DonorsChoose: Engage Through Interaction at Kenwood Elementary School, Springfield, Ohio

As Knovation continues to do something good for kids, every day, we are especially inspired by Mrs. Siwek.  Teaching grades 6-8 at Kenwood Elementary School of the Springfield City School District in Springfield, Ohio, she supports students’ natural curiosities to know.   So do we.  This is why we’ve chosen to help fund her DonorsChoose request, “Engage through Interaction.”

Mrs. Siwek has requested funding for an interactive whiteboard system to encourage a collaborative environment for her students to create and deliver presentations for their social studies and science classes.   By doing so, these children become both learners and teachers.  An interactive whiteboard system allows presenting students to engage their audience with hands-on maps of commerce and trade for social studies or how cells works in science.   Students go from a singular learning experience to a group effort where everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the lessons.   These students were born into and are growing up in the digital age of which their classroom needs to reflect.   As Mrs. Siwek explains, “this interactive whiteboard system is the first step in giving students a real opportunity to utilize their learning in a real world context.”  An interactive whiteboard system allows them to show what they learn for themselves and with one another.

A fully funded request, due by December 3, 2017, would serve at least 75 students in grades six through eight.   We think it a worthy cause and encourage you to make it possible for Mrs. Siwek and her students who are excited to interact with one another in such a visual and collaborative way!

The Springfield City School District, Pre-K through grade 12, serves nearly 8,000 students.   With academic and extracurricular goals to ensure academic growth for all students, they continue to support personalized, customized learning opportunities.   The middle and high school students have the ability to blend traditional coursework, online coursework, and experiential learning options.  It is a vibrant learning community, representing the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of Springfield.  There are more than 490 teachers and about 355 support staff and administrators who guide these enthusiastic learners on their educational path.


Knovation is committed to curating, contextualizing, tagging, aligning and maintaining OER for learning through our applications, netTrekker and icurio. Through strategic partnerships with other organizations in the K-12 space, we also integrate our Content Collection with learning management systems, assessment solutions, and learning object repositories. Together we’re meeting the diverse needs of students and teachers around the globe.

Learn more about Knovation, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter and YouTube.

DonorsChoose: Transforming Our Classroom Into a Literacy Cafe

At Knovation, we’re committed to helping educators and learners succeed. DonorsChoose is a great way we can lend our support!

This quarter, Knovation has selected a student-inspired DonorsChoose request from East Lyme High School in Connecticut.  This young man’s proactive enthusiasm for creatively designing a better learning environment is definitely about doing something good for kids — something we Knov8rs do everyday!

Here’s the story:   Mrs. R. is an English teacher at East Lyme High School.  She is committed to providing personal attention to her students.  Her daily classes consist of up to six students per period, fostering both individualized and small-group classwork for optimal learning.  Her classroom is small and cramped with older technology and furniture that makes interaction difficult.

Jason, an 11th grade student, approached Mrs. R. with an idea to turn the space from a small, cramped room into a ‘literacy cafe’ with a vibe likened to a popular coffeehouse where countertops and barstools or small tables and arm chairs, along with state-of-the-art technology like Chromebooks/laptops would both open up and mobilize the space, allowing for greater opportunities for creativity and learning.  With Mrs. R.’s encouragement, Jason designed the floor plan, and Mrs. R. was sold (and so are we)!   Transforming the classroom into a more inviting space encourages self-paced learning, greater access to online programs and both one-to-one and group coaching opportunities. Portable devices allow students to move freely from individual projects to group learning situations. They can read, research topics and complete individualized practice using one device without interruption from other students. Students can also easily work collaboratively by reconfiguring the seating arrangement and sharing devices.

Mrs. R. supports Jason’s vision because she recognizes that some students at the high school level have struggled their entire educational career to read and/or write. It takes the right environment to keep them engaged and motivated to overcome  obstacles for achievement.  A more casual, inviting and supportive environment like Jason’s proposed East Lyme’s Literacy Cafe, is exactly what students need to feel empowered to experience success!

Jason hopes, when fully funded, the completed projected will help more students like him to feel comfortable asking for support they need to be successful.  He wants East Lyme’s Literacy Cafe to become the model for other schools to see how an engaging environment can help teenagers like him learn best.  We applaud Mrs. R. for giving Jason the encouragement to develop the idea.   We applaud Jason for his creativity and tenacity to see this project through as it can positively affect at least 40 more fellow students per year. We encourage you to donate to the cause.  This project must be fully funded by Thursday, August 3, 2017.   

“The East Lyme High School experience prepares students academically, emotionally and socially to be positive forces in the world and to live responsible, purposeful and healthy lives.”

East Lyme High School is a four-year, comprehensive public high school offering curricular and co-curricular programs to approximately 1,300 students.  Offering an extensive range of courses in college and career preparation, East Lyme partners with Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut and Three Rivers Community College.  They also provide students the opportunity to learn through the Virtual High School program. They have been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the Best High Schools in the United States with a 98% graduation rate, as well as by the Washington Post as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools.

Knovation is committed to curating, contextualizing, tagging, aligning and maintaining OER for learning through our applications, netTrekker and icurio. Through strategic partnerships with other organizations in the K-12 space, we also integrate our Content Collection with learning management systems, assessment solutions, and learning object repositories. Together we’re meeting the diverse needs of students and teachers around the globe.

Learn more about Knovation, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter and YouTube

Understanding UDL from the Dark Side: Perceptions of the Marketplace

UDL - IRN

The Universal Design for Learning Implementation and Research Network (UDL-IRN) held its 2015 Summit recently at the Gulf Park campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. The Summit had an exceptionally engaging lineup of “UDL-Talks” and breakout sessions that shared insights and collaboration ideas regarding the current and future state of UDL in K20.

At times, academic researchers get nervous about EdTech Vendors misrepresenting UDL in the marketplace. As the only EdTech Vendor on the UDL-IRN leadership team, I often joke that I’m the lone representative from the “Dark Side.” Instead of shying away from this potential confrontation, I took it head-on at the Summit, presenting a UDL-Talk titled, “Understanding UDL from the Dark Side: Perceptions of the Marketplace.”

UDL Has an Awareness Problem

udlguidelinessmall

The goal of the presentation was not to contest the viewpoint of the academic researchers. Actually, the presentation fully embraced it. Those of us who are huge proponents of UDL don’t always see that UDL has an awareness and marketing problem in the marketplace.

UDL is a solid, research-based framework for ensuring exceptional learning opportunities for all students. Yet the power in the UDL framework is not well known, and unfortunately, often misunderstood and misrepresented. Practitioners (classroom teachers, professors, etc.) have little to no awareness of UDL. Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey of Personalize Learning shared that only one out of approximately 100 teachers polled during recent professional learning sessions in Los Angeles had actually heard of UDL. Similarly, in Knovation’s recent National Survey on Digital Content and Curriculum, 116 educators (many District-level Curriculum Directors) ranked UDL as the least important attribute for organizing learning resources and aligning to District curriculum (12th out of 12). They can’t rank it higher because they don’t know what it is.

Places (states, colleges, districts, schools, classrooms) that embrace UDL see substantial and fundamental changes occur. UDL creates an increased focus on serving all learners, ensuring they have quality opportunities to access and engage the curriculum and express their learning outcomes. While the principles of UDL are strong, the awareness and marketing are not sufficient yet.

Addressing Misconceptions within the EdTech Community

Unfortunately, at present, the awareness and clarity within the EdTech Community is no better. In fact, many of those who are aware of UDL believe it’s isolated to Special Education. There is a misperception that UDL is an “IDEA thing,” not an ESEA concept. In other words, they miss the strength of leveraging UDL to create educational opportunities for ALL learners. UDL’s support for accessibility limits the greater appreciation of how it means so much more.

Even if the market awareness and demand for UDL becomes stronger, we still have the really important issue of skilled understanding and capable implementation of the concept within the EdTech Vendor community at large.

Loui Lord Nelson, Ph.D., and James Basham, Ph.D., do a nice job of explaining some of the Common Misconceptions and Realities of UDL in their whitepaper “A Blueprint for UDL: Considering the Design of Implementation”. On page 9 of this whitepaper, they mention that the “tool is just a tool; how that tool is utilized to engage learners, offer a different representation of information, or allow learners to express their knowledge is the path to UDL implementation.”

This is so true. Technology is NOT the answer, but a major enabler and equalizer. Therefore, the more intelligent the design of EdTech Vendor solutions, the easier it is for teachers to be the type of “learning engineers” and “iterative designers” that Dr. Nelson and Dr. Basham are calling for in their UDL Blueprint.

Converting EdTech Vendors into UDL Jedi Masters

To reach scale, the UDL community needs to bring EdTech Vendors into the fold. Although supporters of UDL implementation may be tempted to avoid the “Dark Side” of the EdTech Vendor community, I’m advocating that they embrace it head-on and use the power of their wisdom and experience (their “Force”) to turn us away from the darkness of our ignorance. It’s important that the UDL Community provide practical, easy-to-follow guidelines for education software designs with the goal of not only providing reference implementations for example pieces of software, but also including best practice UDL Guidelines for EdTech Vendors.

We need to challenge ourselves to work beyond our comfort zone and reach out to others who can be “force multipliers” for UDL. And whether you like it or not, the “Dark Side” (the EdTech Vendors) can be a powerful force multiplier – one that would better serve ALL learners if they were converted into UDL Jedi Masters!

 

And the Winner Is… netTrekker!

netTrekker Named Best Content Provider Solution by EdTech Digest

Cool Tool Award Winner

netTrekker was honored as the best Content Provider Solution by EdTech Digest’s Cool Tool Award.

Chosen from a group of ten finalists, netTrekker provides easy access to the industry-leading library of open educational resources (OER). Each one of netTrekker’s 360,000 digital resources are vetted by educators, aligned to standards, tagged according to grade level, content type, readability, subject and educational theme, among other characteristics. The all-in-one content solution for personalized learning aids in the transition to digital resources by integrating with districts’ current assessment and management systems, and enables teachers and students to instantly find resources they need for in-class instruction, homework and research.

Learn more.

We are thankful for the recognition—the most reliable digital resource solution is now also the coolest one!

netTrekker and icurio named EdTech Digest Cool Tool Award finalists

Cool Tool Award

This week we learned that both netTrekker and icurio have been named finalists for EdTech Digest’s Cool Tool Awards. netTrekker was named a finalist for the “content provider solution” category and icurio is in the running for the “e-learning solution” category. We’re honored to join the distinguished list of nominees for the acclaimed online education publication’s annual awards program.

As more and more school districts shift to digital, they need solutions that truly support teachers and impact students. netTrekker and icurio help make this transformation more manageable by providing easy access to standards-aligned, educator-vetted Open Educational Resources (OER) and tools for building and delivering instruction in a blended learning environment. . We’re thrilled that the education industry recognizes the importance of Knovation’s solutions to truly personalize learning and engage all students.

Stay tuned for the results; the winners are announced on Thursday, March 19. You can view the full list of categories and finalists here.

March 2015: Welcoming Spring!

Kites: More than a Fun Activity

Spring is here!

March 20, 2015, is the first day of Spring! The warmer weather brings many of us outdoors to enjoy the changing season after a long winter of snow and cold temperatures. For many, these activities include flying kites.

Kites are not only a fun activity to do outside but they can also provide a theme to learn and apply math, language arts, science, and social studies skills. This month we will explore several resources that teach students about different types of kites, why they fly, and how they have been used in history.

Elementary – Build, Listen and Learn

Interactive Resource: "The Insect Kite"
Interactive Resource: The Insect Kite
  • Make a Giant Insect Kite – This interactive resource gives step-by-step instructions on building a kite using the items many classrooms already have.
  • Days with Frog and Toad: The Kite – One of the “Frog and Toad” children’s stories written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. In this story, Frog and his friend Toad spend the day together flying their kite and having lots of fun.
  • TeachEngineering: Will It Fly?– Your students can explore what makes a kite fly through this lesson plan. They will learn about the four forces that affect flight and variables involved in the engineering design of airplane models as they build their own balsa glider.

Middle – Physics and Electricity

PBS Teachers - Kite
Video: PBS Teachers – Kites
  • PBS Teachers: Kites – Danielle and Jasmin love to fly kites. Through this video, students will learn that kites come in all kinds of shapes and designs. They will enjoy watching Danielle and Jasmin prepare for a kite flying contest as they test a variety of kite styles to see how each will perform.

High – Math and History

Franklin's Electricity
Franklin’s Electricity
  • CK-12 Foundation: Geometry: Kites – Using geometry skills, students can explore why a kite is a quadrilateral, along with other properties of kites and how to apply them.
  • Engines of Our Ingenuity: Franklin’s Electricity – Some research puts Franklin’s electrical work in the scientific and political context of his day. An interesting point of view, one not usually found in comments of Franklin and electrostatics.

Find these resources and more in netTrekker with the keyword search: March Newsletter.

icurio 1.0 March Newsletter: Ready for the New Season!

Kites: So Much to Learn from Them!

Spring Kite

March 20, 2015, is the first day of Spring! The warmer weather brings many of us outdoors to enjoy the changing season after a long winter of snow and cold temperatures. For many, these activities include flying kites.

Kites are not only a fun activity to do outside but they can also provide a theme to learn and apply math, language arts, science, and social studies skills. This month we will explore several resources that teach students about different types of kites, why they fly, and how they have been used in history.

Elementary – Build, Listen and Learn

Interactive Resource: "The Insect Kite"
Interactive Resource: The Insect Kite
  • Make a Giant Insect Kite – This interactive resource gives step-by-step instructions on building a kite using the items many classrooms already have.
  • Days with Frog and Toad: The Kite – One of the “Frog and Toad” children’s stories written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. In this story, Frog and his friend Toad spend the day together flying their kite and having lots of fun.
  • TeachEngineering: Will It Fly?– Your students can explore what makes a kite fly through this lesson plan. They will learn about the four forces that affect flight and variables involved in the engineering design of airplane models as they build their own balsa glider.

Middle – Physics and Electricity

PBS Teachers - Kite
Video: PBS Teachers – Kites
  • PBS Teachers: Kites – Danielle and Jasmin love to fly kites. Through this video, students will learn that kites come in all kinds of shapes and designs. They will enjoy watching Danielle and Jasmin prepare for a kite flying contest as they test a variety of kite styles to see how each will perform.

High – Math and History

Franklin's Electricity
Franklin’s Electricity
  • CK-12 Foundation: Geometry: Kites – Using geometry skills, students can explore why a kite is a quadrilateral, along with other properties of kites and how to apply them.
  • Engines of Our Ingenuity: Franklin’s Electricity – Some research puts Franklin’s electrical work in the scientific and political context of his day. An interesting point of view, one not usually found in comments of Franklin and electrostatics.

Find these resources and more in icurio with the keyword search: March Newsletter.

Student Engagement: Who Knew Research Could Be So Addictive?

Rachel Porter
Rachel Porter
Rachel Porter, Cincinnati Christian Schools

We are pleased to feature this guest post from Knovation customer Rachel Porter. Rachel is a Junior/Senior High English Teacher at Cincinnati Christian Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I have been assigning research papers for years… Not only do these things get boring to write, but also reading over 130 of them is the pits! But as I’ve shifted my approach and started assigning authentic research projects, allowing students to focus on things they are really interested in, I’ve seen increased student interest and engagement in the research process. In my classroom, gone are the days when students wrote about a teacher-selected topic. Gone are the days when students half-heartedly did research on topics that are of little to no interest to them. All teachers know that some of the best teaching occurs when you least expect it.

One of Those “Best-teaching” Moments

Three years ago, as I was taking attendance, some students were venting (complaining) about one of the many things that they didn’t like about our school. I tend to listen carefully, and then attempt to turn these types of situations into teachable moments. When I say, “So let’s have a discussion about that,” I get the collective, proverbial groan from the class, and then I know I’m headed in the right direction (insert wringing hands and deep, evil laugh here). And this particular moment was no different. I gave all students an index card for them to list as many positive things as they possibly could about our school on one side, and write a list of things that would make our school better on the other side of the card. Next, I asked them, “What would that mean to you and the rest of the student body if you could get that changed?” Some of the “complaints” would hold no water in court. However, many of them were serious concerns that the students carried close to their hearts. It was then that I had a “Eureka” moment, and said to myself, This would make a great research paper!

Authentic Research and Its Lessons

VR1D3452 1

I taught my students how to do authentic research about things that mattered to them, things that in their minds would make their school better. Ideas were coming like wildfire:

  • Changing exams to be before Christmas rather than after
  • Allowing collared shirts that have patterns on them
  • Having a student-led anti-bullying program
  • Adding an AP History course to our curriculum
  • Starting school at a later time
  • Hiring a counselor for mental/emotional needs of students

Because they were researching about something they cared about, they actually got excited to read and write a paper! They were so hyper-focused on this paper that they were chatting with me on Google docs all throughout the night to get help on how to perfectly word things so that they could persuade their audience to make the changes they were proposing.

The kicker? There was no grade attached to these presentations. I told the kids that they had to present, and they actually wanted their teachers and administrators to hear their voices and researched arguments. They believed strongly in what they were arguing, and they wanted someone other than themselves to care about it, too.

Through this research process, they learned:

  • Rhetorical devices–ethos, pathos, logos
  • How to effectively present, acknowledge and refute the opposing sides to their argument
  • How to give a live presentation and answer questions from an authentic audience (consisting of the school superintendent, the principal and teachers)
  • How to smoothly embed quoted and paraphrased material into their own writing

From Complaints to Results, Through Research

Several papers over the past three years have resulted in positive changes in our school. As a result of this assignment (birthed from a complaining group of kids) the following things have happened so far:

  • First semester exams are held before Christmas
  • A counselor comes to our school a couple times each week to offer mental and emotional support to students in need
  • Students are no longer required to wear solid-colored Polo shirts
  • Our weekly chapel service has been moved to the end of the day to allow more instruction time for teachers and more worship time for students who can stay after school

So, now when I hear a student ask why something is or isn’t a certain way at school, I say, “That sounds like a good topic for a research paper.” Of course…I still get the “roll-of-the-teenage-eyes” response, but it is then that I know I’m onto something–I know that I can tap into something they’re passionate about and teach them a ton in the meantime. Now, that’s engaging!

icurio 1.0 February Newsletter: Being President, Then and Now

Presidents’ Day Resources

The President of the United States has one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Has it always been that way? Did Washington and Lincoln experience difficult challenges during their time in office also?

There are many opportunities to use icurio’s resources to help your students understand the reasons why we honor Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on President’s Day each February. Students can also use icurio’s resources to learn important information about the Office of the President and the many duties of the men who have served in this role.

Elementary – Explore the Life of the President

Scholastic Magazine - What does the President Do?
Listen and Read: What Does the President Do?
  • Young Abraham Lincoln – Have your students discover what Abraham Lincoln’s early life was like in a resource from the National Park Service. Students learn about young Lincoln growing up, including how much he loved animals and the “blab school” that he attended.
  • What Does the President Do? – Do your students understand what the president does? Young students can listen and read as they learn what is involved in the job of the President of the United States. They can follow the president as he signs laws, meets with foreign leaders, and leads the armed forces.
  • Young George Washington’s Adventures -Students can experience the travels of 21-year-old George Washington as he delivers an important message to the French in 1753. Students choose the supplies and the people he takes on the journey, and travel with Washington as he encounters Native Americans, meets the French, and makes his dangerous journey home.

Middle – Historical Fiction, Interactive Timelines and Engaging Games

Discover George Washington
Discover George Washington
  • Historical Fiction: His First Dollar – This one-page historical fiction piece about Abraham Lincoln is a reading passage entitled “His First Dollar” and is used to develop comprehensive reading skills. The reading includes constructed-response questions that students should answer with text-based evidence.
  • Discover the Real George Washington – Encourage your students to discover the real George Washington by viewing this interactive timeline. Highlights include animated videos about his life, battle maps, and memories from his wife, Martha.
  • President for a Day – Do you or your students have what it takes to be president? With this fun interactive game, students can become president for a day and learn about the various daily activities of past presidents as they fill in their own day planner.

 

 

High – Bring the Presidents to Life with Primary Sources

A word fitly spoken
Interactive Timeline: A Word Fitly Spoken
  • A Word Fitly Spoken – Through the resource titled A Word Fitly Spoken, students experience an interactive timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches on the Union, including his First Inaugural Address, Second Inaugural Address, and Gettysburg Address.
  • A Letter from George Washington – Students will encounter an actual letter from George Washington in this Smithsonian resource. The letter reveals Washington’s active involvement in shaping the nation during the period after the Revolutionary War.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads – Detailed information about Lincoln’s life and political career is included in this interactive game from the National Constitution Center. Students learn about decisions Lincoln had to make by playing the game titled Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads.
  • Executive Office of the President – Students can explore the site of the Executive Office of the President, discover the links to the many departments and people that are part of this Office, and who serve to advise the president, to enact his directives, and to communicate his message to the American public.

Find these resources and more in icurio with the keyword search: February Newsletter.

February 2015: Celebrate Presidents’ Day with Your Students

Presidents’ Day Resources

President's Day - netTrekker

The President of the United States has one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Has it always been that way? Did Washington and Lincoln experience difficult challenges during their time in office also?

There are many opportunities to use netTrekker’s resources to help your students understand the reasons why we honor Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on President’s Day each February. Students can also use netTrekker’s resources to learn important information about the Office of the President and the many duties of the men who have served in this role.

Elementary – Explore the Life of the President


Scholastic Magazine - What does the President Do?
Listen and Read: What Does the President Do?
  • Young Abraham Lincoln – Have your students discover what Abraham Lincoln’s early life was like in a resource from the National Park Service. Students learn about young Lincoln growing up, including how much he loved animals and the “blab school” that he attended.
  • What Does the President Do? – Do your students understand what the president does? Young students can listen and read as they learn what is involved in the job of the President of the United States. They can follow the president as he signs laws, meets with foreign leaders, and leads the armed forces.
  • Young George Washington’s Adventures – Students can experience the travels of 21-year-old George Washington as he delivers an important message to the French in 1753. Students choose the supplies and the people he takes on the journey, and travel with Washington as he encounters Native Americans, meets the French, and makes his dangerous journey home.

Middle – Historical Fiction, Interactive Timelines and Engaging Games

Discover George Washington
Discover George Washington
  • Historical Fiction: His First Dollar – This one-page historical fiction piece about Abraham Lincoln is a reading passage entitled “His First Dollar” and is used to develop comprehensive reading skills. The reading includes constructed-response questions that students should answer with text-based evidence.
  • Discover George Washington – Encourage your students to discover the real George Washington by viewing this interactive timeline. Highlights include animated videos about his life, battle maps, and memories from his wife, Martha.
  • President for a Day – Do you or your students have what it takes to be president? With this fun interactive game, students can become president for a day and learn about the various daily activities of past presidents as they fill in their own day planner.

 

High – Bring the Presidents to Life with Primary Sources

A word fitly spokenInteractive Timeline: A Word Fitly Spoken
  • A Word Fitly Spoken – Through the resource titled A Word Fitly Spoken, students experience an interactive timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches on the Union, including his First Inaugural Address, Second Inaugural Address, and Gettysburg Address.
  • A letter from George Washington Students will encounter an actual letter from George Washington in this Smithsonian resource. The letter reveals Washington’s active involvement in shaping the nation during the period after the Revolutionary War.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads – Detailed information about Lincoln’s life and political career is included in this interactive game from the National Constitution Center. Students learn about decisions Lincoln had to make by playing the game titled Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads.
  • Executive Office of the President -Students can explore the site of the Executive Office of the President, discover the links to the many departments and people that are part of this Office, and who serve to advise the president, to enact his directives, and to communicate his message to the American public.

Find these resources and more in netTrekker with the keyword search: February Newsletter.