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21st-century learning

To meet the Common Core State Standards, students must develop the 21st-century skills needed for college and career success. Districts must adapt their curriculum to ensure students are being taught these digital skills. This web seminar, originally broadcast on September 19, 2013, addressed integrating technology into the classroom in a practical way, how district leaders and teachers must work together to address curriculum change, and the software that can help students prepare for the rigor of Common Core assessments.

Whether using the internet safely or preparing for a nationwide assessment that will be completed on a computer, students at a Long Island, N.Y., district are conquering the digital world. The district’s 5,800 students in grades K-8 are using EasyTech, a web-delivered curriculum from Learning.com that allows teachers to seamlessly integrate digital literacy skills into math, science, language arts and social studies instruction.

Administrators spend a lot of time and funds on implementing education technology in their schools. However, such programs can only be valuable tools if students have the digital skills necessary to use technology effectively. This web seminar, orgininally broadcast on April 18, 2013, featured administrators from the Phillipsburg (N.J.) School District, who described its successful implementation of the EasyTech curriculum from Learning.com.

In today’s blended learning environment, an increasing number of students and teachers have access to technology that extends the educational process well beyond the classroom walls. As part of this trend, school districts across the U.S. are implementing practices and policies that transform learning environments into one of participatory learning, for the purpose of improving student outcomes.

Participatory learning is a collaborative student-centered environment in which students learn from both their peers and teachers using digital media resources and other tools.

The Common Core’s honeymoon phase is over, and now a growing backlash is emerging as parents, educators and political figures cite concerns ranging from rigor to privacy issues.

Imagine access to your district’s email system on mobile devices tripled over two weeks. This is exactly what Deb Karcher, CIO of Miami Dade Public Schools and her team faced after Christmas 2012. “Santa Syndrome,” a term coined by Karcher, resulted in the 50,000 users accessing the email system on personal devices before winter break jumping to 150,000 when the schools reopened after the holidays. Fortunately, the district has plenty of bandwidth to support such an influx to their enterprise applications, including email. 

The problems in public education are worrisome and well-documented: lagging math and science scores, shaky skills in reading and writing, growing numbers of students reaching college ill-prepared—or simply not getting there at all.

Eighth graders in Main Street Middle School in the Soledad (Calif.) Unified School District take honors Algebra I.

Algebra I has long served as a gateway to higherlevel math courses and science courses, such as physics, and has been required for high school graduation as well as admission to most colleges. But taking algebra also can turn into a pathway for failure, from which some students never recover. In 2010, a national U.S. Department of Education study found that 80 percent of high school dropouts cited their inability to pass Algebra I as the primary reason for leaving school.

• Establish clear expectations and
deadlines from the start

• Be in regular communication
with students, using whole group
and individual email, phone calls,
and chat features

• Guide students through projects,
activities and problems with
carefully-crafted directions

• Pay attention to online voice: be
positive, personal, professional,
and approachable

• Provide regular and timely feedback

• Model good online behavior and
encourage student reflection

• Listen to and learn from students

Students are doing less hand-raising and more clicking as online classes become increasingly popular in K12 instruction, both in combination with brick-and-mortar classrooms and in independent full-time virtual schools. “It’s exploding,” says Barbara Treacy, director of EdTech Leaders Online, a program of the nonprofit Education Development Center that works with educational organizations to develop online courses and professional development.

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