Tag: technology

STEM in U.S. Schools

Do you know about the state of STEM in U.S. schools?

Posted on July 20, 2017 by

Do you know about the state of STEM in U.S. schools?

If you’re a teacher, you likely have at least heard of STEM – but if you’re a parent and don’t know about this cutting edge opportunity for your kids, and the state of STEM in U.S. schools, I’ve got some exciting information for you!

As an AVID teacher and coordinator, I was invited to San Diego to attend a conference about the state of STEM in U.S. schools, sponsored by U.S. News and World Report to learn more about how to include STEM into AVID’s college and career readiness program.  STEM is an acronym representing the intentional inclusion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in our academic programs; STEAM adds in the arts.

Keynote speaker Eric J. Gertler, Co-Chairman and Co-Publisher, New York Daily News; Co-Chairman, U.S. News & World Report; CEO, Ulysses Ventures, talked about how six years ago U.S. News created their first STEM conference to address a need for a ‘culture shift’; the science and education communities felt a broader awareness of what STEM is and why it’s important was necessary to address the growing need for skilled workers in STEM fields. At this time, media companies with smarts and money were able to engage public with ‘state of STEM’ as they saw it. 

What is the state of STEM in U.S. Schools?

Brian Kelly, Editor and Chief Content Officer, U.S. News & World Report and main moderator of the conference, shared not only a journalistic perspective about STEM but also his strong belief that as the chairman of U.S. News STEM Solutions, a national forum that brings together corporations, he can work to “assist educators and policymakers help the U.S. fill jobs by creating a more skilled and competitive workforce”.

Have you seen these recent videos bringing a current look to STEM?

 

Microsoft’s ‘Make What’s Next’ Ad Shows How to Pursue STEM | CMO …

LeBron James and Adriana Lima Tell Kids to Be Scientists, Not – Adweek

It is through such use of media and journalism that companies can begin to identify what STEM is for the general public – because as the saying goes, “If you don’t know what it is, you can’t become it”.

How do we spotlight students for STEM in U.S. Schools?

STEM in U.S. Schools

Peter Callstrom is the President and Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Workforce Partnership, which “funds and delivers workforce programs to train and support job seekers to meet the needs of regional employers (and) also conducts in-depth labor market research in order to understand employer’s needs and trends in our economy”. Mr. Callstrom illuminated us to an ‘awareness gap’ going on in our schools which may be contributing to the low numbers of students (especially girls) who are studying STEM in lower and higher education programs. It makes one wonder – how are kids going to join workforce/careers they don’t know exists? And how can teachers/administrators/parents begin to bridge this gap? Through his work as CEO of S.D. Workforce Partnership, he has identified that 5 mil American youths are not working or in school between the ages18-24. To help address this issue, he created the Life Sciences Summer Institute, which offers paid internships to youth studying STEM fields. In addition, he spoke about the Amgen Foundation Biotech Experience, which is training teachers in STEM techniques.

STEM in U.S. Schools

How do we recruit teachers to spotlight STEM in U.S. Schools?

STEM in schools

Katherine Wilcox, the Executive Director of the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program which “empower(s) STEM professionals to transform public education through teaching and tutoring in high-need communities” EnCorps is the only non-profit dedicated to recruiting STEM professionals. Currently,  the United States is facing one of the worst teacher shortages since 1990. According to research from California State University, California alone needs 33,000 new math and science teachers over the next ten years! EnCorps estimates that there are 35,000 high need students receiving high-quality math and science education by an EnCorps STEM Fellow since 2008. These fellows averaged 17 years in a STEM profession prior to joining EnCorps, and 82% of the participants have either a STEM Masters or PhD. EnCorps has partnered with over 250 schools, school districts, and program organizations to help solve the STEM Teacher crisis, according to their website (http://encorps.org 2017).

STEM isn’t going away. The state of STEM in U.S. schools is evolving, but not at a pace healthy enough to fill all the open jobs and to push the U.S. to the forefront of our global quest for a better quality of life. The U.S. News STEM Conference is one positive step in the right direction.

Stay tuned for more about the STEM revolution in higher education in future posts!

Click to VIEW the 2017 STEM conference SCHEDULE.

This article was first published by Jennifer Wolfe on The Educator’s Room.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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4 Reasons Why I Love Teaching With Chromebooks

Posted on November 16, 2016 by

I cannot deny it any longer – I’m in love with Chromebooks.

Chromebooks have transformed my teaching. All those times in the last 25 years when I used to say, “Well, that would be easy if I had a class set of computers” has turned into my reality.

Chromebooks have become a wonderful tool for teachers in the 21st century.

A recent article in Education World tells us that “For the first time, Chromebook sales surpassed 51% in the K-12 market nationwide in the third quarter, according to a recent report by market researcher Futuresource Consulting,” according to USA Today. Now, why doesn’t that surprise me?

Because when schools embrace Chromebooks, and teachers step out of their comfort zone to use them in their classrooms on a regular basis, students are happy. And happy students means more learning. And more learning means higher test scores…

Now, I’m certainly not a digital native. In college, I typed my thesis and remember the woes of correcting ribbon. According to Education World, “Getting teachers and students to adopt (sic) to new devices in the classroom isn’t always easy. This is where the Chromebook shines. Simplicity always makes for easier transitions into blended learning and these devices are tailored towards doing so.”

Chromebooks in the classroom

I have to agree. In my classroom, I’ve stepped up and bear-hugged those 34 Chromebook machines that reside in the front of my room. I’ve seen more experienced teachers light up after their first successful foray into Google-land. It’s taken some effort, to be sure, but here are the top four reasons why I’m in love with Chromebooks in the classroom:

1. Student access to information.

Every Monday my AVID students use a Chromebook to log into their School Loop account. They check their letter grades, view their grade trend and record the number of ‘0’ marks they have. Just like adults monitor their checkbook, having easy access to their performance information allows my students to analyze their success and plan the week. When my English students ask about missing work, or what they need to make up from an absence, they can take control by using a Chromebook. My students routinely use Chromebooks to turn in digital assignments to their School Loop account, too.

2. Improved communication.

With Chromebooks being Google based, students have the easy capability to collaborate – with each other and with their teachers. We regularly utilize Google Drive for assignments, including presentations with Google Slides, collecting data and assessing students with Google Forms, editing with Google Translate, and analyzing data with Google Sheets. When absent, I can share a document with a student and chat through the comments feature.

3. Easy ability to create projects and study tools.

Before, I was lucky to get my students into a computer lab with desktops chained to study carrels. Now with Chromebooks, my students routinely use technology as their first ‘go-to’ point for projects and study tools. They love creating study flashcards and playing review games using Quizlet. When we wrote narratives, after drafting using Google Docs, students used their Chromebooks to create professional looking books on Storybird.com. To introduce the novel The Pearl, my students used Chromebooks to create Prezis about different research topics. Chromebooks make activities like web quests easy and fun, not to mention the ease of delivering lessons through sites like TedEd and the Khan Academy.

4. Enhanced inquiry options.

Years ago I decided not to be a walking answering device. I was tired of spelling words and being asked to provide answers to factual questions. With Chromebooks, my students have learned not to even ask (“She won’t tell you, you know” they are fond of saying). Instead, they’re learning how to figure out the answers to their questions, how to be independent thinkers and learners, how to analyze information and evaluate sources. And best of all? They’re satisfying their curiosity and developing skills to take with them into all aspects of their lives.

And best of all? With increased use of Chromebooks, my students not only are feeling like school is fun and time flies in the classroom, but they are also satisfying their curiosity and developing skills to take with them into all aspects of their lives.

That’s Chromebooks for the win!

I’d love to hear your favorite ways for using Chromebooks in the classroom – drop me a comment and let me know!

I wrote this article first for  The Educator’s Room. 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Teacher Tips To Communicate With Parents – And Vice Versa

Posted on October 19, 2016 by

Teachers, how do you communicate with parents? Are you leveraging pro-active communication, or waiting until ‘something happens’ to make your first contact (definitely not ideal). I know a large part of the education workforce is comprised of ‘digital immigrants’, but with a little time and motivation, all teachers can (and should) utilize technology to increase communication with parents and students. It’s definitely not too late to start this school year. Here are my eight favorite ways for teachers to communicate with parents (and students) – let me know if I’ve missed one that you use, and which way is your favorite! And parents – what tools do you use to connect with your child’s teacher, and how do they reach out to you?

Still smiling after a long week of teaching!

Still smiling after a long week of teaching!

Teacher Tips To Communicate With Parents

  • Email – This is the easiest way to start communicating with parents. If your school doesn’t collect email info at registration, consider asking for it on a take-home handout, or better yet, create a Google Form (see below) and ask for it. I know teachers who send out weekly updates, communication when they start a new unit, or only email at grade reporting time. I personally like to send out proactive, positive emails at the start of the year to build my relationship with parents before anything challenging happens. Teachers can even keep documents with scripts they use on a regular basis as a template. Email is perfect for beginning digital immigrants!
  • Weekly progress reports – As an AVID teacher, I require my students to utilize a weekly progress report that they take to their teachers for information about their grades and citizenship. They also set goals and track their GPA. This year I’m going to experiment with using Google forms for students to enter their data and then share with their parents. I think a running record of grades, citizenship, GPA and goals would be a great conversation starter for dinner table conversations, and by sharing it with parents, we would ensure they have seen the most current information about their child.
  • School Data Systems – My school uses School Loop for grading and data, and I’ve found that updating the assignment calendar weekly and entering grades bi-weekly really has made grading conversations much more proactive and meaningful. For big assignments, I quickly enter a ‘0’ if not turned in on time; this reminder has really helped increase my turn in rate, and parents appreciate the timely feedback. I do educate my parents at BTSN about my turnaround rate for grading, and let them know that it’s not up to the minute. I remind parents to use School Loop as a conversation starter, and to have their child follow up with me (rather than the parent taking me on) so we can resolve any confusion.
  • Remind – Knowing that teens respond much more readily to texts than email, I began using the Remind.com system to send communicate reminders about assignments, due dates, or just to send encouraging messages or digitally share relevant materials I come across when I’m not teaching. I love that Remind doesn’t require the sharing of phone numbers – it’s a free service that allows subscribers to send/receive text messages. Set up and subscribing are easy – and teachers can set office hours, too!
  • Social Media Facebook/Instagram/Twitter – Since social media is such a part of our society in the 21st century, why not harness its reach and use to communicate what’s happening at school? I know many teachers and counselors who set up Facebook pages (separate from their personal page) to share relevant material for their students. Parents love to see what’s happening in the classroom – why not set up an Instagram account for your class and post snaps of lessons, activities, and field trips? Twitter is a fun way to showcase what’s going on at school, too.
  • Websites – Blogs are a fun and easy way to communicate both informational materials as well as showcase student work. WordPress and Blogspot offer free blog space, as does Google Sites. If your school site doesn’t offer you a website, try using a blog to start one for yourself. Kidblog is another fun tool for student blogging. Digital portfolios are gaining in popularity, and I’ve set them up with both Google Sites and by creating shared folders on Google Drive – quite a few of my teacher friends use Seesaw and love it. I’ve also used YouTube to post and share class videos – you can set your channel to private and just share links with parents, too.
  • Google Calendar – I love all things Google, and Google calendar is an awesome way to communicate with parents. I use it for scheduling conferences by creating a separate calendar and sharing it with families. Google calendar is also great for scheduling and communicating about field trips and special events, as well as for setting up guest speakers.
  • Skype, Google Hangout – Once you’re comfortable with utilizing tech for communicating with parents, you could rely on Skype or Google Hangout for virtual conferences – it’s a perfect (and free) tool that could help you meet with parents who have trouble making it to the classroom during the school day, or could help teachers with their own small children find a more convenient time to meet with parents. There’s nothing better than face-to-face time, even if it’s virtual!

I’d love to hear your ideas for communicating with parents and teachers in the 21st century – please leave your favorite methods in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on The Educator’s Room.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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iPhone Apps For Moms- What Do You Love?

Posted on July 4, 2012 by

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Caitlinator

When my kids were born, smart phones were just an idea on the internet.  I’ve often wondered if I would have parented differently if I have that little device to use back then…certainly, new moms today have a variety of information at their disposal!  Please read the guest post below from Kelsey Jones, and let us know what apps you love for your iPhone!

There are various sources for top app lists, but in determining the 5 best iPhone apps for moms, it’s important to recognize the scope of activities that face a mom on a daily basis. Some of the determining factors include lifestyle, number of children, ages of children and economic situation. The reality is that every mom has a unique set of circumstances that determine her interests and needs in an app. Some mom’s use their iPhones for all sorts of activities. Others limit their use. Some spend a great deal of money on apps, while others only look for the best free apps. The best apps for moms, overall, are those that provide essential functions in a mom’s busy life.

Facebook
While Facebook may not be new, it has become one of the most used apps for various demographics. Use of the Facebook app on the iPhone is perfect for a variety of communication needs. There is your semi-public forum, your own page. You can limit the access others have, permitting only select individuals to post. You are able to communicate privately within the messaging features. Whether you are wishing your best friend a happy birthday or whether you are looking for a Friday night babysitter, you can connect with your personal network. Moms tend to be most responsible for planning family activities, keeping up with family celebrations and collecting family photos. Facebook is one of mom’s organizational and communication tools, especially in app form.

Pinterest
While still a part of the social networking craze, Pinterest is uniquely different from Facebook in that it can be very quick and easy to use on the go for cataloguing ideas that are worth revisiting. The visual appeal of images being pinned to your own thematic boards is helpful. Pinning material from a web page on the iPhone hasn’t been well-incorporated into the app yet, but the app makes it easy to keep up with a huge spectrum of possibilities posted by friends in your network. If you like a post, you can press the like button. If you want the concept on one of your own boards, you can quickly repin for later reference. The popularity of the site and the app are both growing, and moms love the many uses of both.

All Recipes
Related to allrecipes.com, the All Recipes app is a paid app that provides access to a vast collection of recipes. For the busy mom, the benefit of being able to use meal planning features is very helpful for household organization. Being able to share a recipe through the app is helpful as well. Randomizing features allow you to look for something new by shaking the phone. This is an excellent app for gaining control over household meal planning issues.

Angry Birds
Every mom that has an iPhone also has at least one child who will need to be pacified at some point. You may deal with cranky toddlers at bedtime or you may deal with whiny teenagers accompanying you on weekly errands. In either case, the Angry Birds apps are fun, need little explanation and are easy to play. Of course, you may find the game to be a little addictive. It doesn’t require intense concentration, making it great for winding down at the end of the day or for working out your frustration as you wait in the endless line at DMV. There are free versions that have limited levels, and there are paid versions that are relatively inexpensive, providing more extensive entertainment for a minimal investment.

Words with Friends
Sometimes a mom needs a little mindless recreation, and sometimes she needs a mild challenge. Words with Friends allows friends to interact in the context of a friendly challenge similar in nature to Scrabble. While the board and tiles differ from those of Scrabble, the concept is similar. There is a free version, though the use of ads between plays is found to be distracting by some users. The minimal price of nearly three dollars may be worth the freedom from the ads. It’s possible to interact in a general community of players or to keep your circles tight. In either case, this app provides easy to understand play.

There are many variations on each of the types of apps represented, but these are the more commonly used because of their function and popularity. The use of such apps is helpful for a mom. Some provide the opportunity to communicate, while others provide organizational help. Some are effective for entertaining kids, and others serve the needs of the parents. In all cases, the top apps for moms are those that allow the iPhone to accommodate varied needs from day to day.

Kelsey Jones is a working mom and guest author at BestCollegesOnline.org, where she contributed a guide to the top 10 degrees for veterans.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Twitter in the Classroom

Posted on July 2, 2012 by

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is keeping update with new technology, and finding exciting ways to capture my student’s interest.  Many people use social media like Facebook and Twitter outside the classroom, but at a recent training I attended, I learned about how teachers can use Twitter inside the classroom, and I thought it was awesome!  Please enjoy the guest post below, and let me know what you think!

When it comes to social media in the classroom, some educators remain skeptical. These individuals think that Twitter does not have a place in the classroom and that the only purpose it would serve would be as a distraction.

But Twitter can actually be extremely beneficial to both students and teachers, but too many schools are refusing to see these benefits, eliminating the site from school computers. Most schools just suffer from pure ignorance to the advantages.

1. Continue the lecture.
It is sometimes hard for teachers to present all of their information during the allotted classroom time. Instead of trying to rush through all the information, Twitter allows teachers to continue the lecture even when class is over. Teachers can use Twitter to provide students with links to videos or websites that provide more information about they topic they’re currently learning. This allows teacher to ensure that their students are receiving all the information relating to the topic so that they’re not missing out on any important details.

2. Students can share notes.
Taking notes is essential to education, and if a student misses a day of school, it can be difficult to catch up on the notes taken during the day they missed. With Twitter, both teachers and students can provide links to websites where students can find information or notes about what they missed in class. Now, students who are sick don’t have to spend a great deal of time trying to catch up.

3. Students can learn more on their own.
Thanks to the use of hashtags, students can easily find information via Twitter about topics they’re learning in school. They can gain knowledgeable information from others who are discussing the same topic, and they can even join in conversations that are taking place on the web. This allows students to hear perspective from people other than their teacher, and it can be a great way to help them gain more information for the test.

4. Use the technology for homework.
Instead of sending students home with worksheets, send homework to Twitter. The teacher can post questions via Twitter and have students answer them on the site. It’s also a great way for teachers to provide help for students outside of the classroom. A student can reach out to a teacher when they have questions, helping them gain information when they’re studying.

5. Send reminders to your class.
How often are students saying “I forgot” when it comes to class assignments or tests? Twitter can alleviate this issue. Teachers can send reminders to their students about projects or assignments that are due or remind them about upcoming tests. This way, students will have reminders to provide them with ample time to study or finish projects.

6. Keep parents involved.
If parents are on Twitter, it’s a great way for them to stay up to date with their child’s education. Parents can use Twitter to join discussions with teachers to find out what their child is learning and if they need any extra help. Parents can also find out assignments from the teacher to make sure that their child is keeping up with assignments and projects and that they’re amply studying for tests.

So before educators and parents start ruling out Twitter in the classroom, they should instead find out the benefits associated with it first, and then they may start singing a different tune.

Ben Myers is a college English professor.  He is currently grading a huge stack of essays on Of Mice and Men.  In his spare time, Ben likes to study about learning methods and learning disabilities.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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