Category Archives: Speak Up

Principals Are Looking for Tech Savvy New Teachers

In the midst of our Tomorrow’s Teachers Speak Up research project to learn more about the experiences and aspirations of the next generation of teachers, we took a look at what school administrators told us last fall during Speak Up 2016. A few highlights:

Principals told us they expect new teachers to:

  • Know how to use technology to differentiate instruction (76%)
  • Use technology to communicate with parents and students (73%)
  • Interpret and use data to support student learning and improve teaching practice (71%)
  • Use technology to create authentic learning experiences (65%)
  • Use technology to facilitate student collaboration (63%)

Principals value technology use for teaching and learning:

  • 84% of school leaders say it is important or very important for every student to be able to use a mobile device during the school day to support schoolwork
  • 89% of school leaders say a new teacher candidate’s skills or experiences using technology within teaching is important or very important when evaluating his/her fit or qualifications

Tomorrow’s Teachers Speak Up is open until June 2nd! We want to hear from pre-service teachers about how to leverage technology within learning; how they are being trained; what they expect when they enter the classroom; and more! College students studying to be teachers can take the confidential, 20-minute survey now!

Universities and teacher prep programs who register to participate will learn the results of what their own students had to say this summer (and it’s all free!)

Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations

Augmented and virtual reality in K-12 classrooms is still predominantly in pilot implementations. Last year, Project Tomorrow released an evaluation of one such pilot in San Diego to look into how an augmented reality environment is helping high school students develop greater awareness about and interest in STEAM careers.

The opening of a high school on two floors of a new library in San Diego offered a unique opportunity to develop an augmented reality pilot program to encourage and support STEAM learning. The STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was developed as a collaboration between the San Diego Public Library Foundation, San Diego Public Library, e3 Civic High and Qualcomm Wireless Reach. Project Tomorrow was contracted to do an evaluation of the project to examine the relationship between the augmented reality app and student outcomes.

Given that today’s students are interested in learning that is contextually relevant, the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was designed to take advantage of the unique architecture of the library dome to provide 9th grade students an enriched learning experience. Using Qualcomm® technology, the project focused on leveraging augmented reality content that utilized mobile, context-aware 4G technologies to allow the students to interact with digital information embedded within the library’s physical environment focusing on science, math, engineering and art related content. Similar to augmented reality used by construction teams to visualize a building prior to construction, students learned about the construction of the new library while learning the STEAM concepts associated with each structural element.

Our evaluation found:

  • The majority of the students agreed that using the 4G tablet with the augmented reality content increased their engagement in learning about the Central Library Dome.
  • The students ascribed many benefits to the learning experience including increased enjoyment in learning, ability to work on the content with their classmates, and being more interested in the dome structure and architecture than they first envisioned.
  • Four out of 10 students said that they were more interested in exploring a STEAM career field after having this mobile learning experience.
  • The teachers participating in the project believe that the mobile augmented reality environment could be used successfully to impact student learning in many other academic areas with a closer alignment with curriculum.

That work in San Diego informed new questions on Speak Up 2016 designed to learn more about the current use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in classrooms around the country, and about how students, parents and educators are thinking of these learning tools for the future. (Some of this data was released in T.H.E. Journal this month.)

Current Use of AR and VR in the Classroom

  • 5 percent of teachers say they are using AR or VR in their classroom. This was the same no matter the size or type of school district and years of teacher experience. We did see a higher percentage of computer science/technology (11 percent) and science teachers (9 percent) in high schools using AR or VR.
  • 9 percent of students in Grades 6-8 and 8 percent of students in Grades 9-12 say they have experienced AR or VR in a classroom setting.

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school – more so than for parents and teachers at this time. Note there is higher interest reported among school librarians and district administrators, particularly those from small districts (those with >5,000 students).

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school.

View Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education Infographic

When asked about what they need to use digital content, tools and resources more successfully in the classroom, teachers cite three key elements:

  • Classroom set of devices (56 percent)
  • Consistent technical support for classroom usage (49 percent)
  • Professional development on effective instructional practices with that digital content (48 percent)

It makes sense therefore that in regards to using AR and VR in the classroom, teachers are starting to call for specific professional development to support their efforts. An emerging cohort of teachers (approximately 1 in 8 teachers or 13 percent) says they would like PD on how to use AR or VR in the classroom. Districts are also recognizing the importance of PD on the use of AR and VR in the classroom with 20 percent of district administrators saying that type of professional learning for teachers is a priority for this year.

Our final report on the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project concluded, “This evidence supports the idea that to stimulate and nurture STEAM career interest, the learning experiences need to replicate the inherent characteristics of STEAM content and processes. In other words, students need to be able to use advanced technologies such as 4G wireless connectivity and augmented reality, and have access to contextually relevant content to explore potential career interests.”

As Speak Up shows, the students are again ahead of most education leaders when it comes to the potential for augmented and virtual reality to spark and support learning.

Download Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations Speak Up 2016 Findings.

Students’ perceptions of school vs. learning – not the same thing!

Special release of selected California Speak Up 2016 data for the CUE 2017 National Conference

While 84 percent of California middle school students say that doing well in school is important to them, their interest in school vs. learning mirrors what George Couros has often talked about as a fundamental divide. For example, 57 percent of California middle school students like learning about new ideas, 62 percent like learning how to make or build things and 70 percent say that they like learning how to do things. However, only 49 percent are interested in what they are learning at school, and only a slight majority (52 percent) says that the subjects they are learning in school are important for their future.

But, is this disconnect in name only? Do the students’ belief statements really align with their actions or is this just the latest example of a generational angst?

Consider this: while one-third of students in middle schools and high schools in California admit that they are bored at school, 75 percent are regularly sourcing and watching online videos outside of school, on their own, to learn about things that interest them. Four in ten middle school students are using social media to learn about people’s ideas and to identify people who share their learning interests, not just posting selfies and random comments about celebrities. And, this may come as a surprise to some English teachers, 45 percent of California students are tapping into online writing sites to self-improve their writing skills.

This self-directed learning is purposeful and most importantly it is driven by the students themselves around what they perceive as learning needs or interests. This self-learning imperative actually represents a very organic form of self-blended, personalized learning empowered by a ubiquitous access to technology and an overwhelming hunger for information, knowledge and learning experiences that are more challenging and meaningful than what is happening in the classrooms at their school.

View our infographic: California Speaks Up! Results from Speak Up 2016 at CUE 2017

The same is true today for career exploration – students are more likely to want to find and watch a video about an aspect of a career that interests them or take an online personalized quiz to learn about their strengths than attend a standardized one size fits all after school program or summer camp for career exploration.

This disconnect is also manifesting itself in how students are doing homework. Sensing that in many communities, teachers were still reluctant to assign digitally based or internet based homework for a number of reasons including equity of access, the Speak Up surveys this fall probed on the frequency of the use of digital tools and the Internet outside of school.

First, we asked teachers how often they assigned homework or projects that relied upon digital tools or the Internet. Then, we asked school site administrators that same question about their teachers. Finally, we asked students how often they used the Internet or digital resources to support their homework or school related assignments. Here are the results for California:

  • Just 8 percent of teachers say that they assign digital homework daily or almost daily (for CUE members that jumps to 20 percent). 18 percent of teachers say that they assign digital homework at least weekly (34 percent for CUE members).
  • About 16 percent of school site administrators say their teachers are assigning digital or Internet dependent homework on a daily basis (almost 30% of administrators who are CUE members believe this to be the case for their teachers). One-third of school site administrators say their teachers are assigning digital or Internet dependent homework at least weekly (and half of administrators who are CUE members).

So, already we see a disconnect between teachers and administrators – and even CUE members – on perception vs. actual practice.

But here is the real rub: 40 percent of California middle school students say they are using the Internet daily to complete homework (and 67 percent say they are using the Internet several times a week). We see similar findings of high school students: 42 percent say they use the Internet for homework daily, and even for students in grades 3-5, 22 percent say they use the Internet daily for schoolwork).

Speak Up 2016: How often do California teachers assign homework assignments that require Internet access? How often do California middle school students use the Internet to do homework?

This makes the disconnect between teachers and administrators look like a narrow statistical gap while the difference between teachers and students is an imposing chasm.

Students are using the Internet to support school-based learning at almost 4 times the rate in which teachers say they are assigning those types of activities. Why is this? Because quite simply, as the students explain to us every year, the use of digital tools:

  • puts the students in control of their learning,
  • makes the learning process more efficient, and
  • personalizes the experience in a way that fits their needs, in a way that we are not yet replicating in the classroom.

This use of technology in learning has evolved way beyond engagement – for the students it has always been about their vision for a new type of learning experience that is socially-based, un-tethered and real world relevant.

Do our teachers and administrators know about this reality, and if so, how are they adapting to this sea change in their learning lives of our students? How are they moving from a school-centered rules and procedures to a focus on the student learning experience? How are they incorporating information such as the Speak Up Research about how our students are self-directing learning using digital tools and resources to transform the learning experiences for all students?

Lots of important questions. It is our nonprofit mission at Project Tomorrow to help every school and district find answers to these challenges. You can learn more about our work, the Speak Up data and how your school and district can gain free access to similar data about your students at our website www.tomorrow.org.

Download the related infographic on California Speak Up 2016 data.

What do you think, CUE 2017?

For those interested in the results…

Q1: What percentage of 6-8 grade students say, “Doing well in school is important to me”?

32% of CUE2017 attendees chose the right answer of 84% & that was the top answer for the CUE audience

Q2: What percentage of 6-8 graders in CA say they regularly use online writing tools to improve their writing because they are interested (but not just because it was an assignment or homework)?

16% of CUE2017 attendees chose the right answer of 45%; Top answer for the CUE audience was 15% (half chose this answer)

Q3: What percentage of teachers say they assign homework that requires internet access DAILY or ALMOST DAILY?

26%of CUE2017 attendees chose the right answer of 8%; Top answer for the CUE audience was 40% (28% chose this answer – responses were almost evenly split among all answers)

School Communications Officers: Win $500 Towards Conference of Your Choice!

We want to hear from school communications officers from across the country, so we are offering one more incentive during this last week of Speak Up! Spend 15 minutes taking the special Communications Officer Speak Up survey and be entered for a chance to win a $500 grant towards any 2017 professional conference you choose! The winning school PR pro can attend NSPRA’s 2017 National Seminar or any state NSPRA chapter 2017 conference (or other professional conference) and we’ll contribute $500 toward the registration and/or travel expenses.

School Communications Officer Chance to Win $500Take the Speak Up survey for Communications Officers – share your views, challenges, experience to be part of our national research project – and you will be prompted at the end of the survey to enter for your chance to win a $500 grant towards the 2017 conference of your choice. >>Navigate to the Communications Officers survey by selecting the Educators survey, then the District Administrator, District Tech leader, or Communications Officer survey.<<

This is also your chance to learn more about Speak Up and how you could use our FREE survey tool to learn more from your parents, community, staff and students!

If your schools participated in Speak Up this year, we are also offering one free infographic as well!

Surveys close this Friday, January 27th, so take the survey today! The winner will be announced on February 8th!

Speak Up: Free Tool to Gather LCAP Stakeholder Input

In California, a local control funding formula (LCFF) establishes base, supplemental, and concentration grants for all school districts and charter schools in place of previously existing K–12 funding streams, including revenue limits, general purpose block grants, and most of the 50-plus state categorical programs that existed before 2013. As part of the LCFF, school districts, COEs, and charter schools are required to develop, adopt, and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

We learned that the Ramona Unified School District has been using Speak Up to help them create and maintain their LCAP. Theresa Grace, Assistant Superintendent, Ramona Unified School District, explained it this way:

“All districts in California are required to write a Local Control Accountability Plan that outlines the district’s goals, actions and services. This plan is the guiding document for how educational funds will be spent in a district. A vital piece in developing a LCAP is stakeholder input. In our district, we use the Speak Up Survey to gather information from our students, teachers, parents and community members that directly influences the goals and actions in our plan. For instance, we are making a concerted effort to engage our students through the use of technology, so we are tracking student Speak Up feedback to see how we are doing. Is the technology working? How are teachers using technology in their instructional practice? Is technology readily available, or is access limited? Speak up data allows us to evaluate how we’re doing over time on these issues and make corrections as needed. It’s a great tool to help our district make funding decisions based on student, teacher, and community needs.”

We hope even more districts across the state of California take advantage of our FREE Speak Up surveys to help inform their LCAPs! Surveys are currently open until January 27, 2017. The next Speak Up surveys will open in October 2017. Feel free to contact us to learn more.

Are you using Speak Up for your LCAP plans or something similar in your state? Let us know

More time to Speak Up! Survey Period Extended to Jan. 27.

We try to be as accommodating as possible to schools and districts around the country who rely on Speak Up to help collect authentic feedback from their students, parents, staff and community members (for free!). We want you to have the time needed to gather as much local data as possible during our annual survey window. We had already extended the deadline into January (for the first time in 14 years) and now we are giving you a couple more weeks!

We heard from so many schools and districts last week asking for just a little more time to be sure they can gather as much data as possible that we’ve again extended the deadline. We even had some brand new districts ask for more time so they can start from scratch (using some of our promo tips & tools)!

You now have until January 27, 2017 to collect surveys

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For those schools and districts who have already completed their efforts to collect data, did you know you can view and use your preliminary data already? Just use this link and follow the directions for your preferred option – you will need to input your state, the first 10 characters of your school or district name, and your administrator password. Your preliminary data results will be updated every Sunday. Final data will be available to all participating schools and districts on February 8th.

Take advantage of the additional time and encourage your community to Speak Up about technology and learning!

School PR Pros: Speak Up Offer

School communications officers: the annual Speak Up surveys close next week! Use the free tool to survey your parents, teachers, community and students. Learn directly from your audiences how they want to receive messages from your district! There is still time to participate, but surveys close January 27, 2017. (Deadline extended!)

We want to hear directly from you as a communications pro, and we’d also like to offer you a free infographic based on your district’s parent and community data. The more parents and community members who take the survey from your district by January 27th, the better data you’ll receive – and we’ll design an infographic for your use showing some of your local findings!

Example findings from Speak Up 2015: Parents Use of Social Media Networks

Example findings from Speak Up 2015: Parents Use of Social Media Networks

Participating districts will receive their data, plus state- and national-level data for FREE in February. Last year, we learned that nationally, more than 50% of parents want text messages from their schools. And, fewer were turning to social media. What would your parents say? Don’t miss this opportunity!

Some of the questions for parents on this year’s surveys (in English and Spanish) include:

  • What do you already know about your local schools? Check the items on this list that you already know about your local schools. (Options include: Qualifications of the teachers in your schools; What schools in your community that have been identified as needing improvement; Trends in student academic performance in your schools over several years; and more)
  • What is the most effective way for your child’s teacher(s) to communicate information to you about your child’s class activities or individualized academic progress? (Options include: Automated phone messages; Meetings; Handwritten notes; Push notifications through mobile app, and more.)
  • What is the most effective way for your child’s school or school district to communicate generalized school or district information and alerts to you? (Options include: Facebook; School portal; YouTube video channel; Text message to my mobile device, Twitter, and more.)

Start the process by taking the survey yourself! Last year was our first year surveying school communications officers and we learned so much, we decided to do it again! We hope you will take the 15-minute, confidential survey today! School communications officers can take the survey via this link. (select the “Educator” survey and then “District Administrator, District Tech leader, or Communications Officer”)

>>You can view some of the 2015 data findings from PR pros in this report we did with Blackboard.

If you’d like to receive the free infographic, please email Lisa Chu with the request.

One Month Remains to Speak Up!

With winter break approaching and the survey period closing on January 13, now is perfect time to make a final push for your school(s) to take the Speak Up survey! We have several promotional materials and tips for you to use:

  • Last minute outreach emails – can also be used for website and social media content
  • Sample tweets – to use before, during and after break
  • Survey lesson plans – great to use as a classroom activity before or after break
  • Focus on parents and community members – this can be some of your most valuable stakeholder data. Be sure to promote the opportunity to Speak Up beyond your campus!
  • Data sneak peeks – share some early national data findings to encourage discussion within your school(s)
  • Speak Up Appreciation week – Our all new weeklong event kicks off on Monday, January 9th where we will be recognizing some of our great Speak Up partners and school districts during the final week of Speak Up. This week will feature our Speak Up Spirit Photo Challenge and another opportunity to win free conference registrations.
  • Start making plans this week for survey participation when everyone returns to school in January – check out our promotional materials, follow our timeline, or pick a day of the week to encourage participation before January 13th! (View intro & tips webinars for insights from other school leaders on implementing and using the surveys.)

You can also view your preliminary data now! We will update your preliminary data every Monday morning before the close of the survey at http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2016/find_school.aspx. Finalized data will be released on February 6. View your preliminary data to determine which audiences still need to Speak Up!

Be sure to follow @SpeakUpEd on Twitter for news and updates!

Don’t forget to take the survey yourself!

If you have any questions, please contact us at speakup@tomorrow.org!