A different kind of ‘flipped’ learning: Students teaching students

Learning should be centered on the student, not the teacher, McGuire writes.

American philosopher, psychologist, and educational crusader John Dewey often wrote about education reform, and although he died in 1952, several recurrent themes in his writings have special significance for modern teachers.

Dewey continually argued that education and learning were social and interactive processes. He also believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum and that all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.

My beliefs as an educator mirror those of Mr. Dewey’s: Learning should be centered on the student, not the teacher. And isn’t that really what flipped learning is all about? It’s about compelling teachers like me to reflect on our practice and rethink how we reach our students. It’s about encouraging students to set the pace so that truly individualized instruction takes place. It’s about stirring teachers and students alike to change the way they’ve always done things.

As a teacher at Granby Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, I orchestrated a more interactive style of instruction, including my own version of reversed teaching methodology—or “flipped instruction”—in which students taught students. This new and improved approach, in which I served as a facilitator rather than a sage on the stage, raised academic outcomes, produced a greater sense of collaboration between classmates, and heightened the level of student engagement.

(Next page: How students teach each other in McGuire’s classes)


The NYC Department of Education names Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard Best Administration/Engagement App in its Gap App Challenge

Leading learning platform for Google Apps for Education recognized for closing the skills gap for middle-schoolers through better classroom management

Palo Alto, May 29, 2013 — Hapara Teacher Dashboard, the platform that empowers teachers to effectively use Google Apps in their classrooms, was awarded first place in the Administration/Engagement App category of the NYC Schools Gap App Challenge. Chosen from a pool of close to 200 applicants, Hapara was selected based on the quality of its product and user experience, the potential for its platform to impact student engagement and performance, and the extent to which teachers want to use its tools.

“Congratulations to Hapara and the rest of the Gap App Challenge winners on this accomplishment,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “Their innovative apps will benefit our students by meeting their individual needs and support them on their path to academic and career success.”

This award acknowledges Hapara for helping educators manage their Google Apps classrooms effectively. “We are thrilled to be awarded this honor by the NYC DOE,” said Co-Founder Jan Zawadzki. “Any school that works with Google Apps understands its potential for student collaboration and motivation. What Hapara Teacher Dashboard offers on top of that is a way for teachers to feasibly and effectively manage all that content, and ultimately impact student outcomes by providing an engaging digital classroom, which is especially important during middle school years.”

Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard shapes Google Apps to meet the needs of teachers and schools. Its flagship product, Teacher Dashboard, organizes the Google environment the way teachers do – around classes and students. With Teacher Dashboard, it’s quick and easy for teachers to organize, view and engage with student work across all Google Apps – Docs, Sites, Blogger, Calendars, Picasa, Gmail and even Google+ – and that means more frequent, targeted feedback for students and more time for teachers to focus on improving student outcomes.

In addition, Hapara’s Remote Control add-on feature works with Google Chromebooks, allowing teachers to see what students are doing online remotely, helping them ensure students stay on track and stay safe while online.

About the NYC Schools Gap App Challenge
The NYC Schools Gap App Challenge is an initiative of the New York City Department of Education challenging the software development community to develop applications and games that will help fill the gap in middle school students’ skills, interests, and motivation. These “gap apps” can improve middle school (grades 6 – 8) math outcomes, or enhance educator collaboration, classroom communication, management and engagement. The competition is intended to provide recognition to individuals, teams of individuals, for-profit legal entities and/or non-profit organizations for developing innovative applications and games that enhance teaching, learning, and engagement in middle schools.

Winners of the challenge will receive $50,000 in cash prizes, as well as $54,000 in Amazon AWS Credits across first and second place in two categories and five honorable mentions. After the challenge, eligible submissions may be considered for a pilot program in iZone schools supported by Amazon Web Services consulting services. The iZone schools are a collection of 250 innovative New York City public schools committed to personalizing learning for every student.

Judges for the competition included New York City educators and area experts, as well as education and technology industry innovators such as Tom Vander Ark and Kara Swisher.

About Hapara
Hapara shapes Google Apps to meet the needs of teachers and schools. Its flagship product, Teacher Dashboard, organizes the Google environment the way teachers do – around classes and students. With Teacher Dashboard, it’s quick and easy for teachers to organize, view and engage with student work. Teacher Dashboard’s Remote Control add-on feature works with Google Chromebooks, allowing teachers to see what students are doing online remotely, helping them ensure students stay on track and staying safe while online. With hundreds of school customers across 30 countries, Hapara is the management platform of choice for Google Apps for Education. Visit hapara.com.

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School database loses backers as parents balk over privacy

A $100 million database set up to store extensive records on millions of public school students has stumbled badly since its launch this spring, with officials in several states backing away from the project amid protests from irate parents, Reuters reports. The database, funded mostly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is intended to track students from kindergarten through high school by storing myriad data points: test scores, learning disabilities, discipline records – even teacher assessments of a child’s character…

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National Federation of the Blind, MPAA join forces to back book treaty

The National Federation of the Blind and the Motion Picture Association of America announced that they are working together to support a treaty that would allow published works that have been converted to formats more accessible to blind and visually impaired users — such as audiobooks — to be distributed around the globe, The Washington Post reports. “There is a book famine that affects the worldwide blind community,” said Chris Danielsen, the director of public affairs for the National Federation for the Blind, in an interview with The Washington Post

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No Child Left Behind: Pass or fail?

If you are a parent of one of the 50 million public schoolchildren in the United States, the odds are your child has taken a standardized test within the past few weeks, The Hill reports. The odds also suggest that you took such a test yourself once upon a time, though probably not as early or as often as your kids. You and your children have the federal No Child Left Behind Act to thank for the modern ubiquity of standardized testing…

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The Common Core is only the beginning of how U.S. schools need to change

In 1994, I was a part of the Clinton Administration team responsible for gaining Congressional approval and supporting the state implementation of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act — the education reform legislation that launched the standards movement, Jennifer Davis reports for The Huffington Post. Twenty years later we finally have a set of rigorous and common math and English standards, the Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states. While these internationally benchmarked standards in two subjects represent a groundbreaking step forward, we cannot wait another twenty years for American schools to focus on the broader subjects and skills that are necessary to prepare students for success in our changing world…

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10 popular, banned books

Reading is still a central part of learning, and with the current emphasis on eBooks and 21st century learning in school and campus libraries, it’s hard to imagine any book under restriction. Nevertheless, every year, more books are placed on the American Library Association’s (ALA) “challenged” books list.

For many children and young adults, there is no greater pleasure then becoming lost in fictional worlds characterized by engaging people and settings of times past or future…and if there happens to be curse words or a scandalous event, well, that’s all part of the narrative.

Yet many parents and school and campus staff take exception to some fictional works, presenting “challenges”­­—formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness—through the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

(Next pages: 10 banned books)




New Contract Provides E&I Members with Significant Savings on Bretford
Furniture for Education and Healthcare

CHICAGO and JERICHO, NY — May 30, 2013 — Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.®, a United States manufacturer of progressive furniture solutions that improve how people work and learn, and E&I Cooperative Purchasing, the premier buying consortium for education, have announced a new competitively-awarded contract. All Bretford technology-enabled furniture for K-12, higher education and healthcare applications is now available to E&I members (contract number CNR01331), effective immediately.

Comprised of nearly 3,000 schools and hospitals throughout the U.S., E&I leverages the strength of the cooperative’s membership to offer best value solutions on a broad range of products and services. The Bretford/E&I contract is a pre-competed, publicly-solicited bid, which members can utilize to help streamline the buying process.

Phil Cloutier, vice president of sales, marketing and customer care for Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. explained, “We entered the relationship with E&I as a means to provide our dealer partners and end user customers in education and healthcare with a credible and powerful best-value contracting vehicle to access technology-enabled furniture from Bretford.” He continued, “As a result of the Bretford/E&I contract, E&I members now have access to the Bretford published portfolio for library, commons, café, training, conference, teaming, classroom and media environments. Most importantly, this new contract helps expedite the integration of technology-enabled furniture into schools and hospitals where it is needed the most.”

“Bretford is a proven leader in the technology-enabled furniture arena and we are excited to align ourselves with this forward-thinking organization,” said Tom Fitzgerald, CEO of E&I Cooperative. “In addition to providing outstanding furniture design options and significant savings, Bretford is also committed to maintaining high environmental standards and supporting the sustainable efforts of our members.”

To become a listed Bretford/E&I dealer, please contact Bretford Regional Sales Managers for more information. E&I members interested in utilizing the Bretford/E&I contract should visit www.bretford.com/contracts/list/cooperative/ for additional details.

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For more information about Bretford visit Bretford.com or call 1-800-521-9614. Bretford can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bretfordmanf. For more information about E&I Cooperative, please go to: www.eandi.org.


Education group voices suport for Calif. ed-tech funding

California’s proposed budget would eliminate key technology programs.

The ed-tech group Computer Using Educators (CUE) Inc.’s Board of Directors passed a resolution in support of the California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP) and the Statewide Educational Technology Services (SETS) project, both of which are in danger of being unfunded and eliminated from California’s proposed budget.

“CTAP is the only statewide technology program in place in California. Along with SETS, CTAP funding assures districts and teachers that they have the tools, the training and the proper resources for educating 21st century students,” said Robert Craven, CUE board president. “This is especially critical when Common Core standards are being implemented. The technology must be there and must be functional so that testing is accurate and is not disrupted. To implement an entirely new system without a solid infrastructure is worrying. We could not believe in this more strongly.”

(Next page: The resolution)