Blackbird Announces First-ever Purpose-built Middle School Coding Education Platform

Created to Address the “Middle School Gap” – Blackbird Teaches Real-world Computer Science Skills, Aligned to Educational Standards

PORTLAND, April 14, 2021 – Blackbird, creators of the world’s first educational version of JavaScript, today announced the official launch of the Blackbird education platform. Successfully trialed in middle schools and coding academies throughout the country, Blackbird’s offering was built from the ground up to address the middle school gap in coding education – in a platform that can be administered by non-technical and technically minded teachers, instructors and parents. Based around Blackbird’s proprietary educational version of JavaScript, Blackbird provides students, even those who have not been drawn to STEM or coding, with an understanding and aptitude in one of the most commonly used programming languages on earth.

“Before Blackbird there were no tools available to bridge the expanse between elementary school block-based introductions to coding, and high school’s more advanced text-based coding, leading to frustration and a well-documented drop-off in computer science when students enter high school,” said Ness Blackbird, cofounder of Blackbird. “Based around our unique educational version of JavaScript, Blackbird enables middle school students to learn real-world, applicable coding skills in a platform that can be administered and led by even non-technical teachers and educators.”…Read More

The College Board Partners with PBLWorks to Train Teachers for New AP Courses Rooted in Project Based Learning

PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for Project Based Learning (PBL), has partnered with the College Board to offer a new PBL-based professional development program for Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Environmental Science and U.S Government and Politics. The new courses use a Project Based Learning method of teaching and are based on powerful new breakthrough research just released by the Center for Economic and Social Research at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, that found PBL coupled with high-quality professional development significantly improves student performance when compared to students in non-PBL classrooms.

Specifically, the research demonstrated that high school students in AP classes who engaged in hands-on, inquiry-based projects with real-world applications performed higher than their peers on AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP Environmental Science exams. In year one of a randomized controlled trial in five U.S. cities they scored 8 percentage points higher, and in year two of the study they scored 10 percentage points higher – and they were more likely to earn a qualifying score of 3 or above which could increase their chance of receiving college credit and saving on tuition.

“We’ve seen the impact of PBL firsthand in our work with schools and now this research provides proof of its impact on students who are taking AP classes,” said Bob Lenz, CEO of PBLWorks, “That’s why we’ve partnered with the College Board to support new project-based AP courses that are relevant, authentic, and engaging.”…Read More

Vernier Software & Technology Launches New Wireless Probe for AP and College-Level Chemistry

Ideal for Advanced Placement® (AP) Chemistry and college-level general chemistry, the affordable and durable Go Direct Platinum-Cell Conductivity Probe from Vernier Software & Technology helps students determine a solution’s conductivity or the total ion concentration with high accuracy and chemical compatibility.

“Our new probe has an epoxy body and platinum-cell sensing element that notably provides greater chemical compatibility. This probe enables students to measure the conductivity of strong acids, strong bases, and non-aqueous solutions during experiments without any risk of damaging the sensor,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “The durable Go Direct Platinum-Cell Conductivity Probe automatically adjusts its conductivity range in response to the concentration of the given solution to provide students with the most accurate readings possible.”

Go Direct Platinum-Cell Conductivity features a wide 0 to 20,000 μS/cm range that ensures optimal precision during various experiments, such as exploring the base hydrolysis of ethyl acetate under various conditions and other common environmental tests of aquatic samples.…Read More

UWorld Launches New Tools to Support Educators in Fostering AP® Success

UWorld, the worldwide leader in online learning to prepare for high-stakes exams, today announced the launch of AP® (Advanced Placement®) Learning Tools, a new College Readiness solution to help educators enhance instruction, improve student performance, and effectively prepare for AP exams. The tools save teachers time while enabling students to achieve their academic goals.

Forty percent of students who take AP exams only earn a score of 1 or 2, but studies show that students who score a 3 or higher are more likely to be successful in college and graduate. AP Learning Tools uses College Board®-level questions and clear, concise answer explanations to help students understand why they got an answer wrong, retain information, develop critical thinking skills, and deepen subject-area knowledge.

“Some 1.24 million students took an AP exam in 2019, and that number is predicted to grow year-over-year—and yet educators have little access to AP instruction and exam prep resources that are particularly effective in distance and hybrid learning environments,” said Chandra S. Pemmasani, M.D., UWorld’s founder and CEO. “With our AP Learning Tools, educators have access to progress and performance tracking that helps them identify gaps, modify instructional approaches, and support students—all from their computer.”

All of UWorld’s College Readiness solutions are developed using research-based educational strategies that support instruction, improve engagement, and build critical-thinking skills so that students have the knowledge and confidence to succeed. The answer choices used in AP Learning Tools are updated weekly to ensure alignment to current AP courses and exams. An easy-to-use assignment tool allows educators to customize assignments and integrate content into lessons. Plus, reporting tools provide meaningful insight into student AP performance at the classroom, school and district level.…Read More

VHS Learning and NMSI Program Enables Students to Take AP Courses

VHS Learning’s new partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has helped over 100 students from rural schools take Advanced Placement courses that would have been unavailable to them. The partnership enabled the schools to enroll the students in VHS Learning’s AP courses via a NMSI grant program. Students also received guidance from NMSI coaches. Schools will receive grants to cover all enrollment costs and student access to laptops, as necessary.

The students came from 15 parochial and public schools in Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont and Pennsylvania. The program allowed them to enroll in the following courses:

AP Statistics
AP Biology
AP Computer Science Principles
AP Calculus BC
AP Chemistry
AP English Literature and Composition
AP English Language and Composition
AP Physics 1…Read More

BIOZONE Launches Comprehensive Environmental Science Program

BIOZONE has just published an exciting new AP Environmental Science title (in print and eBook) dedicated to addressing the College Board’s new APES Course & Exam Description (2019).
Using engaging, current, and relevant case studies, this includes activities on:

  • COVID-19 pandemic (snapshot up until July 2020)
  • Increased incidence and severity of wildfires (California, Australia, Brazil, Siberia)
  • Global climate change – latest scientific data (up to 2019 in some cases)
  • Finding and applying solutions to environmental problems

Take a quick look now – you can access an immediate FULL PREVIEW (see every page) by going to the product page and clicking on the Full Preview button at: www.thebiozone.com/apes
“I’d be delighted to receive any feedback about your impression of this resource,” Richard Allan Biozone’s President commented. “Our writing team have put their heart and soul into making it as engaging and as cutting edge as we can get it. We intend to publish a new edition every 2 years to keep it that way. So much is going on in this subject right now and we are super excited to share our passion to inspire better outcomes for our planet through science education!”
BIOZONE’s resources are available in both print and digital formats:

  • Digital version: allows teachers to assign and mark lessons remotely. A low-cost eBook Lite option is now available for budget-constrained districts.
  • Print version: Learning-from-home solutions can also include our print titles. Limited broadband access may be an obstacle for many students. Print titles, used alongside learning
    management tools and teacher coaching can provide effective “learning-from-home” solutions.

About Biozone
BIOZONE International is a world leader in delivering cutting-edge high-quality student instructional materials and teacher resources for high school sciences (grades 9-12). With a 30-year presence in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, along with a global footprint of dedicated educators, we possess an absolute passion for next generation science.…Read More

Redefining what it means to be ‘college-ready’

Societal pressures on high school seniors seemingly grow by the year. These days, a student’s level of college and workforce readiness is said to be dependent on their college admission test scores, completing the most rigorous high school classes possible, and obtaining AP credit. But research shows that these are not the sole indicators.

ACT recently released a report that claims only 26 percent of 2018 high school graduates were ready for the workforce, but I believe readiness is dictated by so much more than a standardized test score.

Related content: 4 keys to supporting college and career readiness…Read More

How we turned around our ability to support BYOD for now and for the future

Demographics:

Rio Rancho (NM) Public Schools is the state’s third-largest school district; it has 18,000 students and more than 2,000 employees across 19 schools.

Biggest challenge:

With reliance on mobility for K-12 curriculum increasing, the demand for wireless in our district has also increased. We not only have encouraged our faculty and staff to embrace BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), but we have also provided Chromebooks to all of our 18,000 students.

Due to these changes, we realized we needed to increase the number of access points (APs) we were deploying to one AP per classroom. That solved the device density challenge, but by multiplying our AP count from about 400 to nearly 1,700, we now needed to find a way to centralize and simplify our wireless configurations.…Read More

Why K-12 accounts payable teams should embrace automation

Across the country, K-12 schools are embracing technology to strengthen learning and engagement inside the classroom. But while technology has an ever-increasing presence in the classroom, the opposite is often true when it comes to a district’s back-end operations.

Due to aging systems, many accounts payable (AP) departments within school districts still rely on manual, legacy, or proprietary systems to perform critical functions like expense and invoice submission and reimbursement. This lack of automation and visibility into their expenses can end up costing a school district more in the long run, due to errors and the increased time a non-automated system takes.

As technologies quickly advance, a delay in making updates to your systems can invite risk. So why are schools still leveraging antiquated technologies? Unfortunately, it’s typically not by choice. It comes down to budget constraints and aversion to change that can cause districts to stall investing in new systems.…Read More

4 keys to building an equitable STEM program

This year in schools across the nation, approximately 136,000 students took advanced placement (AP) computer science, a 31 percent increase from last year. This group included a record number of female and minority students, but girls still only accounted for 28 percent of students taking AP computer science exams, while underrepresented minorities accounted for 21 percent. Meanwhile, the increase in STEM jobs shows no sign of slowing down, and only 33 percent of workers ages 25 and older have a degree in a STEM field.

What does this all mean? It means we can’t afford to leave anyone out. We need to find ways to immerse all students of all ages, races, genders, and types (not just the “talented and gifted” kids) in rich STEM learning. Educators need to do whatever they can to engage all students in a way that appeals to their interests across all STEM subjects. In working with hundreds of school districts across the country, here are four steps I’ve seen educators take to effectively build and nurture an equitable STEM program.

1. Provide STEM professional development (PD) to elementary teachers.
One of the challenges educators face is that there are limited opportunities for STEM-specific PD designed for elementary teachers. To promote STEM equity, schools first need to help more teachers figure out how to integrate STEM into their curriculum.…Read More