Learning Issues

Authentic Assessment

The emergence of PBL (Project-Based Learning) has accelerated interest in “authentic assessment”– the evaluation of student work by rubric. This practice makes it possible for students to spend their time learning and for teachers to spend instructional time in support of student learning and progress rather than interrupting learning for testing or test prep.


Learning Together with Teach to One Distance Learning Partners


There is nothing ideal about implementing an emergency transition to distance learning. Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the privilege to help school partners apply unique aspects of Teach to One’s school-based design to ensure learning continues in a personalized virtual learning environment. 

This work with new and existing school partnerships is also helping our team better understand students’ multifaceted distant learning challenges. Our close collaboration with partners is providing important data-driven learning insights about what works best for students during this time. 

An example is Beginning with Children Charter School 2, an elementary and middle school in Brooklyn. Working with math teacher Nicki Lowell and school/district leaders Esosa Ogbahon, Martine Louisma and Edwin Santiago, we’ve worked closely to support students, track daily learning progress, and make refinements along the way. Our teams have been experimenting with how much structure and synchronous learning to offer students. We’ve learned that some students need more flexibility around taking assessments, and we’ve been able to adjust testing windows to keep them open all day. Other students, we’ve learned, seem to do better with additional scaffolding and more structured lesson times. These kinds of close working partnerships – and the timely insights and feedback they yield – are what helps us provide a better learning experience for all TTO partners.

We’re updating this page with stories on how New Classrooms and our partner school are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Drives Statewide Learning Management Adoption

Education Week’s blog this week focuses on the movement of states towards offering statewide learning management systems. Idaho, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Utah have chosen or are in the midst of implementing statewide design of learning management using software from Canvas, Egenuity, Desire2Learn and others. Click here for G2 software review’s good comparison of major LMS providers. The summary grid is below.

The blog does not mention Hawai‘i, the only district that is a state. While some statewide systems have been in place in Hawai‘i, there is a current effort to choose an LMS, and we would assume, to design an integration with SIS and clear guidance on complex area and school level use of the LMS as a parent portal as well. In Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i recent parent survey, there was a remarkable variety of ways the parents get information on the schools and on their student’s learning.

Satisfaction is highest with Google Classroom (though it is more limited in function) and Canvas from Instructure.

Pandemic Academic Regression? School Budget Shortfalls?

Across the country district and school leaders and staff, teachers, families and students are suffering the sudden change to staying at home. One of the very painful realities is that this pandemic is limiting learning for students from less affluent families more, widening the already unacceptable equity gap. Families with less income are more likely not to have Internet connections, or to have weak connections. The student may have no computer or tablet for their study, or they may have a device that cannot handle the challenges of web conferencing, advanced software, or rich media. In some families many children share one device and cannot complete their work or meet at the times teachers give lessons online. Parents in those families are less likely to be able to guide the students with the technology or the academics. Meanwhile, IB, AP, Honors, and self-motivated students with Internet and devices may actually speed ahead of the rate of learning they would have achieved in the school building. We have much to do to address these challenges.

In Hawai‘i, the only district that covers the whole state, it is difficult to measure given the district’s effort to leave decisions and implementation to the schools and complex areas. Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i surveyed parents and received a wide variety of responses on accessible Internet and devices, and in the ways in which technology is being used to support students and families during this shelter-in-home time. Honolulu Civil Beat reported on the difficulty getting data on the district’s pandemic response comparing it to efforts in Miami, Los Angeles and other cities.

As Miami’s school buildings closed, the district rushed to provide 90,000 more devices and around 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. 91% of Miami Dade students have logged in for virtual lessons.

“We are bracing ourselves for an unprecedented, historic academic regression experienced by our most fragile population of students.” — Alberto Carvahlo, Superintendent, Miami Dade Schools

The Los Angeles, CA Unified School District is spending $95 million to deliver hot spots and laptops to students to address the digital divide. The impact of technology and training needs on the budget is staggering. Overall effect on the LAUSD budget is pictured below. Click here to get to the EdSource article providing that chart and information on other districts facing these challenges.

Pandemic – Learning Side Effects

1 in 5 teachers in USA Today poll say they may not return to school in the fall!

Click the image above to read the article.

This pandemic gives public education a multi-dimensional wake-up call.

A major rethink, redesign, and massive implementation is needed.

How we can better use our network of real estate, buildings, administration, teachers and staff, learning content, and communication capabilities to support preK-12 and lifelong learning in today’s world?

> Schedule appropriate to the physical, emotional, economic needs of learners,
relevant to our times.

> Respect teachers in status, compensation, working conditions, professional regard and authority.

> Enable authentic learning work rather than make work.

> Assess progress as learning work happens, rather than interrupting learning for “tests” that waste the time available for learning ,respect and elevate teachers.

> Implement innovations to make learning more personal, effective, engaging, and timely.

Emotional Intelligence in the Pandemic – Dr. Marc Brackett of RULER

Cover of the book titled "Permission to Feel."

Dr. Marc Brackett is the founder of RULER is an approach to social emotional learning from the Yale University Center for Emotional Learning, I will make notes on his webinar as he speaks today:

The RULER Skills

RULER is an acronym for the five skills of emotional intelligence:

Recognizing emotions in oneself and others
Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
Labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary
Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context
Regulating emotions with helpful strategies

The first way to create peaceful environment for our children and students is to learn our own emotional regulation. It is about everyone– not about the coach, teacher, aid, parent, children– it is about all.

What is the climate in virtual learning world? What does good emotional health look like?
To think about this, we will look at Emotional Regulation and Emotional Co-regulation.

Maya Angelou’s quote “As you grow older, you will discover, you have two hands. One for helping yourself, and one for helping others.”

To start today, as we should at all times, notice how we feel. Where are you on the Mood Meter?

This pandemic has us feeling stressed in many ways. When we are anxious, it feels like these feelings will last forever. Our worst selves can come out. Too many of us feel in the red and blue– when we want to be in the yellow and the green.

What comes before the development of the skills to lead in development of emotional intelligence? I wrote the book “Permission to Heal”– what does that phrase mean to you?

We have to give ourselves and others permission to feel?

I was bullied. My parents did not know how to help me. But I had an amazing uncle who gave me permission to feel. Did you have someone?

Think about the characteristics of the person who gave you permission to feel?
What are the characteristics of that person?
Understanding? Warm? Caring?

Are you becoming that person?

Our vision: To use the power of emotion to build a more equitable world.
How children feel is important for 5 reasons.

How do you initiate feelings?

Today we will look at Co-Regulation. We will learn to take 4 steps now to avoid the 12 steps later. (joke)

How would you describe your best self? How would you like to be seen, to be described. Here is how the webinar attendees answered:

A scientist is curious and explores, listens for the stories, find out how they are actually feeling. Instead of judging. Are you the scientist or the judge?

Some folks say “I am the emotion scientist with the kids I care about the least and the emotion judge with the kids I care about the most.”  It cannot be about you– you need to become “emotion scientists”.

What is the psychological difference between anger and disappointment?

Anger is about injustice and unfairness. Often anger is interpersonal Danger, anxiety, uncertainty, jealousy, too much demand not enough resources. Disappointment is about not living up to expectations

What are our strategies to help children develop emotional regulation?

The truth about our role in helping our students/children: We are not the knowers, we are the learners??
Are all strategies permitted in your home? Use self talk and re-appraisal to gain balance.

Feelings are impermanent. (The yogic view– Vipassana kernal) There is a way to get better at it.

Ask your child– what would you tell your best friend if he was in this situation? The child then comes up with good solutions. Do not be the knower, be the listener. Go in as the scientist, note hints, ask…

Chronic overwhelm— we say “yes” to too much. What works for me may not work for you. Specific to the relationship. It is all about building the awareness.

There is no correct or incorrect. Is it working for you? Is it working for your child?

Follow up. Reinforce the benefits. Create for the success. The goal has to be about building a habit.
In my difficult chlldhood, so many people defined my reality for me.
Remember you are co-creating the realities for yourself and your children.

What was your biggest aha from this webinar?
(for me:”Be a scientist and a listener, not a judge.”)

Set an intention, right now. What will be different for you as a result of using these strategies.
(for me: asking my children instead of expecting)

What might get in the way?
Are there larger structural problems?

If you fail, forgive. This is a life’s work. Everyone’s health depends on it. Join my free book club on my website. Read about my book. There are apps. If your school is not yet committed check out support at rulerapproach.org

Welcome to RULER