Archive for the ‘
innovation ’ Category
Darren Stowell is the CEO of ActivEd, a Portland based education company developing online content for k-3 classrooms that get kids moving, while developing fundamental reading and math skills. He’s spent 15 years in the education space, most notably as a senior leader with both Teach For America and Kaplan. He lives in NE Portland with his wife and two young boys.
As a lifelong advocate for public education, a father of two boys and an avid athlete, I have experienced the many effects physical activity and inactivity can have on people—most importantly kids. Through my work as an educator working with communities around the country, one thing that holds true is that physically active kids enjoy themselves more and perform better in school.
I became acutely aware of that truth over the last few years with my four-year-old son, Isaac. Isaac is an incredible little boy, with a hunger for learning and a commitment to squeezing every second out of every day. At first, we saw this energy as a boy “just being a boy,” but after our second son was born, we started to understand that Isaac’s energy and his need to be active throughout the day was related to his unique learning style. (more…)
When the annual school report cards are issued, many parents eagerly scan for their student’s school to see where it stands, and if it has improved. Yet when they look at the scores, they are often left feeling confused—no more informed about what kind of education their child is receiving than before. As a busy parent, it is convenient to have a simple document that gives a quick snapshot of how your child’s school is faring. But the current report card, which depends exclusively on high-stakes, standardized testing, leaves that picture black and white at best. For the report card to be truly useful as a measure of educational quality offered by a particular school to parents, it needs to give color to the culture of the school. It needs to reflect what the school is like on the inside, not just whether all students have met a predetermined cut score. I am more concerned with the growth of each student from year to year, including both students who have not yet ‘met’ grade level standards and those who have scored high enough to exceed the needed score. A school that is making strides to help students improve year to year seems like a more personalized and relevant marker of whether individual students are learning. (more…)
I may be revealing how much television I watch, but those K12.com Oregon Virtual Academy commercials are everywhere these days. Issues of school choice aside, their refrain of praises for online learning has me thinking more and more lately about the role of technology in education. How will new technologies help students’ learning? How will digital tools change the classroom? Will all these developments help create critical thinkers and global entrepreneurs (with “21st century skills”), or will they disconnect people from each other and create a generation of frenzied consumers of the overwhelming digital stream of information?
In our current ChalkBloggers poll, not one person has selected “Utilizing new technologies” as the most important element of classroom instruction. That’s a relief to me. I would never want a teacher to sacrifice real interactions (like providing constructive feedback and creating a positive and open learning environment, the two top answers) to let a computer do it for them. No one wants robotic teaching.
But certainly, lessons can be enhanced with new digital resources—and more and more, this and future generations of technology-steeped children will need to be reached with constructive interactive tools in the classroom. No one can completely shut off to new technologies and risk being left behind. The trick is finding a balance and carefully choosing the most effective tools that will enrich, not distract from, student learning.
But how to sort through the myriad options that seem to be growing and changing even faster everyday? It seems like a full-time job just to keep up. But I’ve found a few new online resources (of course) that look to do the work for you.
There are some very inspirational leaders in the education profession. These are the people who seem to have the capacity to view the big picture and articulate so clearly what they see and hear. Linda Nathan, headmaster of Boston Arts Academy, author, and Harvard instructor in democratic schools, is such a leader.
Linda came to Oregon in May as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Small Schools Leadership Institute in Ashland. The theme of the one day Institute, led by E3 Small Schools Director Kathy Campobasso, was “moving forward.” Linda spoke with rich and vivid examples on the importance of leadership with a strong and clear vision and about the complexities of sustaining the work of personalizing education through the power of small. Principals, teacher leaders, teachers, superintendents, and board members from 22 small high schools participated in a variety of break-out sessions. They shared outstanding practices that are happening in their schools and celebrated the positive results.
Students from southern Oregon small schools presented a panel on their small high school experiences. The concluding forum was presented by Duncan Wyse, Executive Director of E3, Barbara Gibbs of Meyer Memorial Trust, and Linda Nathan on the importance and challenges of moving forward with positive school change on the state and national level. All were inspirational!
It’s Chalkboard’s core belief that the best way to improve Oregon schools is to strengthen and support our teachers. So we’re thrilled to see this goal put into practice with the Oregon Educator Professional Development Commission’s new teacher resource website, which officially launched on Monday.
The site, www.OregonTeacherQuality.com, serves as a one-stop-shop for educator professional development tools and resources, including links to State and Federal standards, educator preparation programs, and a searchable database and calendar of over 100 useful articles, publications, websites, and events. It looks to be a great first step for anyone interested in becoming a teacher, and will also serve to reinvigorate and engage veteran teachers, keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest research, ideas, and available supports. Read the full press release here.
We’re especially excited about this development as an example of the public sector, private sector, non-profits, and the government coming together for the united purpose of improving educator effectiveness – and therefore, Oregon schools. The Oregon Educator Professional Development Commission was established in 2009 through Senate Bill 443, a joint effort of Chalkboard, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon Department of Education (which, since then, has been responsible for coordinating the Commission’s work), and others. Two years later, we are now seeing their work reach teachers in a very real, meaningful way.
What do you think of the site? While the it is set to grow, check it out now and offer your own feedback to shape this valuable resource. We can’t wait to see where it goes.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the annual SxSW (South by Southwest) conference in Austin, TX – “Interactive” track. As happens after all great conferences, my head is still swimming with the energy of great ideas.
If I had to condense the learnings of the conference into one main idea, it was this: Game mechanics are changing our world. It has already started, and will continue to accelerate. This is true in education, as well. There were about a half-dozen panels and speaker sessions dedicated to education at this year’s conference. Some of them investigated the evolving relationship between technology and education, but many mentioned gaming & game theory as central to the way education should be redefined. Most of the sessions that focused specifically on game theory mentioned education as an obvious arena in which these learnings should be applied.
One of the most influential speakers of the week was Jane McGonigal. She has been speaking for years about gaming and its power for intellectual inquiry and social good, but now even slow-adopters like me are finally listening.
“…those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years. Gamers, on the other hand, will be able to leverage the collaborative and motivational power of games in their own lives, communities, and businesses.”
- Reality is Broken