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Our expert researchers, evaluators, and veteran educators synthesize information gleaned from our research and blend it with best practices gathered from schools and districts around the world to bring you insightful and practical ideas that support changing the odds of success for you and your students. By aligning practice with research, we mix professional wisdom with real world experience to bring you unexpectedly insightful and uncommonly practical ideas that offer ways to build student resiliency, close achievement gaps, implement retention strategies, prioritize improvement initiatives, build staff motivation, and interpret data and understand its impact.
In our fall 2008 issue of Changing Schools, we wrote that “Everyday, educators across the country are finding new ways to improve student learning. Too often, though, their innovative ideas and approaches to teaching and learning remain isolated. As a result, as an enterprise, education fails to build on these everyday innovations.”
Knowing that educators across the country are continually finding new ways to improve student learning, we asked educators to share their “everday innovations” with us and others. As a result, we received—and continue to receive—several examples of ways that educators, are everyday, doing what they do a little better.
We’ve decided to post the innovations we collected into this section of our blog and encourage you to use this space to submit your “everyday innovations.”
To build community involvement and root learning in the real world, Golden Independent School in Golden, Colo., works with the local Chamber of Commerce to connect local businesses, organizations, and universities with students. When the school needed binoculars for their students, Pentax donated them in exchange for the positive publicity they received for helping the school. Likewise, the school benefits the community as a whole by offering classes, entertainment, and group activities to more than just their enrolled students. Sounds like everyone wins when everyone shares.
Tired of word walls and vocabulary clusters? The leadership team at Bayless Intermediate School in St. Louis, Mo., has come up with a creative way for teachers and students to put vocabulary front and center—by wearing it around their necks and hanging it from their ears. As part of a six-week initiative on research-based vocabulary instructional strategies, students and staff are sporting vocabulary necklaces and earrings, made from construction paper and displaying a word, the student’s own definition, and a drawing that represents the word. Why not?
Global Educational Consultant Kevin Simpson finds that “Starting Where Students Are And Building” (SWSAAB) never fails to bridge the gap between student needs and educator expectations. With ever-increasing pressure to focus exclusively on end results, it’s up to the educator to step back and figure out what it will take for the students to achieve those results. It might be more than a mouthful, but it’s not so hard to swallow.
Having trouble resolving “sticky” situations? Bowling Green Junior High School in Bowling Green, Ky., uses Appreciative Inquiry—a process of improving an organization by emphasizing what works, rather than focusing on what doesn’t—to develop their school improvement plan. They’ve been rewarded with increased “buy-in” from stakeholders and have resolved many difficult issues. Wouldn’t we all work harder if we were praised for our qualities rather than criticized for our shortcomings?
A teacher at the John Carroll School in Maryland has eliminated all paper from his classroom. Supported by a 1:1 computing environment, Richard Wojewodzki uses blogs and wikis to take the place of paper. Beyond the obvious savings on paper and resources, paperless classrooms can explore the dynamic resources made possible by the technology behind “Web 2.0.” The idea has generated considerable interest in the media, at the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Technology in Education, and even the Australian Department of Education. The invention of the computer promised to lead us to a paperless society but has failed to deliver on that promise. . . until now, perhaps?