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Articles: Classroom Integration

Authors Michael Horn and Heather Staker say culture is crucial to innovation in schools.

Blended learning is poised to transform education as we know it. We know the what and the why, but it’s not often we learn how. In their book, Blended, Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, Michael Horn and Heather Staker lay out the components of successful blended learning programs, and challenge readers to create a culture that can make these innovations succeed.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Students in all grade levels have been using robotics in the classroom at Fayette County Schools in Kentucky.

Many districts are charging up their K12 STEM courses with the use of robotics. The clear benefits of robotics are increased student engagement and collaboration—but there’s more.

The FCC recommends schools have internet access of  at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users in the short term. The FCC will provide $1 billion per year for  Wi-Fi connections in 2015 and 2016.

High-speed broadband is in and phones are out, according to the recent FCC order to update the federal E-rate program. Administrators will have new funds to expand district Wi-Fi capacity, but will need to make up for lost phone and email subsidies.

Amanda Jelen is a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Redeemer School in Marshall, Minn.

Holy Redeemer School, a Catholic K8 school in Minnesota, is focused on delivering an educational environment that differentiates the learning experience for each child’s specific needs.

Part of that initiative involves giving every student, including those in kindergarten, a tablet to engage them in their education. We had heard stories of failed tablet implementations in other schools, and were determined to avoid similar mistakes in our own rollout.

The standard whiteboard is evolving to keep up with advancements in learning technology. With today’s newer models, several students and teachers can work together on the same surface at the same time. Corresponding mobile apps also allow students to collaborate on their BOYD or 1-to-1 devices.

The Nervanix Clarity is a headset that monitors EEG brainwaves to measure attention levels.

Measuring and even changing a student’s brain activity was once a science fiction concept. But technology advances are pushing to market more products that use attention levels and plasticity of the mind to raise academic achievement.

Juniors in Billings, Mont. worked on a local multimedia exhibit that covered a series of hate crimes that occurred in the town 20 years ago.

Instead of essays and book reports, more schools are turning toward multimedia projects in the classroom to make lessons more engaging and even stem the tide of bullying and tolerance.

While implementing technology initiatives such as 1-to-1 and using audio and visuals such as photographs, administrators at Crosby ISD in Texas also wanted to see what their teachers could do to “beef up” their instruction, says Patricia Kay, assistant superintendent of instruction.

Students in algebra class at Free State High School at Lawrence schools take part in blended learning lessons.

Blended and online learning platforms are changing K12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, former educators, are considered pioneers in the flipped-class movement. They are co-authors of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.

We believe that, at most schools, there is time built into the schedule that can be used to help teachers flip their classes. Many schools have professional learning communities and time is set aside for groups of teachers to collaborate, to work on district initiatives and be agents of change in the schools.

The new breed of robots rolling, dancing and flying into classrooms is giving educators at all grade levels an engaging new tool to fire students’ enthusiasm for math, computer programming and other STEM-related subjects.

Students use their own mobile devices to work out math problems in an economics and personal finance class at Marshall High School in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  (Photo: Donnie Biggs)

Districts that have implemented BYOD successfully have found building a powerful Wi-Fi network, developing explicit acceptable use policies, and communicating those policies clearly to students, parents and teachers are critical steps in the technology transition.

Mary Reiman is director of library media services for Lincoln Public Schools

Public education is embarking on a digital transformation. We are shifting from consumption-based learning to creation-based learning. These are moves in the right direction, but they require us to provide our students with access to the tools and devices needed to connect them to all the available resources.

States signed 132 digital learning bills into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013. (Click image to enlarge)

States are passing legislation to improve technology use in K12 classrooms, having debated more than 450 digital learning bills and having signed 132 into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013.

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