Week 5 of Remote Learning – Learning from Students


Well, time got away from me. I started strong with writing a blog post for the first two weeks of remote learning. Some how time didn’t allow me the opportunity to make the trend happen, weird huh? Lots of learning has happened over the past five weeks. This week, I would like to highlight something that I learned from a student.

Our principal shared with the staff that an instagram account was created in an effort to highlight our graduating senior class. It is so hard to be in this situation that we are all in. Hard for the graduates. Hard for the senior advisory teachers. Hard for the staff that are retiring this year. On this instagram account, each post highlights a different graduating senior with what they are planning on doing after they graduate. What a cool idea.

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Stepping Outside My Comfortable Limits

The title of this post should speak for itself. “Stepping Outside My Comfortable Limits” – it is a statement that we hear from time to time. Well, I can say that I have done this recently. As a kid, I always dreaded reading. It just was not my thing. Give me some math problems to solve and I was right there ready to go with my mechanical pencil. Yes, I LOVED mechanical pencils! Well, fast forward to March 2018…who knew that I would be co-leading an online book chat with the librarian in my school, Jessica Gilcreast, as a means of delivering professional development. In fact, when I told my family about this, my brother thought I was lying and my mother smiled. In the end, once I truly convinced them of my task at hand, they were impressed with me. Put a smile on my face.

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Sometimes We Have to Unlearn to Learn….

This past week, I was reminded, from time to time, we have to unlearn what we have always done in order to learn and improve. Sometimes this can be difficult to do. You have always done something a certain way…why would you want to ruin what is ‘good’? However, sometimes change can be for the better. Sure it might take you awhile to get used to doing something new, but in the end you will see the benefits and progress.

Unlearn to Learn

Here is my recent journey of having to unlearn to learn over the past week.

I help manage our school’s social media accounts. Whenever something needs to be posted on Instagram, I think to myself:

“What picture do we already have that I can use that relates to what needs to be shared?
“What picture could I take around the building?”
“Who can I ask that would have an image of…?”

There have been times in the past where I have thought,

“Well, I don’t know what I would use as a picture so I don’t know if I am going to post it on Instagram. Instead, I will just post it on the school’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.”

You probably already know what the problem might be with the last statement. Most of our students live in the Snapchat and/or Instagram worlds. They might not see what is shared on Twitter or Facebook.

Posting to Instagram 
“Traditional Method”
Let’s say that I have already have the picture that I want to use for Instagram. In many instances it is a picture that was sent to me by mail. I would either need to send the picture to myself and open up the picture on my phone to post on Instagram, or I would share it to my drive. Sure that is a lot of steps, but hey, it is what I have done in the past.

“New Method”

I realized I should be using my phone to help me be creative in sharing information with the community. For instance, our school is celebrating turning 10 years old. I needed to find a way to share ‘text’ information in a visual format. Sure I could type all of the information under the image, but I didn’t really have a ‘good’ image that related to the content.

It dawned on me that I really should push myself to try out Adobe Spark Post Mobile app. I have used the web version of the application but hadn’t really tried the mobile version. To my surprise, I discovered that there were some great features in the mobile version that I had not seen on the web version.

Once I opened Spark Post, I discovered that you can ‘remix’ a spark post that some else has already created. I remember a colleague of mine, Mary Marotta, shared this information with me but I did not know what she was talking about until I actually used the app myself. I like the fact that I did not have to start from square one. Remember, I needed to share information through Instagram but I really did not want to spend more than 10 minutes to complete the task. I immediately scrolled through the ‘school’ category to see if there was something useful.

The Spark Post that I decided to use was an ‘Open Mic’ theme post. I decided to keep the background color and theme. The only thing that I changed was the text and content in the original Spark Post. 

Below is what I ended up creating and posting to the school’s Instagram account.

Since then, I have also created other posts using the mobile version of Adobe Spark Post.

How and what I am using to post content to Instagram is not necessarily THE way to post to the social media platform. For me, realizing that I might want to change the way that I had ALWAYS posted to the platform might not always be the way that I want/should post. It is important from time to time to unlearn what you have always done to learn how to do the same task differently.

As always, if you ever want to chat about this idea, you know where to find me. And that is my spiel…

Adobe Express: Taking Design to the Next Level

Over the past month, I have been exploring around with a tool called Adobe Express (formally called Adobe Spark). Adobe Express is a tool that provides a user an opportunity to create:

Visual Post, Video, Web Page

Adobe Express works on the web (works great on Chromebooks) as well as through mobile apps (Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Spark Video, Adobe Spark Page). The user is able to log into Adobe Spark with their Google Account – it will ask for a birth date. (If you are planning on using this with students below 13, you should talk with your tech integrator to see if this is in fact a tool you should use with your students.) Below is an example of what you can do with Adobe Voice. This video speaks to the three components of Adobe Spark.


Examples of the Tool
This is an example of a Spark Post that I have created.

Clicking on this link will bring you to a Spark Page that I am currently working on for Hour of Code.

Using this Tool in Your Classroom

You could easily use Spark Post to highlight a song, quote, or poem. Students can use Spark Video to promote a product, explain an idea or concept, verbalize a story they wrote, etc. The possibilities are endless. Rather than using Google Slides to present a topic, students could use Spark Page. Students could even take it to the next level and integrate Spark Posts and Spark Videos into their Spark Page.

I have created a 4 step process instructions guideline for students and staff. You can access the actual link to the Google Drawing HERE. The links on the Google drawing will either demonstrate/explain what to do either in GIF or Video format.

Why I Like Adobe Spark
There are many reasons why I like this tool. To name a few…

  • Very easy to use
  • Visually appealing
  • Allows for creativity
  • Allows for student voice and choice

It is important to note that this does not replace G-Suite and its tools. This, however, is a great alternative to the powerful collaboration tool G-Suite from time to time. My challenge for you is to out one of the tools yourself within the next month – once you do one, you will be hooked!

As always, if you have any questions or want to talk about how this tool can be integrated in your own classroom, you know where to find me.

And that is my Spiel…