Common Myths About Virtual Schools Debunked [Infographic]

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While online and virtual schools are becoming more mainstream the misconceptions surrounding them are still at large. The truth is that quality virtual school programs are evolving and adapting to the needs of a digital society in a way that many traditional brick and mortar schools aren’t. When education is no longer confined to a desk, classroom, or building, the possibilities are endless.

Common Myths About Virtual Schools Debunked

Top New Books for Educators

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Learning-with-'e'sLearning With ‘e’s: Educational Theory and Practice in the Digital Age

Steve Wheeler

Release Date: April 15, 2015

In an age where young people seem to have a natural affinity with smartphones, computer games and social media, teachers and lecturers face a big challenge – or a golden opportunity. How can new technology promote learning, engage students and motivate them to sustain a lifelong career in learning?

For educators everywhere, our challenge is to take devices that have the potential for great distraction and boldly appropriate them as tools that can inspire and engage. On the back of Steve’s hugely popular blog, also named ‘Learning with ‘e’s’, he shows how the world of learning is changing, and how new technology – and you and I – can make a difference.

The proliferation of digital technologies and cultures is having a profound impact on learning, prompting questions which need answers. How will technology change our conceptions of learning? How will new ways of learning impact upon our uses of technology? How will teachers and lecturers’ roles change; what will they need to know; and what will we see learners doing in the future? Grounded in his research and in pedagogical theory, Steve explores the practical ways in which technology is influencing how we learn, and looks toward emerging trends to examine what the future of learning may look like.

the-game-believes-in-youThe Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter

Greg Toppo

Release Date: April 21, 2015

What if schools, from the wealthiest suburban nursery school to the grittiest urban high school, thrummed with the sounds of deep immersion? More and more people believe that can happen – with the aid of video games. Greg Toppo’s The Game Believes in You presents the story of a small group of visionaries who, for the past 40 years, have been pushing to get game controllers into the hands of learners. Among the game revolutionaries you’ll meet in this book: *A game designer at the University of Southern California leading a team to design a video-game version of Thoreau’s Walden Pond. *A young neuroscientist and game designer whose research on “Math Without Words” is revolutionizing how the subject is taught, especially to students with limited English abilities. *A Virginia Tech music instructor who is leading a group of high school-aged boys through the creation of an original opera staged totally in the online game Minecraft. Experts argue that games do truly “believe in you.” They focus, inspire and reassure people in ways that many teachers can’t. Games give people a chance to learn at their own pace, take risks, cultivate deeper understanding, fail and want to try again-right away-and ultimately, succeed in ways that too often elude them in school. This book is sure to excite and inspire educators and parents, as well as provoke some passionate debate.

creative-schoolsCreative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Ken Robinson is one of the world’s most influential voices in education, and his 2006 TED Talk on the subject is the most viewed in the organization’s history. Now, the internationally recognized leader on creativity and human potential focuses on one of the most critical issues of our time: how to transform the nation’s troubled educational system. At a time when standardized testing businesses are raking in huge profits, when many schools are struggling, and students and educators everywhere are suffering under the strain, Robinson points the way forward. He argues for an end to our outmoded industrial educational system and proposes a highly personalized, organic approach that draws on today’s unprecedented technological and professional resources to engage all students, develop their love of learning, and enable them to face the real challenges of the twenty-first century. Filled with anecdotes, observations and recommendations from professionals on the front line of transformative education, case histories, and groundbreaking research—and written with Robinson’s trademark wit and engaging style—Creative Schools will inspire teachers, parents, and policy makers alike to rethink the real nature and purpose of education.

Reducing Stress in Your Classroom

Reducing Stress in Your Classroom

Day to day classroom life can be stressful for some kids. Students who are anxious about their learning abilities, school, homework, class participation, or almost anything will have an elevated level of cortisol. In some cases cortisol can be a good thing, but elevated levels of it can impair cognitive functioning, which is not ideal for a classroom environment. When students are under stress, changes occur in the brain that can actually prohibit learning.

Educators can reduce stress in the classroom by becoming more aware of how their behavior affects their students and by working to counteract the effects of outside stress that may hinder classroom performance.

Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Classroom

1. Be aware of your physical surroundings. Try to reduce classroom clutter and decor that students might find too distracting. A classroom space should never feel busy or messy.

2. Post a daily or weekly schedule. Letting students know what to expect each day is a great idea for reducing stress in your classroom. Especially for “worriers” or students who might feel anxiety about not being prepared for a lesson.

3. Give students breaks to process new information. Teachers have a lot of information to cover and not a lot of time to do it in but giving your students a brain breather to let new concepts settle in before beginning the next lesson is essential.

4. Maintain a positive learning environment. A classroom should be a safe space where students feel comfortable asking questions and participating in class. Remember that it’s not always easy for students to speak aloud in class.

5. Talk about it. Feeling stressed in inevitable. Help prepare students by teaching them how to prevent or best deal with stressful situations when they arise. Talk about time management, getting enough sleep, and staying organized to help them deal with stressful situations they may encounter.

Pour Your Heart out for National Poetry Month

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I need poetry. Not just to read, but to live.

I don’t want to breathe air. I want to inhale slowly and swallow the universe into my lungs, feeling the rush of a thousand breezes. I don’t want to speak words. I want my expressive vocabulary to pour from my lips, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, but always truth—no matter how much my mouth may quiver. I don’t want my heart to beat. I want my heart to bleed, addicted to the rush of pounding.

This is why I need poetry. And, this is why I’m asking you to take part in National Poetry Month and celebrate the unique and perfectly romantic act of creating and reading poetry. Not only is this one of the most recognized literary celebrations in the country, but it’s also a great excuse to bring poetry into the classroom.

There are numerous free resources out there if you’re an educator in need of National Poetry Month ideas, but I’ll present you with three of my favorites.

  1. Poets.org. This is the main hub for all things poetry-related. Learn more about National Poetry Month, about how you can support the celebration, and about poets.
  2. Teacher.Scholastic.com. Offering free lesson plans, graphic organizers, and ideas for activities, this is an excellent source for any K-12 educator looking to incorporate more poetry into his or her classroom.
  3. ReadWriteThink.org. Focused on promoting literacy, this website is an excellent resource for reading, writing, and—you guessed it—thinking about poetry as a way to enhance students’ lives and educational experiences.

It’s not too late to participate in National Poetry Month, whether you’re an educator or not. Sign up for Poem-a-Day to receive a poem in your e-mail inbox each day for the remainder of the month. Join other participants on Poem in Your Pocket Day, and carry a poem in your pocket on April 30.

Or, better yet, memorialize your own creativity by writing an original poem. Hang it on the refrigerator, e-mail it to your coworkers, or read it aloud over a family dinner—just don’t keep it inside. Poetry has to escape to be heard, and you are probably overflowing.