5 STEM-based TED-Ed Lessons to close out your school year

School days might seem as if they move at a glacial pace in the countdown to summer break. Some schools have already closed, while others have a couple more weeks left. Teachers who still have classrooms full of students can use TED-Ed Lessons to liven up these last days and highlight students’ different personal interests.

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 to ignite the fire of student engagement

Recently, a co-worker of mine shared a story from when he was in high school. During one chemistry class his teacher happened to light a small fire within a dish and began stirring in different compounds. First the fire turned green, then purple, and then finally blue. The students, who normally struggled to engage with the coursework, were completely enthralled. They began asking questions, forming hypotheses, and started investigating the subject themselves. A fire had been lit in that classroom – both literally and metaphorically.

Stories like these remind educators about the power of student engagement. Teaching, in many ways, is like building a fire. You simply gather the kindling (tools and strategies), create a spark (curiosity), and then add some logs to the fire (content). Still, many of us can have trouble striking that match. All too often, our students’ attitudes can feel dampened by apathy or outside distractions.

Building the blaze …Read More

How schools can improve infrastructure and air quality as masks come off

As the CDC shifts its recommendations and schoolchildren are no longer required to wear masks in many parts of the country, questions remain about how aging school infrastructure can support the health and safety needs–including air quality–that accompany reduced precautions.

The March 2021 American Rescue Plan brought widespread economic aid to address such issues, with $122.8 billion specifically earmarked for K-12 districts, but this funding has an expiration date. How can school districts best act now to create healthier schools and repair crumbling infrastructure before the first round of funding expires in September 2022?

Many school districts nationwide have been using stimulus dollars to rethink infrastructure, classroom design, and building upgrades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one of the most popular uses of federal funding has been repairing school facilities, especially ventilation systems, to improve air quality and reduce the spread of Covid-19.…Read More

Learn to use books to foster critical thinking

While I’m a far cry from a Newbery, once a year, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing a picture book for my nephew Knox. My goal is to keep the eight-year-old excited about reading, because what little boy doesn’t want to read a book about himself?

For the purposes of this article about using picture books in instruction, I invite you to listen as I read aloud to you The Great PunkaKnox.

When I was in school, my teacher would have read the book out loud and asked us questions to test our comprehension, such as:…Read More

Unistellar Research: Got Questions About Outer Space? Forget Google—Just Ask Your Kids

San Francisco—February 3, 2022— A pathbreaking study just confirmed something that many parents already suspected: young Americans have a voracious interest in outer space, already know a lot about it, and are eager to learn much more. But while most parents are excited to know that their kids are interested in space, and are eager to encourage that interest, they’re unsure about how to do it. The study was released today by Unistellar, the pioneer of New Astronomy, whose smart telescopes give space lovers novel tools so they can explore the cosmos in new and exciting ways. The survey queried more than 500 American parents with children ages 7-14.

Our kids have their eyes on the skies

According to parents, there are a vast number of young space lovers in the U.S.—93% of American kids are interested in outer space, and 84% became even more interested in the subject over the last year. The numbers tell a dramatic story:…Read More

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