Why teach digital writing to students in 2022?

The internet has changed writing forever.

Have you ever thought of your students alongside Hemingway, Shakespeare, and other well-known writers? They are actually: All their messages, blogs, and social media posts go online today, together with novels, poems, or stories of professional writers.

Now they write more than speak. Online communication calls the shots, and Gen Z doesn’t perceive informative writing as we did 20 or 30 years ago.…Read More

Educators are turning yoga into a vehicle for school and community change

After a tumultuous few years teaching during a pandemic, some educators are embarking on a unique approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) training this summer: They’re pursuing a virtual wellness, SEL, and yoga training course.

Graduates of Breathe For Change’s 200-hour program will be certified to teach inclusive yoga classes to both adults and young people and lead SEL and wellness experiences in their schools, districts, and organizations.

“Our whole approach is a community-wide wellness approach–the home-school connection matters deeply,” said Dr. Ilana Nankin, Breathe For Change’s founder and CEO.…Read More

What’s so great about online teaching?

Had I been asked what I thought about online teaching two years ago, I would probably have given you quite an earful of the many known shortcomings of virtual teaching modalities, including the challenges to student engagement and community building. Ask me now and my answer could not be more different. Amid the latest push for a return to in-person teaching, many instructors have been adamant about the advantages of digital classrooms and look forward to continuing teaching online in a post-pandemic world. I am one of them.

I teach sociology at CUNY, the largest urban university in the U.S., which serves a very diverse student body of mostly first-generation college students. By the time the COVID-19 outbreak officially struck in mid-March 2020, I, along with millions of instructors around the globe, had to figure out how to move my in-person classes to virtual platforms. Many of us were caught off guard during the initial phase of “emergency remote teaching” and had no choice but to invest, learn, and experiment with technology by trial and error.

With incentives from the administration, we hurried to get online certifications and took summer workshops widely offered by our teaching centers and IT departments. When we succeeded, it was often not by replacing the in-person teaching with virtual scenarios, but by combining the best of both worlds: the interpersonal dynamics of face-to-face interactions with key high-tech tools that enhanced our online classrooms. If it is true that practice makes perfect, the more we conducted our business remotely the more we tightened up our craft. In this piece, I will tell you how this happened.…Read More

Transforming summer school with high-dosage tutoring

Summer school as we’ve traditionally known it hasn’t worked well for a long time, especially from an equity standpoint, but we all know that change tends to come slowly to educational institutions. I would submit that in 2022, after two years of extraordinary learning loss, a transformation shouldn’t wait any longer.

Today’s students have different summer learning needs, and we have better tools and methods to teach them. It’s time to start using them.

The old model of summer classes in school buildings every day from 9 a.m. to noon stopped being convenient decades ago, when stay-at-home parenting stopped being the norm. Even if families manage to find transportation for their kids to and from school at those hours, there remains the question of filling in the remaining hours with part-time child care — never a cost-effective option even when it is available.…Read More

3 ways to teach multi-sensory math

Learning mathematics is much more than memorization. Rote drill and practice have not shown to lead to significant improvements in mathematics abilities, but rather, using strategies that engage and strengthen the connections to different areas of the brain assists students in learning mathematics.

According to findings published in Teaching Children Mathematics, most students actually use a strategy to recall a fact. They are considered fluent if they can recall a fact within three seconds, which is a long time to be able to employ a strategy. For example, looking at the problem 19 + 6, students might move one from the 6 to make an easier, equivalent statement of 20 + 5.

Using multi-sensory learning to make sense of mathematics, as well as introducing students to strategies and tools such as the ones below, helps them become flexible thinkers and allows them to be fluid with numbers.…Read More

How the COVID-19 pandemic changed how I teach

Ed Smylie is my hero. You may not recognize the name, but you probably remember that scene in Apollo 13 when, upon discovering the spacecraft’s lethally rising CO2 levels and the dilemma of mismatched equipment, flight director Gene Kranz commands his team to “invent a way to put a square peg into a round hole. Rapidly.” Engineer Ed Smylie led the way in an all-night race to do just that. Using nothing but the materials on hand, his quick thinking and adaptability saved the astronauts’ lives.

Spring 2020 required teachers to become Ed Smylie. Nearly every tool we normally used to reach our students was wiped off the table–we were left in complete upheaval. With no choice but to use whatever we had available, we dug deep into our resourcefulness to help our students (and ourselves!) survive distance learning. Amazingly, what we did served our purposes not only for the duration of remote learning, but changed our classroom practices for the better, even now with students back in the classroom.

Once the initial lockdown passed, my district allowed staff to teach from their classrooms (albeit empty ones), pushing us to find new methods of instruction. Just days before the shutdown, a new flat panel had been installed in my room; it seemed to be the perfect time to see what it could do.…Read More

Why competency-based education is challenging centuries of tradition

It’s been nearly four centuries since the first formal classrooms appeared in what would eventually become the United States. The earliest example of a public school was the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, the first to relieve families of having to educate their kids at home in the “three R’s”—reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Despite massive changes in society and technology since colonial times, one thing hasn’t changed much: the way we teach, test, and pass our students along to the next level—or into their adult working lives.

Most students today still take the same lessons from the same teachers in the same format—and they must pass the same tests to graduate. Of course, higher education allows for variations in courses of study, but within each classroom or curriculum, the content, delivery, and assessment are fixed. Over the course of their 12-year education (plus two, four, or eight more in university), students ingest, memorize, and practice the materials presented, then take tests to receive a certificate to prove they “learned” it.…Read More

VHS Learning Continues to Serve Massachusetts Students Underrepresented in Advanced STEM Courses Through Statewide Initiative

Boston – Feb. 18, 2022 –Many students don’t have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® (AP®) classes due to limited availability of AP® course offerings or certified instructors to teach the classes. To help, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) partnered with VHS Learning to create the STEM Advanced Placement Access Expansion Opportunity, which enables up to 1,500 students within the state to take free AP® courses during the 2022-2023 academic year.

The STEM Advanced Placement Access Expansion Opportunity is designed to increase Massachusetts high schoolers’ participation in advanced coursework. The statewide initiative will provide select high schools with access to up to eight AP® STEM courses free of charge.

Data from the DESE’s Student Longitudinal Database System reveals that students who take AP® coursework are more likely to enroll in college. In fact, 86% of high school students who take at least one AP® course attend college. An even higher percentage (92%) of students who take two or more of such courses go on to postsecondary education. However, only 63% of Massachusetts high schoolers who do not take an AP® course attend college.…Read More

Slooh Brings Space Exploration to Classrooms Worldwide with ‘The Online Telescope for Teachers’

Washington Depot, Connecticut, January 18, 2022 – Slooh, the only organization offering live online telescope feeds to students, is now offering an affordable way for teachers to bring the power of its network of online telescopes to all students with The Online Telescope for Teachers. This solution can change how teachers teach astronomy by providing opportunities for students to explore and analyze more than 1,000 real-world space objects and events. 

“Slooh’s innovation is that an unlimited number of teachers and students can share online telescopes in a manner that includes an exchange of ideas and opportunities to learn from each other,” said Michael Paolucci, founder of Slooh. “Just as kids learn to play video games by watching other people play, the sharing inherent in the platform enables students to learn from the amazing things other teachers and students do with our online telescopes.”

In addition to online telescope access, this new solution provides elementary through college-level teachers integrated curriculum-based lesson plans that can be used with students and ongoing professional development to help educators easily use the technology.…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