How the E-rate and grants can help fund your edtech plans

As schools and districts strive to meet their existing technology needs and prepare for the future, access to federal and state funding, along with other grants, is making a major difference in whether students engage in 21st century learning or are left behind.

And with online assessments now being required in many states, reliable broadband access is also essential so that students’ knowledge and skills are accurately represented, and technology is not a barrier to achievement and its documentation.

Related content: 4 things to ask about E-rate funding…Read More

Innovative tech standards want your feedback

None of us would leave for a destination without a plan of action, without a direction and the right equipment to complete the journey. We all know that we want to provide the best pathways for our students to help foster 21st century skills.

As administrators, our responsibilities cover many areas including technology, which has become a necessary component of living and work. Technology can do many things, but in order to prepare our students for the future, education professionals need a new plan for how to employ it. For example, technology can accelerate innovation in teaching and learning and inspire learners to reach their greatest potential, it can provide students a window into a world right outside their door or halfway across the world.

That is why the ISTE Standards for Administrators are so important, as they provide all of us a set of expectations to effectively lead our schools and districts in an ever-changing digital world. Truly, these standards are the roadmap to accomplish the journey our students, teachers and schools seek to complete.…Read More

Blog: Dysart Unified School District Prepares Students for the 21st Century

A few years ago, former Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, said of teachers and schools, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

Children today have never known a world without technology. And they exist in a society where they’ve never had to wait. As a result, the brains of young people today are literally “wired” differently. From sending a message to someone on the other side of the world with the tap of a button, to Google searching any information the mind can think of, those coming of age today are accustomed to things happening instantly. Not only has this caused them to cognitively think differently than people of previous generations, children don’t view the digital world as separate from the physical world—to them it is one in the same.

Dysart Unified School District, the fastest growing school system in Arizona, infuses its curriculum with creativity, innovation, information fluency, communication, and critical thinking for the 21st century. Unlike the focus of a decade ago, these schools are in the middle of a transformation from learning “what” to learning “how.” That’s because kids (and adults) must adapt to new technologies at a rate we’re not used to. Every few years, technology changes rendering that which came before it obsolete.…Read More

Technology teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials”

At Gordon J. Lau Elementary, of our 690 plus students, 68 percent are English language learners (ELLs). Many of our ELL students have come to the United States only a few months ago, some even a few days ago. For these students, their ability to successfully use the tech tools we supply them, regardless of their language, reading, or comprehension level, is crucial.

By using tech tools, teachers actively create, customize and enhance educational approaches to meet the new and growing challenges of the 21st century. The tech tools offer a practical introduction to and a reinforcement of requisite skill-sets for our students, who are English learners and native speakers alike. In this complex and increasingly “multi-plex” digital age, the tech tools ground instruction and learning in prodigious and “joyful learning.” This is done in a manner. which infuses a unique methodology that no other non-tech tool can imitate.

An Instructional Technology Resource Teacher’s Tech Essentials…Read More

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

Can robotics teach problem solving to students?

Throughout my 35 years of teaching, I’ve watched students grow up in what I lovingly call the “worksheet generation.” In this environment, students are accustomed to a very structured style of learning, where they are handed a worksheet, then asked to turn to page five in their math book and solve problems one through 15. This approach, however, often teaches students there is only one right answer and limits meaningful engagement and creativity.

My teaching experience has taught me that it is no longer possible to prepare students with the 21st century skills they will need for the workforce without moving away from this paint-by-numbers approach. Instead, teachers must develop curriculum that inspires students to not only find new solutions, but to also test their solutions, and improve on them, through trial and error. This can be done using hands-on learning tools like robotics, which intuitively teaches students how to problem solve using critical thinking.

The question is: how can teachers create a robotics curriculum that not only breaks students out of the “worksheet generation” mentality, but also shows them the possibilities of learning with trial and error? Here are four tips for teaching students how to problem solve using hands-on robotics as a tool:…Read More

Stanford course prepares educators for the new school year

The ability to communicate effectively is increasingly recognized as an important skill for students entering the workforce. Two new initiatives that guide educators – the College and Career Readiness Standards and the Framework for 21st Century Learning – identify communication and collaboration as key elements of student learning. The standards particularly describe the importance of students understanding the reasoning of others and engaging in meaningful conversations using critical thinking.

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education has launched a short online course designed specifically to help educators create rich and meaningful opportunities for communication within the classroom. The course, Effective Conversation in the Classroom, launches this August with three online sessions. K-12 classroom instructors, instructional coaches, and educational administrators are invited to enroll.

Each session includes expert video screencasts, classroom video clips, readings and resources, and assignments that will help participants create a strong foundation of communication within the classroom. The course has been developed by Understanding Language/SCALE, a Stanford research and practice center focused on K-12 language and performance assessment. The teaching team consists of Stanford Professor Emeritus Kenji Hakuta, Senior Researcher Dr. Jeff Zwiers and Lecturer Dr. Sara Rutherford-Quach.…Read More

The 7 questions every new teacher should be able to answer

Teaching for the 21st century looks a lot different. Here’s what admins — and teachers — need to know for job interviews and beyond

Not long ago, the leadership team of a school district I was working with asked me: “If you were going to hire a new teacher, what would you ask in the interview?” They were concerned that hiring teachers with the right skills now can save a district a lot of money in staff development later. Moreover, they wanted to hire teachers who would be open minded about changes to come. The problem is to balance the reality of today’s pressure for test scores and required teacher evaluation with the changes that can be anticipated during the next two decades.

As I wrote in my last column, the traditional skill we valued in teachers when paper was the dominant media—the ability to transfer knowledge of a subject—is becoming less important. Increasingly, a teacher’s knowledge can be found online and in various learning styles. As the internet drives down the value of a teacher’s knowledge, their ability to personalize learning with resources from around the world will increase. We will have more data generated about our students as we build out our online communities. We will need teachers who understand how to make meaning of this data to personalize learning for every student from a vast digital library of learning resources. Also of increasing value is their ability to teach students to be self-disciplined about how “to learn to learn.” Rather than losing overall value, teachers will be more important than ever.

The big change is not adding technology to the current design of the classroom, but changing the culture of teaching and learning and fundamentally changing the job descriptions of teachers and learners.…Read More