This post is sponsored by the Council for Economic Education.

Financial literacy isn’t just teaching kids about money, according to Nan Morrison, president and chief executive officer at the Council for Economic Education. Children need to learn how to make smart decisions in addition to understanding money. SmartBrief talked with Morrison about her organization’s plans and resources for shaping the way kids learn.

Question: You’ve said that the “language and tools of economics give our kids the ability to recognize and understand the nature of choice in their lives.” What do you mean by this?

Answer: Economics teaches decision making. When you take away the charts and graphs and complicated math and numerical analysis that you see in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, learning economics is basically understanding that you have choices, understanding that choices involve trade-offs, opportunity costs and risks.

A good example is a second grade teacher that we work with who lets her students earn money called “Dragon Dollars” by setting goals and achieving them such as doing their homework, helping with tasks in the classroom and so forth. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Funds for Learning.

In July, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a number of changes to E-Rate, the connectivity program for education. The goal of the new guidelines, which earmark $5 billion in funding over the next five years, is to expand access to high-speed Internet services in schools and libraries.

But E-Rate isn’t just about faster broadband, says FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. It’s about providing schools and libraries with an infrastructure that supports true 21st century learning. SmartBrief talked with Commissioner Rosenworcel about the new E-Rate guidelines and why we need to be bold as we prepare students for the competitive global economy.

How will E-Rate funding help close the digital gap?

The FCC’s E-Rate program is the nation’s largest education technology program. Thanks to support from E-Rate, we have connected more than 95 percent of school classrooms to the Internet. That might sound like the job is done — but nothing could be further from the truth. (read more…)

tablet on white background. Isolated 3D imageReading Todd Finley’s recent article, Helping Diverse Learners Succeed, I was struck by the power of the argument concerning characteristics of the cultural deficit model and what this means in small rural communities. For years now, here in the heartland, we have struggled to grasp the real impact of a lack of “cultural capital” on student learning, often associating it as a symptom of urban chaos, and therefore less relevant in a rural setting.

Adequately preparing pre-service teachers to work effectively with a diverse student population is a sizable challenge when you work in western Kansas! Students tend to come from small rural towns in this part of the state. Many of them have every intention to leave home for just enough time to earn their degree but then return to their roots and teach in the same school system just as soon as a suitable opening presents itself.

Relaying the need for them to become culturally responsive teachers can be a stretch at best, with many simply not seeing the relevance of such training to their particular circumstance. (read more…)

digital literacyIt is more important than ever that educational leaders work with and fully support their teachers. Every teacher wants to improve their practice and be the best they can be for their students. We have the luxury of deciding how we accomplish that, so why wouldn’t we use the technology at our fingertips to drive instruction? To build confidence in our teachers AND our students?

Over the past few years, I have seen the power of next generation/online student assessment platforms and of putting student data to work to invigorate teachers, increase student interest and engagement and provide myriad opportunities for collaboration among staff.

Making the decision to move student assessment online was an easy decision for me; it was the implementation that gave me pause. Before diving in to the deep end with next generation student assessment, I knew I had to dip my toes in the shallow end, asking myself questions along the way to keep my head above water. (read more…)

social networkThe worthwhile, monumental and ongoing challenge of ensuring that each of our students is learning has led to the widespread adoption of professional learning communities in schools. This is a good thing.

But I wonder if PLC design has too often ignored an essential aspect of teacher growth: real, authentic professional learning.

After all, the commonly accepted practice for most PLCs is for teams to work collaboratively in cycles of inquiry and action research in order to improve student learning. PLC teams collect data on student learning, then make adjustments, create interventions and hatch new instructional plans. When the collaboration is efficient, PLC cycles provide a focused method to dissect student work and hopefully improve results.

Given that U.S. teachers have significantly less time to collaborate with peers than teachers in more high-performing nations, it makes sense to try and be efficient with PLC time, and I do want to impact student learning in a meaningful way. (read more…)