Have You Pledged to Be ‘Future Ready’ ?

[Source: Office of Educational Technology]

[Source: Office of Educational Technology]

Last week, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education recognized just over 100 exemplary superintendents for their leadership in transitioning their districts to digital learning. Interestingly, 18 of the superintendents haled from California, nine from Texas, eight from Indiana and from Pennsylvania , seven from New Jersey, six from Virginia, and four from New York. The remaining attendees came from many other states. To be selected from a peer group of thousands is a most praiseworthy accomplishment. These visionary superintendents have every reason to be proud of themselves and the teams within their districts who are successfully implementing their vision.

[Click picture to take the Future Ready District Pledge]

[Click picture to take the Future Ready District Pledge]

The “ConnectED to the Future” venue set the stage for the President’s announcement of the expansion of the ConnectedED initiative to bring high-speed broadband and wireless access to 99 percent of America’s schools by 2017. But the real import of this event was that it focused attention on the fact that having the technology infrastructure in place will not by itself help students learn. After the first laptop initiative was rolled out in Maine, the teachers (and students) were left asking, “Now what?” This meeting highlighted steps district leaders should take to meaningfully integrate technology into the teaching and learning process.

The attending superintendents and several others who participated virtually signed the “Future Ready Pledge” and committed to engage in the following activities to foster a culture within their districts where teachers use high-quality digital content to personalize instruction and promote inquiry and creativity:

  • Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
  • Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
  • Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
  • Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices;
  • Providing access to quality digital content;
  • Creating access, equity, and excellence – particularly in rural, remote, and low-income districts;
  • Offering digital tools to students and families to help them prepare for success in college;
  • Sharing best practices and mentoring other districts in the transition to digital learning.

While the ConnectedED initiative was a necessary first step, the Future Ready initiative emphasizes that transitioning our public schools to become centers of 21st century learning requires building capacity in our teachers and students to use high-quality online instructional materials to personalize and thus propel learning.

Learning List helps district leaders fulfill the promise of the Future Ready pledge. Our detailed alignment reports and editorial reviews of instructional materials help educators select high-quality digital content that will engage and equip their students with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in college or the workforce. You can read more about the Future Ready initiative here. Or click here to commit to the Future Ready District Pledge.

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Look Into a Crystal Ball: How to Project Your District’s Instructional Materials Allotment Allocation

[Source: Opinion Lab]

[Source: Opinion Lab]

Today, the Texas State Board of Education adopted 89 social studies, 55 high school math and 172 fine arts materials. Learning List has reviewed all of the state-adopted social studies and high school math products that were adopted, as well as several materials in those subjects that were not submitted for state adoption.

The State Board took another less notorious vote today but one that significantly impacts the amount of state funding school districts and charter schools will receive to pay for instructional materials and technology over the next two school years. The Board set the percentage distribution rate from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the Available School Fund (ASF) at 3.5 percent for the 2015-2016 fiscal biennium. As a result of that action, approximately $1 billion a year will transferred from the PSF to the ASF and half of that (~$500M) will be set aside in the ASF for the state instructional materials fund (IMF).

[© 2014 Learning List]

[© 2014 Learning List]

Are you wondering how much IMA your district or charter school will receive to purchase new social studies and high school math materials? Learning List’s whitepaper will help you predict approximately how much IMA funding you can reasonably expect to receive in September of each of year of the 2015- 16 biennium. However, as you will read, two important steps have yet to be taken before districts can know with certainty the amount of IMA funding they will have available for each year of the next biennium. You can read or download a copy of How to Project Your District’s Instructional Materials Allotment Allocation by clicking here.

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New Reviews: Nystrom’s StrataLogica Resource

[Source: Nystrom Education]

[Source: Nystrom Education]

Social Studies School Service |Nystrom’s StrataLogica resource is a supplemental, web-based map and atlas program that includes print materials. Resources support core social studies instruction across grades K-12. Learning List recently reviewed StrataLogica’s Early Learning and Readiness Package for grades K-3. The program introduces students to the world using maps and atlases that focus on land, water, continents, oceans, countries, and states. Resources are for use with computers, LCD projectors, and interactive whiteboards.

[Source: Nystrom Education]

[Source: Nystrom Education]

StrataLogica maps are interactive and may be displayed in 2D or 3D formats. Map tools allow users to zoom in and out, pan, and rotate and tilt the image in 3D view. Users may search for specific locations (e.g., Austin, Texas), measure distances, and draw, label, and add symbols and text to maps. A dual map viewer tool allows users to compare different types of maps for the same location (e.g., physical and political maps). Maps are customizable and include premade, editable presentations and projects linked to current events (e.g., Piracy Today), history (e.g., Journey of the Pilgrims), geography skills (e.g., latitude and longitude), and student interests (e.g., Monsters—Real or Hoax?). Maps include “Placemark Pop-ups” with text, videos, and images pinned to specific locations. For example, a presentation about how t-shirts are manufactured includes a placemark pinned to Lubbock, Texas, that displays a short YouTube video about the cotton industry there. Teachers may create their own Pop-Ups with text and uploaded videos and images. Pop-ups may be turned on or off.

Atlases and charts are accompanied by activities with lesson plans that provide step-by-step guidance for instruction, discussion questions, and links to other subject areas and related children’s literature. Lessons include hands-on activities and downloadable activity sheets (i.e., PDFs). Atlases for grades 1-3 are available in print and eBook formats and have age-appropriate informational text, vivid illustrations and photographs, glossaries, and abbreviation keys (e.g., TX, St., S). Outline maps are customizable and may be downloaded as PDFs for classroom use.

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