Reposted from edSurge:
For all the talk about educational equity and access, K12 has been slow to adopt mobile communication–the one technology that is indispensable to low-income families. Take a look below: this is how families see the New York City Schools website on their mobile phones. The country’s largest school district serves 875k low-income students and has a $25 billion budget.
I don’t mean to pick on NYC Schools. Of the 10 largest school districts in the country, which serve over 2.5 million students in poverty, only Chicago Public Schools’website renders properly in a mobile browser. (I’m not counting Houston Independent School District, which has a mobile-friendly landing page, but clicking on any button leads to pages that are not mobile-friendly.)
For school districts, making their webpages legible on phones is only the first step. How about making it insanely easy for families to use their phones to enroll their children in school, sign up for meals, check grades or talk to their teachers?
Reposted from Educational Leadership:
Traditionally, school communications have been all about managing the flow of information to the public and then framing the discussion about that information. Even technological advances like robo-calls and mass e-mails still constrained schools to push out information in one direction—say, to announce school closings or publish school test score results.
But in the age of new media, things have changed. Popular social media tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and webinars enable schools to maintain interactive dialogue with stakeholders. Today, the vision of school district communications is all about building relationships.
Minnetonka Public Schools, a central Minnesota district serving about 9,600 students in grades K–12, is demonstrating how to use social media thoughtfully and strategically to engage, inform, and interact with stakeholders. Minnetonka has built “a constantly evolving technology interface” to accommodate, embrace, and engage parents, teachers, students, business leaders, and all other segments of the community, according to Janet Swiecichowski, the district’s executive director of communications.
Reposted from Getting Smart:
The Getting Smart team has spent the last quarter thinking about building an entrepreneurial mindset and what that looks like in schools. We’ve had a chance to talk to deans of nursing schools, K-12 leaders and education start-ups about the skill set needed and what great entrepreneurs have in common. Below is a quick list of 10 ways to foster an entrepreneurial mindset both individually and as an organization.
Reposted from MindShift:
Teachers are increasingly being pushed into new roles as their ability to connect online opens up new opportunities. Educators are finding their own professional development, sharing lesson plans and teaching tips with colleagues around the world, and have often become ambassadors to the public on new approaches to teaching and learning. Easy access to information has empowered many educators to think and teach differently, but often those innovations remain isolated inside classrooms. Without a school leader who trusts his or her teachers, it is difficult to convert pockets of innovation into a school culture of empowered teachers.
One way of building that kind of unified school culture is through distributed leadership, the idea that no one person at the top of the hierarchy makes all the decisions that will affect the work lives of the adults in the building. Instead, the school principal or district superintendent empowers teachers and staff to run crucial aspects of a school, such as admissions, professional development and new teacher mentoring.
When teachers are part of the decision-making process, it also makes it harder to complain. And while not everyone in a school is going to agree on how to approach every problem, if the process is consistent, individuals can trust that even when they don’t get their way it will be OK. However, it is just as important for a strong leader to recognize when certain difficult decisions must be made solo — like layoffs, for example. In a community like SLA, Lehmann has to take responsibility for that decision to preserve the working relationships of the rest of his staff.
Reposted from the Hechinger report:
Students don’t usually get to design their own high schools. Neither do parents or community members who lack experience in education. But, in what could become a national model, all of these people have been asked to weigh in on the plan for a new high school in San Jose, California. That’s because the school, soon to be the first high school in the Alpha Public Schools charter network, is using a process called “design thinking,” which puts the user’s needs first. In this case, the users will be students and parents. Design thinking is a method of problem solving developed largely by Stanford University professors who sought to codify a product design process that emphasized creative solutions to meet users’ needs. Eden first heard about design thinking in an undergraduate class on urban planning at the University of Virginia. As a teacher, he used the process with his students to develop a disciplinary system that made sense to them. When he was hired to launch Alpha’s first high school, in the heart of Silicon Valley, he decided to apply design thinking to the entire process.
Using design thinking to solve education problems may not come naturally, said Susie Wise, director of the K12 Lab at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, known on campus as the d.school. “Education is not that nimble,” Wise said. But she thinks it can be. Wise said she and her team at the d.school’s K12 Lab, which focuses on helping teachers apply design thinking in their classrooms, were already experimenting with the idea of expanding this training to school leaders when they heard about Eden’s school design project. At the time, Wise said she thought, “Oh, here’s someone already using it. I wonder what we can learn from him?”
Intrigued, Wise invited Eden to participate in a one-day d.school seminar for school leaders that her team conducted last October. Wise said Eden’s participation in the seminar may have helped the other Bay Area school leaders in attendance more than it helped him. He was already a year into his two-year planning process for Cindy Avitia High School, so he was able to explain to other principals how the somewhat esoteric methods of design thinking could be applied to real life issues at schools. Wise was so pleased with the response she received from school leaders at the October seminar, and at a few other one-day seminars held at the d.school, that she’s now expanding the program. A three-month fellowship, dubbed “School Retool” will launch this month with 20 Bay Area principals. The idea is to help leaders change the way their schools operate by making small, transformative changes, called “hacks” in d.school parlance, without overhauling the whole system at once—something Wise sees far too often.
Reposted from education post:
This year, the combined number of Latino, African-American, Asian and Native American students in public K-12 schools surpassed whites. Yet The Atlantic published a distressing piece on the increasing re-segregation of our schools. It cannot be overstated what a step backwards this is for our nation. How can we learn to know, understand and love one another if we have no contact with each other? How can we be friends when we have no opportunities to forge friendships?
Our future is one that will become majority minority. That gives me hope for a society that can blend and celebrate difference – particularly as interracial relationships and children flourish. However, if we choose as a nation to grow more divided while our population grows more diverse, I fear for our future.
Therefore, I am going to keep talking and writing. I’m going to keep working towards more diverse and equitable schools. I’m going to accept that because I am white, there are limitations to what I can bring to the conversation on race, but that it doesn’t mean my voice has no value. Moreover, it certainly doesn’t mean I have no responsibility.
Reposted from U.S. News and World report:
The U.S. spends significantly more on education than other OECD countries. In 2010, the U.S. spent 39 percent more per full-time student for elementary and secondary education than the average for other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Yet, more money spent doesn’t translate to better educational outcomes. In fact, American education is rife with problems, starting with the gaping differences between white students and students of color: More than 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, school systems in the United States are separate and unequal. By 2022, the number of Hispanic students in public elementary and secondary schools is projected to grow 33 percent from the 2011 numbers. The number of multi-racial students is expected to grow 44 percent.
As the percentage of white students in our education shrinks and the percentage of students of color grow, the U.S. will be left with an education system that doesn’t serve the majority of its children properly; the gaps in education will prove especially problematic.
Reposted from Time:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, the new chairman of the Senate committee on education, walked into Congress this month with guns a-blazin’. Twelve years after the passage of George W. Bush’s signature education bill, No Child Left Behind, and eight years after that troubled law was supposed to be revised and updated, the Tennessee Republican says now is the time for its long-neglected makeover. He plans to take a revised version of the law to the Senate floor by the end of February, with hopes of pushing it through Congress “in the first half of this year.”
The primary issue at stake is testing. Under No Child Left Behind, students are required to take a raft of standardized exams, each of which are used to assess whether schools are succeeding or failing, and, increasingly, to hold individual teachers accountable for their performance in the classroom. Critics of No Child Left Behind—and there are lots and lots of them—generally hate the testing mandate. Conservatives and Tea Party activists decry it as “government overreach,” while liberals, local teachers unions and parents lament the reliance on “high-stakes testing.” Even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said that too much testing can “rob school buildings of joy.”
“The thing that worked with No Child Left Behind is to take tests results, break them down and aggregate them so that we know that children really aren’t being left behind,” Alexander explains, “So you can’t have an overall average for a school that’s pretty good, but still leave all the Latino kids in a ditch somewhere. But what’s increasingly obvious to me is that the biggest failure of No Child Left Behind has been the federal accountability system – the effort to decide in Washington whether schools or teachers are succeeding or failing. That just doesn’t work. But I think the jury’s still out on the tests.”
Reposted from What Ed Said:
The playground is covered in white and the children are pressed up against the window observing a new phenomenon. It’s hailing. I know this because of a video posted on the regularly updated Facebook page, via which I observe my 16 month old grandson learning.
The next batch of photos show a jug of hail being passed around so that all the children can observe and explore it. Some touch, some taste…each seems absorbed in their own discovery. On other occasions, they post unedited videos or photos of both planned and spontaneous learning experiences, of free play and interactions between the children, who are aged from several months to three years.
The learning is made visible to parents and grandparents via these instant updates. Sometimes they include comments and observations, other times I observe for myself. Either way I find it fascinating! Observing the learning in this context makes me reflect on the typical school system and its limiting structures, designed for another era, within (or despite) which most of our students are expected to learn. It makes me wonder…