Here’s how to scale school innovation

In a new TED talk, Adam Frankel, former executive director of Digital Promise, discusses how technology can help bring personalized learning and school innovation to scale.

After writing education speeches for President Obama, Frankel told the audience that he wanted to get “closer to the point of action,” and “wanted to enact the words on the page.”

It was tricky, Frankel said, because as Roland Fryer (the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, founder and faculty director of the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard) suggests, conventional approaches to education reform that should work—such as smaller class sizes—haven’t made a huge difference at scale.

“The big question became: How can we expand and scale-up personalized learning?” he asks.

(Next page: Frankel’s TED Talks video)

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Tornado devastates Okla. elementary school

A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide with winds up to 200 mph roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs May 20, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire, and landing a direct blow on an elementary school.

At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers were expected to climb, officials said May 21. The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Local news outlets reported several deaths in the community. Block after block of the community lay in ruins, with heaps of debris piled up where homes used to be. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.

Authorities expected the death toll to rise as emergency crews moved deeper into the hardest-hit areas. More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children. Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, said May 21 that there could be as many as 40 more fatalities from the tornado.

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Principal: Why our new educator evaluation system is unethical

A few years ago, a student at my high school was having a terrible time passing one of the exams needed to earn a Regents Diploma, The Washington Post reports.  She took the test several times, but despite her very best efforts and the best efforts of her teachers, her score barely budged. Mary has a learning disability that truly impacts her retention and analytical thinking.  Because she was a special education student, at the time there was an easier exam available, the RCT, which she could take and then use to earn a local high school diploma instead of the Regents Diploma…

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Shakespeare’s sonnets come to life in new app

A new app aims to bring William Shakespeare’s sonnets to the masses with the help of short films starring stage actors performing them in front of New York landmarks, Reuters reports. The Sonnet Project is a free app for the iPhone and iPad that showcases the bard’s poetry through films of up to two minutes and performances by Tony-Award winning actors Joanna Gleason and Cady Huffman, among others. “Shakespeare gets a bad rap. A lot of people say ‘I don’t like Shakespeare, he’s over my head,’ or ‘Shakespeare is boring,'” said Ross Williams, the artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Exchange, the non-profit organization behind The Sonnet Project.

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‘Supercapacitor’ could fully charge your phone in less than 30 seconds

An 18-year-old recently won $50,000 in scholarship funds for inventing a supercapacitor that could one day be used to fully charge a mobile device like a smartphone in just a few seconds, TechSpot reports. Eesha Khare and two other teens were among the top winners at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Her design, a tiny device that fits inside cell phone batteries, would allow them to fully charge within 20-30 seconds. The supercapacitor can last for up to 10,000 cycles which outpaces traditional batteries by a factor of 10…

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Schools add to test load, just to assess the questions

English tests? Check. Math tests? Check. Summer vacation? Not so fast. Students in New York State sweated their way through some of the toughest exams in state history this spring, The New York Times reports. Now hundreds of thousands of them will receive a reward only a stonyhearted statistician could appreciate: another round of exams. As school districts across the country rush to draw up tests and lesson plans that conform to more rigorous standards, they are flocking to field tests — exams that exist solely to help testing companies fine-tune future questions…

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Five ways teachers can use technology to help students

The Huffington Post reports that Thomas Edison once said, “Books will soon be obsolete in the public schools… our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years.” Amazingly enough, however, one of our nation’s most important inventors was proven quite wrong. The American education system has a remarkable resistance to innovation and the classroom experience has changed very little in the 100 years since Edison’s prediction. Advances in information technology have revolutionized how people communicate and learn in nearly every aspect of modern life except for education. The education system operates under the antiquated needs of an agrarian and industrial America…

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