A few months ago Education Elements launched an online tool called Touchpoint. Touchpoint was designed for the districts we support. As our design & implementation consultants work with districts to support their personalized learning (PL) initiatives, the tool helps organize the project members, workshop schedules, related resources and action items in one place. If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes digging through your inbox and said something like, “What was the title of the email that had the meeting agenda attached?” you can bet your pretty penny that Touchpoint will be a lifesaver for you. All of your project stuff in one place -- heaven!
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Students in Wendy Daniels 4th grade blended classroom in Evanston, WY join a virtual pen pal session with 5th grade blended students in Middletown, NY. Guest Blog Post by Wendy Daniels, 4th Grade Teacher at North Evanston Elementary School in Evanston, Wyoming In February Lori Lawrence, a 5th grade teacher in Middletown, New York, reached out with a request. She wanted to create a virtual pen-pal class for her 5th grade blended classroom. I thought it would be neat to connect my students in Wyoming with hers in New York and so we scheduled a time for our classes to Skype. The results were amazing!
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It's spring and flowers aren't the only things blooming. This is also the time of year when we at Education Elements focus on our blooming partner catalog - on building relationships with new partners, and cultivating and growing our relationships with old ones. With an eye on back-to-school we meet with current, and prospective partners to compare notes, coordinate our back-to-school product releases, and ensure that together we deliver improved student outcomes for our clients.
When it comes to edtech I agree with the recent Forbes magazine article that student outcomes matter. Making a difference for students is why I first became an educator, then a school leader, and why I work in an edtech start-up. As the newness and shininess of edtech tools begins to wear off a bit, it comes as no surprise that everyone is starting to focus more on the return on the investment, rather than just talking about the investment itself. As a country we’ve invested millions through Race to the Top, venture funding, and district-level purchases of both hardware and software, and the efficacy of these investments and the connection between inputs and outputs as a whole remains unclear.
Last week, 225 personalized learning leaders descended on Silicon Valley for the Education Elements PL Summit, which included visits to schools and businesses, and dynamic discussions about personalized learning at the San Jose TECH museum. Keynote speakers and company tours left participants inspired to create school environments where educators take risks and collaborate, and ultimately help today’s kindergarteners grow up ready for team-centric and innovative workplaces of tomorrow.
As a Senior Consultant at Education Elements I have the pleasure of visiting more than 100 schools and districts each year--- some are just starting to think about innovation and others have completely re-imagined the thing we call school. As I return to school sites over the course of a year or many years, one of my favorite moments is when the leaders I work with develop phrases, images, and metaphors that clearly articulate their goals and challenges around personalized learning. This week, Yuma School District One Superintendent Darwin Stiffler shared an image with me that I think captures so much of what we try to do in our work supporting districts. The picture above shows what often happens with a personalized learning initiative. Tech folks see it as a “device roll out,” instructional folks see it as “21st century learning,” teachers may see it as “another district initiative.” It’s essential we make it clear that personalized learning is the elephant, not just a tusk or a tail.