What a pleasure to talk and learn with Ashley Hertzog and Courtney Bonino in this episode about Moving to Teaching Virtually – At IU8 and The World of Learning Institute. Ash has been teaching with us for 4 years. Courtney, also a Spanish teacher,  joined us this year. She came after 6 years of teaching at a brick-and-mortar school. They shared some great insights about the collaborative and expanding nature of teaching in a virtual classroom. It was such an uplifting conversation about all that is possible.

Listen in to this PODCAST HERE

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Here are a few key takeaways about collaborating to improve virtual learning from our conversation:
  • Online learning has opened up the world for us and our students. As teachers, we can collaborate with our peers through messaging and shared documents and drives. Having colleagues to help us and inspire us seems more possible in the virtual setting.
  • The number of ways to engage students in virtual learning is ‘endless’. Tools can make it easier to communicate with students. Giving individualized feedback in live sessions encourages participation.
  • We talked about a number of tools, but one thing in this conversation was clear; building a relationship with the learners helps to engage them.
  • Students have opportunities in the virtual setting to take courses that otherwise would not be available to them. (The WOL Institute offers 9 languages, in addition to Calculus and Chemistry). In our World Language classes, students learn so much more than just the languages they choose to study. They become better communicators in English, as well. Students even meet peers from other parts of the state or even the US. We host classes with students from Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, and of course, Pennsylvania!
  • Courtney and Ashley are both inspired by the collaboration of their teaching peers, and the responsiveness of our Virtual Learning Specialists; Anita, Olivia, and Lauren, and they are especially inspired by their students. Listen in for more details.
Ashley and Courtney’s Favorite Tools

Ashley’s favorite tool – Jamboard
Jamboard offers multiple ways for students to interact in a virtual or face-to-face classroom when they are using technology. Students can draw, move items, move post-its, and even play teacher-made gameboards. In addition, it offers individualization for students when teachers give individual boards for students to create their own meaning. Ashley feels like it offers a way for even shy student to demonstrate their competence without having to raise their hand or share their voice. See the examples below!

Student jamboard drawing and labeling body parts and clothing.
Student jamboard drawing and labeling body parts and clothing.
Jamboard of student drawing about interest and their sister.
Jamboard of student drawing about interest and their sister.






Diner – Example Jamboard Activities

Brainstorming – Example Jamboard Activities

World of Learning Institute – YouTube

Courtney’s Favorite Tool – Peardeck

The best part about Peardeck is that you can use slides you have already created. Peardeck is unique in that it allows you to do formative assessments that only you can see as a teacher, allowing you to adjust instruction, re-teach, or accelerate based on student feedback. You can also take the pulse of the classroom privately!

Like Jamboard, Peardeck allows you to move items around and draw. In addition, it lets you see what individual students are doing and give private feedback. There are so many good videos and tutorials on the Peardeck webpage we haven’t made any of our own! See Courtney’s examples below.

Slide that says listen and draw the clothes - a drawing of a red shirt with yellow dots, blue pants, black shoes, black hair.
Slide that says listen and draw the clothes – a drawing of a red shirt with yellow dots, blue pants, black shoes, and black hair.


Slide of three frogs no seen, no hear, no say for students to draw on.
Slide of three frogs no seen, no hear, no say for students to draw on.
Leadership Corner

Over the last three weeks, I took an ASCD seminar called Write Your Leadership Story – with Gretchen Oltman and Vicki Bautista from Crieghton University. The three Thursday evening sessions took us through a reflective journey to help us to remember that all of us are leaders. Their book, What’s Your Leadership Story? A School Leader’s Guide to Aligning How You Lead with Who You Are – spoke to my own core belief that who we are is how we lead.

Here are a few takeaways from the course:

  1. Titles just explain our role in an organization. You are so much more than your title! We bring all the roles that we hold outside our role to our work. I am a spouse, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, and more. All of these come with me when I go show up in my role.
  2. Leadership styles are described by many great thought leaders but really fall into three categories: Directing, Guiding, and Enabling. At any point, we might use one of these leadership styles depending on the situation and our own core values.
  3. Mindset and experience matter! Being a leader does not mean everything goes well or as planned (certainly we all know this as we navigated the pandemic). Knowing who you are and what your leadership philosophy is can help you to navigate the good and the bad times – while staying true to yourself.

Here are a few resources for further study.

Research Matters / Transformational Leadership in Uncertain Times – ASCD

The Courage to Teach

Pennsylvania ASCD – Professional Learning


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