SEL, self-care, and self-love

In collaboration with PebbleGo

Especially at this time of the year when school schedules can become challenging with spring activities, testing, and daily routines, focusing on SEL, self-care, and self-love is essential. More importantly, we need to help students develop habits that enable them to focus on their well-being and develop the skills needed to work through challenges and deal with emotions. We need to foster the development of practices and behaviors that will promote emotional, mental, and physical health.

By creating opportunities for students to develop SEL skills and a positive self-image, it will enable them to manage their emotions, develop supportive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Self-care is crucial for students’ well-being and academic success. Students who practice self-care are more likely to have better mental health, reduced stress levels, improved academic performance, and higher levels of overall happiness. This, in turn, enables them to focus better on academic work and set and achieve their learning goals. One idea to try is to have students design vision boards. The boards can include each student’s goals in each of these areas and can be a great activity for students to use for personal reflection.

Self-love, which involves developing a positive self-image and nurturing oneself with kindness and compassion, can boost self-esteem, self-confidence, and resilience. These directly relate to the SEL skills that are essential for personal success. Developing these skills will enable students to navigate their social and emotional worlds and build meaningful relationships with others. Students will be better able to manage emotions, communicate effectively, develop empathy and understanding for others, and work through challenges they may face.

Ideas for focusing on self-love and SEL

Buncee: Teachers can use Buncee, a multimedia and creativity tool, to help students create multimedia projects that promote self-care, self-love, and SEL. For example, students can create digital posters that showcase self-love affirmations, gratitude journals, or mindfulness exercises. They can also create projects to share that teach SEL skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and responsible decision-making. Buncee and using PebbleGo Create foster creativity and when students have writing or art assignments, they can express their emotions and thoughts in a safe and supportive environment.

Here are some examples to try!

  • Healthy Habits: Use PebbleGo to research healthy habits. A focus on self-love involves practicing healthy habits such as exercise, nutrition, and getting adequate sleep. With PebbleGo, students can research healthy habits in areas such as health, physical education, or science. Students will learn about the benefits of exercise on the brain and mood, the importance of sleep for mental and physical health, or the role of nutrition in energy and well-being. By learning about healthy habits, students can develop SEL skills of self-management and promote their physical and emotional well-being. Students can then create a visual to share what they have learned and encourage others to focus on their habits too!
  • Gratitude Jars and Journals: Showing gratitude is a great way to promote self-love and positive emotions. Students can think about what they are grateful for, whether it is something they learned, a story they read, a historical figure that developed something that impacted the world. Students can then use PebbleGo Create to design a digital gratitude journal or a gratitude jar and can add pictures or audio recordings to personalize their journals. By doing this, it will help students develop positive emotions and SEL skills of social awareness.
  • Learning About Others and Building Awareness There are many wonderful non-fiction articles available with PebbleGo that cover a range of SEL topics that will help students develop self-awareness and social awareness. Students can find articles about emotions such as anger, fear, or sadness, and learn about strategies that will help them to better manage their emotions. Through the resources, they can learn about empathy, perspective-taking, and even conflict resolution, which are essential relationship skills. To share their learning, students can create a PSA to share in the classroom or the school!
  • Create Digital Affirmation Cards: Making affirmation cards is a powerful tool to better promote self-love and positive self-image. It can be a great way to help students connect with how they are feeling and set some goals. Students can explore the topics about health and wellness, and then create digital affirmation cards to refer to when they need a confidence boost or a reminder of their self-worth. The multimedia options available with stickers, animations and more boost creativity and help students to create visually appealing affirmation cards. Students can also create cards that highlight their strengths and accomplishments, such as “I am a good friend,” or “I am a talented artist.” These activities help students develop their self-awareness skills and boost their self-esteem.

PebbleGo can be used to explore feelings and emotions across content areas, such as science, social studies, or language arts. For example, students can research different animals and their emotions, such as how dogs show affection or how dolphins communicate with each other. Students can also explore emotions in literature by researching characters’ feelings and motivations in stories.

Researching inspirational figures, exploring feelings and emotions, creating positive affirmations, researching mindfulness practices, and researching healthy habits with Pebble Go, students can develop self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. These skills are crucial for academic success and personal well-being. As teachers, we can use PebbleGo to provide students with access to a variety of non-fiction resources that promote self-reflection, positive self-talk, and healthy habits, which can help them develop a positive self-image and promote their emotional well-being.

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Learning to Code with VinciBot

This post is sponsored by Matatalab, Opinions expressed are based on my own experience

During the past year, we have been exploring a lot of new products as we work on our coding skills in my eighth-grade STEAM class. My students really enjoy trying out different tools to find something that matches their interests and that gives them opportunities to build their coding skills. We also take opportunities to try tools that are geared toward younger students as well, to better understand how students can develop coding skills and the benefits. It also helps to spark interest in coding, which is an in-demand skill for the future. 

Sometimes, students hesitate to get started with coding because of a fear of not understanding how to write the code, or troubleshooting if the code does not work. However, with the different options and resources available through Matatalab, my students have really enjoyed the experience and are excited to dive right in.

Matatalab is a company that specializes in developing educational coding products for young children. What I love about using them is that their products are designed to teach early learners the fundamentals of programming in a fun and engaging way through interactive and hands-on learning experiences. It is not all about the technology, Matatalab offers screen-free coding and also comes with cards to teach students about the coding steps.  They offer a range of products that are suitable for different age groups and skill levels, from preschoolers to elementary school students and older.

Through the various products available, educators are able to provide opportunities for students to learn about coding, even at an early age as young as 3! Last year I started exploring the Tale-Bot Pro which makes it easy for kids to get started on their own and build their knowledge whether at home or school.

The VinciBot

The newest product from Matatalab is the VinciBot which is aimed at slightly older children, ages eight and above. Matatalab products are designed to be intuitive and easy to use. The coding blocks are color-coded, making it simple for students to understand the different types of commands and functions. This helps to make the learning process more accessible and enjoyable, especially for students who may be intimidated by traditional coding methods. By programming the robot, students can develop their problem-solving skills and spatial awareness and have fun working together to explore coding and the world of robotics! 

When I brought it into school, my students were lining up to be the first to explore it!  VinciBot is the new and maybe even one of the most popular coding products from Matatalab. It is a versatile and interactive robot that is designed to teach the basics of coding in a fun and engaging way. VinciBot can be controlled using a range of programming languages, including Scratch, Python, and the MatataCode App. With these options, it provides each student with a way to engage in coding at a pace that is comfortable and supports them as they build their skills and confidence in coding.

[creating a program for VinciBot]


The VinciBot comes with everything you need to provide an engaging learning experience for students. There is a challenge booklet with 18 challenges for students to explore.  The VinciBot is equipped with interactive sound, light, and movement effects and has 8 sensors. There are 21 musical instrument sounds, an LED matrix, and an LED RGB light structure. The infrared and ultrasonic sensors allow it to navigate its surroundings and interact with the environment. Students can program VinciBot to complete a variety of actions including dancing and can even program it to sing Happy Birthday!   VinciBot also offers the opportunity for students to explore artificial intelligence (AI) through its AI-based teaching scenarios and gameplay.  This is a great benefit, especially with the increased interest in getting started with AI, coding, and STEM, having one resource that can provide it all is a great opportunity. The Tiny Machine Learning of VinciBot is available even without the Internet in the classroom. Students will have programmed with the AI data and trained the robot before and perform their program in a non-internet environment. The Tiny ML enables students to go through the whole process by learning about model creation, data acquisition, training, and development to then programming. Engaging in this ongoing learning journey helps them to develop a much greater understanding of AI at their own pace and in their own way. 

Learn more through their video tutorials and the overview of the VinciBot in action. 


The coding program is available in multiple languages, making it more accessible to a wider audience. This allows children from different countries and backgrounds to learn to code using their native language. Additionally, the programming blocks are designed to be easily understood by young children, regardless of their level of literacy or cognitive ability, promoting inclusivity and accessibility for all.

[Students can select the language for coding, making it more accessible for all students as they build language skills and coding skills together!]

One of the key benefits of VinciBot is that it is designed to grow with the student. As they become more proficient in coding, students can use more advanced programming languages to control VinciBot and develop increasingly complex programs. This means that VinciBot can provide years of educational value for children of all ages.  


Extra features

The VinciBot is also compatible with LEGO bricks and other products, making it possible to even combine robots together for a larger project or a robotics competition!  Students are so creative and can problem solve and collaborate to design a solution to a challenge or work with design thinking in the classroom.

Benefits of coding

In addition to learning to code, students develop many other skills that are essential for future success. It fosters the development of social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, building self-awareness as students learn to code and evaluate their growth. It fosters self-management as students set goals and problem solve and deal with challenges that can come with coding. Students build relationships as they work with one another to create, while also building skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. 

Why explore Matatalab?

Matatalab products promote hands-on learning and encourage creativity and imagination. Students can use the coding cards to think about the steps in the coding process or use the remote to drive the robot. Once logged in, students are able to create their own programs. Being able to explore their own ideas and interests helps to foster a love of learning and discovery. By encouraging creativity and imagination, Matatalab products help to prepare children for the challenges of the future.

By providing an intuitive and hands-on approach to learning programming, Matatalab products help to prepare our students for the challenges of the future. They are designed to be accessible and engaging for kids of all ages and skill levels. Whether you are a parent or an educator, Matatalab products offer a fun and effective way to introduce kids to the world of coding and programming.

About the Author

Rachelle Dené Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, Speaker, and the Author of seven books about education and edtech. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915

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New AI detection feature via Turnitin

Over the last couple of months, it’s unbelievable how much has changed in the world of artificial intelligence (AI). For the last couple of years, I have spent time researching, writing about, presenting on, and teaching about AI in my classroom and continuing to learn as much as I possibly can each year. When ChatGPT became available to the public in December, I didn’t hesitate to dive in and explore exactly what it was capable of doing. I even co-wrote an article about its potential impact on not just education but other areas of work.

After about 3 hours, I was pretty impressed with what I was seeing. I was also a little bit concerned about what it could be used for, whether by educators, students, or anybody for that matter. ChatGPT and the evolving AI technologies are not something that will impact educators and students, it is something that will impact many areas of the workforce and jobs that are out there. A big concern that has come up during this ChatGPT exploration is plagiarism. How will educators be able to tell when students may be using ChatGPT to complete their assignments especially with something evolving as fast as this technology? Will students begin to rely on this technology and as a result, lose the opportunity to develop essential skills on their own? What policies may need to be in place? Is it plagiarism if it is not citing a specific source? These are some of the many questions on the minds of educators and parents.

Plagiarism detection

There have been plagiarism checkers available for years and many educators and educational institutions use them. In my own experience as a doctoral student now, and when I worked on my Master’s degree five years ago, assignment submissions go through a plagiarism checker instantly. Turnitin is one that has been used. Honestly, there have been times when I’ve been shocked to see the percentage that comes back stating the likelihood of plagiarism, knowing that I did not plagiarize. I work hard to cite my sources but apparently, something that I did was not completely accurate and I used it as a way to evaluate my writing and improve my citations. Now enter ChatGPT.

Three years ago, I helped to do some research for a blog post about GPT-3 and I was impressed with what it was capable of back in 2020. Fast forward to early December 2022, working with and exploring ChatGPT, I was amazed at how much it had evolved since 2020 and the number of ways that you could use it. It didn’t take long for educators and lots of people to express concern about what the impact of this type of powerful technology would have on student learning.

Would it lead students to lose learning opportunities?

Would they rely on everything that they found by using this, and lack skills that they need to be prepared for the future?

What should educators do when it comes to teaching about these technologies in the classroom?

How can you tell whether or not a student has used ChatGPT to complete an assignment or project and how do you handle it?

Learning opportunities

AI writing and the use of ChatGPT and other AI writing tools are increasingly common not only in business. Students are using it and know about it. There are high schools banning its use. Educators are worried it will erode writing skills. But is banning it the solution? Detecting the presence of artificial intelligence in a student’s writing is helpful, but I hope that it is focused not on catching them doing something wrong but rather to use it to improve writing. We should use it to start conversations with students.

Turnitin has been developing writing and feedback tools for educators for 25 years and has continued to refine the ways that teachers give feedback to students. Turnitin commissioned Atomik Research to conduct an online survey of 1,011 parents and/or guardians of high school students in the United States to understand their perceptions of AI writing tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard. Interestingly, 81% of respondents believe that teachers should use technology tools to detect when something has been written by AI to check homework or test answers to cut down on cheating.

On Tuesday, Turnitin released a new AI detection feature that has the ability to detect AI with 98% accuracy. They are also continuing to monitor the detection settings to watch for false positives. The new AI detection feature works like similarity checking. If something is noted, then teachers can look at the writing and provide feedback to students. It becomes a conversation and a learning opportunity for teachers and students about how to evaluate information and also for properly citing sources that have been used. The software should not be viewed as something that is set to accuse students of plagiarizing.

[image via Turnitin]

Also helpful is the sidebar with resources for educators to explore.

[Similarity report via the AI writing feature]

As educators, we have a responsibility to help our students to develop skills to navigate all of these changes that are happening in the world of education, and that may impact them in their future line of work.

Lessons to learn

I see this new feature as a way to provide information for teachers so they have data for analyzing student writing and providing further instruction and feedback, not as a tool for accusing students of misconduct. We want students to understand the importance of academic integrity while also learning about the tools available, including ChatGPT and other AI technologies. It is a way to also build literacy skills and stress the importance of evaluating our sources and checking information for accuracy.

Now what?

I recommend following the conversation about ChatGPT in the variety of educator spaces and communities. As for tools that detect plagiarism, explore the resources available to assist educators in integrating this new technology into their classrooms. The Turnitin page features a glossary of AI terms, which provides a useful reference guide for educators who are not yet familiar with the technical vocabulary associated with this technology. Additionally, there is a guide on updating an academic integrity policy in the age of AI, which is essential for ensuring that educators have a clear understanding of the ethical considerations surrounding AI-generated text.

And the best advice I can offer is to dive into trying out ChatGPT. Think about questions that you ask your students, projects that you have assigned, assessments that you’ve created, and lesson plans that you’ve written, and put all of those in as prompts. See what it generates and then regenerate the response a few times and look for commonalities. I test this out to see how similar the answers are and also check it for accuracy. I have explored this with my students as well because we know that not everything that we find on the Internet is accurate, which is why we have to embrace this and help students to learn to be digitally literate and model this practice for them.

This post was in collaboration with Pando PR. Opinions expressed are my own.

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Unfinished Business: A Different Peer Review Strategy

Guest post by laura steinbrink, posted in education


This strategy is based on Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, which has amazing potential even outside of its intended use. After reading her book on this process, I have been pondering ways to use this model with students of all ages, and with some restructuring according to the age or grade level of the student, I believe it is possible. To use this, students must be creating, writing, or have a product that is in progress or not complete, or maybe even a rough draft. Then, as students are in the process of creating, whether it be writing, artwork, research, project-based learning (PBL), presentation, etc., this process can help students refine their work with controlled peer feedback. There are three roles for this process, and if you have a small class, then you can do this whole group. For larger classes, you may need to conduct the process with the whole group as a model, and then break it up into smaller groups if necessary.


The purpose of this strategy is not to “fix” the student’s work, but to provide questions to clarify areas that need more work and statements to point out strengths of the work in progress. This is actually the hardest part for me, as I am generally in “fix it” mode. This is also the part that needs to be addressed up front with the students the first time you do this with them. They are not to offer ways to fix any part that the creator is struggling with but to come up with questions to ask the creator about those issues that will help them come up with their own solution. In step 5 below, you could allow an opinion to contain a “here’s what I would do,” but the creator is still the one deciding whether or not to accept or act on those ideas.


What is particularly striking about this process or strategy is the potential for students to truly see that the process of creating is important, there’s usually more than one right way to do something, the class can truly be a learning community, and that revising work is a natural part of the creating process. Students often get into the rut of the “one and done” mode. We write a paper, create a product, paint a picture, and then turn it in and move on. This occurs even when we use our beloved rubrics. I have conducted workshops on how to effectively use rubrics, like the single-point rubric, and teachers have complained that they hand back a rubric and the student looks at it and tosses it in the trash. My question to all who have experienced this is, “Was there a grade on it?” If so, that’s the feedback the student wanted. No need to reflect. A teacher in my previous district pointed out that she handed back the rubrics and a student looked at it and crumpled it up, and that the student was my son. I asked him about it later, and he said, “It had a 100% on it. What did I need to look at or do with the rubric?” Right. No need to reflect at that point is a common student reaction. I encourage not putting grades on rubrics, instead, it is better to use them to guide instruction and feedback in the process of creating the work.


The Unfinished Business strategy can help students see that revising as we go is a common and productive practice. Research shows us that reflecting is a powerful learning strategy, so what better way to teach it than to have students reflect on feedback to find ways to improve and revise the work in progress? According to John Hattie and Helen Timperly, feedback is the “consequence of performance.” So to elicit strong feedback to help learners value the creation and revision process, try the strategy below and adjust as needed to fit your learners.

Role 1: Artist/Maker

Offers a work-in-progress for review and is prepared to examine the work critically in conversation with other people.

Role 2: Responder

Commits to the artist/maker’s intent to make excellent work. They question and respond to questions. They want the artist/maker to do their best work.

Role 3: Facilitator

Initiates each step, keeps the process and students on track, and works to help the artist/maker and responders frame useful questions and responses. The project rubric, if you have one, would be helpful here. Students can either form questions based on the criteria or you can have premade questions from the criteria that students can ask. Giving students a question to ask when first trying this or each time it is tried can really help get a productive conversation going. Those questions would be scaffolds for the responders. Most questions they will need to generate independently and need to be useful to the artist/maker.

Step 1: Artist/Maker shares the work in progress or a part of the work that they are struggling with or aren’t sure of at that moment in the creation process, or even after a draft or prototype has been completed.

Step 2: Responders then respond to what was meaningful, surprising, interesting, exciting, and/or striking in the work they have just witnessed, heard, read, etc. Each responder verbally or on a sticky note writes one positive response to the work. They cannot use “I like” or “I love” in the statement. Instead of saying/writing “I like the way you…” students write or say things like “Your thesis statement is strong and engaging” or “The color choice really complements the piece,” depending on the type of work being reviewed.

Step 3: The artist/maker then asks any questions they may have about the work. In answering, responders must stay on topic with the question and may only express opinions in direct response to the artist’s questions. This might be tricky, so after a practice round or two, determining a limit on the questions the artist/maker may ask might help with the facilitation. Time constraints in general mean that having the artist ask 1-3 questions would prevent the process from dragging on, which is important for the engagement of the responders. All responders should write down a response and the artist/maker can choose one or two to call on verbally. The artist receives all written responses also. On the same sticky note, (Use one or two per student responder for each session.)

Step 4: Responders write out neutral questions about the work on the same sticky note, and the artist chooses 1-3 students to ask their questions and then they respond to those questions.

Questions are neutral when they do not have an opinion added to them. This step is one of the most fundamental, challenging, and misunderstood steps of the Critical Response Process as noted by Liz Lerman. The questions are focused on anything unclear, confusing, complicated, or too simplistic about the work and should promote critical thinking among the responders. This part of the process is meant to provide the artist/maker with areas to consider for improving the work. The artist/maker has ultimate control over the end product, and responders are not there to “fix” the work, so they should not include solutions. The “fixers” in your classroom may struggle with this, so be prepared to help them suppress that instinct.

Step 5: (Optional-if time permits) Responders state opinions about the work in progress, given permission from the artist; the artist/maker considers the opinions but has the option to say no. Here is where you could include “fix it” ideas from those students who are your “fixers.” This round may be best if it is oral and not written down. The artist/maker calls on one or two responders, and again, the decisions lie with the artist/maker to accept one, some, all, or none of the proffered suggestions.


Students who are in the role of responder will still get a lot out of this process. The artist/maker will as well. This will provide the motivation to reflect on the work and then revise it. This is the beauty in this strategy for me, as there are times when getting students to review, edit, or revise their work is like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill each day. Again, revise this as needed for younger learners. This strategy can also promote an inclusive and safe learning environment when done properly (manage unhelpful criticisms), which can lead to students taking academic risks. Set up time in your pacing guide for this in place or in addition to any peer review feedback activities that are already built-in, and then do the strategy. It could work as a one-day weekly activity or as needed. The goal is for students to manage their own learning, and you will know you have achieved that goal when students start requesting the strategy to receive help with their work. Good luck, and tag me on Twitter or comment below if you find it useful.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2016). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research.


Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bobby Dall / Bret Michaels / Bruce Anthony Johannesson / Rikki Rocket
Every Rose Has Its Thorn lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

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Spring Ideas to Boost Engagement!

The start of a new year is a great time to ​think about the progress we have made so far this year and consider trying some different methods and tools in our classrooms. Taking time to reflect on what has worked, what we have not tried, and areas, where we may be having some challenges, is important. We want to continue to reflect and implement new strategies and tools that will benefit our students and transform learning.

Just like at the beginning of a new school year, focusing on the continued building of relationships is essential year-round. To do so, we have to be intentional about evaluating our teaching practice and the opportunities that we provide for our students. For our personal and professional growth, we need to make time for ​reflecting on our daily work as ​​educators​. What are some areas that we notice where we have grown in our practice? Are there some methods or tools that we have on our list but have lacked the time to try? Have we asked students for feedback about their experiences in our classroom and what helps them to learn best? I think that this is important for our practice. Using surveys and having conversations with students makes a difference. There are even great tools available for educators to use such as LessonLoop, which helps teachers to better understand student engagement and their specific needs in our classrooms.  Another tool that helps educators to really focus on their methods and classroom interactions is Edthena, a virtual coaching platform. Teachers can record themselves teaching a lesson and then the AI Coach uses prompts to guide you about your lesson and what your perception of their effectiveness was. With videos, we can go back and focus on specific parts of our lesson, and our delivery and then use this to guide our reflection.

Taking time to reflect is important so that we can start the new year fresh. Now is the perfect opportunity to dive in and start the new year off with some fresh ideas! By choosing some methods or focus areas and then leveraging different tools, we can transform student learning and provide opportunities for building essential skills such as SEL. The power of choice not only helps students to build content area skills but also will lead them forward into their future careers with a variety of skill sets. With different tools and methods, we can spark curiosity for learning and foster creativity in learning!

For educators, this means we have to be willing to try new ideas, make mistakes and try again. Doing this sets a good model for our students. We want them to become more comfortable with learning and making mistakes and the process of learning itself.

Choosing methods in our classrooms that help to foster joy in learning and also foster the development of social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, will benefit students now and in the future. Being able to master the content while also developing skills that enable students to collaborate and develop strong and supportive relationships are important for future workplace success.

One thing to keep in mind is to find ways to streamline the workflow and the types of methods and tools that we are using. We want to provide choices but not overwhelm students in the process. Finding methods and tools that are versatile and applicable to different content areas and grade levels is key.  Here are four ideas to start with:

  1. Elementari is a tool we started to use this year and it has been fun seeing what the students create. There are many options available with Elementari, including the option for students to create an interactive story and build their skills in coding. There are more than 10,000 illustrations and sounds available to choose from.
  2. Genially can be used for genius hour, project-based learning (PBL), interactive lessons, and more. We have used it in my Spanish and STEAM classes for projects and I have used it personally for creating resumes, digital portfolios, and even presentations. Students can work individually or together on a collaborative presentation which also promotes digital citizenship skills too! Genially has thousands of templates to choose from with options for STEM and more.
  3. Spaces EDU is a great tool that teachers can use individually and create different types of “spaces.” There are individual, class, and group spaces through which teachers and students can collaborate and communicate using multimedia options. With an individual space, students can share their learning with teachers in a space where they are able to build confidence in learning. Individual spaces work well for methods like genius hour and PBL or for checking in with students.  A group space has been fun for doing activities in stations or a collaborative PBL or even something fun like a scavenger hunt. Spaces EDU also has curriculum tags and more that help teachers to connect the curriculum to the activities created in Spaces.
  4. STEM-related: There are some new resources we have explored this year including iBlocksPBL which helps educators to dive into PBL and students can learn about relevant topics related to the SDGs that help them to develop essential SEL skills, especially in the competencies of self-awareness and self-management. A few years ago I used Hummingbird Robots with my STEAM class and more recently, we used the Finch robots from Birdbrain Technologies. Teachers can use these tools in any content area and have students create something to reflect what they are learning in class while building coding skills and even learning about AI. These are just a few to explore in your classroom.  If you are interested in PBL, SEL, and STEM, any of these options would help to focus on those areas with the use of one tool. Involve students in the conversation and see what the impact is of using the different methods like genius hour or PBL or trying one of these tools. And for our own growth, using a survey created with Google or Microsoft Forms, or trying the LessonLoop student engagement survey, can help us to plan with our students’ interests in mind and continue to reflect on our practice. Taking risks and facing challenges along the way is a great model to set for students!

About the Author:

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of seven books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU”, “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Things I Wish […] Knew” is now available at

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at

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TCEA 2023 – What a great event!

By Author(s) Name(s):  Rachelle Dené Poth

I recently attended my fourth TCEA conference. This year marked the 43rd year of the TCEA (Texas Computer Educators Association) Convention and Exposition which was held in San Antonio, Texas at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  Since the first time I attended TCEA in San Antonio in 2017, it has become one of my must-attend conferences each year. With more than 700 sessions to choose from on a variety of important topics, TCEA provided a great learning experience for educators again this year. There were also lots of spaces for educators to connect and build their network. Luann Hughes served as the 2023 Convention Chair and sent emails each day with an overview of the day’s schedule, some “Sessions to Savor” and other helpful information to get attendees excited for the day!

The highlights

The people:   It is so nice to be able to join together in person at events like the TCEA conference again. For some people, this may have been the first time meeting a friend face-to-face or the first time seeing a friend in the past few years.  For me, I love the opportunities to spend time with friends, make new connections and build our learning networks. 

The mock schedules: Deciding on sessions to attend can always be a challenge especially when there are so many choices. One of the things I love about TCEA is that they put together mock schedules focused on the different roles of educators. The conference planning team reviews all sessions being offered for roles such as classroom teachers, IT, leaders, and librarians, or with a specific focus on SEL or STEM, special populations, and other important topics in education. Being able to look at a sample schedule helps any attendee but definitely, a first-time attendee to build a schedule focused on their specific interests and needs for professional learning. 

Power Hours: There were a variety of session types and events during the conference. Each day started with a Power Hour with a featured speaker. On Monday, Dr. Adam Saenz focused on “The Power of a Teacher” and how important it is to remember the “why” behind the work that we do and the importance of focusing on relationships. On Tuesday, Dr. Michael Hinojosathe spoke about “How to Leverage Educational Technology as a Learning Strategy.” He has more than 40 years of experience in public education, as a teacher, coach, and superintendent/CEO. On Wednesday, the Power Hour “Keep it REAL. Keep it FUN. Keep it UP!” with Joe Dombrowski, an educator who has studied the art of improv comedy. He shared ideas and personal stories about how he uses improv to boost student engagement. His goal is to help students “want to be in school rather than have to be in school.” There was a lot of laughter during his inspiring session.

[Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis]

Thursday’s Power Hour was with Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, a former Sandy Hook Elementary teacher and the founder and executive director of Classes 4 Classes. She inspired educators with her message focused on making choices with “purpose, passion, perspective, resilience, and hope.” 

One of many interesting spaces in the center.

The sessions and topics

There were several hot topics this year.  Attendees were very interested in learning about AI and in particular, ChatGPT, and its implications for education. Blockchain, NFTs, and the metaverse were also of interest, with several sessions available covering each of these. I presented a few sessions on artificial intelligence, emerging tech like NFTs, blockchain, the metaverse, and augmented and virtual reality. I also presented and attended several sessions on SEL. There were so many great sessions to choose from. As a presenter, I learn so much from attendees and I look forward to those opportunities to connect. The interactions in sessions lead to new connections and spark interest in new areas for teachers who walk away feeling more confident in diving into some of these new topics and trends.

One of my presentations focused on Chart A New Course: Teaching Essential Skills. Sharing methods and tools like BookWidgets, StoryJumper, Marty the Robot and many more!

Jaime Donally had a great experience for anyone looking to learn about augmented and virtual reality during her sessions such as “Top AR/VR Trends to Transform Learning” and the Digcit VR Journey. Rabbi Michael Cohen (The Tech Rabbi) presented a few sessions on Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, NFTs, and web 3. Also, a big focus was on SEL, with a great session for teachers presented by Jenallee, the eTwinz, and Scott Bricker. Many sessions covered these topics and drew large crowds. Monica Burns had so many ideas to share in her “15 Ways to Collect Actionable Formative Assessment Data” session. She presented quick ideas and also digital tools that help educators gather important data about student learning. 

Strategies for Teachers Session by Jenalee and the eTwinz

There were a variety of sessions focused on specific tools such as Google from Dr. Desiree Alexander who had a lot of great tips for streamlining Google Drive.  Holly Clark and Matt Miller presented on AI and ChatGPT and shared some ideas for how educators can explore this technology and ways to help students understand it and its implications for learning now and working in the future. Another engaging session was “Three by Thursday! Electrifying Strategies to Ensure Engagement in Learning” by Stormy Daniels and Wendy Hedeen.  These are just some of the many topics you could explore and sessions that provided actionable strategies and many resources and also helped with building confidence in taking some risks in our classrooms. 

The poster sessions: At each conference, poster sessions are a great way to take in a lot of new ideas in a short amount of time. Being able to interact one-on-one and ask questions specific to your needs in these topic areas really does make a difference. There were poster sessions for CTE, Librarians, Professional Learning, STEM, CTE, and content areas. Sometimes it can be tough to decide which sessions to attend at a conference, but there were opportunities everywhere, especially through the poster sessions. 

Panel and Roundtable Discussions: There were roundtable and panel discussions held each day on topics such as equity, personalized professional learning, sustainability, and really relevant focus points for educators.  Each day had a variety of panel discussions focused on issues relevant to classroom teachers, educators, and librarians and provided an engaging space to ask questions and make new connections. 

Presenting on AI and sharing Marty the Robot

The big topics: Some of the big topics in emerging technology this year were blockchain, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, NFTs, and also ChatGPT.  There were also a lot of sessions focused on SEL for students and ideas for educators for their own well-being. TCEA even had an SEL room available for educators to take time to relax in a calming and relaxing environment. It was also a space where educators could learn more about SEL practices and gather some resources. 

The Exhibit Hall

I enjoyed exploring the exhibit hall this year with so many companies present and different opportunities to interact with cutting-edge technologies and new ideas for STEM and emerging technologies.  Some of the favorites were the Escape Room bus, the Esports area, and of course the endless swag that was available to attendees.  There was a lot of interest in STEM-related resources such as Ozobot, Sphero, Marty the Robot,  and more hands-on learning materials for younger students like this awesome learning mat from Active Floor. 

It is also another great way to learn some new ideas by checking out the different technologies and solutions or catching some of the booth demos given by educators. It gives attendees the chance to learn about a lot in that one space and also to walk away with some fun swag too!

Esports was popular this year with several sessions happening as well as a space in the expo for attendees to take in the esports experience. Throughout the hall, there were booth demos by educators sharing their experiences of using some of the tools like Book Creator, Edpuzzle, Kami, and Spaces EDU, and many booths with live presentations happening every 15 minutes. 

Attendees could also step inside and take a tour of a fully renovated, 43-foot school bus that has become a makerspace on wheels. It’s a STEAM dream come true!

The Quest Escape Room bus

The space that TCEA creates

Arriving at TCEA each year, attendees are welcomed as soon as they enter the space. There are volunteers ready to assist you and lead you in the right direction, make sure you are enjoying the experience and check in on presenters to make sure everything is set to go. Don’t worry about attending this conference alone. It is a welcoming space and you will meet and connect with educators right away! 

Meeting up with friends at registration to kick off the week!

Planning for next year! 
If you have been thinking about attending a conference, I definitely recommend TCEA. It has become a favorite event each year. The topics and strands focused on different roles for educators, the variety of sessions, and the welcoming TCEA staff and volunteers, really provide a tremendous learning experience for all attendees.

Next year’s conference will be held February 3-7, 2024 in Austin, Texas.

About the Author

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of seven books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU”, “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-person and Digital Instruction” and Things I Wish […] Knew.

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Response to Intervention (RTI): An Introduction

Guest post by Dr. Shelly Vohra in collaboration with @ClassComposer

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a strategy geared towards students who face learning challenges. Students struggle for a variety of reasons and it’s important to understand why these students are struggling and the best way to create a learning path so that they are successful and feel good about themselves. The premise behind “interventions” is to ensure that students receive the supports they need so that the gaps in learning are not exacerbated. It is important to note, however, that “gaps” should not be seen as deficits; rather gaps are areas of growth for students and each student has their own areas of growth based on a wide range of assessments. I, personally, have an issue with the term “gaps” but that is a topic of discussion for another time. It is also important to know that RTI is not a program; it is an approach that identifies student needs based on collecting data from various sources and in a variety of ways and then identifies and applies relevant instructional strategies to develop those skills in students.

Gathering and accessing data

When it comes to data, there are many sources available for educators to learn about the needs of individual students. Being able to gather all of this information, sort through it, share it with other teachers, and develop a plan can take time. Not having a streamlined space for this makes it challenging. With Class Composer, educators have everything they need to be able to monitor student progress. The information is readily accessible to anyone, at any time. It enables all teachers to access the information they need about each individual student when they need it.

With Class Composer, it is easy to track and record student growth toward individualized goals and share this information within your PLC to best provide for all students. Simplify how you manage all the assessment data collected!

Supporting teachers to support students

As it is, one of the most important parts of the RTI process is to build a team to effectively support students who are struggling. The team should include classroom teachers, administrators, teachers who support special education students and those students who are learning English, the school psychologist, speech-language therapist, and parents. Teachers provide targeted teaching and then use formative assessment practices to determine if the intervention strategies are working.

With Class Composer, it makes it easier for teachers to have access to all this information in one space. It enables teachers to create a supportive learning community for students. These teacher-student connections lead to the development of the essential relationships that need to exist for all students to be successful. The simplified space creates a better way for teams to collaborate and access the information they need when they need it.

If they are not working, the team must decide how they will adapt and modify their instructional practices to ensure that students are indeed learning and growing. A significant aspect to keep in mind is that formative assessments inform us of what we must do to ensure student success, not what the student needs to do. In other words, how are we adjusting our practice to best support students? Assessment informs instruction; it is our responsibility to continuously revise what we are doing so that students meet the learning goals related to curriculum standards and expectations.

Even though there is no one correct way to implement RTI, it is a three-tiered approach and you can think of it as a pyramid in which each tier increases in the intensity of support. They are:

(1) whole class

(2) small group, and

(3) intensive interventions.

Some school boards call this a multi-tiered system of supports or MTSS. Although there are many benefits to this approach, I also see several problems and issues arising from the basic foundation upon which RTI and MTSS were built.

I will be discussing these issues in future blog posts as well as digging deeper into this system of support and how to best implement this framework so that all students succeed, grow, and have positive self-worth.

About the Author

Dr. Shelly Vohra is an educator, coach, and consultant. Dr. Vohra teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in Technology and Mathematics as well as working with students who are learning English. She holds an M.Ed in Adult Education & Distant Learning and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Dr. Vohra has over 20 years of experience in education (K-12) teaching various subject areas. Dr. Vohra has written several courses related to Indigenous Education, Multilingual Learners, and Mathematics.

Most recently, she was on a writing team that revised the Science Curriculum (K-8) for Ontario. She has presented at various conferences in Canada and the U.S.A. Dr. Vohra’s work includes designing learning experiences for students through an integrated curriculum lens that combines inquiry with equity. Her research interests include social media in education and blended learning, Dr. Vohra is currently writing a book on her journey. You can find her blog at Her website will also be launching in late Fall. You can also follow her on Twitter @raspberryberet3 and on Instagram @elevate_ed_21.

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Your staff is the biggest key to making your SEL program work

Guest Post by Al Kingsley, @AlKingsley_EDU

One of the largest questions schools are facing this year is how to try to improve student behavior. We all understand that one side effect of the pandemic was students were deprived of learning key social skills that can help regulate their behavior.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 84% of schools agree that student behavioral development has been negatively impacted and that has led to everything from student misconduct to acts of disrespect toward teachers and staff to prohibited use of electronic devices.

In reaction, many schools have used their COVID relief federal funding to start or bolster existing social-emotional learning programs. In fact, 88 of the top 100 districts in the U.S. reported spending funds on SEL – that meant more districts expanded SEL than sought additional technology, teacher training, or extended learning opportunities.

And that’s not a surprise. Many studies show that addressing and building students’ social-emotional skills can result in better academic performance, fewer disruptive behaviors, and less emotional distress.

As a quick aside, if your district is still searching for a solution, I have a detailed column that explains how to best vet a new program, considering your district’s available funds, current climate, and hoped-for outcome.

But if like so many districts, you have already purchased a program and are in the early stages of implementation, I have some advice that seeks to flatten your learning curve, enhance buy-in from staff, and start producing results quicker.

The first key lesson is that even if you have chosen the right program, simply buying something and beginning to train staff isn’t enough to guarantee success. Just as we know that students do better when they understand the relevance of the work they are completing, your staff is more likely to find success if they believe in the option you’ve chosen.

One way to accomplish this is by sharing with them the process you went through to choose your solution. You likely not only gauged your product’s effectiveness in schools in general but also studied exactly how it worked in schools that mirror your district. Let your teachers know what research went into it, and freely share any examples you have from other implementations, from successes to roadblocks.

If you completed a trial with a small group, let staff know. Allowing teachers and others to talk with multiple people about implementation will help tamp down fear of the unknown.

You should also set clear expectations for your program, even if it’s already been rolled out district-wide. Explaining that usage can deepen in coming years will offer a roadmap to staff, and help teachers see the end goal without allowing day-to-day frustrations to hamper their efforts.

The last method to improve your staff’s buy-in is to extend your SEL program to include care for their social and emotional states. During the last several years, teachers may have been working so hard to mitigate the negative effects from the pandemic on students, they ignored their own self-care. Teacher resignations and polls that show increased unhappiness in their jobs are proof that stress, extra work, and uncertainty have taken their toll on your staff.

Remind your teachers to take care of themselves and offer them programs in yoga or controlled breathing. This can not only reduce their stress, but also prove you care about their well-being. In short, take care of your staff like you hope they take care of your students.

Above all, remind staff that all of this work takes time to master, like any new skill. While you can’t expect students to absorb SEL lessons and improve behavior immediately, if staff is consistent with their lessons, progress will begin in mere weeks. This will then reinforce the importance of your SEL program.

Al Kingsley is an author, the CEO of NetSupport, Chair of a Multi-Academy Trust in the UK, Education Author and co-chair of Workstream 5 at the Foundation for Educational Development, whose mandate is to develop a framework for long-term vision and sustainable planning for education in England. He travels the world, speaking about and studying education. Al’s latest book is My School Governance Handbook. @AlKingsley_Edu.

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Preparing students with essential skills

In preparing students for the essential skills they need for the future, we have different methods and digital tools that we can bring into our classroom space. But what skills do students really need? 

A great resource to explore is the skills outlook provided by the World Economic Forum. The top skills cited include emotional intelligence, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

What is important to note is that these skills align with the five core competencies of social-emotional learning (SEL) skills of self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship building, and decision-making.  

Because of the changes that we experienced in the past year, I believe that it is important to have various options, whether teaching in-person, hybrid, or virtually. Choosing methods like Genius hour or project-based learning, activities such as scavenger hunts or learning stations, or selecting digital tools that promote more interaction with and between students will help foster the development of essential future-ready and SEL skills.

How to foster the development of future-ready skills

Educators might wonder how to build SEL activities into the classroom and whether it takes a lot of time. Depending on the methods or tools chosen, some of them do require more planning and preparation initially, but there are so many benefits that the time is definitely worth it.

Here are four methods to consider: 

Digital breakouts and Escape rooms

These have become more popular over the past few years. Even during virtual learning, they can be a great way to have students work together and build skills of collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Using breakouts and escape rooms is also beneficial for the development of social-emotional learning skills as well. There are a lot of ready-to-use games available to get started with.

Read more: Fostering the development of SEL skills in your classroom

Genius hour

With Genius hour, students explore an interest or a passion. It is focused on inquiry-based and student-driven learning, and infuses more student choice and student agency. Students have a chance to “Share their genius” with classmates. Genius hour builds student curiosity, encourages collaboration, and will help students to become more confident as they explore on their own and share their knowledge.

Learning stations

When I changed my classroom a few years ago and changed the rows into stations, there were many benefits for students and my own practice. With stations, using a mix of hands-on materials and digital tools enables students to experience more personalized learning and promotes the development of SEL.

It enables educators to develop a better understanding of where each student is on the learning journey to better plan for their lessons. Using stations also creates a collaborative classroom community where students can engage in activities with their peers, which supports building self-awareness, social awareness, and peer relationships.

Project-based learning

With methods like project-based learning (PBL) or problem-based learning, students drive their own learning, leading them to become more independent and have choices that lead to more authentic and meaningful opportunities.

It helps them to develop self-management skills in particular when setting goals for their research and dealing with any that come with independent work like PBL. Giving students the chance to explore something of personal interest or curiosity, promotes independence in learning, builds student agency, and also helps us to learn about their passions and interests, which assist us in designing learning activities with them in mind. As educators, we must focus on connecting them with the world and preparing them for whatever they decide to do in the future.

Read more: 10 DOs and DON’Ts in Project-Based Learning

Using technology to build future-ready skills

Especially during the past school year, digital tools helped facilitate learning in many different settings. Choose one or two versatile tools that will promote student choice and empower them to move from content consumers to creators.

Here are three ideas using digital tools:

  1. Interactive lessons: With some of the platforms available, we can keep students engaged in learning by including a variety of activities that promote collaboration, discussion, and creativity in learning while they build skills in the content they are learning. Some of my favorites include using Formative, Google Jamboard, Nearpod, and Classkick, all of which are beneficial for connecting students in learning, whether in-person or remote, and which enable educators to have access to data or information about where students are in the learning process.
  2. Multimedia presentations: Students can develop vital technology and digital citizenship skills as they learn to create multimedia presentations to demonstrate learning. Our favorites include using tools that offer options for all students that meet their specific interests and comfort levels with technology. Check out Buncee, which has designed an SEL toolkit with ready-to-use template activities for grades K-6 and 7-12 in addition to having thousands of ideas for classroom use and more than 38,000 items in their media library. Using a tool like Wakelet enables students to include images, text, Flipgrid short videos, and other links to share with classmates and their teachers. It is simple to get started with, and it offers students the chance to create their own lesson or even a digital portfolio to show their learning journey. Book Creator is another option for having students collaborate on a book and include audio, video, text, images, and more and build SEL skills. Read more: 8 Digital tools for engaging classroom presentations
  3. Digital portfolios: Spaces offers a digital portfolio platform that assists teachers in better understanding students, their interests, and their needs in learning. Digital portfolios help students to develop SEL skills of self-awareness and self-management. Having students share their portfolios with classmates is also helpful for building relationships and social awareness. The benefits of portfolios are that students track their growth over time and can identify strengths and areas where they can set new goals.

There are many methods and tools to explore, but it’s important to focus on the why behind the choices we make for our students. The use of digital tools promotes collaboration, communication, creativity, and many more essential skills while also promoting the power of choice for students to share what they have learned.

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Learning about the metaverse

When it comes to education, there are always new ideas, methods, and technologies. As we have seen, especially over the past two years, the number of tools available and the advances in technology are increasing tremendously. In our schools, we have to prepare our students so that they understand what these technologies are, how they are being used now, and what the impact might be on them in the future. 

For most people, topics like augmented and virtual reality and artificial intelligence may be new. Understanding the differences between AR and VR for example and how these technologies are being used in the world and in education is important, especially with the use of AR and VR in different areas of work. Now enter the term “metaverse” which may be a new concept to many, however, it has actually been around for almost three decades. Neal Stephenson, an American science fiction author introduced the concept of the metaverse in his novel, Snow Crash back in 1992.

For some people, the term metaverse may have been first heard when Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was changing the name of Facebook to Meta back in October of 2021. To help people understand what his ideas were for the metaverse, he released a short video about how the metaverse would work. I recommend sharing this video with students to spark a conversation first.

With these emerging technologies and also with things like blockchain, NFTs, and web3 for a few others, how can educators keep up so that we can prepare our students? With so many responsibilities in our daily work, how do we find time to learn more about the metaverse? What are the best resources and how can we provide opportunities for students to drive their own learning about these emerging technologies?

Understanding what the metaverse is

First, it is important to have a working definition of the metaverse. The metaverse is “a simulated digital environment that uses augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and blockchain, along with concepts from social media, to create spaces for rich user interaction mimicking the real world.” A few years ago, I read the book Ready Player One, which has been used to provide a glimpse into what the metaverse might look like. For getting started with learning about the metaverse, having a good based understanding of what the metaverse is would be the first step.

Years ago, people were using Second Life, which was a way for meeting with others in a virtual world. When I first used it in 2015, I was not sure what to think. For anyone who has not experienced it, you would create your own avatar, and communicate and interact with others in a virtual space. It was being used in place of traditional meeting tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom for example. Using this as a comparison,  the metaverse would be quite similar, except used for more than just meetings. It would be for all aspects of personal and professional life. Can you imagine spending 24 hours in the metaverse? Think about everything that you do in a typical day and what that might look like in the metaverse? What are the benefits and drawbacks? A good question to ask students and see what their responses are. Check out a video of a young woman who spent 24 hours in a VR headset and what the impact it was on her as a result. 

You can check out some of the videos available that provide a simulated metaverse experience. videos 

You may be familiar with Fortnite and Roblox, which are platforms that demonstrate the concept of the metaverse. Roblox is even providing lesson plans and activities that are aligned with the ISTE Standards. Engaging in the metaverse experience also does not require the use of headsets as the environments can be accessed through a computer and using a variety of web VR such as Engage VR for Mozilla Hubs for example. 

What else do we need to know?

More than just knowing what the metaverse is, we need to understand how it works, what devices and technology are needed, and what other concepts we need to be knowledgeable about. With life spent in the metaverse, everyday tasks like making purchases, working, going to school, socializing, and entertainment will look different. We will need to understand how to buy things and keep track of information, so we also need to understand blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs.  Think about the age of the students that you teach or work with. Fast forward ten years, will students be going to school and working in the metaverse?  If so, then we have to do what we can to prepare them and ourselves.  What are the skills that students will need to interact in the metaverse?

But will the metaverse disappear?

There has been a lot of growth in the use of the metaverse since October 2021. In education, some colleges are not only thinking about holding classes in the metaverse, some have already done so.  Research is being done to explore what the benefits of learning in the metaverse might be. Stanford unveiled a metaverse learning experience for students in June of 2021. Using the platform Engage VR, more than 250 students wearing headsets participated in class in virtual reality. In total, students completed two courses and spent 3,500 hours together in the metaverse rather than the traditional classroom or virtual meeting space like Zoom or Teams.

In the spring, it was announced by Victory XR that ten “metaversities” would be launching in the fall. While there are concerns about the metaverse, there are also some anticipated benefits to these options. Considering the increasing and sometimes prohibitive cost of traditional universities, a metaversity might lead to more opportunities for students. 

Thinking about benefits, providing education via the metaverse could resolve common issues such as class sizes or lack of adequate learning materials due to tight budgets. Students would be able to immerse more in learning experiences and in some cases, may feel more connected to and included in learning. A survey found that 80% of respondents felt more included in the metaverse. With permission settings, teachers would have more control over student interactions in the metaverse. In higher education, there can be a digital twin, which is a professor who is in the physical classroom space but through an avatar, is able to engage with students in the virtual space too.  

With these emerging technologies, it is important that we all explore new ideas and ways to best prepare our students and ourselves for what these technologies will bring. 

A recent article in Forbes shared some of the potential benefits of the metaverse. In the metaverse, people can make purchases, hold meetings, own land, buy and sell real estate, and even buy clothing for their avatars. It would have its own virtual economy for these transactions, which brings up another issue, financial literacy, and understanding how the concept of money and finances would work in the metaverse. When it comes to the impact the metaverse might have on the economy, it is estimated that it could become an $800 billion market by 2024.

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