ISTE18 for all students: The mindset & top 5 tools for inclusive best practice

One size fits none when it comes to learning! The keynotes, presenters, vendors, and attendees of #ISTE18 dialed in hard with a connected line of perspective, practical strategies, and game-changing edtech tools to push all students full STEAM ahead into the new school year.

All means all
As teachers, our number-one mission and passion is to reach all the students we teach in a way that is equitable, meaningful, and impactful. That said, we also know that how each student learns is unique to each individual student. We also know that the way they show what they know is equally unique. In order to capture the outcomes we seek, we must embrace an inclusive and flexible mindset where student voice and student choice are driving the bus forward in their journey of learning.

At #ISTE18, keynote speaker Dr. David Eagleman spoke about the need for emotional engagement (some may think of this as “buy in”) and teaching “best skills” to help kids be cognitively flexible and develop a toolbox for innovation. What better way to do that than through modeling what flexibility is, looks like, and feels like?

Christopher Bugaj, Kendra Grant, and Luis Perez echoed exactly this perspective on Wednesday morning as they “walked the walk” in their session on the many ways to frontload multi-modality voice and choice to all students. The panel of presenters challenged everyone to ask themselves two important questions whenever designing instruction and learning opportunities for all students: “Is it Accessible?” and “Is it Awesome?”

With these two burning questions as our guiding force and the wide array of innovative edtech tools available to use, we should rarely, if ever, miss the mark.

Filling the toolbox
Here are five must-try tools to check out as you reflect on #ISTE18 and how you will use what you learned, claim your flexible mindset, and gear up for inclusive best practices that fit your classroom, school, or district.

1. G Suite For Education: A free suite of tools to help students and teachers communicate and collaborate in a seamless, secure manner across devices. In addition, specialized apps and extensions are available through the Chrome store, including Read&Write for Google Chrome, Screencastify, Move It, Vysor, and Grammarly, to name a few. Definitely worth checking out!

2. Microsoft Learning Tools: Free tools to improve reading and writing skills for all ages and abilities. Specific learning tools include enhanced dictation, focus mode, immersive reading, reading speed, and syllabification. Learning tools are available for use across platforms and devices.

3. Flipgrid: A video discussion platform where student voice is amplified and heard like never before. The Flipgrid experience helps grow social learning skills as students record, watch, discuss, react, and respond to their experiences and perspectives with each other. Free to all educators and accessible to students, parents, or audience of choice with link and password.

4. PlayPosit: An online learning platform used to develop and share interactive video lessons. PlayPosit supports a number of video sources and allows teachers to pause videos, insert questions, and promote differentiated delivery of content as well as deeper critical thinking and reflection opportunities. Free to all educators and students.

5 educators share their #ISTE18 experiences

5. Kahoot: A game-based learning platform used to administer study review, quizzes, discussions, or surveys. A whole class can play at once in real time. Multiple-choice questions are shared on a screen. Students respond to the questions via computer, smartphone, or tablet. Free to all educators and students.

One to watch: ClassAlexa

Kimberly Zajac MA CCC-SLP/A; C/NDT

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock is director of technology for Mount Greylock Regional School District in Williamstown, Mass., and a board member of MassCUE, an ISTE Affiliate.

Dr. Cathy Collins has worked as a library media specialist for 15+ years. Currently, she is a library media specialist and China exchange coordinator for Sharon (MA) Public Schools. She has served on MassCUE’s Board as PD Chair since 2015. She received a “Teachers for Global Classrooms” fellowship from the U.S. State Dept. in 2014 and is the recipient of AASL’s Intellectual Freedom Award (2014). She was named an MSLA “Super Librarian” in 2015, and also received the HNA/Primary Source “Teacher of the Year” award in 2015. She joined ISTE’s PLN STEM Leadership Team in 2017.

Rayna Freedman is a fifth-grade teacher at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, Mass. She has taught grades 3-5 and is an ITS. She is a member of the MassCUE Board of Directors and has been presenting at the annual conference since 2010. She is a BrainPOP certified educator, Flipgrid Ambassador, Fablevision Ambassador, and advocate for teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. She serves on the DESE Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel.

Kelly Healey is an education consultant assisting in the process of modernizing education, increasing student achievement, and moving schools forward. Throughout her career, she served as a K-12 classroom teacher, dean of students, district ESL specialist, and operated in multiple capacities as an education consultant.

Kimberly Zajac is a speech/language pathologist in Norton (MA) Public Schools. She is a board member of MassCUE and serves as co-leader of the MassCUE SLP and Special Educator Special Interest Group.