6 tips to help teachers pull off collaborative learning

The gifted group. The slow group. The behavioral issues group. Grouping in schools fell out of favor partially because educators—and parents—felt like kids were getting labeled and that groupings didn’t help students improve. While not calling for a return to those rigid structures, in their edWebinar “Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning: Making It Work,” Dina Brulles, Ph.D., and Karen L. Brown, M.Ed., both education consultants, advocated for using groups to assist student learning. They discussed how adjusting student combinations, adapting teaching methods, and preparing students for group learning can lead to successful outcomes.

1. Base groupings on information: Use pre-tests, formatives assessments, learning styles, and even student interest surveys to divvy up the students. Align the educational needs and passions of students to make sure that students within the groups have a shared goal.

2. Keep groupings flexible: Students should not be in permanent groups with the same set of students for even a semester, much less the school year. Teachers should create groups for a specific learning goal or project and then reassess for the next lesson. This helps students avoid labels and learn to work with all of their peers.…Read More

School district invents custom charging solution for all schools

As Denton Independent School District (ISD) prepares for future ready classrooms with technology and builds new schools, the Texas district is partnering with LocknCharge to create a new mobile device charging cabinet – the Carrier 15 Charging Station™.

“There were no solutions designed to fit the unique needs of Denton ISD,” said Judy Bush technology manager. “LocknCharge stepped in and constructed a new charging station to fit the vision of the curriculum and technology team to incorporate Chromebooks into classrooms.”

This customized solution will store, charge and deploy up to 20,000 devices in the school district.…Read More

ClassFlow launches new teacher-parent communication app

ClassFlow Moments, a new free app for teacher-parent communication, is the latest addition to Promethean’s collaborative learning software ClassFlow. With the ClassFlow Moments app, teachers can easily share classroom assignments, announcements, and awards with parents so they can proactively engage with their students’ learning. ClassFlow Moments is free for parents.

“Most parents can identify with asking their children about school and receiving a one-word answer,” said Vincent Young, the Chief Marketing Officer at Promethean. “ClassFlow Moments offers a new way for teachers to connect parents to their students’ classroom activities. As teachers assign homework or reward students with award badges in ClassFlow, they can easily alert parents at the same time. The parent-student conversation after school then shifts to ‘Tell me how you earned a badge for excellent class participation today,’ or ‘What ideas interest you for your science project?’ With the ClassFlow Moments app, students receive additional support from their family to reinforce their education.”

According to a report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), “Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement.” Using the ClassFlow Moments app, teachers can bring parents and guardians into the learning process by sharing classroom content directly from ClassFlow – the hub where they direct classroom activities, deliver lessons, launch quizzes and interactive polls, and send out homework assignments.…Read More

Seven standards for effective professional development

The best teacher professional development happens in collaborative learning communities.

Terms like “work collaboratively,” “share what you know,” and “problem-solve as a team” are commonly associated with the kinds of 21st-century skills that most people agree today’s students should learn—but according to a professional development expert with decades of experience in the field, those terms should apply to teachers, too.

During the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education, Stephanie Hirsch, executive director of Learning Forward (formerly known as the National Staff Development Council), discussed how her organization has redefined its standards for teacher professional development to keep up with what is being expected of today’s students.

“What we mean by PD is not some one-off seminar,” Hirsch said. “So many times I hear people say, ‘This was a waste of time. Nothing changed.’ Well, … PD is only as good as its implementation. So let me tell you what we know: PD [should be] ongoing, and it means teachers collectively sharing the responsibility for all students—from grades to lesson plans—and that happens by implementing teacher teams that meet up regularly.”…Read More

Like Facebook, but for learning

Studying online in collaborative environments encourages students.
Studying online in a collaborative learning environment can motivate students.

Aiming to engage students who are multitasking with different forms of technology, companies are creating collaborative learning spaces online where students can help one another solve homework problems and study—all while building important 21st-century skills.

One such social-networking study site is Grockit, which currently offers test-prep services and is expanding its focus to include math and English for students in grades 8-12, with history and science soon to follow. Grockit has opened enrollment for a free Summer Enrichment Academy, which is designed to keep students from falling behind during summer vacation as they participate in collaborative group study forums online.

Grockit’s appeal lies not only in the fact that academic support from peers is free, but also because students are motivated to learn through the company’s social-networking and gaming platform, said Grockit CEO Farb Nivi. As online social networking becomes a ubiquitous aspect of youth culture, sites such as Grockit could represent the future of education technology.…Read More