Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Spring Bingo Challenge: Highlighting the Heroes

The amount of technology available to teachers can feel overwhelming. It seems like a new tool is released each week, making it hard for anyone -- let alone the busy teacher -- to keep up. But when it boils down, we know that technology itself isn’t necessarily innovative or meaningful on its own. Rather, we need teachers who intentionally implement that technology in their lessons and classrooms for the most impactful learning to happen. It's also true that teachers need time with tech tools to explore and implement, to try and try again.

In an effort to help teachers sift through the barrage of technology tools and templates available to them, NISD's Instructional Technology team hosts an annual Spring Bingo Challenge (happening in 2021 from April 1-30). Throughout this time teachers, K-12 and throughout the district are challenged with a fun way to explore instructional technology tools (new and old) at their own pace and when it makes sense for them.

A major benefit to this challenge happening during the Spring semester is that school is still in session. Meaning, instead of bookmarking a bunch of exciting ideas during a Summer PD that we someday hope to use (we’ve all been this person), educators are able to implement their ideas with students in the moment, as they learn, and when they have the support of their team and instructional technologist should they need it. After all, there is research enough to support the fact that effective job-embedded professional development can have a positive impact on teacher practice. However, between breaks, benchmarks, standardized tests, and end-of-year celebrations it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Spring semester is also a wildly busy time of year for teachers.

And yet...

At the time of writing this, we are already halfway through this year's challenge and well into the Spring semester. Teachers are asked, as a part of the challenge, to share their learning on Twitter using the hashtag #NISDITBingo.

Teachers have too much on their plates.

They are teaching in a pandemic.

They are tripping over their to-do lists.

And yet, that hashtag is filled with teacher heroes.

#NISDITBingo is filled with dedicated educators who are committed to prioritizing their professional growth for the sake of their students. It's filled with those who are courageous enough to try something new, and who are determined enough to try it now -- today -- when it will impact these learners. That hashtag is filled with teachers who are learning by doing and who are sharing their successes.

The thing is -- change is hard. Pushing yourself to learn something new, especially while those around you talk about things coming to an end, is hard. So, yes. These teachers are heroes who deserve to be celebrated.

Highlighting the Heroes

Below are only a few "hero highlights" from the Spring Bingo Challenge. See all of the shared successes at #NISDITBingo.

Engaging Hooks with "Mystery Reveals" 

As educators, we know the importance of grasping our learners early on in a lesson or unit. Creating a little mystery around a topic is a great way to get hook students and get them excited about their learning. When teaching her students how to compare fractions, Mrs. Kemper used a “Mystery Reveal” activity in Seesaw where students used a magnifying glass to reveal the fractions as they learn and work to solve the problems.

If you don’t use Seesaw, don’t sweat it! Mrs. Herrera used a similar Jamboard template to engage her students in problem-solving and to review the math concepts they were working on.

Problem-Solving and Communication: Flipgrid

Mrs. Robbins creatively combined a Google document and QR codes with Flipgrid, a platform for video responses complete with a whiteboard. She cleverly created a problem-solving “flip escape”. For this task, students had to solve each math problem, scan the cooresponding QR code, and then entering a code word so they could share how they solved each problem in Flipgrid before they could unlock the next one.

Not only did she design an engaging, gamified learning experience for her students, but by integrating Flipgrid at each step, students were empowered with a voice and recognized for their success in learning, where they could both showcase and share their learning to an authentic audience of their classmates. Even better, because of her intentional planning students could collaboratively learn from one another along the way. 

In Mrs. Waddell's class, students were given the chance to lead a discussion through Doceri, an app for mobile educators. Not only did Mrs. Waddell's intentional use of this tool foster classroom communication and individual reflection, but it gave students a chance to practice leadership while learning.

Assessment: Jamboard

Mrs. Mogg wisely tweaked a pre-made KWL template from Canva to use as the background in an interactive Google Jamboard. By moving the KWL graphic from a static Canva to the interactive Jamboard, she elevated the task. Students were engaged on a platform that let them collaboratively share their thinking. 

Feedback: Bitmoji, Canva, Seesaw, & Autocrat

Feedback is a critical part of learning and should be timely, relevant, and specific. In a creative twist, Mrs. Weiss designed her own “digital stickers” in Canva using her Bitmoji. She then used her digital stickers to provide her learners with visual feedback in Seesaw. Similarly, Mrs. Washam took that idea a step further, using the audio tool to provide her students with verbal feedback that accompanied the sticker.  


Critical feedback is important to learning, but positive feedback can go a long way in building relationships with students and parents. Using a Google Sheets Add-on called Autocrat, Mrs. Moggs was able to quickly and efficiently send home personalized, positive notes for each of her students. This is such a powerful way to easily celebrate students and communicate with parents while saving on time.

Review: Flippity!

Mrs. Janese created an interactive game to help her students review their sight words using one of the templates provided on Flippity, which offers a variety of templates to easily turn a Google Spreadsheet into engaging activities. Then, she was able to easily and seamlessly link to the game through a Seesaw Activity so that her little learners could easily navigate to and participate in their learning task. 


Interested in exploring more? Want to put these ideas to use in your own classroom? 

Northwest ISD’s BINGO Challenge is running from April 1-30, 2021. Anyone can play and participants can start learning at any time during the challenge. Get your own BINGO board here

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