It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...
In Mississippi, the months of December and January do not necessarily provide us a clear view of the season of the year. The unpredictability of the weather can pressure us to adjust our outfits from fall, winter and spring on a daily basis. The daily forecast's randomness parallels my feelings and instructional practices as an educator living in 2020.
One thing that is certain, and that we can all agree on, is that the public education system is at an important crossroads. I think we are all familiar with the phrase "everything happens for a reason." We can trace this philosophy back to Aristotle, who believed that everything that happens to us has a purpose that causes you to transform into the person you are becoming.
In the classes that I teach at Mississippi State, the method of instruction has forced me to take a hard look at the design of my classes and the quality of my practices. In a November 2020 Brookings Institute report, the authors hoped that this pandemic disruption will serve as a catalyst to repurpose educational technology, improve the instructional core and build stronger relationships between parents and teachers.
It is also my hope that some of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 disruption to our educational system have not only made us better educators, but also even better human beings.
Another thing that is evolving due to COVID-19 is the annual Spring Test Coordinator Training. We decided to change the professional development delivery of the Feb. Spring Test Coordinator Training from face-to-face to online.
Districts will schedule individual appointment times with assessment staff members to learn more about assessment processes and prepare for spring training. We hope that this method of training will provide better quality to districts than a virtual conference.
Please note that this training is optional. Districts will still get support using the RCU Help Desk procedures before, during and after spring testing. We will provide more information regarding sign-up for spring training appointments in the Feb. MS-CPAS Minute.
For our educational technology tip this month, I offer up two different online technology tools, Classroomscreen and DuckSoup. Classroomscreen seems to have the solution for educators trying to navigate multiple instructional tools in a remote or in-person classroom environment. This is a free tool that allows educators to add widgets to a screen. Some of these tools are a timer, QR generator, poll and media player, to name a few.
DuckSoup is an eSheet creator that can help you create online gradable activities from your documents. It also integrates with Google Drive, so it is an instant fit for schools that use Google Classroom.
We look forward to seeing each of you online (and hopefully face-to-face) in the New Year. Make sure to bundle up for the cold and enjoy your winter break!
Sean Owen, PhD