Remote Science Instruction White Paper Series

National K-12 science education experts contribute ideas and inspiring guidance for educators preparing to return to school and teach hands-on science during uncertain times

Leading school science supplier Carolina Biological stepped up to help K-12 school districts prepare for the highest quality remote science instruction this fall with a new series of white papers. Three of the best national K-12 science education leaders offer their expertise and ideas to help guide districts during these uncertain times. The papers are offered free to download now on Carolina’s Website. Carolina’s new three-part series helps districts think outside the box and traditional classrooms to turn students into inquiring scientists doing exciting investigations that will make science their favorite subject this fall by leveraging remote learning settings. Educators can learn tips to build their students’ hands-on experience, engagement, and excitement and create high-interest for their students during one of the most challenging back-to-school seasons ever with remote instruction.

Carolina Biological announced the publication of, “Closing the Distance in Remote Science Learning,” a three-part white paper series that examines remote science instruction in the age of COVID-19 and provides a way forward for school districts and their high school science teachers. In the first paper, readers learn the vocabulary of remote learning in the age of COVID-19. Commonly used education terms are redefined to reflect strategies for successful remote science education. Educators learn how to interpret techniques such as Teacher-Guided Instruction, Teacher-Centered Instruction, Student-Centered, and Independent Instruction for the current situation when students are six feet or several miles apart.

During the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, Kristen Dotti, a top national education consultant, was in the trenches guiding deeply affected New York teachers with professional development as they adapted familiar strategies for best practices while teaching remotely. In the first paper, educators can learn from her experiences as she defines the terms and describes how hands-on science instruction can be done.

In the second white paper, methods for effective remote hands-on science learning are addressed. Hedi Baxter Lauffer, a science education consultant and co-director of the Wisconsin Fast Plants® program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joins Dotti in examining the social-emotional learning aspects teachers need to consider during this unique time. She explores how students develop authentic laboratory skills when working remotely or individually in a classroom. She considers how to motivate students if they are pulled out of school again or need to do a lab on their own at school.

The series concludes with an analysis of the advantages of teaching to the science standards remotely, a subject rarely discussed in the teaching community. The last paper discusses whether some students thrive doing laboratory investigations remotely, while still collaborating virtually. Brett Moulding, current director of the Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning and award-winning educator is a major contributor in this paper.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to change class instruction,” said Brett Moulding, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education and of the National Research Council committee that developed the conceptual framework for K–12 science education. “It will help teachers understand the pacing of what they’re asking the kids to do and have the kids more interested.” Moulding also described in this paper why Next Generation Science Standards1 instruction is ideally suited for our unique times and how students can benefit.

The three-part series, “Closing the Distance in Remote Science Learning,” was released in conjunction with Carolina Biological’s development of Carolina Kits 3D® FLEX, full-year high school biology and chemistry hands-on laboratory programs, that provides each student with a self-contained lab kit to perform 16 hands-on labs. Available now for purchase, the program provides seamless science instruction wherever and whenever. By giving students direct hands-on experience with phenomena, teachers can help them learn about and make sense of the real world.

“It has been a difficult spring and we want to help teachers succeed next year,” said Mark Meszaros, Carolina’s VP, Core Product Management & Innovation. “We have partnered with education experts to write these three white papers that provide a path forward and hopefully give teachers the confidence that they can return to hands-on science instruction next year, no matter the circumstances. I am also excited about our new Carolina Kits 3D® FLEX program because it provides a solution to districts seeking solutions for remote and distanced delivery of high school NGSS labs.”

Carolina Kits 3D® FLEX programs for remote learning are available now for high school biology or chemistry. Each kit includes all the supplies (>50 different lab products) for a student to perform 16 hands-on investigations. The program also includes over 120 digital resources, including instructional videos and simulations. Prices start at $125 per student. For information, visit, call 336-586-4363, or e-mail A program specialist is available to speak with education professionals about the program and how their district’s teachers can provide vigorous, hands-on, standards-based biology and chemistry labs no matter the scheduling model.


Actively Learn Digital Platform Offers Content Area Products

Actively Learn, Achieve3000’s research-based, standards-aligned curriculum platform, announces the release of new sequenced curricular units: Actively Learn ELA, Actively Learn Social Studies, and Actively Learn Science. Educators can now purchase these singular units instead of having to pay for access content they may not need. These subject area products make it possible to make tight budgets go further while addressing the specific needs of core content area teachers and facilitating an enhanced search experience.

“This new focus enables Actively Learn to better address the distinct needs of ELA, social studies, and science teachers. They can create interactive, multi-media assignments in each content area providing engagement and focus where needed.” said Jay Goyal, President at Actively Learn.

For each core content area, Actively Learn provides a full year of sequenced curricular units that leverage the breadth and depth of its catalog and allow for deeper knowledge in each subject.

  • Actively Learn ELA equips students to become better readers, writers, and thinkers by embedding rigorous instruction into short stories, current events, articles, close reading excerpts and even full-length novels.
  • Actively Learn Social Studies drives deep engagement in history and civics with primary sources, trustworthy textbook articles, and the digital version of We The People. The content is vetted by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness.
  • Actively Learn Science brings interaction and engagement to students’ understanding of the natural world. Simulations, videos, high-interest articles, and textbook sections cover all core topics in integrated science, chemistry, biology and physics.

Beginning fall 2020, assignments will be aligned to all state standards for ELA, science, and social studies. Educators can also customize instruction and import their own resources to take advantage of embedded collaboration and support features. The Actively Learn platform integrates with Google Classroom and Canvas to support in-school and at-home learning.

More information at Actively Learn.


This ESL teacher is doing everything she can to connect with students remotely

In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Ann Grey Newcomb
ESL Teacher
West Oxford Elementary School
Granville County Public Schools

“If there is a silver lining, it’s that we see the heart on the sleeve of educators that I already knew was there.”

Before school closures, what did a typical day look like?

At the school, I am a half-time ESL teacher and a half-time Instructional Support Coach. So a typical day would be seeing students, maybe two or three grade levels, in a small group for about half a day. If I’m lucky, I can sometimes “push into” a classroom and co-teach to help the EL learners. Other days are spent working on PLCs all day, looking at data, making instructional decisions, and matching instructional needs to resources. Other days I am training teachers and co-teaching, which is my favorite coaching method. So my day to day is varied, which is one of the things I like most about my job.

Related content: This visual arts teacher steps outside the box for remote learning

How have you been able to adopt to a remote learning model for your students?

I will give big props to Granville County Public Schools, which has really gone above and beyond, in my estimation, to reach all children at this time. We have a lot of low income families who don’t have the same resources as others, so we’ve been working on a way to make learning equitable. Our School Counselor, Mrs. Christy Currin, and our Media Assistant, Mrs. Sonia Hernandez, have done an amazing job at taking instructional packets out into the community and leaving them on doorsteps. While we are starting to have more and more assignments online, I do have a lot of students working on these hard copy packets. So far, we have been able to issue Chromebooks to students in Grades 4 and up and have ordered additional devices for Grades K- 3. We have also boosted internet capability in the school parking lot.


What the pandemic has revealed about digital equity

Before COVID-19, home internet access for all students was a goal—one that some districts even thought they had achieved. But the pandemic and forced distance learning have exposed a plethora of inequities in schools that many district leaders now see as issues they must address. In the edWebinar “Digital Equity Strategies for Learning Beyond the Classroom,” school leaders talked about how they are managing digital equity in the COVID-19 era and what they see as the critical next steps.

First, the pandemic exposed what Dr. David Miyashiro, superintendent of the Cajon Valley School District (CA), called the false positives of 100 percent home internet access. As a 1:1 district, his administration had previously recognized the need for universal access so that students could work as well from home as they do at school.

Related content: Major lessons our district learned during COVID-19

Part of the initiative included working with a local cable provider to offer discount access for families in need. Once the students were working from home, though, students who normally completed all work were missing assignments because they were using the Wi-Fi from local businesses or spending extra time at school.


How to make remote learning easily accessible

When school starts again in the fall, it’s likely that a significant number of students will still be learning remotely. To make classrooms less crowded and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many states and districts are considering a hybrid approach in which some students attend school and some learn from home, such as by having students alternate between in-person and remote learning.

One of the key lessons learned in the shift to remote learning this spring was the need to make online instruction easily accessible to everyone. K-12 school systems have taken many actions to ensure that students have the technology they need to learn from home, such as distributing mobile devices and wireless hotspots to students who need them and even negotiating deals with internet service providers to extend free or discounted broadband service to low-income families.

Related content: 5 ways to build a community of learners online

These steps are a good start, but they don’t go far enough in overcoming all the barriers teachers face in reaching and engaging all students remotely.

Kindergarten teacher Ben Cogswell has some experience with this issue. He has been teaching for more than 10 years in the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, Calif. It’s a very agricultural community, with many migrant families who don’t speak English at home. When he began his career, he was teaching sixth grade in the sixth most densely populated community in the United States.

As a former technology coach for the district, Cogswell helped get the district up and running with a 1:1 technology program that gave every K-12 student a Chromebook to take home for learning. Two years ago, he decided to return to the classroom as a kindergarten teacher, and he has been successfully blending traditional and digital learning in his classroom ever since — which prepared him well for the shift to remote learning this spring.


8 things to help your district launch an esports program

It may lack sweat equity, but it’s up there with even the most physically demanding of sports. Esports, the competitive side of video gaming, is exploding. And K-12 schools are buying in, because esports is not only fun, but also a viable educational tool!

A recent edWebinar, “Ready Player One: Esports in K-12,” highlights why esports has taken hold in schools. Research-based evidence affirms its highly positive impact on students’ academic achievement, soft skills, and social-emotional well-being.

Dr. Dennis Large, the director of educational technology for the Riverside County Office of Education, among the first county offices in California to facilitate an esports league, knows first-hand the power of gaming in schools.

Related content: 5 benefits this district got from esports

The county jumped on the esports train to heighten student engagement. Schools with gaming clubs boast substantial benefits, chief among them bringing disenfranchised students—often not participating in school athletics—into the community to be accepted and celebrated.

“Those esports members and players,” said Large, “carry just as much swagger, just as much social credibility as do any track stars or football or water polo stars,” he emphasized.

County esports clubs keep growing. Those that started with six or seven players are now at 150 members. Recently, the county sponsored its first league tournament, where 50 school teams competed. Students who once couldn’t wait for the school day to end now rush to after-school esports clubs, where they have friends, socialize, and build community while strengthening gaming skills. Truancy and tardiness have declined.


mindSpark Learning Announces mSL futureS, Next-Generation Fellowship for Educators

mindSpark Learning (mSL), a Denver-based national nonprofit dedicated to empowering educators with industry-oriented professional learning experiences, today announced the launch of mSL futureS, a dynamic, 10-month next generation educator fellowship program. With so many unknowns, especially in the era of COVID-19, educators are expected to pivot quickly to adjust to fast-changing societal needs. mSL futureS prepares educators to accept and embrace ambiguities through this free resilience and futures thinking training. The first trimester begins July 15.

Participants must register in teams of three to five classroom educators to create their fellow group. Over the course of three trimesters, these fellow groups will work with a cohort of 20 peers to develop mental pathways to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. They will fine-tune their problem-solving abilities and futures thinking to tackle issues like burnout antibodies, an agile mindset, social emotional resilience and community needs.

Futures thinking fosters ongoing observation, pattern recognition and conversation while considering macro forces, like environmental, social and economic factors. This mindset prepares Educator Futurists to create actionable strategies for specific issues within their organizations and communities using multiple perspectives.

During the first trimester, mSL futureS fellows will learn to develop and understand their role as Educator Futurists. The second and third trimesters involve solving problems that are relevant to their organization and iterating solutions. Each fellow group will develop a portfolio presentation detailing their experiences, challenges and outcomes at the conclusion of the fellowship.

“There is no better time to reimagine education and educators are uniquely positioned to drive innovation and create solutions leading to an education system that is better than the one we left behind before the pandemic,” said mindSpark Learning CEO Kellie Lauth. “We’re thrilled to launch mSL futureS as a way to shift educator mindsets to include futures thinking, while reinforcing resilience and empathy.”

For more information and to register, visit




About mindSpark Learning

mindSpark Learning, a Denver-based national nonprofit founded as Share Fair Nation in 2007 and rebranded in 2017, is the catalyst and intermediary between education and industry. It empowers educators with industry-oriented professional learning experiences, resulting in more students prepared for the modern workforce. It does so by leading programs and services designed to help schools understand workforce development, participate in work-based learning experiences, foster career literacy and directly connect students to mentors and authentic opportunities at a young age. Its core areas of focus are critical to today’s education landscape and include problem-based learning (PBL) STEM, EdTech, Social-emotional learning (SEL) and Equity-centered Design Thinking. These lay the foundation for skills that are inherently necessary for career success.

mindSpark Learning is re-engineering education by incorporating the voice of community leaders in a variety of fields – from education, to industry, to government. To date, mindSpark Learning has impacted more than 18,000 educators in 1,041 schools across 48 states. For more information, please visit



Courses Designed to Address Learning Loss Due to COVID-19

While student regression during summer months is not uncommon under normal circumstances, the effects of the COVID crisis on student learning gains are expected to be even more pronounced. A recent NWEA study indicates that students may return to school in fall 2020 with only roughly 70 percent of the learning gains in reading and less than 50 percent of the learning gains in mathematics compared to a typical school year. In mathematics especially, students in some grades are expected to return to school “nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.” Download study (pdf)

To address this disruption – and to promote readiness for the upcoming school year – Edgenuity has developed these new solutions to support students in mastering critical concepts and skills from the last school year while preparing for future courses.

  • Booster Courses focus on the critical concepts and skills students in grades 6-12 must master to be prepared for the next level course. Available for English language arts and math, these courses can also be used over the summer or at the beginning of the school year to help get students up-to-speed or simply for review.
  • Concept Recovery Modules focus on single standards coverage for recovery, remediation, and review, and are a flexible option for schools wanting students to focus on standards mastery and recovery. The modules can also be used any time of the year to support student success and address ELA standards covered in grades 6-12 and math standards covered in grades 6-11.
  • Pathblazer Courses for Summer School and On-Level Mastery for mitigating learning loss for students in grades K-6 who are working below grade level. These courses enable teachers to use Pathblazer’s instructional content to provide extra learning opportunities so students can refresh their learning and master skills and content covered during school closures.
  • Learning Loss Courses cover all standards that would have typically been addressed in the last 8-9 weeks of a school year and are an ideal option for students to complete the last quarter of their courses, especially in high school where credits may not have been earned. These shortened courses are available in each of the core subject areas in grades 6-12.

These solutions have also been designed to aid educators interested in offering remediation or review of course standards-based content in a quick and efficient format.

“School closures related to the COVID crisis have not only impacted student learning in the short term. The learning disruptions caused by the pandemic have the potential to set students back in grade level mastery, skill development and the simple habit of learning,” said Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity. “With quick and intensive intervention using these new options to address learning loss, teachers have the opportunity to help students get back on track and, in time, meet and exceed their educational goals.”

All of Edgenuity’s Learning Loss solutions are customizable and can be used individually or in combination. Districts interested in learning more about Edgenuity’s Continuing of Learning solutions can visit this page.



Extron SMP Systems Enable Online Learning

Extron is committed to helping educational institutions of all sizes respond to the recent dramatic shift toward online learning. As part of this commitment, Extron is offering education customers special pricing and grants for its online learning solutions, including the SMP Series. SMP Series high performance recording and streaming products extend the power of live and on-demand video for lessons and training far beyond traditional walls. The SMP Series makes it easy for instructors to quickly and inexpensively record and stream live or ad-hoc content to communicate virtually with students on almost any device in any location.

“Our streaming solutions help connect learners to educational content anytime, anywhere, on any device,” says Casey Hall, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing. “Whether you’re looking for a simple flash drive recording, or fully-automated recording, publishing, and live streaming, Extron SMP Series products empower anyone, of any skill level, to easily and efficiently record and stream high quality presentations.”

Ideal for use in virtually any presentation environment, SMP solutions capture and distribute AV sources and presentations as live streaming and recorded media. Easily stream live to popular hosting services such as YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitch, Vimeo and Wowza, as well as publish content to common video platforms including Kaltura, Panopto, and Opencast. Popular applications include lecture capture, presentation streaming, corporate training, and meeting and conference recording.

Please contact your Extron account representative to discuss how SMP solutions can improve your teaching and training environments. Special COVID-19 pricing and grants are available to Education customers.

For more information about SMP Series products, click here.


Inspirations: How educators are transforming the education process

The COVID-19 crisis has made one thing clear: Teachers and administrators have used unique and innovative ways to reach students online as remote learning became the only type of learning across the nation.

Most educators are certain that if they don’t begin school online in the fall, they’ll eventually have to move to online and at-home learning if a second wave of the virus hits the nation, or if social distancing and other precautions aren’t possible in often-overcrowded schools.

Here’s a look at some of the creative and inspiring ways educators are reaching students, parents, and communities as they transform education.

The pandemic has forced learning out of physical classrooms–and it presents a unique opportunity for educators

Education thought leader Alan November discusses what he believes is a key misstep that many educators are making in shifting to web-based instruction. See why here: Here’s the biggest mistake educators are making with remote learning

There are a number of options for schools and districts hoping to keep learning as consistent as possible this fall

Thomas Arnett, senior research fellow in education for the Clayton Christensen Institute, writes about the options educators have this fall—in or out of school. Read it now: The blended learning models that can help schools reopen

States are creating plans for fall as many wonder how COVID-19 has impacted learning as we know it

eSN managing editor Laura Ascione gives five predictions for the post-COVID learning. Read it now: 5 predictions for post-COVID learning

When students take ownership of their education, online learning is more likely to succeed

eSN’s own Dennis Pierce writes an amazing story on how fifth-grade teacher Kim Voge has had students literally beg her to give them more writing assignments. Read it now: 5 strategies for independent learning

Learn how one district is prioritizing student learning by focusing on strengthening its approach to e-learning

Eric Ramos is Chief Technology Officer in the Duarte Unified School District. eSN’s Kevin Hogan writes an insightful story on how schools are using the summer months to map out a plan and prepare for the start of a new school year come with efficient ways to adopt learning models that can accommodate an extended period of e-learning. Read it now: 4 ways schools can prepare for the future of e-learning

Keeping teachers, parents, and students connected online has turned the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to bring the community closer together

Two educators, Karen Londgren a digital learning coach at Marshall Public Schools, and Nicole Wichmann, administrative assistant at Westside Elementary, discuss how their districts moved to distance learning in just 8 days. Read it now: What our district learned by moving from in-person to distance learning in 8 days

7 tips for future-proofing school libraries

Suzi Tonini, Collection Development Supervisor for Denver Public Schools writes how the future of school libraries is all about providing equitable access for all students. Read it now: 7 tips for future-proofing school libraries

Five ways to build a community of learners online

Dennis Pierce discusses how remote learning makes relationship-building more challenging and how these ideas can help. Read it now: 5 ways to build a community of learners online