3 tips for teachers addressing the election

By now we’ve all been inundated with pre- and post-election coverage and analysis on numerous media platforms. It seems as if we might never escape the constant barrage of political commentary in both traditional media and social media platforms.

As November 8th approached, I made sure to leave extra class time to allow my communications students to discuss the upcoming presidential election, hoping to align their discussions with topics on my syllabus. My only rule was that they were to be respectful in their comments. I was encouraged by their mature approach, but also troubled by their dialogue, which often ranged from being frightened to air their views to confusion as to where they could find truthful information about the candidates—this from the Millennials who grew up with technology and have constant access via their handheld devices.

Is too much information a bad thing? Do countless new outlets guarantee diversity or even truth?…Read More

6 tips from personalized learning innovators leading change

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island-based Highlander Institute and the Clayton Christensen Institute teamed up to bring together a conference on blended and personalized learning in Providence, R.I.  The goal of the event was to focus on the practical elements of blended and personalized learning by surfacing the tactics that practitioners were deploying in the trenches. More than 100 teachers and leaders from around the country were invited to share their approaches to piloting and scaling blended learning in classrooms and schools, which we summarized in our latest report, From the Frontlines, out this week.

Although our many presenters hailed from a variety of geographies and contexts, one refrain echoed loudly throughout the Providence Convention Center: implementing blended and personalized learning is about managing change. Innovators stressed that without effective change management, the best technology tools and the most elegant personalized learning models will come up short.  Here are six change management strategies that practitioners stressed as vital to driving new models of learning across traditional systems:

1. Embrace not knowing

One tension in managing change across a classroom or an entire district is making the unknown an opportunity rather than a threat. This framing depends on leaders who are willing to make the unknown safe. As Amanda Murphy, a Highlander Institute Fuse Rhode Island Fellow from Westerly Public Schools, put it, managing change across a system is about “supporting the eager, but non-expert.” In part, this requires giving people room to express concerns. “We had faculty volunteers who were interested but didn’t have expertise,” she said. “They talked about why they were nervous, and this helped people understand that there were many others in the same boat. It set the tone that it’s okay not to know. And now they’re asking for help.”…Read More

5 useful tips to get the most out of virtual field trips

To help educators save time, we’ve put together a quick recap on how to prepare for your next virtual field trip (VFT) and five of the best VFT’s based on their relevancy, quality of resources, and potential for student excitement. Student engagement starts with excitement, so get planning!

Prepare: Like any lesson plan, consider how you can prepare your students. First, don’t forget the standards, curriculum, and content you are helping your students uncover. By connecting these virtual field trip experiences to content that you want students to learn, you can ensure students come to the event ready to participate. Also look for pre-event activities your students can participate in. Not only do these activities promote student thinking about what might happen during the virtual field trip, they also allow you to create connections to the specific content you wish to cover.

Engage and connect: During the event, make sure that you take advantage of any virtual connections that are possible, such as submitting questions for panelists before or during the event, or participating in Twitter backchannel conversations as the VFT unfolds. Your participation helps guide live panelists and provides your students the opportunity to be recognized. There’s not too much more exciting then hearing your class’s name and question read aloud during a live virtual field trip.…Read More

Cricket Media, Smithsonian launch 2016 Global Folklorist Challenge

Cricket Media, a next-generation global learning company, announced the launch of its 3rd Annual Global Folklorist Challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The challenge, open to kids eight to eighteen worldwide, asks participants to examine a local or regional tradition by interviewing a community tradition bearer and creating a video or slide show to share the story.

Cultural traditions students might explore range from dance, games, and handicrafts to cooking, storytelling, customs, distinctive jobs, and more. Comprehensive supporting materials reinforce real- world folklorist skills by defining terms, providing examples, tips, and organizational tools, and walking students through professional interview and story-shaping processes. Participants also have access to professional folklorists at the Smithsonian.…Read More

New online portal facilitates i-Ready implementation

Collection of online resources aims to give teachers the right tools exactly when they need them

i-ReadyCurriculum Associates recently launched i-Ready Central to help teachers, principals, and administrators successfully implement its i-Ready program.

The online portal, offered at no additional cost to all i-Ready users and accessible 24/7, includes more than 160 resources organized around stages of implementation throughout the school year.

These resources, including tips, training videos, and planning tools, will be updated frequently to ensure educators have the most current, relevant content at their fingertips when they need it.…Read More

Six tips for classroom technology success

An industry advisory panel of educators shares strategies to help teachers – regardless of their tenure – implement education technology in the classroom

lego-technologyThe LEGO Education Advisory Panel (LEAP) advises LEGO Education, the education division within the LEGO group, on how to meet the needs of educators and students. The panel consists of 50 educators, across all levels of education, who are experienced with the trials and triumphs of using unconventional teaching tools in the classroom.

Drawing from our experience using a wide gamut of education technology, we compiled the following list of tips and tricks to help teachers —regardless of their tenure —implement education technology in their own classroom.

1.  Be sure to teach the concept that failure is an important and expected part of the process. What we learn from each failure or mistake is the important part and will lead to the next version, or improved iteration in the problem solving process.
– Beth Brubaker, grades 1-8 Project Specialist, North Idaho STEM Charter Academy…Read More

5 steps to maximize iPads for students with autism

Expert explains that there’s a lot more to an iPad than its apps

iPad-autismClassrooms across the country are dotted with iPads on desks, in students’ hands, and in hallways. Recently, a special education expert offered five insights into how the iPad can be used more effectively in classrooms–not just for students with autism, but for all students.

Anthony Gerke, a special education expert and vice president of professional services for Monarch Teaching Technologies, shared tips and advice on integrating iPads into the classroom during a recent edWeb webinar.

“I want to approach this differently than the usual ‘list a bunch of apps’ session,” he said. “I’d like to start with a definition of technology from dictionary.com, which defines technology as ‘the specific methods, materials, and devices we use to solve practical problems.’ Notice it doesn’t just say, ‘devices.’”…Read More

Tips for using Pinterest in the classroom

A growing number of educators are using Pinterest in the classroom.

Many aspiring crafters and cooking fanatics are familiar with Pinterest, a social media site set up like a virtual bulletin board in which users “pin” favorite home décor, cooking, and craft ideas. But now education is hopping on the Pinterest bandwagon, as teachers and administrators are quickly discovering that the site is replete with resources for students of all ages and abilities.

Users may sign up for a Pinterest account using an eMail address, and create boards for different topics. They can search for specific ideas, or “pins,” or browse through popular pins and filter by subject. Pinterest is public, and users can follow other pinners much like they would on Twitter.

Pinterest automatically links a pin back to the site it comes from, so that users do not have to remember URLs. Installing a “Pin It” button on a browser task bar enables users to pin any image or idea they see on any website they visit.…Read More