Using data insight platforms to improve SEL strategies

Although structured social-emotional learning (SEL) has been around since the mid-90s, schools’ focus on SEL has skyrocketed following the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on education. As remote learning exacerbated feelings of isolation and uncertainty, and behavioral and mental health issues emerged, many educators shifted away from attainment goals to helping students cope and connect in an environment that suddenly lacked regular social interactions, academic expectations and daily structure. SEL then became a foundational piece of the return to in-person learning and, by many accounts, remains an integral part of student needs a year into post-shut down recovery.

According to a report from Tyton Partners and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), district spending on SEL programming between the 2019–20 and 2020–21 academic years grew from $530 million to $765 million. SEL also received a $160 million funding boost in the FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act earlier this year. Educators are investing in SEL on an individual level, too. Based on data from DonorsChoose, reports indicate that donation requests for supplies that help students develop SEL skills and improve mental health have almost doubled since 2020.

While SEL and mental health initiatives are different, when delivered as part of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), SEL can play a significant role in promoting responsive relationships, emotionally safe environments and skills development that improve or mitigate mental health issues. In fact, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that SEL screening instruments can be used to both help standardize the identification of anxiety concerns and help facilitate early intervention.…Read More

The 3 pillars of meaningful learning

We have a saying where I work at the Van Andel Institute for Education: “We believe learning should be memorable, meaningful, and fun!” It’s a quote that I earnestly believe in, but I also recognize the challenges that come with this lofty goal. The number of responsibilities teachers must deal with is endless, and the world of education is only growing more uncertain.

Creating lessons which fully engage our students can sometimes feel like an added burden. After all, isn’t it their responsibility to pay attention, learn, and apply the knowledge we give them?

Well, yes and no. Certainly our students must develop their own sense of accountability, but educators need to remember that our pupils are not empty vessels waiting to be filled. Our students are people with goals, dreams, concerns, and interests. Of course they want the content we teach to be meaningful. If we’re to respect this fact, while also delivering the best education that we can, then we need to make relevance, experience, and impact the core pillars of our lesson creation.…Read More

How hands-on education creates better educators

The profession of Educator is one of the most important occupations in the world. A great teacher inspires, motivates, encourages, and has direct impact on their students’ academic and career goals.

Educators are held to very high standards and are expected to have advanced knowledge and skills, as well as adopt and adapt to evolving practices and technologies. Great teachers know that their role first and foremost is to treat the student as an individual and understand their needs, learning styles, and abilities.

A teacher’s job is no longer simply delivering facts and information, but to help students learn how to use them, develop abilities to solve problems, make informed decisions, and build knowledge.   …Read More

Why we use a multilingual districtwide platform for personalized communications

With more than 15,000 students across 25 different schools in central Washington state, one of our biggest goals coming into this past school year was to develop a feature-rich communications system that was the same for teachers, schools, and the district. We looked at the options on the market, talked to other districts about what they are using, and then put in a new school-home communications platform in place for the 2021-22 school year.

One of our concerns when adopting a new platform was whether it could handle multilingual communications for the district, where our students speak eight different languages–mainly English and Spanish, so that was our previous sole focus.

If you take Spanish and English out of the mix, we’ve never communicated using the six other languages before, unless it was an Individual Education Plan or something else that had to be translated. We’ve never communicated our normal messaging out in ALL languages that impact our families.…Read More

3 ways schools can use data to help students

Educators across the country are seeing a greater need to collect and use data to inform decisions as they work to help students. The pandemic severely disrupted our schools, and many districts used any student data they had to identify who was struggling and how to best provide support.

As districts continue to respond to the evolving circumstances of the pandemic, making the most of all available data to improve student outcomes remains critical to understanding the factors that most contribute to students’ success.

The power of using data is immense. When used properly, it can help districts make vital decisions about setting goals and providing targeted support for students. Whether you are new to data analytics in K-12 or a seasoned veteran, here are three practical ways to apply data to help drive better student outcomes.…Read More

3 ways families can support students’ learning at home

For parents and caregivers, supporting your child’s learning can be stressful. Academic concepts are taught differently than they used to be. In addition, we’re all grappling with a scarcity of time and juggling competing priorities. It is hard to keep up–especially if you don’t have the resources to do so.

At Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School, we recognize that part of supporting students’ success is supporting families. Research shows students who have families engaged in their learning are more likely to attend school regularly, have improved social skills and behavior, and achieve high levels of academic performance.

One of our goals is to build the capacity of our families to make supporting their child’s learning as easy and accessible as possible. For example, we offer family coffee chats and family workshops that provide practical strategies and ways to support their own mental health and wellbeing—as well as their children’s.…Read More

ShopWithScrip Rebrands as RaiseRight, Announces Lou Agnese as Chief Executive Officer

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (May 12, 2022)—ShopWithScrip, the largest gift card fundraising platform in the United States, has rebranded as  RaiseRight and announced that Lou Agnese, an executive with extensive experience in consumer-facing digital marketplaces, has been appointed as chief executive officer to drive a new era of growth.

“Our new brand and website more strongly reflect our mission to offer non-profits and community-based organizations the easiest, most effective way to meet their fundraising goals,” said Lou Agnese, Chief Executive Officer, RaiseRight.  “I am honored to have joined the passionate, purpose-driven team at RaiseRight during this exciting time and look forward to working with them to develop new, innovative tools to magnify our impact in local communities.” 

The RaiseRight name was created to underscore that the company’s solution is the right way to fundraise.  RaiseRight’s year-round fundraising platform is easy and more convenient than selling goods or recruiting volunteers. Nonprofits and other community-based organizations earn money simply by purchasing gift cards for their favorite brands at face value and getting a rebate back from those purchases.  The new website offers a seamless, more consistent user experience across the platform for shopping all brands, including a mobile wallet for ease of redemption and a dashboard to manage fundraising proceeds.…Read More

3 ways to turn classroom robots into powerful SEL tools

If I had one teaching tool at my disposal in a classroom besides pencils, papers, and books, it would be an educational robot. A robot is the single most engaging learning tool I’ve used with students. It appeals to children of all ages, genders, and backgrounds—and it goes beyond technology to include so many learning goals. In fact, when I was at the pre-K-8 Park School, I considered it one of the most important social-emotional learning tools I’ve used.

There are so many demands on teachers’ time, especially at the beginning of a new school year, that teaching with a robot may not be on their lists of must-do activities. But robotics can be easily incorporated into instruction. As a lead makerspace educator, I’ve found that the best way to help teachers integrate robots into their lessons is to identify the skills they’re looking to teach and demonstrate how they can accomplish it with classroom robots.

As students return to the classroom after a tumultuous and traumatic year, SEL is going to be especially important. Here are a few activities that have helped the teachers in my school connect STEAM and SEL.…Read More

New AI Coach by Edthena Expands Access to Coaching for All Teachers

SAN FRANCISCO (February 10, 2022) – Edthena is revolutionizing teacher professional learning with the AI Coach™ platform. This first-of-its-kind solution helps schools and districts provide all teachers with supportive coaching in order to improve teaching effectiveness. The AI Coach platform uses artificial intelligence to guide teachers through coaching cycles aligned to common growth areas.

While working inside the AI Coach platform, teachers have a conversation with Edie, their virtual coach. Edie asks teachers about their professional goals, and then teachers analyze and reflect on videos of their classroom instruction by adding time-stamped comments.

Edie takes a guide-on-the-side approach to help teachers summarize the evidence found during video analysis and develop action plans to increase impact with their students. As part of their conversation with Edie, teachers develop a short-term goal, identify a strategy for change, and commit to a timeline for implementation. This evidence-based process enables teachers to receive many of the benefits of instructional coaching even if an in-person coach is not available.…Read More

7 fun digital learning tools to try in the classroom

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s 5th most-read story focuses on under-the-radar digital learning tools.

During pandemic learning, educators have seen a plethora of digital learning tools and resources, and they’re figuring out what does and doesn’t work for their instructional methods.

There are some well-known and much-loved digital learning tools that are part of every educator’s must-try list, but why not throw some new resources into the mix?…Read More