Math and Science Outside the Classroom

[In today’s world it’s not enough to just target STEM during school hours. I serve on the Board of the Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA) in Pittsburgh, an umbrella organization that provides funding and programmatic opportunities for community and faith-based organizations to work with young people in after-school and out-of-school programs. Several years ago NLA developed its Warrior program where high school students are trained to work with younger and older learners. Today over a thousand learners gain new opportunities through the NLA Warrior program. It’s exactly the type of program that every community should develop. In the following article you’ll discover similar programs around the country. You have a chance to help these projects by donating to DonorsChoose, an organization I use to support programs in the Pittsburgh area.]

April 4, 2017 by William Broman

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Guest Post By Science Everywhere, a collaboration between Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation

Teachers across the country and at all grade levels are coming up with fascinating outside-school math and science projects on DonorsChoose.org through the Science Everywhere campaign. Thanks to match funding from Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation, everyday donors can double their impact by contributing to projects that speak to them. Projects that still need funding range from a gardening project at a Florida elementary school, to “weekend weather kits” for students in Missouri, to robotics materials for high schoolers in Indiana.

Five projects that need funding to become a reality:

Research shows that outside-school engagement is essential to boosting math and science learning. Viewing learning opportunities as “charging stations” helps to visualize why it’s so important: students who are surrounded by opportunities to “charge up” their learning – attending afterschool programs, going to museums, exploring science centers – can apply the concepts they learn in class to everyday life and develop a fluency with math and science that helps them succeed. Students who live in “dead zones” with fewer opportunities to do math and science outside school can find it hard to keep up.

Science Everywhere hopes to help teachers inspire kids to understand and love math and science in exciting, new ways. The skills young people develop doing math and science – critical thinking, problem solving, experimentation, and more – are incredibly valuable in all aspects of life. Since students spend 80 percent of their time outside of school, these critical subjects should be part of their daily lives. As part of the campaign, the foundations are matching donations from the public to fund outside-school math and science projects submitted by teachers to DonorsChoose.org. At the end of the challenge, five $5,000 prizes will be awarded to the teachers who come up with the best ideas.

Teachers have until April 30, 2017 to submit qualifying projects on DonorsChoose.org to be considered for one of five $5,000 prizes. The winning teachers will be announced on September 5, 2017.

Collaborative Learning Spaces: Classrooms That Connect to the World

[I serve as the co-chair for the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. One of our future reports will look at Remaking Learning Spaces. Here’s an Edutopia article that outlines innovative ideas and technology to make those spaces more collaborative and global.]

October 16, 2015

Photo credit: Brad Flickinger via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Editor’s note: This post is co-authored by Fran Siracusa, co-founder of and educational technologist for Calliope Global.

As citizens of the world, students in today’s classrooms seek global contexts for learning. Opportunities for networked and international collaborations are bringing both the world to classrooms and classrooms to the world. With a focus on international standards of instruction, globally-minded programs inspire students to be curious through investigation and reflective in analysis of thought. These pathways lead to the development of cultural literacy by allowing students to examine issues of global significance through interconnected sharing of experience and exchange of ideas. Collaborative learning spaces empower students to work with each other and with students in classrooms of the world to assume multiple perspectives, explore alternative solutions, and thoughtfully solve problems.

By examining the landscape of the classroom, educators can design collaborative learning spaces that will support the teaching and learning of skills needed for the interconnected world of today and tomorrow. By seamlessly connecting pedagogy, technology, and space, teachers can create spaces that promote social learning and maximum engagement. These collaborative classrooms are alive with action — teaching, learning, innovating, creating, making, and exploring. Innovative learning spaces can encourage both individual and collective voices, and, through use of emerging technologies, they inspire students to become skillful curators of their digital worlds. Though there cannot be a single universal blueprint for designing a collaborative learning space, teachers can use the goal of global collaboration to inspire classroom design that allows for connected sharing and learning.

While there are many design ideas that could help drive this transformation, we suggest the following three as a starting point.

Read More …

Open, Connected Learning

[George Couros in this Edsurge article visits an exemplary teacher’s classroom and uses the experience to highlight how Jeff Unruh is tapping into social media and digital opportunities to remake learning for his students.]

George Couros
Oct 14, 2015


CallMeMaybe

Editors’ Note: The following excerpt is from The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, which will be published this month by DBC, Inc.

I walked into the room and could tell right away.

I had never met the teacher, Jeff Unruh, before and knew very little about him, but the atmosphere in his classroom spoke of his commitment and passion. Turning to the colleague who was with me, I asked, “Do you think he is on Twitter?” I wanted her to make an educated guess, and her thoughts were the same as mine: definitely.

How did we know? Everywhere we looked, we could see the marks of connection, collaboration, and, yes, innovation.

Unique seating spaces, and an environment that encouraged students to take risks and think differently gave clues of this teacher’s values. Notices about “Genius Hour” and the school’s recent “Maker Faire” were prominently displayed. And his class was learning how to play chess with a master player, who also happened to be a grandparent of one of the students.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about technology in this classroom. While students had access to computers, it was the learning environment that was different. It offered multiple, amazing opportunities for learning tailored to reach students where they were at, and tap into their strengths and passions.

Read more…