Fixing the grade passback pain point

Grade passback is a pain point for educators and school systems. Just go online and look up the help desk for popular grading platforms and you’ll notice the cries for help from users:

“Anybody have a solution for passing a midterm and final letter grade to their SIS?”

“Who is having problems with grade passback?”…Read More

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

How we developed a personalized PBL model for STEM

How can schools and districts prepare students for college and careers in STEM? Is it by asking them to passively read a textbook or listen to a teacher lecture? Or is it by challenging them to actively engage in projects that attempt to solve real-world problems?

In Harmony Public Schools in Texas, we want students to become active learners, problem solvers, and STEM advocates. We want to increase their knowledge, skills, and interest in STEM, and balance student-centered teaching with state and national standards. To do this, we developed a personalized project based learning (PBL) model called STEM Students on the Stage (SOS)™.

STEM SOS, which was developed with a $30 million Race to the Top grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a rigorous, interdisciplinary, standards-focused method of STEM education that encourages students to develop and share their STEM knowledge and investigations. We now incorporate this personalized PBL model into all of our STEM courses.…Read More

There are not enough moonshots taken in education

I am extremely lucky to work in an organization that sets enormously high standards and one that accepts disequilibrium as part of the change process. I’m also well aware that this is uncommon in most school districts. Twenty-first-century challenges need 21st-century approaches; however, school leaders are often quick to adopt minor improvements to existing systems in lieu of larger changes that would upset the status quo. What is needed in the current state of education are more moonshots.

What is moonshot thinking?

Moonshot thinking is going 10x bigger or better. While most organizations try to improve by 10 percent, organizations that think outside the box and strive for 10x better tend to approach problems in drastically different ways and—more times than not—achieve 10x better results.…Read More

Blog: Dysart Unified School District Prepares Students for the 21st Century

A few years ago, former Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, said of teachers and schools, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

Children today have never known a world without technology. And they exist in a society where they’ve never had to wait. As a result, the brains of young people today are literally “wired” differently. From sending a message to someone on the other side of the world with the tap of a button, to Google searching any information the mind can think of, those coming of age today are accustomed to things happening instantly. Not only has this caused them to cognitively think differently than people of previous generations, children don’t view the digital world as separate from the physical world—to them it is one in the same.

Dysart Unified School District, the fastest growing school system in Arizona, infuses its curriculum with creativity, innovation, information fluency, communication, and critical thinking for the 21st century. Unlike the focus of a decade ago, these schools are in the middle of a transformation from learning “what” to learning “how.” That’s because kids (and adults) must adapt to new technologies at a rate we’re not used to. Every few years, technology changes rendering that which came before it obsolete.…Read More

Can robotics teach problem solving to students?

Throughout my 35 years of teaching, I’ve watched students grow up in what I lovingly call the “worksheet generation.” In this environment, students are accustomed to a very structured style of learning, where they are handed a worksheet, then asked to turn to page five in their math book and solve problems one through 15. This approach, however, often teaches students there is only one right answer and limits meaningful engagement and creativity.

My teaching experience has taught me that it is no longer possible to prepare students with the 21st century skills they will need for the workforce without moving away from this paint-by-numbers approach. Instead, teachers must develop curriculum that inspires students to not only find new solutions, but to also test their solutions, and improve on them, through trial and error. This can be done using hands-on learning tools like robotics, which intuitively teaches students how to problem solve using critical thinking.

The question is: how can teachers create a robotics curriculum that not only breaks students out of the “worksheet generation” mentality, but also shows them the possibilities of learning with trial and error? Here are four tips for teaching students how to problem solve using hands-on robotics as a tool:…Read More

Researchers: Math needs a more visual approach

Stanford University researchers aim to dispel the belief that students should not use their fingers to learn mathematics

Taking a more visual approach to math instruction at the K-12 and higher-ed levels could dramatically change brain development as it relates to future math success, according to a new paper from Stanford researchers.

SEEING AS UNDERSTANDING: The Importance of Visual Mathematics for our Brain and Learning,” supports the use of visual mathematics and developing “finger discrimination” in students because it could result in higher math achievement.

According to co-authors Stanford University mathematics researcher Dr. Jo Boaler and brain researcher Dr. Lang Chen, the human brain can visualize a representation of the fingers during math problems. This provides an opportunity for further research and pedagogical development.…Read More

Why some schools pay $100 more for the same iPads

Education technology experts discuss various solutions to the ‘broken’ process of ed-tech purchasing

The ed-tech procurement process is broken, said former New York City Public Schools Chancellor Harold Levy during the 2016 South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) conference in Austin, Texas, March 8—and to prove it, he said a study last month found disparities of more than $100 per unit on how much schools were paying for the exact same iPad model.

In a session titled “Begging for Disruption: Ed-Tech Procurement,” Levy and the other panelists discussed the problems that school districts have in discovering, evaluating, and buying technology products that meet their specific needs.

They also shared information about new services that aim to bring more transparency to the buying process for schools—including a nonprofit organization called the Technology for Education Consortium (TEC) that just launched last month.…Read More

The app that lets you create Khan Academy-style videos in 60 seconds

How flipped educators can create video tutorials a la Khan in no time flat

P West Screen snip 2Blended learning and flipped learning just got a whole lot easier.

Anyone can now create learning resources for students in little more time that is required for a normal explanation of a topic.

  • Recording solutions to math problems — almost as quick as solving the problem on paper.
  • Highlighting important text, and explaining concepts along the way — a breeze.
  • Sketching, labelling and explaining diagrams with audio annotation — child’s play.
  • Providing personal feedback on a student’s work — super simple.
  • Taking a photograph of anything – an art work, an experiment, a building – and then drawing on it while explaining concepts — quick and easy.

The recordings can then be played on virtually any device, and are easily placed in a LMS or OLE (Online Learning Environment).…Read More