If circumstances call for social distancing (think COVID-19!), distance learning comes into play. It has its benefits, wearing PJs among them. It also has its challenges: lots of screen and seat time; virtual tools that might not fully engage learners; and programs that may not be a good fit with the curriculum. In short, they don’t always measure up to the “real thing” that is school.
The current crisis has highlighted the disparity between students with and without equitable access to technology, especially in rural schools. While most teachers are being asked to take their lessons directly to the students’ homes, many administrators know that the challenges in their district go beyond whether or not students have enough devices to do their classwork. During CoSN and ClassLink’s edWebinar, “Leading Digital Transformations in Rural School Districts,” the presenters talked about how the COVID-19 situation amplifies the obstacles rural schools face transitioning to a 21st century learning environment.
As of March 29, 2020, school closures due to COVID-19 have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and affected at least 55.1 million students, according to Education Week. In a recent edWebinar, Dr. Justin Aglio, Director of Academic Achievement and District Innovation, Montour School District, PA, expressed that while we have prepared for school closures due to weather and disasters, school districts have found themselves in an unprecedented reality.
To help teachers with the transition to online instruction, an edWebinar hosted by SETDA featured educators sharing what is working for them as they teach students online during the COVID-19 crisis. The presenters also provided recommendations for other educators who are now making the shift from being in a classroom to working remotely with students.
Be your own boss. An enticing dream that is achievable with honed business know-how. It’s a career journey that can actually start in school through programs that prepare learners for future entrepreneurial roles in a continually evolving workforce. In EVERFI’s edWebinar, “A Shark Tank State of Mind: Empowering an Entrepreneurial Mindset,” educators shared strategies for developing the capabilities and mindset students should embrace to become entrepreneurs.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country struggle to move their brick-and-mortar classrooms to remote online learning environments. While empowering students to take the lead in their education is the vision and mission of school districts, the abrupt move to distance learning has put a heavy burden of responsibility on our students. “What is being asked of our children today in terms of executive functioning is way more complicated than it used to be, and their brains are not more ready,” said Courtney Wittner, M.Ed., Director at Hayutin & Associates, during a recent edLeader Panel. Wittner, along with Renaud Boisjoly, CEO of Studyo, identified and provided valuable strategies for supporting students as they navigate these unprecedented and challenging times with executive functioning skills.
Every two or three years, state and federal laws regarding accessibility in education change. However, the goal is always the same: making sure that every student, at every level (classroom, building, district), has access to the resources they need to meet their learning goals. During ClassLink and CoSN’s edWebinar, “Accessibility for All: Creating an Equitable Learning Ecosystem,” the presenters discussed the lessons they’ve learned, especially regarding technology as an instrument for accessibility.
While printed books aren’t going away, today’s kids are wired to think digital first. Combined with increasing ways for teachers, students, and authors to interact online, digital reading is allowing students to connect with content on a deeper level. In their presentation, sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources, “The Transformative Power of Digital Reading,” Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School (CT), and Jane Lofton, Teacher Librarian “In the Wild,” offered tools and strategies for effective engagement with digital sources.
Discussing and developing equity strategies can lead to significant improvements in student performance, and as Dr. Tyrone Howard of UCLA explained during a recent edWebinar sponsored International Center for Leadership in Education, starting the process by looking at data on both students and teachers is a crucial first step toward mutual understanding and effective solutions.
The situation was bleak: There were just a few plants. The mule deer were hungry. There were no pollinators. Other animals were reproducing. The ecosystem was on the verge of collapse. Those in charge would need to figure out what went wrong. And then make quick decisions to save it. Good thing this was a simulated game designed to engage students in complex science concepts. They probably won’t feed mule deer in the future, but through a thoughtfully constructed interactive video game, learners can build their science proficiency in engaging and meaningful ways.