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Designing the Ideal Personalized Curriculum

As the Title I teacher for at-risk students in my district, I’ve seen firsthand how once low-achieving students can come alive with a teaching style and instructional tools that click with them. The ed tech industry has done a great job thus far in helping teachers move beyond that “Sage on Stage” to more interaction with students. But there’s so much more support we need from ed tech companies to support teachers in truly engaging students and having them increase their learning and their confidence.

Here are just a few:

  1. Assessment drives instruction.
  2. Don't stick to just one type of content.
  3. Offer some freebies.
  4. Just get started.
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Getting Students Ready for the Real World

It’s a daunting time to be entering the workforce, and as a credit recovery teacher and online learning coordinator, I have seen countless students worry about their future career paths. It’s my job as an educator to equip students with lifelong skills to serve them well for college and/or careers after they finish high school. I want to encourage edtech companies to help make the transition from school to career much easier for students (and their teachers!).

  1. Get personal.
  2. Help students see the big picture.
  3. Offer a variety of CTE courses and materials and opportunities.
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Make Mindful Use of All Components of the Blended Learning Definition

Few people, even experts, use the whole definition of Blended Learning as published by the Clayton Christensen Institute and reposted throughout the online/digital learning world. Developing a true blended learning experience that works for all students takes intentional, mindful use of all three parts of the definition:

  • Delivery
  • Location
  • Connected Instruction
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Three Lessons From China: How International Collaboration Sparks a Culture of Learning

For the past year, we’ve been rolling out curricula and projects that help students in China and in the U.S. learn about each other’s cultures and build skills in critical thinking, communication, and language through safe digital collaboration. In working to spark a new world of learning through the program, we’ve discovered much about the ups and downs of using technology on a global scale in a way that makes a real difference, which brings me to the deeper three lessons we learned in China as we paired classes on our platform for collaborative learning:

  1. Connection is one thing; collaboration is another.
  2. Peer social interaction—when done safely—is magical.
  3. Learning is an overarching culture that unites and inspires.
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10 Biggest Barriers to Mobile Technology Adoption

For the past five years I have watched schools move toward mobile technology and have seen a consistent top 10 barriers to mobile technology adoption:

  1. Lack of vision and leadership
  2. “We don’t have money”
  3. Curriculum hasn’t changed
  4. Technology is only supplementing what was already there
  5. Technology infrastructure
  6. Culture of the teachers, the administrators, and the students
  7. Parent and community culture
  8. Takes too long for change
  9. Assessment
  10. Buying tablets and not a learning solution
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Five Critical Ingredients for Supporting Technology-Enhanced Learning Initiatives

Progressive education leaders are now creating comprehensive learning initiatives in which technology is a component of a larger systemic shift directed toward improving student outcomes. In each successful instance of this new approach, I’ve seen school administrators blend the following ingredients to create successful, technology-enhanced learning initiatives:

  • Clearly articulated educational goals
  • A clear plan aligning professional development to goals
  • A comprehensive content strategy with teachers’ ease of access to these documents from all platforms
  • An access strategy
  • An evaluation/continuous improvement plan
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The Library Media Specialist: A Changing Role in Turbulent Times

The stereotypical, shushing school librarian is a thing of the past, and it’s clear the role continues to change with the times; the technology; and our 24/7, information-rich, non-stop world.

Library media specialists are more essential than ever:

  • At the forefront of technology integration
  • Engaged in curriculum development to support the CCSS and 21st century skills
  • Seeking resources to support their role as strong education leaders
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Should HR Directors Care About Student Achievement?

An HR Director for a large school district recently told me, “I am not concerned with student achievement. My job is to make sure that we stay in compliance with employment laws. I leave those issues to the curriculum people.” 

While I had never had it put to me quite that frankly, I was not shocked, based on my discussions with others as a former teacher, principal, district administrator, and now leader of a company that focuses on helping schools and districts with teacher hiring. The debate is alive and well. Should HR directors care about student achievement?

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Equitability ≠ Increase Learner Outcomes

Is playing the equitable card in technology and professional development initiatives really the right approach for positively impacting practitioner and learner outcomes? School culture plays a critical role in the success of technology initiatives, yet is rarely considered as a factor for planning and executing central-based technology implementations. Using a blind process, such as a school lottery system or equitably deploying technology across a grade level, does not necessarily secure positive outputs.

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The State of Common Core: 10 District Survey

The BLEgroup conducted a survey of 10 districts and larger organizations to get data from the frontlines on the feasibility of an effective implementation of Common Core in 2015. The 10 districts surveyed are leading-edge districts that are members of the BLEgroup. They represent a wide range of sizes and types, varying from small rural, large urban, state departments, and service centers. Read on for the survey results. Read More »