As the educational sector moves into a new era of learning and collaboration, educators are facing new challenges every day. With this shift emerging, collaborative learning tools and innovative solutions are being developed and deployed. Last year, a study by UNICEF stated that more than 1 billion children* were at risk of falling behind due to campus closures.
With schools and colleges reopening, it’s becoming increasingly clear that with the proper framework and tools, academic leaders can adjust their strategy to find new ways of providing continuous education while fostering connections. We’re diving deep into the effects of COVID on education, innovative products or tools being employed, and developing trends that are transforming the world of education and learning. Keep reading to know more.
What tools and solutions has your organization implemented?
Academic experts share ideas on employing some unique solutions, tools, and products that support meaningful interactions and learning.
'Since the school shutdowns began last March, I have been telling the teachers I work with that it is such a silver lining to education. It forced many teachers outside of their comfort zone to learn new technology (much of what actually makes their lives easier) and pushed many of the inequities in education into the mainstream conversation (even though we had been speaking about it for years).
- Student-Centered World was created in 2018 to help teachers create a fully engaged classroom and in turn, reduce their stress, reclaim their time, and increase their students' success. Our signature program, A Passion for Progress: Being a Rockstar Teacher in a Stressed-Out World guides teachers in creating lessons that are 100% hands-on and innovative, driving student engagement through the roof.
- The key training our organization is currently using is a totally free series called Finding Your Student Engagement Formula. It teaches teachers how to think outside of the box using the 4-keys to student engagement. Through the series, teachers will create the first day of school lesson plan to not only spike student engagement but to set the tone for the school year, creating a classroom environment that everyone is excited to be a part of. The key to this is that we show how to do it with or without technology, depending on the resources that any particular school or student has at their disposal. All parts of this process circle around the same concept: meaningful relationships in the classroom.’
Jenn Breisacher, CEO of Student-Centered World
‘Edficiency helps middle and high schools across the country manage the logistics of flexible time in schools so that teachers and kids get more time each day with those they most need it with, which seems aligned with what you're looking for.
In short, middle and high schools build in flexible blocks of time into their day, traditionally a single, 20-45 minute period, so that students have additional opportunities to get more help, go deeper into topics that they're interested in but don't fit into their regularly scheduled time with a teacher, or participate in extracurricular activities that usually require them to stay after school (which not all students are able to do). Our software gives students and teachers a choice in how this time is spent and allows them to request each other during these flexible times each day, using different priority levels to ensure students are where they are most needed each day and ensuring every student is accounted for. Teachers and admin then know where every kid is each day and can analyze the data and trends to be sure the time is being used well.
Since COVID, we've seen schools doing more creative things with their time. For instance, many are now including multiple flex periods in a single day, sometimes in combination with lunch every day, and others on a single day per week for more options. Others are offering fully flexible days (often a Friday) where all blocks during the day are flexible, and some schools don't even require students to attend unless they're requested to by a teacher or opt-in themselves.
We're even seeing some schools start to think about how they can make the majority of a schedule flexible every day of the week, where students will have some times locked in each week at a specific time for a particular class, with the rest of their time flexible, matching their needs to the offerings available at any given time. We've even seen a larger school in Texas run their flex periods virtually, whether students are on or off-campus. On-campus students all stay in whatever room they were already in and log onto their devices to access teachers across the building as the teacher chaperoning their room supports students virtually across the campus, with students, also logging in for support from at home.’
James Bacon, Director of Outreach & Operations of Edficiency.
‘Our school board focuses heavily on developing and improving lasting systems and structures that promote ongoing collaboration. We feel it's critical to tear down silos in order to gain the best perspectives of what is needed in our classrooms to support students. We will continue to prioritize meaningful conversations with weekly collaborative team meetings (myself with my principals, principals with their core instructional teams, etc.) in order to always put the needs of the students first. Tools and pedagogical initiatives will come and go.
What we truly focus on our core pillars to productive teaming - clear, honest, and transparent communication and having the structures and systems in place that allow all principals to facilitate teamwork among teachers and support staff to make sure every child reaches his or her potential.’
Daphne Wallbridge, Superintendent of Education in a French Catholic school board in Northern, Ontario.
'Achieve3000 delivers a comprehensive suite of digital solutions – Achieve3000 Literacy, Actively Learn, Smarty Ants, and Achieve3000 Math – that significantly accelerate and deepen learning across content areas, including literacy, math, science, social studies, and ELA. Using personalized and differentiated solutions, Achieve3000 enables educators to help all students achieve accelerated growth. For more than five million students in grades PreK-12, Achieve3000 improve high-stakes test performance and drives college and career readiness.
Here’s an example of how one teacher attained a deeper level of engagement using Achieve3000 Literacy during the 2020-21 school year. Jason Valente, who teaches in a bilingual classroom in Paterson, NJ invited Civil Engineer Vanessa Galvez to speak to his students, as they were also reading about Ms. Galvez in the Achieve3000 article “Latinas Making Their Mark.”
When it came to writing a final episode for “Ben and Ruby: The Final Faceoff”, in response to Achieve3000’s fiction writing contest, Mr. Valente’s classroom connected the time-traveling main characters with the history of Ancient China. By using Achieve3000 Literacy’s differentiated content as a tool to reach all his students, Mr. Valente was able to create meaningful connections in the virtual classroom. As we adopt a “new normalcy” in education, it’s important that we embrace any positive lessons we learned over the past school year and carry them forward. Here are some practices we’ve identified at Achieve3000:
- Culturally relevant content is an effective way to inspire, engage, and motivate diverse learners. As the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse, the need for content and instruction that is reflective and inclusive of students from different backgrounds is an essential aspect of providing equitable access to education for all. Culturally relevant content, such as that included in Achieve3000 Literacy and Actively Learn, engages students.
- Technology-enabled instruction allows all students to learn at their own pace and in their own way. The pandemic and the sudden shift to remote instruction allowed students the flexibility to learn in ways that worked best for them. Going forward, students will benefit greatly if schools and districts can continue to provide them with personalized and adaptive learning opportunities.
- Providing tools to accelerate growth will be essential in helping to address unfinished learning. Many studies have shown that students are likely to come back to school in the fall with some degree of unfinished learning. Differentiated instructional solutions like Achieve3000’s digital solutions can help students catch up and get on track for success after graduation.’
Deep Sran, Senior Vice President of Learning at Achieve3000.
‘I work closely with teachers and educators, using immersive virtual worlds like Mozilla Hubs and Frame, to support meaningful interactions between students and teachers no matter if learning is in-person or virtual. I can also speak to my book on online learning, which highlights best practices for virtual learning moving forward in a post-COVID learning world.’
Lindy Hockenbary, Owner of InTECHgrated Professional Development.
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