Verizon announced support for relief efforts

Verizon announced support for relief efforts across communities impacted by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by tripling monthly data allowance for its Verizon Innovative Learning schools and committing $10 million to nonprofits directed at supporting students and first responder healthcare workers.

“Verizon stands ready to support our community members during this challenging time,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon Chairman and CEO. “We will continue to work closely with partners to help provide resources and care for those who need it most.”

As the list of nationwide K-12 schools shifting to remote learning heightens, Verizon is supporting the students and teachers in its Verizon Innovative Learning program, the company’s education initiative targeting Title 1 middle schools, by tripling their data allowances. Effective March 16, the additional connectivity includes all tablets and laptops within the program and upgrades data plans from 10GB/month to 30GB/month through June 30.…Read More

New Science Kit Series for Educators

Carolina Biological introduced a new Next Generation Science Standards® (NGSS)-aligned science kit series for educators of elementary students in both formal and informal education settings. Carolina launched Phenomenal Explorations™ kits for grades 3 to 5, which each explore an interesting focus question about a phenomenon that can be completed in two weeks or less. Carolina’s new three-dimensional science kit series turns students into inquiring scientists during short investigations that easily fit into the busy elementary school day or informal settings, such as science clubs, afterschool sessions, or summer camps. The lessons are designed to complement any core science curriculum that teachers are using with concise, high-interest topics to help them explain the most difficult concepts that are challenging to present in an interesting way to students. Each lesson is broken into four student-driven investigations.

Available now, Phenomenal Explorations kit topics cover life science, Earth science, physical science and engineering. Designed for flexibility, educators can use the kits in many ways, such as for a two-week change of pace, after testing, before vacations or afterschool programs, museum programs, kids groups, or even camps to build their students’ hands-on experience, engagement, and excitement. The kit topics include: Why Can a Sloth’s Fur Be a Habitat?; How Can We Keep Pets Cool During Hot Weather?; What Can Fossils Tell Us About Past Environments?; How Do Airplanes Fly?; and How Does Matter Change When an Object Dries? These new kits provide supplemental science resources with hands-on materials and digital components that support teachers who need to fit science lessons into smaller 30-minute time slots and create high-interest engagement for their students. By giving students direct experience with phenomena, the kits help them learn about and make sense of the real world.

The kits support teachers as they teach science to strengthen NGSS three-dimensional connections. Each one emphasizes science and engineering skills within flexible 3D activities. They explore bite-sized topics using a combination of hands-on, print, and digital resources. The investigations challenge students to solve real-world problems and use claims, evidence, and reasoning to support their own explanations of phenomena.…Read More

All learning is personalized learning

When personalized learning came on the scene, some found it challenging to get a grip on what it meant for instruction. A beloved retired master teacher colleague mused, “Personalized learning – isn’t that a little redundant? Isn’t all learning personal?”

Shouldn’t personalization be the first thing we think about when designing instruction? C.S. Lewis advises, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things.”

I’ve struggled with personalization in other contexts as well, having been repeatedly admonished by, well, almost everyone: “Don’t take things so personally!” It seems like an impossible charge.…Read More

Google introduces Teach from Home

To support the hundreds of millions of students and educators currently facing school closures, we’re introducing Teach from Home—a hub providing information, tips, training and tools to help remote teaching and learning.

Recent weeks have been especially challenging for teachers, students, and families as schools close and normal routines are disrupted. This transition is all the more daunting for educators who aren’t yet comfortable using technology, let alone our tools, so we want to make it easier to get started. To help with that, we’ve developed Teach from Home, a temporary hub of information and tools to help teachers during this crisis. You’ll find resources to enable remote instruction, student engagement, collaboration with peers, and more.

For more advanced resources, explore the COVID-19 support page for training materials, blog posts, videos, and other resources to help engage students through distance learning.…Read More

No-Cost Access to ST Math

With the spread of Coronavirus, COVID-19, schools across the country are temporarily closing.

At MIND Research Institute, our mission is to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

That’s why we stand ready to provide resources and no-cost access so the learning can keep on happening, even if school is temporarily closed.…Read More

How we developed a personalized PBL model for STEM

How can schools and districts prepare students for college and careers in STEM? Is it by asking them to passively read a textbook or listen to a teacher lecture? Or is it by challenging them to actively engage in projects that attempt to solve real-world problems?

In Harmony Public Schools in Texas, we want students to become active learners, problem solvers, and STEM advocates. We want to increase their knowledge, skills, and interest in STEM, and balance student-centered teaching with state and national standards. To do this, we developed a personalized project based learning (PBL) model called STEM Students on the Stage (SOS)™.

STEM SOS, which was developed with a $30 million Race to the Top grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a rigorous, interdisciplinary, standards-focused method of STEM education that encourages students to develop and share their STEM knowledge and investigations. We now incorporate this personalized PBL model into all of our STEM courses.…Read More

15 of the best apps to engage students outside the classroom

Learning shouldn’t stop when students leave for summer vacation. Rather, this extended break from the classroom is the perfect time to introduce kids to a variety of mobile apps that can continuously promote creativity and critical thinking. From kindergarten to grade 12, the vast assortment of digital offerings can meet any student’s interests, all while providing valuable lessons that will appropriately challenge each user. Here are a few great options for rainy days, road trips or any time in between.

Grades K-5: (in no particular order)

Osmo introduces children to hands-on play through the iPad. With its offerings, like Newton, Masterpiece and Coding, kids use physical manipulation to navigate a variety of digital activities. Once they master one skill, they can move on to more challenging options.…Read More

Survey: Parents prefer texting and mobile communication from schools

Determining the right mix of traditional and digital tools to best engage with parents and district stakeholders remains a primary challenge for district communications, according to a new report.

A large part of a school district’s ability to implement successful initiatives or pass bonds lies in its communications and its ability to connect with community members.

Now, a new report from Blackboard and Project Tomorrow outlines the different roles district communications officials play in today’s schools. The results reflect the increasingly important yet challenging role of communications in today’s K-12 districts.…Read More

These 7 keys are helping one district better prepare its students

In any given third-grade classroom, you can find a student who is reading at a level far beyond their age, and another who is still working on letter recognition. How does a traditional classroom teacher with 25-30 kids manage such a wide range of students? As a district leader, how do I support our teachers and ensure that they are challenging students who are at a higher level while providing struggling students with proper support?

These are the tough questions I asked myself when taking over as superintendent of Maury County Schools in Tennessee in August 2015. Within the first few months, we ditched the old literacy model to adopt a project-based focus; deployed instructional coaches (without hiring anyone); and launched a top-down, district-level approach that quickly gained bottom-up buy-in through school and community support. We also implemented a differentiated literacy program and digital library that measures reading with reading—not quiz scores and points.

Creating the Keys to Success

In my first days as superintendent, I did what I called a “22in22 Tour” where I traveled to all 22 schools in my district in 22 days. I know from experience that the best leaders are the best listeners, so I made sure to take the time to hear what school leaders and classroom teachers had to say about Maury’s administrative approach. I heard loud and clear that there were issues of trust, lack of resources, switching initiatives on a dime, and a need for truly aligned and supportive professional development. That’s when I knew I had to eliminate the top-down approach that the district had taken in the past (and many districts employ) and go through a process to determine our Keys to Success.…Read More