this happen for my students when they're coming in at multiple levels or they're coming in with different baggage or different situations? How can we make all of this happen? And I think that we've added this huge layer of working from home now or teaching from home and that teachers have really had to be creative in terms of looking at what do they have and then what are their students have in order to figure out how to actually implement that online.
Kristi Hanby: So, I think that math and science teachers have maybe found this really challenging So much of best practice. And I think that this is true and literacy to is about listening to your students about being able to sit with them in one on one conference with them or Small group. Collect you know get, get feedback from them. And I think that this is what teachers are really challenged with right now. I know from watching my own kiddos in our home that when teachers are asking those good questions and they're putting kids in breakout rooms. They're not always getting feedback from students and so trying to find the ways that we get the right information from teachers or I'm sorry, from students about what their understanding. I think has been a real challenge. And I've been digging into this book to see if I can find a Variety of ways to be able to show teachers how they gather that information from their students.
Richard Bacolor: Yeah, I would say from the science perspective, it's, it's kind of the same thing that Michelle kind of mentioned there's two layers to it. And I felt like access, you know, teachers, learning the LM s and putting lessons into the LM s was like one stage of learning. And then Kristi what you're talking about this. And you mentioned it before the collaboration side of things, almost the you know the discourse moves that we talked about or that we've been pushing for the last several years. You know, learning tools that still allow us or the students to have those kind of collaborative moments has been a huge challenge and so I've seen a couple of the nice things in the book about setting up types of meetings for specific purposes. So, some of the things that we've been saying the science base is, you know, be very intentional about the things that kids can do asynchronously or outside of the meeting room space. And then really hone in on those moments where you need the kids to interact with each other with their models and their ideas that's been Sort of an ongoing challenge, at least in science classroom as well. What about you guys. Have you seen any other tools or any hints from the book that might help teachers Deal with that?
Michelle Wagner: I really focus on that idea of feedback. And so, as a literacy person I know that importance of just making sure that students know where to go next. Because learning to read and learning to write well Is not something that is necessarily linear, it doesn't. There's not one great one clear cut path towards reading proficiency or writing proficiency And so we know that the best way to figure out where a child needs to go best is to sit down and have them read to you or have them. Or have them share their writings that, you know, as a teacher, where the best place for them to go. Next And that's what moves them forward. And so, I really focused on that portion of the book that talked about feedback and how we need to make sure Now more than ever that we're being very clear and what the students need to do and then where they need to go next. And so, I really, I really appreciated that reminder of just, you mentioned even rich setting up different kinds of meetings, but even those one on one. Points where you can touch base with a child, even if it's over phone. However, you can connect with that child, but actually still giving them the chance to listen to them read and listen to them. Right, so that you can give them the feedback that they need to move them forward.
Kristi Hanby: Great. And so, in mathematics, listening to students solve a problem is important, but we can also, if you have the right problem. We can also gather feedback from what they've written So one thing that we've seen teachers doing is putting together shared slide decks. So, you know, often in elementary school students are numbered because they have you know a number of hook and a number of cubby in a number. And so, in this case you just give them a number of slide and They would do their work on that slide, but as a teacher, you can go through all of the slides within the deck. And give comments by just clicking a comment on the Google slide so that that's one of the things that we've been doing and professional learning. But then as I was looking in the book. And I was watching some of the videos this morning. Um, I noticed another teacher saying that instead of giving her comments and text. She gives them in Google Voice so that her students can hear her voice and she thinks that and I think that's probably right that especially younger students are going to gather more From a teacher's voice than from reading the text and I think especially when you're talking about math or science which might have some fairly technical language and the use of voice might be a better use of a feedback tool like using a way to insert audio might be a better feedback tool than inserting in text. So, I thought that was useful. And I'm going to share that with teachers. So, yeah.
Richard Bacolor: I love that idea. I think that's also important with, you know, when we think about universal design for learning and some of our other populations are English language learners. Now, those kinds of supports I think are really, really important to do intentionally Another vignette that I saw in the book that I really loved was the teacher who schedules during face to face time to students to meet individually. So, she asks a student to show up 10 minutes early. And then another student to show up 10 minutes or to stay 10 minutes afterwards, and she rotates her class through that. So every day during their time she's meeting individually with two students And over the course of the week she gets through the majority of them and she said that that that time alone with those kids to Just do a check in, or maybe ask a question about the lesson is really formative right and really gives her a lot of data. To work with and to help the entire class move forward with whatever they're working on. So, I thought that was another really interesting way to go about it. So we're kind of running into the end of our time here today, but There were some really nice key points in the book if some of our teachers want to get ahold of you guys and talk more about the book or some other issues related to teaching mathematics or LA, where can they go, or where can they get in touch with you guys.
Kristi Hanby: So, I mean, we're always available and Risa and I don't want to just like shamelessly give out my email address, but there are ways to contact us through getting on the website. I will say that if you're going to dig into this book as a math teacher. I think there's a couple places in it that really kind of hit the nail on the head. As far as the research is concerned in math, Ed. And so, I really liked when I was reading on page 143 142, I know like as we were talking and putting this podcast. Together we were thinking of difficult it is for teachers to take him too much information right now. Little bits are better. So, if you're listening to this as a math teacher I would I would highly recommend you just dig in there. On page 143 142 and then page 110 could be really helpful to for helping you think about engaging mathematical tasks. And then if you have questions about those things. You can certainly reach out to anybody on the math team, or you can attend We've been doing Thursday afternoon office hours, you can get in touch with us about how to connect with those or we have been doing math leader meetings throughout the year in order to get information. To those who are needing it so I'm hoping that those are a few ways in which you can reach out to us and we can have more conversation.
Richard Bacolor: Also, Michelle.
Michelle Wagner: Sure, we can always be found the literacy team can be email@example.com and just click on the literacy tab and we're help. Happy to help and assist in any way that you might need. But I did want to just bring up one more piece from the book. At the end of the bucket really talks about how our goal should be to make learning better for our students, which I think is the same goal. We've always had And I'm just going to read a quick quote. Let's remember to leverage what we have learned from crisis online learning to prepare ourselves and our students for more robust and authentic future learning And I think that, in a nutshell, this experience has stretched us all to learn in new ways. And I think that that's one thing. Our, our children. Are responding to their learning in ways that I would never have imagined possible before. And if you had told me last year that my seven-year-old. Would be scheduling a zoom meeting with his teacher and putting that calendar invite into his calendar so he didn't forget I wouldn't believe that to be true. So, I think that we really are helping our students to learn in different ways, right now, and they are learning something, it may not have been what we thought they would learn but they're learning in new and better ways. And I think that's going to bring success in the future.
Kristi Hanby: It's a really good point.
Richard Bacolor: Michelle, it's an Excellent point and a great way to wrap it up. So, I really appreciate you guys, thanks for hanging out with me for a little bit and I'll see you next time. Thanks.