Integrating online learning into your classroom can yield great benefits for your students. There is much excitement about blending and flipping learning, but it can seem at times like the emphasis is on having such a program in a school, and only later does our attention turn to how to have a successful program . … Continue reading 3 ways to integrate online learning into your classroom
It’s that time of year again! How are you preparing for the new school year? Here are some tips that will enhance your chances of success this year and in your future years. 1. Know your schedule and courses Start the year with an organized approach! Learn your schedule and where your classes are held … Continue reading The Countdown is On: 6 Tips for Back to School
Hundreds of available (and free) online resources and tools can help you enhance your learning experience. We’ve listed some of the best tools to help you be even more successful in your present courses and in your overall educational journey. These tools will prove useful as you create citations, calculate results, brainstorm topics, plan your … Continue reading 13 Tools to Enhance Your Learning Experience
As you have already guessed, we are avid computer-users here at Hekademia! We are continuously looking for ways to make our daily tasks more efficient, and keyboard shortcuts are one way we can do so. Tony Stecca, who works in IT at Hekademia and our sister company, Virtual High School, is known as the “Shortcut … Continue reading 22 Keyboard Shortcuts for Daily Tasks
Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and the entire week is dedicated to thanking teachers for their dedication, patience, and extra efforts beyond the classroom. We’ve all had those “game-changing” teachers who interjected at crucial times and helped us forge our paths. I had a history teacher in high school (yes you, Mr. Sutton!) who was such a … Continue reading Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! #ThankATeacher
The Hekademia math department has been working hard! Our team of math teachers and instructional designers recently launched a new online, competency-based Geometry course that will be be available for schools to pilot in the summer and fall of 2016! Like our other math and English courses, Geometry is aligned to individual state standards, as well as … Continue reading Announcing Our New Competency-Based Geometry Course!
A letter to students on cheating and plagiarism: Learning to think and work independently is all part of the educational process. Your school expects you to take responsibility for your work and actions in your courses. Sometimes the expectations to obtain a certain grade or meet a tight deadline can make you feel pressured to take short cuts … Continue reading Cheating and Plagiarism
The persuasive essay, the lab report, the informative presentation – all of these tasks involve putting forth your ideas in efforts to convince others or to reveal what you’ve found in your research. In all cases, whether in your science, music, history, English or other courses, the support you gather, that is, the information you … Continue reading What is Academic Honesty?
You’re enrolled in a self-paced, online course. Where do you start? How will you maintain focus? One really important thing to remember about this style of learning is that the self-motivation and self-direction required to complete the course are excellent life skills that will be of benefit to you far beyond your “school” days. So while you’re learning … Continue reading Five Tips for Success in Your Online Course
When you think of e-learning, you might not associate it with paper and pencil, but many students also now use different new tools in addition to their course content for learning online. An alternative to the traditional method that is gaining popularity in education is the use of whiteboards, or non-permanent surfaces, to replace pencil … Continue reading Three Ways to Use Whiteboards to Enhance E-Learning
On November 11, 2015, I sat in awe with 3,100 others in the education community as Gisele Huff accepted the first Huff Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in education at iNACOL’s annual conference. Her story had many of us reaching for tissues (and not for the first time at the conference). Huff grew up in Nazi-occupied France … Continue reading Gisele Huff, and Why We Need to Know This Inspiring Woman
In a previous rubrics post, Rubrics: Parts and Pieces, I discussed the various parts of a rubric, including: levels, criteria, and success descriptors. Today, I’ll look closely at success descriptors. Success descriptors are the text within the cells of the rubric. They describe what success looks like at any given level. They can also be called level … Continue reading Rubrics Part 8: Writing Rubric Level Descriptions
Every year when September rolls around I get a burst of energy and motivation to set new goals and get things done. I haven’t been a student in a while now, but the feelings associated with “going back to school” each September haven’t passed. Whether you or your kids are going back to school or not, … Continue reading Book List: 3 Must-Read Game Changers
It’s that time again! Students are back at school, or heading back soon, after ten to twelve weeks off. Summer provides a welcome break for most students and teachers, but how does the traditional ten-month school calendar affect student performance? What does the research say? The deficits that occur from “summer fade” most often affect … Continue reading The 10-month School Calendar: A Vestige of the Past?
You may be asking yourself: what technology is best suited to facilitating open dialogue and critical thinking for my students? In the third and final post of this blog series, I felt it was important to give you specific information regarding tools that can be used to facilitate curiosity, engagement, reflection, and all of the … Continue reading Part Three: Online Tools to Support Critical Thinking
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on three inspiring ideas that came out of Brightspace’s FUSION conference in Orlando, Florida. The three ideas were: The Importance of Creative Courage Multidisciplinary Collaboration is the Future of Innovation The Slow Hunch vs. The Eureka Moment I would like to take a moment now to elaborate … Continue reading Avoiding Our Blind Spots with Multidisciplinary Collaboration
When I went to high school, my goal was to be accepted into a post-secondary program of my choice. Then in university, my goal was to graduate and then enter the workforce. To be honest, I struggled through my first year of university. In reflecting on my experiences, I wonder what my high school teachers … Continue reading 3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before College
Some may wonder if online learning is conducive to critical pedagogy and if transformative education can be accomplished in the virtual classroom. The answers in both cases is yes: online education supports and encourages curiosity and critical inquiry. This blog indicates how such learning can transform the process. As outlined in my previous blog post, … Continue reading Part Two: Technology As a Conduit for Critical Consciousness
It’s been a full year since Hekademia began producing weekly blog posts on issues relating to education policy, competency-based learning, and ideas for the virtual classroom. Thank you for reading and commenting along the way! We’re excited to be a part of the growing community for competency-based education. To mark the occasion, we’ve pulled the top … Continue reading Top 5 Blogs on Competency-Based Education
Automated learning pathways are currently a hot topic in discussions on education because those pathways have the potential to personalize learning and provide timely intervention for students. With automated pathways, also known as adaptive learning, the instruction changes based on the students’ current levels of understanding. In some cases, adaptive learning is teacher-directed. In this … Continue reading Algorithms Are Only As Intelligent As the Humans Behind Them.
The science of mathematics has developed through collaboration. Every theorem, statement, and axiom builds upon the work that other mathematicians have done. With this in mind, new theorems that we develop today relate to the work mathematicians have done across time, back to the earliest mathematician, Euclid, who documented his calculations. If humans had not collaborated, … Continue reading Let’s Start a Collabor-nation!
Every educator will agree that teaching is a transformative act. It is not something we sit back and watch happen; it requires us to be highly conscious of our teaching practices. Both physical and digital learning spaces require us to participate in a certain politics of teaching – whether we are aware of it or … Continue reading Critical Pedagogy in the 21st Century: An Introduction
We encourage students to collaborate all the time, but as teachers, we often work alone. This is unfortunate because some of the best work I see at conferences occurs when groups of teachers come together to share their ideas and compare approaches. Not only do such interactions lead to new ideas, but they also help teachers from different disciplines … Continue reading Collaborative Teaching for Integrated Learning: Lessons from Finland
Rubrics fall into two broad evaluation categories: holistic and points-based. Holistic rubrics assign levels to student performance on various criteria. This approach is more subjective, produces fewer accurate results and does not integrate well with percentage-based reporting systems. Points-based rubric systems also use a leveling approach to assessment. However, in these rubrics points are assigned … Continue reading Rubrics Part 7: Points-Based Rubrics
Many students take the textbooks they are assigned at the beginning of a semester and attempt to memorize every chapter word-for-word with the mistaken assumption that this is how to “learn science.” To this already onerous task, students add memorizing lecture notes presented in class. Memorizing an ever-increasing amount of material then turns into a … Continue reading Using Multimedia to Support Instruction
The question of how we can motivate students to learn and stay in school is as old as formal education itself. Motivation isn’t just a necessary skill for education, it’s also a character trait that leads to success in later life–professionally in our careers, personally in our relationships with those around us, and generally speaking, … Continue reading Motivation Matters
Teachers have long understood Socratic instruction to mean that the teacher asks questions and the student answers, learning through further questions and mentorship. However, as John Smallwood reminds us, those who use the term “Socratic” can forget that such teaching takes place in the form of dialogues, often in a one-on-one situation. Today’s online teaching … Continue reading Redesigning Learning for Learners
Failure, in one way or another, can seem unavoidable. The experience can take on different meanings for each of us, but the fear behind it is something we all share. Recently I watched a Ted talk from Diana Laufenberg. She’s an 11th grade American History teacher in Wisconsin. Diana passionately explains in her ten-minute talk … Continue reading Rethinking Failure in Competency-Based Education
Recall from Rubrics Part 1: Parts and Pieces, that the rows of a rubric contain the concepts on which students are assessed. Including relevant criteria will ensure that your rubric is meaningful to students and well-aligned to your curriculum. A mix of curriculum items and additional requirements often produces the best results. Curriculum Items Curriculum items … Continue reading Rubrics Part 6: Developing Rubric Criteria
As a new educator, I divide my time between writing and developing courses with Virtual High School and Hekademia and occasional teaching with a conventional school board. Some people say I have the best of both worlds, while others say I’m crazy. However, I think that I am incredibly fortunate to be learning so much…okay, … Continue reading Syncing Up: Going Asynchronous
In the last decade, GIS has dominated the discipline of Geography. It has also started to reshape the way history is taught. But what exactly is GIS? How does it work? How can it be applied to the the teaching of history? And what are some options for using GIS in classrooms? What is GIS? … Continue reading Using GIS in Geography and History Classrooms
If “one size fits all” doesn’t work for clothes, why do we expect it to work for teaching? If students learn by building knowledge from previously acquired concepts and experiences, we can expect that we will need to be prepared to teach by introducing multiple analogies and ways of explaining new concepts. As teachers, we … Continue reading One Size Fits All? Hardly.
In this post, I’ll talk about a couple of ways that you can make your rubrics more student friendly and a little more consistent. First, let’s discuss the order in which the levels appear. Some districts and organizations lay out their rubrics with lower levels on the left and higher levels on the right. The … Continue reading Rubrics Part 5: Setting up the Levels
Equity and social justice are central to my teaching philosophy and have been since my early experiences as a teacher in a low-income school in Ottawa. I had, perhaps naively, believed that I could change the world through teaching, but instead, I was left with lingering doubts about the my school’s ability to address wider … Continue reading Competency Education and the Equity Agenda
Hekademia attended FETC in Orlando a few weeks ago and left inspired to try some new tools in our online courses. As teachers in blended classrooms emphasized at the conference, even if you don’t have computers or tablets available in your classroom, most high school students have smartphones. It’s easier than ever to incorporate technology … Continue reading Tech Tools to Liven Up Your Classroom: 5 Trends from FETC
Although social media are still in their infancy, they will continue to redefine how we communicate. The profound impacts of social media can be felt everywhere–from our small social circles to the world-at-large. This democratization of information has given everyone a voice (worthwhile or not) in shaping and contributing to culture. We no longer only … Continue reading Social Media’s Role in the Virtual Classroom
In last week’s post, I talked about the many stresses high school students face and the growing body of research that is showing the benefits of mindfulness practices for youth. I also discussed exactly what is meant by the term “mindfulness.” See “The Benefits of Mindfulness for Students, Part One” for more. Here, in Part … Continue reading The Benefits of Mindfulness for Students, Part Two
Today’s students are under great stress as a result of academic pressures, busy schedules, constant input from multiple sources of media, worries about the future, as well as all the interpersonal drama and negotiation that takes place with family and peers. These stressors, combined with a lack of knowledge about healthy stress-reducing practices, has led … Continue reading The Benefits of Mindfulness for Students, Part One
When this question is posed in a science class, you can immediately see postures improve as students sit up a bit straighter, disengage from their iPods (or whatever electronic device had their attention), and gaze attentively as they await the answer. This is where the magic of case studies in science begins. Instead of providing … Continue reading Why are the people of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky blue?
We have discovered that there really isn’t one, single prescribed approach to competency-based education. States, schools, content providers, and many others are interested in developing and implementing competency-based education. Understandably, each of these providers will have unique approaches to the pedagogy. The discrepancies that arise often result in disagreements as to what the process should … Continue reading The 4 Guiding Elements of Competency Design at Hekademia
It’s interesting to look back twenty or thirty years and compare the vast changes in how we work. Then, it was imperative to show up to an office or assembly line for your nine-to-five shift. Phones were tethered to walls, whole floors were dedicated to filing cabinets and desktop computers had as much power as … Continue reading Are Today’s Students Being Prepared For Tomorrow’s Workforce?
Rubrics are an integrated part of an assessment system and must be accounted for in the development process. Whether you are working in a traditional classroom or creating online courses, rubrics must not be left until the end of course development. Points Rubrics at Virtualhighschool.com and Hekademia use a custom points scheme to determine the score of … Continue reading Rubrics Part 4: The Course Development Process
Last week the Hekademia team attended the iNACOL symposium in Palm Springs, California. A theme that surfaced across keynote speeches, session presentations, and conversations at networking dinners was the pioneer mindset. It got me thinking: what exactly is a pioneer and what attributes can the pioneer mindset offer students, teachers, and innovators? Historically or in … Continue reading The Pioneer Mindset for Students, Educators, and Innovators
In a previous blog, Nicki posed the question: what is school for? In a famous TED talk titled, How schools kill creativity, Sir Ken Robinson suggested that the purpose of schooling should be to foster creativity. Since 2006, Robinson’s lecture has become the most-viewed on TED, generating over 28 million views in over 150 countries … Continue reading The Purpose of Education: A Critical Creativity
I recently viewed a TEDx presentation by Google UX researcher, Daniel Russell, titled The Revolution in Asking & Answering Questions. Dan’s talk explores how technology has changed the kinds of questions that we ask, how we ask them, how we can find answers, and the different skills that we need to do so. Modern search … Continue reading Asking Questions: Daniel Russell at TEDx
In Seth Godin’s 2012 TED talk, Stop Stealing Dreams, he asks the question, “what is school for?” and suggests that we can’t make real improvements in education until we have thought about, answered, and agreed upon this question. He points out that the current brick-and-mortar classrooms are relics from the industrial revolution in which students … Continue reading What is School for?
Thanks to all the attendees of my rubrics presentation at the Brightspace Regional User Forum. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I know I was struck by the professional and collegial atmosphere in the session and at the conference in general. Allow me to review a few topics we discussed at … Continue reading Reflections on the Brightspace Regional User Forum
What is Adaptive Competency eLearning? Adaptive: the learning environment (or technology) responds to the student’s level of understanding and directs them to the content that will help them make connections. Competency: students must demonstrate that they are competent in each standard in order to move to the next module of study (an understanding of 75% … Continue reading Adaptive Competency eLearning: Self-Paced Learning at its Best
This Friday, September 19th, I am attending the Brightspace Regional User Forum in Burlington, Ontario. I am leading the “Designing and Building Rubrics with Brightspace” seminar. The tentative agenda for the seminar includes: Demonstration of rubrics at Virtualhighschool.com. 5min Description of the Brightspace rubric tool, its capabilities and its limitations. 5min Walk-through of how to … Continue reading Rubrics at the Brightspace Regional User Forum
Two weeks ago, I blogged about goal-setting for adolescents focusing on four key areas of development: emotional, cognitive, social, and physical. This week, I offer practical ideas of how to approach goal-setting in diverse environments including blended and fully online environments. Model perseverance – Coaches, mentors, teachers–however we want to label our roles–must not give … Continue reading Goal-setting for Adolescents, Part II
Hekademia was born out of an idea that started at VirtualHighSchool.com (VHS) in January 2013. At the time, VHS had about 5100 students, 80 online teachers, and 65 online courses. With our experience building online courses and working with teachers and students in an asynchronous online environment, we had reached a point where we were … Continue reading Where did Hekademia come from?
Goal-setting: it’s important, but how many of us know how to do it effectively? As adults, we reflect on our successes and our weaknesses more easily and more innately than teens do whether we are perfecting our golf swing, trying to write more often, or making more time for our families. But, how did we … Continue reading Goal-setting for Adolescents, Part I
Detroit Lions’ franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, had a troubling campaign in 2013. Despite promising rookie and sophomore seasons, Stafford struggled with footwork and passing mechanics, and at times, had trouble reading defenses and adjusting plays at the line of scrimmage. In response, the Lions have hired veteran QB coach, Jim Bob Cooter, to mentor Stafford. … Continue reading Rubrics Part 3: When to Use a Rubric
Attending a conference is a powerful professional development experience. The opportunity to connect face-to-face with your peers, share ideas with like-minded colleagues, and learn about the latest research in your field can be both exciting and intimidating. There can be more to a conference than just attending sessions presented by experts in the field: you … Continue reading Reflections on The Online Learning Institute
Regardless of what we do in life, our time is valuable– we only get so much. I often hear people say that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get their work done, or to pursue their passion project that keeps getting pushed to the back burner. I’d like to share a tool that … Continue reading Make Time for Your Most Important Work
Teachers have to cope with a mountain of marking. Incorporating rubrics into the marking workflow can be challenging. The levels of traditional rubrics are often overly-broad, poorly aligned to percentage-based grading systems, and vague in the 100% to 80% range. Aligning rubric levels with existing percentage-based grading schemes is a great way to improve the … Continue reading Rubrics Part 2: Aligning Rubrics to a Percentage-Based Grading Scheme
Rubrics are the nexus of curriculum objectives, assessment, and instruction. Any discrepancies in the planning of these 3 major fields will become apparent in the rubric when it is time to evaluate the student. Consequently, creating a meaningful rubric is a challenging task for even the most skilled educator. Hekademia and Virtual High School put a great deal … Continue reading Rubrics Part 1: Parts and Pieces
I remember standing in a glass corridor as one of my university professors mapped out the various pathways of the human brain on the window. We’d just bumped into each other in the hall and I had expressed frustration with the project he had assigned for that term; it was 2006, and for our Digital … Continue reading Be a Catalyst! Reflections on Project-Based Learning