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Big Data in Education, What's the Hype?

P4R had the opportunity to attend and exhibit at the recent Illinois Computer Educators (ICE) Conference. We have made many improvements and upgrades to our new School District Management System to make the platform more user friendly, easier to learn, and more flexible. The ICE Conference was one of the first opportunities to showcase what we have been up to and the response was overwhelmingly positive. While data analysis is nothing new, the tools to harness the power of big data in education are needed now more than ever.  We have been serving the K-12 school district for over 10 years and consider ourselves pioneers in this field. Contact us to see how we can help you get started and be sure to check out our newsletter.

Big Data in Education, What's the Hype?

Standards Integration – A Challenge Worth Accepting

A friend of mine recently asked me to review a piece of curricula for some social studies content. My friend was not a teacher and had little professional development in the area of Standards Integration. The content fulfilled a social studies standard, however the material wasn’t being covered effectively. Many instructors struggled with the question of where to place this lesson into their curriculum as they were being pulled in so many directions. This conundrum left content that would be relevant for the majority of the student body to be utilized ineffectively or even worse, not used at all.

As I reviewed the lesson, I saw a great deal of content integrated across multiple subject areas. Content areas such as Geography, History, Civics and English were all being covered. Each content area was tied to a state standard, however the English section was lacking and became my central focus. As I had learned in a Teaching Social Studies class, the manner in which Standards are integrated could be the difference maker that allows instructors to cover both important content and required Standards. I was able to identify the large amounts of English Language Arts within this lesson and tied common core standards without compromising the content. What was left was a lesson focused on English Language Arts using social studies content to help achieve the standards.

My professional development allowed me to gain a great deal of insight into how standards can be integrated into any lesson. From simple instruction on how to navigate to more complicated topics such as rationale, a great deal of focus was placed on preparing us to be capable of handing Standards Integration. 

The task of Standards Integration however, was still quite a difficult one even though I was confident in my skills. From identifying each standard within the common core app on my phone to dissecting what each standard meant, I spent quite a bit of time integrating Standards into one single lesson plan.

The Partners4results software intends to try and help with this time consuming process. The software allows for viewing and mapping of Standards to lesson plans and assessments as they are being written. With the district identified standards at your fingertips, the need for flipping back a forth between multiple standards is eliminated. Additionally, Standards can be identified as Priority Standards or Supporting Standards helping teachers navigate and plan their instruction more efficiently. Lastly, our work with Success Criteria Statements allow teachers, students and parents to have the ability to better understand the complex language that Standards tend to bring.

I feel confident doing the work by hand but if we can have a more efficient way to plan our instruction, wouldn’t that benefit the students as they have more efficient and rich lessons to learn from?

From one classroom to another…

What a difference a year makes.

About this time last year, I was in transition as I left a stable job to pursue other passions. One of these passions included working within the education world. I have always enjoyed making those around me better, both personally and professionally, and I’ve also been blessed with the trait and skill of being a lifelong learner.  Having an understanding of these two strengths, I decided to pursue a teaching certification.

In my head I figured, “Hey, why not try to make a difference in the lives of others and why not do it when it could matter the most.” That’s why I moved forward with an Early Childhood Education (ECE) teaching certification program. It’s within this program that I began to learn about the education system and the rapidly changing environment that educator’s are faced with.

A few months after doing all the legwork and gaining acceptance into the program, I began my professional development in the fall of 2014. My course load varied with content, ranging from First and Second Language Acquisition to Instructional Strategies to Infant and Childhood Assessment. Along with this content I took a curriculum design in ECE course that has basically shaped my future (more on that later). As I acquired knowledge through these classes, it became evident to me that the major theme of the semester revolved around Education Theory.

How children learn became the central focus of the course work. Each content area brought in key theories and philosophies that helped to build a sturdy foundation. This process is nothing new and probably has happened for quite some time. However, one aspect of the content has only recently been integrated into the curriculum.

That aspect deals with the use of Standards within the education world. It’s been a mere 5 years since the Common Core was officially introduced and from the looks of the content in my classroom, it’s completely changing the way future teachers are approaching learning. Standards and learning goals are now a big focus of my professional development and the integration of these items into instructional materials plays a huge role in my development.

Gaining a strong understanding of the standards aspect has been critical. As I learned in my curriculum design class, application of what you learn is required for higher levels of success. Through my experience with Partners4results, I have seen the software and it has allowed me to understand how the content within my classroom experience is applied and used within the software.

Partners4results has helped to provide a new layer of understanding as I work for my teaching certification. In my upcoming post, I plan to elaborate on how the company is developing software to line up with this new movement in the education world. Come join me as I share this experience with you and the world!