Virtual School Meanderings

July 2, 2020

How To Ensure Inequality Isn’t A Lasting Consequence Of The Pandemic

This one appears to be their more generalized newsletter…  But either way, its still from the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this month’s highlights from the Christensen Institute.
Christensen Institute · 92 Hayden Avenue · Lexington, MA 02421 · USA

Why Developing Character In Schools Matters

An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

Why Developing Character In Schools Matters

What Covid-19’s ‘pause’ on schooling should begin to enable

As we embark upon summer, schools everywhere are planning feverishly for the fall. Developments are dropping almost daily around what schools will or won’t do, with a myriad of options emerging. Parents’ and students’ reactions and opinions are highly varied depending on their own personal situation.

Against that backdrop, Diane Tavenner and I are continuing our Class Disrupted podcast to encourage school communities to use this time to build bridges to the schools we need in our future. Although I’m sure you’re supposed to love all of your podcasts equally, I confess that three of my favorites are now out in the world.

Episode 5 (listen here) of our series features Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit, as we talk about the importance of using school for more than just academics—and address a complaint I’m hearing a lot from parents, even in districts where they didn’t lessen the academic load amidst Covid-19: how come my child is able to finish her schoolwork in just 3 hours? Listen to why using school time to develop children’s character—or what Diane and her team at Summit call “habits of success”—is vital.

After that, on episode 6 (listen here) we welcomed Todd Rose, bestselling author of The End of Average and Dark Horse, to our podcast to talk about how the “factory model” of education explains much of the dysfunction of our schooling system—and how there’s a better way forward that recognizes the individuality of each learner.

Then, in episode 7 (listen here), Diane and I talk about the chaos that ensued when schools abruptly shut their doors, as some moved to pass-fail grading systems while others gave A’s for all. We argue in the podcast that this grading chaos provides a window to dig into the deeper assumptions underlying the A–F letter-grade system that dominates American schooling—and imagine a better way forward that isn’t a zero sum game, but a positive-sum one.

Future U

In the world of higher education, Jeff Selingo and I wrapped up Season 3 of our Future U podcast with two episodes.

In the first, we welcomed Martin Van Der Werf (listen here) from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce to talk about what’s become an even more important question in light of the recession and stretched resources for students and schools: understanding the return on investment from different education programs.

And in the second, Jeff and I wrapped up our season (listen here) by reflecting on our lessons learned over the course of our podcast interviews. I also grilled Jeff about how admissions might change with the news of so many colleges going test optional given the interruptions to the SAT and ACT. His upcoming book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, is incredibly timely to help families make sense of it all. And Jeff interviewed me about my policy paper with Richard Price that we released in the wake of Covid-19, “Creating Seamless Credit Transfer.”

To that end, I also penned a policy brief that the American Enterprise Institute just published titled, “Third-Party Credentialing for Higher Education.” The brief is based on the insights uncovered in the “Creating Seamless Credit Transfer” paper and crystallizes the recommendations.

* * *

Lastly, for those of you interested, I’ve launched a paid newsletter in addition to this free one you’re receiving. If you choose to subscribe here, you’ll enjoy a front-row seat into the future of education with special articles and transcriptions of conversations with the education change-makers and leaders bringing that future to life. I anticipate that these posts will be almost weekly, in addition to what’s become a bi-monthly free newsletter. The cost is $5 per month or $45 for a yearly subscription.

As always, thank you for listening, reading, and writing. Stay safe and stay strong.

You’re on the free list for The Future of Education. For the full experience, become a paying subscriber.


© 2020 Michael B. Horn
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

Equitable Discipline | School Reopening | Early Childhood Literacy

A regional education laboratory newsletter from earlier in the week.

To view this email as a web page, click here.
Teacher with student sitting at a table in the classroom.
A message from our director: REL Midwest’s equity work
Current events have helped expose the systemic racism and injustice in our nation. In response, our director shares some of the ways REL Midwest is working with educators to promote equity across our region. She also highlights several of our equity resources, and we’ll be sharing more in coming months.
Read more  Arrow
Tips from a teacher: Supporting early childhood literacy skills in the time of COVID-19
In response to her brother’s plea for help, a prekindergarten teacher offers classroom-tested tips to help caregivers develop young children’s literacy skills at home. Her advice: Keep it simple!
Read more  Arrow     View all REL COVID-19 resources  Arrow
All discipline is not equal: Reducing district disparities in suspensions and expulsions
In Minnesota, REL Midwest is providing coaching to state agencies on how to use district discipline data to determine effective practices for reducing disparities, with a focus on suspensions and expulsions.
Read more Read more
Informed by district-level experience: Spotlight on Matt Linick
REL Midwest researcher Matt Linick draws on his years of experience at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to ensure that his work serves the unique needs of states and districts.
Read more Read more
Featured resources to guide planning for school reopening
The COVID-19 pandemic has made back-to-school planning all the more complicated, as district and school leaders weigh multiple reopening scenarios. The featured resources below provide guidance to assist education leaders in their planning.
Browse the responses to some recent questions submitted to our Ask A REL reference desk, and then submit a question of your own!
Upcoming events
  • July 9, 2020: Supporting Children’s Reading at Home – Family Resources for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, REL Southeast Webinar (2:00–2:45 p.m. ET). This free webinar will introduce REL Southeast’s “Supporting Your Child’s Reading at Home” resources designed for families of students in kindergarten to grade 3. Register
Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
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or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by the American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


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[Webinar] The Survival Skills Every Teacher Needs

This vendor webinar may be of interest to some readers.

Alternate text

The rules in education changed. Going forward, online teaching will be a part of just about every educator’s responsibilities.

With so much on the minds of education leaders, we designed a turnkey program that makes it easier to have your teachers prepared in time for fall. From the support of a blended learning coach, a professional learning experience grounded in research that is proven to make a meaningful difference for teachers and students, and delivery options that reach all of your teachers, everything you and your teachers need to succeed is included in this fall readiness program.

To guide you through it, we’re bringing together blended learning expert and President of Ready to Blend, Heather Staker, and competency-based learning expert and Chief Learning Officer at BloomBoard, Kelly Montes De Oca, to discuss the six foundational skills every teacher needs and the ready-to-go solution that prepares them for the fall.

In this webinar, they’ll answer the big questions on every leader’s mind:

  • What are the critical skills teachers need to succeed this fall and beyond?
  • With time running short, how can leaders ensure that equipping teachers with these skills really leads to a meaningful change in practice?
  • How do leaders implement a realistic timeline and action plan to have all teachers ready for the fall?

Register now to learn how you can guide your teachers to success this fall and in the future.

A Leader’s Guide: The Survival Skills Every Teacher Needs this Fall and Beyond
Wednesday, July 1 at 1:30 pm


Can’t attend on this date? Register and we’ll be sure to send you the recording.

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Copyright © 2020 Education Week
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From Rescheduling Classes To Rethinking Education

Some ideas from John Watson on not just how virtual learning could be used to accommodate deviations from the traditional school structure, but how we should begin to shift our thinking beyond the traditional school structure and the role that virtual learning can play in that.

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Implementing hybrid schooling runs from
rescheduling classes to rethinking education

Although it’s not gotten any easier to predict what will happen broadly with schools in the fall, every day my Google news feed carries more than one story of a district announcing a hybrid plan for school year 2020-21. Given that there are more than 13,000 school districts in this country, that’s a lot of news feeds that can be filled by a small percentage of districts. Still, it seems like there is enough movement towards hybrid schooling that it’s worth exploring more about what hybrid means in the context of adapting to the pandemic.

Much of the focus is on hybrid schedules—and with good reason. The schedule is the logistical heart of a hybrid approach. The plan released by Clark County School District (the country’s fifth largest) last week is a good example. It recommends students being in school for face-to-face instruction for two days per week, and learning online three days per week. The plan is supported by large scale Chromebook deployment, the use of a learning management system, enhanced WiFi, newly calculated classroom capacities based on social distancing, and two weeks of professional learning for teachers.

The plan goes into more detail that is worth reviewing by anyone seeking a fairly in-depth forecast. It will be submitted for approval by the school board in early July.

Even the additional details, however, mostly touch on the logistics of hybrid learning. That’s a good and necessary start, but it’s not nearly sufficient for success. A successful plan has to think deeply about online instruction.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that CCSD is ignoring these issues; I’m just saying they aren’t in this version of the plan. In fact, knowing CCSD’s history with digital learning, they are as likely as just about any district to be covering deeper issues. But it’s not clear that other districts with less digital learning experience are addressing the more complex instructional issues.

What are these issues? Over at Education Week, Rick Hess unpacks some of them in his commentary on The Key to Getting Hybrid Schooling Right. From his opening:

Truly doing remote learning better will require much more than platitudes about additional training and better tech; it’ll require rethinking how educators go about their work. Beyond all the practical questions about access, devices, and curricula, what matters most will be what teachers and school staff actually do with their time.

After all, teachers perform scores of tasks in the course of a typical school day. They lecture. They facilitate discussions. They grade quizzes. They fill out forms. They counsel distraught kids…

While always significant, the importance of distinguishing high-value from low-value work grows exponentially when we introduce remote learning, where teacher interaction with students has been slashed. It’s a mistake to spend class time doing things that can be done just as well remotely. If teachers only have limited time in classrooms—or online chats—with a student, it’s vital that the time be used wisely and for things that really benefit from face-to-face intimacy. (emphasis added)

There’s far more that should be said on this topic than can be covered in one post. But when instruction shifts from face-to-face to online, the best starting point is not considering how to re-create classroom teaching. Instead, the better launch point is contemplating instructional goals, and then determining how they can be met in the online learning environment.

Considering conferences’ strategies for switching from onsite to online provides a valuable adjacent example. Since mid-March, essentially every conference has either cancelled or moved to virtual. Some of the ones shifting to virtual have thought about the components of a conference—keynotes, breakout sessions, exhibit halls, etc—and tried to figure out how to replicate each of those elements online. But the smarter conference organizers have started by exploring what a conference aims to accomplish for its attendees. These goals might include connecting with colleagues, inspiration, meeting new people, learning new ideas, meeting vendors, and so on. From there, online conference organizers are then determining how these goals can be met while everyone is “gathered” from thousands of miles apart.

Most districts haven’t put out detailed plans yet for the fall. But as they do, we will be interested to see which are doing a good job of recreating onsite school, and which are truly taking advantage of the possibilities that online learning offers.

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