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Top Stories for Thursday 6/19

Girls Who Code
Google launches campaign pushing girls to computer sciences. Education Week

Tenure Making A Comeback Already?
Despite ruling, Cali might expand teacher tenure. Huffington Post

LA Governor Needs Backup
Bobby Jindal can’t quit the Common Core on his own. Vox

Trading Tradition For Politically Correct
High school changes team name after 88 years. Washington Post

Duncan’s Summer To-Do List
School’s out, but the education department isn’t relaxing. Education Week

Acer's Aspire Switch 10

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Education: The Most Tech-Savvy Industry in America?

In recent years, technology use in the classroom has advanced leaps and bounds.  But how does education stack up compared with other—better-funded—industries such as finance or retail? 

Better than you might have guessed. According to a new study from Fiberlink, an IBM company, when it comes to app adoption, the education sector is way ahead of the game.

The study, which looked at mobile devices managed by Fiberlink, found that education accounts for 33 percent of all public apps and 28 percent of all custom apps adopted in the last 14 months. That’s more than any other industry listed.

Fiberlink believes that education’s chart-topping app-adoption numbers are part of a larger push toward mobile technology in the classroom. The company also cites cost and accessibility as two reasons educators are gravitating toward the app store en masse, stating: “Off-the-shelf laptop solutions can cost a pretty penny, while apps are generally more modestly priced, with a broader variety.”

The types of apps that administrators put on student devices ranged from organizational platforms (Google Drive) to creative tools (iMovie), with the ever-popular iBooks leading the pack.

Here are the Top 10 Public Apps in Education:

  1. iBooks
  2. Google Drive
  3. Pages
  4. Evernote
  5. iMovie
  6. Dropbox
  7. Google Earth
  8. Educreations
  9. Notability
  10. Numbers

Learn more about the data here.

-Catherine Logue

5 Steps to Inquiry Based Learning

Unsure about how to make the shift to inquiry-based teaching under the Next Gen Science Standards? Follow these steps to lessen teachers’ anxiety.

By Ronald J. Korenich

As school districts begin to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), they may find teachers and staff are worried about how to implement inquiry-based methods of teaching. For many teachers, inquiry-based instruction can be scary, or at the very least, require a leap of faith.

I know this first-hand. More than 10 years ago, in my role as district coordinator of elementary education for Fox Chapel ASD in Pennsylvania, my charge was to implement inquiry-based instruction for both science and social studies.

Teachers wanted to provide quality instruction but were uncomfortable because they didn’t feel equipped. When students engage in inquiry, lessons can take many twists and turns, and teachers were concerned they wouldn’t have the content knowledge to answer student questions or wouldn’t be able to tie in the overarching concepts students were required to know.

Although progress was gradual, the end result was such an improvement in both teacher confidence and student learning that I don’t think any other method of learning is even an option now.

For any district moving from a non-inquiry-based curriculum to an inquiry-based one, there will always be a steep learning curve. Here’s what we learned in my district.

1. Start with pedagogy, but don’t forget content. Teachers need to know the pedagogy of inquiry-based learning—their role, students’ role, how to implement the lesson—in addition to the content. For better or worse, you can’t learn one without the other. In the beginning, though, most of our training focused on pedagogy. We walked teachers through sample lessons: what might happen during a lesson, how to handle veering off-course or unexpected experiment results. Teachers were excited to see that once they knew strategies to capitalize on those moments, incredible learning occurred.

2. Rich materials are crucial. Schools must not only choose materials that are robust in content for their science curriculum but also those that provide teacher support. Publishers that provide training sessions or whose materials are tied to Web-based support are the most helpful. In my district, teachers also appreciated curriculum that was structured so they could take specific steps to reach student goals.

3. Schools need to accept initial teacher missteps. Teachers may not be completely successful at first, and that’s to be expected. Rather than view these experiences as failures, schools and districts need to understand them and continue to support the teachers. We found that sharing “mistakes” during professional development sessions provided some of the best learning opportunities.

4. Teachers need to accept mistakes, too. It can be difficult for teachers to pull back from “teaching” and let students pursue their own conclusions. However, when teachers create an environment where kids aren’t afraid to be right or wrong, they are much more inquisitive and engaged. The teacher can always turn “wrong” answers into learning opportunities by pointing out common misperceptions or by making a connection between the mistake and critical learning content.

5. Professional development needs to be ongoing. Training for inquiry-based learning is continuous. For example, we were surprised in one of our schools that a simple unit on levers and pulleys generated sophisticated questions that required physics knowledge. The district brought in more content training on physics, and as a result, both the students and teachers achieved a depth of knowledge on the subject that we had never imagined previously.

When most of us think back on what we know, we realize that we’ve learned best when we were actively engaged in the learning but had someone supporting and guiding us. It’s the same for elementary students. Teachers who understand how to meet students where they are and guide them along a path of inquiry are engaging students in the real work of scientists. Today we have the opportunity to encourage children’s natural curiosities, coach them on how to interpret what they’re discovering, and help them understand the impact of what they’re learning while they acquire important knowledge about science content and process. This engagement and resulting depth of knowledge is where we want our students to be in STEM subjects. Other teaching methods can’t achieve this, which is why implementing inquiry-based learning, although sometimes bumpy at first, is so critical in today’s schools.

Ronald J. Korenich, Ed.D., is an educational consultant and former coordinator of elementary education at Fox Chapel Area School District, Pennsylvania. He is a member of TCI’s Science Advisory Board.

Top Stories for Friday 6/13

Bad News For Students In Poor Countries
Report: Global aid in education drops. Huffington Post

Students' Win By Giving
Program relates academics with public service. Education Week

The Downfall Of Teachers Unions
Recent tenure ruling isn’t the only challenge facing unions. Politico

NCLB Redemption?
Study shows law boosted teacher happiness. The Atlantic

Tenure Ruling: The Next Step
School districts still have a lot of work ahead. Los Angeles Times

Randi Reacts to Vergara Decision

Statement from AFT President Weingarten on Vergara Decision

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on today’s Vergara v. California decision.

“Today, as the Vergara decision was rendered, thousands of California classrooms were brimming with teachers teaching and students learning. They see themselves as a team, but sadly, this case now stoops to pitting students against their teachers. The other side wanted a headline that reads: “Students win, teachers lose.” This is a sad day for public education.

“While this decision is not unexpected, the rhetoric and lack of a thorough, reasoned opinion is disturbing.  For example, the judge believes that due process is essential, but his objection boils down to his feeling that two years is not long enough for probation.  He argues, as we do, that no one should tolerate bad teachers in the classroom. He is right on that.  But in focusing on these teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, he strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice.  In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes—like music, art and physical education—and opportunities they need.

“It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children.  We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.

“Sadly, there is nothing in this opinion that suggests a thoughtful analysis of how these statutes should work.  There is very little that lays groundwork for a path forward.  Other states have determined better ways—ways that don’t pit teachers against students, but lift up entire communities.  Every child is entitled to a high-quality education regardless of his or her ZIP code. And no parent should have to rely on a lottery system to get his or her child into a good school.

“This will not be the last word. As this case makes it through an appeal, we will continue to do what we’ve done in state after state. We will continue to work with parents and communities to fight for safe and welcoming neighborhood public schools that value both kids and the women and men who work with them. No wealthy benefactor with an extreme agenda will detour us from our path to reclaim the promise of public education.”


Top Stoies for Tuesday 6/10

Oregon High School Shooting
Injuries reported in a Tuesday morning shooting. CNN

The Burden On Young Americans
Obama pushes bill to ease student loan debt. New York Times

Why Kids Aren’t Getting Free Lunch
Most often, it isn’t the fault of the schools. NPR

School Security Lapses
Report: School crime began to rise in 2010, room for improvement. Huffington Post

Oklahoma Says ‘We Can Do It Better’
The reason behind the states pullout of the standards. The Atlantic

Enter for a Chance to Win a Reading Oasis for Your School!

Creating your back-to-school supply list is now easier, faster and smarter thanks to this free online school resource. Find out how you can get a chance to win a reading center and books for your school, valued at $13,700!

Sponsored by TeacherLists.com

Digitorial_300x218In partnership with Scholastic Instructor, TeacherLists.com will award one lucky school a Scholastic Reading Oasis—a complete turnkey reading area with more than 1,200 books, a stereo listening station, furniture, and more, valued at $13,700!

Thanks to the National School Supply Lists Directory at TeacherLists.com the annual chore of posting and sharing your school supply lists is now easier and smarter for all. School staff, teachers or volunteers can create student supply lists in minutes, and with just a click or two, they can update and share them instantly with parents—year after year.  Parents can even access lists right from their smart phones while they’re out shopping—no more hassles, lost lists, or frustrations. 

Join the over 25,000 schools already listed in the directory for a chance to win a Scholastic Reading Oasis!  Schools must post their student supply lists for the 2014-2015 school year on TeacherLists.com by August 1, 2014*. Learn more about the promotion and start posting lists.

No purchase necessary. Read full sweepstakes official rules.

* Once a school has posted four individual supply lists for the 2014-2015 school year on TeacherLists.com, they qualify to enter.

Top Stories for Wednesday 6/4

What Keyboards Are Costing Our Kids
Three skills you never knew handwriting gave you. New York Times

Nominated For #1 Dad
School awards fathers for being involved in classroom; encourages others. Washington Post

Cali Goes On Hiring Spree
Hopes that increasing full time faculty will benefit students. Los Angeles Times

Common Core: Tests Too Rigorous
New York State lowers bar to pass students in new tests. Hechinger Report

Using Hitler To Promote Education
School makes questionable decision to advocate youth ed. Huffington Post

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in edu Pulse are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.