Geeked Out: Last night’s speaker series event, “Innovations in Learning” was a huge hit. If you were one of the fortunate few hundred in the room, you couldn’t help but come away inspired by the possibilities of blended learning. We were joined by Shantanu Sinha, President and COO of Khan Academy, John Danner, Co-Founder and CEO of Rocketship Education and Tom Vander Ark, CEO of OpenEd Solutions. The insider look at how technology is transforming student outcomes was a real eye opener. Most of us feel that there isn’t nearly enough utilization of technology in our schools, but we get stuck when we try to insert technology on top of traditional systems – without looking at the opportunities for different ways to utilize teachers and other staff. Rocketship’s elementary school teachers are content specific – teachers don’t teach all subjects. Many schools and classrooms are now supplementing their curricula with Khan Academy lessons – giving kids more flexibility in how they learn math and science. For every parent who’s wondered about the 4,123 pounds of text books in our kids’ backpacks, last night was a breath of fresh air. BTW, anybody else notice the wicked resemblance between Tom Vander Ark and Tony Robbins? Like they were separated at birth.
Hard Wired: The success of integrating Pre-School to elementary grades is getting a deeper look. The impact of high quality early learning that is purposeful in aligning to expectations of kindergarten and beyond can be transformative – particularly for kids coming from low income families and children of color. As Arthur Reynolds, Professor of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin puts it, “When you plan and design a coordinated intervention from pre-school to third grade, those transition experiences…You’re altering all the elements of the educational process that make a difference to kids.” The impact locally is getting noticed by journalists and policy makers. (HT to Laura Kohn for these sources – and shout out to New School Foundation for their work at South Shore – mentioned in the Hechinger piece.
Source Code: This week Microsoft announced intentions to focus on K-12 improvements. Brad Smith, Chief Legal Counsel announced this week Microsoft’s $25 M contribution to a state wide endowment for college scholarships and discussed interest in K-12 improvements. Governor Gregoire tasked Smith with spearheading a the higher ed task force last year and he is looking to build on that work.
Circuit Breaker: This guest op-ed by Tom Stritikus, Dean of Education at UW, in Crosscut reads innocuously enough. UW is working to provide alternative certification pathways to teaching, in particular, looking to provide the university backing for the Teach for America (TFA) corps coming to the Puget Sound next fall. A welcome effort in bringing this nationally regarded teaching corps to our ‘hood. But if you read the comments, you’d realize that Stritikus hates puppies, laughed inappropriately during “Steel Magnolias” and eats small chicks for breakfast. He is probably a Cincinnati Bengals fan. When historians record the fall of our current civilization, they’ll track back to the painfully personal way that comment threads kept a lot of people with intellectual prowess out of the public realm. (Aren’t you lucky, you didn’t have to wait for the collapse of civilization to get at its underpinnings.)
- What do highly effective principals look for in doing teacher evaluation and effectiveness?’ Expert Noticing. It’s interesting.
- What’s a college degree worth? More than some think.
- We all know that a high school diploma doesn’t mean you’re ready for college, but the Army?
- How do you bridge the divide between what businesses want and what the workforce is trained for? The POTUS speaks.
- When is good news not good news? When it’s high school graduation rates.