Schools and districts that ignore TikTok’s lessons are bound to fail

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If you talk to 200 teachers around the country today and ask them to describe their challenges in the classroom, you’re likely to get 201 different responses. And that makes sense–as systemic as some issues facing our education system are, every school, class, and student is unique. Yet through all that, there is perhaps one constant, one shared experience that is as universal as the No. 2 pencil. TikTok. Yes, TikTok has become the new American pastime of millions and public enemy number one of many teachers, parents, and some lawmakers across the country.

Students today are more distracted and disengaged than ever, all while they’re spending an average of 95 minutes every single day on TikTok alone. Meanwhile, 80 percent of teachers across the nation are reporting critically low student engagement, signifying a lack of connection with the material, the methodology, or both. But TikTok, and social media more broadly, continues to capture curiosity and attention, and it’s not all just dance videos–Indiana science teacher @ChemteacherPhil commands an audience of more than 3 million followers on the app. Is there a lesson in that?…Read More

Poptential™ by Certell Revolutionizes Social Studies Education with Integration of American Principles and Launch of Engauge™ Teacher Dashboard

INDIANAPOLIS — Certell, the creator behind the Poptential™ family of free social studies course packages, announced a significant update to its digital curriculum and platform designed to help students better understand the principles that have shaped American history while giving teachers tools to better manage their classroom and improve learning.

Poptential course packages have been updated to incorporate “American Principles” designed to foster a greater understanding of American civic life and sharpen critical thinking skills among students. Additionally, Certell introduced a powerful new dashboard for teachers called Engauge™, which helps instructors understand student engagement with Poptential e-books in real time.

The integration of American Principles into Poptential social studies courses is a significant milestone. These principles are fundamental ideas that have shaped U.S. history, culture, and identity, serving as the bedrock of American civic life. The goal is to ensure that students not only grasp these principles but also understand why they were deemed essential by the nation’s founders.…Read More

3 ways educators leverage gamification strategies

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Students don’t have to be video game fanatics to appreciate a gamified classroom lesson. When teachers turn a lesson or tough-to-teach concept into a motivational gamed or use a fun competition to teach new concepts, students become immersed in their learning and are often more engaged–meaning they’re more likely to retain information.

Still, there’s an art to gamifying a lesson and ensuring that students are actually learning instead of just playing a game for points. …Read More

Reaching edtech harmony in your classroom

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In today’s dynamic educational landscape, technology has become an integral part of teaching and learning, but it presents a paradox. While diverse edtech products promise innovation, they simultaneously pose challenges. Educators, learners, instructional technology coaches, and IT/edtech staff are grappling with the complexities of managing an ever-expanding arsenal of disconnected digital tools. It’s important to understand the challenges more closely and how an integrated, interoperable, and effective educational technology ecosystem can meet the evolving landscape of learning for more efficient, impactful, and secure learning experiences.

There are several prominent shifts that are driving the future of learning, therefore making a comprehensive and interoperable ecosystem essential. First is the permanence of a remote and/or hybrid learning structure. Solutions like interactive displays, cloud whiteboarding, screen sharing, and video conferencing tools have helped schools embrace and succeed in this new learning format. Second is the need to create a 21st century learning environment that is accessible for all students, encourages engagement and collaboration, and can be more easily tailored for different learning levels and needs. For example, smart board tools such as text to speech, translation, or word prediction can help students overcome language barriers and unique challenges. For increased engagement and collaboration, teachers are relying on new teaching methods such as microlearning and gamification. Finally, there’s also a drive toward more community and outreach.…Read More

The pandemic is over–but American schools still aren’t the same

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at

On a recent Friday at Gary Comer Middle School in Chicago, you had to squint to see signs of the pandemic that upended American education just a few years ago.

Only a handful of students wore face masks, and even then, some put them on to cover up pimples, staff said. The hand sanitizer stations outside every classroom mostly went unused, and some were empty. Students stopped to hug in the hallway and ate lunch side by side in the cafeteria. …Read More

Using tech to teach emerging readers high frequency words

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If you were to poll an audience of educators–classroom teachers, literacy specialists, reading researchers, and university professors–about whether high frequency words should be taught in early elementary, the resounding answer would be YES. These words, after all, are important to students’ ultimate reading success.

The nuances of teaching high frequency words in early elementary would only arise around how these words should be taught.…Read More

Most states don’t actually know if teachers are qualified to teach reading

Key points:

  • States are using inadequate elementary reading licensure tests
  • States should transition to stronger tests and test providers should clearly identify weaknesses in tests
  • See related article: Teacher Q&A: Strengthening PD with AI
  • For more news on teacher prep, visit eSN’s Educational Leadership page

Most states (29 states and the District of Columbia) use a weak elementary teacher reading licensure test, meaning that they do not effectively measure teachers’ knowledge of scientifically based reading instruction prior to entering the classroom, according to a new analysis from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

In fact, one state, Iowa, requires no reading licensure test at all. This shortcoming means that, every year, nearly 100,000 elementary teachers across the country enter classrooms with false assurances that they are ready to teach reading.…Read More

5 ways I’ve leveraged AI in my English classroom

Key points:

  • Students will be immersed in an AI world—they need to learn about it
  • One English teacher brainstormed creative ways to get students talking about, and working with, AI
  • See related article: 5 positive ways students can use AI
  • For more news on AI in education, visit eSN’s Digital Learning page

Last spring, a few weeks after I started using ChatGPT, I challenged my high school English students: “Artificial intelligence can do any of your class assignments,” I told them flatly. “Now prove me wrong.”

I wanted to provoke them, to get them to ask questions, and to start using these tools—not to cheat—but to flip their learning on its head. I knew we needed to learn this together. And since that day, we didn’t just shift the paradigms—we sent them into somersaults.…Read More

Real Talk about AI

As the hoopla surrounding emerging AI technologies and their impact on education endures, we need to get past whether or not to use ChatGPT—Pandora’s box is officially open—and focus instead on how best to use it. Despite OpenAI recently releasing a guide for ChatGPT in the classroom that demonstrates how teachers can use the large language model software to enhance learning, Zarek Dozda, director of UChicago’s Data Science 4 Everyone, does not think it goes as far as it should to address educators’ concerns about the growth of this emerging tech in classrooms.

In this insightful conversation, Zarek breaks down several particulars he feels need to be addressed, including:

  • More research – OpenAI’s guidance focuses on anecdotal evidence of ChatGPT in classrooms but has little to say about best practices when using ChatGPT as an educational tool.
  • Focus on mechanics – Instead of highlighting education tactics that utilize ChatGPT, OpenAI should provide a more thorough explanation of large language models and how they work.
  • Training for teachers – The specific teachers mentioned in OpenAI’s guidance should be applauded for embracing emerging tech, but there needs to be greater resources for teachers just trying to keep up with AI.

Data Science for Everyone is a coalition advancing data science education so that every K-12 student has the data literacy skills needed to succeed in our modern world. Equitable access to data science education is an opportunity to open doors to higher education, high-paying careers, and an engaged community. Created by the University of Chicago Center for RISC and organized in partnership with The Learning Agency and the Concord Consortium, the group supports a growing community that knows that the data revolution has transformed modern life and we need to prepare our students. …Read More

How we reached student success with assessment proficiency

Key points:

  • Assessment creation can be uncomfortable, but it is also one of the most important steps in accelerating student learning
  • Teachers are the only professionals who can most effectively build these assessments for their students
  • See related article: 4 engaging assessment ideas for middle and high school
  • For more news on assessment, visit eSN’s Innovative Teaching page

Teachers use a variety of methods to assess mastery of a topic. We use observations, quick formative assessments, longer summative assessments, and long-term benchmark assessments. The problem is that these assessments come in a variety of ways, depending on where you teach.

Many districts utilize pre-built assessments from curricular resource companies. Others build assessments based on curricular resources and change every 4-6 years with their new resource adoption cycles. Some will create assessments based on their state-approved learning standards and work to adapt the curricular resources to their true “curriculum” and assessments.…Read More