November 2020
Breaking Into Breakout Rooms
Research reminds us of the importance of students thinking and working together with their peers. This can be exceptionally difficult in the virtual setting. The transition to remote and hybrid teaching this school year has required teachers to develop creative ways for students to be engaged in thinking and work collaboratively with their peers. Throughout October and November groups of teachers joined Erin Wilday and JoAnn Hawley for Breaking Into Breakout Rooms in order to explore various engagement strategies when utilizing Zoom breakout rooms.  

During the sessions, participants experienced multiple highly structured strategies for working collaboratively in partners and groups when in breakout rooms. Focusing on the use of time and creating plans which structure when and how students are working together allows students to collaborate in safe and effective ways. Participants in the session also learned about the many options and safety features in Zoom which allow for safe and effective use of breakout rooms with students of all grade levels. Additionally, participants have explored various ways to hold students accountable for their thinking and work while in the breakout rooms. Accountability can be created through the use of chat features, shared documents, and even writing with paper and pencil and holding it up to the screen.  

Select the links below to join Erin and JoAnn for virtual engagement strategies PL in December.

Virtual Strategies for Student Success, December 10th
Designing Asynchronous Listening & Learning Tasks
Throughout the month of November, teachers from Susquehanna Valley, Union Endicott, and Windsor have been collaborating to design asynchronous Listening and Learning tasks for kindergarten and first grade. With many students learning in remote and hybrid environments, these lessons provide additional quality literacy experiences beyond what can be done with their teachers during synchronous instruction. They also can be used as independent centers for teachers who have students in full attendance.   

The work kicked off with an overview of the Listening and Learning Strand on EngageNY provided by ELA Professional Learning Specialist, Erin Smith. Once familiarity with these lessons was established, Instructional Technology Professional Learning Specialist, Emily Koval, reviewed key skills in Seesaw, which is the platform each lesson was built in. Teachers then each chose a domain and used a template provided by the PLIC team to create their first lesson.

At the second meeting, teachers had the opportunity to view and provide feedback on the first lessons built. This led to great conversations, support and additional clarity on the lesson structure, making the product consistent and user friendly!

The teachers continued to build in their domains throughout the month, checking in at a midpoint meeting to share and continue to collaborate. They will have a complete set of lessons for their grade by the end of the month for the participating districts to use in instruction.

The PLIC was happy to facilitate this collaboration and thrilled with the valuable resources created! We look forward to continuing such work in the future!
Reducing Implicit Bias in the Classroom
The term implicit bias is being heard everywhere right now from mainstream media, to scientific research, and in social media and pop culture. But what does it mean to have implicit biases? 

Implicit bias is the unconscious thoughts, ideas, and stereotypes that affect our attitude and actions towards others. On November 2nd, a team of local educators came together for a three-part series on Reducing Implicit Bias in the Classroom. This series, led by Erin Wilday and Corina Forsythe, focuses on defining and identifying implicit bias in individuals and their students. Participants are examining the resources, displays, and texts used in their schools and classrooms which might perpetuate bias and strategies to introduce new resources which will work to reduce bias. 

Lastly, the group is focusing on identifying microaggressions that might be happening in their classrooms. Microaggressions are statements or actions which unintentionally discriminate against marginalized groups as a result of an individual's implicit bias. Participants of this series are examining some of the most common microaggressions that happen in schools and how to teach students about the long term impacts of their words and actions. 

If you are interested in learning more about implicit bias and equity in the classroom, contact Erin Wilday at and also watch our catalog for Spring offerings!
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