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Invest now to reward yourself and your students later
posted by: Tamia | September 03, 2020, 06:17 PM   

Hello fellow Colorado teachers and educators everywhere. My name is Dave Dillard, and I am a Technology Integration Specialist with Cheyenne Mountain School District. I have been teaching for almost 15 years, 10+ of which were with a Title One school, with a 50 percent free and reduced lunch population. I have taught first, second, fourth, and sixth grades. In my current role, I help teachers incorporate technology in meaningful ways across their curriculum. One of my jobs is to provide video tutorials for teachers, showing them how to more effectively use the tools that are at our fingertips. This might include showing them how to create videos, how to use our Google Apps infrastructure, how to problem-solve and troubleshoot, as well as participate in basic video conferencing to assist them as they are working with their students.

This year, I asked AAE for funding to purchase technology that would assist with creating better quality videos to be used during (and after) the pandemic. I selected the Yeti X microphone and the Logitech Streamcam camera, along with “Snagit” software by techsmith. There are lots of options out there. This is only a piece of what I wanted to accomplish, so allow me tell you about my vision.

Invest now to reward yourself and your students later

Don't just make that video or activity for today- make it to be REused next year, the year after, etc. That means leaving out some of the time-related words or date-specific references. Or you could say those things at the beginning but then cut them out later. It always takes time. Don't expect to have a beautiful finished product on the first try. Don't worry if your first few videos are not amazing or award-winning. You will get better. Next year you might decide to replace some of these videos. That's fine. You will improve. But if any of these lessons are good enough to reuse, then you can begin to build a library of your own content.

Show your personality

When technology is incorporated into education, teachers may use many different models. Different comfort levels are fine. One teacher may dip a toe into the water of making a recording of instruction while another teacher may begin to use a more consistent flipped model for one or more subjects. Still others might press farther into blended learning. Even at the most basic level, due to the pandemic, teachers are being called upon to employ tools and techniques that they never dreamed of using. The thing students are really thirsty for is connection with you and with their classmates, so let your personality shine through.

Try something new

We are in a unique situation with the pandemic. At some point in all of this, someone said to me “I think this will be like 9/11 - there will be permanent changes to the way we do things in our lives and in school.” I think there is truth in that. I don’t know what changes are going to stick, but as you are forced to change almost everything about what you do, I advise critically thinking about your teaching craft. Remove some things, but save some as well. Remember: hands-on activities are great! It doesn't have to be computerized in order to be good. However, sometimes we can transform the way we teach by using new tools.

Be creative

Questions to ask yourself when you make a video:  Who is your audience? What do you want them to learn or be able to do? What illustration would most effectively accomplish that goal? Is there any way to make this interactive? I have really enjoyed trying out new tools every year. The ones that are gimmicky fall away, and the ones that work stick around. I like making learning fun, so I have “gamified” lessons by incorporating Quizizz and Kahoot with the content that I am already teaching my students. I want to get my students involved in the lessons so I have begun to use Peardeck and Padlet, since they are great at bringing out student voice. Flipgrid and Edpuzzle are fantastic ways of using video in meaningful ways with your students.

When we look at the pandemic and the changes we are faced with, we need to ask ourselves:  What is temporary? What changes will become permanent? You can make the most of this time by showing your personality, trying something new, being creative, and investing now to reward yourself and your students later. I hope you stay healthy in this time of COVID-19. However, more than that, I hope you make the most of this unusual time.


Today's guest blog is by David Dillard. He was awarded a grant from the AAEF foundation to purchase technology. AAE's National Scholarship & Grant program helps teachers across the country afford materials for their classroom and valuable professional development. Awards are given twice a year. Our next deadline is October 1st. You can apply at:

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