With so many issues for school and district leaders to deal with during this difficult time, staying focused on students’ learning experiences may not always seem like the top priority. But district officials from Alabama and Minnesota, who are determined to provide an equitable education for all their students, recently explained how listening to students and taking action based on student input is a key factor in achieving successful outcomes.
Preparing learners for academic success is essential. But students must be able to carry what they learn from school to the real world where they will ultimately live and work. In a recent edLeader Panel, educators and entrepreneurs—committed to developing students’ academic and lifelong skills—shared strategies and tools designed to propel student engagement, strengthen academic proficiency, and build young people’s capacity for gainful employment and financial well-being.
Before COVID-19, home internet access for all students was a goal—one that some districts even thought they had achieved. But the pandemic and forced distance learning have exposed a plethora of inequities in schools that many district leaders now see as issues they must address. In the edWebinar, “Digital Equity Strategies for Learning Beyond the Classroom,” the presenters talked about how they are managing digital equity in the COVID-19 era and what they see as the critical next steps.
Dr. Stephanie Jones emphasizes that when implementing effective social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies, educators, practitioners, and administrators need to think about the what, the why, and the how of the essential skills of SEL. In a recent edWebinar, Jones, Director of the Ecological Approaches to Social-Emotional Learning (EASEL) Lab, explained that there are six SEL domains studied and documented by researchers. The first three domains are skills and competencies: cognitive, emotional, and social, and the next three are belief ecologies: attitudes, habits of mind, and ways of thinking about the world. One way to think about how these two sets go together is that on the one hand are things that you learn and know how to do, and on the other is a set of internal guideposts that tell you to use those skills when it’s essential and when it matters.
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.
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.
edWeb.net is delighted to announce a partnership with CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) to help leaders in rural school districts who are dedicated to taking the Digital Leap. edWeb and CoSN will be launching an online community and series of edWebinars titled “Tech for Rural Districts.” The program will leverage CoSN’s expertise and network of district leaders to help rural districts with the unique challenges and opportunities that they face with acquiring and implementing technology.
According to Learning in the 21st Century: the 2019 Digital Promise LVP Survey, 83% of teachers think students are capable of high achievement, but just 26% think students are reaching those levels today. As part of the Learner Variability Project, which “seek[s] to uncover strategies to meet learners where they are across varied contexts and needs,” Digital Promise’s team is examining the key factors for different grades and subject levels that impact student learning. During the edWebinar, “Learning in the 21st Century: What Teachers Think Matters,” the presenters talked about the science of individuality, how they’re using the research to help developers create products to meet these individual needs, and examples that show how the Learner Variability Project can work in the classroom.
It’s an often-told story: the new principal comes to a school, opens the supply closet, and sees tons of notepads (or pencils or toner). When she looks at the supply order and asks why even more are being purchased despite the surplus, the reply is, “it’s the same order we make every year.” Unfortunately, that philosophy typically applies to school schedules as well. At the end of the school year, the previous master schedule is duplicated, teacher rosters are updated as needed, and no other changes are made regardless of changes in the student population. In addition to this practice being lazy, the presenters of the edWebinar, “Using Student-Centered Scheduling to Address Equity” said copying the same schedule year after year can lead to further segregating students and keeping low-performing ones from reaching their potential. While reworking the master schedule may not be the most exciting part of the principal’s job, presenters Karin Chenoweth, Author of Schools that Succeed; Sergio Garcia, Principal, Artesia High School (CA); and Chris Fitzgerald Walsh, Head of Impact, Abl, say making sure instructional time isn’t wasted is the administrator’s most important job.
Parents today want more information from their children’s teachers and schools, but they also want that information to be timely, targeted, and personalized to their children or their interest areas. The latest data from Speak Up Research Project gives insights on school to home communications. In “Text, Twitter, Email, Call—What Do Parents Say About School Communications?” Dr. Julie Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Project Tomorrow, shared these insights from parents, educators, and administrators, and discussed takeaways from the research.