Teaching is a hard job. Even if you aren’t a teacher—heck, even if you don’t have kids—you would probably agree that teaching is tough. Teachers are on their feet most of the day, delivering lessons while blocking out eye rolls, yawns, nose-picking, kids leaning back in their chairs, excessive talking, students playing on “hidden” devices, bodily noises, and more. Why do we do it? It’s certainly not for the money or accolades. Yet, nothing quite compares to the feeling of a good day of teaching when things go right, kids respond, and you feel like you’ve gotten through to your students.
My innate desire as a teacher is to script the day down to the minute to ensure that I wring every last moment of teaching out of the school day. I pour everything I have into my students, crafting each lesson to achieve maximum growth, higher scores, and deeper understanding.
Choice in the Classroom
I was startled a few years ago by an alternative avenue for achieving these goals. Phillip Schlechty believes that choice is an imperative design quality that we must offer our students intentionally, daily, authentically, and with meaning. Giving students the power of choice facilitates an atmosphere of ownership and higher levels of engagement. Integrating the element of choice as an intentional routine in my classroom environment has had unexpected revelations—I feared that in letting go, chaos would ensue. However, through trial and error, a comfortable “happily humming” sort of chaos has been found.
A new month is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time for new learning opportunities to share with your students! Here is our collection of engaging themed content for May:
Spring Gallery Pack: Spring is in full swing, and this MimioStudio Gallery pack is filled with images, backgrounds, lessons, and activities to help you bring some spring magic to your classroom.
Spring Backgrounds: Add a pop of spring to your lessons with these fun spring-themed backgrounds. You can even make them your own by inserting a text box, changing the transparency, or adding a shape.
Over the past few years, EdTech investment reached all-time highs as funds poured in through both the public and private sectors. In fact, education technology companies saw growth of over 503% in investment through 2010 to 2014, according to a CBS Insights report. In 2015, deal activity to EdTech startups reached an all-time high, as startups raked in $3.1 billion in 491 deals.
With the education market currently valued at $4.4 trillion per year, there is huge potential for companies looking to disrupt an industry and deliver new ways for students around the world to learn the skills needed for their future careers. And with EdTech poised to capture a great deal of investment in 2017 and become the biggest and most profitable digitized sector yet, a number of companies have emerged to capitalize on this opportunity and offer groundbreaking new products.
What is the role of keyboarding instruction in the classroom—especially the elementary classroom? Over the past few years, as one-to-one devices become more widespread and accessible to students at younger grade levels, this question has become more and more pertinent. I know our own school has struggled with student keyboarding skills over the past few years.
Three main issues we grapple with as educators.
Our country has changed a lot in the past year. I think most educators didn’t expect the 2017 we now have. We didn’t expect the current education secretary that we have, the president we have, or even some of the other federal changes that we now have. Some of the immigration and refugee policies of 2017 have impacted our schools, along with a shift in direction from the federal government about transgender bathroom policies.
Snacks, games, songs, and assemblies—I’ve seen it all over the years when it comes to motivating students for high-stakes assessments. I’m not sure how effective any of it is, but teachers are willing to go all out when it comes to testing. Teachers know that these tests matter a great deal, so the extra effort and focus are worthwhile.
If the United States is to continue to be a world leader, we need to develop more scientists. Today’s students must be able to solve tough problems, and helping students develop the four Cs—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity—is more important than ever. By 2018, there will be more than two million open jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professions; however, only 19 percent of current college degrees are in STEM fields. Even worse, 75 percent of students that do well in science and math decide to not pursue STEM in college. We all need to do a better job of making science and math more stimulating, and help teachers find ways to make the material matter.
Here at Boxlight Mimio, we’re deeply concerned about the shortage of people entering the STEM workforce—I’ve seen statistics that say we’ll need at least one million more STEM professionals over the next decade. Encouraging children to enter these fields is crucial, and we believe that we can help by providing teachers with the tools to incorporate innovative, exciting hand-on STEM projects into the classroom.
In a recent interview with Neil Hughes (The Tech Guy Podcast), we discussed this important topic and what we are doing to support STEM learning.
Enter the Labdisc portable STEM lab.
The Labdisc is a wireless, compact data logger with 15 built-in calibrated sensors and a long battery life—making it a perfect tool to use anywhere, including outside. We designed the Labdisc so that teachers can perform inquiry-based projects in biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and geography.
We’re really excited to be working with the Coweta School System in Georgia, where the state’s new science standards are encouraging districts to focus on hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Regina Ahmann, who teaches zoology and AP environmental science at East Coweta High School, is using the Labdisc to study the relationship between temperature and humidity in several locations around her school, including both urban and green spaces. Ahmann told us that she loves that the Labdisc collects data every second. “There’s no possible way my kids could have done that with a thermometer,” she told us. “It’s all recorded and it makes gorgeous graphs. And you can get your big core concept across to students in a real-world framework.”
Real World in the Classroom
Dr. Donald White, Coweta’s science content specialist, has said that his district is using the Labdisc to replicate what students will face in the job market. He hopes that the experiences the product lets students practice will open the door to careers in a variety of science fields.
Boxlight STEM Day—Bringing Science Everywhere
On December 9, our company hosted the first-ever Boxlight STEM Day to encourage students of all socioeconomic levels to consider pursuing STEM careers. We invited five low-income elementary and high schools in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Mexico, and Guatemala to join us for a day of inquiry-based learning so they could understand how STEM skills fit into the larger picture.
All of the schools received a free Labdisc portable STEM lab, and students performed simultaneous experiments and shared their data. The schools have continued to participate in joint experiments, and we hope that many of the students will see that a STEM career is within their reach.
Here at Boxlight, we will continue to develop products that make learning meaningful and help children connect the importance and value of learning math and science to the skills they need to change the world.
What are you doing in your classrooms to connect students to STEM careers? We’d love for you to share below. And if you want to listen to my entire conversation with Neil, click this link: https://player.fm/series/80936/171655376
Want to learn more about the Labdisc portable STEM lab? Visit here now.>>
It’s not always easy keeping up with all the online tools, websites, blogs, and classroom resources that are available to us as educators. We often spend time searching online for the best fit for our classroom needs—sometimes not getting the results we anticipated. Here is a list of highly recommended educational resources to support teaching and learning: