Implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) skills and strategies have shown to positively impact student learning. Especially with this past year, teachers and students have had to deal with challenges they may not have been prepared for including how COVID-19 our feelings towards learning. Addressing SEL skills is not a new concept and educators have referenced the SEL Framework to meet students’ emotional needs to clear a pathway to learning success.
Horsley Park Public School (Sydney, Australia) is a small primary school, situated in the semi-rural outskirts of Sydney. Made up of of eight classes - four mainstream and four providing support for children with autism and intellectual disabilities – a goal of Horsley Park is “positive behavior, cooperation, and a growth mindset are encouraged and supported through a positive environment.”
There is countless research that says an engaging learning environment supports student achievement and success. As a former classroom teacher, my favorite memories are of seeing my students totally into a project, hearing them talk with their classmates about what they were doing, and celebrating their successes when they understood a concept or completed a project they worked so hard on. A classroom should be a place for conversation and collaboration, combined with critical thinking and creativity.
Ah summer break! A time to relax, refresh, and enjoy time away from all things academic. Sure, there are concerns about losing what was learned during a unique year (and a half) of schooling. But the pressure can ease up a bit so that building in enjoyable literacy-based activities will be more meaningful for our youth. Overall, the purpose of emphasizing reading over the summer is to help children retain literacy skills, maintain comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary skills, and boost self-confidence in their abilities. In addition, reading is the foundation for learning in all other subjects so just a few books can make a difference.
Laurel School District (New Castle, PA) has the goal of “equipping students to become knowledgeable, responsible, and engaged contributors” to society, and since the early 2000s has worked to implement education technology like interactive whiteboards to meet this goal. Unfortunately, interactive whiteboards only had pockets of success and use was generally low for both teachers and students. Robert Lee, Director of Administrative Services at Laurel SD commented, “We wanted to infuse educational technology that allows our students to be active participants.”
Now more than ever, school and parent/family connection is integral when it comes to supporting students as everyone is working to maneuver learning in various environments and situations. In response to school closures and a move to remote learning, there were districts that provided training to help the adults at home understand how online learning platforms, software programs, and video conferencing tools would be used. Parents and caregivers needed to know the what, when, why, and how of educational technology and how to best support learning at home.
The value of emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) is essential since it impacts just about every facet of our lives - checking the news on your mobile phone, using video conferencing software to facilitate meetings, or programming our home alarm systems are all everyday activities influenced by STEM innovations. When we can make connections between topics being learned and our own lives, the learning tends to stick in our minds longer. It seems reasonable then that the study of robotics is integrated into STEM education programs since robotics influences many areas of life – construction, defense, health, maintenance, security, and more. Of course, robotics also allows for learning beyond our general experiences such as space exploration.
Central Kitsap School District (Silverdale, WA) is a large district with 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools, a secondary school (grades 6 – 12), and a K-12 community school serving over 11,500 students. A primary goal for Central Kitsap SD is to make sure that students have the skills needed to face challenges “in school and beyond graduation.” To do this, the district Department of Information Services and Technology (DIS) works to provide the technology needed to support, and spark, student learning in innovative ways. DIS faced the challenge of trying to extend the value of aging, wall-mounted projectors of varying ages and functionalities. They wanted a teaching and learning solution that would not only allow for more STEM integration, but essentially serve as a multi-use product to update their science learning environments.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework that helps teachers create flexible learning environments that can accommodate students’ unique learning needs. Research shows that when teachers incorporate UDL, they are better able to meet the comprehensive needs of their students, including students with learning disabilities. The goal of UDL is to implement a variety of methods to engage students, represent information, and encourage students to actively participate and express themselves. Essentially, the application of UDL eliminates barriers to learning.
EdTech Breakthrough, part of Tech Breakthrough - a leading market intelligence organization that recognizes industry leaders in the education technology market – has awarded our MimioConnect Blended Learning Platform as Classroom Technology Innovation of the Year in its third annual EdTech Breakthrough Awards program. The mission of the EdTech Breakthrough Awards is to honor excellence and recognize innovation, hard work, and success in a range of educational technology categories. This year’s program attracted more than 2,000 nominations from over 17 different countries.