School implements standing desks to boost student engagement
As educators turn their attention to how physical learning environments can influence student learning, more companies are responding to the demand for flexible and innovative classroom furniture.
Ergotron, Inc. placed LearnFit Standing Desks in a classroom at Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School in the Pasadena ISD, a suburb of Houston, Texas, earlier this school year and is already receiving positive feedback.
Students taking freshman geography started the school year at traditional sitting desks and in October transitioned to Ergotron LearnFit adjustable standing desks to support project-based learning and reinforce the school's focus on open, collaborative classrooms.
Next page: What educators think of the standing desks
"Since the introduction of the LearnFit standing desks student engagement has gone up markedly," said Jason Rhodes, geography teacher at Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School. "Students are more actively participating in discussions and the amount of time that it takes students to complete tasks has lowered by four to five minutes, which is a big deal in a 45-minute period."
The LearnFit desks transform static classrooms into active learning environments. Students can change their own desktop height on demand, so a comfortable position can be achieved whether sitting or standing or using different types of technology like tablets or netbooks. The casters enable easy movement for reconfiguring classroom layout and student collaboration. Desks can be rolled together for small group breakouts and quickly returned to the full classroom configuration when done.
"Oftentimes the afternoon, post-lunch hours pose the greatest challenge for teachers as student attention starts to fade," said Rhodes. "The afternoon performance with the LearnFit desks is night and day. I've had no sleeping issues recorded this year, and any time I sense a potential issue I have the students change their positions, which does a great job of recapturing their attention and focus."
Schools, STEAM professionals interact online
Schools in Porterville Unified, Long Beach Unified, and Oakland Unified school districts in the Linked Learning Alliance are receiving full access to Nepris— a cloud-based platform connecting science, technology, engineering, performing arts and math (STEAM) professionals with teachers and their students through a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
The Nepris platform helps teachers have online, interactive sessions between students and professionals so that the students can learn first-hand about STEAM.
“The Linked Learning Alliance brings meaningful learning experiences to students so they will be thinking ahead to college and career,” said Susan Benz, manager of career readiness for Oakland Unified School District. “Nepris opens a whole new horizon for our students, encouraging them to reach beyond what they might have thought was possible for their lives. Our teachers will love that Nepris does this without being a complicated process or a burden on an already packed curriculum.”
“This grant brings Nepris to dozens of California schools and will connect hundreds of students with subject matter experts and professionals from right next door or from across the globe,” said Sabari Raja, CEO and founder of Nepris. “We are pleased to join the Linked Learning Alliance in inspiring students to dream big and achieve great things.”
Teachers use Nepris to request speakers or mentors who will talk with their students while exciting them about careers in science, engineering, technology, performing arts and math.
By managing the end-to-end process starting with matching professionals’ skills to teachers’ needs and then hosting the sessions, Nepris allows professionals and companies to manageably and effectively reach out and interact teachers and their students.
Professionals and educators can see archived sessions or enroll at Nepris.com. Companies can sponsor teachers, schools or districts. Individual teachers from elementary, middle or high schools can sign up for a free trial at any time.
School officials sweat as online testing looms next week
Many Florida superintendents fear their schools won't be able to manage all the new computer-based testing set to begin next week.
Required by the state to certify their schools' "readiness" for the computer-based portions of the new Florida Standards Assessment, a third of superintendents who have responded so far signed the document but then wrote letters detailing serious concerns.
Many said they weren't really ready and worried the increase in computer-based standardized tests would chew up class time, limit students' ability to go online for class work, lead to technology failures and hurt students unfamiliar with the tools of online exams.
Walt Griffin, superintendent for Seminole County schools, noted the state's certification document only provided one option for superintendents. They must sign off on school readiness and promise that any that aren't ready will be "provided with support" so they are.
"By default, districts are deemed ready regardless of the number of testing sessions that have to be scheduled and the impact to students and instruction," Griffin wrote in his letter to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.
Seminole will give thousands more students an online test this year than last, he wrote, creating "significant impacts to our primary mission … educating students."
The new FSA exams not only include more online versions, but they take longer than those of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which is mostly being retired.
A new Algebra 2 exam also will join the online end-of-course roster, adding to the testing load. Districts start giving the end-of-course exams in mid-April.
The Orange County school district's letter said its test of the new exam system used 90 percent of the district's bandwidth capacity. Though it showed Orange was ready, the letter said district officials weren't confident that computer systems could handle the testing statewide.
Other superintendents — from the state's largest districts in South Florida to its smallest in the Panhandle — also expressed worries about the state's push to give more exams via computers.
"I am hereby certifying the readiness of Calhoun County School District. … However, I do so with serious concerns and reservations!" wrote Ralph Yoder, superintendent of that small Panhandle district.
School leaders convene to celebrate AASA’s 150th anniversary
National gathering of superintendents celebrates milestone The School Superintendents Association, AASA, will host its annual conference, the National Conference on Education, Feb. 26-28 in San Diego. The National Superintendent of the Year will be announced at the conference. “AASA has been serving as the voice for school district leaders for 150 years,” said Daniel A. [ Read More ]
5 gorgeous apps to help you learn about space
STEM learning seems to be a national priority today, with calls for more computer science, engineering, and coding opportunities for students of all ages.
In fact, using students' interests to engage them in STEM learning opportunities is a strategy many educators employ. Encouraging students to learn about space pulls them into STEM topics while also exposing them to innovative concepts.
The website APPitic.com, an app resource site with more than 6,000 apps in more than 300 subcategories, offers a number of space-related apps that students and teachers might find useful in and out of the classroom.
Here, we’ve gathered a handful of those apps for each of those stages. You can find the full range of suggested apps online.
[Editor’s note: eSchool News has selected these apps, which were originally curated by Apple Distinguished Educators, that may help you meet your instructional needs.]
Next page: Five apps to learn about space
1. A Solar System Journey, Free
This app brings users on a journey through our Solar System. This includes all of the planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Each planet comes with comments and facts. A close up image of the planet is also included. There is also an animated orbit for the planets.
2. Astronomy Picture of the Day, Free
Developed in partnership with NASA, Astronomy Picture of the Day for the iPhone/iPad brings the vastness of space right into your hand. Browse through decades of high resolution NASA space photos hand selected by NASA astronomers. Jump to photos by date, save them to your photo roll or share them friends. Want that latest Hubble photo as a background? Then APOD is for you.
3. Buzz Aldrin Portal to Science and Space Exploration, $1.99
This app, created by Buzz Aldrin, brings together a huge wealth of new, important and historical information about science and space exploration. Some features include live NASA streaming TV, hundreds of videos and photos of every important space initiate, both current and historic, and Roundtable discussions moderated by the top minds in the Science and Space community, and roundtable discussions moderated by the top minds in the Science and Space community.