Sunday, October 18, 2009

Strong Communication is Key to Successful Online Learning

How can teachers in an online environment ensure successful communication? There are four skills that every online teacher must have.
  1. An effective online teacher must be able to facilitate interaction and act as a motivator, guide, mentor and listener to the students.
  2. An effective online teacher needs to be responsive to student and parent questions by maintaining open communication.
  3. An effective online teacher must know web-based technologies that provide collaborative learning for the students.
  4. An effective online teacher must be knowledgeable in synchronous and asynchronous instruction.
In addition to the above skills iNACOL also looked at what communication practices and policies help to make a successful online school. The report focused on three types of communication:
  1. Communication between teachers and students.
  2. Communication between teachers and parents.
  3. Communication between students.
It is best for online teachers to have multiple ways to share information with parents and students since not all parents have access to technology. The iNACOL article found that:
  1. Online teachers need to be multifaceted, facilitating instruction through synchronous and asynchronous technology. Teachers need to also provide tutoring to students, lead discussions, and evaluate student activities.
  2. Online teachers need to utilize online communication, email and phone calls as needed.
To read the entire article from iNACOL please go to
Strong Communication is Key to Successful Online Learning
Posted October 6, 2009, by Allison Powell at iNACOL

Monday, October 12, 2009

It’s Time to Get Serious about Creativity in the Classroom

Freedom within a structure – what does that mean to you? How about making an assignment clear and focused, while allowing students the freedom to decide how to accomplish the task. That’s how an art teacher describes art as a creative place to develop creative minds.

When we ask students to learn long division the students are taught to follow certain steps that will help them understand how to arrive at the correct answer. That’s replication. When students are shown how to weave paper to make designs many students will replicate exactly what was shown. Students need some traditional learning to build valuable foundation skills and students need to develop creative minds.

According to the article one way to nurture and develop real creativity is to ask students to use their new skills to accomplish an assigned, more complex task and to allow students to be creative in the application of the new skills. Find ways that will allow all diverse learners to be successful. Structure assignments to allow students the freedom to be innovative and creative then watch what students will produce.

How can you develop creative minds in your class? What technology could your students use to think outside the box to complete more complex tasks and apply new skills?

To read the entire article please go to Edutopia:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Can Retiring Boomers Transform Schools?

Teachers who retire from STEM fields could be placed in “learning teams” with classroom teachers to bring real-life lessons into the classroom instruction and give teachers some valuable support. That is the idea behind the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), to create powerful, learning environments for students.

With a workforce of 78 billion baby boomers who are healthy and well-accomplished NCTAF suggests pairing strong professionals in STEM fields with classroom teachers to create strong learning experiences for the students.

According to NCTAF there are three forces driving change in education:
  1. New Learning Age
    o Students need to develop skills in creativity and communication to be successful in a globally, integrated learning culture.
  2. Open Learning Economy
    o Many network learning opportunities are available for teachers and students that can provide user-driven and user-created content.
  3. Growing Number of Young Educators Learning the Profession
    o Many teachers in the first three to five years of teaching leave the profession because they feel unprepared, alone and unsupported. Other professional fields offer more opportunities for growth, to work in teams and collaborate.

NCTAF is looking for states that are adopting this 21st century strategy to be effective models for other states to follow. Think about the knowledge that STEM retirees have that could be combined with the fresh ideas and technology knowledge of our new teachers to see the possibilities of providing enhanced, real-world lessons to the students.

To read the entire article from eSchool News please go to: