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Digital tools are transforming learning and teaching, and Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up National Research Project surveys provide insights about 21st century skills, STEM instruction in classrooms, and how these tools are being used. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on June 10, 2014, Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, shared recent survey findings and discussed what the future of personalized blending learning is expected to look like.

The Seattle School District is systematically updating play areas to include modern, fitness-inspired equipment that welcomes all comers, from the finicky adolescent to the student with special needs and even parents catching up after school hours. The concept of play area as community gathering space has long been part of the district’s philosophy, explains Gretchen DeDecker, Self Help Projects program manager for the 100-school district.

Lindsey Mayer’s job is, quite literally, fun and games. A math interventionist in the Ladue School District in Missouri, Mayer uses playing cards, board games and manipulatives to reinforce tricky math concepts for struggling elementary school students. Guided by Number Worlds, a research-proven math intervention from McGraw-Hill Education for grades preK-8, Mayer presents lesson plans aligned with the Common Core and bolstered by hands-on activities that engage her students.

With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, it became apparent that all students in Placentia-Yorba Linda USD in Orange County needed better keyboarding, higher order thinking and information fluency skills in order to perform well on the Smarter Balanced assessment.

Ready

At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, Principal James Lee was concerned when he compared P.S. 20 Anna Silver’s math and ELA scores to their science scores. “There was a huge discrepancy,” says Lee. “Students scoring 4s on the science test were scoring as low as a 1 in other subject areas. We knew we were teaching the right thinking skills, but needed our curriculum to match.”

Students today are innately comfortable with digital tools, and one way to enable personalized literacy instruction is through these tools. Close-reading techniques, student-submitted writing responses to book-specific prompts and other practices are made possible through a new digital platform. This web seminar, originally broadcast on May 28, 2014, featured an innovative superintendent who implemented this platform in her district to foster a more personalized learning environment, as well as the president of myON, who described the solution in more detail.

McPherson Magnet School is part of Orange USD, located in southern California. A K8 magnet school focused on science, math and technology, McPherson has been open since 1997 and serves 900 students. The school’s mission includes valuing a range of learning styles, utilizing a variety of learning tools and strategies while extending the learning environment beyond the classroom.

Teaching math in middle school is challenging! Teachers deal with adolescent volatility, a wide variance in student ability, and a surprisingly sophisticated set of mathematical ideas. Adding to these challenges, the new Common Core assessments probe students’ understanding of mathematical concepts at a depth not previously widespread on State tests.

The 37,000 students in Escambia County Schools in northwest Florida—like all students today—are constantly bombarded with multiple types of digital media in their lives. Getting them to focus on the important messages in the classroom when they are used to so many distractions can be a challenge. “My experience has been that many children cannot filter the different types of noises and focus their attention on a singular voice,” says Marcia Nowlin, the district’s Title I director.

Kimberly Moritz is in her seventh year as the superintendent of Randolph Central School District. Prior to leading the district of 977 K12 students in this rural community in western New York, Moritz worked as a teacher for ten years in a neighboring rural school district and as a principal in two other school districts. Moritz joined Randolph with the goal of raising the district’s historically average student achievement; for over a decade, Randolph was seeing mediocre results on state assessments.

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