Phonological Awareness: The Number One Predictor of Reading Success

By: Jeanne Jeup

“Phonological awareness is an awareness that the words that we speak can be taken apart, and phonological refers to the sound system of language. We do it with our ears, not with sight; it is a broad term that encompasses language in chunks; it happens before kids even understand that letters stand for sounds – Margie Gillis, Ed.D., literacy expert who teaches kids with Dyslexia, President, Literacy How

For many of us, learning to read seems like something that just happened overnight. One day our parents were reading us to us, then like magic, with enough repetition, we just started to read the words on the page.

But learning to read is not automatic and it happens way before kids understand that letters stand for sounds; children start learning to read by gaining a language skill called phonological awareness (PA).  

The Struggle to Read and Myths Behind Dyslexia

Up to 50% of children require direct, or explicit, instruction to learn to read proficiently, while up to 15% of children require explicit instruction to learn to read. Explicit instruction is presented in a sequential format, which provides children with the review and consistent practice that allow them to encode (spell) and decode (read) with ease.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) indicates that instruction for students with dyslexia or other reading disabilities should include Structured Literacy™ programs, an explicit, systematic, and cumulative reading program. It integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

There are some common myths and misconceptions about individuals who have dyslexia. Decoding Dyslexia, a grassroots parent group, helps break down some of these myths.

The first is that dyslexia is rare. In fact, Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 people, according to 25+ years of research by the National Institutes of Health and Studies at Yale University. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that dyslexia is the most common learning disability, accounting for 80% of all learning disabilities.

Another myth is that children with dyslexia will outgrow it. In fact, children do not outgrow dyslexia. Dyslexia can be remediated by the right kind of instruction, but symptoms do not go away just because a child grows up. Children with dyslexia grow up to be adults with dyslexia.

And finally, the most common myth is that people with dyslexia see things backwards. In actuality, people with dyslexia see things just like everyone else. They do have trouble with directionality and often have difficulty finding the right names for things. Although people with dyslexia may write letters and numbers backwards, not all do. Plus, this is considered “normal” through the end of first grade. Children with dyslexia actually have trouble processing and manipulating the sounds of language.

If these students are taught with systematic, explicit, multi-sensory instruction, reading will improve; and, once success is found with phonemic awareness and phonics (Reading Foundational Skills), theses students can begin to master fluency, which is a bridge to deeper levels of reading, vocabulary, and comprehension.

What is PA and What Does it Have to Do With Reading?

Phonological awareness is the understanding that our spoken language is made up of words, and our words are made up of individual units of sounds called phonemes (Zgonc, 2010). It is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language. It includes all of the skills that make up the concept of a spoken word, rhyme, syllables, phonemes, and phoneme manipulation.

Consider the following examples:

“Susie sells seashells down by the seashore” – this is an example of an alliteration.

Eric Carle’s,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? I see a little frog looking at me.” – this is an example of a nursery rhyme.

Words are made up of sound parts, called syllables. For example: Mag-ni-fi-cent (4 syllables) El-e-phant (3 syllables) – Tur-key (2 syllables) and Shoe (1 syllable).

Phonemic awareness is the recognition that words are composed of phonemes (sounds), which have distinct articulatory features (Armbruster, 2001). It is the foundation for reading and lets young readers recognize and work with the sounds of spoken language.

What is a Phoneme and Why Do You Need Them for Reading Success

We grow up learning there are 26 letters in the alphabet. So naturally, one would think there are 26 letter sounds. But there are approximately 44 letter sounds, and they are made up of something called phonemes. In addition, those 44 sounds can be spelled 250 different ways (e.g., /k/ as in c, k, ck, ch, que). Unless explicitly taught and practiced, it can be challenging to hear individual sounds within words and individual words within sentences. Most of us have never heard of phonemes, unless one becomes a reading teacher (and even some reading teachers have never heard of them.) A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in spoken language, whereas a letter is the smallest part in written words. ​​

Phonemes and letters do not always maintain a one-to-one correspondence. For example, the word “have” has three phonemes (/h/ /a/ /v/) but four letters, whereas the word “cat” has three letters and three phonemes (/k/ /a/ /t/).

Phonological awareness helps children understand the alphabetic principle (letters have names and sounds that form words). One must have the ability to hear and manipulate oral sound patterns before they can be related to print (Fitzpatrick, 1997). That’s why most elementary children’s books often start with books that include some form of “A is for apple”, and “B is for Book.”

It is the foundation for reading and lets young readers recognize and work with the sounds of spoken language.

Jeanne Jeup

Phonological awareness enhances the ability for children to decode, which is a key skill for learning to read. According to Understood.org, decoding a word, requires a person to know:

  • Which sound or sounds each letter makes, like how a g sounds in goose (the /g/ phoneme) and how it sounds in gel (the /j/ phoneme)
  • How to take apart the sounds in a word and blend them. For example, with jam, the first sound is /j/, the next sound is /ă/, and the last sound is /m/. Then slowly blend them in “jjjaamm.”
  • How groups of letters can work together to make a single sound, like sh in fish. Kids learn these kinds of letter patterns when they study phonics. This is called a digraph phoneme – /sh/ –. Digraphs form when two consonants work together to create a completely different sound, most often seen at the start or end of a word.

Phonemic awareness and proficiency is integral to becoming a successful reader; it is a critical cognitive skill needed to store words for immediate, effortless retrieval, an awareness that sound (phonemes) make up words and those phonemes have distinct articulatory features. Most adults don’t have to think twice about how to sound out a word because we store these words in permanent memory, which requires phoneme-level skills. Phonics is when those sounds are connected to letters and the sound symbol correspondences/ connections are being made which leads to orthographic mapping.

Phoneme awareness difficulties are the most common problem for students who struggle — the vast majority of students with word recognition difficulties lack sufficient phoneme awareness (Kilpatrick, Chapter 4, Equipped for Reading Success, 2016).

Back to Basics – We Must Build Phonological Awareness Skills in Kids

The basic skills of PA – the concept of a spoken word, rhyming, alliteration, and syllable segmentation – can begin in preschool. Reading stories that contain rhyming words and alliteration, as well as engaging students in activities that promote these skills, builds phonological awareness.

Starting in kindergarten, formal instruction in phonological awareness for all students should begin in order to prevent or minimize potential reading difficulties. This should continue throughout the first and second grades. Students who did not receive proper instruction or need continued instruction may require additional one-on-one support.

Some of us threw the baby out with the bathwater through the growth of the ‘whole language’ movement in the United States, which is the idea that children construct their own knowledge and meaning from experience. There was an assumption that teaching kids phonics wasn’t necessary because learning to read was a natural process if children were immersed in a print-rich environment. But learning to read proficiently for many students requires explicit, systematic, and sequential techniques that are the hallmark of effective literacy education in the modern classroom.

Jeanne Jeup is a global literacy advocate, mother, and co-founder, the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE).


Our Students and Educators Are in Crisis But Not For The Reason You Think

By: Jesse Kohler, Christine Mason, PhD and Jeff Ikler

“Violence in Schools Seems to Be Increasing. Why?” — EducationWeek, November 1, 2021

“Why So Many Teachers Are Thinking of Quitting” — The Washington Post Magazine, October 18, 2021

“Classroom Time Isn’t the Only Thing Students Have Lost” — The Atlantic, September 7, 2021

“Too Much Focus on ‘Learning Loss’ Will Be a Historic Mistake” — edutopia, April 16, 2021

“Even before COVID-19 pandemic, youth suicide already at record high” — UC Davis Health Newsroom, April 8, 2021

Headlines like these are increasingly common as school personnel and students attempt to adjust to the current stage of the pandemic. But the reality is the pandemic only exacerbated the trauma that many students were already experiencing. Upwards of 40 percent of students in the U.S., according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, have been exposed to some form of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), not to mention those who have been exposed to other potentially traumatic events and stressors.

The impact on student learning is disastrous. To access the part of our brain where cognitive processing takes place, students must feel safe and secure. Environments that produce feelings of stress and anxiety cause the emotional region of a student’s brain to hijack the cognitive processes in unconscious ways. As one neuroscience researcher recently told us, “If students are in a state of high stress or trauma, the part of the brain that facilitates learning is inaccessible. Student academic achievement rests on the shoulders of student wellness.” Thus, contrary to recent criticisms that it’s not the schools’ role to support a students’ emotional wellbeing, neuroscience tells us that educators can play a critical role if traumatized students are to have an equal shot at academic achievement.

Doubling down on academic rigor – however well-intentioned – is not the answer. Our staff and students need a different, long-term approach to schooling, one that balances the traditional intense focus on academics with one that promotes psycho-social-emotional wellbeing. As a middle school principal recently championed during one of our interviews, “The days of us primarily focusing on academics are over.”

And it’s not just students who are in crisis. Staff are burning out at higher levels than ever before. A principal recently informed us that his district had to cancel school for a day because hundreds of teachers called in sick in need of a mental health day. Dysregulated adults cannot help regulate dysregulated children, so it is equally important that we meet the needs of school staff so that our students’ needs are met.

How do we help students develop a sense of purpose and meaning, so that they feel they can have a positive impact in life?

The stress and adversity that everyone is facing is too overwhelming to ignore any longer. Trauma-informed approaches improve outcomes across school environments and create a better place for all people to be. By addressing the needs that students and staff bring with them to school each day, we can help students better engage with their studies, learn, and develop into the contributing members of society that we so desperately need. By understanding how stress impacts brain functions, we can better support regulation, cultivate resilience, and ultimately help people and environments thrive.

To address the overwhelming adversity and chronic stress that so many staff and students face today, we can teach students regulation skills to increase their ability to focus, learn new skills, and problem solve at school. However, it is an insufficient response if we just expect people to work through difficult experiences. We must create environments that prevent adversity and stress in the first place. To reduce the overall impact of trauma, we must transform our school systems to answer two questions:

  • When students graduate, what do we want them to be able to do with their knowledge and skills as they confront uncertainty in our complex and rapidly evolving world?
  • How do we help students develop a sense of purpose and meaning, so that they feel they can have a positive impact in life?

Many schools, districts, and states have successfully moved toward trauma-informed approaches to create these types of safe and supportive school environments. Our recently launched podcast series — “Cultivating Resilience: A Whole Community Approach to Alleviating Trauma in Schools” — explores promising practices and ways that we can transform the education system to meet the needs of our staff and students. Academics are important, but they’re not more important than students’ mental health and wellbeing. That equal emphasis sets the stage for optimal learning and academic achievement, positive relationships and, ultimately, an improved quality of life.

Jesse Kohler: Executive Director of the Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice

Christine Mason, PhD: Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale University’s School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Program for Recovery and Community Health, and  the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Educational Improvement

Jeff Ikler: Director of Quetico Leadership Coaching and co-host of “Getting Unstuck: Educators Leading Change”


Creating A Collective In Your Classroom: Soulquarians as a Case Study

“In late 90s, as the world transitioned into a new millennium, a collective of musicians known as the Soulquarians was formed. […]

What made the Soulquarians so special was their ability to synthesize different sounds, genres, and themes together in a way that no one had before. After discovering a shared passion for offbeat rhythms and experimental chords, fused with their mutual love of Motown and classic soul, both a common language and beautiful chemistry were established. Each artist brought their own expertise into the mix […] hours of passionate research mixed with joyful experimentation pushed forward the evolution of each song, with each artist adding their own flavor, completing the “cypher” and giving birth to an end product even more powerful than the sum of its parts.”

– Bad Meccouri. An artist, educator, songwriter, and music producer based in Los Angeles. His work has been featured in numerous media outlets including Billboard, BBC 1xtra, Complex, The Fader, & Soulection.

I remember vividly what it was like listening to D’Angelo’s Voodoo album in its entirety for the first time. I remember the dank UMASS Amherst dorm room as if it was yesterday. These were sounds, rhythms, and musicianship I had never heard before. This was unity personified in notes and melodies. This was a spiritual experience for me. I was listening to a collective of human beings acting on a shared vision and creating a seminal artifact of brilliance. These musicians were learners embarking on a shared journey. So how do we root our educational programs and classrooms in the same purpose and joyfulness that yielded such beautiful and important music? We use the framework of “the collective” as our model. We take a lesson from the Soulquarians.

Building Culture and A Shared Journey

What makes athletic teams and musical productions so impactful in schools and universities is that skill building and collaboration are so vital and relevant to a good performance. They are almost visible. The team understands that each member has a role, a unique skill, that when combined with others yields success. A collective of individuals coming together requires a shared set of livable values and agreements amongst teammates. This creates culture and a shared language. It’s the same for a music collective like the Soulquarians.

Where I have had the most success as an educator is when my classrooms and programs became unified around a shared outcome or purpose. For example in my Digital Journalism course our class became a media studio, combining our skills into storytelling products. Now, students were transformed into members of a collective building something together and sharing it out with the world. This collective formed a shared culture and purpose, leading to a shared journey amongst my students.

The brilliant educator and strategist J Ross Peters, writes, “When a group of people has a shared space to come together and they have permission to uncover and reveal their gifts, the artifacts they leave behind are often astounding. Additionally, what can happen in those communities when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, is electric.” The revealing of a learner’s gifts within a collective who understands and celebrates them is transformative for a learner. It builds a sense of confidence and belonging, as well as a realization that they are worthy of partnership and being on a team.

A Diversity of Technical Skill Sets

In the case of the Soulquarians, a collective of musicians came together to co-create each other’s albums. The musical skills of drums, guitar, vocals, songwriting, bass, horns, piano, and production combined to create potent album after potent album. The unique technical skills and capacities of each member yielded a product/artifact. The same can occur in a classroom. Imagine a team composed of a writer, coder, graphic designer, and videographer. By having these students partner together around their diverse technical skills they can accomplish more and gain the real world insights of a high functioning team. Through this they also are shown the importance of their own technical skills. So many times in schools learners dread group work. The motivated student ends up doing all of the work, and students don’t understand the importance of collaboration. However when students partner with others who have a key technical skill they themselves do not, collaboration now has relevance and purpose. They are able to tackle larger problems, make a bigger impact, create something that reaches more people. This is the power of the collective.

The Technical Skills of Working with Other Human Beings

In journalism, convergence is the act of combining multiple forms of media to tell a more effective story. For photography, videography, writing, and audio to live on the same page, amplifying the story and reaching a wider audience. Convergence for the Soulqarians was a like minded group of music historians and innovators combining their skill sets into a tapestry of funk and soul. From ideation to research, from project management to song development, the skills of working with other human beings were honed. This can be the same outcome in the classroom when learners are in a collective, creating a project together. The skills of compromise, communication, empathy, and actually listening when someone else is speaking now have greater importance as they determine the success of a project or venture that has meaning to the learners. The ability to have difficult conversations and to grapple with disagreements and a difference of opinion leads to growth and an understanding of how effective teams work in the world outside of school. Students learn how to thrive even when things fall apart, and can get through the discomfort. So take a lesson from the Soulquarians. Turn your classroom into a collective.

“Creating a space of shared passion, trust, and ultimately joy empowered each individual to not only give their best but also surpass their limitations. That is the power of the collective, regardless of the task, if a group of people can incorporate these principles, great results will be achieved.” – Badi Meccouri. 


Activating Our Passport to Early Learning Education

The earliest years of education for children matters. And while it has taken as long as until 2021 for America to highlight a promising early learning policy, there is renewed hope once more, that the foundational significance of early learning education will finally have its spotlight.

While President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan will contribute to restoring a healthy mind frame around why early learning initiatives matter institutionally, it’s leaders like Neal Shenoy, Founder and CEO of BEGiN, the parent company of HOMER, who have been championing space and innovation for early learning education in the home.  

“Early learning to some degree is the preventative medicine to education because you’re starting early, setting a strong foundation, and that’s going to create far better outcomes and far better trajectories for young children,” he shares.

So why is the most innovation in education really only happening in post-secondary and K-12 sectors?

“That makes sense,” Shenoy shares, “because you’re talking about older learners and a very established need. From test prep and college admissions to high school grades, professional lead skilling, and accreditation, you’ve seen in the past few years, a tremendous capital flow into those segments of education. But what you haven’t seen is that same level of innovation and scale brought to early learning,” he details.

Yet there’s hope. “We’re now starting to see a shift towards focusing on early learning. I think part of what’s catalyzing that shift is the pandemic,” says Shenoy.

“Parents of early learners appreciate the critical role they have to play as a family or parent in complementing the school. Schools can do a certain job but we as parents and families have to support and scaffold that child and in many instances, parents are a child’s first teacher. What’s really been underscored is the role of the home in learning relative to the role of the classroom or school.”

Parents are looking for comprehensive solutions that engage their children in learning.

Neal Shenoy

And while there has only been one company to date that has been apparent in the early learning space, another is quickly entering the scene.

BEGiN, an award-winning education company focused on early learning, has a mission to offer children the best start possible through memberships that combine digital, physical, and experiential learning. It’s a company that prides itself not only by offering access to early learning content but by offering all-inclusive solutions from HOMER, KidPass, codeSpark Academy, and now Little Passports.

Because as we know, not all content is created equal. From books to toys to activities to big and little screens, children are inundated with information whether parents are being intentional about it or not. So how can we ensure that the content they consume aligns with what we want our children to learn about and hold value in?

“Parents are looking for comprehensive solutions that engage their children in learning,” says Shenoy. And the recent acquisition of Little Passports does just that.

Not only does Little Passports support BEGiN’s mission, but it also adds extra elements of cultural learning and inclusivity through enriching globally-inspired activities, hands-on projects, and relatable characters. Essentially, Little Passports is a subscription for your child to travel the world and learn about different cultures.

The one-of-a-kind activity kits are delivered straight to your home. It ignites imagination and opens the door to a new way to see the world and explore science. It’s also designed in conjunction with professional educators, award-winning writers, and kid testers.

“It’s more important than ever that families have a multitude of enrichment options to help their kids develop critical skills while opening their minds, inspiring their curiosity, and igniting their imagination,” said Amy Norman, Founder and CEO of Little Passports.

“BEGiN is innovating on solutions that empower kids to develop both foundational skills and an array of interests that are so critical to becoming well-rounded individuals.”


Afterschool Programs: Serving as Centers for Support, Access, and Equity

As children and families in their community adapt to the challenging circumstances and stressors created by the pandemic, afterschool programs continue to be a source of support. Programs have aided in the provision of meals, connections to the community, and support for essential workers.

Afterschool programs across the country quickly adapted and maintain meaningful connections for children and families who had been separated from their peers during the school closure. These programs are a lifeline for many families as they continue to:

  • Provide childcare, academic tutoring, and other related services.
  • Support for social and emotional well-being; collaborate with schools on hybrid learning environments.
  • Create opportunities for project-based workforce and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Feed hungry children and connect families to resources available on the ground.

Besides providing essential services for youth and families, out-of-school time programs have helped children catch up on the learning they have lost as they prepared to reenter school and other activities after a year of isolation. According to Afterschool Alliance, afterschool and summer programs during the pandemic have helped to:

  • Close the achievement gap by providing students with more time for deeper learning and the extra help they need to recover from learning loss due to school closures and disrupted schedules.
  • Address student mental health by connecting young people with caring mentors who are trained to help youth build healthy relationships and heal from trauma.
  • Ensure child safety by partnering with schools to offer families a safe place for children to learn both during and beyond the school day, allowing parents to return to work or take time to seek employment.
  • Support nutrition by feeding hungry children. The pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity and out-of-school time programs are seeing a significant increase in hungry children.
  • Promote physical activity by encouraging physical health and wellness. Physical activity is especially important now as many students are in virtual or hybrid-learning and children have limited options for daily exercise.
  • Address Inequities: Access to out-of-school time programs is not always equitable. In the United States, for every child in an afterschool program, three are waiting to get in. School-age children spend more than 80 percent of their waking hours learning outside of school, making afterschool and summer learning programs key to ensuring kids reach their full potential. Out-of-school time programs are embedded in neighborhoods throughout the nation, uniquely positioning these programs to help families through this pandemic. These localized programs ensure young people have access to safe, quality programs that offer expanded learning opportunities and nutritious meals, and connect parents with health care, employment, and other resources.

According to Afterschool Alliance, 78% of parents, who have their child enrolled in an afterschool program, state that it has helped them to keep their jobs during the pandemic. A notable example of the power of afterschool programs to effect change during the pandemic at the state level is the SC Afterschool Alliance (SCAA).

The SC Afterschool Alliance has a network of over 1,400 afterschool programs impacting over 100,000 K-12 students.

Antonio Boyd

SCAA’s mission is to raise awareness, increase sustainability, and promote the importance of quality afterschool and summer learning programs. The overall goal of the SC Afterschool Alliance (SCAA) is to establish a statewide network of diverse stakeholders that will guide, support, and enable quality afterschool services and policies for all children and youth. The organization represents over 1,400 individual and diverse organizations.

The SCAA has four main priorities:

  • Education and Communication
  • Advocacy
  • Technical Assistance
  • Partnerships and Collaboration

I was able to speak with Zelda Waymer, President, and CEO of the SC Afterschool Alliance about the innovative programs and services the alliance and its providers have delivered to children and parents during the pandemic.

A person standing at a podium  Description automatically generated with medium confidence

She shared that as the pandemic evolved and progressed, schools across South Carolina grappled with the massive and uncharted task of bringing our students back into school buildings safely and preparing for an uncertain year ahead. We knew there would be a need for more support, staff, resources, and spaces to help students catch up, re-engage, and recover from the learning loss and social isolation. But families were struggling too—moms and dads were not able to return to work because their kids were still at home doing remote school. Many working families could not find or afford care for their school-age kids during the day.

The SC Afterschool Alliance has a network of over 1,400 afterschool programs impacting over 100,000 K-12 students. These network programs and staff have longstanding relationships with families and schools in every community across South Carolina. Afterschool programs were ready to help and offer immediate resources—including their facilities, staff, and connections—to address challenges parents face in getting back to work. Many of our local afterschool programs pivoted to remain open, continued to serve students and families. Our network program providers offered support in the following ways:

  • Time – Afterschool programs expanded their time providing services all day. Afterschool and summer programs have always provided critical academic support and youth development services for K-12 students and their families outside of traditional school hours. When schools offered remote learning or a staggered schedule, these wraparound services were essential for allowing parents to work.
  • Space – Network programs operate in a variety of settings, often moving between classrooms and community spaces. Afterschool programs expanded learning and engagement to include community centers, parks, libraries, and more. Providing safe places for students to learn remotely was critical for helping parents especially essential works and first responders return to their jobs and feel at ease knowing their children are safe.
  • Staff – We provide additional staffing capacity, including professionals who are trained in positive youth development, online learning, and trauma-informed care. Having more staff was especially critical for keeping kids supervised and helping them recover from learning loss and the social isolation forced by the pandemic.
  • Engaging parents and families – Many families were in crisis, need additional supports, and struggled to stay connected. Because of our programs’ deep relationships with families and community partners, and a long history of coordinating services to meet families’ economic, health, food, and other needs.
  • Innovation – Afterschool programs were able to step in with flexibility and pivot quickly as school schedules and educational delivery systems shifted. Programs were able to offer safe, developmentally rich settings to provide new learning opportunities that engaged students in meaningful projects and activities correlated to academic achievement.

During the initial pandemic lockdown, The SC Afterschool Alliance reached out to the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project at Winthrop University to address social-emotional development through the arts for the entire family. Every Friday, virtual dance classes, arts, and theater for all ages we hosted. In partnership with Claflin University, a Biomedical/Biomaterial Summer Internship was launched for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The program gave students an opportunity to live on campus for 5 weeks providing a true college experience. Students were also matched with a research scientist or chemist to work side by side in a research laboratory. Giving students a vision of someone that looks like them in the STEM field. The past two summers were virtual with several visits to Claflin’s Campus.

A special partnership with the University of South Carolina will allow 8,000 college students across eight campuses to be trained and serve as volunteer mentors and instructors in local summer and afterschool programs and receive credit hours for their civic engagement. College students are trained to deliver the College and Career Digital Badges. We are excited about the positive impact college students will have on our younger students. Students participating in these programs will have a greater connection to caring adults, greater support academically, fun STEM, and greater possibilities to succeed in life. 

The recent investment of $1.3 Million dollars by the South Carolina State Department of Education in partnership with The Riley Institute at Furman University in a new afterschool and summer leadership learning program called SCALE will certainly aid to bring support, access and equity in afterschool education.


Black Men Educators Conference Recap

The Black Men Educators Conference (BMEC) 2021, produced and hosted by the Center for Black Educator Development, brought together black male educators and those who support them. This included school and district leaders, superintendents, nonprofit education leaders, higher education leaders and administrators, education advocates, secondary and post-secondary learners, and education policy leaders focusing on deeply provocative and empowering live sessions, workshops, and keynotes delivered by distinguished speakers from across the United States.

Why the emphasis on black-male educators? Emir Davis, a former teacher, principal, district administrator, and the current Director of Black Male Engagement at the Center for Black Educator Development, served as the conference emcee and opened the conference with daunting statistics. “The problem we face is that 2% of educators were black men before the pandemic (2019), and that number has declined to 1.6% in 2021.” These abysmal numbers shed light on a profound lack of inclusion and access that black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) have to the education profession in general, while pointing to the specific impact of this systemic issue on black men. The two-day conference was a tour-de-force in awareness, advocacy, and renewal for educators and leaders, laying the foundation of its vision and mission by two deeply impactful keynote speakers.

Curtis Valentine delivered the first keynote address. Valentine is the Founder of Real Men Teach, a national campaign to recruit and retain male educators of color by reimagining and reinvesting in the profession. He also serves as Co-Director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Reinventing America’s Schools Project, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is in his third term as a Prince George’s County (MD) Board of Education member.

Valentine spoke about the importance of creating equitable access to a high-quality, world-class education for learners of color. He discussed how black parents, educators, learners, and leaders came together historically (and contemporarily) to provide access to the education their children deserve and the abject hurdles intended to squelch and suppress access that accompanied the work. “Black-led schools controlled the education of black kids,” during de jure educational segregation, black parents and leaders came together to build and donate school buildings, supplies, and all other resources to educate their children, which occurred even in schools that sought to integrate, physically, but not curricular-ly.

The aforementioned is a nod to the “false promise of integration,” a particular fact more properly elucidated by a workshop presented by Dr. Jarvis Givens in his deeply relevant and provocative new text, Fugitive Pedagogy, Carter G Woodson, and the Art of Black Teaching (Harvard University Press, 2021). Dr. Givens is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Faculty Affiliate in the African and African American Studies department at Harvard University. He specializes in the history of education, African American history, and theories of race and power in education.

Dr. Givens’ workshop explored themes of resistance in the history of black education, focusing specifically on Dr. Carter G. Woodson and African American teachers through the Jim Crow era. As previously mentioned, this text implicitly discusses arguments apropos the false promise of curricular integration by elucidating examples of black educators in the Jim Crow south that taught texts by Carter G. Woodson in classrooms in defiance of anti-black curricula and other educational resources. Dr. Woodson, the second black man to graduate from Harvard University with a Ph.D. and a lifelong educator, was a central figure in what Dr. Givens terms a fugitive pedagogy that existed for generations among black educators and still impacts education today. Fugitive pedagogy seeks to provide a definitional understanding of “African American physical and intellectual acts that explicitly challenged anti-black protocols of education and domination…”

The problem we face is that 2% of educators were black men before the pandemic (2019), and that number has declined to 1.6% in 2021.

Center for Black Educator Development

Dr. Woodson founded black history month to celebrate blackness, culture — across the diaspora, and so much more. Black educators would surreptitiously teach black history and texts in integrated school buildings, often with the door open because of racist monitoring protocols as an act of defiance, revolution, and epistemic disobedience. “To survive, we have to grow our own. Grow our schools, curriculum, and yes, educators,” Curtis Valentine’s words saliently encapsulate a central point, that the work of educating BIPOC students in a society that seeks to marginalize, erase, and ignore them, their histories, and access to a lever of true liberation, i.e., education, requires the entire community to come together to do everything necessary to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status.

Lorenzo P. Lewis delivered the second keynote address; he is a behavioral health expert who has used his testimony and experience as a foundation for challenging the stigma of mental health issues. Lewis is the founder of The Confess Project, in which the organization facilitates conversations in 13 US cities, specifically for boys and men of color, in barbershops around mental health awareness. Lewis, during his keynote, entitled, “A letter to my younger self,” offered the following, “…We gotta take care of our kids. Them our boys and girls. The village gotta step in — the revolution must go on. How will you be able to go and support and render our young brothers that need us?”

Lewis, as a mental health expert and advocate, does not simply speak of education revolution as the curriculum or hiring and retention practices. He explicitly wants it to encompass mental health for BIPOC learners and educators. Through bold, honest, and deeply personal storytelling, Lewis tells his story of being born in jail to an incarcerated mother, his struggle with depression, anxiety, and anger throughout his youth, to the point of being at-risk for recidivism. This compelling narrative serves as the catalyst and bedrock for The Confess Project, an initiative that confronts the stigma around mental health for men of color.

Isaiah R. Walker is principal at KIPP Philadelphia Preparatory Academy where he manages and mentors multiple Principals in Residence (PIR) in Philadelphia. Most recently one of his PIRs has become a school leader this year at one of the KIPP elementary schools. Why does the problem of educator diversity exist? This query posed by Walker is relevant to understanding the issue as a whole and the subtle or siloed elements such as traumatic experiences faced by educators and learners of color.

Walker brings in James Baldwin’s magnum opus, The Fire Next Time, to lay bare his response to anti-black racist education practices and its once de jure and now de facto structural and systemic existence and lingering residue. “The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not justify your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear (The Fire Next Time, Baldwin).” The quotation, albeit a fragment, served as the framework for Walker’s workshop on Strategies to Support and Retain BIPOC Educators by Emphasizing Instructional Expertise.

At Walker’s school, he starts with the fundamental belief that their educators – particularly their BIPOC educators – want to be true experts in their craft to provide the very best to their students. They believe – as a leadership team – that their educators are the most dedicated and driven people. Thus, they have a manifest commitment to provide the most comprehensive and robust professional development to their faculty. Walker developed and released a survey for BIPOC male educators at his school to understand their needs and aspirations to provide the most relevant and optimal professional support through the explicit identification of individual developmental needs of its black male faculty. From this, Walker and his team set a standard for professional growth in the building. Walker developed an 80-90-100 model for task planning and learning design, which inherently builds expertise by setting and raising the bar higher (graphic below). Additionally, they held school-based events with families and the broader community about emphasizing high standards of professional growth and instructional expertise to get the whole community involved to ensure the most optimal results for all learners.

The goal of BMEC 2021 is to continue the work of building a national multigenerational network of black male educators as a response to historical and contemporary structural and institutional educational inequities and outcomes. The upshot is to rectify academic and socioemotional outcomes for all learners through enhanced and sustained exposure to high-quality, diverse educators, especially black-male educators. And the buck does not stop there; the organizers and attendees believe that mental-health care is inextricably bound to the overall progress of this movement. “Teaching is a revolutionary act…education is the purest form of activism” perfectly sums up the conference as it denotes the revitalization of “fugitive pedagogical” practices during a time when Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the piece de resistance on the proverbial legislative chopping block across state legislatures in the southern region of the US. More disparagingly, male educator statistics are in a deep declination. So the question is, what can we do to fix the problem?


Equity and ESSER: Why You Should Prioritize Supporting Students With Disabilities With Your Federal COVID Relief Dollars

By: Sheryl Gomez and Jasmine Tucker

As school leaders welcomed students back to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year, they began to determine how to spend the more than $190 billion in federal COVID relief dollars for K-12 including the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. (Find out how much your state is getting here.)

Today, school leaders are probing how they can spend money to support the unique needs of at-risk and low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, racial and ethnic minorities, and systems-involved youth.

At Brooklyn Laboratory High School (Brooklyn LAB), we serve all learners and prioritize those who are historically underserved in our school system, especially students with disabilities. At Brooklyn LAB, we’ve learned that when schools prioritize the students most at the margins they can create an equitable school community.

Federal COVID-19 relief funds offer a historic moment for America to create schools that work for all. Schools have the potential to transform education—during the pandemic and beyond—if educators and school leaders continue to place historically disadvantaged students at the core.

How Schools Can Support the Needs of Students with Disabilities

Many school leaders see COVID-19 federal relief funds as an opportunity to build equity into their education budgets. This process is an acknowledgement that our school system wasn’t perfect before COVID-19: It too often marginalized students with disabilities, students of color, and students economically disadvantaged.

The need to create a more equitable system is even more present in the wake of COVID-19 and remote learning. The pandemic exacerbated social-emotional and academic learning gaps for students with disabilities. In fact, parents of children with individualized education programs (IEPs) were more than twice as likely to say their child was doing little to no remote learning, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Brooklyn LAB has always worked to reimagine a broken education system—rethinking an entrenched and inequitable system is at the core of our work.

Sheryl Gomez and Jasmine Tucker

Brooklyn LAB has always worked to reimagine a broken education system—rethinking an entrenched and inequitable system is at the core of our work. At Brooklyn LAB, complex learners make up 30 percent of the student body. Our school never had the option to overlook these students. Our experience working to help and prioritize students worst positioned to succeed gives us unique expertise in guiding the use of COVID-19 federal relief dollars.

At Brooklyn LAB, the principles of human-centered design guide our approach to education. We often collaborate with partners and invite our community to share their needs and experience. To inform our approach—and gather insights for this article—we reached out to our colleagues at Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA) and other partners to capture how they think we can continue to work to center students with disabilities with our use of these federal dollars.

Three Ways Federal Covid Relieve Dollars Can Help Students With Disabilities

1. It’s time to invest in learning—for teachers. 

Historically, we ask children with disabilities to adapt due to inadequate support and resources at our schools. One of the best ways to change our approach is by building the capacity of our teachers to meet the needs of children with disabilities better.

“Funds should develop the teacher capacity for accelerating learning, personalization, and differentiated instruction,” said Monica Martinez, director of strategic initiatives of the Learning Policy Institute. This includes embracing the evidence-based pillars for community schools. In a recent article on how to prioritize diverse learners, the Diverse Learners Cooperative also emphasized the need to target the best diverse learner-focused training and organizational capacity.

Lauren Rhim, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Learner Equity, outlined how prioritizing teacher capacity with COVID-19 federal relief could address short-term gaps in the learning continuity for students by training general education teachers to differentiate instruction within inclusive classrooms. To lay the foundation for long-term change, schools can also use the funding to support new approaches that address the backlog of special education referrals and provide specialized therapies that students missed out on due to school shutdowns.

2. Partnerships are paramount. 

The pandemic revealed that community is an essential support system. As we look to build equity into education, we should identify partners who share goals of equality and who have the expertise we may lack within our schools.

For instance, schools, districts, and community organizations can partner to offer extracurricular activities and summer programs for students. These could help students receive mentorship, express themselves creatively, and reconnect after a traumatic and isolating year.

Lisa Thomas, associate director in educational issues with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), suggested partnering with local community colleges who are training paraprofessionals. These students need professional development experience, and local schools could use their skills to work closely with students with disabilities and other high-need students. The federal relief funds are an opportunity to strengthen those connections.

“Those types of partnerships and collaborations are absolutely essential to helping bridge that gap between higher education and all of the credentialing processes” that allow community educators to gain access to the teaching profession, Thomas said.

3. Every Dollar Matters.

It’s not enough to spend more. School leaders need to spend smarter by taking a holistic, integrated approach to the budgeting process and planning for long-term sustainability of the funds. Resources like KnowledgeWorks’ common sense guide to using federal education funds provide practical ideas and examples of district funding to promote more equitable learning environments.

Additionally, Tamara Mitchell reflected on equity in school districts for ASBO’s School Business Affairs magazine. She explained that data-driven budgetary decisions as well as collaboration with education and community stakeholders and partnerships with marginalized populations can address equity issues in schools.

Investing in lasting change

By spending smarter and investing in teachers, the COVID-19 federal relief funds give us an opportunity to embrace longer-term thinking—to transform education with equity at the core. These funds are required to be spent within three years, but, used wisely, the windfall can help change the education system permanently.

To invest in lasting change, we want to prioritize the students least set up to succeed. By creating an education system that works for the students most at the margin, we create an education system that will better support all learners. Lindsay Jones, CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, recommends that schools focus on three key levers: high-quality, accessible, and inclusive academic instruction; effective progress-monitoring and accurate evaluations for specialized instruction; and meaningful family support and engagement. This will help ensure that approaches are high-quality and accessible to every student.

After 18 months dominated by COVID-19, schools have a chance to consider where they want to be in three or four years. As David Rosenberg, partner at Education Resource Strategies mused “It can’t just be recovery and pullback, it has to be recovery, redesign, and shift.”

For more recommendations and resources for how to leverage federal COVID relief dollars to fuel transformation in service of equity, see: https://xqsuperschool.org/rethinktogether/arp-esser/ 

The article was originally published by XQ on Rethink Together.

Sheryl Gomez is the Chief Financial Officer at Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools and Jasmine Tucker is the High School Director at Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools.


Decentering Whiteness from Our American Schools

There is a narrative surrounding decentering whiteness in American education spaces. It is substantiated by culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum. It incorporates trauma-informed practices and whole child support. It names ways that traditional systems oppress and harm children. It identifies ways education structures minoritized students who do not subscribe to the white normative culture and ways of learning. It tells a story of where the work should go and how progress is being made.

In reality, there is little to any real progress that has been made in our American education system since its inception, and in fact, in our current politically charged post-Trump atmosphere there is a reenergized resistance to anti-racist efforts and aligned attempts to decenter whiteness in our learning cultures that organize school board elections and legislation to prohibit any challenge to the power of whiteness in American school systems.

While socially this may have seemed to not be the case in the wake of George Floyd’s murder — the significant din surrounding straightforward efforts to teach students about the history of race relations in the U.S. (largely targeted at the dog whistle of “Critical Race Theory”) would say otherwise. Our American democratic structure was designed with a belief that counternarratives were essential to our growth; this is under threat.

The conversations that are currently surfacing around ‘how might I better teach Black learners?’ is itself framed problematically. Not only does this framing oversimplify the challenge, it reduces it and exemplifies the need for decentralizing. (It also normalizes the concept that we were meeting the needs of non-black learners.) Zaretta Hammond, esteemed author of Culturally Relevant Teaching and the Brain, would thoughtfully advise us to stop teaching as if all students learn the same and certainly to stop teaching in a manner as to reinforce and normalize expectations that fit the mold of a “dominant white culture.”

Decentering whiteness is not decentering white people. Whiteness is not emblematic of a race of people; it is the pervasive dominant culture in the United States. This culture erases any validity of other cultures or ways of being. It is the normed reference for what is often “proper,” “appropriate,” “successful,” and “worthy.” American school systems are set up, implemented and measured by whiteness standards.

The Journey Ahead

This will not be easy work and with difficult work there is resistance. Decentering requires a shift of learning paradigms, and shifting these paradigms requires most in education settings to question and refine their viewpoints, identities and ways of thinking. Such work is rarely ‘new,’ but rather repackaged in a way that is designed to make the pill easier to swallow. Thus the widely (and falsely) accepted belief that we are somehow improving in our efforts to be more equitable by asking how one can teach a group of people better, and the widely (and falsely) held perspective that awareness of a problem equals change.

Instead, we should be focused on the concept of personalizing learning for every learner that centers the agency of each learner, and not the righteousness of education systems. This change in teaching and learning challenges prevailing theories and assumptions about how humans learn and collaborate. It also changes the way we see society, roles, personal and group identities. It changes the way we see ourselves and one another. It also changes the DNA of American educational institutions.

Naming whiteness and seeing how it shows up in the fabric of your educational system is a key first step.

Kelly Niccolls, Rebecca Midles, Susan Enfield

The global Covid 19 pandemic created an opportunity for more widespread openness to shifting the way we “do school” in America. But what has surfaced in the immediacy of the new school year, is an immediate bounce back to muscle memory of the school of years past, standardized assessments, comparative models and grade-level expectations that discount the needs for the human condition and need for connection and purpose in a global pandemic era.

As we begin to embrace the concept of not ‘doing school as usual’ then we have to look at the role of whiteness, white culture and white supremacy have had in our learning system and our society. Within this exploration, we have to think about the role of educators in service to learners and to a more equitable society. Moving from teaching ‘about racism’ in units and courses to rebuilding how we frame learning, the process, the reporting and the celebrating.

Self Reflective Questions to Shift the “Center” of Whiteness

  • Who is determining success?
  • What are the students asking for?
  • How do we know this to be true?
  • Who do we see, hear, and collaborate with in this learning experience?
  • Why is that considered expertise?
  • Is each child seen, valued, and loved as their authentic selves? How do we know?
  • Why are we uncomfortable with this?
  • Who else can do this?
  • What did our parents say about that idea?
  • Who’s convenience is centered in this decision?

Small Steps Continue Toward Change

You can’t overthrow the education system in the name of decentering whiteness. Overthrowing is a colonial tool, and colonization is part of whiteness. In order to decenter whiteness, you must use tools and approaches that do not subscribe to or result in the pervasive dominant cultural norms. Taking steps to shift a decision-making process or hiring process can result in outcomes that no longer hold whiteness at the center. Shifting organizational structures (like removing organizational hierarchy charts) and titles can no longer hold whiteness at the center. Turning to wonder instead of depending on expertise is decentering whiteness. Naming whiteness and seeing how it shows up in the fabric of your educational system is a key first step. Being overwhelmed by expectation or immediate results is in fact, another tactic and tool of whiteness.

In order to sustain the change, the journey must be the new way of being as an educational system rather than an intended outcome. Take the small steps and keep walking. Share your learning story. Share that your story will never end, as learning never ends. Walk alongside others and learn from them. Hold on to the abundance of possibility and the wealth of the community. Each step taken that centers the well-being and actualization of each and every child as their authentic self is a step that no longer centers whiteness and surely shifts the educational space to the future of all in its belonging.


A Dashboard is Not A Plan

By: Dr. D’Andre Weaver and Dr. Eric J Ban

User-Centered Design, Digital Credentials, Case Management, and Progress Monitoring in DeSoto ISD

While education leaders are focused on equity, they are also seeking to understand student performance and student needs. A line of questioning could look like:

  • What % of students show up in a 2- or 4-year college by gender, race, ethnicity?
  • What % progress to college completion and living wage workforce entry?
  • What did we do here in the school district to ensure their success and how can we do more of that? Was it rigorous courses, extra-curricular participation, a caring adult mentor, an authentic work-based learning experience, or helping them complete their financial aid and select a well matched college option?

Now more than ever, education leaders are seeking more holistic insights to support students on their college, career, and life journey. Technology vendors are responding to this need by showing up with promises of educational equity via new and exciting dashboards. A dashboard is not a plan. DeSoto Independent School District (ISD) will develop new and exciting dashboards as the result of a plan to address educational equity through user-centered design, digital credentials, case management, and progress monitoring (dashboards).

Now more than ever, education leaders are seeking more holistic insights to support students on their college, career, and life journey.

Dr. D’Andre Weaver and Dr. Eric J Ban

User Centered Design:

  • Students: A portrait of a DeSoto graduate has been defined by and with students to outline important skills, credentials, and currency. Students are then setting college and career goals and need routine insights from their data to understand how they track against those goals. Finally, students are developing the power to define their narrative and place themselves on the market for scholarships, college, and jobs.
  • Educators: A data map defined by teachers, advisors, and administrators has been developed against the DeSoto portrait of a graduate to include a holistic view of the student from attendance, academics, engagement in extra-curricular, career experiences, mental health, and basic family needs. Next, case management functionality is defined by educators with clear data governance so that adults in the building see the appropriate information they need at the point of decision making.
  • Administration: Defines the data and visualizations to track progress across key district indicators in real time. This data is tightly aligned with the student portraits, the specific work that teachers, counselors, and advisors oversee, and district equity goals. This activity creates the requirements for the “Dashboard”.

Digital Credentials: Students and parents own their data in the form of a comprehensive learner record (CLR). This is a digital wallet where students can build their profile or narrative that results in a “verified Linked-In.” Students set goals for their future and the school district writes routine information to their digital wallet that helps them see and understand if they are on track to reach their goals. The learner record also has a college enrollment fast pass where students upload all their verified documents like their transcripts, fee waiver form, proof of residency and others where our regional colleges and universities accept the “fast pass” to direct enrollment.

Case Management: Educators don’t login to a dozen different systems at DeSoto ISD. They login to a customer relationship management (CRM) tool where the data they defined from the student information system (grades and attendance), the learning management system (completing assignments), assessment vendor portals (PSAT, ACT, AP), college and career guidance systems (college goals), state financial aid systems (financial aid), college systems (dual credit), social and emotional learning referral systems (basic needs and mental health referrals), all converge around a common student record. This CRM allows educators to build tiered support and cases for students so that a counselor, a teacher, and an administrator more securely and safely share information on a student with shared accountability.

Progress Monitoring: DeSoto ISD leadership now can view the plan for educational equity in a beautiful dashboard. The important point is that the data that feeds the DeSoto ISD dashboard emerges from the plan to support the needs of every student by empowering students and the educators who support them. This type of progress monitoring is truly improvement science, where the people doing the work have addressed the root causes of our inequitable student journeys and have the real-time data and tools to effectively intervene.

IT & Data Resources: School districts have one set of IT and data resources. Think carefully about how these resources are leveraged. When most are rushing to build a dashboard first, it requires the same amount of time to move data into a digital wallet and a CRM that will feed the dashboard as it does to move all that data into a dashboard. 

Resources:

Assessing the performance and needs of your learners helps to sure equity remains your epicenter. Student support can come in many forms though note that while a dashboard is not a plan, developing one is the result of a plan built for all learners in mind. 

Dr. D’Andre Weaver is the Superintendent of DeSoto ISD.

Dr. Eric J Ban is the Executive Director of Economic Mobility Systems.


7 Ways to Use Screencastify for In-Person Learning

The new school year has arrived and many learners have found their way back (or are stepping foot for the very first time) into their classrooms. For many educators, a brand new school year represents an opportunity to build on the innovative ways to structure classroom learning, keep students engaged, and keep families connected.

Last school year, many educators gravitated toward Screencastify as their go-to video creation suite and it’s no surprise that it remains a top resource for educators moving forward. Here are seven ways educators like you are using Screencastify for innovative classroom instruction and learning:

1. Amplify Student Voice

When students feel seen and heard, they can feel empowered too. Joanna Marcotte from The Founders Academy found an innovative way to carve space for student voice in her classroom this year that others can easily adopt.

“I had students create a video about what they did…in the spring, during their summer, or share other interests and passions. It was great to be able to hear student voices. It was nice to see all of my students without a mask and helped to put names to faces..”

2. Flip the Classroom

Brian Kowalsky of Strafford Public Schools pre-teaches concepts and skills through pre-recorded lectures that allow learners to “navigate through class projects at their own pace.”

Having pre-recorded video lessons available also encourages space for more learner engagement and builds in time for more questions and clarifications on lessons during instruction time.

3. Support for Parents

It’s important that parents and families also understand how to operate digital resources to help support their learners who return to the classroom. For Britt Eddy, a teacher from Dr. Kevin M. Hurley Middle School, finding ways to support them through video can be as simple as creating how to’s for parents that explain how to access their student’s work, new assignments, or grades.

4. Support for Teachers

Similarly, teachers may also need somewhere to reference to gain knowledge on the latest education trends. Through Screencastify, one educator supports his fellow teachers through video creation.

“I am using it to create short how to videos to share with my colleagues in an effort to help teachers learn about new technologies, strategies, and ways to positively connect with students and positively influence teaching and learning.”

5. Encourage Literacy

The power of video also has the potential to forge a new love of reading and books. Barstow Middle School teacher Lauren Vandever shares:

“I use Screencastify to make and share book talk videos with my students. We also used it to have other teachers in the district film book talk videos. This encourages literacy, and students see reading as a lifelong experience and habit rather than an assignment.”

6. Google Slides

Pairing this tool with others like Google Slides helps educators present high-quality lessons with ease. Recording a presentation using Screencastify requires minimal effort for educators like Chris Lauzon from the District School Board of Niagara.

“For every google slide we have, we have Screencastify audios and videos of everything to make sure that all of our learner needs and styles are being met.”

Similarly, students can also use Screencastify Submit for a “fast, secure, and easy way to record and submit video assignments.”

7. Window to the World

Another superpower of video has always been its ability to span across regions. Video plays a huge role in connecting remote and isolated communities that present barriers in access to experiences and resources. Heidi Hague of Hoquiam School District shares how she uses video as a window to the world:

“We live in a very small and isolated community so these videos give me the opportunity to include slides of famous artworks, landscapes, or other “windows to the world” to my students. So far I’ve done units on fairy tales and tall tales, Ancient China and India, Ancient Greece and soon I’ll be doing Greek Mythology.”

Video plays a huge role in connecting remote and isolated communities that present barriers in access to experiences and resources.

Ashley Ranan

The Path Forward

As we continue into the school year, how will you use the power of video to empower your learners? Screencastify has helped thousands of educators become more innovative in reaching and engaging with students through the power of video while carving digital paths for our learners today, and for tomorrow.

This post is sponsored by Screencastify. If you’d like to learn more about our policies and practices regarding sponsored content, please email Jessica Slusser.