MSAD 49 Partners with Goalbook to Support Teachers with Instructional Design

In a rural Maine school district, Goalbook is a game-changer for students with special needs and gifted learners alike

FAIRFIELD, Maine (April 30, 2014) – Over the past two years, educators in Maine’s MSAD 49 have seen drastic improvements in the outcomes of students who benefit from specialized instruction.  Cory Rogers, the district’s special education director, attributes this success to the dedication of his teachers as well as their partnership with Goalbook.

Prior to working with Goalbook, the district’s teachers found it challenging to find ways to fully engage students in the Common Core – especially those either below or above grade level.  The challenge of differentiating instruction for a diverse population where a large percentage of students qualify for free and reduced lunch was magnified by the shift to the new standards.

Rogers saw an opportunity to partner with Goalbook to support teachers.  Goalbook’s resources helped teachers gain a deeper understanding of the standards and what was expected of them and their students.  Furthermore, he has seen Goalbook used effectively to identify appropriate learning objectives and aid in the design of personalized instruction to meet individual students’ needs.

In a short amount of time, many teachers reported they were spending less time navigating the complexities of Common Core and more time planning instruction for a diverse set of students.  “Goalbook transformed our classrooms,” said Rogers.  “It gave our teachers their ‘educational capital’ back so they could deeply engage all students.”

Specifically, Rogers recalled a fifth grade classroom that included a student who was three grade levels behind in reading and math.  The student’s teacher struggled to reconcile the need for individual learning objectives with that of providing appropriate, grade-level instruction.  “Goalbook helped that teacher design effective instruction appropriate for this student.  The student began to progress rapidly towards proficiency in all subject areas,” said Rogers.

The successful use of Goalbook has also proved essential in planning instruction for gifted students.  One educator taught a gifted seventh grader who was testing at a high school level in math.  Goalbook helped the teacher develop a personalized plan aligned to standards, ensuring that the student would continue to learn and progress.

Rogers envisions an educational system where personalized learning is seen as essential for meeting the increasingly broad range of academic and social-emotional needs of individual students.

“Goalbook is the perfect tool for supporting teachers.  Instead of spending so much time analyzing standards, our teachers are empowered to spend their time working with students on an individualized basis,” said Rogers.  “This is the future of education – providing a personalized learning plan that ensures success for every student – Goalbook gives my teachers the support they need to do that.”

About Goalbook

Goalbook empowers teachers to transform instruction for all students through instructional technology, research-based resources and professional development.   More than 200 districts in 40 states have partnered with Goalbook, and the company is recognized as a leading innovator around instructional quality and teacher development for diverse learners.  Goalbook was founded by former district administrators, Daniel Jhin Yoo and Justin Su, was a member of ImagineK12’s first cohort and the first company to be funded through New Schools Venture Fund’s Seed Fund.

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NEW RELEASE FROM ITS LEARNING TO FOCUS ON STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING

 

Improvements to LMS platform focus on improving pathway to personalized learning

 

Boston, MA – April 30, 2014 —itslearning (www.itslearning.net), the digital learning platform of choice for a growing number of districts nationwide, continues to move towards a student-focused, personalized learning platform through its latest release, which features a wide variety of product enhancements, including the following:

 

  • Student-focused lesson planner.
  • Customizable site-level learning objectives for student learning goals.
  • Improvements in the mentor/mentee relationship for individual learning plans.
  • Enhancements to the shared calendar, including improved interactivity and collaboration.

 

Lesson Planners for Student Access

This innovative tool allows teachers to easily communicate standards-aligned lessons and related resources and activities with students and parents. The integrated lesson planner is now accessible on any device via responsive web design, providing students with immediate, easy access to lesson expectations and associated personalized tasks.

 

Custom Learning Objective Repository

In addition to the existing national learning objectives repository, each of itslearning’s school and district partners will now have their own custom learning objectives repository, allowing schools and districts to clearly communicate student learning objectives (SLOs or Learning Targets) to students and parents. Students now have the ability to review clearly defined learning objectives, sometimes referred to as “I can” statements, related to a variety of resource types including assignments, activities, assessments, surveys, polls and more.

 

“Our partnership with itslearning began last year,” said Rich Valegra, chief information officer, Minneapolis Public Schools.  “Within a few months, over 39,000 users were loaded into the platform and Teachers on Special Assignment had created course templates for many of the high school-level English, math, science and social studies courses.  We use course templates to provide those teachers with resources that are aligned to our own course standards (learning targets) and pre-populated with district-approved resources.  These are just some of the added values of using itslearning versus another platform.”

 

The custom Learning Objective Repository is also useful to schools and districts using itslearning to deliver professional development to teachers and staff. It has proven so valuable for teacher evaluations that districts like Forsyth County Schools are now considering adding the Georgia Teacher Keys Effectiveness System TKES standards to their repository so that they can create and align a bank of professional development resources for the TKES strands & elements within the platform. Those resources can also be used in conjunction with the itslearning Recommendation Engine following teacher observations/evaluations.

 

“Using the standards-aligned assessment criteria, we can convert the classroom observation formula we use into a rubric in itslearning. Principals can then evaluate teachers using that rubric and have the results flow into the Recommendation Engine,” said Jason Naile, i3 Grant Coordinator for Forsyth County Schools.

 

Improved mentor/mentee relationship for individualized learning plans

itslearning now allows individual students to be assigned to a mentor when developing individual learning plans, fostering a more personalized, collaborative and productive relationship between mentor and mentee. Traditionally a counselor within a school setting, a mentor can now be a master teacher assigned to a new teacher or even a community member assigned to mentor an individual student.

 

More interactive colorful calendar

Calendar enhancements include significant upgrades to the user interface, allowing users to access shared calendars that conveniently resize to fit the screen resolution of any browser, on any device. The update also features event categorization with user-designated colors, improved navigation and toolbar functionality that provide a helpful overview of calendar events, and simplified methods for adding and modifying events via one-click, drag and drop functionality. Improved filtering options also make viewing several of a teacher’s favorite courses and communities, as well as searching other users’ public calendars, a quick and easy exercise.

 

“Personalized learning is at the center of what we do at itslearning,” said Travis Willard, itslearning CEO.  “This current release offers our partner schools and districts a way to build strong connections and so have truly customized experiences between teachers and students through our enhanced technology platform.  We continue to be dedicated to opening up a whole new approach to learning and teaching.”

 

A full list of new features can be found at: on the itslearning website:

http://www.itslearning.net/software-update-may-2014

 

About itslearning, Inc.

Established in 1999, itslearning is a cloud-based K-12 learning management system designed to make teaching easier, learning more engaging, and parent involvement more effective and efficient.  Headquartered in Bergen, Norway, itslearning has offices in Boston, Atlanta, London, Birmingham, Berlin, Paris, Mulhouse, Malmo, and Enscheda. For more information, visit http://www.itslearning.net.

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“CTE and College, Career, and Civic Readiness: The Role of State Boards”

More and more, state policymakers, and state boards of education in particular, are focused on Career Technical Education (CTE) as a means to address employers’ concerns over a growing knowledge and skills gap across the United States. Once considered an education track for those students who were not thought to be “college material,” CTE is now an essential part of a comprehensive education strategy that helps ensure all students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in college, career, and civic life.

But seeing CTE reach this promise requires thoughtful policies and clear standards that guide effective practice and evaluation.

Join NASBE on May 14, 2014, from 3:00-4:00 P.M. (EST), for a webinar discussion featuring the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education’s Kim Green, and state board members such as Georgia’s Kenneth Mason. In his role at the Southern Regional Education Board, Mason is working with states on the cutting edge of CTE policymaking. Presenters will not only explore the range of CTE policy developments across the states, but how to develop CTE standards and measures of effectiveness, as well as early lessons-learned on implementation.

Register for “CTE and College, Career and Civic Readiness: The Role of State Boards.”

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U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidance Clarifying Title IX Protections for Transgender Students

Move by Office of Civil Rights Long Sought by GLSEN, Partners

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2014—The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education today issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. Specifically, the guidance states that “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.”

The statement is part of broader guidance on sexual violence and the responsibility that schools have to protect all students. The Department has brought enforcement actions against school districts in the past on behalf of transgender students, but had not previously made such a proactive public statement about their commitment. GLSEN and other advocates for LGBT youth had long sought such a statement regarding the protections available to transgender students under Title IX to ensure that schools had no doubt as to their responsibilities.

“Make no mistake: transgender students are protected by Title IX, and the U.S. Department of Education stands ready to help them,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “We thank the Department of Education, Secretary Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon for making this commitment so clear.”

Findings from GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey indicate that 80% of transgender students experience a more hostile school climate and feel unsafe at school because of who they are. While the guidance does not explicitly address specific forms of discrimination against transgender students, and while the protection is provided in the context of physical or sexual violence, Title IX protections extend to all forms of discrimination in education.

“We must make sure that transgender students and their families know that help is available,” Byard continued, “and that they report incidents to the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education.”

Violations of Title IX protections should be reported to the Office of Civil Rights, and GLSEN has guidance on incident reporting available here. For schools and districts needing to update their policies to protect transgender students, GLSEN has a model policy available, developed in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality: Model School District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.

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