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

5 ways to boost student engagement with STEM learning strategies

As educators, we are always trying to find ways for all students to achieve success. Research has shown us that students who are engaged in learning are more likely to be successful.  So how do we know when students are truly engaged in learning? They are active participants–they listen and ask questions, they are invested in and internalize what they are learning, they make real-life connections, and they take pride in the work they produce.

Two years ago, my school, Dr. Rodriguez Elementary, kicked off a new effort to create authentic learning experiences for all students by infusing STEM learning strategies into our curriculum. We believed this effort would increase student engagement and motivation. While we have more work to accomplish in this effort, to date we have been pleased with the results.

Here are five strategies using technology the teachers in my school have implemented to create a learning environment that actively engages students and promotes more fun in learning.…Read More

Getting students back on track to higher education

COVID-19 has raised a number of major questions for educators, one of which is “Why are college applications decreasing?” Higher education lost about 400,000 students this fall. Are these students taking a gap year between high school and college? If so, that might be a good thing, since data suggests that a gap year can actually help students. The most important question is, “Will students put off college for a significant period, or choose not to go to college because of financial hardship?”

Fall 2020 enrollment data shows the largest decreases falling across community colleges and public universities, especially among lower income and minority students. This last data point is perhaps the most concerning. Educators need to be especially watchful and mindful of where these students land, and how we engage them and bring them into higher education after an (unplanned) gap year. Why? Because putting off college can have a significant impact on lifetime earnings, and overall education level continues to be one of the strongest predictors of lifetime earnings.

According to the Social Security Administration, men with bachelor’s degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more. Men with graduate degrees earn $1.5 million more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with graduate degrees earn $1.1 million more.…Read More

A guide to choosing the right edtech partner

Based on the sheer amount of marketing emails and sales calls received on a weekly–or even daily–basis, district leaders can surely attest to the seemingly countless number of technologies on the market today. But just how big is the edtech industry? To put it in perspective, there were nearly 1,400 edtech companies in the United States alone last year, according to a report from RS Components. That’s a lot.

With so many technologies and providers out there, how can district leaders choose the right edtech partner or partners? Below are four questions to consider during the procurement process.

Does the company understand my goals? It is important that any edtech partner or prospective partner understand what the district is trying to accomplish, as well as share the district’s vision in reaching those goals. This involves honest and straightforward conversations from the start about where the district is at, where it is looking to go, and how the edtech partner can help.…Read More

Vernier Software & Technology Uses Food Experiments to Engage Students in Chemistry Exploration

Vernier Software & Technology recently launched a new lab book that uses food as a means to help high school and college students explore important chemistry concepts. Food Chemistry Experiments, which is available in both electronic and print versions,includes 14 ready-to-use experiments utilizing Vernier technology such as the Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer, Go Direct Temperature Probe, and Go Direct CO2 Gas Sensor to help students investigate complex questions involving food.

“Students are more likely to engage with science when they can connect what they are learning to the real world,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “Exploring chemistry concepts using common foods and drinks is a perfect example of this real-world application. From learning about food energy to measuring pH levels, the new lab book provides easy-to-implement investigations to help engage students in chemistry exploration.”

The new lab book features a range of investigations—including “Cooking Under Pressure,” “My Flat Soda Pop,” “True Colors: Separating Food Dyes,” and “Quantifying Iron in Cereal”—that all use easily accessible materials found in most homes and use affordable wireless sensors that can be used with any mobile device, Chromebook, or computer.…Read More

6 teaching resources for the Presidential Inauguration

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021. The Presidential Inauguration will be a departure from years past due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still a number of engaging learning opportunities for in-person and virtual students.

The inauguration also comes on the heels of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and students are bound to have questions about the state of our nation’s government, priorities, civil rights, and where things go from here.

Traditionally, the public has been able to attend inaugurations, but people are discouraged from doing so due to COVID-19 restrictions. The ceremony will be broadcast on television news stations and most are expected to also offer a livestream.…Read More

Super Duper’s Jeepers Peepers Game Wins 2020 NAPPA Award

Super Duper Publications’ Jeepers Peepers The “Ask and Answer” Question Game has earned a 2020 National Parenting Product Award (NAPPA). This popular family favorite won in the Best Board & Card Games category.

“Jeepers Peepers is a great interactive game because it’s so much fun to play, and at the same time helps young children develop important skills such as asking questions, describing, categorizing, and problems solving,” said Thomas Webber, chairman of Super Duper Publications. “We are honored that NAPPA recognized it as one of the best card games for families.”

The National Parenting Product Awards has celebrated the best in family products for more than 30 years and is one of the longest-running family product awards programs in the country.…Read More