National PTA President Otha Thornton discusses why his organization supports the Common Core, dispelling myths and sharing resources to help parents learn more and support successful implementation of the standards.
21st Century Skills
By Brian Lewis, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
It was nearly 20 years ago when E-Rate, the nation’s largest education technology program, was put into place. At that time, a majority of schools (86 percent) were not connected. Mobile phone use was in its infancy and we all referred to the Internet as the information superhighway.
Fast forward to today. Nearly all schools (95 percent) have some level of connectivity. Half of our nation’s teenagers own a smartphone and three-quarters of all children have access to a mobile device.
Walk into a school today and see if you can spot a blackboard and chalk in use; it’s a rarity. In many schools, modern learning devices – screens, projectors and computing devices – that support digital learning have replaced the blackboard. We are in the midst of the digital age.
All the technology that surrounds us and supports our students is only as good as the speed of the connectivity available. Without broadband speed, streaming video stalls, online simulations freeze and load times drag on into eternity. The impact on learning can be crippling. Students get annoyed and teachers get ...
By Harriet Sanford, President & CEO, NEA Foundation
They. Love. Science.
Students involved in the Milwaukee Urban Schools Aquaponics Initiative have discovered the power of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). They do their own research. They ask their own questions. Who knew that you could use someone’s trash to create an incubator for growing fish? This authentic, self-driven learning is contagious and it is opening up a world of possibility.
Their teachers love science, too.
And they are bolstered by an infrastructure and support they need to do their jobs better. A professional learning community meets regularly so that educators can exchange ideas, brainstorm solutions, and learn from outside experts and other schools and schools systems.
The result is a cohort of students who are mastering complex subject matter, gaining valuable 21st century skills, by growing safe, local, sustainable, and nutritious food for ...
By Jack Dale, for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21)
Since the year 2000, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has made the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) available to countries around the world. In 2012, 65 countries participated in the once every three year cycle of PISA. Each three year cycle emphasizes one of three content areas – Math, Science and Reading. In 2012 the emphasis was on Math. In 2015 the emphasis will be on Science.
Beginning this school year, individual schools across America are able to participate in the school-based version called OECD Test for Schools. Participating schools will have a random sample of 15-year olds selected to take part in a matrix sampling of test prompts covering all three content areas.
Questions now before schools and districts are: What kind of results would we get? What are implications for school/district policies and practices? Can this assessment better help us prepare students for needed 21st Century ...
By Kecia Ray, President, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
The debate among global education leaders about how to transform education has taken a sharp right turn. A new report, “A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning,” released by education visionary Michael Fullan, provides educators with solutions for how to change pedagogies to foster deep learning.
Published by Pearson in partnership with ISTE, MaRS Discovery District and Nesta, this visionary report reflects on the impact technology has had on the way we learn. In the paper, the authors suggest a new education model that prepares learners to succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy.
Fullan and his co-author Maria Langworthy urge educators to aim the metamorphosing system toward deeper learning outcomes — in other words, moving students past mastery of existing content to become the creators and users of new knowledge. Three forces are needed to drive change toward this new level of deep learning:
1. New pedagogies that emphasize the natural learning process
Technology plays a pivotal role in creating deeper learning opportunities for students, but it’s not enough to simply add expensive tools to the traditional curriculum. We need pedagogies that tap into students’ core motivations and ...
By Margaret Glick, for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21)
“We are teaching kids to live on a planet we’ve never seen.” - Mary Catherine Bateson
This quote is as true now as it has ever been, but how are we to do this? By developing students’ abilities to think critically, creatively and empathically. How do we manage that? By embedding three qualities—connection, purpose, and mastery into our classrooms.
Brain research has given us a few solid principles in the past decade. One is the concept of plasticity. Plasticity is the ability the brain has to change with experiences. Basically, our brain becomes what it does. This is great news (or bad news, depending on what our brains are doing). This means teachers can promote patterns of thinking that benefit students, and these patterns can become neural networks that assist whatever kind of thinking you’re after. Another brain research principle is that emotions impact learning. When we feel connected and safe in a classroom, a staffroom, or a boardroom, we are able to think in productive ways that might elude us otherwise. Lastly, we know that when work is viewed as purposeful and relevant, the tracks of learning, inquiry, and motivation are greased.
So how do we get there in classrooms? How do we take some of the principles that have surfaced in brain research and apply ...
It’s difficult to imagine life without computers and technology in general - some days my eyes hurt from staring at screens too much. But computer science is much more in-depth than the basic Internet navigation and word processing skills many of us use in our professional lives. Coding, for example, is an important skill for students to master as we move towards the middle of this century in our electronic age, and can develop habits of mind that students can put to use in future STEM professions. Students who learn to code at a young age establish a strong foundation for more advanced classes in high school, better enabling them to pursue degrees in engineering and other technical professions in their post-secondary education. ...
In 2013, we tackled a number of issues here at the Learning First Alliance. For example, in June, our members – representing over 10 million public education stakeholders – came together in calling for a transition period in Common Core implementation, removing high-stakes consequences from new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards temporarily to allow the time necessary to implement them with fidelity. In August, recognizing the importance of connecting all students to the digital age, they joined forces in urging an increase to the E-Rate funding cap.
And earlier this month, we issued a statement reminding parents, educators, policymakers and other education stakeholders that the results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (a test of reading literacy, mathematics and science given every three years to fifteen-year-olds in approximately seventy countries and economies worldwide) must be viewed in context – and that there is a great deal we can learn from ...
Dr. Maria Ferguson recently addressed the topic of failure in a column written for the December issue of the Kappan, a PDK publication. In it, she pointed out that many education leaders and policy makers are unwilling to accept that some amount of failure is predictable and that there are lessons to be learned from failure. It reminded me of the saying, if at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. We set lofty goals in education; Dr. Ferguson highlights the goal of 90% graduation rate under the Clinton administration, with the target date of the year 2000. There was also the objective set out under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), 100% proficiency by 2013-2014.
Our graduation rate is increasing, but we’re well past 2000. NCLB failed to produce the results we desired. Did we really believe our education system was prepared to accomplish those ends within the timeframe we prescribed? If we set ourselves up for failure, it is no wonder that we find ourselves falling short. But then, what do we learn from these repeated failures? ...
All humans have the potential and ability to be creative, and we do ourselves a disservice when we refer to individuals such as Mozart and Einstein as the defining examples of creativity to which we should all strive to emulate. This genius bar misrepresents the concept of creativity and distracts us from the necessary conversations on how to foster the creative mindset and why it’s so important to include in conversations around education. According to James Kaufman, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Connecticut who presented last week at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Summit, creative people are more likely to get promoted, be satisfied with their jobs, be in better physical health and be more resilient. Those are all outcomes we hope for our children. ...
After spending a day at Brattleboro Area Middle School (BAMS) in Vermont, I’m considering how my career path could overlap with living in this district. It isn’t likely, but my point is that I want my future hypothetical children to go to exactly this kind of school – and as a resident, I would want my local tax dollars to support this type of institution and all the amazing professionals that educate and care for the students in it.
BAMS is a public school serving 276 7th and 8th grade students, 46% on free and reduced lunch. A long-time family friend is a science teacher at BAMS, and we’ve had some great conversations about education during my time working with the Learning First Alliance (LFA). I was eager to visit his school, so he helped me connect with Principal Ingrid Christo. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed into the school and encouraged to sit in on meetings and classes and talk to people. The entire day – full from start to finish – exemplified the best qualities that we should all look for in our neighborhood school.
What is it about BAMS that makes it feel so special? It starts with an overarching philosophy which results in a combination of exemplar outcomes: there is a building-wide commitment to ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!