Browse Category: Professional Development

Bring the Classroom Outdoors

How K–12 Schools Are Bringing Classroom Technology to Outdoor Learning

If you stumble across a group of K–12 school students outside using laptops to track soil levels and search for monarch eggs or observing birdhouses with video cameras, you may have discovered an outdoor learning space.

From informal hammock gardens to high-tech tents, outdoor learning spaces have become markedly more popular over the past few years because of the pandemic. Educators say these spaces give students a chance to breathe fresh air, experience a change of scenery, and, most importantly, gain opportunities for increased learning engagement.

Read more about bringing education outdoors.

Is Dated Technology Contributing to the Great Teacher Resignation?

With 55 percent of educators ready to leave the profession earlier than planned, according to a recent survey from the National Education Association, school leaders are struggling to recruit and retain them. The most common reasons stated for leaving were burnout, limited staffing, and, of course, the pandemic.

Could upgrading the technology teachers use every day in their classrooms help make their work easier — and stem the tide of educators leaving school districts? According to some educational technology experts, it certainly can’t hurt.

Read more about what experts say regarding upgrading technology and its contribution to job satisfaction.

The Evolution of Technology in K–12 Classrooms: 1659 to Today

In the 21st century, it can feel like advanced technology is changing the K–12 classroom in ways we’ve never seen before. But the truth is, technology and education have a long history of evolving together to dramatically change how students learn.

With more innovations surely headed our way, why not look back at how we got to where we are today while looking forward to how educators can continue to integrate new technologies into their learning?

Read more about the challenges of integrating tech in a modern learning environment.

What Is the Flipped-Classroom Model, and What Does It Look Like in K–12 Schools Today?

Armed with more educational technology and the professional development to meaningfully use it, more educators in K–12 are considering the flipped-classroom approach.

At the onset of the pandemic, schools found ways to make virtual learning work. They rolled out one-to-one device programs and made investments in educational technology. Educators learned to use new tools and found new ways of bringing content to students.

With the technology barrier broken down, some educators took the opportunity to shift their methodology to a flipped-classroom approach. Others, who already employed this model, found that it made the transition to and from remote learning easier on students.

Read more about how technology and teaching techniques brought about by the pandemic pave a natural path to flipped classrooms in school districts.

Yes, Please! Getting Your Principal to Approve Your Proposal

Teachers are always searching for new products and programs to help their students achieve more. However, new materials come with a cost, and teachers need approval from their principals to move forward. Here are simple tips for getting your principal to say yes.

Timing Is Everything
Approaching your principal at the end of a long day or in the middle of a noisy hallway isn’t likely to get you a very receptive ear. Try to catch your principal at a time when he or she can devote full attention to your proposal. You may want to initially set up a time to talk with your principal over email.

Know What Makes Them Tick
Understanding your principal’s priorities will help you give a persuasive pitch. Think about how the product or program meets your principal’s goals. Try to illustrate how a program benefits your whole school, instead of just your classroom.

Be Prepared
Approach your principal with solutions rather than problems. Principals have enough issues to manage already, and they’re not interested in adding another to the pile. Have a solution to your problem already in place by planning out exactly what you need, why you need it, how much it will cost, the intended outcomes, and the benefits to your students and the school. Present this information succinctly and persuasively. You may even want to create a one-page proposal. The more prepared you are, the more seriously your principal will take your request.

Get Students on Board
Encourage your students to get involved in your project. Have them write a persuasive essay or make a video explaining why they need a product or program and how it will help them learn.

Find Key Influencers
Talk to the people who influence your principal. See if you can get them on board with your proposal. They may be willing to discuss it with your principal, which could mean the difference in getting approval.

Seek Funding
Reduce the costs of implementing the product or program by seeking funding through grants, contests, fundraising, and crowdfunding. The GetEdFunding database has thousands of funding opportunities for educators and resources to help with grant writing. Crowdfunding on sites such as DonorsChoose, AdoptAClassroom, and Classwish, can help fund smaller projects. Check out our blog on creating a successful crowdfunding campaign. Don’t have time to write your grant or start a crowdfunding campaign? Ask your PTA for help.

Be Willing to Compromise
Settling for two virtual reality headsets over a whole set for your classroom is better than coming away empty-handed. Consider splitting your proposal into smaller steps. For example, you might first ask for a few virtual reality headsets, then for a curriculum to go with the headsets, and then work up to asking for a classroom set.

It isn’t easy to find the time to prepare a thoughtful proposal for your principal. However, if you don’t ask, you cannot receive. Finding the right time, getting buy-in from students and key influencers, and seeking additional funding sources will all help make it easier for your principal to say yes.

Money in a jar

Why Grant Writing is an Important Process for Students and Teachers

I have been an educator for more than 30 years and taught all grades and subjects, including special education. I have worn many “hats” in my career, and each one is associated with a vast amount of paperwork. Yet I advocate for more paperwork and extra hours by adding another “hat”—the grant writer.

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