This post is sponsored by Curriculum Associates.

There has been considerable discussion around Common Core math, as teachers and school leaders grapple with the best way to transition students to the new standards. Educator and math expert, Mark Ellis, details why students struggle and what schools can do to help all students achieve success.

Why are students struggling with many of the new Common Core math standards?

Pre-CCSS, students may have learned math skills and procedures but without a focus on the underlying meaning and sense-making. This makes it extremely difficult to apply those skills and procedures in unfamiliar situations and real-world contexts. The new standards are designed around progressions of concepts that inform procedural fluency, so if the foundational understanding is not in place, it makes it very difficult for students to progress successfully. When skills are built on a foundation of strong conceptual knowledge, students are more likely to use them more accurately and flexibly. (read more…)

Cute Blue Bird CharacterThinking about social media and how it works in regards to learning inside and outside of classrooms is endless and inspiring. Just by tweeting an idea, you can spark a connection and invite your students to experience the value of social media.

As I began to dabble with this idea, I was immediately struck by how other educators were using this tool as a way to connect, engage and enhance learning.

In the beginning, it was important to think about how I was going to model this tool and how I could relate it to something with which my students already had experience. So I took my students outside with my laptop and asked them to listen quietly to what they heard as we sat under a tree. After a moment, my students shared a variety of sounds, one of which was a bird’s chirping. I highlighted this and noted that birds have calls and tweets that they use to say hello and communicate. (read more…)

The SXSWedu Conference & Festival gets underway March 9 in Austin, Texas, and SmartBrief will be there. We sat down with SXSWedu Executive Producer Ron Reed to get a sneak peek at what’s in store for this year’s conference.

What exciting innovations and conversations can we look forward to hearing about at this year’s SXSWedu conference?

This year, we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of SXSWedu and as always, we are looking to drive meaningful conversations and action on the future of education. This year some of our highlighted programming focuses on teachers and student voice, and increased international engagement has led to more insights into education across the globe, through session and workshop programming and other components including LAUNCHedu and eduFILM.

This year’s “change maker” series showcases women in technology. Why the emphasis on women and can you give us a sneak peek at what — and who — we will see? (read more…)

What does equity look like in a one-to-one program? Does it mean that every student has the same device?

Equity in a one-to-one program does not mean that every student has precisely the same technological tool. Other factors, including instructional model, use of textbooks, access to online resources, teacher commitment to personal and professional development and a school’s willingness to “push the envelope,” all work together with the devices to create a successful one-to-one environment.

Our district – a 1,200-student district in central California – uses Macbooks, Chromebooks and iPads. We have made a point to match programs with the appropriate devices, to keep each program on the leading edge. While we have experienced some bumps along our journey, we continually aim to strike a balance between effectively supporting a few benchmark devices and allowing our individual schools the instructional freedom to learn, explore and develop their own program.

The tenet of adaption rather than replication is true in most educational settings. (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 bringing them to market. Robert Ahdoot, a high-school math teacher and founder of, helps us kick off the series with a conversation with his mentor — and teacherpreneur — Bruce Powell. Powell is the founding Head of School of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, Calif., where Ahdoot teaches.

Entrepreneurship and teaching traditionally have been mutually exclusive endeavors. Entrepreneurism stirs images of the self-starting creator of products or services. This business-savvy person grimaces at the thought of being bound by systems or conventions, while also understanding that to be successful, he must strategically navigate those very systems.

On the other end of the spectrum, the concept of “teacher” conjures iconic images of chalkboards, desks, walls, rambunctious students, grading papers, and apples on wooden desks. (read more…)