Information and Resources from CompetencyWorks

header_logoEducators in competency-based schools have raised an important issue –  how to cover grade-level standards while meeting kids where they are in their learning, particularly when a student’s performance is well below grade level. Chris Sturgis shares take-aways on this topic of meeting students where they are and addressing grade-level standards in a two-part blog series: Accountability Paradox and Academic Domains. Do you know about a school that has developed strategies for meeting kids where they are? Does your district or school have effective practices to help kids build pre-requisite skills and grade-level standards? If so, please let us know. Continue reading

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Blended learning can help students take ownership of their learning

insights-from-the-fieldThomas Arnett is a researcher who focuses on the changing roles of teachers in blended learning environments and other innovative educational models. He also examines how teacher education and professional development are shifting to support the evolving needs of teachers and school systems.

In a recent post on the Clayton Christensen Institute blog gives some valuable insight into blended learning and innovative education.

One of the most powerful potential benefits of blended learning is how it can help teachers create an achievement-oriented culture in their classrooms. In many of the best examples of blended learning, the real magic of the model comes not from the technology alone, but from the ways the technology transforms how teachers engage with and motivate their students.

In this post, I share an excerpt from a recent blended-learning teacher interview with Brandon Johnson, a 4th- and 5th-grade math and science teacher at Browne Education Campus, a public elementary school in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Brandon explains how blended learning has helped him teach his students to be self-directed learners who are enthusiastic about learning and take ownership of their work. He also shares thoughts on how blended learning has changed his approaches to classroom management. Continue reading

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Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools?

Scholars want to know whether the practice helps young kids of color succeed academically.

lead_960A research team in Chicago has spent a year studying whether students who are taught to be in touch with their emotions do better academically. And they say the initial results are promising.

Perhaps counterintuitively, when kids take a break from a classroom lesson on the solar system to spend a quiet moment alone watching a three-minute nature video, or participate in a teacher-guided breathing exercise with their class after lunch, they seem to become better overall students. That’s likely because the children have a renewed sense of focus, they handle transitions from one lesson to the next better, and they need less time to regroup if they become upset about something, said Amanda Moreno, an assistant professor at the Erikson Institute, a child-development-focused graduate school in Chicago. Continue reading

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Portfolios hold new promise for schools

New digital tools let teachers, students assess work more comprehensively


A teacher at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin, above, shows a student the steps of how to submit a digital artifact into his own e-portfolio. (Photo: Photo credit: Digital Student Portfolios, Matthew Renwick/ 123dartist)

The 3,000 students in rural Maine’s Regional School Unit 19 begin compiling electronic portfolios of their schoolwork in pre-K, when the district issues every child a Google account.

In the elementary years, teachers snap and upload digital photos of handwritten work. In the upper grades, students accustomed to electronically documenting their school lives habitually upload essays and lab reports and record video of their oral presentations.

“By the time you hit middle school, the students are just doing it because that’s the way we do business,” says Kern Kelley, the Maine district’s technology integrator.

Decades ago, portfolio assessment—using samples of classroom work to document students’ progress toward learning goals—meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting. Schools are now taking a fresh look at the practice.

“The technology is so powerful,” says Mark Barnes, a former Cleveland-area teacher who now runs educational publishing company Times 10. “It gives educators an opportunity to create an ongoing conversation about learning.” Continue reading

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What are the candidates saying about education? Join the discussion May 26 to find out!

updated-logo-e1461864874300Thursday, May 26, 2016, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (UTC-5:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

You’re invited to participate in a one of a kind ISTE sponsored Presidential Forum hosted by the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) on Thursday, May 26 from 9 a.m.–12 noon ET. The event will feature high-level policy representatives from the presidential campaigns who will discuss the candidate’s education policy platforms and agendas––a unique opportunity to hear an in depth analysis of each candidate’s education priorities. Candy Crowley, award winning journalist will moderate the event and give the audience a chance to ask questions about the need to invest in education and what education policy will look like with a new administration.

All ISTE members have the opportunity to watch the broadcast live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C.! In addition to watching the livestream, you can participate in the event by submitting your questions for the speakers at or tweeting your question using #CEFpresForum.


Online Instructions:

Login: The stream will be embedded in the above webpage.
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Learning to Be Watched: Surrveillance Culture at School

fusion_starter_logoSchools now routinely direct children online to do their schoolwork, thereby exposing them to tracking of their online behavior and subsequent targeted marketing. This is part of the evolution of how marketing companies use digital marketing, ensuring that children and adolescents are constantly connected and available to them. Moreover, because digital technologies enable extensive personalization, they amplify opportunities for marketers to control what children see in the private world of their digital devices as well as what they see in public spaces. This year’s annual report on schoolhouse commercialism trends considers how schools facilitate the work of digital marketers and examines the consequent threats to children’s privacy, their physical and psychological well-being, and the integrity of the education they receive. Constant digital surveillance and marketing at school combine to normalize for children the unquestioned role that corporations play in their education and in their lives more generally.

Read and download the paper, The Eighteenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends, 2014-2015 by Faith Boninger and Alex Molnar from the National Education Policy Center at

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More Districts are Shifting to Year-Round Classes to Boost Performance

bennett27s203rd20gradeSchool leaders are increasingly adjusting their calendars, with more than 3,700 public schools operating year-round in 2011, according to a 2014 Congressional report. In addition, at least 30 states have schools operating on the alternative calendar.

“It’s a viable way to minimize the summer learning loss that occurs annually,” says David Hornak, executive director of the National Association of Year-Round Education, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. “The bulk of the research speaks to the fact that lower -income students do better on the balanced calendar. However, my research indicates that all kids benefit.”

In addition, the alternative calendar allows for regular and more frequent breaks—a benefit teachers notice. “It really creates these nice learning chunks, paired with these great breaks,” Hornak says.

Educators have sometimes likened a school year to running a marathon. And the balanced calendar offers more chances to rest and refuel—enabling a strong effort in the next leg of the race. “When (teachers) are in front of their children, they’re better able to engage kids because they’ve had the opportunity to recharge,” he says.

Continue reading

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