5 school areas that desperately need student voices

As a graduate journalism student over 20 years ago, I worked on a thesis project centered on education reform news reporting. I was analyzing how often education reporters included students in their stories about education. Probably no surprise…it was almost non-existent.

Traditionally, no entity has ignored their primary customer, consumer or constituent more than education with students. I was fortunate enough early on as a beginning teacher to discover the power of student voice and student-generated ideas. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from asking my students what they thought, what they are interested in and where they would like things to go.

If we are serious about providing each and every student a truly transformational 21st century education, then we should consider including student voices in the following five school areas:…Read More

Eight ways kindergarten holds the key to 21st-century instruction

Here are eight important pillars of a 21st-century education that can be found in most kindergarten classrooms every day.

I was recently giving a workshop at a local elementary school. While walking around and speaking to teachers and children, it suddenly dawned on me that several of the “revolutionary” educational changes we’ve been calling for have actually been around for quite a while—just talk a stroll down to the kindergarten classes.

If only the rest of school looked a little more like those classrooms. In fact, eight important pillars of a 21st-century education can be found in most kindergarten classrooms every day of the week:

1. Play…Read More

Integrating the ‘four Cs’ into instruction

Kay outlined seven steps to 21st-century education.

While policy makers and education leaders have been talking about the need to teach 21st-century skills for more than a decade, not enough attention has been paid to how this can be done, Ken Kay believes.

A veteran of the computer industry, Kay led the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) for nine years before leaving this organization to found EdLeader21, a professional learning community of superintendents who are integrating 21st-century skills into instruction.

Along with Valerie Greenhill, Kay has written a book on the topic, The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts, and at the Consortium for School Networking’s annual conference in San Diego in March, he shared his advice for teaching 21st-century skills with school district chief technology officers.…Read More

Idaho contemplates computer devices for students

Idaho is considering which devices to purchase as it looks to give every student a mobile learning device.

The classrooms Tom Luna envisioned when campaigning for a 21st-century education system look a lot like those taught in Star, Idaho, a town named after a 19th-century navigational tool used by travelers and miners.

With Idaho moving to new technology in its classrooms under reforms advanced by Luna, the state schools chief, he’s holding up Star Elementary as an example. The school sits about a mile from the site of the original schoolhouse, where a wooden star nailed to the front door was a key landmark in the 1800s.

Luna hopes Star classrooms can now serve as a different kind of guidepost, one for the future, one where students and teachers, as he often says, aren’t “bound by walls, bell schedules, school calendars, or geography.”…Read More

Five characteristics of an effective 21st-century educator

"The effective 21st-century teacher will need to be adept in judging the educative and non-educative use of technologies," said one reader.

Today’s educators are constantly evaluating the skills students need to compete in the global economy. But what are the characteristics or skills needed to be an effective 21st-century educator?

We recently asked readers: “What are the qualities of an effective 21st-century educator?” Here are our readers’ top responses.

You might have heard that an effective 21st-century educator should be a “guide on the side,” not a “sage on the stage,” but according to readers, there’s much more to it than that.…Read More

Five things students say they want from education

“Most often heard from students: ‘Why do I need to know this?’” says an eSN reader.

With so many education stakeholders debating the needs of today’s schools, student voices aren’t always heard when it comes to what they want from their education.

And while it’s important to note what businesses would like to see in their future employees, at the end of the day it really comes down to the students themselves.

We recently asked eSchool News readers: “What’s the one thing you hear most often from students about what they want in school?”…Read More

Value of college degree is growing, study says

Despite rising tuition and student-loan debt levels, the long-term payoff from earning a college degree is growing, according to a forthcoming study from College Board, reports the New York Times. Workers with a college degree earned much more and were much less likely to be unemployed than those with only a high school diploma, according to the report, “Education Pays: the Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society.” According to the report, the median earnings of full-time workers with bachelor’s degrees were $55,700 in 2008–$21,900 more than those of workers who finished only high school. And the pay premium for those with bachelor’s degrees has grown substantially in recent years. Among those ages 25 to 34, women with college degrees earned 79 percent more than those with high school diplomas, and men, 74 percent more. A decade ago, women with college degrees had a 60 percent pay premium and men 54 percent…

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…Read More

Job forecasts point to importance of higher education

Not until 2014 or later is the nation expected to have regained all, or nearly all, the 8.4 million jobs lost to the recession.
Not until 2014 or later is the nation expected to have regained all, or nearly all, the 8.4 million jobs lost to the recession.

Whenever companies start hiring freely again, job seekers with specialized skills and education will have plenty of good opportunities. Others will face a choice: Take a job with low pay—or none at all.

Job creation likely will remain weak for months or even years. But once employers do step up hiring, some economists expect job openings to fall mainly into two categories of roughly equal numbers:

• Professional fields with higher pay. Think lawyers, research scientists, and software engineers.…Read More

Viewpoint: The future of education lies in the cloud

Cloud computing offers game-changing options for education.
Cloud computing offers game-changing options for education.

Calls to improve K-12 education are routine. Business leaders, educators, and other stakeholders demand that our children acquire the knowledge and skills needed to grow our rapidly evolving economy. Yet, although digital resources have expanded learning opportunities, classroom pedagogy has not changed much in the last 50 years. Throwing more money at existing approaches will at best produce only incremental improvements.

Since the 19th century, schools have used textbooks to deliver instructional content. Textbooks, however, are expensive, their content starts to age upon publication, and they must be replaced periodically. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for California schools to shift to digital textbooks to save much of the $350 million that the state annually budgets for textbooks and instructional materials. Moreover, textbooks are hardly interactive and are isolated from the computing resources with which we have provisioned our schools at great expense. Textbooks met the needs of the 19th and 20th centuries, but they fall far short of 21st century needs. They are old-school delivery that supports old-school pedagogy.

Cloud computing is a new strategy for delivering knowledge and tools that companies worldwide are increasingly adopting. The cloud refers to wide-area networks, generally the internet, from which remote computing resources are shared. Enterprises rely on applications and data storage services that are hosted in the cloud rather than on local servers. Google and others already offer various productivity applications and Microsoft announced that it will offer Microsoft Office 2010 online next year. The cloud reduces costs and complexity and provides scalability. It also permits the flexible deployment of new applications and functionalities to meet prevailing needs.…Read More

What every 21st-century educator should know

cheryl_lemkeEducators today are constantly bombarded with the phrase “21st-century skills,” and the message that all students need to learn those skills in order to succeed. And while general roadmaps can help educators get started on this path toward 21st-century instruction, FETC keynote speaker Cheryl Lemke provided a more narrow focus on what it takes to be a 21st-century education leader.

“It’s all about the ripple effect,” Lemke, president and CEO of the Metiri Group, said in her Jan. 15 speech. (The Metiri Group is a consulting firm dedicated to advancing effective uses of technology in schools.) “When a creative idea is born, it has so much potential, and that potential can turn into innovation. By innovation, I mean that it begins to change the entire system, and therefore causes ripples in the system.”

Lemke went on to explain that today’s students have the ability to start ripples in society, and a good education leader will know how to give students the skills they need to start those ripples.…Read More