12 blog posts that defined 2020

Every December, I wait impatiently for Google to release their annual year-in-search video. I may shrug at the references I plumb don’t get, blaming my age or aversion to social media, but the snippets that do resonate—which are many—are always a comfort. It’s quite something to feel like a part of a whole, to watch a video snapshot of what was on our collective minds over the course of a year and nod in agreement.

I did a lot less shrugging when I watched the 2020 version. Most Googling on my devices and on computers, tablets, and phones across the globe revolved around coronavirus, systemic racism, supporting teachers, smoke-filled skies, and reasons to hope. Some of those were certainly the most relevant topics in Teach. Learn. Grow. this year.

Here’s a roundup of 12 popular posts that paint a revealing—and not surprising—picture of this year. We invite you to revisit them as you prepare for school starting again in January.

1. “Learning during COVID-19: Initial research findings and 5 things we can do”

To say 2020 was a challenging year is to utter an understatement. What educators—and students and their families—have been able to accomplish since the spring is remarkable. Now research points to where to focus efforts in 2021.

2. “16 free digital resources for reading, math, and MAP Growth to use at home during the COVID-19 crisis”

By now, you probably have a trusty toolbox for teaching in a pandemic. But if you need some fresh ideas for how to support reading and math in particular, this post has more than a dozen for you.

3. “Let’s talk equity: Reading levels, scaffolds, and grade-level text”

Interrupted learning may be affecting children’s gains in reading. What’s the best way to help them grow? By not lowering expectations. Learn how to use scaffolding to ensure all your students are sufficiently challenged and have plenty of access to complex, grade-level text.

4. “3 reasons to use formative assessment in your virtual instruction—and tips on how to go about it”

In this post, Chase Nordengren acknowledges that “it has never been more important to understand student learning in the moment and use that understanding to drive instruction.” Rather than leave you hanging on what, exactly, to do about it, he offers formative assessment as the answer.

5. “19 formative assessment strategies for online teaching”

This post picks up where Chase’s post leaves off. It explains how to use most of the methods from our popular 2019 post, “27 easy formative assessment strategies for gathering evidence of student learning,” in your online or hybrid classroom.

6. “How remote testing can keep students connected and on track”

Formative assessment can provide a valuable view into student learning. So can an interim assessment like MAP® Growth™. Read more about the value of assessment data and how we can help you test remotely in the winter and spring.

7. “Reflecting on spring: 5 lessons learned to maximize K­–3 fall instruction”

Reaching young learners can be tricky. In this post, New York educator Stephen Marositz shares wisdom gained at his school. Most importantly, he reminds you to, “Be gentle and kind to yourself. Know that you’re much stronger than you think you are—and you’ll only get stronger.”

8. “6 ways to support students with disabilities during COVID-19 school closures”

If you’re struggling to reach students with special needs, you’re not alone. This post offers tips that can guide you in trying a new approach in 2021.

9. “3 factors to focus on when teaching kids living in poverty”

Families across the country are struggling to meet their basic necessities right now. Some small and intentional changes to your practice can make it easier for kids living in poverty to learn and grow.

10. “6 ways to help heal toxic stress, trauma, and inequity in your virtual or in-person classroom”

COVID-19 and the murders of countless Black men and women have caused immeasurable stress and trauma for our children. A trauma-informed classroom can help you create a safe space that’s conducive to learning.

11. “3 ways to start building an anti-racist teaching practice”

Difficult as 2020 has been, it’s also provided many of us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand up for what’s right and contribute to meaningful efforts to root out systemic racism, especially in education. This post by Casey Andrews, a high school English teacher in Boston, is the first in a five-part series that walks you through how to begin to tackle such a daunting task.

12. “Wake up and spill the coffee: How I woke up to deficit ideology”

Sometimes, the long road in the fight for social justice can begin with something as simple as thinking about the words we use—and committing to language that is more accurate and empathetic. This post explains how.

Wishing you health, happiness, and ample time for self-care in the new year.

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