Gates gives $20M for digital learning, Common Core curriculum

In addition, with a $2 million grant, Florida Virtual School—the nation’s first statewide, internet-based public school—will develop four new digital courses aligned with the Common Core standards. These will include two literacy-based and two math-based courses that are contextualized within disciplines, such as engineering or writing in the natural sciences.

The Gates Foundation’s $742,996 investment in Reasoning Mind, which offers teacher professional development and online elementary math curricula that build algebraic thinking, will pilot a program that makes a single effective math teacher available across multiple classrooms. If successful, one Reasoning Mind-trained teacher can affect the math scores and proficiency of 250 students using the program in different grades at several schools, the foundation said. A Reasoning Mind classroom is a hybrid of online and face-to-face instruction, where the teacher gives each child individual help and attention.

The foundation also is investing in several game-based learning tools, all of which will support the Common Core standards:

• $2.6 million for iRemix, a project being developed by Digital Youth Network. It will be a set of 20 literacy-based trajectories that allow students to earn badges and move from novice to expert in areas like creative writing.

• $2.5 million to Institute of Play, which will build a set of game-based pedagogical tools and game-design curricula that can be used within both formal and informal learning contexts.

• $2.6 million to Quest Atlantis, to create video games that build proficiency in math, literacy, and science.

In addition, a $2 million grant to Educurious Partners will help develop high school courses in biology, freshman literature, and Algebra I through a social-networking internet application. The application will allow students and teachers to collaborate with a variety of experts who are working in professional fields that are relevant to what the students are learning in the courses. These courses also will support the Common Core standards.

Finally, in June, a program called Next Generation Learning Challenges will award up to $10 million in competitive grants to support promising technology-enabled programs built around embedded assessments that can help students master seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade content and competencies aligned with the common standards.

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