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Articles: Teaching & Learning

The Champaign (Ill.) Community Unit School District #4 serves more than 9,600 students at 18 school sites, and includes more than 1,400 staff members. Trevor Nadrozny has been the director of curriculum for the last three years and was an elementary school principal in the district for 11 years. When Nadrozny first came to the position, of primary concern was the district’s K5 English language arts curriculum. “We had struggled with reading, where we are dealing with a significant achievement gap,” says Nadrozny.

Chromebooks and Google for Education enable schools to use the power and simplicity of the web for unlimited teaching and learning opportunities, engaging stakeholders and creating dynamic learning environments that align with district curriculum and student achievement goals. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 19, 2014, focused on the unique benefits and features of Google for Education, and how Chromebooks can be used to improve student learning, collaboration and innovation.

Many districts are beginning to implement some form of personalized learning in blended and online programs, but it is often a time-consuming and manual process that is difficult to duplicate across classrooms. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on March 13, 2014, education experts discussed the benefits of personalized learning, common challenges when it comes to implementation, and the keys to creating an effective district strategy.

When best practices are engaged in blended learning, authentic personalized learning can happen for all students. Understanding ten key trends happening in the blended learning space can help educators achieve optimal results for students and schools. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 20, 2014, featured education experts who discussed these trends and how blended learning can be successfully implemented. In addition, a principal shared his school’s interpretation of blended learning and how it has resulted in improved student achievement.

Developing 21st-century skills are essential for today’s students to meet state standards, perform on assessments, and be college and career ready. When a project-based approach is used, educators can incorporate 21st-century skills into everyday teaching and learning. These digital skills also help to improve the critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity of students. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on March 5, 2014, experts from Learning.com discussed best practices for developing these skills in the classroom.

The upcoming PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments require students to use secure, locked-down machines. When district leaders invest in this equipment, they should also consider selecting devices that will support increased student achievement and college and career success, such as Google Chromebooks. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2014, featured a Google for Education team member, who discussed the unique benefits of Chromebooks and how these machines can be used for online assessments.

Since Lancaster School District (Calif.) is a K8 school system, Rebecca Cooksey, director of IT, knows that none of her students have optimal listening skills yet. “Students’ audio processing tracks are not fully developed until they are 15,” Cooksey says. And the 25 percent of Lancaster’s 14,000 students who are ELL face additional challenges in listening to and processing information presented orally by teachers. “It is important for ELL students to hear the way teachers pronounce words, and the nuances in their voice,” Cooksey says.

Giving every student a more personalized learning experience is made possible through blended learning. The use of rigorous, engaging learning technology can help increase student achievement in mathematics. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 27, 2014, featured an administrator who discussed how she achieved teacher and parent buy-in for a blended learning model, how data extracted from learning technology drives instruction, and the measurable increase in student achievement after she implemented blended learning.

A successful student-centered learning environment engages students in rigorous activities where they are able to try out their own ideas, make their own mistakes, and then learn from them. ST Math is designed to precisely deliver this type of individualized learning experience. In ST Math, every student receives real-time informative feedback on their unique choices and actions as they try to solve richly interactive puzzles using the virtual manipulative tools that are at the heart of every game.

At Phoenix Academy located in southwest Detroit, children in Ms. Tanner’s Level 3 class are busy learning math. In one corner of the room, a half dozen students are sitting at computers. Over on the right, a small group of students are sitting on the floor with the teacher at the center. In the middle of the room, some students work in pairs, while others work independently.

Jim Handschuch has been the principal of Lacey Township High School, which is part of the Lacey Township School District in Ocean County, New Jersey, since 2012. During his first year as principal, Handschuch found a steady stream of seniors wanting to drop out. With little to offer struggling students who simply did not have enough time to retake full courses required for graduation, Handschuch could not convince many of them to stay in school.

At the Henry County (Ga.) Schools, the only constant over the past decade has been change. A booming economy in the Atlanta area has resulted in the district more than doubling in size. “We went from 19,000 students in the year 2000 to 41,000 today,” says Aaryn Schmuhl, assistant superintendent for learning and leadership services since 2011. “We’ve built 25 new schools during that time.”

Administrators and teachers at Deer Park Middle School in the Deer Park (Wash.) School District have been challenged in the past by the school’s multiple feeder elementary schools. “We have a lot of students coming from these very small schools with a low level of reading proficiency,” says Cassandra Kauppi, the learning assistance program teacher at Deer Park Middle School. Many were scoring below grade level on both state and district assessments. “Our school needed to find a solution to address that,” Kauppi says.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were finalized in April 2013 after a lengthy research and development process by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Achieve and a group of 26 states. Not a set of curricula, the NGSS serves to provide teachers with guidelines for teaching practical, more in-depth science.

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.

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