From Katrina to COVID: Kids heal in communities

Some moments in life are unforgettable. For me, the experience of evacuating from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina with my two young children and pup is one of those moments. Katrina became a marker in the life of our family. We used to talk about the timeline of our experiences in terms of “before Katrina” or “after Katrina.” While our home only sustained significant wind damage but no flooding, we witnessed firsthand the considerable tragedy across the city.

My husband is a Coast Guard pilot and was part of the rescue efforts immediately after the storm. As a young mother and teacher, I was focused on setting up a temporary home in San Antonio, TX. I had very little information on how long we would be living in Texas, whether my house was destroyed, what would happen to my teaching job and salary, and how long I would be apart from my husband. The uncertainty combined with the sudden nature of the disaster was, at times, almost too much to bear. I spent hours watching the news showing pictures of people on roofs trying to survive the flooding and the helicopters bravely swarming the airspace to save as many people as possible.

After two months, in October, we were able to return to the city once electricity was restored to our area on the west side of the river. Imagine a home in the deep heat of a New Orleans summer, closed, with no electricity or air conditioning. Imagine a refrigerator and freezer in that house with food left behind. Imagine thousands of those! Imagine wind and water damage and destroyed backyards, sheds, patios, and plants. We returned to that scene, and we were by far one of the lucky ones! We focused on cleaning out our home for several weeks, installing a blue FEMA tarp over a damaged roof, burning the left-behind branches and fallen trees in our yard, and attempting to find food and water. We were grateful for organizations that sent volunteers to cook, assisted with cutting down trees, and did various other tasks.…Read More

4 ways to help students talk about tough topics

In a year where the U.S. has been rocked by a global pandemic, the impact of systemic racism, and acts of political violence, many educators have wondered how to create a “learning space” to address difficult subjects.

A “learning space” is both safe and brave–one where students are supported in expressing their views, as well as in challenging them and coming to new conclusions.

As an instructional coach who works closely with many educators, one concern I’ve heard recently is that teachers are afraid to address social issues without seeming to impose their views.…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

Data doesn’t talk–people do

A media friend was looking into a recent Vanderbilt study on six unidentified school districts across the state. The researchers found that “more students were chronically absent this fall than in previous years, and absenteeism increased the most among English Learners, students of color, and students who are economically disadvantaged.” I told her I was not concerned about the latest findings.

When pressed on the issue, I pointed out that the sample size was a little concerning. Only 6 districts were represented; my guess is they looked at the larger urban areas. I find the research misleading. There are 147 districts in the state, each with unique and distinct issues. If we rush in and try to apply a one size fits all solution to any issue, we would be making a mistake.

By failing to identify the six individual districts, the results from the research were problematic to me—as well as to other stakeholders and policymakers as well. The study has some interesting findings. It would be useful to those 6 unidentified districts. However, I am not certain there is a crossover for other districts.…Read More

No going back: Why schools need to keep some pandemic techniques

For Dr. Matthew X. Joseph, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Leicester Public Schools (MA), this past year has meant fewer frequent flier miles but a huge increase in his network, albeit virtually.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Matt talks about the importance of these sorts of connections for both students and faculty.

The following has been edited for clarity.…Read More

Illustrative Mathematics, Family Engagement Lab, and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools Collaborate to Support Family Engagement in Math

Illustrative Mathematics (IM) and Family Engagement Lab have partnered to bridge classroom curriculum and at-home learning in elementary school mathematics. Through this partnership, Family Engagement Lab will align its FASTalk (Families and Schools Talk) family engagement tool with the IM K–5 Math curriculum. Together, the two nonprofits will collaborate with Partnership for Los Angeles Schools to make the new tool available at participating pilot sites in Los Angeles Unified School District starting this month.…Read More

Assessment in 2020: How data will mitigate COVID-related learning losses

In normal times, a discussion about the future of assessment might look five years ahead to talk about the prospects of more authentic computer-aided assessments or potential developments in continuous assessment. However, in 2020, we have more immediate needs right in front us, and the assessment tools we may have had for years will be even more relevant.

We will start this next year with many questions. How will the lack of summative assessments from this past spring impact the coming school year? How quickly can teachers determine what students may have missed in the chaotic close of the 2019–2020 school year? How can teachers parse the interim and formative assessment data of incoming students and focus on the areas that will provide the greatest return?

Related content: Data vs. COVID: How one district runs the numbers…Read More

Let’s Talk About Your Job Search

A record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. It’s the biggest jump in new jobless claims in US history. There are nearly 67 million Americans working in jobs right now that are considered high risk for layoffs, and some experts predict the Covid 19 pandemic could ultimately eliminate 47 million jobs. Additionally, 3.3 million high school students and 4 million post-secondary students will be graduating into a world that isn’t hiring in the way it was two months ago.

There’s no other way to put it: it’s a scary time, especially if you’ve unexpectedly lost a job, or were poised to go into an industry that’s experiencing massive layoffs. Our first advice? Breathe and take this one day at a time. Also, realize this is not a failure or misstep on your part. This is a situation you had no control over.

Unfortunately, we aren’t here to offer you a blanket solution. None of us know how the long-term economic impact of the pandemic will play out. However, as career exploration experts, we can give you the following advice:…Read More

7 cool–and slightly funky–TED-Ed Lessons to watch at home

Many schools across country are closed for two weeks–or longer–due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and a great number of districts have moved online to help students stay current with their learning. If you’re a teacher communicating with your students while school is closed, or if you’re a parent looking for an engaging educational resource, TED-Ed Lessons might be just the thing for you.

Claws and nails, vultures, third eyelids, Rasputin–these topics are sure to grab students’ attention.

Related content: 5 TED-Ed Lessons to introduce students to robotics…Read More

4 questions to ask about multimedia content

When considering multimedia presentation systems for classroom use, one’s mind immediately goes to the hardware–the monitors, projectors, and other components often grab all the attention. But, what is the critical ingredient in a multimedia presentation system? The MULTIMEDIA! Without high-quality multimedia content that is flexible to meet instructional goals, your presentation system is just a collection of high-priced hardware.

Over the last two years, I’ve had the unparalleled opportunity to talk with hundreds of educators nationwide as I gathered input and feedback on the design of Discovery Education Experience, our recently launched K-12 learning platform.

Related content: Key components of the digital classroom…Read More