A critical topic for schools, communities, and most importantly, our students, is what teachers do in the classroom to nurture ALL students, create a sense of belonging, and keep educational standards high. Only then can students, especially immigrant students and students of color, meet their potential and succeed in school and beyond. During a recent edWebinar, the presenters underscored that when schools make generalizations about particular student populations and their behavior, they strip them of their individuality, and these students become “invisible.”
As schools and districts strive to meet their existing technology needs and prepare for the future, access to federal and state funding, along with other grants, is making a major difference in whether students engage in 21st century learning or are left behind. And with online assessments now being required in many states, reliable broadband access is also essential so that students’ knowledge and skills are accurately represented, and technology is not a barrier to achievement and its documentation.
At Common Sense Education, the edtech reviewers have seen it all. And to help teachers navigate the plethora of materials for the digital classroom, Tanner Higgin, Director of Education Editorial Strategy at Common Sense Education, presented “50 Top Edtech Tools for the Classroom.” Below are some of Higgin’s favorites.
Despite universal concerns about student data privacy, communicating school policies can quickly overwhelm school leaders. CoSN has stepped in with guidance for superintendents and principals to help them with several aspects of student data privacy, including best practices for informing the community. In their edWebinar “Assuring Student Data Privacy: Lessons for Our Times,” presenters offered insights into how school leaders can take charge of communications for this critical issue.
Augmented Reality, or AR, is described by Jaime Donally in a recent edWebinar as a “digital layer in our real world that gives an illusion that it exists in our space.” She highlights that it is an exciting time, as emerging technologies associated with AR are feeling much more realistic. AR software such as Google Maps allows the viewer to have guidance as they are walking in a new area, and AR embedded browsers can display 3D animated objects in real-life environments. The key to giving students opportunities to engage in augmented reality begins with supporting teachers as they enhance learning experiences for students. Using AR software and tools such as 3DBear and MERGE, teachers have access to an abundance of activities and lesson plans that offer more in-depth content, provide opportunities for collaboration and exploration, and expand students learning experiences outside of classroom walls.
“We have students who are passionate, engaged and comfortable with technology, yet students are living in silos and not equipped with the 21st century skills which they genuinely need to be part of the global workforce of tomorrow.” This statement by Amy McCooe, CEO of Level Up Village, during a recent edWebinar hit home with her two co-presenters, Esra Murray, Fifth Grade Teacher at International School Dundee, CT, and Fran Kompar, Director Instructional Technology and Digital Learning at Wilton Public Schools, CT. Kompar expressed her frustration, “We are now 20 years into the 21st century, and we should be preparing our students for the work of their time, not the future because the future is now.” The presenters emphasized that the global skill most vital to students is learnability: the desire, passion, and capacity to learn, the ability to synthesize and evaluate information, and the willingness to take on new challenges. The impact of developing learnability skills will ensure that our young learners apply their knowledge and skills to the global workforce and become lifelong learners.
Teaching students how to become digital citizens is essential as technology assumes a greater place in their lives. Learners with opportunities to think critically about what they see online; recognize the benefits and risks of sharing information; and balance screen time with other activities will become digitally aware and responsible.
Engaging students with ADHD and attention challenges—rather than just managing their behavior—should be the goal for every teacher. Teachers worry, though, that they will have to create a separate curriculum or otherwise alter how they teach. Not so, said Ezra Werb, M.Ed., Educational Therapist and author, in his edWebinar “Engagement Strategies for Students with Attention Challenges: Lower Anxiety and Raise Confidence.” Instead, he offers strategies to lessen learners’ anxieties and raise their confidence so they can meet the same goals as their peers.
Current employment trends and future projections all point towards continued growth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs, as well as the need for STEM-related skills in other fields. Yet, recent math proficiency levels among American students remain low, at just 44% in fourth grade and 33% at the eighth-grade level, and the math score trend lines are not showing significant improvement.
Storytelling can create educational environments where content is approachable and relatable, gives meaning to complex information, and creates new pathways to existing knowledge. According to the presenters of a recent edWebinar, Jenni Light, Senior Manager of Insights and Strategy for Cartoon Network, John Britt, Writer and Producer at Cartoon Network, Creative Group, and Chris Rettstatt, Product Manager at Wonder Workshop, STEM projects are designed to ensure that students have opportunities to learn problem-solving skills, engage in real-life experiments and analyze data. While these types of projects can be fun in their own right, adding a story and humor to the lesson increases overall student engagement.