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illustration of online learning

Debunking the common misconception that online courses are “easier” than face-to-face courses.

In my district, we continue to work on preparing our students for a changing world. Maintaining positive relationships is always important, but we need to get our students to “learn how to learn.” While the situation may change, that… Read more

I’ve been teaching for 14 years, most of which have been at the middle school level in an urban school district. I’m a risk taker, I enjoy trying new things in my classroom, especially when it comes to technology… Read more

Using Piktochart in the Classroom

By Author Profile Photo Lauren Graham

Some of my students were struggling with specific aspects of taking a course online, as well as certain assignments. They would send me emails that were along the lines of “I need help with the test I’m on right… Read more

illustration of graduation cap and diploma

When a student fails a class — or perhaps multiple classes — they may come to the realization that taking classes over the summer is the only way they can graduate on time with the rest of their peers. For students facing this situation, taking summer courses online can be a great way to recover the credits needed for graduation without missing out on their existing summer plans.

Lauren Nalepa's Welcome Graphic

As an online teacher, Google Slides been the answer to all my hopes and dreams. Using it is like making a collage, but my fingers don’t get sticky! Pretty much everything I post in my online courses is created in Slides. One of my favorite ways to use Slides is for a Class Gallery, a place where students with can showcase their artwork.

screenshot of the seesaw app on iPad

Young students often have a hard time thinking about actions, consequences, and, generally, anything that takes place in the future, so setting goals is not an easy task for them. In order to have students share their goal and results with their family, we chose to use our iPads and an app called SeeSaw. On SeeSaw, students post a picture of their graphed results with a comment articulating their next goal.

Screen capture of one of the videos Dan Spencer shares with his students

It’s my dream is to have a classroom that feels like a Starbucks with students spread all over the room, engaging in a variety of activities, working in a group on a lab, or working solo on an assignment.But how do you make this type of independent learning a reality? For me, the answer was the camera on my phone. I know, nothing fancy, no bells or whistles, just my camera. Thanks to the work shared by Ben Rimes, the power of the camera allows me to be in multiple places at once.

illustration of two kids sitting outside in the summer

Summer Learning FAQs (with advice from Michigan districts who are doing it well!)   Summer brain drain isn’t a myth. On average, it is predicted that students lose about one month’s worth of learning over the summer. In math… Read more

illustration of a report with a magnifying glass

If you’re looking to provide students at your school or district with more summer learning options, this step-by-step guide will help you think through the process of building a highly successful online summer learning program. 

Podcast: Student Agency and Google Classroom

By Author Profile Photo Michigan Virtual

Welcome to Digital Backpack! In our first Digital Backpack cast, we chat with Traci Smith, a high school English teacher at De La Salle. She shares some gems about connecting with students, creating an atmosphere of trust and how… Read more

Photo of Alanna and Kim

Using Calendly for scheduling student meetings

By Author Profile Photo Kim Garvison & Alanna Prieditis

One of the biggest challenges as online Spanish teachers? Regularly scheduling time to connect with each student in our course to listen to and assess their language development. We needed to find a tool that would eliminate the need for several back-and-forth communications to simply set up an appointment for each short assessment. We not only wanted a tool to help share available time slots for appointments, but also one that would sync with our calendar. That’s when we discovered Calendly.

Powtoon logo

Using PowToon to explain challenging concepts to students

By Author Profile Photo Jaclyn Hartman

One of my challenges as an online teacher is this: I teach in an asynchronous program, so my students are not necessarily online at the same time as I am. One tech tool that has helped me to bridge this divide is PowToon, the video-making software that allows teachers to create engaging, animated clips to help explain challenging content to students.

Sarah's classroom

Using choice boards to promote student agency

By Author Profile Photo Sarah Bedford

Choice boards have helped improve student learning in my class by empowering students to develop confidence based on their individual needs and choices. I also believe when they are engaged in the learning and know the expected outcomes, they are more reflective and able to self-assess their own learning.

innovation in education concept illustration

If you’re looking to find ways to innovate your curriculum — and, yes, to compete with other schools in our current era of school choice — then providing your students with online learning options is one way you can stand out in the educational marketplace. Why? Because you’ll be providing your students with more course options, more flexibility in how and when they learn, and more opportunities to gain 21st-century learning skills.

Teachers, I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, 2019. We’ve just met, but I have the feeling we’re going to get along splendidly. Here’s one way you and 2019 can do the same: By tackling your new… Read more

When it comes to our students, we strive to foster growth mindsets and implement competency-based learning in our classrooms. But when it comes to our own professional development, we so often accept “sit and get” learning sessions that rely on outdated pedagogical practices. As… Read more

Ashamed girl sharing her issues with others, at group therapy

Your Guide to Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools: This blog is the third in our series on Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools. We have already released articles on Michigan’s new restorative justice law and the dangers of zero-tolerance policies and will continue to release articles on strategies for implementation in schools and classrooms.

Thank you letters

An Open Letter to the Teachers Who Changed Our Lives

By Author Profile Photo Michigan Virtual

We asked our staff to tell us about a teacher who changed their lives for the better. The patterns that arise in their responses are cause for inspiration. They reveal that one amazing teacher can change the course of a student’s life forever. We are all the living legacies of this truth.

Young smiling student relaxing outdoors, she is sitting on the grass and using a laptop, summer camp concept

For self-motivated learners, taking online summer school courses can be liberating because it allows them to make progress toward their goals while studying at their own pace in time blocks that fit their busy schedules. In some cases, online programs offer students more learning options with more flexibility than their face-to-face counterparts.

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