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Technology Chat: Make Sure Your Students Are Ready for Digital Learning

Returning to school after summer break is stressful in the best of times.  I think we can all agree that this is pretty much the WORST of times and that this year's return to teaching will be unlike any other.  We teachers have faced many challenges before, but the challenges before us now are unprecedented.  Whether you will be teaching virtually, in-person, or somewhere in between, you will find yourself in need of digital resources to support your curriculum.  The reality of teaching in the days of COVID-19 means that student absenteeism will fluctuate wildly, many parents may opt to keep their kids at home, or schools may be forced to close altogether.  This puts you in the challenging position of not only teaching your core science material, but also teaching students about your chosen (or chosen for you ...) method of virtual instruction.  This can be overwhelming.  You need activities that support the technical instruction of your students as well as their science instruction.

When students arrive in your classroom this fall, either in person or virtually, will they all have the same set of skills in using Google Apps?

The short answer is ... No.  On the first day of class, just as our students have different graphing skills, or math skills, or writing skills, they will cover the spectrum in their ability to use Google Apps.
On that note, I am very excited to introduce a new tool in your teaching arsenal:  Technology Chat for Google Apps!  If you plan on utilizing Google DriveTM or Google ClassroomTM this fall, this is a fantastic activity to set your students up for success by teaching them a basic set of skills for the Google Apps.  Your students will learn how to create and share Docs, Slides, and Sheets as well as many of the features used to complete assignments in Google Apps.

If you are not familiar with my other "Chat" activities, they are highly collaborative in nature and allow students to work together while mastering new material.  This activity is a little different in that students can complete it remotely, in-person, or in pairs.  If you are meeting students face-to-face, I highly recommend using the activity in cooperative learning groups.  Peer help and instruction is a valuable learning tool.  Whatever your teaching situation, Technology Chat is an extremely flexible activity that will fit with any teaching situation.

While this activity won't cover everything Google has to offer, it is a great tool to create a baseline of knowledge in your classroom and hopefully give your students enough technical know-how to start the year off right.

Teachers always rise to face new challenges, and this school year will be no different. In these unprecedented times, I am excited to see the amazing ways our community serves our students and the highly innovative new solutions we put into place in our classrooms.  I hope this activity is a helpful addition to your back-to-school instructional plan.  I wish you all the very best of luck this fall.

Going Digital in the Age of Distance Learning

Hello everyone!  Wow, in just a few short weeks our teaching world has been rocked to the core.  If you had told me months ago that we would be in this shape today, I would have thought you had lost your mind. Unprecedented school closures have all of us scratching our heads and trying to figure out how to get through just one day at a time.  Both teachers and parents are scrambling to look for resources for our students that can be used digitally for distance learning.  Since it looks like schools are going to closed for some time, it's "all hands on deck" as we deal with the problems of educating children remotely.  

So let me get right to it.  The purpose of this post is to let you know about resources that are available for both teachers and parents in the world of "distance learning."  The rest of this post will consist of clickable links to resources you might find helpful.

First, I am working to convert the resources in my TpT store over to digital formats for use in Goggle Drive, Google Classroom, and/or Microsoft OneDrive.  As resources are updated with the digital version, I will add them to the "already posted" printable listing on TpT.  In short, this means that if you have purchased a resource from my TpT store, you will be able to download the resource again, at no extra cost, to receive the digital version if one becomes available.  Full disclosure: Converting items to digital resources is time-consuming and tedious work. My resources will not magically appear in digital format overnight, but I will add them as fast as I am able.

Just a reminder:  Do you know how to determine if a resource you have purchased on TpT has been updated? You will not get email notifications from TpT when resources are updated. You'll need to navigate to your "My Purchases" page on TpT and look for notifications that appear with any resources that have been updated.

What items at Amy Brown Science have been updated with new digital formats?
I started with my free resources.  The following resources have been updated. Each includes a detailed Teacher Guide to help you navigate the world of Google Drive.  I have also included a QuickStart Guide for the experienced users.  Click the images or red text below to grab these free distance learning resources:

Backyard Ecology:  This ecology activity is perfect for laying the groundwork prior to your ecology unit. The questionnaire will get your students thinking about the ecology and environmental issues of your local community.

Monohybrid Mice! is great for Punnett Square practice.  These problems are on a beginner level and a perfect way to introduce one-factor genetics problems to your students.

Scientific Method PowerPoint and Notes Set: This includes a 26 slide PowerPoint as well as a guided notes outline for the students.  Steps of the scientific method are covered, but more importantly, the lesson provides examples and practice problems illustrating the application of the scientific method. Analysis questions and answers are included.

DNA Informational Text ReadingThis reading is based on Watson and Crick's famous one-page article published in 1953 in Nature magazine, announcing their discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule. It comes with graphic organizers to help your students read and understand this classic scientific paper.

Compare and Contrast Graphic OrganizerThis very simple, two-page graphic organizer has become one of the best study and review techniques that I use in my science classes. It forces students to think deeply about two topics or concepts as they search to find the similarities and differences between them. 

Cell Respiration Word Game ReviewThis review activity is designed to help your students master the difficult vocabulary in a cell respiration unit. 

I have also created a new custom category in my TpT store called "Digital / Google Apps" where you can find all of my digital resources. Clicking the link to this custom category will sort my store to show all of my digital resources. This is a great link to save.  It will allow you to see if any of the resources you have previously purchased have been updated for Google Apps.

Let me ask a favor of you: Please respect my copyright by NOT posting my resources on a public web site where my resources can be accessed by a Google search and the public world.  You are welcome to post to your own password-protected class site as long as only your students have access.  Thanks so much for your understanding.

One more thing before I move on to other suggestions for resources:  Signing up for my free newsletter is a good way to receive notifications for updates, exclusive freebies, promotions, sales, and news.  Click this link if you are interested in my newsletter.

Okay, now I am going to post links to all sorts of things that I have seen over the last few weeks that I think might be helpful to you.

Please note: All online learning sites should be throughly vetted by teachers and parents before allowing access to your students.

I hope that this post gives you some places to start as you begin your journey into distance learning.  Good luck to you, and please stay well!

P.S. The adorable "Dot Dudes" in the heading image are the copyrighted work of Sarah Pecorino Illustration.