Triumph Learning Honored With Three 2014 EDDIE Awards

Company receives awards for acclaimed online learning platform, Waggle

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 06, 2014

Triumph Learning, producer of critically acclaimed K-12 instructional materials and interactive digital tools, received three Education Software Review (EDDIE) Awards for its online learning platform, Waggle. The company took home the top prize for its new learning solution in the following categories: Online English Language Arts Courseware, Online Math Courseware and Online Classroom Management System.

“Through Waggle, every student receives personalized practice and instruction in a safe learning environment to engage in productive struggle, helping them to master core skills,” said Aoife Dempsey, Chief Technology Officer of Triumph Learning. “Being recognized by the EDDIE Awards demonstrates that Waggle delivers on that promise.”

Launched at ISTE 2014, Waggle generates a smart practice environment to help students in grades 3-8 build critical thinking and prepare for assessments. The online tool champions productive struggle by creating a safe and engaging space for students to explore, build confidence and accelerate learning for English language arts and math. Waggle also offers teachers a differentiated instructional tool set so that they can easily group students and deliver recommended practice or instruction to groups or individual students to meet students where they are. Furthermore, Waggle is fully integrated with Triumph Learning’s Coach resources for a seamless blended learning solution.

The platform leverages Knewton’s adaptive learning engine, which analyzes what students know and how they learn best. Using this innovative adaptive engine, Waggle personalizes learning paths for each student by recommending what they should study next. Waggle’s interactive skills map creates a snapshot of student progress, allowing teachers to quickly filter content by proficiency and scores. The platform’s intuitive reporting gives teachers the help they need in planning and adjusting instruction for each student.

The EDDIE Awards are sponsored by ComputEd Gazette, a leading online educational resource created by educators who have provided the finest computer education to children and adults for more than 20 years. The awards honor original and content-rich programs, apps and websites that enhance curriculum and improve teacher productivity. Products are submitted from publishers around the world and all nominees undergo thorough review by industry experts for criteria that includes content quality, potential for broad classroom use and technical value.

About Triumph Learning
Triumph Learning, LLC, is a leading educational content company and publisher of print and digital K-12 resources, standards-aligned instructional materials and effective literacy programs, serving more than 6 million students in 36,000 schools in 2013. Triumph Learning offers unique student solutions, robust teacher support, and professional development opportunities. Triumph Learning is committed to serving all students with a mix of interactive digital tools and innovative student texts with products such as Coach, Buckle Down, and Waggle. For more information, visithttp://www.triumphlearning.com.

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Educator Observations is ASCD’s First Connected Educator Month Subtheme

Alexandria, VA (10/6/2014)—ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, is focusing this week’s Connected Educator Month (CEM) resources and discussions on professional learning through educator observations. Educator observations and peer-to-peer learning are important topics because of their power to improve practice for both the observer and the observed. When school leadership supports this kind of learning among teachers, teaching and learning communities can thrive.

ASCD is leading the Educator Professional Development and Learning theme for CEM 2014 and will employ a specific subtheme each week to enhance the overall theme and provide targeted resources and professional development discussions. For more explanation of CEM and ASCD’s plans for the month, read this post on ASCD’s blog, Inservice.

This week’s headline event is the #ASCDL2L Twitter chat on Tuesday, October 7th from 8–9 p.m. eastern time. Planned discussion topics include teacher observations and peer-to-peer learning, and the chat will serve as the official theme kickoff event for the Educator Professional Development and Learningtheme. Emerging Leader Erin Klein will moderate and ASCD Professional Learning Services Faculty members Andrew Miller, Stef Hite, and Nicole Clifton will answer educator questions and provide their perspectives on effective professional development.

“The research on educator professional development is crystal clear: the single most effective means of improving practice is observation, especially in a nonpunitive environment,” said ASCD Faculty member Jason Flom. “When observation is included as an integral element of professional learning communities and uses protocols, student work, and educator-defined problems of practice, the opportunities for professional and cultural transformation begin to emerge. As a result, student learning is amplified.”

In today’s post on Inservice, Peer-to-Peer Observation: Five Questions for Making it Work,  Flom provides guidance for educators hoping to establish a culture of productive peer-to-peer observation. He also describes the leadership supports that must be in place for such a culture to grow and thrive.

All month, educators can enjoy free access to Professional Learning: Reimagined, the May 2014 edition of ASCD’s flagship publication, Educational Leadership. The complimentary articles addressing this week’s subtheme include

  • What You Learn When You See Yourself Teach  by Jim Knight. In this article, Knight makes the case that using video cameras in a way that recognizes teachers’ professionalism can have a dramatic effect on teaching and learning.
  • Rethinking Classroom Observation by Emily Dolci Grimm, Trent Kaufman, and Dave Doty. The authors here explain how flipped peer observation leads to job-embedded teacher learning.

To supplement the many free resources offered and to open up additional discussion topics, ASCD will offer special promotional codes on select ASCD books aligned with the CEM theme and subthemes. See the full list on this ASCD EDge™ page. By using the promo code CEM14 at checkout, educators will receive a 20 percent discount on each of the listed books, including this week’s featured title:

Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, CEM offers diverse and engaging activities to educators at all levels. The goals of CEM include getting more educators proficient with social media to improve their practice, helping schools integrate connected learning into their formal professional development efforts, and stimulating innovation in the field. More information on the 2014 themes and calendar of events is available at http://connectededucators.org.

Find out how signature capacity-building models from ASCD Professional Learning Services can transform your school or district at www.ascd.org/pls. Go towww.pinterest.com/officialascd to follow ASCD’s Educator Professional Development and Learning themed Pinterest board and find pins and resources on topics including whole child education, student engagement, and education technology. To read or subscribe to Educational Leadership, visit www.ascd.org/educationalleadership. View all of ASCD’s books and publications at www.ascd.org/books. You can also learn about ASCD’s other programs, products, services, and memberships at www.ascd.org.

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edWeb.net and Schoolwires announce a new online professional learning community to support parent involvement and community engagement in K-12

PRINCETON, NJ, October 6, 2014 – In schools where there is strong parent involvement and community engagement, children tend to do better academically, stay in school longer, and like school more as well.  Each school plays a critical role in determining the level of involvement of its parents and other community members. Education leaders can build stronger relationships with everyone who contributes to their schools by learning best practices from peers and experts. An online professional learning community is an effective tool for bringing education leaders together to learn these skills.

edWeb.net and Schoolwires have created Parent Involvement & Community Engagement in K-12, a free professional learning community (PLC) where school leaders can learn how to improve parent communications and better involve their communities as partners in school decisions that affect students and families.  The new PLC gives district and school administrators, teachers, and parents a forum to post questions, start discussions, and get feedback from peers and experts on all aspects of family engagement and its positive effects on student achievement.

The Parent Involvement & Community Engagement in K-12 PLC is part of edWeb.net, a professional learning and social network for the education community. This PLC provides free webinars that share research and resources to help K-12 leaders become more knowledgeable about the power of family and community engagement and its positive impacts on student achievement. Educators receive a CE Certificate for attending a live webinar or for viewing a recording. The PLC also hosts online discussions for educators to share ideas, practices, and examples of improving and expanding parent involvement and community engagement in K-12 schools. Parent Involvement & Community Engagement in K-12 is a growing PD hub with webinar archives, CE quizzes, and support materials that can be accessed at anytime, anywhere.

Schoolwires is dedicated to K-12 education, and to the people who are part of every local school community – students, families, teachers, administrators, and supporters of education. Their mobile and web-based solutions are expressly designed to foster student, teacher, and parent engagement. Today, more than 10 million users in the U.S. and China rely on Schoolwires content management system, mobile solutions, and safe collaborative learning community to drive engagement in the classroom, locally, and across the globe.

“The Schoolwires community is off to a great start. This is our first community that addresses parent involvement which is so important for student success,” said Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of edWeb.net. “We are delighted to launch this effort with Schoolwires and to help them reach school leaders and parent involvement coordinators.”

Schoolwires’ Chief Executive Officer, Christiane Crawford added, “Schoolwires is committed to helping every K-12 community reach its optimal level of engagement. Parent Involvement & Community Engagement in K-12 is a valuable resource that enables us to lead, share and contribute to important conversations between parents, teachers and K-12 leaders.”

The community’s next live, interactive webinar is on Wednesday, October 8 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. School administrators and leaders can register here for “Then and Now: Developing Programs of Family and Community Involvement for Student Success,” led by Joyce L. Epstein, Ph.D., Director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University.

Past webinars are archived for on-demand viewing in the community’s growing webinar library. Available sessions include “Avoiding Student Brain Drain: 3 Powerful Ways to Inspire Student Learning,” “Don’t Quit! Improving Your District’s Community Engagement & Communication Is Possible,” and “Boosting School-to-Home Connections: Proven Strategies & Tactics.”

Education leaders are invited join the free Parent Involvement & Community Engagement in K-12professional learning community on edWeb to stay informed about upcoming webinars, join in discussions with peers and experts, and gain access to valuable resources.

For more information, contact: 

Lisa Schmucki, Founder and CEO, edWeb.net
908-407-2755 | lisa@edweb.net

Marc Rubner, Vice President, Marketing, Schoolwires
814-272-5178 | marc.rubner@schoolwires.com

About Schoolwires
Schoolwires, Inc. provides a suite of technology products and related services to more than 1,600 educational entities, including K-12 school districts and schools in the United States and China. The company’s technologies are designed to foster community, student, teacher and parent engagement in the classroom, locally and internationally. Its solutions include an integrated website and content management system, a safe social learning and networking system, a family of mobile solutions, and an enterprise technology platform. Schoolwires brings together a district’s essential technologies, information, and content to effectively engage the K-12 community in support of district and student success. The company currently serves an estimated 11 million users and has been recognized as one of the top privately held education companies for the seventh consecutive year by Inc. magazine. Schoolwires was incorporated on April 5, 2000 and is headquartered in State College, PA with offices in Beijing, China.

About edWeb.net
edWeb.net is a free professional learning and social network that makes it easy for educators to connect and collaborate, share information and best practices, and create professional learning communities. edWeb hosts online professional learning communities for educators to connect with peers and experts all around the country and the world on the most innovative and progressive areas in education. edWeb professional learning programs offer free webinars, online chats and discussions, archived resources, and CE certificates. Schools and districts lack the time, expertise, and funding to provide the professional development educators need – edWeb fills that gap. Learn more at www.edweb.net or follow us on Twitter @edwebnet.

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ENHANCED STUDENT TEACHING
Teacher preparation programs are opportunities to strengthen higher education and P-12 relationships.
By Sharon P. Robinson

This article was originally published in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of NAESP’s Principal magazine, which focused on Managing and Communicating Change. Access the entire issue here.

 

Granted it was a long time ago, but Susan Copeland remembers the nine weeks she spent student teaching in the same school where she is now principal as a “loosey-goosey” experience. She did not see her university supervisor and knew little about the students in her classroom when she started.

“If I hadn’t had a strong teacher, I probably would not have made it in the field,” recalls Copeland, the principal of the University of Memphis Campus School for the College of Education.

Today, Copeland eagerly describes how a stronger partnership with the College of Education and its use of the edTPA assessment process have reinvented clinical experiences. The difference is so dramatic, she says, that new teachers who go through this local pipeline are mistaken for veteran educators. “When we need assistance, there is a faculty member supporting us. If there is a problem with a teacher candidate, or it’s a bad match, they work with us. We don’t let problems grow,” she says. “The process is harder for candidates; but in the end they learn if they really have a passion for this kind of work.”

In communities across the country, P-12 and higher education leaders talk about the need for increased collaboration. The clinical experience is a perfect and meaningful place to begin. The reinvented relationship between Copeland’s school and the University of Memphis represents what should be the new normal between teacher preparation programs and P-12 schools.

Each year, some 200,000 teachers who enter the profession are prepared in traditional programs. While the clinical experience was an essential part of their journey to becoming a teacher of record, the expectations, quality, and structure for this capstone event remains mixed. Some candidates get rigorous team-teaching experiences with regular feedback. Some candidates are treated as unwanted visitors in host schools, while others are welcome help to busy teachers but get little meaningful feedback.

Increasingly, teacher preparation programs are committing to and guiding more meaningful student-teaching experiences. The momentum is shifting from casual relationships built on candidate placements to partnerships where P-12 schools see teacher candidates as resources to help them achieve ambitious learning goals.

This movement is overdue. It is being accelerated by accreditation requirements that seek to make robust clinical experience a standard for the field. But states and institutions of higher education also are using new performance assessments that require candidates to demonstrate teaching skills. The most widely used is edTPA, which was developed by educators under the leadership of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity. Developed over four years and operational in the fall of 2013, these assessments ask teachers to demonstrate core skills such as planning lessons, assessing student progress, and modifying instruction to be more effective. edTPA was designed to complement course completion and subject-knowledge tests.

“We now have a framework and structure. The guidelines are very clear,” says Copeland. “While not everybody comes out of the edTPA clinical experience as a shining star, they come out knowing what to expect in the classroom. And that is heads and shoulders beyond where we were before.”

Shifting Expectations for Principals
Timothy Merritt is the principal at High Point Elementary School in Pasadena, Maryland. Last year, his school hosted seven teaching interns from Towson University in Baltimore. Hosting interns has become more challenging but more rewarding since Towson began requiring candidates to complete edTPA, says Merritt. As part of this process, candidates use the clinical experience to develop and submit portfolios of lesson plans, work samples, written reflections, and an unedited video of them delivering instruction.

Because of the higher demands placed on the candidates and the host school, Merritt says it’s now standard to expose teacher candidates to his school’s improvement plan and work with them to develop high-impact strategies for target groups such as boys and students from low-income families. “When the intern comes in, they learn about the big rocks we want to move. Lesson development is at the forefront of our minds,” he says. “We want them to be totally aligned with our data and what our school improvement plan has identified as a need. It’s really cool when you see that alignment.”

Merritt and his mentor teachers also must provide constant feedback and reinforce the reflection and introspection that Towson now requires. For example, candidates must write extensively to reflect on instructional strategies, effectiveness and adjustments to failed strategies. “We try to get interns to think about what they are doing. We try to pick their brains to understand why they are doing what they are doing,” Merritt says. “It’s almost a different mindset. I’ve tried to morph my own practice as a leader to ask a lot more questions to be more introspective. We can pat ourselves on the back and feel good, but the real intent is to get better every day.”

Though he expected to hear concerns and even protests to making videos of teachers leading instruction, he has experienced neither. He chalks that up to the close cooperation and guidance from Towson, which has coached his staff and provided sample permission slips and even video equipment. Merritt is so pleased with how much candidates learn from the video process that he wants his veteran teachers to video record and review their instruction as part of professional development.

Merritt says that his school could not be as effective at helping candidates meet the new edTPA requirements without close collaboration, guidance, and professional development from Towson faculty and the university’s liaison to High Point. “It’s a partnership that we expect will continue growing stronger,” he says.

New Challenges for Teacher Preparation
If higher education is going to be the partner that P-12 schools need, we cannot present teaching as a theoretical experience. Teacher preparation must be seen as part of the delivery of student achievement. Preparation programs must take the lead in building and sustaining a climate that makes this possible.

E. Sutton Flynt, director of teacher education and professor of literacy at the University of Memphis, said not all faculty members were ready for the changes brought on by performance-based assessment when the School of Education moved in that direction four years ago. But support grew as faculty saw more portfolios and candidate videos and learned where candidates did not perform well. Even though edTPA, the performance assessment now used by the university, is not a state requirement in Tennessee, University of Memphis teacher candidates must pass a national cut score for program completion.

“We’ve added a course in student assessment, which was a weakness that edTPA revealed to us. We’ve also gotten rid of a lot of theory and are closer to the ground with what it takes to work in a real school setting,” he says. “Some faculty are taking the lead. They are vested in what it really means to teach children today.”

Managing the teacher candidates’ resident year looks a lot different as well. Rather than a shotgun approach to placing a candidate in any school that wants one, Flynt says the candidates are clustered in schools so that his staff can do a better job supporting the candidates and host schools-though he has capped the number of candidates at any one school at 20. This year, the program placed 145 candidates in nine schools.

“The bottom line is that we develop partnerships. We build and maintain relationships. We never make schools come to us. We go to them,” says Jennifer Nelson, the associate director of teacher education at the University of Memphis. “When you develop that kind of in-depth relationship with the school, principals and teachers are more willing to treat candidates as co-teachers in the classroom.”

Beginning this year, teacher candidates in the state of Washington must pass edTPA to become certified. Though the shift has been in the works for four years, the state and higher education institutions make outreach to P-12 schools a priority, holding orientations for host schools, creating guidance on teacher internships, and drafting letters explaining the new requirements.

June Canty, professor of education and chair, bachelor of arts in education program, Washington State University Vancouver, says her institution goes even further, explaining, “We have found that communication from the state often stayed in central office.” “We send letters to principals in buildings with student teachers. We send them permission slips for the video and translate them into Spanish and Russian,” she says.

She also says that principals and their schools really connect to the new assessment when she explains the similarities between edTPA and National Board Certification, the respected standard for accomplished teaching that guided edTPA’s development. Adds Canty, “We explain that our candidates are taking baby steps toward National Board Certification.”

Still, she concedes that some principals resist taking on candidates because of the additional work it might mean for them or their teachers. Schools that do work with the mentors, however, are finding benefits. Canty, whose program placed 68 candidates in 38 schools last spring, says some schools insist on plugging candidates directly into grade-level teams and professional communities, who then decide how and where candidates best fit in to help meet student needs.

“That was a surprise to us, but if a candidate is going to teach in a certain timeframe and align with a school’s goals, then this is what is needed,” she adds. In most cases, principals who work with the candidates in this new system are not disappointed: This year, one-third of her school’s teacher candidates were hired over the summer and six were hired before they had graduated. “Supervising schools don’t want to lose them,” she says.

Sharon P. Robinson is president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2014 National Association of Elementary School Principals. All rights reserved.

AACTE: The Premier Voice on Educator Preparation

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are ready to teach all learners on Day 1. Its over 800 member institutions represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE seeks to lead the field in advocacy and capacity building by promoting innovation and effective practices as critical to reforming educator preparation. For more information, visit www.aacte.org.

 

 

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