Universal Design (UDL) in Online Spaces with @BethRitterGuth

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) helps us design learning to reach every student. Today’s guest, college professor Beth Ritter-Guth teaches us about using UDL in online learning spaces. Whether you’re flipping your classroom, blending learning, or teaching online, every teacher can learn from Beth’s techniques to reach every learner. Beth Ritter-Guth became interested in Universal Design for its […]

Beth Ritter Guth #76

Being unpopular and saying things people don’t want to hear isn’t fun. Neither is admitting you’re wrong. Perhaps that is why this 5 minute speech I felt compelled to give was so hard for me.

I’m convinced that we’ve isolated students in a world without teachers on social media and every day we are reaping the consequences. We need to rethink this now so we can move forward to a better tomorrow.

Sometimes unpopular, uncomfortable things need to be said and positions should be reversed in order to do the right thing. Ultimately, my students said that I needed to give this one. I had at least eight kids who came up to me afterwards who said it was what educators needed to hear.

A teary eyed young man moved me most:

“My Mom died this year, I had a teacher who helped me get through it. I couldn’t have lived without my teacher. Literally. We students need our teachers and sometimes we need to talk to them on social media. We need a way to do that sometimes.”

Yep. These kids are worth fighting for and if the only casualty is my own ego in the process, that is indeed a very small price to pay.

This is truly an issue where both sides are right. We have to face the truth of the consequences of what we’ve done. We have to come out with some sort of workable answer in the middle.

What is my new policy?

I tell my students that if they choose to friend me, I will friend them back but they need to know that I’m relating to them as a teacher. Anything they communicate to me is as if I am at school.

They can unfriend me at any time and refriend me — just as they wish, no questions asked. If they communicate anything to me, I keep screenshots (with time and date stamps.)

Don’t headlong disregard your school policy. I would never ask you to do that. I do ask that you discuss:

  • How would you feel if a student at your school reached out to a stranger because nobody at your school could connect with them?
  • How would you feel if that student got bad advice or was harmed because no one at your school was allowed to help the child?
  • Do you think many bullying incidents and other things happening on social media would be less likely to happen if students thought teachers might be connected?
  • Do you think more incidents would be reported if students could friend and unfriend teachers?
  • What would an educator “certified” or “allowed” to communicate with students via social media look like? Could this be a new role of guidance counselors?
  • What do we need to advocate for from social media companies to allow such interactions to occur safely?

Be Somebody Because Nobody Won’t Do

Best wishes, I hope you have a great day and I hope you’ll be that somebody for your students. I also hope we’ll consider if we’ve inadvertently isolated kids from those who can help and forced them to chat with strangers because we’ve given them nobody. I think we need a new age and new type of educator at each school and new ways to communicate with a generation who talks differently than we did.

Courageously consider if we’ve made mistakes. Discuss and good luck with this one.

What Are Teachers’ Rights and Risks on Social Media?

Scott McLeod talks with Vicki Davis about teacher’s rights and legal issues to consider when using social media. In this episode of Every Classroom Matters, Scott reminds us educators should be aware that  teachers are representatives of their employers and legally do not have a right to privacy even in their lives outside of school. If […]


Heart’s Cry to Great Teachers: Bring You

Don’t ask your students to be you. You are not creating mini-me’s. That is not your goal. The average teacher thinks about talking cessation – the superior teacher cares about inspiring the next generation. Aimless people are Columbus kind of people — when they set sail, they don’t know where they are going. When they get there, they […]

You be you

How to Connect Your Classroom: Case Study with Andrew Cohen of @Brainscape

Start-ups are good for our country. Most students don’t know what they are. I want to infuse a start-up mentality in my classroom as I help students understand innovation. Creation is good. Inventing is hard. If you’re an independent thinker: hire yourself and create a start-up. Recently my ninth graders connected via Google Hangout with the CEO of […]

Brainscape is a cool tool for students to use to study.

6 Ways to Motivate Teachers: Be the Hope

If you have one technology helping kids learn more than anything else, would you care for it? You bet you would. You’d lock it away. You’d polish it. You’d make sure no one messed with it. You’d take good care of it. Well you have that one thing. Study after study shows that one thing is teachers. Besides the paycheck […]


Being a teacher is pretty thankless but if a kind note every comes you way, it just means so much. Very grateful. I will treasure this one and aspire to be helpful and encouraging to an incredible profession who needs to again glimpse their own nobility in the mirror.

BAM Radio Network has gone from 67,000 visitors a month to over 600,000 visitors a month just in the past year. That 600,000 is largely  educators. Every Classroom Matters has been part of this network for 18 months and over 100 episodes. This show is a work of heart because the true stars of each show are teachers, students, researchers, professors, and those who are really doing incredible things in the classroom every day. You might not see super-famous people on the show, but that is what makes it so great — real people are doing really awesome things everyday in education. We need to learn from each other.

It was a joy to be at this year’s BAMMY awards, both as a 3iTalk speaker (more on that later) and (to my surprise) as a winner in the category of Best Education Talk Show Host on the network.

This was an awesome category with four other shows sharing finalist spots. Please take time to listen to these incredible shows! All of these other hosts are my friends and a respected part of my own PLN.

If you don’t know about Internet radio, I have a quick guide for how to listen. For a list of past shows and guests on Every Classroom Matters, we’ve made a list for you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank:

  • Errol Smith and Rae Pica – my mentors (Errol is also executive producer of the show)
  • Jeannette Bernstein – my senior producer
  • Lisa Durff – my production coordinator
  • My family and Donna Miller – for tiptoeing around the house when I’m taping “the show” and knowing I was doing it because it was important to me.
  • Every single guest who took their time to tell their story
  • All of you who have made Every Classroom Matters part of your busy day.

And a special shout out to a sweet listener who emailed me this week asking if things are OK. The BAMMYs had sidetracked the publishing of a few shows on the site but we’re back up and rolling today. Thanks again friends, for a show without listeners is just data taking up space on a server.

The honor to the show is truly mine. I pray it is helpful to as many people as possible. Thank you all for your part in sharing the story of the show. Because every single classroom matters!



Lisa Durff: Happy (Reverse April Fools) Birthday to a Servant Leader Among Us

Lisa Durff is an educator who helps others and frequently volunteers for online education causes. Lisa is a kind-hearted servant-leader with a birthday on April 1. (The joke is on me — I logged into Google Plus and it said her birthday was today  October 5– Google Plus is wrong somehow. I’m still not taking this down because […]

Lisa Durff is a helpful servant leader.

Finding the Best Teaching Apps, Tools and Resources with @kathyschrock

Super-helpful educator Kathy Schrock discusses the importance of curation. Kathy was trained as a librarian who has been curating sources since 1995.  She found that people used her pages for assessment tools and apps the most on her website, which is chock full of curated sources. If you are curating resources, this is a must listen. Our […]


How Simulation Games Can Teach Complex Subjects

How can higher-ed and high school students interact in online spaces and both learn? Dr. Jeff Stanzler uses simulations to engage high school and college students in a powerful study of geo-politics. Dr. Stanzler has seen students develop empathy for the very real people who are embroiled in geo-political conflicts around the world. Host Vicki Davis’ […]

Jeff Stanzler #74