Museum of Science, Boston enters metaverse with “Mission: Mars” Roblox experience

The Museum of Science, Boston is making its first move into the world of immersive online education with its launch of “Mission: Mars,” an educational experience on Roblox, a global platform connecting millions of people through immersive 3D experiences.

Developed in partnership with Filament Games, “Mission: Mars” challenges participants to engage in the Engineering Design Process, developing and iterating on vehicles ready to navigate the mysterious red planet and complete exploratory missions with friends to survive on Mars.

The Museum of Science is the first Roblox Community Fund (RCF) recipient to launch their experience since the fund’s introduction in November of 2021. Through the initial $10M fund, RCF has been offering grants to educational organizations to develop innovative learning experiences and curriculum leveraging the platform in immersive and compelling ways. …Read More

5 reasons to use a literacy professional learning solution

Our school is one of just 12 “Science of Reading Spotlight Schools” in Alabama this year, but getting here wasn’t easy. Rewind the clock back to the fall of 2021 and just 15 percent of our kindergarten students were proficient in reading. A “full support school” since 2018, we were dealing with some major challenges. I stepped in as principal in 2020, and began looking for ways to solve the issues and get things on the right track.

I learned about Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling Suite (LETRS) from my mentor principal at the state department, which works with schools like Central Elementary to establish the specific benchmarks that each Alabama school must reach. It turned out that the professional learning platform was one of the offerings that provides educators with the deep knowledge required to be literacy and language experts in the science of reading which in turn will help teachers to address students’ learning gaps in literacy.

From my perspective, being a full support school described us, but did not define Central Elementary School, so I got all faculty and staff on board with our new literacy professional learning solution.…Read More

Charting a path forward in K-12

After several years of disrupted learning, schools are taking stock of the range of challenges that need to be addressed—challenges resulting from the most significant disruption to K-12 education in history.

Across the nation, the pandemic has taken a toll on our children’s mental and physical health, behavioral development, social and emotional well-being, academic achievement, and plans for their future. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Rather, educators anticipate a multi-year process of helping struggling students recover from pandemic-related school disruptions.

Addressing the complexity and scale of these challenges requires school and district leaders to make critical choices. But they don’t need to do it alone. All those serving the education community must come together as trusted partners to find solutions, support evidence-based research, and ensure successful implementation of instructional practices to address education’s most critical challenges. …Read More

Prioritizing teacher well-being can help schools retain talent

As a school administrator, you’re faced with a range of challenges every day. One of the most common at the moment is mitigating the negative impacts of teacher shortages. After all, without a consistent and functional faculty, the quality of students’ education is likely to suffer.

Therefore, it’s important to examine the elements that affect teacher retention. Some of the key influencers here tend to be those related to educators’ wellness. Teachers often report experiencing extremely stressful conditions–not to mention that various pressures of their careers often see them on the road to burnout.

It’s no wonder, then, that establishing methods to prioritize teacher well-being can help your school retain talent. Let’s take a closer look at some key areas of focus in this regard.…Read More

KinderLab Robotics Donates Robot Kits to Connect Schools in Pennsylvania and Guatemala

Waltham, MA — KinderLab Robotics today announced that it has donated four KIBO robot kits to La Puerta Abierta, a school in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. Part of a partnership with Sewickley Academy, near Pittsburgh, PA, this donation will foster cross-cultural collaboration between the schools. Sewickley’s 5th-graders, who have experience teaching younger students about robotics through the school’s Big Buddies program, will offer guidance to La Puerta Abierta’s 1st-graders as they work on fun, hands-on programming challenges.

La Puerta Abierta, which relies heavily on volunteers and donations, was co-founded by Amanda Flayer, who was a Peace Corps volunteer with Michelle Bonham, a Lower School Spanish teacher at Sewickley Academy. The two schools have previously collaborated by having their 5th-graders create a bilingual book together. When La Puerta Abierta secured mathematics professor and data analyst Gaspar Yataz Pop as a volunteer to teach robotics using KIBO, the idea for the STEAM-powered collaboration between the schools’ students was born.

“We look forward to giving our elementary school students the opportunity to engage with another culture,” said Beau Blaser, director of technology at Sewickley Academy. “Through coding and collaboration, they’ll be learning to connect ideas and concepts together from a great distance. That can lead to an appreciation of the different cultures, but also a realization that there’s a lot of commonality across the human experience. What better way to do that than with some of our youngest learners? They’ll see that anybody can become an engineer or express their artistic ability—you can be anything you want to be in this world, whether you’re from Guatemala or Sewickley, Pennsylvania.”…Read More

Teachers can’t keep up with the need for SEL

While teachers know their students need help developing social emotional skills, they rarely have time or adequate training to focus on them in the classroom, according to a survey from ReadTheory, an edtech company that helps students build reading comprehension skills.

The survey of nearly 1,700 teachers offers insights into the challenges of implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in today’s tumultuous educational environment.

In the wake of the disruption of the pandemic, U.S. students are struggling. In 2021, the Center for Disease Control revealed that 37 percent of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic, while 44 percent said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. …Read More

Parents are turning to schools for student mental health

School counselors and social workers, teachers, and administrators have always been integral to a parent’s support network. This is particularly true for children who struggle in class and have trouble accessing their curriculum.  Collaborative communication between a school and parents is critical for ensuring positive student outcomes.

Although clearly an issue before the pandemic, the pandemic has increased our collective awareness of children’s mental health issues and schools’ role in addressing those challenges. At the height of the pandemic, we were aware of the toll that the effects of the pandemic were taking on the nation’s school children, but we were functioning in a survival mode. As we emerge from this survival mode, it is clear that our school-age children are in crisis.

According to an October 30, 2022, Wall Street Journal article, “A mental-health crisis among children and teens that had been brewing for years worsened as routines were disrupted in the pandemic and many kids faced isolation and loss.”…Read More

COVID-era teletherapy authorizations are expiring, but the problem persists

COVID-19 safety guidance has been relaxed and schools have returned to in-person learning, but it’s not yet time to breathe a sigh of relief. Many schools continue to encounter challenges in effectively serving their students, faced with special education staff shortages, backlogs of evaluations, and a youth mental health crisis.

Before the pandemic, a complex web of restrictions limited the ability of schools to leverage online services. From professional associations to state licensure boards, virtual therapy and evaluation services were discouraged or prohibited. In some cases, new graduates were prevented from obtaining their necessary practice hours through remote work. Many states imposed extensive barriers to allowing a licensed therapist to serve students across a state border, slowing down the ability to serve students through teletherapy.

These boards and associations then moved quickly to lift restrictions and clarify guidance to prioritize serving children in need. But as often happens in times that call for rapid action, these changes were made with a short-term mentality. Most of the removal of barriers to teleservices was done through temporary waivers and allowances, rather than taking action to permanently include remote and online services as a solution to serving the growing number of students with special education or mental health needs. These decision makers did not imagine the long-lasting impact of the pandemic, and they did not anticipate the evolution of educational services to a more technology-forward model.…Read More