What We Can Learn from New Orleans’ Post-Katrina School Reforms

1200px-PostKatrina_near_Stanislaus_HallReforms put in place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005 turned out to have many positive impacts, according to a new report published by the Education Research Alliance. Two researchers, Douglas Harris from Tulane University and Matthew Larsen from Lafayette College, found that the move to state-controlled charters boosted student achievement, high school graduation rates, college entry numbers, the college persistence rate and the college graduation rate…

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Drones Take Off in Education

160108-F-LX370-002Unstaffed flying objects, unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely piloted aircraft. These are all alternative names for drones. According to two educators who have introduced them in the classroom, no matter what you call them, these small flying vehicles can be a useful response to drooping attendance, high discipline counts and low student satisfaction. Best, whether the subject is math, science, English, history, art or PE, there are drone lessons that can help bring abstract concepts to life for students.

As a K-8 math supervisor in Jersey City Public Schools, Kimberly Crowley wanted to figure out how to use drones to make math engaging for her students. Armed with a conviction that she could succeed, she got the backing of an associate superintendent who found funding to kick off the program for her to do a research project. Crowley held an information meeting and invited all of the schools in the district to send teachers who might be interested. This wasn’t going to be a mandated program, she insisted. She shared her idea with the teachers in a 30-minute presentation and asked for volunteers. Out of 50 people in attendance, while a few “rolled eyes,” another 24 emailed her as soon as she was done talking. They became her initial cohort…

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How to Use Games to Juice up Science Lessons

Tammie Schrader was never a gamer. But one day in a middle school science class she assigned a game on plant cells to her students to help them review the concepts. One student, a “really bright kid” who would typically “pick and choose” what he would work on, came into class the next day and handed her a thumb drive. On it was a version of a Nintendo Mario game intended to do the same thing. When a learner wanted Mario to jump up to grab a coin, he or she would first have to answer a plant question. If the answer was right, the student would get the coin; if not, he or she “would fall through the tube.” Schrader was impressed enough with the student’s hack that she put it on her interactive whiteboard to share with the class. All day long, she found, “kids wanted to play this game.” Soon, students from other classes were coming in before and after class and during lunch and asking if they could try it out too.

It didn’t take long for Schrader to call her principal in to see the results. The message: “OK, so I’m not meeting the needs of my kids. Even though I don’t use games, they do, and I think we need to start leveraging it.”

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9 Major Trends That Will Dominate Ed Tech

On a recent day in late October the mayor of Johnsonville was setting up a 125-gallon aquarium, which would eventually host a pair of bala sharks, a catfish, three oscars and live coral for real-life science lessons on saltwater habitats. Anthony Johnson’s fourth and fifth graders at Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury, NC refer to the tank as “Lake Johnsonville.”

Bringing the real world into the classroom is something a lot of teachers are trying to do. It’s something Johnson specializes in. His students are issued funds when they become residents, then they’re expected to pay bills, find work and learn by doing projects. And the mayor is a stickler for keeping schedules, so his students learn how to work with Google calendars to maintain their obligations and appointments. Earlier in the day, a student was waiting at home with his district-issued iPad, ready to connect Johnson to his mom for an online parent-teacher conference. “That kid set a reminder. He knew at 11:10 we needed to be on that call,” said Johnson. “When I turned it on, he was there waiting for me.”…

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IoT Has Arrived (Just Not in the Way You Expected)

If your idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) involves smart environments that hoover up data from wearable sensors for more efficient traffic patterns, alert a teacher when a student’s eyeballs have wandered away from the lesson or notify purchasing when the pencil stock has dwindled in the supply closet, maybe it’s time to crank back expectations and look at what’s really going on in K–12 with IoT…

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Kids, Education and Engineering

While plenty of STEM lessons cover science, math and even technology, engineering is often left out. Dedicated educator Christine Cunningham has figured out numerous ways to bring the “E” into the classroom to help those other topics become more real for the youngest students…

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That’s the idea behind Engineering is Elementary, an organization created at the Museum of Science in Boston by Cunningham. EiE, as it’s known, has developed engineering curriculum for students in grades 1 through 5…

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Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy; photo by Patrick Dunn.

DeVos: We’re Just ‘Scratching the Surface’ of Ed with Tech

Betsy DeVosThe new Secretary of the Department of Education told an audience of education innovators that she believed the role of technology in education has just begun to “scratch the surface,” particularly in bringing “new opportunities” to rural populations.

Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke at the ASU+GSV Summit, taking place this week in Salt Lake City. The event brings together people from education, industry and government to discuss education and workforce innovation.

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