By Debra Shapiro
COVID-19 ExplaVideos. Two animated videos from the ABC News Medical Unit—Herd Immunity: Can We Stop the Virus? and Convalescent Plasma—help middle and high school audiences understand the science behind these timely topics. Featuring simple language and cartoon graphics, the short (less than five minutes each) videos explain how herd immunity “works” in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and address the idea of whether or not convalescent plasma (antibodies from people who’ve recovered from the virus) can be used to effectively treat people currently battling the virus and also provide immunity to keep individuals from contracting it. “Automatically generated” (e.g., not corrected for typos) transcripts of each video are available.
Understanding Unconscious Bias in Teaching. This episode of Rethinking Education—Education Dive’s podcast series exploring the impacts of changing technology and social norms on education—tackles unconscious bias in teaching. Unconscious biases are stereotypes about gender, race, and other factors formed without conscious awareness. Applicable for educators of all ages and levels, K-college, the 15-minute podcast discusses what unconscious bias is and how it impacts the assumptions we make. In addition, the program suggests conscious actions for educators and others to help overcome biases and further empathy, such as approaching decisions with an open mindset; being willing to step out of your comfort zone and speak up about an issue; listening mindfully to varying viewpoints; and thinking of problem solving as a holistic process, one which involves building upon the expertise of many to reach group consensus.
PlantSnap Plant Identification App. Identify plants, trees, and more instantly with this easy-to-use app for smartphones and tablets. Available for both Android and iOS platforms, and suitable for teachers all levels, registered users (e-mail login required) can snap a photo and find the name of the plant in seconds. Great for use in outdoor education lessons, the app features a worldwide database of more than 625,000 species of plants, flowers, trees, and mushrooms. An Augmented Reality (AR) component provides instant access to information from the database about any plant detected in the device's viewfinder. Users can also view AR technology-enabled animations to learn more about photosynthesis and other topics. An introductory video about the app’s features is included.
STEAM Projects at Home. Education nonprofits Two Bit Circus Foundation and Annenberg Learner have produced more than 150 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning projects for K–12 audiences. The projects support learning standards, require only common household items, and follow a simple format to use in distance and at-home learning. Organized by grade span (K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12), and grouped as lesson collections (Brick Playbook; Engineering Tower;, NASA’s BEST Students; Project Playbook; Eighth-Grade Chemistry; Middle School Forces: Scrambler Car; Electricity: House Project; Forces: Glider; and so on), the activities offer experiences from engineering design tasks like Design a Lunar Buggy (K–8) and Paper Airplane Cargo Race (K–5) to physical science explorations like Collision Safety experiments (grades 6–8) and a model House Project (grades 9–12), complete with working lights and switches. In all the activities, students are driving their own learning as they ask questions, work with materials, make observations, and communicate findings.
Webinars: Strategies to Support Students with Remote Learning. Three recorded webinars highlight evidence-based practices to promote effective learning and address equity during school closures. Presented by researchers from the U.S. Department of Education’s Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic, the webinars offer timely, practical advice for educators and other stakeholders and include access to the slides, transcripts, handouts, and reference lists from each program.