How Two Innovative K-12 Teachers Use mcSquares for “Hands-on” Remote Learning
mcSquares are the perfect solution for:
→ teachers looking for empowering, innovative tools
→ math and language arts
→ arts education and lesson planning
→ joining your colleagues
Teachers are some of the most innovative professionals our children will ever meet. They constantly iterate new classroom tactics to take advantage of emerging technologies. A year ago, there were a lot of ways for teachers to engage and interact with students. Physical classrooms were places filled with familiar technologies: whiteboards, projectors, audio and video recorders, cameras, smartphones, tablets, etc. Teachers and administrators had a wealth of tools to choose from.
Then COVID-19 turned the lights out on our classrooms. The only safe place to teach and learn was from home. School administrators had to count on their teachers to find ways to make remote learning as successful as possible--even in an impossible situation.
Teachers are looking for tools that empower innovation.
Before the pandemic, mcSquares was proud to offer a stable of educational tools for teachers and students. Now, we’re honored that educators are finding original ways to use our products to help them teach in environments entirely new for them.
We founded mcSquares on a vision to create meaningful human connections in a time of increasing technological isolation. We design products for inclusive representation. Every person’s voice should be heard--even the most soft-spoken or timid. That’s why we are delighted to see our products’ rapid uptake among educators, even before the pandemic.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen a remarkable increase in parents, teachers, and administrators adopting mcSquares tools. Across the country, educators use mcSquares to engage students in old, familiar, and effective ways, while at the same time maintaining social distancing.
We recently met with two teachers to find out how they are using mcSquares to bridge the worlds of physical and distance learning.
Personal Whiteboards for Math and Language Arts
Sarah Smith is a third-grade teacher and curriculum developer in the Denver Public Schools System. Even before the pandemic, Sarah used mcSquares Surfaces to engage students in the classroom. Now she finds the whiteboards indispensable while connecting with a class of 25 students from home.
Sarah spoke to us about how students learn by identifying shapes and patterns -- be they words, graphs or diagrams.
"I often find that I have to make a point on the fly. It's much easier for me to sketch a graph or diagram on an mcSquares Surface and hold it up to the camera."
“There’s a place for doing stuff on your Chromebook,” she admits. "But this allows students to react to what I’ve drawn in real time and react in a very real way.”
Sarah explains that whiteboards are indispensable when teaching students how to read using “word study” methods. Word study teaches students to read by identifying patterns. For example, the letter “c” often has a hard sound before certain vowels (think ‘can’ or ‘cubs’) and a soft sound when followed by others (think ‘celery’ or ‘cycle’).
“Using a whiteboard, I can write and erase letters easily and present words for students to react to,” says Sarah.
For one of her setups, she positions her phone camera above one of our 12” Square Surfaces to capture snapshots and video clips for her lessons. She also uses it to stream sketches and examples while teaching online. There are a lot of hacks that would work for this sort of setup. In place of a flexible phone clip, an instructor could use a tripod or windshield mount. And a webcam could be just as useful as a phone for streaming the visuals for a learning session.
However, it’s important to note that no single solution will work for all students. Teachers often have to offer the same content in several different ways to connect with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.
Perfect tools for Arts education and lesson planning
Engaging students with diverse learning styles is essential for teachers. Jessica Cardenas is a kindergarten through second-grade art teacher at an independent school in Denver, Colorado. She loves how mcSquares can be used to foster engagement through visual and kinesthetic learning experiences. Reusable stickies, tablets, whiteboards, and tiles allow both teachers and students to make endless drawings, squiggles, and shapes.
“I love having the whiteboard and markers close by to make a point and then adding a quick sketch to drive it home,” Jessica says.
Jessica also uses mcSquares reusables Tiles to plan lessons ahead of time.
“It’s so much easier to pop a square or move it during a class,” says Jessica. “Especially, when you are looking to engage students online, you don’t want to spend time erasing and writing a ton of information. The mcSquares Tiles allow me to keep the class moving along without letting the students get distracted.”
Join your colleagues and share your story
Jessica and Sarah are among thousands of educators across the world providing richer learning experiences by using mcSquares. A 2016 mcSquares study of public school students points to the effectiveness of using our handheld whiteboard system to increase collaboration and improve student outcomes. The study, conducted among sixth-graders in a Denver public school, found that 3 times as many students achieved passing post-test scores after working with mcSquares. Additionally, 41% of students improved these very scores.
Once you do, please share your success stories with us. We love to hear how teachers and students are succeeding with mcSquares.