3 ways to navigate American politics in the classroom

In our current social climate, it can be tricky for anyone, especially a teenager, to talk about politics and the role of government. But as educators, it’s our job to explain the varying viewpoints that make up our political discourse. It’s also our job to foster an open, secure environment in which students feel safe to share their own opinions.

As an online instructor at a statewide public school, I’ve taught U.S. government and politics during two contentious election cycles. And although I live in California, a left-leaning state, I teach students from across the state whose core beliefs fall all along the political spectrum. From day one, I explain to students that respecting different viewpoints—even when you don’t agree—is part of building maturity. Here are three ways I build a culture of respect in my classroom.

1. Set guidelines
At the start of each session, I provide several rules for students about how we will discuss upcoming topics. Students must respect their classmates’ opinions and offer constructive criticism. I also remind them that I may revoke chat privileges if they do not adhere to these class rules.…Read More

Here’s how teachers think SEL can truly help students

A resounding majority of administrators, teachers, and parents say they believe social and emotional learning (SEL) is just as important as academic learning.

SEL is the process that helps students understand and regulate their emotions, understand different points of view and show empathy toward others, and develop intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. Many believe these skills contribute to safer and more positive schools and communities.

Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed in McGraw-Hill Education’s 2018 Social and Emotional Learning Report, 96 percent of administrators, 93 percent of teachers, and 81 percent of parents overwhelmingly say SEL is as necessary as core academic subjects.…Read More

Resources for creating a school culture of empathy, inclusion, and kindness

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we’ve heard from many educators who are looking for resources to support students’ social and emotional development. To help, we’ve collected our best social and emotional learning (SEL) resources for building a culture of safety, kindness, and upstanding in your school.

SEL Educator Toolkit
SEL skills aren’t core content, but they’re at the core of all content. Find lessons, activities, classroom tools, and family resources to help students learn about character strengths and develop empathy, compassion, integrity, and more.

Digital Citizenship and SEL
A key aspect of digital citizenship is thinking critically when faced with digital dilemmas. Navigating these challenges isn’t only about rules and procedures; it’s about character. Help students examine challenging online situations with this discussion guide.…Read More

8 apps and tools for classroom SEL

Social and emotional learning (SEL) has quickly become a cornerstone of K-12 education, because it helps students regulate their own emotions and teaches them to respond kindly to their peers.

SEL helps students build intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. When students cultivate important social and emotional skills, such as self-management and social awareness, they can improve their success along with the school climate.

SEL focuses on five core competencies: self-awareness to help students recognize emotions, thoughts, and behaviors; self-management to help students successfully regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviors; social awareness to help students take the perspective of others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures; relationship skills to help students establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse people and groups; and responsible decision-making to help students make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions.…Read More

4 key ways ESSA can support SEL in schools

Although student achievement in core subjects is commonly used to define success, more educators agree that student success also depends on learning about intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies–commonly known as social and emotional learning, or SEL.

And while the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) doesn’t reference SEL specifically, it does offer opportunities to focus on school-based SEL. In fact, educators and policymakers can leverage ESSA funding to support SEL, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation.

Studies show that student success increases with various social and emotional skills, including self-management skills and the ability to navigate relationships. With increased acknowledgement that students need “soft” skills outside of core academic skills, interest in SEL programs and interventions has increased as well.…Read More

Everyone has a role to play in education today

As we enter a new year, education is a topic that continues to resonate well beyond the classroom into the core aspects of daily life, from home and family to the halls of politics and the corporate world. Since launching SXSW EDU several years ago with the aspiration to become the world’s largest and most inclusive learning festival in the world, it’s been exciting to see the event grow and evolve. As past speakers including philanthropist Bill Gates and Teacher’s College, Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin both observed from the keynote stage, the growth of the event is a direct reflection of the public’s deep passion and interest with teaching and learning—no surprise, when we acknowledge that education is the foundation on which everything is built!

More than the growth of SXSW EDU, though, what’s been most interesting to observe is the evolution of the topics that the community wants to address, as reflected through our crowd-sourced program. Each year, the community proposes thousands of suggestions for sessions and workshops and speakers. As such, the SXSW EDU community’s conversation about teaching and learning continues to become richer and more diverse, spanning the complete life cycle of learning, from early childhood, to and through college, career, and beyond.

While past programs for SXSW EDU focused largely on the standards and structures of schooling, today the program has grown to additionally address the intersection of culture and learning. Stated another way, beyond exploring the 4- or 8- or 12-year curriculums associated with the traditional classifications of elementary, secondary, and post- secondary education, it’s been fascinating to see the program enriched with discussions about lifelong learning in the real world, against the backdrop of rapidly changing expectations to prepare learners for a future that will look far different than today.…Read More

5 big ideas for education innovation in 2018

Last year saw a flurry of activity in support of personalized learning, new school designs, and new approaches to K-12 education policy. Looking ahead, education innovators have their work cut out for them in 2018. Some of this work requires asking hard questions. Some requires acknowledging that there’s an elephant in the room. And some requires looking beyond our current conversation to where the next waves of innovation stand to emerge. Here are five ways I’m hoping the K-12 education innovation agenda moves forward in 2018:

(1) Unpack “just-in-time supports.”

One of the core elements of a high-quality competency-based model is students receiving just-in-time supports. These same supports seem to be implied when advocates of personalized learning call for tailored learning experiences and pathways that resemble those of high-touch tutoring models. Yet we often lack a clear, systematic way to talk about what those supports are and aren’t. What does learning science tell us about the best approaches? In which instances should these supports result from students seeking out help themselves? And when should educators scaffold them in? Put broadly, how can we infuse the notion of “just-in-time supports” with an understanding of what works, for which students, in which circumstances? I worry that without getting deep into these instructional innovations and beginning to categorize them in clear ways, structural innovations to rethink time and unlock personalized, competency-based progressions will risk falling flat. This year I’ll be keeping an eye on efforts like TLA’s Practices portfolio and Digital Promise’s Learner Positioning Systems for clearer answers.…Read More

OPEN UP RESOURCES RELEASES ITS FIRST FREE OER CURRICULUM

MENLO PARK, CA [August 24, 2017] — Open Up Resources, the nonprofit provider of openly licensed curriculum for K–12 schools, has released its first openly licensed core program, the Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math curriculum. Developed by Illustrative Mathematics, the nonprofit founded by standards author Bill McCallum to improve mathematics instruction in U.S. schools, the curriculum is now available for free to school districts.

Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math is a problem-based curriculum that fosters discussion-filled classrooms and encourages students to show their mathematical thinking in multiple ways. The curriculum, which has been published as an Open Educational Resource under Creative Commons license CC BY, is available in both digital and print formats at im.openupresources.org.

It is the first curriculum made openly available by Open Up Resources, which was founded to develop new high-quality alternatives to curricula offered by traditional publishers, and to increase equity in education by distributing these materials freely, as OER.…Read More

These schools are leveraging E-Rate for a complete digital transformation

Textbooks and blackboards have become a thing of the past in K-12 schools as educators collaborate with IT teams to shape a full digital core curriculum as part of their educational strategy for 2017 and beyond. In a 2016 survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking (COSN), 90 percent of IT administrators at K-12 schools expect that curricula will be at least 50 percent digital over the next three years.

As the world undergoes a digital transformation—with connectivity and access to computers and mobile devices playing an increasingly prominent role in everyone’s lives—elementary schools know they need to incorporate technology in the educational process to prepare their students for future success. To support these initiatives, the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program has recently been expanded to provide schools nationwide with subsidies for high-speed broadband and gigabit wireless networks.

According to the “2016 Digital Curriculum Strategy Survey Report” sponsored by Ruckus Wireless, hardware and network spend is estimated at $16.2 billion in 2017. Whereas currently 78 percent of students have device and network access for almost a full day, the expectation for this year is that schools will have close to one-to-one access, or one device per student.…Read More

What is Obama’s K-12 education legacy?

Common Core, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—just a few top-down, often-controversial, metrics-heavy K-12 reform initiatives favored by the Obama Administration that seemed to have a lot more traction during the President’s first-term with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the helm than during the second term.

“President Barack Obama will perhaps be best remembered for what many considered a top-down approach to education reform, and Arne Duncan was the architect of that strategy,” writes Tara Garcia Mathewson for EducationDIVE. From a strong support of Common Core to even the ESSA, “a strict emphasis on standards is one of the biggest marks of the administration.”

[For the higher education version of this story, click here.]…Read More