Getting started with blended learning

“I don’t think I’ll teach any differently this year. We just won’t use the Chromebooks in math class.”
—Me (at the beginning of the school year)

Last school year, our school started a one-to-one Chromebook initiative for the sixth grade. That meant our incoming seventh-graders would not only have Chromebooks, they would know how to use them!

What I thought would happen (aka delusions of grandeur):…Read More

3 tips for jumpstarting your district’s connectivity discussion

This year’s E-rate cycle may be over, but in order to be well prepared for the next one, now is the time to start the connectivity conversation with your school district. In today’s classrooms, high-speed internet is no longer an option; it has become a necessity.

Digital learning helps students grasp concepts more fully, and not having access to the wealth of information found in online videos, apps, and curriculum puts these students at an immediate disadvantage to their connected peers. As schools increasingly turn to digital learning, all classrooms must have reliable, fast internet connections in order to prepare students sufficiently for future challenges like college and the job market.

While dramatic progress has been made in closing the connectivity gap in our public schools, there are still 6.5 million K-12 students who lack access to high-speed classroom internet, leaving them unprepared or underprepared for the world’s digital expectations.…Read More

5 reasons your classroom needs an industry expert

Educators have learned that linking classrooms to the real world helps engage students and teaches them the “why” behind what they learn. But teachers sometimes struggle with the best way to integrate real-world applications into classroom lessons.

Teaching students about exciting careers and linking those careers to an otherwise-boring lesson is one way to show them how math actually might help them land a cool job.

What’s better than teaching them about those careers? Connecting them with an industry expert who works in that field and can answer students’ questions and help them gain an in-depth look at where a future in math or physics might take them.…Read More

Can creativity be taught?

I recently attended a conference and enjoyed the sessions and topics ranging from professional-development strategies to the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). Throughout the day, one word that permeated discussions was “creativity,” and how this phenomenon is now one of the essential skills for success in future careers. Creativity is not a new term. We hear it often and we frequently tell our students to be creative and think “outside the box.” As teachers, we often include creativity as a required goal on our grading rubrics when assessing student presentations. Adding creativity lets students know that we expect more than content knowledge.

Growing up, I remember many opportunities to develop and show examples of creativity because the tools and resources to perform some tasks were not available. As children, we imagined other worlds, created our own games, designed areas to play, and solved mysteries on our own.

Creativity’s growing importance
As we look at future jobs and technological advancements, having creativity is essential in the workplace. Robots and AI will be able to handle many tasks, even replacing some types of jobs, but we will still need creative thinkers and designers to move ahead globally. As educators, how do we ensure that students learn this skill in our curriculums? Can creativity be taught? Why are some people more creative than others? If you tell students to be creative, do they even know what it means or where to begin?…Read More

Innovative tech standards want your feedback

None of us would leave for a destination without a plan of action, without a direction and the right equipment to complete the journey. We all know that we want to provide the best pathways for our students to help foster 21st century skills.

As administrators, our responsibilities cover many areas including technology, which has become a necessary component of living and work. Technology can do many things, but in order to prepare our students for the future, education professionals need a new plan for how to employ it. For example, technology can accelerate innovation in teaching and learning and inspire learners to reach their greatest potential, it can provide students a window into a world right outside their door or halfway across the world.

That is why the ISTE Standards for Administrators are so important, as they provide all of us a set of expectations to effectively lead our schools and districts in an ever-changing digital world. Truly, these standards are the roadmap to accomplish the journey our students, teachers and schools seek to complete.…Read More

Hey educators: Are you trustworthy? Here are 4 vital signs for identifying and assessing trust in schools

[Editor’s note: This post is the second in a new column for eSchool News. In her column on ‘Personal Development’, eSchool News Columnist Jennifer Abrams focuses on tangible takeaways, tools and teachings that all those working in schools can use to develop their leadership. Read more about the column and browse future content here.]

Trust is a big word. It may be just one syllable and it’s certainly not a word the Spelling Bee organizers would consider a great challenge (or have on their radar at all), but in more important ways it is huge.

Its dictionary definition is well-known, easily understood, and…meaningless, most of the time. Because in schools, it’s the connotation we attach to the word and the deep reservoirs of associated emotion that determine how we truly define it. Trust is unwieldy, vague, and fuzzy. It’s complex, huge, and complicated. And, by the way, it is essential: research says trust is critical to our schools moving forward.…Read More

Teachers: How to use your voice for a positive school culture

[Editor’s note: This post is the first in a new column for eSchool News. In her column on ‘Personal Development’, eSchool News Columnist Jennifer Abrams focuses on tangible takeaways, tools and teachings that all those working in schools can use to develop their leadership. Read more about the column and browse future content here.]

Moving from the classroom into the role of a teacher leader and a coach was a transition, to say the least. I recognized I was credentialed in teaching students English language arts, but didn’t have a credential in communicating effectively with adults. I took workshops and courses on facilitation and coaching, but the idea of being a professional in a learning community who was an effective group member as well as a leader continues to be something I am growing into everyday.

The Use of Voice…Read More

Trending: This style of learning has teachers and students re-imagining Future-Ready

The 21st-century classroom has undergone many changes, from the growing implementation of new tools and technologies, to new ways of thinking about teaching and learning. One of these new mindsets has to do with the how much control students have over their own learning. While most classrooms have realized the benefit of hands-on activities and real-life applications, this idea can be taken even further by giving students genuine control over what they learn, and how. Inquiry-based learning gives students the ability to direct their own learning based on their individual interests.

In this interview, three education leaders—Monica Burns, Richard Byrne, and Vicki Davis—will share their takes on this innovative style of learning.

Dennis Pierce: Why do you think inquiry-based learning has gained such momentum in recent years?…Read More

Build a Brighter Future With STEAM

Enter the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest to empower students, inspire ideas, and create change by incorporating STEAM into projects designed to help advance the interests of local communities. Apply by 11/9/17, for a chance to win!

Why we need to change the teacher vs. tech narrative

A recent chart from Bloomberg on the future of artificial intelligence and employment lends evidence to a point I have been making for years: teachers will not be replaced by machines.

The chart compares a wide array of professions based on required education levels, average annual wages, and likelihood of automation. Sure enough, elementary and secondary teachers are among the most educated yet least paid professionals; and their likelihood of automation: practically zero.

Yet the debate about machines replacing teachers rages on. Recent opinion pieces claim that teacher obsolescence is inevitable and something we should embrace. Fortunately, a recent article in the Economist gets the narrative right, pointing out that “the potential for edtech will be realized only if teachers embrace it.”…Read More