Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fight Fake News: A @CommonSenseEd #MediaLiteracy Toolkit

Innovative educators understand that they play a crucial role in our democratic society. However, a teacher’s job to ensure students are informed and educated has taken on a new meaning in the age of the internet where information is everywhere but accuracy, quality, and bias often remain unchecked.

Media literacy is a topic innovative educators cover with students within the broader topic of digital literacy. However, during the 2016 election the focus on fake news and alternative facts sped onto everyone’s radar.  It was then that educators began to realize that students were not prepared to evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources (3B - ISTE Student Standards).

A study from the Stanford History Education group confirms this pointing out that “Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through media channels, they are easily duped.

Fortunately, there’s help.

Common Sense Education has released their newest educator’s toolkit. The topic: News and media literacy. The toolkit is designed to provide educators with strategies to equip students with the core skills they need to think critically about today's media. The toolkit includes classroom-ready learning resources broken down by grade level. In it you’ll find the following educational content on news and media literacy:
  • Teaching tools and lessons by topic
  • Take-home student activities
  • Videos and interactive educational games
  • Supplemental materials for family engagement
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Materials available in multiple formats (low-tech and high-tech)

For teens there is also “Digital Bytes” where teachers are guided to provide students with interactive experiences on topics such as news literacy, internet hoaxes, and online tracking. For families there is a best-of list that looks at news sources that can be trusted.
Parents can use these kid-friendly sources as a jumping-off point to discuss how news is reported and how to be a critical media consumer. There is also a strand in Common Sense Education's Parent Concerns with articles, videos, and answers to questions about news and media literacy.

Innovative educators ready to get started are invited to join Kelly Mendoza, Director of Learning and Engagement at Common Sense Education, in a live webinar: News and Media Literacy: Building Critical Consumers and Creators. Kelly will lead participants on an exploration addressing these topics:
  • Why news and media literacy is more important than ever
  • Latest research on kids and news
  • What is “fake news” and how to spot it
  • Ways teachers can integrate news and media literacy into their curriculum
  • Rubrics you can use to assess students’ understanding of news literacy

She will also debut the new News and Media Literacy Toolkit. Those who join live will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with colleagues. The webinar takes place Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT. For more information visit:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

3 Hottest Posts Most Popular On The Innovative Educator

Haven’t been keeping up with The Innovative Educator? Don’t worry. That’s what this wrap up is for.  Here are the three hottest posts that you don’t want to miss!

What’s hot this week? Innovative school models, misconceptions about charter schools, and increasing parent engagement.

Making its way to the top for the first time is a post I wrote about innovative school models that influence my thinking. I wrote this in part as a result of conversations around the need for charter schools as the answer to bring innovation to public schools.  But it is not. There have long been school models that innovative public school educators have or have wanted to adopt. What got in the way was not their unwillingness to move away from traditional models, but rather the system of standards and testing that was thrust upon schools following No Child Left Behind. This post looks at those models.  The second most popular post on the blog looks at the many misconceptions the public has around charter schools.  Rounding out the top three posts is my recap of the #SXSWEdu panel discussion I participated in that was hosted by Common Sense Education. In the post I outline 9 ways to increase parent engagement using digital media.

So what are you waiting for? Now's your chance. Take a look at the posts below and click the link to read one(s) that looks of interest to you.

Mar 19, 2017, 
Mar 3, 2017, 
Mar 12, 2017, 

If you like any of these posts, I hope you’ll share with others using the buttons below on Twitter, Facebook, email or whichever platform you like best.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Is Your School Modern? Check Out These 10 Principles to Find Out

Innovative educators understand that surprisingly little has changed in how school is done today versus the last century. It is clear we must update and/or throw out outdated practices and possibly do something radically different. But what does it really take for a school to be modern? This is the question educators and authors Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon answer in their white paper 10 Principles For Schools of Modern Learning: The Urgent Case for Reimagining Today’s Schools.

Not only do the authors outline 10 principles for school communities to focus on as they get started in creating an education model that serves the needs of today's students, but they also provide evidence to make the case in support of reimagining schools. 

Take a look at the 10 principles and think about them in relation to schools or school models in which you teach or are familiar.
Read the full white paper to discover why each Principle is important and steps to put it into action.
Educators familiar with innovative schools / models may be able to immediately make connections between the models / schools they know and these principles. For example, Science Leadership Academy immediately comes to mind as I read several of these ideas. For example they discuss and have core values posted in every classroom (Principle 1) and they think deeply about their mission and vision and update it with the passage of time (Principle 2).

A useful exercise for schools interested in starting on this journey could include that they:
1) Select the principles they would like to start with 
2) Discuss what that could look like
3) Come up with a strategy to put that in action
4) Check in to evaluate progress and success

The white paper also provides compelling evidence for why we need to reimagine schools. Here is an overview of that. 
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Visit page 5 of the whitepaper where you can access the source behind each piece of evidence. 

Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon make a solid case but what would it take to really put these principles into effect? There would certainly need to be buy in from the top down, bottom up, and throughout the school community. But how do you get that buy in and how do you move from reimagining school to putting new learning environments into place?  The authors are inviting education leaders to join them on an 8-week journey that is focused on the “how” of change, by thinking, doing, creating, and sharing. The first round is full, but you can sign up for Change.School 2 (CS2) starting in early June and running through late July. You can find information about Change.School and this and future opportunities at