DEN Trend Report: 3/30/16

DEN Trend Report FeaturedLooking to learn more about what’s trending in education?!? Here’s a recap of this week’s news. Let us know what you think about this week’s news in the comments below.

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The Benefits and Challenges of Student-Designed Learning (Mind/Shift)
By Katrina Schwartz
Science Leadership Academy (SLA)English Language Arts teacher Joshua Block decided to take the independence he and his colleagues have been cultivating in their students since freshman year to a new level.

SLA students have many opportunities throughout their four years to choose how and what they investigate in their classes, and by senior year they are adept at choosing their own essay topics, meeting deadlines, staying focused while working online and coming up with creative projects that matter to them personally. But when a group of seniors at the Philadelphia school were given even more independence over their own learning, it was a challenge.

How Can Schools Develop Assessments That Matter? (Education Week)
By Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers
How do we know that assessments built by the educators in our schools measure what is intended?  For the most part, tests are designed to measure information acquisition. There are schools that have engaged in ongoing professional development for their teachers to learn how to develop more robust assessments demanding the use of information, the drawing of connections among ideas, justification of a position, and the production of original work that draws on the information acquired. These tasks cannot be accomplished without the knowledge. By default a good assessment demonstrates that the knowledge taught was acquired.

Engaging All Students in Problems Worth Solving (Digital Promise)
By Scott Kinney
Scott Kinney has nearly 25 years of experience in the fields of professional learning and educational technology, and currently serves as Discovery Education Senior Vice President of Educational Partnerships.

One of my many high school memories is learning the Pythagorean Theorem. I very clearly remember my teacher standing at the front of the classroom, math book in hand, reading, “The square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of the triangle,” then scribbling the formula across the blackboard. Following that introduction, we were instructed to open our textbooks and tackle two pages of practice problems quietly at our desks.

Principals as instructional leaders: An international perspective (Brookings)
By Tom Loveless
Historically, one of the school principal’s key instructional duties has been observing teachers as they teach and then providing feedback on the lesson. Ellwood Cubberly offers a vignette in the third edition of Public School Administration (1929) in which a young teacher’s math lesson is critiqued as follows: “entirely wrong procedure for type of problems used,” and “no attempt at problem solving instruction.” The teacher is praised for “managerial ability” but the principal’s notes reveal that his debriefing of the lesson included telling the novice instructor, “Being a new teacher to our school, she evidently did not know how we taught Arithmetic.”

Five Ways to Incorporate Video Into Your Classroom and Instruction (EdSurge)
By Patricia Brown
Video in the classroom is powerful, because it has the ability to make the classroom come alive, and make meaningful learning experiences and connections. Video allows you to deliver long-lasting images, and reach children with various learning styles. But how do you make sure you’re keeping things fresh?
Shocking data reveals Millennials lacking skills across board (eSchool News)
By Meris Stansbury
It’s a conversation a decade ago that was so widely circulated and discussed that even dedicated education stakeholders grew weary of it: U.S. students are performing below average in math and reading compared to their international peers—what do we do? Ten years of jumbled reform initiatives and touting Millennials as the most educated demographic in recent history later, national and international research groups say nothing has changed; and, in fact, it may be getting worse.

“Deeper learning” continues to show higher high school graduation rates (Hechinger Report)
By Jill Barshay
One of the most mocked terms the education reform movement has come up with is “deeper learning.” It reminds me of my high school days, when we would sarcastically fill a silence with, “Whoa, that’s deep,” after a classmate’s incomprehensible statement. When you ask a proponent of “deeper learning” what it means, you get a jargon-filled earful about collaboration, project-based learning, self-directed learning, problem solving, critical thinking and communication. At high schools that are practicing it, you hear about small classes, caring advisers, student work that can be shown off in a portfolio and the opportunity for students to do internships in the real world. To the lay person, it seems like a kitchen sink of good educational practices. Many high schools in America claim to do these same things.

New Teachers (Mostly) Prepped for Class; Not so Sure about PBL (T.H.E. Journal)
By Dian Schaffhauser
More than half of America’s newest teachers believe that an infusion of technology in their classrooms could help them be more efficient according to a new surevey. They also tend to be “comfortable” with major areas of teaching responsibilities — understanding instructional goals, lesson planning and classroom management. But they also possess “concerns” about preparation in other areas. They’re less confident than more experienced teachers, for example, in preparation of instructional goals and standards (58 percent vs. 12 percent), project based learning (38 percent vs. 31 percent), differentiated learning (36 percent vs. 22 percent) and developing assessments (35 percent vs. 20 percent).
Idea to Retire: Technology alone can improve student learning (Brookings)
Nearly every aspect of the world is being transformed by digital tools.  Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2015, more people shopped online than braved the aisles of brick and mortar stores fighting for highly discounted items. Globally, there are 2.6 billion active smartphone subscriptions. And self-driving cars have already clocked over 1 million miles on public roads.  There is no doubt that technology is impacting how we educate our children and ourselves as well.  Over 21 million post-secondary students are enrolled in online courses. Computers are in virtually every school in the country and more of those computers are connected to the Internet than ever before.  In fact, the number of students with broadband at school increased by 20 million over just the last two years. Because technology is widely perceived to improve our day-to-day experiences, it is logical to conclude that technology will improve learning outcomes in our nation’s schools by itself.  This is an idea that must die.

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