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April e-ClassNotes

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NY State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch Talks CCSS with Classroom, Inc. Friends

Among an intimate gathering of Classroom, Inc. Board members, donors, teachers, principals, and nonprofit leaders, on April 9 we talked with Chancellor Tisch about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with the Common Core State Standards.

Chancellor Tisch quoted staggering statistics of what’s happening to our graduates upon leaving high school: 75 percent of New York City high school graduates go on to remediate in English or math, and sometimes both. We also talked about what it’s like to live in an increasingly mobile country, and that parents should not only believe their children are being prepared for college and careers, but they should also have certainty that educational standards are the same across states.

One idea surfaced repeatedly throughout the evening: teachers need more support than ever before, support that Classroom, Inc. is committed to providing. We know this is a unique moment to transform education, and students and teachers deserve each of us to put our best efforts forward in supporting the implementation of the CCSS.

Read the full recap of the evening.

Each month, we will feature something new and exciting about the development of After the Storm—our new game-based learning programs designed to middle-level Common Core State Standards in reading and writing.This month, we’re thinking deeply about data! It seems that everywhere you turn, edtech providers and educators are honing in on what data are provided to teachers and how this data can drive personalized instruction. Harvard research fellow and educator Justin Reich issued a warning call the other week that not all data from blended learning tools are useful data.Useful Data. That’s exactly what is on our mind as we create the teacher dashboard for After the Storm. Throughout the game, students perform functions of their job as editor-in-chief of an online magazine (e.g. editing a news article) that act as embedded assessments. These embedded assessments feed into teacher dashboards. We’re giving you the inside scoop on three reports that will be integrated into the learning game’s dashboard: the class progress report; the class performance report; and the student activity report. (Note: our team is actively working on the dashboard so these images are early-stage designs.)The Class Progress Report: This gives the teacher a quick overview of where students are in the game, whether they’ve been routed to support or challenge activities, and, in real-time, whether or not they are currently playing the game.

The Class Performance Report: For each specific standard addressed in the game’s embedded assessments, teachers can see the number of activities completed by each student, and the average percentage of those activities. This can help a teacher identify which standards the class might be struggling with as a whole.
Student Activity Report: This shows individual student progress, allowing teachers to dig even deeper on student performance data. Teachers can sort between classes and students, and can access any of the activities in the game. Toggling between individual student responses and the answer key gives the teacher a quick reference for spotting problem areas.

Partner Focus
Mrs. Reason’s 12th Graders Build Financial Literacy Skills for Life

Mrs. Reason’s 12th grade Economics class is building financial literacy skills that are immediately proving useful outside of school. At the Bronx High School for Writing & Communication Arts, high school seniors recently completed The Finance Center. In our simulated learning game, students play the role of a financial counselor at a local community center, advising virtual clients on topics such as budgeting, money management, saving, investing, spending, and credit.

Throughout the semester, Mrs. Reason noticed a fascinating development: students began to take the advising role to heart—extending what they’ve learned to helping their families make sound financial decisions. In a typical teenage-rite-of-passage, she told us about one student who recently passed his driving test and is shopping for his first car. During class, he discussed interest rates and financing choices with his peers, sharing that he’s helping his father weigh different loan options.

Another student noticed her mom was the “lady with the shoebox;” receipts and bills thrown in a kitchen draw, with no particular order. Using the skills she learned from The Finance Center, the savvy student put on her financial counselor hat and explained to her mother that this is precisely why budgeting during the month becomes difficult. Together, the two of them are beginning to sort out bills and receipts, and the teen is helping her mom understand how to classify costs as fixed, variable, and discretionary expenses to further the family’s financial planning.

Mrs. Reason couldn’t resist pointing out to her class the “aha moment” with great joy—this transfer of knowledge that happens when content is directly applicable to real-world scenarios. And through the many rolling eyes, Mrs. Reason knows there is a sense of pride in their eyes because they are developing skills for life.

Our program implementation at the Bronx High School for Writing & Communication Arts is made possible by the Harriman Foundation.

What we're readingCheck out the full list of news, blogs, and reports that caught our eye this month in our April RoundUP.

With Time Running Out, Sec. Duncan Discusses Lengthy To-Do List, Education Week:
Making headlines this month was this interview with Sec. Duncan. He sees several different priorities ahead; chief among them is the transition to the new standards and tests.Report Finds Wide Racial Disparity in US for Children’s Well Being, Chicago Tribune:
This report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found persistent inequities in well-being among children of different racial and ethnic groups. African-American, Latino, and American-Indian children’s poverty, poor housing, and lack of access to education pose a national crisis.How to Build Effective 1:1 Environments, Education Week Blog
Educators share their suggestions for successfully implementing programs where each student is given a device. This post is chock full of advice on educational technology.
We’re making our plans for various events over the next couple months. Want to meet up with us?
Email: CInewsletter@classroominc.orgTweet at us: @ClassroomInc
Games + Learning + Society:
Madison, WI June 10-13
Atlanta, GA June 28-July 1
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference:
Las Vegas, NV June 29-July 2