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.
With the Common Core Standards came an increased focus on reading informational texts, starting with kindergarten. But integrating informational texts isn’t as simple as having students read a couple of biographies every marking period. In PBS TeacherLine’s edWebinar, “Strategies to Engage Young Learners with Informational Text,” Nell Duke, Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Michigan School of Education, offered her advice for understanding and incorporating informational texts in the classroom.
As a new principal at the Dunwoody Springs Elementary School, Fulton County Schools, GA, Ivy Goggins faced pockets of success in the building, a climate of teachers working in silos, and the lack of true collaboration. These are common challenges for many instructional leaders, teachers, and coaches, and Goggins sought to find a way to create a culture of mutual respect, cooperation, and equitable learning opportunities for her teachers and students. In CT3’s recent edWebinar, Goggins, her principal coach Joy Treadwell, Ph.D. from CT3, and Jim McVety, Managing Partner of First Step Advisors, delved into solutions to these challenges through the essential leadership skills that have the potential to impact the entire school community.
Students miss a school day now and then. They get sick, have a doctor’s appointment, or get caught up in a family emergency. These are among common excused absences that don’t usually affect a student’s academic standing. But chronic absenteeism—missing 10% or more of school—is an equity epidemic with short- and long-term impacts on student performance. Each year, almost eight million students are chronically absent for complex reasons.
Sometimes, teaching is more like bombardment: Grading hundreds of essays, placating disgruntled parents, accommodating learning needs, sweating out the principals’ nerve-wracking classroom observation. And then there are the stressors of life beyond the classroom. Being a teacher can be tough. It is rewarding but also overwhelming and, at times, can take a personal and professional toll.
The goal of digital equity is to ensure that all students have access to devices, high-speed internet, and opportunities to learn both in school and out. While digital equity is a challenge for all school districts, Dr. Beth Holland, Digital Equity and Rural Project Director for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), points out that it becomes a very complex issue given the challenges within rural schools and systems. In a recent edWebinar, Holland along with Jennifer Austin, CETL, Instructional Technology Coordinator at Lac du Flambeau Public School in Wisconsin, Michael Flood, Vice President of Strategy at Kajeet, and Tammy Neil, Computer Science Teacher at Suwannee Middle School in Florida, discuss the unique challenges rural districts face when providing students’ online access to their education. Flood explained that when students don’t have equal access to devices and high-speed internet, it prevents them from having the same kinds of learning opportunities as their more connected peers.
Administrators selecting educational technology programs for their schools or districts face big decisions due to the time and money at stake, so having accurate and relevant information about the programs’ impact on student performance elsewhere should be a critical part of the decision-making process. During a recent edWebinar sponsored by MIND Research Institute, Andrew Coulson, Chief Data Science Officer at MIND Research Institute, and Brian LeTendre, Director of Content and Communications, explained a process for finding data that will help administrators make the best choices for their student population, and in doing so “raise expectations about the availability of information” during program evaluations.
Whether schools are 1:1 or still relying on computer carts, the move to online assessments creates new needs from devices to professional development to data privacy policies. During the edWebinar, “Online Assessment: An Effective, Coordinated, District Leadership Team Approach,” administrators from the Hampton Township School District in Pennsylvania offered lessons they learned from implementing a comprehensive online assessment program.
Digital learning not only plays a crucial role in preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, it also has an important role in providing equity and access to education, especially in smaller and remote school districts. And, that makes access to adequate and reliable broadband even more important as the development of new technologies continues. The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is now preparing to accommodate next-generation technologies such as 5G, virtual reality, robotics, and e-sports, and during a recent SETDA and ENA edWebinar, Christine Fox, the group’s Deputy Executive Director, provided an overview of the opportunities and challenges that schools and districts now face. Marc Johnson, Executive Director of East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative (ECMECC), then provided perspective from a regional and local level on the expanding use of broadband.
It may lack sweat equity, but it’s up there with even the most physically demanding of sports. Esports, the competitive side of video gaming, is exploding. And K-12 schools are buying in because it’s not only fun but also a viable educational tool! A recent edWebinar sponsored by Common Sense Education, “Ready Player One: Esports in K-12,” highlights why esports has taken hold in schools. Research-based evidence affirms its highly positive impact on students’ academic achievement, soft skills, and socio-emotional well-being.