path to workforceSmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. Path to Workforce is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience.

As I continue to review, reflect and grow in this STEM era, my mind keeps going back to the same premise over and over again. As educators, we need to stop and think about this one very important question: What makes a great STEM school? Is it just a course, a particular pathway or subject matter, a group of teachers, a commercial program, extraordinary curriculum or something else that clearly defines and spells out success for a STEM school?

This is certainly not an easy answer because of the complexity that surrounds the definition of STEM. For educators, the definition is centered on the ability to show, to teach, to model and to produce a process or product that is more clearly refined than it has been in the past. (read more…)

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.

To recognize some of the innovative education bloggers in the field, our team nominates their favorite content each month from which we choose two winners for the Editor’s Choice Content Award. These award winners are in the running for our annual Educators’ Choice Award.

Now we need your input! Select the one original content piece from our survey that makes an impact on you, challenges you to think outside the box and inspires you. The two with the most votes will be named the Educators’ Choice Content Award winners of 2015. Vote by Dec. 9. Winners will be selected and announced in early January.

Cast your vote. (read more…)

classroom 2

It’s most educators’ least favorite four-letter word.

Even accomplished teachers struggle with it. At a recent workshop, teachers were asked to investigate the Ten Roles of Teacher Leaders and then select their “superpowers” and “tragic flaws.” Of 50 teachers, not a single one identified data as a “superpower.” Even more telling, over half of the teachers identified data as their “tragic flaw.”

Building effective long-term habits of mind that will outlast our time with teachers is one of the most important roles of mentors and coaches. A high-leverage habit we can help them develop is how to regularly, sustainably, and effectively use data to make instructional decisions.

Data can be formative or summative. Looking at each serves different purposes in our work.

Formative assessment

Highly-effective, ongoing data analysis utilizes formative assessments, including pre-assessments. This information guides us while students are still in the process of developing their knowledge and skill and, therefore, we still have opportunities to create the “just right” instruction for all of our students — to change our plans to meet their needs, create differentiated instruction and take learning beyond our initial plans when students are ready. (read more…)

Today’s learning spaces are evolving to meet the needs of contemporary learners. More and more classrooms include desks and walls with writable spaces, hands-on learning tools, flexible seating options and responsive learning technologies.

But how effective are these spaces? School stakeholders want assurances that these digital environments are meeting students’ learning needs. My district, Ithaca City School District (ICSD), uses qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of these spaces and ensure that they support instructional goals.

ICSD’s mission is to “Engage, Educate, and Empower.” The data we gather is aligned to this mission and used to inform continuous improvement efforts. Our instruction focuses not on technology tools but on the instructional strategies used by educators to engineer learning. Accountability metrics follow suit, representing the student achievement results we seek and not the tools used to meet that end.

Here is a breakdown of how data supports this three-pronged mission:

  1. Engage.
  2. (read more…)

Digital ordering

This month we’re bringing you guest blog posts about blended and online learning. In this post, Tony Brannon and David Black with Murray State University in Kentucky discuss how blended learning can help bridge the gap between high school and college.

Career and technical education training programs, formerly referred to as vocational education, are receiving more interest from students at the secondary, postsecondary and professional levels. In an economy that rewards highly-skilled and specialized employees, it’s no wonder students are gravitating toward education programs that prepare them for the workforce.

Students who are most interested in CTE opportunities, however, are sometimes afraid of what comes next at the university level. Too many students leave high school unsure about their abilities to excel in postsecondary education.

One of our important initiatives at Murray State University is to ease students’ transition from high school to college by offering updated CTE resources, industry-backed certification and dual-credit courses. (read more…)