The Digital Backpack. Your Resource for Online Learning
Blended Learning
The Digital Backpack

Podcast: Student Agency and Google Classroom

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

Photo of Alanna and Kim
Tips and Tools
Kim Garvison & Alanna Prieditis

Using Calendly for scheduling student meetings

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
Tips and Tools
Jaclyn Hartman

Using PowToon to explain challenging concepts to students

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
Tips and Tools
Sarah Bedford

Using choice boards to promote student agency

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
Leadership
Michigan Virtual

How online learning helps schools stand out in the competitive landscape of school choice

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.

Ashamed girl sharing her issues with others, at group therapy
Teaching
Michigan Virtual

Restorative Justice 101 — A Paradigm Shift in Education [with infographics]

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
Teaching
Nikki Herta

An Open Letter to the Teachers Who Changed Our Lives

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
Summer Learning
Nikki Herta

7 reasons why your high-achieving students deserve online summer learning options

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.

Blended Learning
The Digital Backpack

Podcast: Engagement Hoopla

In this episode, Jeff and Erin chat with Emily Sicilia about engagement in the classroom. They explore how to define classroom engagement, and chat about Hoopla, an app Emily shares that has changed their reading lives!

Jeff Gerlach sitting at his desk with a laptop and microphone
Teaching
Jeff Gerlach

Design Learning for Visually Impaired Students with NVDA

Jeff reviews Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), an open source screen reader for Windows. Screen readers help those with vision impairments to access digital content. Teachers can use screen readers to check that web content for lessons is accessible to students with visual impairments.

Paper letter with "The End" written on it, with a broken paper heart next to it
Blended Learning
Erin Luckhardt

An Open Letter to “Sit and Get” PD

My old friend — When I first started teaching, it was always you holding my hand. You were there for my first conference. Since the beginning, you’ve set my expectations for what professional development should be like. This may be difficult to hear, but it’s time for our relationship to end.

Online learning graphic representation
Teaching
Nikki Herta

How Does Online Learning Really Work?: A Conversation with Mitch Albom

In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we hosted four panel discussions on Mitch Albom’s radio show on WJR 760. In this segment, Mitch Albom explores the day-to-day realities of virtual education in depth with a panel of our online teachers and students.

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