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Designing for Learner Variability: Cultivating Curiosity and Civic-Mindedness with the Ciena Solutions Challenge

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

Designing for Learner Variability: Cultivating Curiosity and Civic-Mindedness with the Ciena Solutions Challenge

Presented by Ed Gomes Jr., English as a Second Language, Literature, and Linguistics Teacher, Secretary of Education / Faculdade São Bernardo, São Paulo, Brazil; Elyse Gainor, Program Director, Global Engagement, Digital Promise; and Jessica Jackson, Director of Professional Learning, Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise

Sponsored by Digital Promise

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Student agency is the capacity a student has to act and exert power over their learning. In order to be successful beyond the K-12 classroom, students need to develop the skills of learning or 21st-century skills to become lifelong learners. Ultimately, this requires teachers to understand how their students learn and how to develop these skills of learning in their students.

In this edWebinar, we will look at how the new Designing for Learner Variability framework can guide how to support the shift from being the holder of knowledge to facilitator of learning. Attendees will learn ways to foster student agency in their classrooms, such as through the Ciena Solutions Challenge, a global design challenge for middle and high school students. Guests Ed Gomes Jr. and Elyse Gainor will share how the Challenge can support students’ natural curiosity and civic-mindedness, both critical skills for lifelong learning.

This edWebinar will be of interest to PreK-12 teachers, librarians, paraprofessionals, school counselors, and school, district, and education technology leaders. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Ed Gomes Jr.

About the Presenters

Ed Gomes has been teaching in public schools since 1998, language centers since 2001, and in college since 2017. He achieved his masters degree in 2013 and doctorate in 2019, focusing on intertextuality in education. In 2015 Ed participated in the International Leaders of Educations Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State, attending a 4-month professional development course. He has presented his projects about intertextuality and gamification in literacy, language and literature learning in Brazil, USA, Italy and Indonesia. Currently he also works at the curriculum department of the Secretary of Education of the State of São Paulo and teaches education and language technologies at Fasb College (Faculdade São Bernardo). He has traveled to 17 countries for professional, academic and personal growth, studying their languages, and cultures.

Elyse Gainor

Elyse Gainor is Program Director, Global Engagement at Digital Promise. In her role, she directs the YouthMADE Festival, a global celebration of youth creativity and innovation. She also leads the communications campaign for the Ciena Solutions Challenge, a global design challenge for middle and high school students to design solutions addressing the Sustainable Development Goals in their communities.

Jessica Jackson

Jessica Jackson is Director of Professional Learning for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise, where she designs professional learning for educators that helps them address the needs of the whole learner through research-based practices. Jessica has over 20 years of experience in education, which reflects her passion for creativity, leadership, and social justice. As a New Leader alum, she founded an integrated arts elementary school in Memphis, TN. As Director of Academics, she designed instructional systems, coached leaders, and organized full-scale professional development for a network of schools at Capstone Education Group. She has her master’s in education from Pace University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond.

Learn more about viewing the live presentation and the recording, earning your CE certificate, and using our new accessibility features.

Join the Personalize Learning for Learner Variability community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


Digital PromiseDigital Promise shapes the future of learning and advances equitable education systems by bringing together solutions across research, practice, and technology.


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