badgeSmartBlog on Education’s monthly content award recognizes content written by educators, for educators that inspires readers to engage, innovate and discuss.

SmartBrief Education editors and writers sift through thousands of sources each day, reading a variety of content, including blogs and commentaries written by you and your peers.

In an effort to recognize some of the innovative voices in the field, we’ve asked our team to nominate their favorite content — written by educators, for educators — each month from which we’ll choose two winners for the Editor’s Choice Content Award.

This month’s winners inspired us with their classroom-design tips for the new school year:

Meet this month’s winners:

Learn more about our previous winners.

July Editor’s Choice Content Award

SmartBrief on EdTech last week polled readers about a few top tech-based approaches to learning that have been making news in education. Our goal was to gain insight about how prevalent these approaches will be in classrooms across the country during the new school year.

The first approach we asked about was flipped instruction, finding that more than 60% of respondents said the approach will be used sporadically in their school or district this year. About 27% of respondents said there were no plans to use the approach, while slightly more than 9% said flipped instruction will make its debut in classrooms this year.

Gaming — from game-based instruction to video games — in the classroom proved to be a slightly less popular approach with our readers, with just under half of respondents reporting that the approach will be used at least sporadically in their school or district this year. Another 45% said the approach will not be used at all, while just about 6% expect the approach to be introduced. (read more…)

game based learningResearch is verifying what many teachers know: Well-designed digital games in the classroom increase student engagement, learning and retention. They improve students’ on-task time and even their social and emotional well-being. The benefits are especially significant when high-quality games are integrated into a curriculum over multiple lessons. So how can we put this knowledge to use as our new school year begins?

As a science teacher of students in grades seven to 12, I look for well-designed games to teach common core and the Next Generation Science Standards. Being well-designed means that the games are fun to play, teach important content through engaging game mechanics and are based on learning theory. The player should feel challenged to solve interesting and relevant problems with newly-gained understanding. There should be multiple ways to progress through the game and win. Frequent experimentation and failure — yes, failure! — in the game should be encouraged and result in a pleasant frustration that drives the player to try new strategies until challenges are mastered. (read more…)

duncan-100As teachers gear up for a new school year, I want to offer two thoughts. One is a message of celebration and thanks. The other is a response to a concern that has come up often in many conversations with teachers and families, and which deserves an answer.

First, the thanks. America’s students have posted some unprecedented achievements in the last year — the highest high-school graduation rate in the nation’s history, and sharp cuts in dropout rates and increases in college enrollment, especially for groups that in the past have lagged significantly. For these achievements, we should celebrate America’s teachers, principals and students and their families. These achievements are also indications of deeper, more successful relationships with our students. All of us who’ve worked with young people know how much they yearn for adults to care about them and know them as individuals.

These achievements come at a time of nearly unprecedented change in American education — which entails enormously hard work by educators. (read more…)

Stock PhotoI tend to be one of those educational risk takers.

As a K-12 administrator, I loved nothing more than to visit classrooms where there was a buzz of student learning, where you could stand in the doorway for minutes before anyone even knew you were there, where a room was a hive of student activity, where the teacher was lost in the swirl of investigation and collaboration, where classroom management stemmed from an intensity of engagement rather than the enforcement of rules.

Not surprisingly, I am an unreserved proponent of blended learning.

Creating an environment that fosters collaboration, respect and passion — that thinks outside of the educational box — reaps so many rewards for student engagement and embraces the dynamic nature of education. We regularly challenge the teachers we work with to commit to reinventing their approaches with technology and to intellectually rejuvenate their spirit.

For years, we “early adopters” have been advocating the many advantages of blended learning — the predominant one being that it naturally allows for differentiated instruction. (read more…)