Leading connected classrooms has become the rallying cry in many schools. There is a desire for all students to learn by interacting with people, place and planet, but this doesn’t always play well with legacy systems and desires to focus on test scores in schools. For schools that can reshape their success metrics, there is a more preferable road forward. Here are five key elements for building connected classrooms:

  1. Student voice. The best schools are amplifying student voice through publishing, creating and including students in important decisions.
  2. Connected schools have partnerships in the community and beyond.
  3. Service learning. Connected classrooms are truly weaving together their head, hands, and heart with their community and beyond.
  4. Connected classrooms are finding a way to create, make, and design everyday around real, authentic problems.
  5. Students as assets. Connected classrooms and communities see their students as assets, not liabilities. This means that they accept that some of the best ideas will come from the young bright minds throughout the community.
  6. (read more…)

High school students in a science classroom.

SmartBlog on Education will shine a light on back-to-school teaching and learning trends during July. In this blog post, education leader Fred Ende shares how an interactive professional development summit revealed regional trends and future initiatives.

As the temperature warms here in the Northeast, it’s a great time to talk about what’s heating up regarding teaching and learning for next year. After all, the Staples and Office Depot commercials have already started, so whether we’re ready or not, the 2015-16 school year is almost here.

In our region, we’ve spent the last few years focused on changes brought along by the Common Core State Standards — or Common Core Learning Standards as they’re called in New York — and the implications of changes to our Annual Professional Performance Review system, which are set to change again this coming year, but we’ll save that for another post. As these initiatives have gone from “new” to “newer” to more “routine,” districts in our section of the state have had the opportunity to move toward focusing more and more on their own personal initiatives. (read more…)

Education-badge-blue2The vast majority of us now work in environments where the ability to learn is more critical than what we know and where the most valuable currency is influence, not power. — Liz Wiseman, Rookie Smarts

The education landscape has shifted dramatically during the last 10 years. Tablets have replaced textbooks. Students use smartphones during class — for learning. Educators connect online to share best practices.

What does the next decade hold for education? What will become the future of schools? Educator and author Will Richardson took on the topic during his ISTE 2015 session, Tech in 10: Effective Teaching for the Next Decade.

“‘Knowledge’ isn’t the word any longer. ‘Skills’ is no longer the term. ‘Learning’ is the word,” Richardson said, noting that the jobs of tomorrow will require serial mastery. “If our kids don’t have the ability to learn, it really doesn’t matter how much knowledge we give them.”

“This is a very different world that our kids are stepping into,” he said. (read more…)

Welcome to SmartBrief Education’s original content series about the unique stories of teacherpreneurs. These are the innovative individuals confronting challenges, creating solutions and challenging the traditional definition of “educator.”

What do a Kentucky high-school math teacher and a Colorado middle-school literacy teacher have in common? A shared passion for teacher leadership, a commitment to student-centered implementation of the Common Core and the amazing opportunity to connect and work together as virtual colleagues navigating hybrid roles during the past two school years.

Two summers ago, we connected at a Center for Teaching Quality leadership retreat for teacherpreneurs. Since then, we’ve supported, coached and challenged each other to balance teaching and leading simultaneously in our respective states.

Recently, we came together to reflect on our experiences. In the informal interview that follows, we hope our reflections encourage current and future teacherpreneurs, while providing ideas for school leaders and districts seeking to scale hybrid roles for supporting and sustaining teacher leadership efforts. (read more…)

What if educators listened to Frozen’s Queen Elsa a little more and “Let it Go”? Technology integration in the classrooms tends to stall when educators get in the way. Schools take steps to prevent this — professional development, educator resources, strategic rollout initiatives — and yet incorporating technology into the classroom remains a challenge for many sites. How do we change this?

Here are five ways you can foster true technology integration with your students:

  1. Allow students to play on their devices. We encourage them to play with math manipulatives or other resources before getting started with a lesson. Let’s do the same with technology.
  2. Give students time to play with a new app/tool when you introduce it. They want to take selfies and draw on their own faces when they first start to work with Skitch. They want to enter silly names when they play their first game of Kahoot.
  3. (read more…)