The Journal 2020 Award Winners

THE Journal 2020 New Product Award Winners

For THE Journal’s first-ever New Product Award program, judges selected winners in 30 categories spanning all aspects of technology innovations in K–12 education, from the classroom to the server room and beyond. We are proud to honor these winners for their outstanding contributions to the institution of education, in particular at this time of upheaval in the way education is being delivered to the nation’s 50 million students.

 

Distracted Minds: The Role of Tempo in Good Teaching — from chronicle.com by James Lang
To help students stay attentive in class, think like a conductor, and recognize that students need you to change the pace and the action.

Excerpt:

In this third installment of a series on distraction and attention in education — based on my new bookDistracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It — I want to draw inspiration from creative artists who have long counted it as one of their tasks to keep audiences attentive to works that stretch over long periods of time. Directors and playwrights, conductors and composers, all recognize the limited attention span of an audience, which is why they structure the work itself and its performance in particular ways.

The classroom is one of the only places where we expect humans in seats to maintain their attention through an extended, uninterrupted performance of an hour or more. I suspect that’s the case because we (the teachers) are able to keep ourselves fully engaged during the class period: We’re managing our slides, thinking about the next discussion question, writing on the board, and more. It’s all very engaging — for us — but not necessarily for our students.

From DSC:
I appreciated reading this solid article by James Lang — in it, he offers up some excellent points and suggestions. I would guess that the top reasons why these things don’t occur most offer are:

  1. The design of a class takes time. Time is hard to come by. That’s why instructional design is very helpful but is sometimes put on a backburner…to the students’ detriment.
  2. There aren’t enough Instructional Designers to go around.
  3. Faculty don’t seek out Instructional Designers or, when an Instructional Designer is around, they may have a queue that’s way too long and they’ve become a bottleneck.
 
 

From DSC:
Our oldest daughter showed me a “Bitmoji Classroom” that her mentor teacher — Emily Clay — uses as her virtual classroom. Below are some snapshots of the Google Slides that Emily developed based on the work of:

  • Kayla Young (@bitmoji.kayla)
  • MaryBeth Thomas 
  • Ms. Smith 
  • Karen Koch
  • The First Grade Creative — by C. Verddugo

My hats off to all of these folks whose work laid the foundations for this creative, fun, engaging, easy-to-follow virtual classroom for a special education preschool classroom — complete with ties to videoconferencing functionalities from Zoom. Emily’s students could click on items all over the place — they could explore, pursue their interests/curiosities/passions. So the snapshots below don’t offer the great interactivity that the real deal does.

Nice work Emily & Company! I like how you provided more choice, more control to your students — while keeping them engaged! 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

From DSC:
I also like the idea of presenting this type of slide (immediately below, and students’ names have been blurred for privacy’s sake) prior to entering a videoconferencing session where you are going to break out the students into groups. Perhaps that didn’t happen in Emily’s class…I’m not sure, but in other settings, it would make sense to share one’s screen right before sending the students to those breakout rooms and show them that type of slide (to let them know who will be in their particular breakout group).

The students in the different breakout sessions could then collaboratively work on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides and you could watch their progress in real-time!

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

Also see:

 

3 educational websites for history and social studies — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

Below are three websites we are featuring in our blog for the first time. These are platforms where teachers (and students) can access resources and teaching materials to help them with their history teaching (learning). We invite you to check them out and share with us your feedback.

 

Saving — and Enhancing — Music Education With Online Learning — from edcircuit.com by D. Travis Washington

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

I teach Choir and lead the Young Vocal Scholars Program, and before COVID arrived, we were excited to move forward on the culmination of learning through live performances. With school closure, all that changed, and we were forced to adapt to virtual learning. Through the initial transition, we discovered that online learning options such as Soundtrap could not only extend projects we were currently working on but expand music learning to previously unimaginable heights.

When Covid hit and we couldn’t continue with the traditional choir program, my school looked for remote solutions. Soundtrap was exactly what we needed. We began conducting Young Vocal Scholars choir sessions remotely through Soundtrap and filled our extra Soundtrap seats with students from the District 8 Choir who weren’t being served music at all — doing similar projects that we had been creating previously in my classes. It was incredible to suddenly recognize that there were far more students interested in music who could connect via their laptops and tablets at home.

Also see:

Soundtrap for Education empowers students and teachers to explore creative sound recording in all subjects, for all ages and ability levels.

Soundtrap revolutionized my classroom in a virtual setting. Students became more engaged than ever before. My “4-star artists,” as I refer to my highly motivated students, kept making songs. I recall one of them saying to me, “Music class was cool because we sang together, but Soundtrap is cooler because it allows us to make projects together and they sound good.” 

 

Librarians become go-to resource during school closures — from educationdive.com by  Shawna De La Rosa

Dive Brief:

  • School librarians’ roles have been evolving for years, but now they’ve become the go-to resource for innovative ideas and new distance learning technology, District Administration reports.
  • Shannon McClintock Miller, district teacher librarian and director of innovation at Van Meter Community School District in Iowa, gives presentations on these changes and also administers the 26,000-member Facebook group Future Ready Librarians, giving others in the field a chance to connect and share best practices. In her district — where all 1,000 K-12 students have devices — librarians have been instrumental in helping students and teachers use technology.
  • Miller also touts the Destiny Discover management system, which connects students to books, audio books and ebooks. The platform also allows librarians to embed databases, digital tools and other resources so students have easy access.

 

 

Wall Street Journal article entitled, Is this the end of college as we know it?

Americans aren’t turning their backs on education; they are reconsidering how to obtain it.

Is This the End of College as We Know It? — from wsj.com by Douglas Belkin
For millions of Americans, getting a four-year degree no longer makes sense. Here’s what could replace it.

Excerpt:

For traditional college students, the American postsecondary education system frequently means frontloading a lifetime’s worth of formal education and going into debt to do it. That is no longer working for millions of people, and the failure is clearing the way for alternatives: Faster, cheaper, specialized credentials closely aligned with the labor market and updated incrementally over a longer period, education experts say. These new credentials aren’t limited to traditional colleges and universities. Private industry has already begun to play a larger role in shaping what is taught and who is paying for it.

For more than a century, a four-year college degree was a blue-chip credential and a steppingstone to the American dream. For many millennials and now Gen Z, it has become an albatross around their necks.

What has embittered so many millennials is that they played by the rules and still got stuck. Ben Puckett, a 30-year-old pastor in Michigan, earned a B.S. in physical therapy before a Master’s degree in divinity. He is $95,000 in debt. 

“I went to college because I was told by parents, friends, teachers and counselors that it was the only way to ensure a good future,” Mr. Puckett says. “At 18 years old, how was I supposed to defy what my school, parents, society, friends were saying about going to college?”

 
 
 

Musical Mentors collaborative mobilizes and expands in response to pandemic — with thanks to Bristol Jones for this resource/information
Organization connects musicians in need of work with students lacking access to music instruction
(Emphasis below from DSC)

New York, NY — November 12, 2020 — Musical Mentors Collaborative (“MMC”), which provides free private music instruction and instruments to students who would not otherwise have access, announced today its Winter Gala to benefit the 1:1 Music Fund which will enable the organization to provide 10,000 more lessons in the years to come.

MMC was founded in 2009 as a partnership between Columbia University students and PS 145, a neighboring elementary school in Morningside Heights, and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in New York State in 2011. Since 2009, MMC’s university chapters have provided over 7,500 lessons to more than 450 students in the United States.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 caused dramatic and painful changes in the musical community. Many performing arts institutions were forced to close indefinitely, and many talented musicians found themselves out of work.

In response, MMC launched a teaching fellowship in early April to pay professional musicians to teach one-on-one virtual lessons to students without access to private instruction. Teachers include members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as collaborators of Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, and others. The organization has since onboarded over 35 teaching artists and nearly 200 students. Since the onset of the pandemic, MMC has paid more than $150,000 to its Teaching Fellows and shipped over $30,000 worth of instruments to students, collectively in support of over 1,300 virtual lessons.

“We are inspired by the response from the musical community, and immensely grateful for the support musicians have shown MMC students. These students represent our musical future and would otherwise lack access to the instruction and mentorship they deserve,” said Zack Susel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of MMC. “We are excited to announce our Winter Gala in support of our 1:1 Music Fund, through which we aim to provide 10,000 more private lessons in the coming years.”

In support of its growth and response to the pandemic, MMC has recruited 12 Grandmentors to lead pedagogical development, including GRAMMY® award winning pianist Emmanuel Ax, and Tony® award winning composer Jeanine Tesori, social work experts, and faculty from The Juilliard School and Curtis Institute of Music.

About Musical Mentors Collaborative
Musical Mentors Collaborative connects musicians with underserved students around the country. Since launching in 2009, MMC has taught over 8,800 free private lessons across instruments and genres, furthering their goal to support young musicians through one-on-one instruction. MMC operates chapters at universities across the United States, and mobilizes professional musicians through their selective Teaching Fellowship.

For more information, visit www.musicalmentors.org. | Instagram | Twitter

Musical Mentors Collaborative connects musicians with underserved students around the country.

Also see:

 

Present and accounted for? Coronavirus-related school closures create attendance challenges — from educationdive.com by Linda Jacobson
Experts say regardless of the method used to track e-learning participation, ongoing contact with students will be essential.

Excerpt:

Alisa Belzer, an education professor at Rutgers University, says K-12 teachers can learn from those who teach online in higher education.

“When instructors stay on top of evaluating the work they are asking learners to complete, they can easily determine who is ‘there’ and who’s not. A key ingredient in this process is creating engaging assignments with clear deliverables,” she says. “When instructors give feedback that is specific, clear, and actionable, students know their instructors are very much a part of their learning process. This also encourages ‘attendance.’”

From DSC:
I also think the more choice we give students will help with their levels of motivation — their sense of purpose. They will chose what’s relevant, enjoyable to them — what they are curious about and want to learn more about. I’ve witnessed this with our daughter, whose spark for writing has ignited. Her imagination is great, and she loves to write. She is going to start her own blog, which will allow her to practice. It’s highly motivating/exciting to her — to have a voice and to be able to share her work with a wider audience.

I think that if we could give students some more leeway to study what they want to study, we wouldn’t have to worry nearly as much about attendance and lack of learning. Naive? Maybe. But I’ve witnessed the K-12 runaway train that won’t stop for anyone. It travels fast, and it doesn’t stop, no matter if mastery is achieved or not.

K-12 education in America is a like a quickly moving train that stops for no one.

I’ve also seen controlling K-12 environments that create gameplayers (our son is one of them).

In these rough times, I hope we don’t throw away the chance to change what’s not working within our K-12 systems. Let not this pain go to waste. My vote is to give students more agency.

 

 

Temperament-Inclusive Pedagogy: Helping Introverted and Extraverted Students Thrive in a Changing Educational Landscape — from onlinelearningconsortium.org by Mary R. Fry

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So how do we take these different approaches to learning into account and foster a classroom environment that is more inclusive of the needs of both extraverts and introverts? Let’s first distinguish between how extraverts and introverts most prefer to learn, and then discuss ways to meet the needs of both. Extraverts tend to learn through active and social engagement with the material (group work, interactive learning experiences, performing and discussing). Verbalizing typically helps extraverts to think through their ideas and to foster new ones. They often think quickly on their feet and welcome working in large groups. It can be challenging for extraverts to generate ideas in isolation (talking through ideas is often needed) and thus working on solitary projects and writing can be challenging.

In contrast, introverts thrive with solitary/independent work and typically need this time to sort through what they are learning before they can formulate their thoughts and articulate their perspectives. Introverted learners often dislike group work (or at least the group sizes and structures that are often used in the classroom (more on this in a moment)) and find their voice drowned out in synchronous discussions as they don’t typically think as fast as their extroverted counterparts and don’t often speak until they feel they have something carefully thought out to share. Introverted learners are often quite content, and can remain attentive, through longer lectures and presentations and prefer engaging with the material in a more interactive way only after a pause or break.

From DSC:
Could/would a next-generation learning platform that has some Artificial Intelligence (AI) features baked into it — working in conjunction with a cloud-based learner profile — be of assistance here?

That is, maybe a learner could self-select the type of learning that they are: introverted or extroverted. Or perhaps they could use a sliding scaled to mix learning activities up to a certain degree. Or perhaps if one wasn’t sure of their preferences, they could ask the AI-backed system to scan for how much time they spent doing learning activities X, Y, and Z versus learning activities A, B, and C…then AI could offer up activities that meet a learner’s preferences.

(By the way, I love the idea of the “think-ink-pair-share” — to address both extroverted and introverted learners. This can be done digitally/virtually as well as in a face-to-face setting.)

All of this would further assist in helping build an enjoyment of learning. And wouldn’t that be nice? Now that we all need to learn for 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years of our lives?

The 60-Year Curriculum: A Strategic Response to a Crisis

 

New Resource for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching

New Resource for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching — from community.acue.org

Excerpt:

Achieving equity requires that we teach with practices that embrace the diversity of our students’ backgrounds. We must also thoughtfully review our instructional approaches to identify—and change—any unintended practices that might limit student expectations and achievements. Just as we approach our disciplines with prior assumptions and theoretical orientations, we must ensure that we approach our teaching, and our students, with equitable beliefs about their ability to learn and the opportunity gaps that we have the ability to close. As ACUE research shows, doing so leads to stronger levels of academic achievement indistinguishable by race, ethnicity and income level.

 

From DSC:
Many people talk about engagement when they discuss learning, and with good reason. It seems to me that what they are really getting at is the topic of getting and maintaining someone’s *attention.* Attention is the gatekeeper to further learning. I wonder if some of the next generation learning platforms that employ some level of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled features, will look to a learner’s preferences (as stored in their cloud-based learner’s profile) in order to help gain/maintain such attention.

And this also helps explain why allowing more learner agency — i.e., more choice, more control — in pursuing their own interests and passions really helps: A motivated learner is paying closer attention to what’s going on.

 

Attention is the gatekeeper to further learning.

 

 

From DSC:
And along these lines, that’s one of the key reasons I’d like to see more involvement from the Theatre Departments, Computer Science Departments, and from those involved with creative writing across the land — in terms of helping develop content for remote and online-based education. Actors, actresses, set designers, costumer designers, audio/video editors, programmers/software developers, and more who could collaborate on these kinds of ideas.

Last comment on this. I don’t mean that we should present our classes like many advertisements do (i.e., running a thousand images by me within 30 seconds). But changing things up periodically — both visually and audibly —  can help regain/reset your students’ attentions.

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2020 | Daniel Christian