Articles tagged with Learning First Alliance

Blended learning showcased in District of Columbia schools

A small group of eighth-graders sit at a cluster of desks, staring down at their iPads. On their screens are diagrams of the interior of a slave ship. Their teacher, Tanesha Dixon, leads the discussion. She prompts them to consider what it was like on those ships. They enlarge the image for a closer look.

At another cluster of desks, students are discussing passages about the Atlantic slave trade on their iPads. The rest of the students are reading silently about the Fugitive Slave Act on their iPads.

From her tablet, Dixon can monitor all her students. An alarm sounds; the students working with Dixon move to the discussion group. The students working individually move to Dixon’s area.

Dixon is a social studies teacher at the K-8 Wheatley Education Campus, part of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Her classroom is an example of blending learning, which integrates online technology and content with traditional face-to-face classroom activities. Her students have instant access to source documents and other resources electronically through their tablets through a service called Techbooks – digital textbooks with text, audio, video, and images.

Students have individual IDs and can log in on to any device – computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

“Digital textbooks are more engaging,” said John Rice, DCPS’s manager of blended learning. He recently took representatives from several national education associations on a tour of three district schools that were using blended learning in their classrooms.

The practice of blended learning is growing in schools across the country. Proponents say it allows students to practice simple or rote lessons online, freeing the teacher to do more small-group and individual instruction. DCPS uses blended learning in a variety of ways in its schools.

At the K-5 Randle Highlands Elementary School, all grades moved to a blending learning approached at the beginning of the school year. In one second-grade class, some students sit at classroom desktop computers, working on a program called ST Math. It allows them to work individually at their own pace, while their teacher works with another small group.

Other grades use a program called I-Ready, which includes language arts and math, for self-paced work.

Columbia Heights Education Campus houses a middle school and a high school. The high school, Bell Multicultural High School, features an early college program and classes taught exclusively in Spanish.

Sebastian Kreindel teaches ninth-grade World History in Spanish. He uses Techbooks to find digital resources such as Spanish videos for his students.

Fellow World History teacher Kristen Whitaker’s students don’t have individual computers or tablets yet like they do in Tanesha Dixon’s class, but she’s found a low-tech solution: She prints out Techbook resources for her students, including information about Genghis Khan for a recent discussion on psychological warfare.

Discovery Education, which sponsored the tour, provides Streaming Plus – a collection of instructional videos, skill builders, games, audio files, images, writing prompts, and encyclopedia reference materials – to DCPS district-wide. The company also provides the science and social studies Techbooks to five district schools.

“We are pleased to share with representatives from some of the nation’s leading education associations the wonderful digital learning environments DCPS educators are creating each day,” said Stephen Wakefield, Discovery Education vice president of public affairs. “The district’s efforts to create classrooms that mirror how students are interacting with technology and digital content outside the classroom are helping to prepare a new generation of learners for college, careers, and citizenship.”

The tour was organized by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of education organizations, of which NSBA is a member.

Kathleen Vail|May 13th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Mathematics Education, Middle Schools, Online learning, STEM Education, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA and other major education organizations call for increase to E-Rate funding cap

The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of 15 leading education associations representing more than 10 million parents, educators, and policymakers which the National School Boards Association is a part of, applauds recent initiatives to modernize the E-Rate program, including the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) approval of the E-Rate Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on July 19, 2013.

E-Rate has played a critical role in supporting school connectivity and student learning since it was initially enacted in 1996. However, given advances in telecommunications and education technology that have occurred since its inception, the need for E-Rate has grown significantly. Currently, the program receives requests for assistance that more than double the resources available for it.

As the FCC moves forward with the rulemaking process, LFA urges the Commission to approve a significant and permanent increase to the E-Rate funding cap. This increased funding will ensure that our nation’s students gain access to high speed broadband and digital learning opportunities that will help them acquire the skills necessary for success in the global community.

LFA also recommends careful consideration of the goals and other aspects of E-Rate in the context of the changes in the telecommunications landscape that have occurred since the initial enactment of the program.

LFA urges interested parties to provide feedback on the NPRM. Comments will be accepted until September 16, 2013.

In July, NSBA applauded the recent initiatives to strengthen the E-Rate program.

“E-Rate is a vital source of assistance for high-need schools in maintaining Internet connectivity, enhancing digital learning opportunities and helping school districts set and meet 21st Century technology goals,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “NSBA welcomes this opportunity to energize the process of updating E-Rate and meeting the needs of students and schools. To assure that E-Rate is successful, it is important to provide adequate resources to schools. Requests for assistance by high need schools and libraries are more than double the current resources in the E-rate program. NSBA supports efforts to ensure efficient operation and integrity of E-Rate, increase the quality and speed of connectivity in our nation’s schools, and address the technology gaps that remain.”

Alexis Rice|August 14th, 2013|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Rural Schools, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , |

LFA calls for longer transition to prepare for Common Core

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is one of 16 members of the Learning First Alliance (LFA). This week LFA called on lawmakers to give states and school districts more time to transition to the Common Core State Standards so that they can develop the proper resources for students and teachers, including curriculum, assessments, and professional development. NSBA also recently asked Congress to give adequate time for stakeholders to prepare for the transition.

Here is a copy of LFA’s letter:

June 6, 2013

OPEN LETTER TO EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS:

Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:

The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.

To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes providing the pre-service and professional learning opportunities educators need to effectively teach the standards, making necessary adaptations to implementation plans as work progresses and field-testing efforts to ensure proper alignment – will take time.

Rushing to make high-stakes decisions such as student advancement or graduation, teacher evaluation, school performance designation, or state funding awards based on assessments of the Common Core standards before the standards have been fully and properly implemented is unwise. We suggest a transition period of at least one year after the original deadline in which results from assessments of these standards are used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core. Removing high-stakes consequences for a short time will ensure that educators have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students focus on learning, and parents and communities focus on supporting children.

During this time, we urge a continued commitment to accountability. We recommend that states and districts continue to hold educators and schools to a high standard as determined by the components of their accountability systems that are not solely based on standardized tests, including other evidence of student learning, peer evaluations, school climate data and more.

We have seen growing opposition to the Common Core as officials move too quickly to use assessments of the Common Core State Standards in high-stakes accountability decisions. Such actions have the potential to undermine the Common Core – and thus our opportunity to improve education for all students. We must take the necessary time to ensure we succeed in this endeavor.

Cheryl S. Williams

Executive Director

Learning First Alliance

ON BEHALF OF:

American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)

American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA)

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)

American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council)

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)

National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

National Education Association (NEA)

National School Boards Association (NSBA)

National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)

Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

Joetta Sack-Min|June 7th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, Mathematics Education, National Standards|Tags: , |

The week in blogs

No jokes today — not even lame ones.  And no trenchant analysis. (And if you say, “What trenchant analysis?” please reread Sentence #1, carefully.)

I’m a very busy man. I’ve got a debt ceiling to worry about. No, actually, I’ve got a story to finish, and a meeting to go to, and tomorrow we’re taking our kids to Colonial Williamsburg. Really early. But not as early as it was for my elder daughter’s class trip a few weeks ago, when she traveled to the same destination. The buses left the elementary school parking lot at 7 a.m., for a three-hour trip. Several classes of fourth graders. On a bus. For three hours.  One way. My neighbor volunteered to chaperone; and, yes, he is a saint.

Now, just the facts — or rather, the blogs. Read Alexander Russo’s This Week in Education for an insightful critique on Paul Tough’s recent New York Times commentary, “No Seriously: NO Excuses.”

Anne O’Brien, blogging for The Learning First Alliance, comments on the recent back-and-forth between Times Columnist David Brooks and education historian Diane Ravitch, as well as Brooks’ penchant for falling for the “reformers” versus “establishment” construct. I don’t have to tell you what he means by these terms (or why they’re off base).

In The Quick and the Ed, Richard Lee Colvin writes an illuminating blog about the cheating scandal in the Atlanta schools and how to recover from what could only be described as an educational tragedy. (The two responses are also worth reading.)

And finally, back to Ravitch again, but this time in lighter vein: Read The Answer Sheet’s Valerie Strauss on “Ravitch Rage” and its symptoms.

Lawrence Hardy|July 8th, 2011|Categories: Assessment, Board governance, School Boards, School Reform, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , |
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