5 reasons your classroom needs an industry expert

Educators have learned that linking classrooms to the real world helps engage students and teaches them the “why” behind what they learn. But teachers sometimes struggle with the best way to integrate real-world applications into classroom lessons.

Teaching students about exciting careers and linking those careers to an otherwise-boring lesson is one way to show them how math actually might help them land a cool job.

What’s better than teaching them about those careers? Connecting them with an industry expert who works in that field and can answer students’ questions and help them gain an in-depth look at where a future in math or physics might take them.

In the very near future, “78 percent of all available jobs will require education beyond high school–that doesn’t necessarily mean four-year degrees, but something beyond high school,” said Sabari Raja, founder and chief executive officer of Nepris, a web-based platform that connects students and teachers to STEM professionals and industry experts.

“Sixty percent of employers say job applicants lack that education and those skills. The single biggest factor in enhancing career development is having students engage with business and industry while they’re in the classroom,” Raja said during a TCEA session focusing on connecting classrooms to business and industry. “How do we do this?”

(Next page: 5 ways an industry expert can inspire students)

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6 strategies for implementing STEAM throughout your district

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) has become more prominent as an effective approach to interdisciplinary learning. However, implementation is not as simple as following a new curriculum or purchasing materials. During the edWebinar “STEAM: Innovations That Solve Real World Problems,” Cheri Sterman, director of education, Crayola; Lucie Howell, director of learning and engagement, The Henry Ford; and James Wells, innovative teaching & learning manager, Crayola, explained the movement’s genesis and offered strategies for a successful transition.

Integrating STEAM

1. STEAM is a guided approach to exploratory learning where teacher-talk is at a minimum and students drive interaction and discovery. Implementation, though, is not about lessons, units, or even just adding a few elements of science into art or vice versa. Embracing it means a commitment to a new way of teaching and learning, and this new language must be spoken across all classrooms.

2. Schools can start small, but it must be more than one teacher. Individuals from each content area should form a creative leadership team to investigate best practices and work together to develop a model that will work in their school. Once the leadership team feels confident in its knowledge, the members will become coaches for their colleagues.

(Next page: Additional tips for integrating STEAM)

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How does social media fit into the classroom?

Social media is increasingly used for teachers’ professional learning, but teachers seem more hesitant to use it as a learning tool with students, according to a survey from the University of Phoenix and Harris Poll .

Sixteen percent of the 1,000 K-12 teachers in the survey said they use social media in the classroom, and 28 percent said they do not, but would like to. But slightly more than half (56 percent) said they do not use social media with students and have no plans to do so.

“I think that 44 percent of teachers who use or would like to use social media in the classroom do so, or would like to do so, because in our casual and social use, we go to our social media to learn about things,” said Pam Roggeman, academic dean for University of Phoenix College of Education..

Forty-seven percent of teachers said students’ participation in social media with their teachers can enhance their educational experience, though just 23 percent said they encourage their own students to connect with them on social media.

(Next page: Are teachers afraid of conflicts with social media use?)

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4 surefire ways to get more for your edtech dollar

As warmer weather approaches, students start looking to spring break with excitement as a sign that the end of the school year is near. Not so for school IT directors, who are trying to determine how they will accomplish all of their summer projects in the absence of students and staff. These projects likely include planning their summer edtech refreshes and wondering how they are going to purchase everything they need with limited resources.

Finding the budget and time to do large technology refreshes will always be stressful, but there are a few ways IT directors can lessen the burden and get more for available dollars.

1. Use current technology to buy down the new fleet.
When it’s time to refresh devices, first look to your current technology fleet to determine its value. By making smart technology purchases and timing refreshes right, schools can use the residual value of their current devices to reduce the cost of purchasing the next fleet. I have found that there is enough equity in some devices after the second year to pay off the third and final year’s lease payment. This allows school districts to purchase more current hardware and software to ensure that educational goals for digital learning are met. Conversely, keeping devices too long can be a costly practice because schools miss out on the ability to leverage the optimal residual value of devices to offset the cost of the next purchase.

(Next page: 3 more ways to stretch your tech dollars)

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Building a smarter network

Given the data, networking, and security implications of upcoming technology trends, K-12 schools will require a variety of innovations to meet dramatically increased wireless and wired network performance demands without adding more stress on overworked IT staffers.

We recommend the following strategies:

1. Adopt smart infrastructure.
To keep IT overhead low while delivering the performance required to power Internet of things (IoT) devices, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications and whatever comes next, invest in more intelligent networking infrastructure. At the wired networking layer, replace your outdated switching paradigm with a modern platform that supports the new IEEE 802.3bz standard for multi-gigabit Ethernet and is driven by an advanced software operating system.

Such solutions offer capabilities like dynamic micro segmentation for unified functionality and policy enforcement between wired and wireless networks. This enables appropriately separating the various different types of voice, video and data traffic to ensure smooth experiences for all.

In addition, the most sophisticated switching solutions provide real-time analytics and automated anomaly detection. The former provides granular visibility to detect problems in real time or analyze trends for quickly gaining insights and predicting – or avoiding – issues that lead to scale, security and performance bottlenecks.

(Next page: More steps to building a smarter network)

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App of the Week: ShapeKit

Ed. noteApp of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

There are many ways ShapeKit could be used in both a large and small group setting, and not all of them are in the math classroom. In math, the features of two-dimensional shapes can be reviewed as students create images. A creation challenge could be issued in the classroom, and the app could be the sketchpad for creation. The parameters of the challenge could be set; for example, make an alien creature with six eyes, a quadrilateral for a body, four non-quadrilateral arms, and at least two legs. Then, students can be left to create their creature and animate it for the class to watch. Another math activity could be an exploration where students are challenged to determine what two shapes–when they are connected together–make a new shape. The teacher could name the shapes to use or the teacher could just name the new shape they want to be made and allow students to explore on the app.

Price: Paid

Grades: K-3

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Shapes are the springboard for creativity as students animate their thoughts and ideas.

Cons: Animations have limited frames available.

Bottom line: An engaging app that will allow students to think about shapes in novel ways.

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Video of the Week: Dealing with digital distraction in the classroom

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: Digital devices put the world at our students’ fingertips, whether with their own cell phones or with school-provided computers and tablets. But along with opportunities for powerful learning come the risks–and realities–of distraction. So, what are the best ways to manage digital distraction in the classroom? Check out these practical tips on supporting students and modeling productive 21st-century learning. For more ways to manage classroom technology, check out Common Sense Education’s collection Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.

Video:

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3 ways to push your professional development to the next level

Learning is a never-ending process, but for those in the education field, learning is a necessity of the profession. At SXSW EDU we spend a lot of time thinking about opportunities for learning and professional development (PD). It is something that is often top of mind for teachers and education leaders as well.

PD is the process of continued education. This can take many forms including specialized training, conferences, informal workshops, or formal lessons, all aimed toward expanding knowledge, competencies, and skills.

Oftentimes, schools and districts require PD as a means of ensuring that educators continue to strengthen their practice throughout their career. Additionally, education professionals frequently voluntarily seek PD. Career growth tops the list of desired employee benefits and is significantly valued. Furthermore, opportunities for professional and career development is of high interest for employees and a top priority for employers seeking to retain and grow talent.

There’s no shortage of strategies for keeping your skill set fresh and learning new things. As you enter the new year and start to think about your goals for 2018, here are three ways to push your professional development to the next level.

(Next page: PD opportunities abound at SXSW EDU)

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How to teach media literacy

Media literacy is more important today than ever. It is a critical skill for students of all ages, especially because teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day on media that doesn’t include schoolwork or homework. Educators must give students the tools and skills they need to decipher between reliable and unreliable sources of media. Susannah Moran, senior project manager at myON, presented tips for providing students with these important media literacy skills in “Teaching Media Literacy in the Classroom.”

The National Association for Media Literacy Education defines media literacy as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication. According to ISTE, the elements of being a good citizen include, for the most part, many of the same components as being a good digital citizen: advocate for equal human rights, treat others with respect, work to make the world a better place, etc. However, digital citizenship in today’s world requires specific tools and strategies to be able to do these things.

When talking about access to tools, quality matters. Tools must be able to provide students with information that is current, reliable, non-partisan, and vetted. This criteria should serve as a model for students so that when they see something that doesn’t meet it, they can spot the difference. Students should be able to analyze and evaluate sources too.

Educators can look at different news stories with their students to determine who created the message, why the message was made, where it was distributed, what techniques were used to grab attention, what points of view are represented, and more.

(Next page: Ideas for teaching media-literacy skills)

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Video of the Week: Dealing with digital distraction in the classroom

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Digital devices put the world at our students’ fingertips, whether with their own cell phones or with school-provided computers and tablets. But along with opportunities for powerful learning come the risks–and realities–of distraction. So, what are the best ways to manage digital distraction in the classroom? Check out these practical tips on supporting students and modeling productive 21st-century learning. For more ways to manage classroom technology, check out Common Sense Education’s collection Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.

 

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