Back to school but not back to normal

Subscribe: Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | iTunes

In Getting There: Innovation in Education, Editor at Large Kevin Hogan sits down with K-12 educators, thought leaders, and innovators to highlight the latest in an ever-changing school year.

This latest episode, Back to School, but Not Back to Normal, includes:

…Read More

Carolina Biological Supply Company’s New Young Innovators Program Inspires Students with K-12 Students’ Inventions

BURLINGTON, NC, Aug. 2, 2021 – Leading school science supplier Carolina Biological launched the Young Innovators program to highlight student inventions and inspire students and teachers to see that all students can succeed in STEM. As educators and students return to class this fall, these high-interest profiles are free resources perfect for engaging students in learning science, while promoting equity and inclusion. One of the first Innovators of the Month to be featured is six-year old Robert Samuel White III (Sam). Sam White, whose amazing new take on a traditional ABC song encourages other students to think about the jobs they could have as they learn the letters of the alphabet. A video of Sam singing his co-written song, “ You Can Be ABCs,” with his dad went viral on social media last fall. What started as a simple idea to make learning fun for Sam turned into a sensational video and soon to be book that parents and teachers can use with their students who are learning to read. Sam, entering second grade, has also recorded a new video for Carolina, featuring STEM careers to educate young students about jobs in science. A diverse selection of young student innovators will be featured so that all students will see someone that they can relate to. From their classrooms or at home, teachers can engage students in learning science. The new site www.CarolinaYoungInnovators.com launched with 12 Young Innovator profiles and will recognize their accomplishments by honoring a Young Innovator of the Month every month. Carolina is searching for more Young Innovators to highlight, so teachers are encouraged to nominate their students on its online recommendation page.

Individual profile pages and free downloadable literacy cards for each Young Innovator are available now in a choice of grade-appropriate K-12 reading levels in English and Spanish. Teachers can access and share these digital resources with students anywhere they have Internet access. Suggestions are provided for how teachers can use these stories with their classrooms. Carolina is celebrating the launch with a Facebook contest through August. Four winners will receive a Young Innovators poster and T-shirt, plus a signed copy of Sam’s book.

The inspiring students featured in Carolina’s Young Innovators program will surprise and captivate students’ attention. They demonstrate the amazing achievements that happen when students take action to answer a question or solve a problem in science, technology, engineering, and math. By recognizing and celebrating these Young Innovators’ accomplishments both big and small, Carolina strives to open the door to possibilities, to inspire all students and nurture their visions. Carolina promotes diversity and inclusion to encourage every student to take their place in STEM.…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

7 must-knows from blended learning’s early adopters

Earlier this year, the Highlander Institute, The Learning Accelerator and The Christensen Institute teamed up to bring together a conference on blended and personalized learning in Providence, R.I. The goal of the event was to focus on the practical elements of blended learning and personalized learning by surfacing the tactics that teachers and leaders from around the country were deploying on the ground.

These tactics are highlighted in the report, From maverick to mainstream: Takeaways from the 2017 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference, out this week. Seven key tips surfaced from innovators at the convening:

#1 Modify Models to Expand Relationships and Collaboration…Read More

6 tips from personalized learning innovators leading change

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island-based Highlander Institute and the Clayton Christensen Institute teamed up to bring together a conference on blended and personalized learning in Providence, R.I.  The goal of the event was to focus on the practical elements of blended and personalized learning by surfacing the tactics that practitioners were deploying in the trenches. More than 100 teachers and leaders from around the country were invited to share their approaches to piloting and scaling blended learning in classrooms and schools, which we summarized in our latest report, From the Frontlines, out this week.

Although our many presenters hailed from a variety of geographies and contexts, one refrain echoed loudly throughout the Providence Convention Center: implementing blended and personalized learning is about managing change. Innovators stressed that without effective change management, the best technology tools and the most elegant personalized learning models will come up short.  Here are six change management strategies that practitioners stressed as vital to driving new models of learning across traditional systems:

1. Embrace not knowing

One tension in managing change across a classroom or an entire district is making the unknown an opportunity rather than a threat. This framing depends on leaders who are willing to make the unknown safe. As Amanda Murphy, a Highlander Institute Fuse Rhode Island Fellow from Westerly Public Schools, put it, managing change across a system is about “supporting the eager, but non-expert.” In part, this requires giving people room to express concerns. “We had faculty volunteers who were interested but didn’t have expertise,” she said. “They talked about why they were nervous, and this helped people understand that there were many others in the same boat. It set the tone that it’s okay not to know. And now they’re asking for help.”…Read More

Does your school have a growth mindset when it comes to change?

Want your tech rollout to be successful? First, you need the right mindset

Most educational organizations want to improve teaching and learning by leveraging technology. The terms blended learning and its subset, flipped learning, are touted extensively as useful educational goals.

However, there are a number of fundamentals that need to be in place in order to increase the likelihood of organization wide success. This contrasts with the success of the “lone experimenters”; the innovators and early adopters who will implement change no matter what the environment is like.

Fundamentals fall into a number of categories. I will consider one — mindset — in this article. Two previous articles examined infrastructure and leadership.…Read More

Destination Imagination, Oracle Academy launch computer science challenge

Organizations join forces on the development of two coding challenges

Destination Imagination (DI), an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students the creative process skills needed to become the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers, has collaborated with Oracle Academy to advance coding and computer science opportunities that will help students thrive in the future workforce. Oracle Academy works globally to expand knowledge, skills, innovation and diversity in technology through computer science education.

“There is an urgent need to provide students and teachers access to computer science education,” said Dr. Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination. “The Association for Computing Machinery estimates that by 2020, one out of every two STEM jobs will be in computing. However, nine out of 10 K-12 schools do not currently provide computer science education. As computing technology continues to grow and evolve, it’s essential we provide students with affordable access to computer science opportunities that will inspire and engage them in career-ready learning opportunities. We’re excited to work with Oracle Academy to ensure students connect to the needs of the future workforce.”

Through the collaboration, Destination Imagination will release two new computer science challenges—Dear Hero and Co{DI}ng Space—in hopes of engaging 10,000 students in computer science education this year. Each challenge is designed to spark kids’ interest in coding and encourage students of diverse backgrounds to incorporate their artistic expression while learning skills such as collaboration, storyboarding and perseverance.…Read More

100 districts that are digital learning innovators

Knovation honors districts for outstanding usage of online and digital learning resources

digital-learningOne hundred school districts across the U.S. have been honored for their use of online and digital learning resources to personalize learning.

Knovation’s 2015 Digital Learning Awards program honors districts across the U.S. that use netTrekker or icurio to find, organize and share hundreds of thousands of standards-aligned resources that are professionally evaluated, tagged and maintained, ensuring students truly benefit from their digital shift.

The awards are presented to small, medium, and large districts based on how they used the Knovation Content Collection via netTrekker or icurio during the 2014-2015 school year.…Read More

The innovators who are transforming U.S. education

The Atlantic reports: The new global economy demands a robust workforce, flush with technical know-how. Unfortunately, education in the United States of America has been failing to meet this need. According to the U.S. Department of Education, American students rank 17th in science and 25th in mathematics among industrialized nations.  Despite encouraging signs that lucrative STEM jobs will be greater in number and more accessible than ever in the near future, a national Microsoft survey concluded that only 49 percent of American parents of K–12 students believe STEM education is being treated like a top educational priority. To combat this underachievement, organizational and individual entrepreneurs are changing this status quo with ideas that are shifting the way our country educates its children in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics…

Read more

…Read More

Google Maps inspire creativity

A new technology from internet search behemoth Google Inc. is making innovators out of some educators, who have begun envisioning practical uses for the company’s new Google Maps feature to make previously unavailable graphic representations of everything from school district bus routes to geography lessons.

Educators aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the technology. Others also have discovered how to tinker with the search engine’s mapping service to graphically illustrate vital information that might otherwise be ignored, overlooked, or not perceived as clearly.

“This is pretty interesting for organizations, such as school districts, that have maps that provide boundary information and such,” wrote Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Ore., and a frequent contributor to eSchool News Online’s Ed-Tech Insider, a blog for educators and technology advocates. “Imagine a district map that showed bus stops combined with Google content. Families could punch in their home address and easily find the closest stop.” …Read More