The Buzz on Personalized Learning and English Language Arts

Personalized Learning

According to a report by the nonprofit KnowledgeWorks, personalized learning is a critical component of most states’ accountability plans submitted under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). Personalized learning was mentioned in 39 states’ plans. The questions being addressed were “How do we build learning-centered or student-centered systems?” and “How do we advance policies focused on what each individual student needs?”

As this conversation goes on at the state level, teachers grapple with how to implement a personalized learning approach in their classrooms. Their goal is to avoid the one-learning-fits-all recipe and to put together instructional models that meet the needs of individual students. The power of personalized learning is in students taking ownership of their learning, with the teacher facilitating and enriching their course of study. Personalized learning puts the focus on what, how, and why students learn so that the learning is deep and connected.personalized learning

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The Adoption Market

The current adoption market segment remains in flux and is continually adapting and changing. The 19 states that still adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas are loosening their requirements. Some states, such as Florida, have passed laws that allow districts to purchase “off-list” materials.

There are many factors disrupting the adoption market. The movement away from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is affecting the development of instructional materials for this market. Florida, a key adoption state, is a good example of a state that has moved away from the CCSS and is now developing its own standards for English language arts and mathematics, thus impacting upcoming adoptions in those curriculum areas. North Carolina is also currently reviewing its adoption process.

According to EdWeek.org, states aligned to the CCSS fall out as follows:

  • 35 kept CCSS adoption (34 states and District of Columbia)
  • 11 announced a major rewrite or replacement of CCSS
  • 4 never adopted CCSS
  • 1 adopted CCSS only in English language arts (ELA)

Common Core: Where It Stands in States - Adoption Market

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What’s Up with ESSA?

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the country’s oldest national education law dedicated to providing equal opportunity to all students. ESSA scales back much of the federal government’s role in public education on everything from testing and teacher quality to low-performing schools. Under ESSA, states do have greater flexibility, but they still are required to submit ESSA plans to the Department of Education (DOE) for approval.

The deadline for submitting ESSA plans to the DOE was last year. By October 2018, all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had their ESSA plans approved. States are now in the process of implementing them. How are the plans that require changing policies on curriculum, assessment, and accountability playing out at the local level? What are the implications for publishers?

Every Student Succeeds Act - ESSA

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Understanding Digital Literacy

The growing use of technology in education is forcing us to rethink our definition of literacy. The Cambridge Dictionary defines literacy as the ability to read and write and as a basic skill or knowledge of a subject. However, technological advances are radically changing the way students access content, interact with content, and share it with others, requiring a whole set of skills beyond the traditional practices of reading and writing.

As the researchers Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear, and Leau explain in their 2008 book, Handbook of Research on New Literacies, as technology alters the literacy experience, students will have to be able to adapt to new technologies while at the same time learning how to learn effectively with these new technologies. This is forcing educators to develop new teaching approaches and to expand their understanding of what it means to be literate in the digital age.digital literacy Continue reading

Tomorrow’s Classroom

It’s a new year and it’s time to see what the future may hold. So let’s look at the top educational trends in 2019 and their affects on teachers and students. Two dominant curriculum trends are impacting educational publishing: the movement toward personalized learning and the need for critical thinking lessons.

The Personalized Learning Movement

Personalized learning is affecting how the curriculum is being developed and also how students’ work and learning is being assessed. Since 2012, fifteen states have implemented policies to support personalized learning, ranging from waiving regulations to set up innovation zones. New Hampshire is spearheading implementation of this trend. Across the nation, many districts are using digital online courses and products to implement personalized learning.

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Robotics and the NGSS

Four toys related to robotics that people may remember from childhoodIt’s been more than 50 years since The Jetsons came into living rooms and promised viewers things beyond their wildest dreams. Of course, not all of their predictions have come true yet, but since the show is set in 2062, science has quite a few years to catch up. Still, the world is pretty futuristic these days. Maybe you don’t have a car inside a briefcase, but you probably have a computer, a calculator, a jukebox, a camera, several books, video games, mail, and a flashlight all in a telephone in your pocket. And while you don’t have Rosie to vacuum your floors, you probably own, or know someone who owns, a robotic vacuum.

In fact, when you think about it, robots are everywhere. A robot almost certainly helped to assemble your car, and your latest order from Amazon was likely moved around the warehouse by robots. Maybe you have eaten at the new Boston restaurant where robots do the cooking. If you have been a patient at the UCSF Medical Center, it is likely that your meals were delivered by a robot and your prescriptions were filled by a robotic pharmacist. You may even know someone who has bought a robo-pet—be it a cuddly robotic kitty to keep a senior company or a robotic dog to load the dishwasher.

Where Is Robotics in the NGSS?

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Creating More Equitable Assessment for ELLs

Since the creation in 2002 of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), accountability and assessment of public education in the United States has been based on annual standardized state tests. These tests have been used to determine the effectiveness of states, districts, schools, and teachers in helping students learn.

Public school students in the United States are given more standardized tests, and are tested more frequently, than students in any other country. The growth of testing has fueled the world of assessment and turned it into a billion-dollar industry.

The number of tests has affected English Language Learners (ELLs) in the U.S. who, in addition to the annual standardized subject matter tests, are assessed every year on their English proficiency. Under NCLB, states not only had to identify English learners but also had to create English proficiency standards along with assessments that reflected these standards. Every year ELLs have to take state tests to determine if they are making progress in learning English and in attaining English-language proficiency. Continue reading

Five Challenges in Implementing NGSS

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have brought many U.S. classrooms into the 21st century.Next Generation Science Standards In a world increasingly ruled by computers and robotics, this knowledge and these skills will be instrumental to the success of tomorrow’s workforce.

NGSS has brought something else to the classroom—inquiry-based learning. Gone are the days when a science teacher would write facts on a board and explain topics to a classroom. The NGSS expects students to participate in their own learning. The standards call for students to form hypotheses, test theories, and analyze data for themselves. Students are active learners. Thus, the NGSS guidelines have changed the methods used to teach science. This presents challenges to teachers. So how to implement these standards in today’s classroom? Here are five challenges teachers face.

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Impact of the NGSS

Why Do We Need the NGSS?

Introduction for elementary school children to coding through a robotics programme

To understand the impact of the NGSS, take a look around. What do smartphones, multivitamins, organic pesticides, self-driving cars, solar panels, and kevlar have in common? Science. Science touches everyone in the United States every day, yet the U.S. national standards for teaching K-12 science remained unchanged from 1997 until 2013. During that time frame,

  • researchers found evidence that neutrinos have mass in 1998
  • scientists discovered three new synthetic elements: livermorium (element 116) in 2000, moscovium (element 115) in 2003, and tennessine (element 117) in 2010
  • the human genome was published in 2001
  • Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006
  • the first clone of an extinct animal was born in 2009
  • NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012

Each one of these breakthroughs highlights how closely intertwined science, technology, and engineering are. With all of these advancements and innovations, the curricula for science were badly in need of an update. This is why the National Research Council (NRC), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), along with lead partners from 26 states, came together to design the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a comprehensive guideline for teaching science from kindergarten through 12th grade.

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The Path to Educational Equity

Educational Equity and Changing Demographics in the U.S.

Equity commitment - Educational equity
* KPM: Key Performance Measure
The promise of the Brown v. the Board of Education ruling was that all children would have equal access to a world-class public education.  Despite great advances in public education, existing structural and social barriers continue to limit many children’s access to a good education. Thus the movement for educational equity in the classroom continues.

Research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown that overall social mobility has not risen in OECD countries and in some places inequalities of income and wealth have increased. In the United States, there has been a rise in childhood poverty from 17% in 2000 to 22% in 2015 (Kids Count, 2015). Studies have found that the poorest students are nearly four times as likely to fail in math than their wealthiest peers. Continue reading