Episode Transcript
Ixchell Reyes 0:00
The DIESOL Podcast

Brent Warner 0:01
Digital Integration in English as a Second or Other Language,

Ixchell Reyes 0:05
Episode 49: Using Tech to Support a Positive Classroom Environment.

Brent Warner 0:23
Welcome to DIESOL! This is Episode 49. We are your hosts. I am Brent Warner,

Ixchell Reyes 0:29
and I’m Ixchell Reyes. Hello from California.

Brent Warner 0:35
Welcome. Welcome to sunny Southern California. How’s it going?

Ixchell Reyes 0:39
I still have my rights here. But we’re not gonna go there.

Brent Warner 0:47
Well, at least the weather’s nice. You’re back in California for a little bit. But we’re not. We’re not recording together again. We’re still online. Yep. Because neither of us have cars. We’re hippies.

Yeah, yeah. How’s it going? You enjoy them? joining your time out here.

Ixchell Reyes 1:09
Oh, yeah, it’s so good to be back home. Good to be back around family good to be back where you actually can wear a light jacket at night and the so I’m acclimated to the weather. You can’t it’s frickin hot over there. Oh, like a 10 humid. Yeah, but night you get still hot outside. You can’t like sit outside and hang out still hot. Here. It’s like, Oh, I can actually wear a cardigan if I wanted to. So but I my mom came in the other day. She said, aren’t you hotter here because you need the fan on. And it made me realize that I i’ve acclimated to the really hot weather over there.

Brent Warner 1:52
Well, that’s a you know, that’s it does happen. People say they can never live in a different climate and then they get there and get used to it. So there you go. I don’t know about cold though. Alright, so anyways, you’re here for now. We’re on episode 49. Show. What are we talking about today?

Ixchell Reyes 2:13
So today, we’re going to be talking about how we can support a positive classroom environment, especially since we’re mostly back to school. Now some of us face to face and some of us still online. Oh, yeah.

Brent Warner 2:27
Lots of things to talk about here. So let’s jump over. Okay, so Ixchell it is… Can we say that teachers are burnt out? Is that fair?

Ixchell Reyes 2:42

Brent Warner 2:43
And still not totally sure. Like, I mean, I know a lot of teachers that are happy to be with their classes, and they like it. They love their students and all of those parts. But it’s also hard because they’re just tired and kind of like feeling that they’re getting pulled back and forth. And they want to make a positive environment. They want things to go well, right. So. So you kind of came up with this topic for us to talk about today. And as a follow up to Larry right as a follow up to interview theory and, and his ideas. So yeah, let’s jump into this, like, how can we how can we make this new environment, whatever it looks like, because we’re all going to be jumping into different ones or we already have. So where do we go?

Ixchell Reyes 3:26
Yeah, it’s it’s just again, there’s so many facets to this. Well, you know, and of course, I, I go on Twitter to see what others are talking about. And I see a lot of teachers mentioning that. That usual spark that comes with the fall, the start of fall and the anticipation of a new year. It’s just not there because we’re actually anticipating all of the I want to say aftermath of a pandemic, but we’re still dealing with a pandemic, so. But things like classroom expectations are no longer what we were used to before. routines. Like Larry said, in our last episode, not just spending the one day or the one week on building that rapport with students now it’s actually beyond that you’ve got to build it into everything for the entire duration, because we’re not just raising the pandemic. There’s a lot of other challenges out there. Yeah, assessment, right. That’s what the biggie Well,

Brent Warner 4:34
let’s talk about a few of these things. So like, when you’re going into a classroom now, what do you think about for like expectations? What are you expecting of your students? Or what are you know, like? It might be hard for teachers. I mean, we can talk about all sorts of different levels, but like, we’re not necessarily going back to the same way that it was before. So So what are your your let’s start with classroom expectations. What do you think around that

Ixchell Reyes 5:00
One of the things is that, you know, in my classroom and I work with adults, the greeting is always shaking your hand in the morning. Now, we’re obviously not doing that anymore. And there’s obviously a little bit of caution, often about, you know, what, what are we doing in terms of the pandemic to keep each other safe, but also, we used to have classroom guidelines. Being on time not being a minute late, or especially in my, in my setting is pretty strict. You know, not being able to open up, we used to allow students to have water and and sometimes bring a snack and and stuff like that, that before. It’s like, wait, we can’t, he can’t really do that. And so those are like, things you didn’t think about before going back face to face, but you also didn’t realize how much of that plays into the, the build building of the classroom environment, the fact that a student comes and wants to share something from their, like a meat snack or something from their country, or that actually, you know, help to, for students to, to have a discussion or talk to each other. Also, many of my students, because I went from being online to them being face to face with the same class. They hadn’t met each other yet. So the things that they might say, to each other online, because you have the safety or sort of having a screen and not always having your camera on while they might not feel as comfortable doing that face to face. And that’s something that I was not expecting. I thought oh, we all kind of I’m lucky because I’ve got the same students. I’m not starting with new students, but we sort of know each other. But we also didn’t know each other the same way.

Brent Warner 6:46
Yeah, so for sure, were you like, I know this person from online? Like, I’ve had some Twitter ones, you know, like, I know you from online, Twitter, or whatever, and then you meet them in real life? And you’re like, Oh, wait, uh, the vibe is? Like, not that anyone’s a bad person or whatever. But it’s like, you kind of have to you have to renegotiate with that, that communication looks like and how you, you know, like how your pacing works, different things?

Ixchell Reyes 7:10
Well, yeah, I mean, it’s just, you know, a different persona, right? The person that you’re texting messages to all the time is not going to communicate in the same way. And they’re going to shift the register once they’re face to face. And so I see that with my students. And that was not something that anybody could have warned me about. And what’s interesting, though, think about this, because the way that we interpret those messages to write, we might be reading it or understanding it in a voice that we’re placing on it. So absolutely, there’s like more excitement, or we’re like,

Brent Warner 7:41
oh, this person then when they really talked to us, they’re like,

Ixchell Reyes 7:46
Oh, I have the opposite. I have this student that I thought, Oh my gosh, he’s lovely. I thought he was the most serious, like, student just very quiet online would only answer with the emoji that thumbs up emoji to let me know that the mic was working, and he could hear me and that again, I didn’t, I gave my students the option of, of not turning on their camera. So that was fine. But once we were face to face, man, he was like, Comedy Central. He was just leveling up ever. He was Oh, hilarious. And and I just thought, Man, what was that, you know, what, what a beautiful part of his personality I was missing on by being online and not. And also, that was probably not the platform for him to, to open up and share. So again, lots of things here.

Brent Warner 8:35
So I think that’s really interesting. One of the articles that we read was called transforming the classroom for collaborative learning. And I, you know, this kind of ties in a little bit on the side, but I think I thought this quote was worth repeating. It’s not this is a brand new idea for us. And this articles, actually a little bit old, but, but I think it’s still kind of stands out and connects, which was sitting quietly and passively while taking lecture notes does not come naturally to a student population accustomed to a virtual world of instant messaging, pervasive internet access, and online social networking. If these connected students are to excel in education, their learning environment should mirror the way in which they engage the world. Now, when I read this, Ixchell I thinking like I’m kind of think about what you’re talking about. But I’m also thinking about, like, how many online classes are, are built to be sit quietly and passively, right? Like, Hey, I’m talking about you through zoom. And since you can’t really respond or you can chat, you know, like you have to kind of go actively chat, but it’s like, there’s a lot of parts where I feel like, we kind of missed this opportunity here. I don’t know if you feel the same way. But like, I feel like maybe, maybe zoom has put a lot of not that it has to be like this is just a tool, right? But zoom meeting or whatever maybe has put a lot of students into a more passive role than they might have been in a physical class. restroom without creatively thinking about how you’re going to act, interact with your students. Right?

Ixchell Reyes 10:07
Yeah. And I think, you know, I think of myself when we have all these faculty meetings, and suddenly I don’t I’m, I’m waiting for the PowerPoint to show up so that I can take notes. And there might not be a PowerPoint, because it might be a message that, you know, the person wants to convey it through just talking to the faces. And so there’s a lot of I think we are going from one extreme to the other, and we haven’t yet found that equilibrium. And so that’s the way I see it. I don’t know. I, I, I’m still trying, I’m struggling to wrap my head around. How what approach should I take? And yeah, I haven’t big question mark on a lot of these things. So

Brent Warner 10:54
I think that’s fair. I think that’s one thing that we were hoping to convey today is that it’s been a year and a half of this of kind of tug of war, back and forth. And like, I don’t think that people need to feel I mean, I think there’s pressure but I to feel that we’re having the answers, but we do not have the answers, we still don’t know, we’re still like, we’re really in true baby levels of this. And I mean, there are people who are doing excellent work, don’t get me wrong, and there are people who have full ideas about all this stuff. But at the same time, the true grand, you know, I hate to phrase it this way, but the grand experiment of having almost 100% of all people learning online, instead of in person now is, is in its infancy, right. And so Absolutely,

Ixchell Reyes 11:40
I mean, one of the things that I have to keep reminding myself because you know, even as as you know, as a, you know, as a techie and understanding that it takes time and patience to be able to navigate these tools, and maybe one or two tools, and we are constantly promoting, you know, the use of technology and integrating it into our language teaching. But even understanding that I have to remind myself, hey, we haven’t done this for very long, Hey, take a step back. It’s not this is not the tried and true way to do things. And and there are so many curveballs being thrown at us by nature and by the world that it just, it’s very hard not to want to feel like, yes, maybe you’re back in the classroom, or you’re starting online. And so you feel like there’s a little bit of comfort in sort of knowing that you think you know what you’re going to be doing, because you’ve done it for a year and a half. But you’re actually no, this is like version 2.0 or point five, really a few if you’re labeling it, but we there’s so much we don’t know because now we’re seeing again, the students who have not ever been in the classroom. Before this, the students who are their students who’ve done this online for the last year and a half this students who were we’re not used, maybe they’re going to a teacher who’s using a different platform, and assessment is a whole other thing where I’m, I’m constantly wondering, Well, you know, there’s pressure for us to make sure that these students pass the test, they need to pass enroll and matriculate or, you know, reached a goal they need to that they signed up for, but how are we? But are we holding them to the same expectations? As before the pandemic? And are we pushing those boundaries enough to make allowances and I don’t want to, I don’t know if allowance, this is the maybe just to modify considering what our students and what our teachers have gone through because there’s so many teachers out there doing the best they can without that formal training, it was just like, pushed and imposed on them by the pandemic, and and then we’re all trying to go back to whatever quote unquote normal it is, that’s gonna, whatever is gonna, you know, that’s, that’s just, yeah, what, where do we go from here?

Brent Warner 14:04
Totally. So one of the articles that we read was called Ed Tech’s failure during the pandemic and what comes after by Reich. And this, one of the quotes inside of there, I know you pulled a couple of my you might want to share later, but one that I found, which actually came from another, another article, but by Sandra holtzbrinck. Stephen Dwyer in 97. And this is so interesting, because he’s talking about this, this report from 1997. So you’re like, you know, 20 some odd years ago, and then that was actually doing reports from even well before there so it says what they found 40 years ago still holds true today. It takes time even for master teachers to to get to be good at teaching with technology. First, teachers tend to use new technologies to extend existing practices. Only with time practice experimentation and support, do they move on to more novel applications, which, you know, I was thinking back to our Samurai conversation, right starting off with like that s s a level stuff and then start pushing forward. But it takes time, right? Like people who are really good teachers still need to understand this whole modality becomes different. And now, as we’re combining that together with like, Okay, now we’re online, or now we’re in a blended situation, or now, like, in my case, like I was planning on being in person, and then I had to make a last minute shift to go back online, because, you know, delta variants stuff. And so I just think it’s really something to be aware of that, you know, this is a whole new modality. And we don’t most of us as teachers don’t have that as a full learning experience. Like, the way we came up as learners is different, right? We were in a physical classroom, we understand what that interaction looks like. And so we have to kind of navigate something that we didn’t, most of us didn’t personally experience, or, or we have limited experience. My my grad school program was online quite a bit like this, because I felt like this is what the future of teaching was going to look like. So I signed up for that specifically, but you know what I’m saying like, but still, that’s a limited experience as a learner, right? It’s not my, it’s not me growing up and being online all the time. And you know, everything else like that.

Ixchell Reyes 16:30
Right. And it’s not something where the whole world is pushed online, basically. Right, right. Who could have ever predicted that? Right? Um, in this same article is I actually like this, when it points out the things, I guess, a year, a year and a half into this, the things that haven’t worked, the aspects that haven’t worked and what we can do with that, because that’s the important part is what can we do now that we know these things? And as teachers or administrators, especially those who are making choices, or imposing imposing certain decisions, those all? Yeah, it’s important to know, well, here’s what the article said. And again, I’m gonna quote from from same article. First, the pandemic should remind us that to use technology effectively, teachers need extensive support and extensive practice. This is how we do it for our students, right. So continuing, they cannot take advantage of new tools and platforms without meaningful opportunities for professional development and coaching. For that matter, they may not be able to use those tools. Well, unless school leaders also tinker with the curriculum schedules, assessments and every part of the system. And here, I want to maybe talk a little bit about, I know you and I pre show, we were talking about how our students are submitting work and how that’s changing in terms of assessment. The same assessment that we were using before, isn’t going to hold right now. And the assessment, the emergency assessments that we came up with during the pandemic, probably aren’t going to work because those weren’t like emergency assessments.

Brent Warner 18:10
So let me give you break your arm, you might put a sling on it temporarily, but you got to go to the doctor to get a properly fixed, right?

Ixchell Reyes 18:19
Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. So Brent, something that happened to me with, you know, with my students online, especially because I had I’ve had him for 16 weeks. So I thought, we’re going to get our routines going, they’re going to understand how to submit work. And so I don’t have to worry so much about it. But what I ended up what ended up happening is, and of course, I was teaching a TOEFL course, so writing was a big component of that. I stopped giving deadlines I stopped I was what was happening was my students were not submitting, and then apologizing for not submitting. And I’m, I’m very flexible and understanding, especially because students have families at home, like children at home, etc. But I can’t really help their writing if they’re not giving me writing to give them feedback on so what I ended up doing was just saying, look, I and of course I have a smaller class size, I know that people generally have larger, larger class sizes. So for me, this worked out. I stopped giving deadlines and I said, Look, here’s your assignment, and you submit it, but when you submit it when you can, when you submit it, let me know so that I can go back and give you the feedback. And of course, I have notifications on that actually tell me if the students are working on something. And I mean, what else could I do? I couldn’t force them to write or I could get a half asked Am I allowed to say that how fast the response was really just to pacify me and and that was not going to get me anywhere. To help them. So I did find out that over the weekend the students were would start writing, they’d start writing a paragraph, and then they on their own would say, hey, I’ve started, I just want you to know that I’m working on it.

Brent Warner 20:14
Yeah. Okay. So this is making me think I’ve actually been struggling a little bit with this this semester, some students have not been turning in their work. And then they send me a message later saying, Can I get an extension? How long can I have until? And so what you’re saying here actually, is making me think of a new approach to this, which is, I think I’m going to what if students need to also still set a deadline for my assignments. But I think what I’m going to do is instead say, if you need an extension, then you need to request that tell me why and tell me when your new deadline is, right. So if I put that on the students, if we put that on the students, then it becomes power in their hands, right? It becomes a trust in them where they say, Oh, I think I need, you know, three days, or they’re if they’re making us kind of put in, you know, a new deadline, am I allowed to turn this in late, right? I’m really have, like, I don’t want to be the boss of all of that, right? I want to say, Hey, here’s the time when it should be done, because that helps me get your work and feedback to you. If you need a longer time than that. You tell me right? Like, like, You’re the one who’s saying you need this support. So you tell me what support you might need, including the new deadline. And I would imagine, I would have to go do a little bit of research in the psychology of this. But I would imagine then, that that becomes a something that the student holds. And when they say, Okay, I can get this done by Wednesday instead, or I can get this done by, you know, Monday night or and they choose that time, then, by their own decision, they will be the ones responsible for finishing that. So that approach that I’ll take,

Ixchell Reyes 21:56
and, you know, again, and I want to, you know, I can only hear colleagues in the back of my mind saying, but then, you know, how are you going to deal with all of these things being submitted all at at different times? And how are you going to, you know, but the thing is, now, again, you go back to, we have to modify the amount of work we are giving. And if online is going to if that if dropping a deadline is going to yield me one assignment one or two assignments where I’m giving the students feedback, helpful feedback on something that they put their heart into and actually cared to write rather than didn’t want to get in trouble for not meeting the deadline type of work, then I’m doing them more, I’m helping them more than telling them hey, you didn’t this didn’t This doesn’t cut it. It’s a zero. Yeah. And then again, but But that requires reprogramming of our teacher brain, right? For sure. And if we’re gonna do anything, it’s now’s the time to do it. Now’s the time to try out all those things, all those? Try it a different way. Because what are you going to do you? You can’t You can’t force somebody to do that. And even if you can, is that actually going to show language acquisition or language? internalization is I mean, is it going to push a student to plagiarize? Is it going to push a student to have somebody else write it for them? There’s just so many other what ifs?

Brent Warner 23:22
Yeah, for sure. So one of the things that this makes me think about is, you know, I’m hoping to create a more positive classroom environment with my class as well. And what I’ve done this semester is I went grade list. So I read Susan blooms ungraded, or upgrading the book. And it inspired me over the summer. And I’m like, Okay, how am I going to figure this out? And so what basically, what I’ve ended up doing is, all of my assignments now are complete or incomplete. And so it’s like, either you’ve done what I’ve asked you or you haven’t done what I’ve asked you, and it’s a one point rubric. Right. And so what I’m doing, though, now is instead of spending time figuring out how many points you deserve for this thing, I’m just working on feedback and saying, Hey, here’s the feedback, here’s what’s working, here’s what’s not working, here’s where you’re showing me that you’re understanding what we’re talking about. Here’s the things that I want you to work on fixing. Once they hit all of the things that I am specifically looking for in the directions of the assignment, then I say, hey, that’s complete. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It doesn’t mean all of your grammar was perfectly right. But I gave you feedback on that grammar. And so you can then use that to process if they didn’t do it right. Or if they’re missing things, then there’s also still that feedback. And they can go in, listen, make the changes and then resubmit. And then they can get their credit for that. And so so assignments are either done or not done. And I’m hoping this is still experimental for me, but what I’m really hoping is that then they can choose. Hey, I’m showing my work. Here, I’m focusing on this. It’s not that I have to be perfect with everything, it’s that I’m going through the process and working through learning and feedback. And so to me, the way that this has been positive so far is, I feel when I’m giving that feedback that I’m teaching, right. And so like a lot of teachers kind of hate that grading times, like, I have to go grade. And it’s like, I’m not giving grades anymore. I’m giving feedback. And so it’s almost with with the combination of that and using moat. It’s like one to one feedback time for me with those students. And so I can talk to them about what’s going on what I’m seeing what they can do. And that feels more like teaching than assigning some crazy arbitrary points. You know, how do we know that this is a 10 out of 10 points, or this is a nine out of 10 points? Or if I gave it to you, Ixchell to grade the same paper, Maybe you would say, “No, this is only a six” right? And it’s like, well, those grades do not always align or do not really show mastery. What shows mastery is working through building, creating an understanding and then being able to reflect and share what’s going on with that. So I’m, I’ll have to come back and let you know how this is going. This is one of the ways that I’ve been trying to build a classroom that’s built on learning, rather than based on like chasing points.

Ixchell Reyes 26:25
Amazing, challenging the status quo.

Brent Warner 26:29
It’s scary, for sure.

Ixchell Reyes 26:33
The conversation we’re having now. Okay, the conversation we had, what, whenever we met in 2014 was how do we go paperless? How can we go paperless? How can we do more digital the conversation we’re having now amidst the pent amidst a pandemic is how can we go grade less? Right? So yeah, I just as difficult as it is, and as much resistance as there may be. It’s, it’s a shift in the culture. So I think it’s a good conversation to have.

Brent Warner 27:03
Yeah, and I want to continue to keep this open, right? Because especially for language learners, so many of them coming from other countries are used to a very top down system, right? This is your great, you must you must achieve this and this and this. And I’m like, so I was like a little bit. I was wondering, I’m like, okay, is this going to be something that’s accepted? Or is it not? Is it going to be supported? Are the students going to feel supported in this? And it’s, it’s been going pretty well, so far. It’s never going to be perfect, but just like, my regular classes are not perfect either. So yeah, of course, but it’s it’s more about their learning. It’s more about them saying hey, I am showing I am building these language skills, I am showing an ability to you know, engage with complicated topics in English and all of those things. So I think there’s there’s certainly a lot more to, to work with and figure out here, but it’s I feel brutal, positive about the direction it’s going.

Alright, Ixchell we’re on iTunes, we’re out there in the world. And we’re looking for people to continue to give us reviews if they’re willing to. Ixchell, did you know that we got our first three star review?

Ixchell Reyes 28:27
After all, the begging we did you believe it?

Brent Warner 28:30
Like, hey, if someone went out of their way, if someone went out of their way to say this show is mad, man Yeah, cuz it’s not like this is terrible. And it’s not like this is this is great. We know that there’s people out there that like love the show and haven’t graded it, but this person went out of their way to say, I’m gonna grade it and it’s gonna get that grade. And so, I have a message for that person.

Unknown Speaker 28:58
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, give them a better review. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you. I will find you and I will kill you.

Brent Warner 29:41
Fair warning. Anyone who gives a three star review.

Ixchell Reyes 29:47
Oh, we’ve got some improvement to do to fulfill that person. Or the foreplay now. Hey, brands were like those students who get that 99 but they 100

Brent Warner 30:01
that’s a killer. So it’s it rips out my. Well. And, yeah, good news, we got good news,

Ixchell Reyes 30:14
we got good news. In the last episode, we were giving away a copy of Larry ferlazzo his book. And we do have a winner right before the show we checked. We chose a winner. So please check your email, we will be reaching out to you for further details.

Brent Warner 30:31
Yeah, we can’t say I guess we can’t say the name of the person. email address. They didn’t collect people’s names properly. We got a three. All right, well, yeah. So congratulations. Just check your email if you if you applied, and you are possibly the winner. Okay, so Ixchell we’re talking about these, you know, these kind of bigger concepts about maybe how we can support students what we can do more, but we want to talk about some actual practical ways that we can engage with our students as well. Right. And so I know you’ve got quite a few ways that you’re talking about checking in with students figuring out things. What do you got for us? Well,

Ixchell Reyes 31:23
we can’t really get away from writing prompts us to check in with students. I know Larry mentioned that in our previous episode. But one thing that I thought is important is to make sure that students feel like they can communicate with instructors, and this came to me because right now, we’re at the beginning of September, we’ve got a crisis with our Afghan refugees coming into many English speaking countries, as refugees, and that and we have students whose family members are affected. So sometimes it’s very uncomfortable to talk about those issues in front of others. And so having some kind of open dialogue with the teacher, and again, this is not a brand new idea, but a Google Doc journal, simply or putting up a poll in the morning that says, How are you feeling today? what’s what’s on your mind today, and starting that way and doing it anonymously, you can do this with quill, or you can do this with Socrative, and many other platforms. But having that connection is so important, and that builds trust, and we’re talking about building a supportive classroom environment. I had a couple of moments during the last few months where a student said, I cannot make it to class today. My wife is pregnant, and I’ve got to take her to the doctor, because there were complications and stuff like that. But that student, of course, couldn’t communicate that to the whole class, but felt like they could write to me, and I just found that that was so instrumental later, to I didn’t know the student’s personality as well as I, as I could have face to face. But because we had that open communication, I think it really helped to help him feel supported, and help not not have him feel like oh, I don’t care because you’re not, you know, you’re not turning in my assignment or you’re not showing up, you’re not turning on the camera, there were there were legitimate reasons as to why he couldn’t be there. And I think, just give again, having a place where students can voice what’s going on. I think that that’s really powerful. And it’s Google Doc, Google Doc, a Google Doc journal personalized for students, and they go in and they write, give them a prompt, they go in and they write.

Brent Warner 33:49
So another way that I saw someone approached this similar idea here, or they basically had a Google form. And it was kind of the students checking every morning, right? So they would go fill in it was in a park attendance, right? So it would ask like, hey, this maybe some question. And then it also had just a button on there where it said, you know, do you want Brent to reach out to talk to you, right, like, and, and it’s just, if that becomes part of their regular routine where they say, you know, No, I’m fine. Or Yes, I could use a little support. And then that teacher knows, hey, I can go jump in and like, I can reach out to them. And the student doesn’t have to answer yes, anytime. But when they see that as a regular option for them to know that they’re being being reached out to and and have the opportunity to, to have that private conversation if they need it. I thought that was a really cool way that you know, building it into the regular routine of saying, Hey, no, I’m cool. I’m doing okay with things or actually today. I’m not feeling great. And I would love to be able to talk about that. And so I really appreciated that particular approach. I think another way to do it is something like discord or pronto. And a lot of the students are using discord for their classes. At our school, we launched pronto, which is pronto.io built right into Canvas. So there’s like a pop up chat chat room that shows up inside of Canvas, or you can get the app separately. And you can just kind of chat with each other. So I started doing this over the summer with my students in the summer school class, and just like informal things, like, you know, hey, here’s me, like, here’s the coffee I’m having this morning at the coffee shop, or I’m on a trip. And here’s a picture of the beach, where I’m at or something. And so it’s almost like, almost like social media just directly put, like shared out or they’re on my text chain link to to the class, but they can all share with each other as well. And I’m trying to use that in a non academic not, you know, just like, Hey, I’m a person, you’re a person, we can all share with each other. We’re part of this community we’re trying to work together. So I think some of those, those chat room functions can be really excellent ways to connect with your students and make them feel like they’re being supported. And like they’re a part of that community and T.

Ixchell Reyes 36:16
Right. And so in the last episode, Larry ferlazzo had offered of view, a take on using the student’s own own cultural backgrounds to find a common unifying point of discussion. And the tool I use a CNN, it’s just straight out video news, but it’s the news around the world and in the nation in 10 minutes. It’s pretty good for grade six, I would say grade six and up that covers events nationally and internationally uses the host uses academic language and like humor. But this is where you can pick out events that are happening globally and are impacting some of our students. And it can unify the class, you can pull material from that you can pull a story from there and half the cost discuss it. And one of the things that I found is again, when we were going through, when we’re going through the pandemic, we didn’t watch because every day was about the traumatizing. So but you when we had maybe for example, there was something that happened in Tunisia recently affected one of my students, my student was a Tunisian student, and it affected him and maybe other students had no idea. But asking him to talk about it would have probably not been appropriate, because it was so personal to him, that he was still processing, showing that or giving that clip asynchronously for students to choose and now be able to watch now that gave them the background knowledge to come in and now be able to also be a supportive classmate. And so cnn 10 is really good to give the students as a routine that they can do asynchronously, and you can watch it with the class. And I would always, of course, vet everything. Because there may be something you may not want to discuss, like, for example, the pandemic daily. But you can always, you know, have some kind of discussion afterwards or react via flipgrid, or, again, an online journal or a Google form. But I find that cnn 10 actually does a really good job of pulling cultures together.

Brent Warner 38:30
Yeah, that’s great. So another potential tool that people can use, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, this app before this service called parlay pa r LAY. And I think it’s apparently ideas.com. It’s basically you know, it’s a little bit of a, I have to do more research on it. But it is a kind of a jumped up discussion board, or discussion opportunity for students. But what’s kind of cool about it is you if you’re going back in person, or if you’re online, you can do things in it, where you can watch your students interacting with it all at the same time. And so if you put up a prompt, you could do something like a fishbowl type activity, where you have two or three people who are going to be talking about the topic, right? So you put that that topic forward, and the students can talk about it. But the rest of the students can be in partly in this app and responding as the students are going along. And then you can as a teacher, see who is giving feedback who is not and you can kind of nudge them like hey, I noticed you haven’t kind of really responded anyone in in, you know, the last five or 10 minutes. So maybe you can kind of give your ideas or is there anything you can add on to this just with a little clicks inside of this app. And so partly, there’s a lot of other things to it. They’ve got all these, you know, assignments built in and you know, all sorts of things. So there’s different pricing levels, but I am going to peek around it a little bit more, because it might be a really interesting way to engage. And let everybody participate in ways that play to their own strengths. And that could be both online synchronous, it could be asynchronous, and it could also be in person, as long as everyone has, you know, like a one to one device that they can jump in there and share with.

Ixchell Reyes 40:22
Yeah, actually, we’ll put the link in the show notes. do watch it. It’s a short clip, but it’s it’s fascinating. I’ve never heard of that until you until you brought it up today. Um, so my other strategy here is not a tool that we haven’t covered. It’s we’ve talked about it a few times. It’s future model.org haven’t covered? Not at all that we haven’t covered. Yeah, we’ve covered it before. But I just have

Brent Warner 40:49
like, some double negatives.

Ixchell Reyes 40:53
You, what are you a millennial? accussed millennial,

Brent Warner 40:57
okay, cos

Ixchell Reyes 41:01
I can’t call you

Brent Warner 41:05
told me about the tool that we haven’t not talked about before.

Ixchell Reyes 41:11
Okay. Future me.org. Yes, teacher me.org. We have talked about many times, and this is a, I don’t I really want to know when this was when this was built, because it’s an oldie kind of tool. But I just keep going back to it because it you know, and telling my students that, Hey, you got to be gentle with yourself has all of these sudden changes when they were in the classroom, the next day, we’re not that next day someone’s exposed the next day, a friend, you know, has tested positive. So we’ve got to understand that sometimes we can’t just push through, and quote unquote, be strong. Sometimes you’ve got to face the reality that it’s difficult to and you’ve got to validate the internal turmoil that’s going on. And so with future me that org, having students give themselves their future selves, words of encouragement, or a message. It just works. So well, I have had several students, you know, forget that. They wrote themselves, you know, a message to their, you know, a week from now. And they’re surprised and they’ll eat, they’ll show me the message. They won’t share it with the class, but they’ll want to show me like, Oh, look, it was so nice to get it or, oh, yeah, I forgot everything that was going on last week. And so, again, that’s another way of fostering a connection. And also, it lets the student know that you care. I think that’s just so important right now, compassion for the teachers, for our students for what we’re dealing with in the world.

Brent Warner 42:52
Yeah, and I think all of these are just some starters, just some ways to kind of start looking at ways to kind of more connect with our students that we can build over the course of the semester. Right? So future me a lot of times, like we’ve talked about that. It’s like, okay, write something at the beginning. And it’ll show up at the end. But I love the idea that now we can use this regularly, like you’re gonna write a message to yourself to next week, what are you? What are you hoping that you’re going to have done by that time and then respond to yourself after that, right. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can kind of regularly build these in as, you know, support systems for students. Consistently rather than just this is a one off thing.

Ixchell Reyes 43:36
Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. I think with future me.org. That’s the one thing that I’ve learned is if I’m introducing it to a classroom, well, there may be the student who says, huh, I’m not gonna do that. That’s silly. But if you are saying, Okay, today, go to future me spend some time this afternoon and I want you to talk about what’s challenging. You’re right now. Okay. Next week, okay, today, I want you to go to feature me.org. And tell me two things that you’re proud of right now. And then they’re actually able to reflect and and build an attitude of reflection, and also to see like, Hey, I was so worried about that last week. But now look at where I am now. And I think that’s, that’s important, because you’re helping them navigate the difficulties that we’re facing. And not just, of course, not with language, but everything else.

Brent Warner 44:22
I love it.

Five times,

Ixchell Reyes 44:30
hey, my friend find it’s not that fun.

Brent Warner 44:33
What’s your fun find?

Ixchell Reyes 44:34
My fun find is rescue.org which is a charity for refugees. And I know it’s not fun.

Brent Warner 44:47
I mean, it’s nice, I mean,

Ixchell Reyes 44:50
but they’re one of the best out there. You know, you’ve got to be careful when you’re when a situation happens and you’ve got to be careful when you’re donating and risk dot org is one that I want to encourage all of our listeners to, if you can support our refugees that way.

Brent Warner 45:10
So, mine now I feel like fine fine fine yeah, my mind’s like totally not functional. Okay, so So mine is a but it is something that I’m quite happy about because I’ve been looking or wanting this for a long time it’s so if you have a hydro flask, you know the lids that go on top of them for a long time, they didn’t have one that just had a handle that you could carry. And now they made this one called the wide mouth flex sip lid with a with a just a little loose handle that goes on top of it. And so for me my morning walks, right I can just carry my coffee, get the coffee on my walk and then carry it easily home instead of having to you know, have my hand wrapped around the bottle the whole time. Like it’s just a little a little carrier lid. Silly but like i they didn’t make it when I first got my hydroflask and so I’m happy to have that nice lid that’s convenient for going on walks with your if you have if you carry a hydroflask What’s the title of that again? The hydroflask wide mouth flex sip lid.

Ixchell Reyes 46:18
Now say that three times really fast.

Brent Warner 46:20
hydroflask wide myths flex, zipline, flex hydroflask wide mouth flex sipple it down to three, that would be totally a three.

Ixchell Reyes 46:41
All right, so thank you so much for listening to the show, you could win a one of a kind DIESOL pin by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts

Brent Warner 46:49
Must be five or higher.

Ixchell Reyes 46:54
If you’re giving us a shout out any other way tag us on social media, we’re on all platforms.

Brent Warner 47:00
We’re on Patreon. We’re not really on clubhouse these days. But when we again we just keep saying that but we’re on Patreon anyways if you want to support the show, if you don’t just totally cool to keep on listening and that’s plenty for us. For show notes and other episodes please check out DIESOL.org slash 49 – 49 or you can always listen to us on voiceEd Canada that’s vo ice ed.ca You can find us on Twitter. The show is @DIESOLpod and I am @BrentGWarner.

Ixchell Reyes 47:34
I’m at Ixy underscore Pixy that’s I x y underscore p i x y. In Nepalese “Thank you” is Dhanyabaad. Dhanyabaad for tuning in to the DIESOL podcast! Bye everyone.

Face to face instruction, online instruction, and “hybrid” models all now face new challenges from establishing routines to restructuring assessment and deadlines; there is so much we still have to learn about teaching online. Lessons amidst the pandemic can serve as guiding parameters as we approach another school year. Join us as we discuss these topics and more!



  • Writing Prompts as check-ins with students. They can be done anonymously via Quill, or a Google Doc journal.
  • CNN 10
  • Futureme.org
  • Canvas/Mote for “complete/incomplete” work
  • Discord or Pronto for community building/sharing things outside of the normal classroom day to day
  • Parlay 

Fun Finds

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