Getting Ready for Fall 2020

Ready or not, Fall is coming.

July 29, 2020 - Preparing Positive Action for virtual and blended learning requires some additional planning. This is the first of a series of blog articles. Be sure to check back every week for new updates.

Digital Resources

As we work towards the beginning of the school term, Positive Action has several support projects running in parallel to support teachers in their efforts. The first initiative is to streamline the requests for digital resources. In mid-August, teachers will be able to submit resource requests directly from the website. The resources available include activity sheets, poster thumbnails and other ancillary items that are easily transmitted. The resources will be available on a unit by unit basis for customers. After a request is made, the teacher will receive a link to download the resources from the Positive Action cloud. Those links will be live for seven days. Teachers will be required to create accounts to make resource requests. If you have not created an account yet, please visit:

https://www.positiveaction.net/register.

Compatibility Analysis

Positive Action is also analyzing all the lessons in the catalog and evaluating each lesson for its compatibility for virtual learning. The methodology reflects the latest in our understanding of how teachers are reaching their students at home. It is clear from the efforts at the onset of the pandemic that many students were not able to access the technologies that were employed by schools and districts. Positive Action is committed to ensuring equity whenever and wherever possible. To that end, Positive Action suggests employing group telephone calls as opposed to video or web platforms in those communities where access to technology may be limited for students, thus reducing technological barriers and inequities.

The compatibility analysis will distinguish between low-tech and high-tech approaches, with low-tech being voice-only calls and high-tech being web-based learning platforms and video-based collaboration. All lessons can be adapted, though some lessons will be easier to adapt to low-tech, whereas others will be easier to adapt to high-tech. The analysis report will provide a difficulty assessment for each setting.

When the compatibility assessment is completed, Positive Action will then begin to formulate specific lesson plans that are optimized for both scenarios when time does not allow for all the lessons to be taught. These should become available in late-September, depending on the completion of the compatibility assessments.

Guide to Succeeding with Positive Action

Positive Action suggests that teachers review the Guide to Succeeding with Positive Action (referred to as the Succeeding Guide) in preparation for adapting lessons. The Succeeding Guide is a comprehensive document that provides useful instruction for applying best practices that are applicable for virtual, blended, or click-to-brick scenarios. Traditionally, this document was distributed in print form during training events. Positive Action has published a web-version of the document, and it is available at the following link:

https://www.positiveaction.net/blog/succeeding-guide

The PDF version is available for download here:

https://docs.positiveaction.net/resources/guide-to-succeeding-with-pa.pdf

The Succeeding Guide is the first step in successfully adapting Positive Action to virtual or blended learning scenarios and should be the first resource in preparing to adopt and adapt Positive Action.

Family Kit and Parent Handbook

Positive Action has released the Family Kit for use by anyone, including teachers. Many of the lessons will complement the classroom lessons and, in some instances, are more compatible with virtual or blended learning. We encourage teachers to review this resource and integrate the lessons when possible.

Positive Action also produces a Parent Handbook, which does not include actual lessons that can be taught but provides parents with a broad overview of the program and how to best support Positive Action concepts at home. The handbook mainly covers topics in PreK-6 but is also applicable to secondary settings. It has been traditionally distributed in the Elementary Climate kit. Positive Action is currently preparing the handbook for web presentation, alongside the Family Kit, providing teachers a comprehensive document to share with parents as they begin teaching Positive Action this fall.

Teach! App

The developers are working hard to complete the programming for the Teach! app. Currently, we are anticipating a November/December launch. The pandemic and the rapid shift to virtual and blended learning has created opportunities and challenges for the app. Some concepts had to be altered to accommodate teachers’ needs. The most exciting new feature is the inclusion of walkthrough videos that are currently in production.

Program trainers are currently recording short, 5-minute walkthrough videos for every lesson. These videos provide a quick synopsis of the lessons, but it also provides explicit suggestions on how to adapt the lessons for virtual and blended learning. The trainers have tried their best to conceptualize how to adapt each lesson for low- and high-tech settings. There are lots of other features that we are excited to unveil!

General Suggestions

The approaches that schools and districts are employing are widely varied. Positive Action is committed to providing whatever support is needed to make these difficult times a little easier. Our staff has felt the same stress and pressure that all of you are feeling right now. The one activity that keeps us grounded and organized is our daily huddle call at 9:00 am. We skip the cams, message boards and other collaborative tools, and just talk to each other. We leave the agenda open and allow anyone to talk. This daily event has kept us grounded and collected. It is our belief that the same approach can work for teachers and their students.

Modern technology is amazing, and without it, the pandemic would obviously be a lot more painful in a lot of ways. But sometimes technology gets in the way. Setting up a plain old conference call in the morning with your students to discuss the issues they are facing is the most practical way to teach Positive Action and its concepts.

Our overall implementation suggestion for virtual settings is simple: Start the day with a conference call. Teachers should lead with a brief overview of the day’s activities and assignments and then open up the call with time to just talk candidly with no agenda. Once students have expressed their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, then conclude the call by teaching a Positive Action lesson and encourage further discussion. Allow the conference call and Positive Action lesson to be the grounding rod that everyone needs in these trying times.

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