11 resources to avoid the summer slide

The summer slide, summer brain drain, summer learning loss–whatever you call it, it’s of even more concern to parents and educators with COVID thrown in the mix.

While many districts resumed hybrid or full in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year, many educators and experts are still concerned about learning gaps and learning loss.

It’s fair to say students have more than earned their impending summer breaks. Still, it’s not a bad idea to encourage students to keep reading and to give their brains a little exercise here and there.…Read More

Professional development should remain a pandemic priority

For Diane Lauer, Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs and Academic Support at St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado, COVID couldn’t stop teacher training. In fact, her work became that much more important.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Diane breaks down her strategies for keeping faculty on point with technology and instruction. [Edited for clarity.]

eSN: Before the pandemic struck, would it be fair to say there was a general resistance amongst some teachers, who would be skeptical of various aspects of professional development? How have remote setups changed the way you teach those teachers?…Read More

How district administrators can drive student success in the COVID “tech rush”

Following an abrupt shift to remote learning this past spring, school and district administrators have had their fair share of summer homework as they prepare for a technology-first fall term. From filling out funding applications to reworking classrooms to promote social distancing, to choosing the right technology for hybrid learning environments, they’ve been working diligently to prepare for a school year that drives student engagement.

With COVID-19 showing few signs of slowing down, schools will likely not get through the next school year without some form of remote learning. It is also a safe bet that schools will lean heavily on education technology solutions to help ensure teachers can continue to deliver lesson plans to wherever students are located. With thousands of districts around the nation going back to school, the need for online education tools for students, teachers, and parents has never been more vital.

Related content: Using digital tools for engaging STEM instruction…Read More

Follett Online Book Fairs a Convenient Option to Keep Kids Reading

Whether the 2020-21 school year is starting in the classroom or remotely,  Follett is ensuring elementary and middle school students won’t be missing out on one of their favorite back-to-school traditions: the book fair. With  Follett Book eFairs, events can be held 100 percent virtually with schools choosing the dates that work best for them, students are empowered to select the books they wish to read, and families are afforded the opportunity to conveniently purchase books online.

The ease with which Follett’s online fairs are carried out are extremely attractive to school and book fair coordinators. The approximate setup time is 10 minutes, while there is no need for forms, handling cash or finding space in the school.

“I chose a Follett Book eFair because it seemed so easy,” said Shawn Crist, media assistant at James E. Plew Elementary School in Niceville, Fla. “It was almost too good to be true. I didn’t have to worry about rearranging our Media Center or finding volunteers.”…Read More

5 Big Ideas for Education Innovation in 2019

Over the last year, education innovators around the country continued to pursue expanded definitions of student success, personalized approaches, and wholly new models of school. For many, the very real challenges of change management and discovering ways to promote scale with quality dominated 2018. But for those conversations to go a level deeper, we can’t assume that these new measures and new models are fully baked or that everything deemed “new” is at it seems. Looking ahead, here are five big ideas I’ll be watching for in 2019:

1. ‘Unbundle’ what we mean by SEL.
Social-emotional learning. Soft Skills. Habits of mind. These critical but sometimes elusive ideas have gotten their fair share of love over the past year. But pulling back the curtain on the research base, the paltry supply of reliable SEL assessments can make the current energy around SEL interventions feel anemic at best, and hollow at worst. Like personalized learning, “SEL” now connotes a bundle of concepts and aspirations that may need to get unbundled in order to be useful. In that vein, in 2019 I’m most excited to watch emerging SEL point solutions targeted at specific, narrow skills or dispositions. These innovations are focused on doing a few things really well. For example, GiveThx, the brainchild of Leadership Public Schools’ teacher-entrepreneur Mike Fauteaux, plucks off one particular emotion and skill: gratitude. In a similar vein, Kind Foundation’s effort, Empatico.org, focuses on experiences that inspire empathy across classrooms. I’ll be watching models like these that offer narrower on-ramps to more rigorous measurement and targeted interventions within the exceedingly broad SEL landscape.

2. Commit to threading the coherent curriculum needle.
Speaking of the murky waters of personalized learning, rumblings (and occasional shouts) about the fragmented state of curriculum to support personalization have been building for years. One of the fundamental tensions we hear articulated is whether a coherent, evidence-based, off-the-shelf curriculum is better than a potpourri of lessons that teachers and leaders assemble—and in some cases build—themselves. Although these debates are not unique to personalized environments, personalization hinges on a commitment to tailor learning experiences to individual students. But the more varied those experiences and resources are, many worry the less rigorous and coherent curriculum becomes. Through the lens of our own Modularity theory, these tradeoffs aren’t unique to curriculum per se: across industries, a modular approach can be more affordable and flexible, while integrated solutions are pricier but better at pushing the frontier of performance. In 2019, I’ll be keeping an eye on how districts and schools manage to strike a balance between the tradeoffs of modular and flexible versus integrated and coherent approaches to curriculum.…Read More

Blog: Technology Creates Dynamic Insights at Tampa Preparatory School

At the Tampa Preparatory School, the mission is to provide students “a preparation for life with a higher purpose than self.” Each classman must abide by an honor code and resolve to make a positive difference both in the school and outside world by being honest, respectful, trustworthy, and fair.

Conversely, the educators and staff at Tampa Prep promise to create a place where young people can Think, Create, Be Themselves, Aspire to Excellence and Go Beyond. Students are encouraged to reflect and analyze on the path to personal understanding. They are asked to celebrate the imagination in geometric proofs and formal essays, on canvas, the computer, and stage, in poetry readings and morning assemblies. They are taught to respect people’s differences. And, they are guided toward winning attitudes in academics, athletics and arts so that they may meet the challenges that exist beyond their communities and experiences.

The academy offers concentrated studies in the academic areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Global Studies and Art.…Read More

New Trump laws will support women in STEM fields

President Donald Trump has signed two bills aimed at increasing the number of women who pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and space-related STEM careers.

“Currently, only 1 in every 4 women who gets a STEM degree is working in a STEM job, which is not fair and it’s not even smart for the people that aren’t taking advantage of it,” Trump said in remarks during the signing. “It’s unacceptable that we have so many American women who have these degrees but yet are not being employed in these fields. So I think that’s going to change. That’s going to change very rapidly.”

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act authorizes the National Science Foundation “to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.”…Read More

Performance Matters introduces classroom observation tool for K-12 districts

Being observed in the classroom can be a nerve-wracking experience for teachers. Yet, observations that paint a fair, accurate picture of teachers’ strengths and areas of need can play a crucial role in their professional growth. To make the observation experience easy and efficient for both observers and teachers, Performance Matters announces Truenorthlogic Observation.

Truenorthlogic Observation is an intuitive, online solution for conducting classroom observations, collecting evidence and sharing feedback. Going far beyond simple scripting tools, it gives K-12 districts the tools to configure, customize and streamline the observation process, eliminating the need for onerous paper-driven processes.

With Truenorthlogic Observation, districts can design observation templates that match existing observation instruments, rubrics and ratings scales, and highlight desired teaching practices. School leaders can easily schedule formal observations or classroom walkthroughs, or start one on demand. They can also see how many scheduled observations are on the calendar and which teachers have not yet been observed.…Read More

Oracle bolsters computer science education

Part of $3.3 billion annual investment to advance computer science education and increase diversity in technology fields globally

In conjunction with The White House Science Fair 2016, Oracle and The White House recently announced Oracle’s plan to invest $200 million in direct and in-kind support for computer science education in the United States over the next 18 months.

Oracle’s pledge supports the Administration’s Computer Science for All initiative and is part of the company’ greater annual worldwide investment of $3.3 billion to empower computer science educators and engage diverse student populations globally. Today’s commitment expects to reach more than 232,000 students in over 1,100 U.S. institutions through Oracle Academy, its philanthropic computer science-focused educational program that impacts more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries.

In 2015, only 2 percent of all participants in the College Board’s AP program took Computer Science and a mere 22 percent of those participants were female.[1] Yet, programming jobs are growing 50 percent faster than the market overall, according to new research by Oracle Academy and Burning Glass Technologies, a leading labor market company. The study (2016), which analyzed and interpreted real-time data from millions of online job postings from nearly 40,000 sources, revealed that demand for computer science, programming, and coding skills is large, growing, and far more widespread than just IT jobs.…Read More

Is school funding fair? States may be failing needy students

New report says school funding fairness suffers amid national recession and post-federal stimulus

funding-fair-states The stimulus package that provided funding for states as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) may have done more harm than good, suggests a new report. Instead of continuing to invest in crucial parts of education post-stimulus, many states have sacrificed fair school funding.

During the beginning of the U.S. economy’s recession in 2008, the federal government created a stimulus package to support public schools and prevent major layoffs and cuts in essential programs and services through the ARRA.

However, when the federal ARRA funding was depleted, many states were left with budget shortfalls.…Read More