3 ways to bring teacher PD into the 21st century

When I started teaching in the early 90s, I was an eager and very green third grade teacher ready to change the world, one class at a time. My colleagues and I worked hard to build a learning community that met the needs of our students, no matter their circumstances or the resources at our disposal (or lack thereof).  

Since then, I have served in various roles in public education and the private sector and have witnessed innovations in curriculum, instructional design, classroom design, and more. But amid all this change, one area has remained relatively static in public education. When it comes to training and developing teachers, we have been letting opportunity to leverage technology pass us by. Instead of a place to break new ground and match the demands of the modern classroom, professional development programs remain a pain point for teachers.

More than half of teachers have expressed wanting to leave the profession, with many citing a lack of quality development and support as a contributing factor. Teacher PD feels obligatory, generic, time-consuming, and for many, out of reach.…Read More

Why E-rate is critical for school technology access

Every year, schools and libraries have access to billions of dollars of funding through the FCC’s E-rate program. Unfortunately, many don’t take advantage, oftentimes because of confusion over who is eligible and what services are available. In this post I’ll break down the importance of E-rate, how it works, and the types of technologies it makes available that are crucial to education.

The importance of E-rate

For students in the 21st century, it’s almost impossible to overemphasize the importance of the internet and digital learning technologies. There is a growing dependence on these resources across the U.S., and they are often seen as critical for connecting students and teachers and preparing students for lifelong learning and jobs.…Read More

How I use technology to keep PE relevant in the 21st century

The days of rolling the ball out and playing sports in PE are changing. With the advancement of technology and shift towards collaborative work in the classroom, physical education teachers are finding more and more ways to keep PE relevant in the collaborative and technology-filled 21st century.

Project-based learning

Project-based learning is a type of instruction that emphasizes collaborative work, real world connections and a deeper understanding of content. Students are placed in groups and given a goal or project to complete. In their teams they assign roles, and divide work. Students are expected to research their project, plan out their learning, deal with any issues that arise, and present their findings. …Read More

How Minecraft and agriculture lead to an esports competition

Our world is changing around us in so many ways, and the climate crisis is proving to be one of the paramount challenges of the 21st century. As temperatures rise, our food systems across the globe feel the impacts of this man-made phenomenon. This heightens the pressing need to mitigate our carbon emissions, as well as adapt to climate impacts. We need to foster sustainability across all spheres, especially in the preservation and resilience of our agricultural systems.

Despite the fact that we all consume food every day, there is a disconnect between the needs of modern agriculture and challenges many farmers face due to climate change. So few of us truly know where our food comes from and teachers do not always have tools for raising awareness and educating on this important topic. This is why NASEF Farmcraft was developed. 

Farmcraft is a global esports competition hosted by the nonprofit NASEF and the U.S. Department of State. It is aimed at students grades 3-12 and participation is free for students from all over the world. This year we had participants from 68 countries! Teams register with the support of an educator or other adult sponsor and take part in a wide variety of activities that teach about the connections between modern agriculture, climate change, and biodiversity. …Read More

5 ways to engage your students with Minecraft

As an educator for over 27 years and a Digital Learning Specialist (social studies) for the past 7 years in Atlanta Public Schools, I have supported educators across my district and beyond as they purposefully integrate technology in the classroom to promote engagement and 21st century skill development.

While there are many tools and resources available to educators to support their efforts to create dynamic digital learning environments, one of the newest and most engaging is Minecraft Education Edition (M:EE). Popular among students (and teachers!), M:EE is a game-based learning platform that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment.

Here are five ways that I have helped my district’s teachers use M:EE into classroom instruction that you can use in your teaching practice. Best of all, you don’t even need to be a Minecraft expert to get started!…Read More

Using VR to radically improve learning outcomes

“When will I ever use this?”

Math students have been asking educators this very question for decades. And yet, it has long been reported by Brookings (Loveless, 2008) and others like the Algebra Project (Moses, 2001) that Algebra I is the gatekeeper to higher level math classes, higher education success, and careers in the technical fields. It is a commonly-held belief that algebraic concepts are directly related to critical thinking skills. So, what is the disconnect?

We have hovered our proverbial mouse over the 21st century now for two decades. Yet, our education system and structure had shown little to no trace of modernization. Bells rang, people moved. An agrarian calendar is used to let our students “off” for the summer to help with…wait, for what? …Read More

5 ways robots will bring your classroom into the 21st century

When you hear the word ‘robot,’ what comes to mind?

Off the bat, it’s probably either a hyper-realistic robot that can’t be distinguished from a human that sets out to take over the world, or ‘Disneyfied’ robots such as C-3PO and WALL-E that have been created for our entertainment. Today, however, their potential impact is more far-reaching. Robots are being built to improve daily tasks and improve our lives. Think about the Roomba vacuum, robotic arms for complicated surgeries, or Tesla’s self-driving car–all are setting a powerful precedent for new ways of living and being.

Education is another sector where robots are proving to be of valuable assistance. Conventional classrooms can become stagnant, often to the detriment of students’ learning experiences. That’s why telepresence robots can offer promising solutions for educators globally to empower engaged learning experiences and catalyze effective learning techniques inside and outside the classroom.…Read More

How esports can boost teamwork skills

Teamwork and communication are the top skills employers are looking for, a new survey of hiring managers reveals. That bodes well for the students at a Los Angeles secondary school who are taking part in an innovative program that uses esports to teach critical 21st century skills: Teamwork and communication are also the skills these young gamers have seen the most improvement in so far.

Working with a company called wethink, Horace Mann UCLA Community School launched an afterschool program in January that has students in grades 6-12 practice and reflect on 21st century skills such as problem solving, teamwork, communication, leadership, and character as they compete against each other in the popular online video game League of Legends.

Esports is a perfect vehicle for learning these essential workforce skills, wethink says. Many of the attributes that students will need in the workplace correlate with success in gaming. For instance, to achieve success, players have to learn how to work together to accomplish a common goal.…Read More