Microschools Offer Montana Families Creative, Learner-centered Education Options

microschools

Montana families are choosing microschools for personalized, learner-centered education. Educators like Christa Hayes are creating small schools focused on outdoor learning and project-based academics. These microschools offer new educational options and a strong sense of community for students.

Covid was the catalyst. When her children’s schools shut down in the spring of 2020, and her college classes went online, Hayes began hearing from parents who wanted tutoring services. She also wanted to help her own three children stay on track academically, and find a way for them to have small, safe social interactions. 

In fall 2020, Hayes leased a gym downtown with large garage doors that opened wide, providing for maximum ventilation. She spaced children six feet apart, enabling them to meet in person while working through their remote public school curriculum. In addition, Hayes offered all kinds of enrichment activities, focused on project-based learning and frequent outside expeditions.

The Micro-School Builder’s Handbook: Personalized Learning for Your Child, and an Amazing Business for You
  • Linaberger, Mara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 04/08/2018 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

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Exploring the future of learning and the relationship between human intelligence and AI – An interview with Professor Rose Luckin

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In this interview, Professor Rose Luckin, a pioneer in integrating artificial intelligence (AI) with education, shares insights on the ethical dimensions of AI deployment in education, emphasizing the importance of ethical AI and its potential to support learner-centered methodologies. She discusses the challenges and opportunities generative AI presents in assessment, learning, and teaching, highlighting the need for robust partnerships between educators and technology developers.

Professor Luckin stresses the importance of integrating AI into education with carefully crafted ethics and governance frameworks to maximize its potential benefits while mitigating risks. The paper discusses AI’s evolving role in education and the critical need for lifelong learning. It underscores the imperative of ongoing research and collaborative efforts to navigate AI’s significant dangers and opportunities in education.

Here’s another interview with Professor Luckin on AI and Education in the 21st Century:


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How Do Most U.S. Teachers Teach?

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Finding a definitive answer to how most U.S. teachers teach is difficult for various reasons. There are over 13,000 school districts in the U.S., with almost 100,000 schools and 3.2 million teachers, making it hard to track how each teacher teaches.

University researchers play a significant role in discovering this information, but very few such professors do this, and it takes time to observe classrooms and gather data.

Well, whose job is it to find out how most U.S. teachers teach? University researchers. Sadly, there are too few such professors who do exactly that and those that do seldom write articles or books that become “must reads” for teachers and the general public.

Larry Cuban

However, some studies and surveys have relied on direct observations, teacher self-reports of classroom instruction, teacher autobiographies, and historical records of classroom lessons to find out how U.S. teachers teach.


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Essential Resources to Guide Your AI Journey

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Jisc, a technology organization in the UK, has compiled a selection of resources to support different stages of AI maturity, including strategic resources, supporting students and learners, supporting staff, maintaining academic integrity, safe responsible use, and AI tools. The resources include blogs, reports, videos, podcasts, and training courses covering generative AI, accessibility, assessment, bias, ethics, and AI tools. Jisc is also developing new resources to support the move to the operational stage, such as pre-procurement selection criteria for generative AI tools and a generative AI skills training program for staff.


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Shared Assumptions & Changing Culture

The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.

Edgar Schein

I’m reading An Uncommon Theory of School Change for a class, and the image text struck me. Actually, it knocked me to the floor.

Specifically, the idea of “shared assumptions” among a school’s teachers and staff. Every organization has these shared assumptions, and they all influence how the day-to-day functions of the organization, specifically in defining the organization’s culture, as Ed Schein explained.

So, why are these shared assumptions important in our schools?

Easy: they play a large part in how students learn. If teachers have decided, perhaps with the best of intentions, that “our kids can’t do that“–whatever that is–then it’s highly likely that the kids won’t do that.

(Somehow, this has turned into a bad commentary on one of Meat Loaf’s greatest hits…)

This line of thinking also shows up in John Hattie’s work, as teacher estimates of achievement significantly impact student learning.

Part of our work to change schools should involve a hard look at our shared assumptions and, perhaps, some adjustments to those assumptions.

After all, you know what happens when you assume something…


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OpenAI Partners with Arizona State University

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For all the AI haters out there…

  • OpenAI on Thursday announced its first partnership with a higher education institution.
  • Starting in February, Arizona State University will have full access to ChatGPT Enterprise and plans to use it for coursework, tutoring, research, and more.
  • The partnership has been in the works for at least six months.
  • ASU plans to build a personalized AI tutor for students, allow students to create AI avatars for study help, and broaden the university’s prompt engineering course.
Sale
AI for Educators: Learning Strategies, Teacher Efficiencies, and a Vision for an Artificial Intelligence Future
  • Miller, Matt (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 132 Pages – 03/16/2023 (Publication Date) – Ditch That Textbook (Publisher)

OpenAI announced a partnership with Arizona State University, giving the university full access to ChatGPT Enterprise in February 2024. The collaboration, in planning for six months, will integrate ChatGPT into ASU’s coursework, tutoring, and research. ChatGPT Enterprise offers unrestricted access to GPT-4, enhanced performance, and API credits. ASU aims to develop a personalized AI tutor and creative AI avatars for students. The partnership emphasizes student privacy and intellectual property protection, with OpenAI not using ASU data for training models. This initiative follows concerns about AI chatbots in education, particularly around cheating.


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Leveraging the Science of Learning and Development to Combat Loneliness in Schools

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Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic

In a profound exploration of the modern societal challenge, Harvard professor Robert Waldinger sheds light on the growing epidemic of loneliness in his recent YouTube lecture. He defines loneliness as a subjective experience where an individual feels less connected to others than desired. This feeling is distinct from isolation, as one can be isolated and content, surrounded by people, yet feel profoundly lonely.

The Rise of Loneliness

Loneliness has been on an upward trend since the 1950s. Factors contributing to this rise include increased societal mobility, the introduction and evolution of television, and the digital revolution. These changes have gradually eroded community engagement and personal interactions.

The Health Impacts

Research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad highlights the severe health implications of loneliness, equating its danger to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. Loneliness contributes to physical health deterioration and accelerates brain decline in later life.

The Power of Connections

Waldinger emphasizes the importance of investing in relationships for well-being. It’s not just close relationships that count; even casual interactions with community members, like a mail carrier or a grocery store cashier, can foster a sense of belonging.

Sale
Student Mental Health: A Guide For Teachers, School and District Leaders, School Psychologists and Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, and Parents
  • Dikel MD, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 08/16/2022 (Publication Date) – W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Schools’ Role in Building Inclusive Communities

Recognizing Loneliness in Students

Schools must first acknowledge that loneliness can be a significant issue among students. Young adults, in particular, are highly susceptible to loneliness. Educators can play a crucial role in identifying signs of loneliness and providing support.

Creating Inclusive Environments

Schools can use the science of learning and development to build inclusive student communities. This includes:

  1. Promoting Social Skills: Integrating social skill development into the curriculum can help students who feel lonely and are hesitant to reach out. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can be adapted for the classroom to help students revise their assumptions about social interactions.
  2. Encouraging Community Engagement: Activities that foster community involvement can help students feel more connected. This might include group projects, community service initiatives, or school clubs that cater to diverse interests.
  3. Building Casual Connections: Schools should create environments where casual, positive interactions are encouraged. This could be in the form of mentorship programs, buddy systems for new students, or structured social time during the school day.
  4. Supporting Emotional Health: Schools can provide resources for emotional support, such as counseling services or workshops on managing feelings of loneliness and building healthy relationships.

Empowering Students

Empowering students to understand and combat loneliness is essential. This involves teaching them that seeking connection is normal and healthy and providing them with the tools and opportunities to build meaningful relationships.

Conclusion

Loneliness is a complex and growing challenge, but schools can play a pivotal role in addressing this epidemic by understanding its dynamics and implementing strategies to promote connection and belonging. It’s about creating a culture where every student feels, as Waldinger concludes, “You belong. You matter. You’re connected.”


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Leveraging Games in the Classroom: The Issues and the Benefits

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In January 2022, a review of 17 research studies showed that young kids can learn from “guided play” as well as if they were being directly instructed by an adult or a teacher. More play in the classroom also addresses issues currently burning precarious holes in the education system. In an email survey conducted by Lego Education in September, 98 percent of 1,000 K-8 teachers indicated that play-based learning “reduces their feelings of burnout.” The same study also captured responses from 1,000 K-8 students, of whom 89 percent said play made them “more excited” to go to school. Lego has used its signature building-block toys as a basis for play-based activity guides for teachers.

Gamification in classrooms has both advocates and critics. Some discourage using external rewards for learning, but others argue that the benefits can be profound when games and rewards tap into a student’s intrinsic motivation to learn. Students can learn to value learning as its own reward and become active, engaged learners over time.

Additionally, a program focused on the social-emotional learning aspects of gaming has shown positive results in student behavior and confidence. Many participants who may not have excelled in traditional classroom settings have become leaders of their gaming teams, showing that games can provide a platform for students to feel successful and express themselves.

Teachers like Philip Baselice and Jonathan Nardolilli use games to teach subjects like history and math, making lessons more engaging. This method, supported by research, helps in enhancing learning and memory. However, teachers face challenges in integrating games with curriculum goals, often leading them to create custom games for effectiveness.

While games increase student engagement and aid long-term learning, they must be thoughtfully incorporated into educational strategies. This innovative approach signifies a shift in traditional teaching methods, embracing interactive and enjoyable learning experiences.


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Sources:

Until We Fix This, We’ll Always Fight Against Student Cell Phones

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Yes, it’s almost 2024, and schools are still fighting the losing battle against student cell phones in class.

Sigh.

Some schools have partnered with companies to implement the use of pouches that students are required to put their phones into at the beginning of the day and that don’t unlock until the final bell rings, while others are threatening punishments including suspension if a student is caught with their phone, even at lunch time.

Yes, because even during lunch, we must ensure students have no control over their personal time. Good grief.

Renesha Parks, chief wellness officer at Richmond Public Schools in Virginia, told The Hill of a pilot policy being implemented in six schools at the beginning of 2024 to stop cellphone usage, partnering with Yondr, which creates magnetic pouches for cellphones. The measure will impact around 4,200 students and cost approximately $75,000. (emphasis mine)

Here’s an idea: shift the educational focus from boring content without connection to the real world to more authentic learning experiences. I bet cell phones only come out when they are needed to accomplish a task.

Also, educators, how many of you put your phone away during a training session? A staff meeting?

Just sayin’…


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Does the new AI Framework serve schools or edtech?

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The Australian Federal Government released the Australian Framework for Generative AI in Schools on November 30, 2023, as a guide following the introduction of ChatGPT. While acknowledging AI’s potential in education, the Framework emphasizes human wellbeing, privacy, and safety. However, concerns are raised about its relevance and adequacy due to the rapidly evolving nature of generative AI. Critics argue that the Framework, with its six core principles, underestimates AI’s inherent biases and reliability issues, placing unrealistic expectations on educators.

At the 2023 Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Jane Kenway encouraged participants to develop radical research imaginations. The extraordinary impacts of generative AI require a radical policy imagination, rather than timid or bland statements balancing opportunities and threats. It is increasingly clear that the threats cannot readily be dealt with by schools.

Lucinda McKnight and Leon Furze

The article suggests improvements to the Framework, such as redefining generative AI, acknowledging its limitations, addressing the digital divide, and emphasizing evidence-based policies. It also calls for policies that are inclusive and consider diverse perspectives, stressing the need for teacher-led policy development in AI education. The authors advocate for a radical policy approach that accounts for the far-reaching impacts of AI and ensures that schools play a pivotal role in shaping a just future with AI.

For a comprehensive understanding of these issues, the full article can be read on EduResearch Matters.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!