Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Creating an Inclusive Classroom #EdChat #Neurodiversity

Neurodiverse students bring a wide range of perspectives and abilities to the classroom that should be supported and embraced by classroom teachers. The challenge for educators is trying to find the best solutions to support these diverse learners. Creating, not only a physically inclusive, but emotionally supportive and intellectually stimulating environment for neurodiverse students can make a difference in the odds of success for these students. Here are five practical strategies to help create this inclusive learning environment. 

1. Flexible Seating Options

I am on the other side of the seating chart argument recently shared on Edutopia. I believe in letting students choose their own seats and encouraging them to make choices that support their learning. Having different options available is important to support different learners sensory needs and learning styles. Having beanbag chairs, wobble chairs, carpet squares, and other seating options allow for students to choose what works best for them. Introducing the wobble chair to my classroom really changed the game for some of my fidgeting students. They can fidget without distracting others and they can also pay better attention now that their movement needs have been met. 

2. Sensory-Friendly Learning Spaces

Be mindful of sensory stimuli in the classroom. Bright lights, loud noises, or cluttered spaces can be overwhelming for some neurodivergent students. I know many teachers that string their own soft lights throughout the room and rarely ever use the fluorescent lights because they are too bright. Very messy spaces can cause anxiety for neurodiverse students and it is important to try and keep a space that is tidy for those students to work if they get overwhelmed. Allowing students to use their headphones while they work is something I have come around on because it is a way for students, who need it, to block out the extra stimuli so they can focus on the work at hand. These small tweaks can be helpful keeping neurodivergent students engaged. 

3. Inclusive Teaching Practices

Consider how content is being shared and assessed in class. Are instructions only verbal, could they be written on the board or posted on a class website. Finding different ways to present content creates an inclusive environment because students take in content differently. Having the directions in multiple locations will allow students who need to follow along able to do so and remove the need to ask a question if they missed something. Many neurodiverse students are afraid to ask a question based on what is discussed in class because they fear being teased or the teacher telling them to pay attention next time. It has nothing to do with attention most of the time. It is processing speed. Some students process more slowly, so they miss the next bit of information while the still process the last piece. Having information available in multiple locations allows them to process in their own time. 

Exploring UDL and Project-Based Learning are other ways to assess student learning that allows for more engagement from neurodiverse students. Multiple Choice, short answer, and other traditional assessments truly speak to neurotypical students who can process the information quickly and produce an answer. More options for assessments will help create a more inclusive environment for students who need different modes to express their understanding of content in class. 

Regularly check in with neurodivergent students to understand their needs and preferences, adapting teaching methods accordingly.

4. Group Work and Social Interaction

Allow for group work and the ability to be social during this time in class. I use something I call The First Five. The first five minutes of class is the time to get situated and connect with your peers. I use this as a time to connect with students, see where they are emotionally sometimes, follow up on previous conversations, and whatever else I want to talk about as long as it is not specifically school related. This time to connect and be social helps create a sense of ease before diving into the work. 

When breaking up into groups, it is good to give them five minutes to connect, work through the project together, and just be social. Making those connections allows for better engagement for all students, but especially neurodivergent students. If the anxiety of group work or overall classwork can be addressed by allowing a more casual start to class, neurodiverse students will be more able to engage and be successful. 

5. Open Communication and Awareness

Foster an environment of open communication where students feel comfortable sharing their needs and preferences. I do this by sharing my neurodivergent needs to students. As someone with ADHD side conversations in class can be very distracting when I am trying to give directions. I let students know that I will sometimes misspell things when writing on the board and not to laugh because I'm dyslexic and will sometimes make mistakes. Opening up about my neurodivergent issues has always helped those students who need accommodations because they are more willing to share when they need help. 

Not all teachers are neurodiverse, so sharing those issues doesn't apply to everyone. However, we have all made mistakes and have needed support one time or another and sharing those stories is key in creating an environment where we do not shame those students who ask for help. I make it a point to celebrate those students who ask for support. It might be an email or a quick comment in the hall, but I make sure to let them know I am proud of them for speaking up and asking for support. The more we can normalize asking for support, learning environments will be better for all students. 

By implementing these strategies, educators can create a learning environment where neurodivergent students can fully engage and not feel shame for how they approach learning. When these students feel more welcomed, they will be able to shine in the classroom and those ideas they share will make learning better for everyone. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Thursday, November 30, 2023

7 Things We Say Instead Of "What Were You Thinking?" #EdChat

One of the things I find myself asking middle school students is "What were you thinking?" That phrase seems innocuous, but it really about the context and the tone. For example, a student is designing a project for class and added and interesting aspect to the design. I sit next to them and ask "What were you thinking when you designed this?" and the student explains their thought process. The other end of the spectrum is a student who blurts out an off topic question and I respond, "What were you thinking?" and they stare blankly back without an explanation. In one instance, I am asking for more information on a thoughtful piece of student work and the other is an exasperated response to a student behavior. I have been teaching for over 20 years and I still expect the 2nd student to provide an answer even though I know they do not have one. Asking that question in that situation is a bad habit I have improved on, but will still continue to work on until it is eliminated from my frustrated teacher vocabulary. 

Instead of asking that question, in any situation because of how students might have interacted with it in the past, there are some other ones that I use in place that allow for more conversation with the student. 

1. "Can you tell me more about your decision?"
This open-ended question invites explanation without judgment. It allows students to articulate their thought process, offering insights into their reasoning. For neurodiverse students, who might process information or approach problems differently, this question acknowledges and respects their unique perspectives. This question works on a few levels. The behavior levels allows the teacher to engage the student in an non threatening way. Asking them to think about what they did and why they did it. Putting their decision in context of the classroom can help them see why their actions might not work for that moment. On the classwork level, it asks students to explain how they got to their choice and that can help them understand and explain their own thought process.

2. "How did you arrive at this conclusion?"
Focusing on the process rather than the outcome encourages students to reflect on their methods. It promotes critical thinking and self-analysis, which are crucial skills in both academic and personal growth. Reviewing the steps of a solution can help students catch any errors along the way and, ultimately, have a better understanding of how they worked out the problem.

3. "What were your goals in this situation?"
Understanding a student's objectives can provide clarity on their actions. This question also implicitly supports the idea that making mistakes while pursuing a goal is a natural and valuable part of learning. I have found this to be very helpful with students who can sometimes get lost in the process of finding a solution. Refocusing on the goal can sometimes help move a student forward that has been stuck.

4. "Is there another way you might approach this problem?"
Encouraging students to consider alternative methods fosters creativity and adaptability. Sometimes I have to let students approach a problem in a way that I know will lead to failure because they need to experience that failure to fully learn why it didn't work. Asking them this question helps point them in another direction without feeling bad about their first idea.

5. "How can I support you in this learning process?"
This question shifts the focus from what the student did wrong to how they can be assisted in their learning journey. It is important to remind students that teachers can be the ultimate learning resource and that we are learning partners in class. It emphasizes the teacher's role as a guide and ally, rather than a critic.

6. "What have you learned from this experience?"
Emphasizing learning over failure, this question helps students recognize the value in making mistakes. It's a powerful way to build resilience and a growth mindset. The act of reflecting on tasks is so important when we are emphasizing growth over time. Making this a normal part of the conversation is important if we want to normalize reflection for students.

7. "What resources or strategies might help you next time?"
This approach encourages students to think constructively about future challenges. It's particularly beneficial for neurodiverse students who might need different resources or strategies to succeed. This can be tougher for younger students because they don't know what they don't know. If they are not sure how to answer this question, this is a good chance to showcase some of those resources and/or strategies so they are better prepared to use them when needed.

Not all of these work in every situation, but they can be helpful for a teacher that really wants the student to stop and think about their choices in a way that doesn't bring them shame when they do not have an answer to "What were you thinking?"

Do you have phrases you use to help students that would be better? Share them in the comments and/or social media.

Hugs and High Fives,

The Nerdy Teacher

Monday, November 20, 2023

How Do We Support Neurodivergent Students? #SpEd

One of the toughest things for a neurodivergent learner to do is is to ask for help. There is already so much self-shame for needing help, asking for it can just be too much for some students. As teachers, what can we do to support these students in a way that makes them feel comfortable asking and receiving the support they need to be successful in class? Here are some tips that can neurodivergent students be in a better place to ask for support when they need it. 

1. Environment Building - The term "safe space" has been mocked by other groups because it is seen as being too sensitive to learners who might be scared of different opinions, but that is not what this is about. Every classroom should be a safe space for many different reasons. One is that the environment needs to be such that a student feels comfortable asking for support when they need it. This is done by verbally stating it at the start of class and constantly restated throughout the year so students understand that asking for support is ok and encouraged for those students who might be struggling with the content in class. It is creating an environment where students feel comfortable expressing opposing opinions. As an HS ELA teacher, I made sure to verbalize on a regular basis that it is ok and encouraged to disagree with me in respectful ways. Neurodivergent students will often have a different way of looking at something and they need to feel comfortable sharing that distinct point of view. Culture building is not easy task, but it is important if we want all of our students to feel like they can share their thoughts and ask for help when they need it. 

2. Encourage Open Communication - Neurodivergent students need to know that the door is always open. Whether that is a real door during office hours or a metaphorical door for emails, knowing it is open can help relieve some of the anxiety neurodivergent students have over communication. It is important that emails from educators/admin to students should have a clear subject line and mention specifically what will be discussed. If the email is a vague, "Stop by when you have a chance" then students are going to spiral out of control until the meeting takes place. Make it clear at the start of the year what the communication expectations are on teacher and student. Write these down in a syllabus that is shared with class. Use tools like Remind or email blasts to keep students informed of what is happening in class. Neurodivergent students need to feel like they are not being a burden when it comes to communication with anyone. Providing clear terms on how communication is best to take place will help support those students. 

3. Identify Support Resources - Most neurodivergent students will need support services to be able to excel in their classes. It is important that these support services are clearly laid out to students and parents very early in the year. It should be something that is touched on at the start of the year, back to school night, and the first round of conferences. Most of the time, neurodivergent students do not remember what services are available to them or feel too embarrassed to ask for support. Using email or 1:1 meetings as way to discuss the resources and how a student might utilize them is key in getting students the best possible support. Again, there needs to be a culture built around using these services so students do not feel stigmatized when utilizing them. 

4. Re-evaluate Due Dates - One of the toughest things for neurodivergent students to hit are due dates. Things will pile up and students will feel hopeless. It is important that teachers can connect whenever possible and try to spread out the due dates of major projects or assessments so they do not all fall in the same window of time. Also, most neurodivergent students would benefit from extended time on work so they can make the last minute changes to meet their standards. I have also found having those students present on the second day of presentations can help some students because they get a chance to see what others are doing and can adjust their work as needed. Others preferred to go first because the anxiety of waiting was too much for them. The correct answer is to get to know your students and have conversations when them so the best option is available for every student. 

These are just a few ways you can help neurodivergent students in your classroom. Like most things, communication is key to a successful student/teacher relationship. The more that a student feel seen and heard, the more likely they are to ask for the support they need to be successful. Also, many of these changes also help neurotypical students as well. Consider making all of these changes for all of your students and see how some neurotypical students respond to the extra level of support. 

Sending Hugs and High Fives!

N Provenzano

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Book Creation And Digital Design With @AdobeExpress #AdobeEduCreative

I am so excited to share this lesson I just created I couldn't even wait for student examples!

My 2nd trimester Digital Design class is starting after Thanksgiving and I've been toying with different ideas on having students engage with design in different ways. I was struck with this idea for students to create different picture books for younger students. One of the cool things about having K12 on one campus is the ability to collaborate across vast grade levels. I am going to try and set up a connection between my class and the 1st or 2nd graders. Here is the lesson and feel free to use/alter/etc for your students. 

Step 1: Great a fill in the blank story that allows students to create their own nouns, adjectives, etc. I struggled with finding the perfect story I wanted to tell, so I used ChatGPT for support. Here is a link to my story. 

Step 2: Students fill in the blanks of the story with as much detail as possible. 

Step 3: Students will switch their stories with other students. 

Step 4: Students will use Adobe Express to create the story based on the descriptions. Each page will be a page of the story and they will add the text to match the imagery they are creating. Students are encouraged to use the text to image feature.

Step 5: Students will finish the book and share it with their partners. 

Here is my book if you want to see what a completed story will look like. 


Students completed their books using Gen AI and they had a blast. There was so much laughing as they tried to recreate the monsters the PreK students described. The learned about writing specific prompts and how word choice and word order can impact what is generated. They made their stories and worked on their proofreading skills and shared their work at home so they could proofread. They took the writing process very seriously because they recognized that it would be bad to give a book to an early reader that is filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. The changed audience impacted their engagement with the writing process in a wonderfully positive manner. Here are the copies of some of the books the students created. 


After finishing their books and going through the peer editing process, the students were ready to go back to the PreK and read their stories to their little partners. The PreK students were so excited to have their big buddies down there again and they loved the stories so much! One PreK student said they get to choose two picture books before bed and this book would be one of the two. My students walked away with a wonderful sense of accomplishment because they were able to see the impact of their work. It was a huge win for everyone. Here are some pics of the reading time. 

If you are able, I highly recommend that you give this lesson a try in your class. The students loved connecting with little students and the Gen AI feature of Adobe Express allowed all of the students to feel like artists/illustrators. I could see the students grow in confidence using Express and how their work can impact others. If you have any questions, please let me know!


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Portfolios, Digital Media, and Student Assessment with @Seesaw and @AdobeExpress #AdobeEduCreative

One of the things that is always tough, is getting a clear picture of what a student has actually learned. The days of just throwing a multiple choice test to gauge learning are past. While some students are able to use those forms of assessments to showcase their learning, others do not perform well with those mediums and others know enough to game the system. At the end of the day, those assessments do not show enough of what a student knows. I've really leaned into portfolios as a way for students to showcase their work and truly demonstrate what they have learned. By adding the use of Adobe Express to the use of Seesaw, I have created a workflow that has students completing projects and then creating media to showcase their projects and then posting it all on Seesaw for me to assess and for their parents to see as well. Here is an example of the workflow I mentioned. 

Step 1: Seesaw

We use Seesaw as our LMS in the Middle and Elementary School. Every students has their Seesaw account and teachers create their class for students to join. From there, a teacher posts an Activity that outlines what the assignment is going to be. You can set a due date, add images, videos, templates, etc. to help break down the Activity is a way that helps students understand the assignment and how to complete it. Here is an example, 

I break down the different parts of the assignment and then I make sure to be very clear on what that project needs to have at the end. This really helps all students, but particularly neurodivergent students who can get lost in the text at times. 

Once the students have completed the assignment, they post it to Seesaw and it will appear like the image below. 

I can like the post to let the student know I have seen it and I can leave a comment. I leave a short comment here and then we would have a 1:1 conversation to reflect on their work. It does take time, but that feedback on their work is so helpful when they tackle the next project. With the correct settings in place, parents could like and comment on the video as well. With even more settings turned on, students from the class can see other student work as well. Since I use this as a 1:1 student/teacher portfolio, I leave this off so I can freely comment on student work without other students seeing what I have written about the project. 

Here is the video if you are itching to watch it,

The reason I am excited to showcase this on my website is the addition of Adobe Express and all of the upgrades that have taken place over the past few months. Generative AI features and Animate from Audio are just a couple of the reasons that Adobe Express has increased the level and quality of student work this year. I have students that are normally shy using the Animate from Audio feature to give a voice to their work through silly animated creatures. Parents have told me how much the of Express has given a creative outlet for their children in a way that used to be stifled because they did not feel they were "good enough" at art or design. Adobe Express is giving these students a chance to showcase what they have learned if fun and creative ways that make a different to how they feel about what they have created. With that, student engagement is higher and I am able to better assess what students do and do not understand. 

I understand that many schools use different LMS platforms for their classes and maybe they use other design software as well. The principles are still the same. By giving students a better way to make meaning and demonstrate understanding along with a system to aggregate their learning, educators can get a better sense of what learning looks like for that student. Over time, an entire portfolio of projects, writing, presentations, etc, can be collected and showcase the type of growth that can be hard to see month to month, but jumps out at everyone when we pull back and see that growth over a greater period of time.

Seesaw and Adobe Express works for me and many other teachers in my school and across the country. At a minimum, I hope you will consider how a portfolio approach to student assessment that includes media creation could support all of the diverse learners in your classroom and school. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Maintaining Student Engagement Beyond the New Year Honeymoon

The start of the school year can bring stress to teachers, but there is a certain type of buzz that the students have about being back. Everything is new. New classes, new lockers, new classmates, new clubs, etc. There is a certain honeymoon period at the start of the year where students are more willing to try new things and get along because they are happy to be back. However, that honeymoon does not last forever. Teachers need to find creative ways to keep students engaged beyond the honeymoon period. There are some tips that can help make the post honeymoon class time better for everyone. 

Flexibility is Key

As the year progresses, your students are going to grow and change. As they do, it is important to remember to be flexible. Pay attention to their evolving interests and passions. That cool Youtuber they love might be “super cringe” now. Their hormones are going to change and tempers can become short. Being adaptable during this time is important. Students will need to be shown some grace as they navigate complex emotions. Being flexible with students will allow them to feel those big feelings without fear of punishment. Students will make mistakes and it is important that they are given the space to make them and recover from them. The teacher’s flexibility will really determine how engaged some students will be throughout the year. 

Incorporate Hands-On Learning

I always apologize to my students about the first few days of class because they are the most boring days. Too much of the teacher talking and students sitting and listening. If that is how class is always going to be, students are going to check out and the teacher will find it hard to get them back. Hands-on learning is a great way to keep students engaged in class. Students should be up and moving often in classes. It is good for the brain! This article from Edutopia showcases great ways to bring more movement into the classroom. Getting students up from their desk and engaged in the lesson is a wonderful, and easy, way to get them engaged in the classroom. Not every lesson needs to be hands-on, just more than you might traditionally do in the classroom. 

Harness the Power of Technology

One of the things I have seen used in the classroom that has really changed students' engagement is how teachers are using Kahoot. Students are super engaged in the quiz games and the classrooms are hopping! Bringing tech into the classroom can be a fun change to the traditional day. It can be some that motivates students to do the work because they know there is a Kahoot later in the week. Using tools like Adobe Express or Canva to let the students create digital projects can help increase the engagement of students in the classroom. These free pieces of technology can really help students stay connected to the class and support their long term learning. 

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

One of the things I have seen that have helped students stay engaged in class is to have clear, achievable goals. Sometimes the school year can seem endless and it is hard to get up and tackle the whole year. Breaking that year into small chunks and celebrating when they are completed is a great way to keep students engaged. Throw a mini party when you finish that unit. Reward the students for making it through that exam they were anxious about taking. Make sure the goals are clear and achievable and the students will feel so much better when they get to cross those items off the class to-do list. 

Keep Your Own Passion Alive

Don’t forget to keep your fire lit. As a teacher, it can be tough to keep the same energy level up all year. There are going to be dips, but those can be mitigated. One of the ways to do that is to attend conferences, read articles, and stay connected with the other educators. Also, you can completely disconnect from the educational world on weekends and just explore something that you are interested in and share that with students. I recharge by going to a conference and getting flooded by all of these amazing ideas from teachers across the country. I also know teachers who would rather spend their time being lazy in their garden and they come back energized. Find your own passion and let that drive you throughout the year. 

The ups and downs of enthusiasm throughout the school year are very normal. Yet, by being proactive, adaptive, and responsive to our students' needs, we can ensure that engagement remains high long after the novelty of the new year fades. Remember, every day is an opportunity to reignite that spark of curiosity and wonder in our students.

Hugs and High Fives,


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Draw and Translate on @AdobeExpress! #AdobeEduCreative @RebeccaLouHare

I wanted to share this quickly before I head out for the weekend. Adobe Express has introduced a DRAWING feature! Teachers and students have been asking for this for a very long time. The possibilities are endless and I can't wait to see what students and teachers create using tablets/touchscreens to draw. Adding drawing simply increases the creative abilities of students and teachers. It is very straightforward to use and will provide lots of different ideas. Here are a few quick screenshots I tool 

You can find the Drawing option under the Education and Suggested tap on the new.express.adobe.com homepage. You have the option to create from Scratch or use a template. Here is what I was able to whip up quickly. 

Look out Picasso! You can change colors, styles of brush, thickness of the lines, etc. This is exactly what I was hoping it was going to be and could not be happier. They also have decorative brushes! Look at the bats I created. You increase the size on the left and you can have all types of fun creations with the simple swipe across the page with the mouse. 

I am super excited about this new feature and I hope everyone that loves Adobe Express takes a moment to try it out and share their thoughts. 

Quick addition because I just saw this as I was about to post. You can translate into different languages. Entire documents! What?! Check this out!

These are a couple of amazing features that are going to increase the creativity across the board for even more students and teachers. Check it out and share with your teacher friends!

Hugs and High Fives, 


Monday, October 9, 2023

5 Key Ways to Support Neurodivergent Students That Benefit Everyone. #EdChat #Neurodiversity

In the quest to provide inclusive and comprehensive education, there's a saying that captures the essence perfectly: "When we design for disability, we all benefit." At the heart of this perspective is the understanding that strategies we use to support neurodivergent students can, in many cases, enhance the learning experience for everyone. Here are five essential ways educators can make their classrooms more accessible, taking inspiration from methods employed to support neurodivergent students.

Structured Environment

One of the most common strategies for assisting neurodivergent students is creating a structured classroom environment. Predictable routines, clear organization, and labeled areas can aid in reducing anxiety for students who crave routine. This is something that can benefit all students because having clearly labeled locations for items and solid routine allows very little room for lost time. I have found that students in the middle school really benefit from the strict routine of certain class activities. Whether it is taking attendance or the procedure to use the bathroom, those approaches help all students, but especially neurodivergent students who get anxious at the uncertainty that can present itself in seemingly normal, every day tasks for others. 

Example: Starting every class with a 5-minute overview of the day's lesson, displayed on the board, can help all students set clear expectations and mentally prepare for the tasks ahead.

Visual Aids and Graphic Organizers

Visual aids can be beneficial for neurodivergent students, especially those on the autism spectrum or those with attention disorders. These tools can clarify information and break down complex ideas. The use of chunking is wonderfully helpful for all students. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed with a large project or concept. Breaking it down using visuals can help make it all seem more manageable. I have found that more visuals and fewer long texts really help all of the students stay on task and are more engaged with the content. 

Example: For a lesson on the water cycle, a colorful diagram with arrows and brief descriptions can make the concept more graspable.

Flexible Seating Options

Providing various seating options can cater to different sensory needs. Some students may need movement to concentrate, while others might benefit from a quiet corner. As a teacher, it is important to remember that it is not "your" classroom. It is their classroom and the space should accommodate their needs. The first time a student in my ELA class asked if they could sit on the window ledge instead of their desk, the traditional teacher in me said, "No way", but I figured I would give this fidgety student a chance and it was the most on task they had been all year. Finding different options for sitting can be difficult and costly, but it is important to explore because students learn in a different environments and we should be flexible to that. 

Example: Offering a mix of traditional desks, standing desks, soft cushions, and even wobble stools can provide students the freedom to find their most productive space.

Breaks and Brain Boosters

Regular breaks can help neurodivergent students regulate their emotions and energy. But in reality, all students can benefit from intermittent pauses to refresh and refocus. If you teach in block scheduling, you must have something to break up the 70 minute blocks or the students will not make it to the end of the year as engaged as you might want. Taking time to stretch, walk around, play a quick silly game, etc. are important to keep the students engaged. Neurodiverse students will really need a way to energize themselves after long periods of sitting. 

Example: Introducing 5-minute "brain boosters" every 25 minutes, like a quick stretch or a short mindfulness exercise, can help rejuvenate everyone.

Multi-modal Instructions

Offering instructions in more than one format can make a world of difference. Whether it's auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, multi-modal teaching addresses diverse learning styles. I learned that putting everything online and on the board AND reading over it at the start and end of class is a great way to ensure that ALL of my students have a chance to understand what we are doing or remind them what we just did. I read everything at least twice to make sure everyone heard it because there are students who might be too embarrassed to raise their hand and ask for a repeat. That applies to all students. 

Example: When introducing a new project, provide written instructions, explain them verbally, and perhaps demonstrate a step or two to cater to different learners.

The beauty of these strategies is that they don't just cater to a subset of students. By supporting our neurodivergent learners, we are essentially laying the foundation for a holistic, inclusive, and enriched classroom environment that uplifts everyone. Let's continue to learn, adapt, and grow for the benefit of all our students.

Hugs and High Fives, 


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Future of Education Presentation from the Sunnyvale Symposium #GoogleChampions #AdobeCreativeEdu

I spent the past three days in Sunnyvale, California at the Google for Education Champions Sunnyvale Symposium and it was a very exciting time. One of the interesting conversations we had centered around the idea of the Future of Education. We were broken up into smaller groups and we worked to come up with our own vision and present it to the group. Below is a video of our presentation built entirely in Adobe Express. It was a fun way to share our ideas. We received plenty of positive feedback on the ideas and the animation. Take a look and see what you think. Thanks to Eric Lawson, Jen Hall, Philip Vinogradov, and Krystal Zeigler. Team 6 for the win! 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Using @AdobeExpress For Presentations #MakerEd #AdobeEduCreative

I just had to share this amazing video a student created for Innovation and Design class. The 6th grade class was tasked with building their teacher (me) a house based on his answers to their questions. The goal of the assignment was to emphasize the value of asking questions and understanding the problems people might be dealing with on a regular basis. Once the students created the house, they needed to create a presentation to showcase their work. Below is one example a student submitted. The student used Adobe Express and the Animate from Audio feature to give a guided tour of the space. Better yet, when they showed it off in class, other students asked for help with their presentation so they could use Animate with Audio as well. 

Adobe Express is a great tool for teachers to use to building dynamic lessons and wonderful graphics, but it is even better in student hands. Giving the students the opportunity to work with tools that allow them to enhance their artifacts to demonstrate their understanding of concepts can lead to wonderful creations. The day after the project was submitted, I saw two students working on a project about Neanderthals on Adobe Express. Traditional slideshows are boring and tend to be an image with a monologue written next to it. Express allows students t=many different approaches to sharing their learning and that is why it is an important part of my class. 

If you have any questions about Adobe Express, please reach out and I am happy to help. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Using @AdobeExpress for Generative AI Images #AdobeEduCreative @RebeecaLouHare

The integration of technology in the classroom is not just about the latest gadgets and gizmos. It's about enhancing our lessons and making them come alive for our students. I'm always on the lookout for fresh, innovative ways to make this happen, and I've found a gem in Adobe Express's generative AI feature. If you haven't given it a shot yet, read on to find out why it could be the tech boost your classroom needs.

Why Adobe Express's Generative AI?

Adobe Express, renowned for its easy-to-use design capabilities, has now embraced the world of AI. This tool takes your basic inputs and transforms them into stunning visual content. And trust me, it's a lot simpler than it sounds. So how can we, as educators, leverage this? Let's dive into some examples.

1. Elementary School: Story Illustrations

Every teacher knows the magic that unfolds when young minds weave tales. Imagine supporting those narratives with AI-generated images. After your students draft their short stories, use Adobe Express to create unique illustrations. What is nice about this, is that students can see the power of the words they use to describe. Does the image not match what was in your head? Then consider adding more describing words to the story. Express allows for multiple iterations of a single prompt, so you can search for the one that best matches your vision or you can add more words to help get the image you have in your mind. I think that writing, for some students, can be too abstract. They have a hard time putting to words what they see in their mind. Express can help with that.

On the other side of this lesson, you could create weird images and have the students write a story about what is happening or just describe what they see. Helping students with the writing process can be tough. As an English teacher, teaching writing is one of the hardest things I have ever done and it took me years before I felt confident that I was doing an adequate job. Express can help teachers and students with their writing in a fun and engaging way.

2. Middle School: Science Posters

Middle schoolers are at an age where they're delving deep into scientific concepts. Creating engaging lessons with interesting graphics can take lots of time and energy. Not all teachers are create at creating their own custom graphics or finding the best images to fit their needs. Express is awesome because you can create the image you need for the specific slide you have created. Below is an image of a desert biome that has different types of cacti. With a properly worded prompt, I was able to create the exact image I needed. Working with students, teachers could create other images of biomes based on what students learned in the their lessons or in their own personal research.

3. High School: Visualizing Geometry

Mathematics is all around us, and geometry is the art of seeing shapes and patterns in our world. Adobe Express’s Generative AI can elevate this experience for high school students. When diving into lessons about different geometric shapes or complex patterns, teachers can input terms into the platform and share those with the students to see if they can identify the shapes. 

For instance, just by typing in "hexagon" into the prompt, this awesome image was generated. Being able to quickly create all of the images you need to share with students will be a huge time saver. Asking students to explore these images in nature could take them on a journey where they start to see geometry everywhere they turn. Instead of wasting hours looking for the perfect image on the internet, the teacher can now create the image they want with a few descriptive words. 

Ready to Dive In?

Adobe Express's Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize your classroom activities. It not only brings lessons to life but also encourages students to think creatively and visually. As always, it's about blending our teaching methods with tools that amplify the learning experience. It is important to note that the AI feature is not currently available through student Adobe accounts. This will change in the future, so keep an eye out! 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Beyond Paper and Pencil: Innovative Assessments with @AdobeExpress #AdobeEduCreative @RebeccaLouHare

One of the things that has had me excited this school year is really diving into the updated Adobe Express and seeing how it can be used for assessment. When I showcased Express to my teachers at the start of the year, there were plenty of "oohhs" and "ahhhs". Animate from Audio really got the foreign language teachers excited because they saw it is a great way to engage students who have been historically shy about recording themselves speaking and sharing it with class. Being able to choose a silly avatar represent their words should reduce much of their anxiety. I was thinking of other ways that content areas might use Adobe Express for assessment. 

Here are four ways you can tap into the power of Adobe Express to evaluate your students' understanding and skills in innovative ways.

1. Digital Storytelling: Narrate a Historical Event

Digital storytelling is an exciting avenue for students to connect with historical events, as they use visuals and narrative to bring the past to life. Using Adobe Express, students can select a variety of images, design elements, and text to depict significant historical events.

How It Works: Assign a specific historical event or period. Ask students to research and then construct a digital story that provides a visual narrative. Not only does this allow them to dive deep into historical context, but they can also explore themes, significance, and personal connections. As an assessment, you can evaluate their research skills, storytelling abilities, and their grasp of historical context.

2. Scientific Process Visualization: Detail an Experiment's Progress

Sometimes, the best way to understand a scientific process is to see it visually. Adobe Express provides a platform where students can design infographics or visual reports that detail each step of their scientific experiment.

How It Works: After completing an experiment, students can use Adobe Express to create a step-by-step visual report. This will demonstrate their understanding of the scientific method and the specific experiment they conducted. By breaking down each stage with visuals, students can clearly communicate their process, findings, and conclusions.

3. Literary Analysis: Visual Book Reports

Gone are the days of the standard written book report. Let's elevate the experience with visual book reports! Students can utilize Adobe Express to craft a creative representation of their chosen book, including key themes, character developments, and critical scenes.

How It Works: Students select a book they've read and use Adobe Express to craft a visual book report. They can include quotes, images representing key scenes, and their own designs. By juxtaposing these elements, students can offer their interpretation and analysis of the book, showcasing their comprehension and critical thinking skills.

4. Geometry in Real Life: Shapes and Design

Geometry is everywhere, and Adobe Express can help students see it. By tasking students with identifying and outlining geometric shapes in real-world photos, they can connect classroom lessons with their surroundings.

How It Works: Students take or find pictures of real-world objects or scenes. Using Adobe Express, they highlight and label the different geometric shapes they identify. This assessment not only tests their knowledge of geometry but also their ability to connect theory with real-world application.

Adobe Express has proven to be more than just a design tool. It's a gateway to interactive and immersive learning experiences, allowing educators to assess students in ways that are both engaging and insightful. By incorporating these creative assessment methods into your teaching approach, you not only evaluate student understanding but also foster skills like critical thinking, creativity, and technological literacy. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


(Images generated using Adobe Firefly.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Getting Started with @AdobeExpress #AdobeEduCreative

We are rolling out Adobe Express for our students and teachers this year and I wanted to create a video that would walk new users through accessing Express and going through some basic uses to help everyone get started. When I was done, I thought I'd share it here for everyone!

I look forward to using Express with my students this year in many different ways. For my Digital Design Class, students will be using Express to create media to highlight a cause that is important to them. With the ability to create a website, I will be able to host all of their work and share with the community. I am also looking forward to using Express to help create a student's portfolio so they can organize their great work in one place and share as needed. 

On another front, I talked to our Spanish teacher about Animate from Audio and she was excited about the possibilities in her class. She said that there are students that hate being on camera for their spoken language recordings and this might be the perfect solution for that problem. 

There are so many great ways to use Adobe Express and I can't wait to see how the new and improved Adobe Express works with students this year. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Engineering Design Process #MakerEd @AdobeforEducation #AdobeEduCreative

Hello friends! I wanted to share this example I made using Adobe Express that used Animate from Audio. It is super simple to use! You choose a character, choose a background, and record your audio. Adobe Express does the rest! I wanted to create a short video that explains the Engineering Design Process for my students in design class and this is what I was able to create. My favorite part is the last few seconds where I was able to use Adobe Express to have video running on different layers at the same time. It was just a fun think I wanted to see if I could do and I could! Check out it out below or click this link!

Hugs and High Fives, 

N Provenzano

Monday, August 7, 2023

There's A Good Reason Some Of Your Students Are Tired At The End Of The Day #EdChat

 There's A Good Reason Your Students Are Tired At The End Of The Day And It's Not What You Think

Near the end of a long day, there are plenty of times I have looked at my classroom and seen some very tired eyes. I used to assume that these students were not eating well, stayed up too late, or other choice based behaviors that were leading to their tired appearance. It took some time for me to realize it, but some of these students are actually tired because they have been "masking" all day long. 

"Masking" is the word used to describe how neurodivergent people hide their neurodivergence from the world around them in order to fit in. Learning to mask is something that neurodivergent people learn to do at a very young age when they realize that their natural behavior does not match with with is considered "normal". It often shows itself in social situations and can lead to copying other social behaviors in an effort to fit in. Essentially, a neurodivergent spends most of their time in social situations pretending to be someone they are not to fit in and it is exhausting. 

As a neurodivergent adult, I have found myself masking often in social situations. When I tell people that I am an introvert, people think I am joking. They wonder how an introvert can present in front of large crowds of people or engage in tons of 1:1 conversations with educators, and showcase, what appear to be, very extrovert behaviors. The short answer is I was masking. My friends would see the end result of a day's worth of masking. I'm spent. Physically and emotionally. As an adult, I have learned of different ways to cope with these feelings and how not to feel pressured by society to mask who I am. Imagine a student in your class that is still learning to understand how their neurodivergence reveals itself to other students who might not understand and/or have empathy to what they are experiencing. 

Students that mask in class are very difficult to identify. The older they are, the harder it is to see behind the mask because they have gotten very good at it. There are a couple of things you can do as a teacher to help those students who are masking feel more comfortable taking off that mask in class and feeling like their true selves. 

1. Explore and Discuss SEL

It is important that teachers take the time, as a school or as an individual, to understand SEL and how it can support our students. CASEL is one of the best resources out there to get a better understanding of SEL. Just knowing that their teachers are working on different ways to support students and their mental health can make a masked student start to feel more comfortable being who they are in the open. Like many things, it starts with educating ourselves to better understand who we are an who people are that surround us. If you really want to support students who struggle in your class because they are neurodivergent, start exploring SEL and see how it can change the culture of your classroom. 

2. Share your Neurodivergent Story (If You Are Comfortable)

I have found that sharing my neurodivergent traits (Anxiety and dyslexia to name just two) leads to students being more open with their traits. There is at least one student in every class that will say "Me too!" when I mention I am dyslexic. It is important to normalize neurodivergence in the classroom. I spent too much time growing up feeling I was just stupid because I could not read like everyone else. If you are not a neurodivergent teacher or do not feel comfortable sharing your neurodivergence with your class, that is fine. We are all on our own journey of understanding and I do not want to pressure you into sharing your experience until you are ready. 

Sharing with students that there are lots of different types of learners in class at the start of the year and that you are going to work to make sure that everyone feels supportive is a nice way to open the door for those neurodivergent students who might need an invite to share who they are and how they learn. 

3. Embrace Differentiation 

Yes, it will take more time and that is the most pressure resource of all educators, but a little more time to differentiate for those students who are masking to hide their neurodivergence is so important if we want them to succeed. The best way to have students take off their mask is to create an environment where they feel comfortable and are able to succeed while utilizing their strengths. Traditional assessments and class structures tend not to support neurodivergent students and that is why they mask.

I could never read all of the pages assigned in a night for most of my high school classes. I would do my best, but I could not get through it. So, I would often listen to the first 10-15 minutes of class, understand what the topic of discussion was, and just through in my two cents by just rephrasing what other students said. It appeared like I had read and that I knew what was going on in the story. That helped me get through high school in many of my classes. As long as I was never cold called (Don't do it! It's one of the worst teaching practices!), I could mask all day in class. 

Offering students different ways to access the curriculum of the class and different ways to assess their understanding are great ways to make masking students feel more comfortable in class. They will not have to wear their mask if they know they are can explore who they are with the material covered in class. 

Masking takes so much energy from a person. A student who has to mask all day does not want to go home and do homework. They do not want to engage with their family. The often want to zone out playing video games, watching videos they have seen over and over again, and just be left alone. They just don't have it in them to put the mask back on at home and that sometimes leads to angry outbursts and lots of resistance to being asked to do anything. They were just "forced" to were a mask all day and now they just want to be themselves. Alone. 

Making small changes in the classroom to support neurodivergent students can go a long way in helping them be successful as they work through understanding their neurodivergence and how best to navigate society. I don't think we can expect to get to a point where these students will never wear a mask, but would should strive to create a space where they can take it off and breathe a little easier once in a while. 

Hugs and High Fives, 

N Provenzano

Note: Images created using Generative AI from Adobe Firefly