How Machine Learning Will Affect Education

Machine learning falls under the larger umbrella of Artificial Intelligence and is taking education by storm. Machine learning algorithms are nothing new, but their implementation into the educational realm is. Educators are starting to use and encourage others to do the same for a number of different tasks. Below, you will see a few ways teachers are starting to use and develop machine learning algorithms to help them every day.

Scheduling

Algorithms can be programmed to optimize schedules for both teacher and students. If a student is struggling in English and needs one on one attention. The program can quickly sift through everyone’s schedule and the student’s availability to get them the help they need. Instead of taking the time to do it all manually, a student can ask for help and walk out minutes later knowing when they will get it. This may not seem like a lot, but it can make all the difference.

Grading

When it comes to grading, teachers have been looking for a better way to do it for decades. Now with machine learning, even open ended questions can be graded. Teacher will feed the algorithm with the information they are looking for and if a student has hit those points, the machine can grade it. This does not completely eradicate grading by hand, but it can cut down the work significantly. With the help of machine learning, our teachers will now have more time to give personalized instruction and tutoring.

Student Data Analysis

Schools are already collecting a lot of student data. We records things like their grades, attendance, and behavior, so why not feed it all to a machine learning algorithm to help predict learning paths, points of struggle, and even have it recommend a solution based on what the data is telling us. When we get our students’ data to work harder for them, we learn so much more about how to best educate them.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

Finally, with machine learning, we can give algorithms data about processes, the school structure, or anything related with the behind the scenes work that makes a school run. Then with that information, we can identify what areas need the most attention. Things like where money is being wasted and identifying what lessons have been largely ineffective. From there, we come up with solutions and make our schools and education better and better!

EdTech Companies You Need to Know

Education technology is a rapidly expanding market that many entrepreneurs have flocked to. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. We are putting iPads in classrooms and offering hybrid learning courses. Those things on their own don’t revolutionize education. With the help of some innovative companies, we are doing things we never thought possible. The list below highlights a few of the companies you should be in the know about.

Udemy

Udemy is an online marketplace for users to buy and sell classes. The classes are all tangible skills like app development, learning the office suite, and learning to program. The classes fall within a range of about $20 and up to $100. For those thinking about sharing their expertise, there’s serious money to be had. Some courses have enrolled over 230,000 individuals. That’s some serious cash.

Coursera

Coursera is similar to Udemy in the fact that it provides online classes. That’s just about the only similarity. Coursera’s classes are real college courses and they are totally free. Coursera helped design and offers certifications from the top schools in the nation. This type of platform us unparalleled. Free education at your fingertips – 24/7.

Voxy

Voxy is a customizable, english language learning tool. As a user, you are able to set specific goals and learn skills relevant to your individual needs. Voxy operates off of language acquisition science, but also integrates video conferences and other resources to enhance the user experience.

Kramer

Kramer offers a wireless system to facilitate real-time collaboration between different groups of students on any device. The platform is flexible enough that a single classroom can share on centralized monitor or break into smaller groups using multiple devices. Teacher’s particularly love it because of it’s flexibility and the integration of a central control panel. From it, the teacher can supervise, send different content to different groups, and participate in the lesson. The possibilities are endless!

Story2

Story2 is a comprehensive, online online college essay-writing tool. It’s the first of it’s kind and is helping students all over the country prepare. Story2 tries to take all the pressure out of the equation by providing an interactive writing tool. Story2 helps students step by step through the process of identifying and perfecting their personal story.

ExecOnline

ExecOnline came about due to partnerships with prestigious business schools. The online platform uses university curricula, puts it online, and makes continued professional development available to corporate employees. Corporations have flocked to use the service because it put the education tools in front of employees without shipping them out of the office for days at a time.

How to De-stress as a Teacher

Teaching is one of the most demanding and stressful jobs out there. If not managed correctly, it can be overwhelming. Some teachers only work in the classroom for several years before deciding it’s too much for them. But, there are those teachers who have a genuine passion for what they do and spend their entire working career in the education field, shaping the young minds of tomorrow. Here are some great ways to de-stress as a teacher!

Break it down

Teachers have a seemingly endless amount of tasks to get done throughout the day. To avoid feeling like you’re drowning, break down your major tasks into smaller, more manageable assignments. You’ll be able to tackle it step-by-step and feel as though you’re making a lot progress. Before you know it, you’ll have done that monstrous project you were so worried about!

Make work fun!

As the teacher, you’re in charge of the classroom. You get to determine how you’ll run it and what activities you’re going to do. While there are certain schedules and subjects you have to follow and teach, you still have freedom to dictate how your classroom is run. Because of this control, you have the ability to make your classroom fun. By bringing fun into the classroom, you’re providing an opportunity for your students and you to look forward to class each day. Through actually enjoying what you’re doing, you’ll feel less stressed out.

Avoid work politics

In any profession, there will always be office politics. In schools, this fact is particularly true. Teachers often gather together and talk, so avoid any negative gossip about colleagues or students. Don’t play the power game with other teachers or join a teacher clique. Strive to get along with all of your colleagues, or be neutral toward those you don’t connect with, and you’ll feel good about your coworkers instead of worrying about who said what about whom.

Get sleep

There is nearly nothing better for your body than a good night’s rest. You’ll feel refreshed in the morning and ready to tackle the new day. It can be hard to sleep if you’re feeling really stressed, so take steps to help yourself. Avoid looking at screens for an hour or two before you go to bed and take some time to unwind before trying to sleep, like reading or just relaxing. Not drinking caffeine will also help you fall asleep because you won’t be on edge or alert for hours after drinking that third or fourth cup of coffee. Try switching to a slightly caffeinated tea if you really crave the caffeine fix.

Make time for yourself

Overall, sometimes you just need to step away from your job. You have a life outside of work and it’s important to remember that, especially if you have a family. Spend time with your loved ones or by yourself, doing an activity you enjoy. Exercise, do yoga, or meditate and you’ll likely feel much more centered and ready to return to work. Make relaxing or fun plans for your weekends and remember it’s okay to say no to responsibilities at work you don’t absolutely have to take on.

Back to School Tips: Student Edition

Now that the summer is over, you may be struggling to get into the back to school mindset. We’ve all been there – even the teachers! It can be hard to get back into the swing of things, so here are a few tips on how to jump right back in!

Grab Supplies

You don’t want to start the school year off on the wrong foot. Get a hold of new supplies. Your teachers will give you an specific list of things you need, but before you get a hold of that list get the necessities. Things like pencils and notebooks should be able to hold you over for the first few days. Once you have your complete list, go out and pick up all the supplies needed for a successful school year.

Know your schedule

You don’t want to wind up lost or in the wrong class at the wrong time on the first day. To avoid this, take a look at your schedule ahead of time and know where you should be and when. It won’t take long to have your school schedule memorized, but until then, keep a copy with you.

Get involved – the earlier the better

The new school year also signals a whole new set of activities and extracurriculars to get involved. Look for clubs and activities that meet your interests and also push you. Thought about going out for the debate team? Make this your year! Most schools also have a list of all activities, clubs, and sports that are offered. Take a look and pick a few that stand out to you!

Set goals

Think about what you want to achieve in your studies this year and come up with some goals. They can be large goals like achieving all A’s or smaller scale. No matter what goals you set for yourself, stick to them. Goal setting gives you something to work towards, but also measures progress.

Stay organized

Being organized will be a large part of your success this school year. Without proper organization, you will start to forget important things like due dates and what tests are on what days. Start off on the right foot and get a planner. Additionally, have a binder, folders, or a trapper keeper. Find out whatever method of organization works best for you and use it to your advantage.

Good luck this year!

Back to School Tips: Parent Edition

Back to school is not just for students. Parents have plenty to do with all the back to school fuss too. Parents play a vital role in helping their children switch out of summer vacation mode and back into the routines of school. In order to do so, here is a list of the five best ways to help your kids get back in the swing of things.

Meet the teachers

Take the time to go in and personally meet your child’s teachers. It is good for them to know who you are even before back to school night. This way you can get their email address and they can have yours. It’s good to know what’s going on right from the start.

Set a homework/study area

Create an area that is designated for homework and studying. By doing so, you can limit distractions, encourage quality work, and give students the tools needed to succeed. Additionally, having a designated work area early on will teach your child good habits early on. One day when they are off to college on their own, they will remember what it was like to have a designated area to get work done and they will stick to it!

Read with your child daily

Reading is vital to every learner’s success. Read with your child daily to teach good habits and to be involved in their learning. You will also begin to see what your child likes to read and can suggest other books they will love. Also, reading together is a bonding experience that your child will pass on to their children.

Hold firm to bedtimes

Routines are especially important for the success of your child. Set an appropriate time to go to bed each night and stick to it. If your child is receiving the right amount of sleep they will be more alert in class and easier to wake up in the morning! It’s a win win. This also reinforces the extreme importance of routines for the body.

Stay on top of homework

Be involved in your child’s homework. Know what they are doing, when it is due, and be there to help them. The more they can get out of their homework, the better. Their teachers will also be pleased with the attention that is paid to their homework. Teacher’s assign it for a reason, so it should be taken seriously.

Motivation: Exciting Students to Succeed

Motivation is something every educator struggles with at least a few times in their career. The real questions is, when you are faced with this problem. How to you combat it? How can we as teachers avoid this rut and excite our students into learning and engaging with the lessons of that particular day? We need to look to involve our students in the learning process more. Here’s a few ways to do this:

Give students the power to decide

By giving students options, they will pick things they are most willing to do and therefore, what they will be the most engaged with. I am not suggesting a free for all, but rather the option to pick between reading assignments or even pick specific topics of interest for them to study. Giving students choices also makes them feel like they have more of a hand in their education. Plus, if you give them choices, they may even feel more accountable for them!

Provide them with your own real-world experiences

Take time to think of personal or relatable real world experiences based on lessons. Relating what you are trying to teach with what is going on around students will help them make the connections to remember what you are teaching. They may also think more about a topic if they run into a similar situation outside of the classroom.

Open their minds to the outside world

Get students excited to engage with these topics outside of the classroom. Provide homework assignments that allow them to interact with their own world in a way that will excite them. Making work seem like fun to students will be the easiest way to get them engaged. You can have them write a character evaluation of a favorite video game character, have them help with budgeting a grocery shop, or even have students interview a family member and write a report based off the interview. Taking this interactive approach will have your students working diligently without feeling like they are doing an assignment.

Be flexible

Every year, every class, and every student will interact with your lessons a different way. Be open to this. Not every lesson will be a hit, but a less than exciting lesson will give you the opportunity to rework it and engage the whole class. Be patient and willing to make tweaks when needed. The more flexible you are, the more you’ll be able to tailor lessons to individual classes and students.

Exciting your students will be harder some days than others, but seeing you class light up at the idea of making their own choices or being engaged with an awesome lesson will be extremely rewarding. Your students will thank you and their test scores will reflect it.

Classroom 2.0: How Technology is Shaping Education

It goes without saying, technology is everywhere. Tech has simplified our lives, is able to give us information rapidly, and now is an integral part of education. These are exciting times. Students have a mass amount of knowledge and tools that are only a click away, but how are we using them?

Technology Assisted Collaboration

Our classrooms are becoming even more collaborative with the help of technology. Students can work with other students around the world, collaborate with different classes within the same school, or simply collaborate at home using google docs. By putting an emphasis on collaboration through technology, we are preparing students for the workforce and also getting them more engaged and active with the lessons.

Blended Classrooms

Over the years we have become better equipped to offer classes with in-class and out of class instruction. The flexibility of blended instruction has been vital for students. Not every student learns the same way or comes from the same background. By offering blended classrooms, we are offering more resources and options for success than ever before!

Mobile Devices

iPads have been an increasingly adapted classroom technology. There are new, exciting educational apps being developed at a rapid pace and the way we can incorporate them is endless. Having 1-to-1 iPad instruction allows for more feedback on assignments, quicker research means, and a way for students to continuously perfect their work with the help of others in the class.

Increased Engagement

Technology has been a catalyst for increased engagement. When we think about it, students now have grown up with technology and interact with it consistently on a daily basis. If you put tech in front of them they will use it, troubleshoot it, and engage in activities because they are using methods they are used to and familiar with.

Valuable Work Experience

Students can gain valuable work experience from an educational use of technology. Learning how to problem solve, stay organized, and complete tasks in an increasingly technology driven world will help them in any job the seek. Many employers are looking for the exact lessons and big idea lessons we are teaching our students right now. Through technology, we are setting our students up for success in the workplace and expanding their minds.

Playtime May Become Part of Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

children-playing-329234According to Ali Ingersoll of ABC news, 90 percent of development happens during the first five years of our lives. The more children are exposed to quality care and learning during their early stages, the better the child’s cognitive skills are in his, or her, later educational years. However our focus on educational “needs” may be misconstrued. More and more studies show that early childhood education should be balanced between work and play. Focusing solely on the school work, and ignoring emotional and physical development may be indeed missing the mark for childhood development.

Lynn Pullano, CEO of Child Care Resource Network believes that child development depends largely on playtime as much as “work time” Playtime brings with it an array of benefits for child development. “At those earliest ages, we’re really missing the mark if we’re not engaging the child physically as well as emotionally and mentally in learning. We do have to be careful not to expect from children things beyond their age,” says Pullano. Children must be allowed to use their imaginations and creative abilities. Playtime in certain activities can provide just the right amount of frustration and experience needed to develop cognitive abilities such as problem-solving and task management.

So, what kind of skills are children learning during playtime? For starters, playtime stirs motor skill development. This includes better hand-eye coordination, visual tracking, and muscle development which are used in physical activity. Playtime also allows for social learning. Cooperative play where children play amongst each other helps develop important social skills such as decision making, communication, negotiation, and conflict management. Of course, cognitive skills such as creative thinking, as well as problem solving, are also put into practice in cooperative play.

According to the Urban Child Institute, play also encourages language development. “Parents can encourage language development during play by speaking in longer sentences and introducing new vocabulary to describe play and toys.”

If you found this read useful, and would like to read more on children’s education and development, check out my blog here. Thanks for reading!

Implementing Co-Teaching

school-class-401519_1920Across the nation, many districts have taken the initiative to transform their teaching methods. One of these new methods is co-teaching, wherein a general educator and a special educator who teach the same general curriculum put into action Individual Education Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities. Before this implementation, students with disabilities were simply included in general education classes, but now with this new method, they will receive genuine opportunities to access and contribute to the curriculum. To provide these opportunities teachers will need to need to partner with another educator to plan, instruct and assess together.

Co-teaching will require your teachers to adapt their current teaching methods. Teachers will need learn to share the front of the room, teach in tandem, and carefully differentiate diverse learners. Make sure there is a clear definition of co-teaching understood across all levels including administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students. Provide examples of what co-teaching will look like and what will be involved so all parties are clear.

To maximize your resources, enlist the help of all your in-school expertise. If you need an outside opinion, then you should approach experts outside of your school and district. Once you have assessed the skills of your teachers, you should provide specialized professional development where you find necessary. Before you begin implementing co-teaching, ensure all of your teachers are familiar with the most common co-teaching methods including: one teach-one observe, one teach-one assist, teaming station teaching, alternative teaching and parallel teaching.

When planning a co-teaching curriculum, it is important you keep in mind the criteria necessary for fostering a genuine co-teaching environment. When creating a master schedule, start with the special education students. This will emphasize your effort in including them. Establish partnerships between a single general educator and a special educator. Co-teaching involves co-planning, co-instructing and co-assessing. Seeing more than one educator a day can make it difficult for a general educator to be co-plan with them. The last thing you want to do is burn out your educators. Make time for planning, you can do this by scheduling the same planning periods for your general educators and special educators.

Once you start partnering your general educators and special educators, gather their input to make beneficial pairings. Survey your teachers about their preferred teaching methods, skill sets, personal attributes and relationship dynamics. You can ask your teachers to volunteer and attempt to partner up on their own. Once you have volunteer partnerships, you can set-up a small pilot program to assess the co-teaching process. Set up fun events for teachers to interact with each other, like a small pizza party. This will help your teachers form their relationships naturally.

After partnerships have formed and co-teaching has begun, you will need to supervise and evaluate your teachers. Understand that many teachers are new to co-teaching and will need guidance. When you begin assessing co-teaching partners, be sure you understand the co-teaching principles and strategies, as well as the best practices of teaching. Observe your teachers together, as a partnership, instead of individually. Co-teaching is collaborative, and the evaluation process should reflect this. Setting up a co-teaching system isn’t a set task, it will require development over time. To ensure you do the best for your students and your teachers, gather input from parents, teachers, and students, to make sure no one is left out.

To read more about co-teaching, click here.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awards Grants for Teacher Preparation

BillMelindaGatesFoundation.svg

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are recognized for their altruistic dedication to supporting many causes. Their work extends to international communities, where they focus on health, poverty and hunger. At the national level, one of the many causes they support is education. For the past 15 years, Bill and Melinda Gates have donated millions of dollar to improving education in grade schools, and preparing students for college. Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced their newest academic awards. These new grants will focus on teacher preparation. They will be giving almost $35 million over the next three years to newly established Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says these centers, “will bring together higher education institutions, teacher-preparation providers and K-12 school systems to share data, knowledge and best practices” and “develop, pilot and scale effective teacher-preparation practices to help ensure that more teacher-candidates graduate ready to improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools.”

Each organization selected to represent a Transformation Center will share the same “indicators and outcomes,” but will independently study different approaches within their own unique environment to analyze which teaching methods are most effective. These intensive programs hope to improve teacher preparation, which could improve student outcomes at K-12 public schools. The foundation has awarded grants to the following:

1. Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), a new program by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will work with the state’s 71 teacher preparation programs. The Massachusetts Department of Education stated their goals are to, “Deepen the quality of and extend teacher candidates’ training in the field, promote and support data-driven analysis of graduates’ outcomes so that education preparation providers have the information they need for continuous improvement, and integrate the efforts of educator preparation providers and partners to meet the increasing demand for high-quality, diverse educators.”

 
2. The National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) will collaborate with more than 30 residency programs to prepare 2,500 new teachers for schools with high needs. The center will also function as a research laboratory for, “identifying, testing,  and   scaling   best practices   for   clinically based  preparation.” This goal of this research is to,
– “Refine  provider  programming  to  be  competency based  and  clinically focused;
– Collect  and  use  implementation  and  impact  data  to  improve  program  design;
– Improve  educator  effectiveness;  and
– Ensure  graduates  are  successful  in their  school  systems  and  communities.”

3. The Relay Graduate School of Education will use their grant to create Teacher2 (TeacherSquared). Led by Dr. Brent Maddin, Teacher2 will gather teacher preparation programs which focus on four themes: “building novice teachers’ competencies, supporting teacher educators, enabling data-driven improvement, and meeting the needs of schools and communities.” Teacher2 plans to work with at least six teacher education programs located among 20 sites, throughout more than 10 states to prepare at least 2,500 new, diverse and effective teachers by 2019.

4. Based out of the University of Michigan School of EducationTeachingWorks is a national organization working towards the improvement of professional teacher preparation. TeachingWorks will provide professional support to staff members of the other national transformation centers. This support will be provided as coaching, workshops and modeling, amongst other resources. This support may also be extended to the teacher educators as needed. The program will also develop and implement teacher preparation program exit assessments. These assessments will gauge a new teachers preparedness, before he or she  independently begins teaching students.

5. The University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) National Center, is based at Texas Tech University and will also receive a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Texas Tech University’s U.S. Prep program will gather six other universities in Texas and neighboring states, to work with local school districts. After three years, the program will spread to more universities. For now, the U.S. PREP program will be led by Katie Button, an associate professor at TTU’s College of Education, along with Sarah Beal, who once worked at TeachAZ program at Arizona State University.

The Bill and Melinda Gates have constantly donated to change in public education. Though their efforts have been met with many challenges, the Foundation is persistent with their dedication to the improvement of public education.

To learn more about the Gates’ Foundation Awards to Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers, click here.

To read more about the EPIC program, click here.

To read more about NCTR, click here.

To read more about Teacher 2, click here.

To read more about TeachingWorks, click here.

To read more about U.S. PREP, click here.