Building a Successful Certification Program at Your Institution

In a world where competition for jobs, pay increases, and academic success continues to increase, certifications offer hope because they are a credible, third-party assessment of one’s skill and knowledge for a given subject. According to a study conducted across the state of Florida, those who earn certifications while in school are more likely to have a higher GPA, are more likely to graduate, are more likely to enroll in a post-secondary program, and are less likely to drop out. Furthermore, once the candidate is in the workforce, certification improves a candidate’s marketability and earning power, with some professionals making up to 7% more than their non-certified colleagues.

Building a certification program from the ground up often involves significant legwork from educators and administrators. Get advice below on the best ways to build a successful certification program at your school.

Research Funding Options

One of the common issues faced by many educators is a lack of funding. Asking for additional budget to grow or increase resources in your classroom can be a frustrating process.…Read More

PBLWorks Announces its 2022 PBL Champions

Novato, CA (July 27, 2022) – PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for Project Based Learning (PBL), has announced its 2022 PBL Champions – a program that honors schools, districts and individuals for their commitment to high quality Project Based Learning. The 2022 PBL Champions are:

  • District PBL Champion
    • Broward County Public Schools (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
  • School PBL Champion
    • Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School (Queens, New York)
  • Individual PBL Champion
    • Kendall Van Valkenburg, High School English Teacher at Red Canyon Alternative High School (Gypsum, Colorado)

“We were thrilled to see so many great nominations and learn about the great work happening in classrooms, schools, and districts across the country,” said PBLWorks CEO Bob Lenz in announcing the PBL Champions at the 2022 PBL World conference. “I want to extend my deepest appreciation and admiration for all of you who are weathering the storms this year staying committed to our students, families, and communities. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our team at PBLWorks.”

During the 2022 PBL World Conference, PBLWorks also announced the first ever recipient of the “John Larmer Lifetime Learner Award” named after author and PBLWorks’ longtime editor-in-chief John Larmer. This year’s recipient was Rose Moe, a 6th-grade math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Rose was provided complimentary registration for PBL World 2022.…Read More

5 steps to an engaging online elementary program

Elementary education is the foundation for early learning, providing students with the skills and community they need for future success in school and life. Thanks to today’s technology, helping them start on the right foot is easier than ever – especially with online learning opportunities.

Online learning has become a growing trend among K-12 students, including elementary students. In fact, we successfully launched our own online elementary schools, which grew by 10,000 students over the past four years.

If you are a school or district leader looking to build an online elementary program, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps that helped our teams successfully build and maintain an online elementary program that drives student and parent engagement:…Read More

5 steps to building a robust online CTE program

For more than 16 years, my goal has been to help students discover their passions and see their potential through career and technical education (CTE). From when I taught math and programming in a brick-and-mortar school, to creating and designing CTE courses, to teaching AP computer science and the foundations of programming at Florida Virtual School (FLVS), to now researching, developing, and maintaining the FLVS CTE program alongside my incredible colleagues, CTE has never been more important to me. 

You may be asking yourself, why are you so passionate about CTE? The short answer is that during my teaching career, I quickly learned that some students do not want to go to college. Rather than forcing them to do something that their skills sets, talents, and desires don’t align with, I encouraged them to explore their passions to see if they could turn it into a career later in life. All students deserve the opportunity to do what they love, and it’s our jobs, as educators, to help them get there. 

Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Education, eight years after their expected graduation date, students who focused on career and technical education courses in high school had higher median annual earnings than students who did not. There are also 30 million jobs in the United States that do not require a bachelor’s degree that pay median earnings of $55,000 or more, further highlighting how CTE programs can set students up for success. …Read More

Using the book club model in the classroom

I vividly remember my English teacher, Mrs. Grant, bringing a stack of 20 well-read copies of A Wrinkle in Time out from the closet for everyone in the class. She would read a chapter or two out loud during class and later we would read independently until it was time to take a test or write a report on what we learned. I don’t remember ever debating my classmates about the themes in the book or frankly ever even talking to fellow students about what we read.

Yet, for most of my childhood, I spent my free time with my nose in a book. I was an avid reader who read well above grade-level, but even I didn’t like to read the books that were forced on me.

Which is why middle school English teachers like Carrie Friday at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Florida are using the book club model instead. Friday is her school’s librarian, and she also teaches several English classes. With 80% of her students reading between two and three grades below level, Friday says offering students’ choice in literature is a game changer. “Even if you just give them a couple of titles to choose from, they are going to be invested because they had a say in the process.”…Read More

Parallel Learning Expands Executive Team With New Esteemed Digital Health and Education Talent to Further Scale and Accelerate Growth

NEW YORK, NY (FEBRUARY 4, 2022) – Parallel Learning (Parallel), the digital health platform that provides a new way to test, diagnose, and empower students with learning and thinking differences, announced today two new key hires to its growing executive team, in addition to plans to expand its services into Illinois, Texas and Florida next month. Susan Liu joins as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Robert Stager joins as Director of Partnerships, with both executives bringing extensive knowledge to the digital health and education space. The recent hires will support Parallel’s continued growth plans, fueling its mission to support and advocate for children with learning or thinking differences.

Prior to Parallel, Liu was VP of Clinical Operations at Cerebral Inc., a fast-growing online mental health company, where she led the clinical operations and customer service function through the company’s rapid growth from pre-Series A to a multibillion valuation Series C. As an experienced start-up operator with a background in public health and a passion for building teams from the ground-up, Liu scaled the operations to serve over 200,000 patients in less than two years and grew the clinical network from less than 100 to more than 2,000 nationwide in less than one and a half years. In her role as COO at Parallel, Liu will focus on building the systems and processes for scale and growth, in go-to-market operations as well as clinical and care operations.

“I’m thrilled to join the Parallel team and to dedicate my focus to empowering young students—especially during this dire time of need as the U.S. faces a massive education crisis,” said Susan Liu, Chief Operating Officer at Parallel Learning. “As a proud immigrant and a product of the public school system myself, I am passionate about increasing access to care and opportunity for kids of all ages. I look forward to bringing my expertise to this role to help us continue to grow and achieve our goals, and I could not be more excited to be part of this dynamic team.”…Read More

How to establish rapport with online students

My experience with online education began 19 years ago after I took a break from teaching in the brick and mortar setting to give birth to my daughter. When I was ready to get back in the game, several of my colleagues recommended Florida Virtual School (FLVS), which at the time was in its infancy. What really sold me on FLVS was the organization’s dedication to meeting students where they are. It also seemed like the next natural step for me, because during my traditional schooling days I was constantly looking to add innovative methods and technology to my classroom.

Within a couple of months of teaching online with FLVS, I witnessed how intentional the instructors were when serving our students’ individual needs, and I knew this was the place for me. I remember being in awe of the relationships teachers were able to form not only with their students, but also parents and other stakeholders.

With that in mind, there were several skills I needed to learn, especially when it came to establishing rapport with students. There are many skills that teachers need to be successful teaching online, including basic technology skills like how to use a computer, run a webinar or video conferencing platform, and use a variety of systems. But the most important skill is communication. Specifically, how to actively listen, build relationships, and at many times, be a shoulder to cry on and a mirror to see in. Being an online teacher can be tough, because you are juggling a lot at one time, but the focus should always remain on the student and what they need.…Read More

Air filters are playing a big part in safe school reopening plans

As schools kick off the 2021-22 school year, the air is thick with questions — and with COVID-19 hesitancy. Will students and faculty have to wear masks? Will they have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19? Will we see remote learning play a major role this year, as it did last year? How can we keep classrooms safe while the delta variant seems to be running rampant and vaccination rates lag behind national goals?

The unfortunate answer to all these questions is that there is no clear answer. Each state, and even each school district, is handling things differently in the U.S. In Florida for example, Governor DeSantis is threatening to withhold funding from schools that enforce mask mandates. Meanwhile, California has lifted its state-wide mask mandate for schools but highly encourages school districts to enforce their own policies.

An airborne virus doesn’t respect state borders, and the longer it’s allowed to circulate, the more likely the virus is to mutate into a new variant. Perhaps even one that ignores the protections of current vaccines. Which is why it’s important for schools to do everything in their power to protect students, faculty, and everyone else on their campuses.…Read More

This virtual science course uses real-life conservation examples to inspire students

According to a survey conducted by Amnesty International in 2019, Generation Z ranks climate change as the most vital issue facing the world today. With a generation that is so empowered, connected, empathetic, and with a drive to make a difference in the world, having real-life examples and tools to teach them about conservation and sustainability is crucial.

When our Florida Virtual School (FLVS) curriculum team and teachers began to develop our brand-new environmental science course, we knew we wanted to partner with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which conducts scientific research and hosts educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment, as well as funds affiliated working researchers and educators to better understand our ocean ecosystem and help foster the next generation of marine conservationists. 

By partnering with the foundation, we can teach students about sustainability and conservation through real-life examples and activities so that they can build a connection with the environment around them. This is important for student success because we want them to engage with the lessons and master the content, while also feeling excited and passionate about the work they are doing.…Read More

After Successful Pilot, Schools Adopt EarlyBird Game-Based Screener to Identify Children at Risk for Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties

BOSTON — Aug. 12, 2021 — After participating in a pilot trial of the new EarlyBird game-based early literacy assessment, schools and districts across the United States have chosen to adopt EarlyBird for the 2021-22 school year. Developed and scientifically validated at Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with faculty at the Florida Center for Reading Research, EarlyBird brings together all the relevant predictors of reading in one easy-to-administer assessment, and provides teachers with customized action plans and resources for each student.

During the 2020-21 school year, schools and districts from Maine to California tested EarlyBird with approximately 2,000 children. Maine School Administrative District No. 11 (MSAD #11), for example, began piloting EarlyBird in one elementary school in March, then expanded to a second school in May. This fall, it will implement EarlyBird in all kindergarten classrooms district-wide.

“As soon as we began using EarlyBird, we realized it had a lot of power in terms of the experience it offers students and the actionable data it provides to classroom teachers,” said Angela Hardy, director of curriculum and instruction for MSAD #11. “This data not only helps teachers respond to the needs of the students in front of them, it also helps them think about how they might change their practices or scope and sequence in years to come.”…Read More