Stock PhotoBlended learning is transforming roles of teachers and students in many classrooms and has become a trendy buzzword in education in recent years. Yet, for all its trendiness and efficacy, the true meaning of what blended learning means has somehow gotten lost in all the buzz. This has become a term that has many meanings to many different stakeholders. I want to use this blog post to start the conversation around some of the most common misconceptions I encounter regarding blended learning, with hopes that we can demystify this very solid instructional approach.

As the director of Curriculum and Instructional Technology for Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut, I have overseen a successful and ongoing blended environment, and I have encountered and addressed many of the ideas that lead to blended learning confusion. Here are five of the most common misconceptions, with a healthy dose of the truth thrown in for good measure. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Teaching Channel.

Video is quickly gaining ground in K-12 as an effective way to improve teacher development. In this Expert Spotlight Q&A, Teaching Channel CEO Pat Wasley details how and why video is so powerful for improving teacher practice.

How is video changing the landscape of professional learning?

Video-based collaboration fosters a culture of continuous improvement with the added benefit of an evidence base. Because video breaks down the barriers of time and distance we no longer have to work in isolation, which has often been one of the essential limitations of the teaching profession. Video allows me to go in many, many classrooms to better understand the full variety of kinds of great teaching.

It is helpful to think of video in two broad categories: video of other teachers’ practice and video of my own teaching practice. Each has a unique value and there are many ways to collaborate deeply around both types of video. (read more…)

digital literacyPersonalized learning. One-to-one implementation. Bring your own device initiatives. All of these, when combined with high-quality instructional practice, can systemically change a classroom learning environment. However, these instructional practices and tools are essentially useless without an infrastructure that can properly support them.

Although the topic of E-Rate has come to the forefront in recent months, in the not-too-distant future the program will turn 20 years old. Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, expanded the traditional goal of universal service to include increased access to both telecommunications and advanced services, such as high-speed Internet, at “just, reasonable and affordable rates.”

The act also had specific provisions for rural areas and low-income consumers. As a specific part of Section 254, telecommunications companies were ordered to provide schools and libraries services at reduced costs and at rates determined by the Federal Communications Commission. As part of these provisions, the FCC was charged with evaluating which services qualify for reimbursement. (read more…)

textbooksAs a teacher, you are used to giving lots of feedback. Returned tests and papers, notes home, conferences, faculty meetings and the like all provide us with ample opportunity to share our thoughts about such things as student performance, programming and other school-related matters.

However, you will certainly also be the recipient of much comment, from your supervisors, parents, students, colleagues or some other school constituents. While much of that will likely be positive and affirming, a portion of it may not be. Their words may focus in on your teaching style, specific actions or comments of yours, your attitudes or some combination thereof. Even if the remark was delivered with constructive intent, you may resent the message or even become unsettled by it. Perhaps you may seek to get back at them in some way.

This is normal. Some may call it natural or even healthy. But as someone who has received his fair share of criticism over the years, my suggestion is that you get what you can from the comments and use them to your advantage. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Insight Education Group.

This blog series explores new ways classroom video technology can accelerate educator growth – and compelling evidence that both teachers and school leaders are ready to try it. Part 1 focused on teachers’ perceptions about filming their instruction to develop practices. In this post, we share school leaders’ views on classroom video, and how it can improve their ability to provide teachers with high quality feedback and support.

School leaders know that teachers drive student achievement. And in order to be effective, teachers need the right support with feedback that is relevant and actionable. But do school leaders have what they need to help teachers?

After our last post, which showed nearly 70% of teachers don’t feel they receive enough meaningful feedback on their instructional practices, we decided to dig a little deeper into this question.

And according to a poll of school leaders conducted by SmartBrief and Insight Education Group last month, the answer is no. (read more…)