How U.S. schools can help make a difference for girls’ education worldwide

Two education industry veterans who have recently launched a new organization to empower young women and girls around the globe talk about how schools can get involved

girls-thinkingKathy Hurley and Deb deVries have spent their careers in education, first as special ed teachers, and then in educational publishing, where they retired this year from the Pearson Foundation and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, respectively. But before the dust could settle on their gold watches, the women started a new organization, Girls Thinking Global (GTG), whose ambitious goal is to create a global network of organizations that serve adolescent girls—to help the groups connect with one another and best leverage their resources to serve the needs, especially education needs, of young women worldwide.

On December 8, GTG had their official launch in New York City, where they aired a documentary highlighting the work of the Jungle Mamas, a Pachamama Alliance program that trains indigenous Achuar women and adolescents in the Ecuadorian Amazon to become birthing attendants. Hurley and deVries talked with eSchool News about their work, and why their organization’s mission is important to American schools.

eSN: What spurred you to create this organization?

Kathy Hurley: During my time in education, and especially over the last 10 years with Pearson and the Pearson Foundation, I’ve been fortunate enough to observe firsthand many educational systems around the world. One of the most consistent threads I encountered, especially in the developing and underdeveloped world, was that where girls were educated, they were more likely to be leaders in their community and seek opportunities that would allow them to be active contributors outside the home.

Deb deVries: There is data that shows that positively impacting the life of a girl has significant implications on the family, the community, and the local economy. A year ago when we both knew we would be retiring, we decided to talk seriously about starting a nonprofit focused on girls. We wanted to give back, make a difference, and continue to be involved in the industry. When Kathy was accepted into the Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute in 2014, she brought our outline of a program that would become Girls Thinking Global.

(Next page: Efforts to support girls’ education)


20 tips for putting Google’s 20 percent time in your classroom

2 innovative educators share tons of tips for creating innovative, inquiry-based classrooms in only one day a week

google-timeOriginally pioneered at places like 3M and HP, Google’s vaunted 20 percent time, which lets employees spend a full one-fifth of their time on passion projects, has spawned everything from Gmail to Google News. Now it’s gaining ground among educators who are carving out a chunk of their already-limited time with students to work on innovative inquiry-based projects that resonate on a deeper, personal level.

AJ Juliani, an ed tech innovation specialist at Upper Perkiomen School District in Pensburg, PA, piloted 20 percent time three years ago when he taught High School English at his former school, and since then, he’s authored Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom: Using 20% Time, Genius Hour, and PBL to Drive Student Success, and created a free course for teachers on his blog. Kevin Brookhouser, a high school English teacher at York School in Monterey, CA, has also run 20 percent time projects in his classroom and recently finished writing a book about his experiences, called The #20time Project after raising money through a Kickstarter campaign.

Recently, Juliani and Brookhouser shared their top tips for getting started, overcoming obstacles, and creating something students find truly meaningful.

1. Dedicate One Day A Week
When he began 20 percent projects in his classroom, Juliani decided to dedicate every Friday to the project, instead of 20 percent of each class day, which he found insufficient. “I wanted to give them the ability to get into that state of flow,” he says. “Giving them 10 minutes a day, they were never going to get into that.”

2. It’s Not Just for High School
Twenty percent projects can be used in any subject, and with any grade or skill level. “I’ve done genius hour at the elementary level all the way to doing it with teachers so it doesn’t really matter the level,” Juliani says. “It’s more or less how you’re structuring or framing it to what that actual subject or grade level is.”

3. Set Your Own Parameters
As English teachers, both Juliani and Brookhouser knew that students would be hitting standards just by virtue of all the speaking, listening, reading, and journal writing they’d be doing. For other subjects, they suggest setting parameters on a subject-by-subject basis. Math teachers, for example, might require students to do accounting or use equations to solve project problems.

(Next page: 4 inspiring student projects)


App of the Week: The Chemical Touch

chemical-appApp name: The Chemical Touch

What is it? Explore the properties of the elements, the standard amino acids, and the nucleobases with The Chemical Touch, touch-sensitive periodic table and chemical information companion.

Best for: Students

Price: $0.99

Requirements: iOS 2.2.1 or later

Features: The Chemical Touch provides a wealth of information right at your fingertips. In addition to atomic mass, properties such as the density, melting point, boiling point, atomic radius, and electronegativity can be selected to recolor the periodic table to display trends in these common properties. Having exhausted the displayed information, click the internet button to see the Wikipedia page for the selected element or amino acid.

Link: iTunes


4 Essential Game-Based Learning Questions

Asking the right questions can help games make a positive impact in the classroom

game-learningYou’d have to live under a rock to be unfamiliar with the rise of game-based learning in classrooms across the nation in recent years. Integrating a game into an instructional unit may seem daunting, but four key implementation questions should help educators use games to support teaching and learning and help drive student engagement.

Games offer opportunities for collaboration and inquiry-based, self-directed learning. They also support skill development that students need under Common Core math and Next Generation Science Standards.

It’s first important to define what is not a learning game, said Susannah Gordon-Messer, curriculum and professional development specialist at the MIT Education Arcade, during an edWeb webinar on gaming implementation strategies.

(Next page: Essential questions when considering games in learning)


Rural kids get fewer AP classes

Where a student lives shouldn’t determine the type of education he or she receives–and this is especially true for rural students

rural-onlineStudents in Dublin schools can pick among dozens of rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement studio art, computer science and calculus, along with engineering design, statistics, theater and a variety of International Baccalaureate classes.

They can learn foreign languages including Japanese, German, Latin and Chinese.

In all, Dublin offers 92 advanced courses to students. That’s 10 times as many as are available to Hamilton Local students on the other end of Franklin County. According to state data, they have nine available.

“We can’t afford to have a class with five students in it,” said Susan Witten, Hamilton’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “If we have a student interested in Advanced Placement French, for instance, we can arrange for independent study.”

Where a student lives in Ohio is not supposed to determine the type of education he or she receives. That was the key underpinning for the DeRolph school-funding lawsuit that successfully argued that state leaders were not providing a thorough and efficient education as required by the state Constitution. The presumption also has been at the heart of ongoing debates over how the state distributes billions of dollars to more than 600 school districts.

(Next page: Efforts to connect rural students to learning opportunities)


Moving Beyond Multiple Choice for Effective Classroom Assessment

Moving Beyond Cover200x300Educators know that it is important to assess student knowledge with a variety of question types and methods to obtain the best understanding of student proficiency of learning standards. In addition, the SBAC and PARCC tests incorporate a variety of question types, so it is equally as important for students to be familiar with these types.

For years teachers have relied heavily on multiple choice questions for everyday testing, in no small part due to convenience and ease of scoring with bubble sheet scanners. With ever growing class sizes it has simply been a necessary part of assessment.

The advent of newer, digitally based technologies provides an opportunity to incorporate additional methods, but teachers inexperienced with assessment design may not be confident in creating tests that go beyond multiple choice for use day-to-day in the classroom. How do they know the questions are valid? What guidance should they follow to determine appropriate question types? How and when should they incorporate assessment of higher order thinking skills? These questions help keep teachers in the comfort zone of using multiple choice based tests.

In “Moving Beyond Multiple Choice Items for Effective Classroom Assessment”, Dr. Adisack Nhouyvanisvong will outline item writing guidelines, methods for assessing student knowledge beyond multiple choice, and offer guidance with specific examples on how to create effective everyday classroom assessment using a variety of question item types.