3 reasons why differentiation isn’t difficult

There’s a good chance you arched an eyebrow upon reading the headline of this article. After all, differentiation can be one of the most stressful and time-consuming parts of a teacher’s life. Tailoring our instruction to meet the specific needs of students can feel like a massive undertaking. Do we consider the learning environment? The content? How do we meet the multiple, diverging needs of numerous students all at once?

These can be intimidating questions, but differentiation doesn’t have to be something educators dread doing. No matter what we teach or how we teach it, students make sense of it in their own unique ways. Once we understand this truth, we can implement simple strategies that allow students to shape the content to their way of thinking.

Here are just a few teacher hacks to help you get started in your own classroom.…Read More

5 ways to create effective and equitable instructional resources

In 2017, 52 percent of all students enrolled in public schools were racially or ethnically diverse. By 2029, this number is projected to be 57 percent. However, in 2012, only 17 percent of the teachers in the US workforce were racially or ethnically diverse.

The question is, how can educators make sure that teaching and learning is effective and equitable for all learners, regardless of their individual backgrounds? And can instructional resources truly be designed for equity?

While the answer to both questions is “yes,” it involves fundamentally rethinking how we shape curriculum, and the problem is that there’s no single checklist or “one-size-fits-all” approach that will work for every district, school, or classroom.…Read More

3 questions: Making the 2021-22 school year work for students

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on the MIT News site.

What’s the best way to get K-12 students across the U.S. to bounce back from the pandemic? MIT’s Justin Reich has an idea: Ask them. Reich, an associate professor in MIT’s program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing and director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, has co-authored a new report on the return to the classroom in the 2021-22 school year, based on interviews with over 250 educators and 4,000 students, in addition to 10 charrettes involving students, teachers, parents, and school administrators.

A core finding of the report is that the changes students and teachers would like to make to schools are less about Covid-related issues and more about uncomfortable learning environments, resource deficits, stifling curricula, and overly strict behavioral rules. …Read More

National Report Reveals Educators Are Concerned About Student Preparedness This Year

BOSTON (October 1, 2021) – Lexia® Learning, a Cambium Learning® Group company, has released its “Educator Perceptions of Teaching and Learning in Fall 2021,” a research brief exploring educators’ expectations for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The report shares findings from a survey of more than 1,000 educators across 48 states as well as from two focus groups examining educators’ beliefs about readiness for the 2021-22 academic year. Lexia researchers analyzed the survey data to discover whether educators believed students would be ready for grade-level instruction and whether educators themselves felt prepared for the tasks ahead of them. The focus groups also answered questions about student and teacher readiness.

Now that the school year is underway, the key findings are that educators are quite concerned about students’ preparedness to work on grade level in the 2021-22 academic year. However, educators are extremely optimistic about their own readiness to support students in the fall semester.…Read More

APM Studios Inks Partnership With Listenwise To Bring Award-Winning Science Podcast Brains On! Into Classrooms

ST. PAUL, Minn., September 30, 2021APM Studios, the podcast production division of American Public Media (APM), today announced that it has partnered with listening comprehension platform Listenwise to bring Brains On!, APM Studios’ award-winning science podcast for kids, into classrooms nationwide as a learning resource for grades 2-5.

Since its launch in 2012, the mission of Brains On! has been to encourage kids’ natural curiosity using science and history, with host Molly Bloom and a rotation of young co-hosts asking and answering questions about the world that surrounds us. Through the partnership with Listenwise, educators are able to access Brains On! audio segments, accompanied by transcripts and other teaching resources.

“I couldn’t imagine a better home for Brains On! than a platform that advances equitable learning and teaches kids to be better listeners,” said Alex Schaffert, Chief Operating Officer of APM Studios. “Our organizations share the same educational mission. It was a natural fit to partner with Listenwise and bring our stories to life for teachers and students.”…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

3 unexpected ways online PD strengthened my teaching

As a science educator, I love showing my students the wonders of the world. I encourage them to always be curious, ask questions, and seek out new knowledge and skills. An important part of my job is modeling lifelong learning for my students—and one of my favorite ways to do that is by honing my skills in professional learning courses.

I’ve participated in a variety of professional development (PD) courses throughout my teaching career, but some of the most powerful ones I’ve experienced have been the free, short, self-paced courses from the National Geographic Society. These online PD courses cover everything from developing an “explorer mindset” in students to methods of empowering students to tell impactful stories. The courses surpassed my expectations of what an online professional learning course can be—and how easily I can translate what I’ve learned in these courses into my classroom activities and instruction.

Here are three of the lasting impacts that these courses had on me as a teacher–and as a person.…Read More

Cheers and questions as some states and big school districts remove virtual learning option for fall

Cheers and questions as some states and big school districts remove virtual learning option for fall” was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletters here: ckbe.at/newsletters

After a school year marked by stops and starts, New York City’s top schools official drew a line in the sand this week: This fall, there will be no virtual learning option.

“We know our schools have been safe and we need our children back,” the city’s schools chancellor, Meisha PorterCheers districts fall for learning noopener option questions remove school some states virtual”>, said in an interview. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces the interaction and the learning that happens between a student and teacher in our classrooms.”…Read More

5 cool TED-Ed lessons for summer break

It’s summer break (or close to it) for students across the country, and after more than a year of hybrid or virtual learning for so many, the last thing we all want is to hop back on a device.

But screen time is a reality for most kids, so instead of mindless screen viewing, why not give kids some fun videos to watch, to learn from, and to share with others?

The TED-Ed platform is especially cool because educators can build lessons around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk, or YouTube video. Once you find the video you want to use, you can use the TED-Ed Lessons editor to add questions, discussion prompts, and additional resources.…Read More

How is technology impacting literacy?

We live in a world where learning and technology are intrinsically linked, especially in the minds of our youth. But do today’s students process information differently because it comes on a digital device? Is there a correlation between technology use and plummeting literacy rates?  And is the way our young people consume information negatively impacting their growth as learners?

I recently discussed these questions with two education experts on my podcast, What I Want to Know. Earl Martin Phalen is the founder and CEO of Summer Advantage and the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies, and Dr. Maryanne Wolf is the Director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice. Phalen is well-known for his work improving literacy in marginalized populations, and Dr. Wolf has done extensive research on brain development and literacy.

Technology can engage students and enhance their literacy skills…Read More