Tech Grant Updates
Welcome to our Newsletter! Please read the list below to see this month's updates related to the website and the deliverables.
The Wakelet 2: A Deeper Dive and Finding and Evaluating Online Resources that Connect with Content & Instructional Goals PDs took place this week. Both sessions are scheduled to release in Canvas in 2 weeks. You can request access to view the recordings and resources by going to the Past Recordings section under the Professional Development tab on the website and submitting the request form on any of the sessions available.
This will be our first newsletter that would not feature a spotlight however, the spotlight will be included on part 2’s Open Educational Resources section!
Create Distance Learning Opportunities using OER Resources Part 2
When searching for Open Educational Resources, we need to apply the same strategies and research skills we use when we are looking for resources in the library.
This is part 2 of Create Distance Learning Opportunities using OER Resources. In part one, we discussed how to build and structure your OER resources by identifying factors that can help streamline your lessons and offer learning in a distance. You can access part 1 by clicking here.
Open Education Resources (commonly known by the acronym OER) are open licensed educational resources that teachers can use for free in the classroom. OERs present content in the form of modules, lessons, activities, videos, articles and other formats. The resources have gained popularity due to the shift from in-class instruction to distance learning.
We will be exploring a few OERs that can be used however, there are many OERs available that can be suited for you, your teaching style or your agency. Other programs, like Aztec, Burlington English and Essential Ed, can also be adopted using the same model presented with a few modifications. These programs are not considered OERs. While they are educational resources, they require licenses in order to be used.
There are several factors to consider when using an OER:
How to access. An OER has different interfaces, organization, ways to access and some even have assignments that keep track of completion and provide scoring. As educators, it is important to streamline the services through a LMS (learning management system) like Google Classroom or Canvas. You can also use platforms like Google Sites or Wakelet to organize your resources, lessons and activities. You can add direct links to the content that you would like the student to use, even when using multiple OERs. An example would be having a tutorial from GCF Global, an article from Newsela and a lesson from Google Applied Digital Skills.
Interface. Some OERs, like Khan Academy and Google Applied Digital Skills, have dashboards, ways to assign lessons, track student activity and reports that help accountability. As educators, it is important to decide when you should add an interface as part of your measuring tools and when you would like to use specific content. Keep in mind that you need to learn the additional layers and steps they bring in order for you to support your students.
Assignments. These ranges from being integrated in the OER as part of the lesson, or as supplemental material through PDFs or other downloads. Take a moment to see the additional resources and setup some of the materials to align to how you present and teach your lessons. You can take some supplemental material from Readworks or Reading Skills for Today and adapt the sheets to editable PDFs or Google Forms for students to complete.
Accessibility. OERs have different types of formats. When using the resources, look for ways that you and your students can easily access them and select those that align better to your goals and teaching style. It is very easy to overuse a tool to the point that can make your teaching seem forced. Remember, tech tools are meant to serve as a supplement and enhance your teaching, and practice will make the implementation smoother.
A list of some popular OERs are below. Please feel free share any resources that you find useful and how you use them in the comments below:
Google Applied Digital Skills. Google offers an interface where you can organize, assign lessons and allow students to submit assignments. This is separate from Google Classroom however, student work is saved in their Google Drive, which will allow students to upload to Google Classroom if you like to set it up that way. The topics available are great representations to students’ day-to-day scenarios and issues they may face but are focused on using technology to resolve them. Here are 3 lessons to check out:
Google Workspace Training. Learn how to use Google Workspace tools like Docs, Sheets, and Drive to help you improve productivity and collaboration in school, work and life. This includes 10 individual lessons.
Organize College Information in Google Sheets. Compare colleges by researching important criteria and organizing it in a spreadsheet.
Explore a Topic: Technology's Role in Current Events. Research a current event, like “social media and presidential elections,” and create a report to communicate findings to classmates.
GCFGlobal. GCF Global offers articles, tutorials and videos on different topics that include integration of technology, work and other core skills. Here are 3 lessons to check out:
Grammar Videos. A series of videos that show when to use words that sound similar.
Interviewing Skills. This list of tutorials provide tips and strategies for a professional job interview, from preparation to following up.
Use Information Correctly. This list of lessons show how to use information correctly to create quality content while protecting others' intellectual property. They also show how you can protect your work when posting online.
Khan Academy. This OER offers personalized support for students to practice and learn grade level skills. You can search by grade level as well as by skill. This is a popular option to support students getting ready for the GED exam.
Florida Literacy Coalition and the GED App for students. Florida Literacy Coalition with CrowedEdLearning prepared a GED Math App for students with resources from Khan Academy to help find specific skills they need assistance. Students can mark skills they have mastered to keep track their progress. This works great as an extension for students outside of the classroom or as asynchronous learning.
Newsela. This website is the only one from the list that has a paid option however, there are plenty of free articles for teachers to use Across different topics. What makes Newsela special is that it uses articles from popular media outlets like USA Today and The Washington Post, and allows readers to change the lexile level of the text. The text is then adapted to meet the lexile level selected, making it more accessible for students that have lower lexile levels. Some articles also have a Spanish translation option available as well.
Reading Skills for Today. This OER is a collection of short English stories for ESL students. Each selection has downloadable documents that include: pre and post questions, supplemental activities and the story. They also have recordings that assist in developing fluency, as well as a timer for students to practice.
Marshall Leveled Reading Program. A Crowded learning project that uses the stories from the Reading Skills for Today website and offers a few additional features. They feature the stories through as a companion app for students and teachers, as well as a Wakelet version that includes Students can find stories by topic and can complete Google Form quizzes to track comprehension. On the phone app, students can mark stories that they have completed. On the other hand, Wakelet allows you to export the links as a PDF that works as a hyperdoc assignment with all the resources from Wakelet.
USA Learns. USA Learns focuses on developing listening, speaking, reading and writing throughout 4 different English courses. Students can track the progress through the different lessons they work on. In order for teachers to view student progress, teachers need to create a class and invite students to the course. Some teachers work through the lesson as primary content, and create assignments or projects to continue to build the skills presented in the lesson.
World Education invited USA Learns to present the program. A teacher presented how she uses USA Learns in the classroom and how she reinforces the skills through additional activities that provide practice. You can click here to watch the full session. The teacher discusses her implementation strategies at 13:05 into the video.
This newsletter presents an overview of the programs included and how to use them. These programs can be tailored to meet the goals of the agencies interested in implementing the OER resources. Please email me at email@example.com if you would like assistance.