It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when handing a student a calculator to work through algebraic equations caused many teachers and parents great consternation. It makes you wonder what type of pushback the creators of the abacus faced! In both cases, while the tools students were using may have been more advanced than previous generations’, the goal remained the same – to enhance classroom learning.

But before moving forward with technology integration, every school must first have a great, robust and adaptable academic curriculum. Only then can you begin to find ways in which technology can help to elevate it. It’s important to never force fit technology – if it’s not supplementing what’s already happening in the classroom or a teacher’s goals for the school year, the addition will become more of a barrier to learning than a catalyst.

A Few Questions to Consider

We live in an era where schools are praised simply for putting iPads in the hands of their students. While familiarization with new technologies can certainly benefit students, ask yourself the following questions before implementing any new tech into the classroom:

  • Regardless of the technology, what’s the most important lesson for students to learn?
  • Why do I need to use technology in my daily curriculum?
  • How are these tech tools enhancing what we’re doing?
  • What will the students do with these tools – during and after class?

Read more ...

The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition

The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools.

Finland Comes to England - Primary

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Finland Comes to England - Secondary

Published on Jul 10, 2013 - © Crown Copyright. Provided by Education not Limited 
Further resources available on
Licensed to Education not Limited formerly The Artists' Guild Ltd. 
Licence information available at

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Google's New Guide for Integrating Technology in Schools

See also

January 11, 2015
Google for Education has recently published this wonderful guide to help schools make a seamless shift into the world of digital learning and teaching. The guide is geared towards assisting schools integrate innovative educational technologies using a five step approach. Here is a brief overview of the main headlines of this guide. You can access the full unabridged guide from this LINK.

1- Define Your Goals

  • Understand what your school hopes to achieve by getting education online
  • Map your IT needs and consider open technology
  • Align with your stakeholders on the technical requirements and potential solution offerings
  • Determine your school’s current capabilities and systems
  • Understand the work required

2-Invest in access

  • Understand your infrastructure needs
  • Improve your infrastructure management
  • Upgrade your Internet connectivity for a better web experience
  • Implement LAN and WiFi solutions to promote online learning anytime, anywhere

3- Build your team

  • Create an internal support team
  • Assemble a deployment team

4-Offer web tools

  • Unlocking the potential of web-based learning
  • Integrate your solution

5- Manage change

  • Develop skills
  • Spread the word
  • Manage the solution

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New-CK12 Now Provides Great Video Resources to Foster Students Mathematical and Critical Thinking Skills

February 6, 2015
Here is an interesting update I received today through an email from the folks in CK-12 informing me of their latest release. CK-12  announces the launch of their interactive math practice problems and videos for grades 1-5. These new resources foster critical thinking skills with practice problems, video hints, and full step-by-step solutions, all clearly aligned to Common Core and State standards. Available anywhere, anytime, completely free.

Here are just a few concepts to get you started. Explore many more!

  • Addition and Subtraction Facts 
  • Place Values
  • Decimals
  • Time
  • Money

To get started using these resources, head over to this page, and select the grade you are interested in then click on the subject area you want to explore. There are actually 9 subject areas: multiplication and division, multiple operations and grouping, place values, decimals, fractions, time, money measurement and geometry. Each of these subject areas features a wide range of resources and tutorials for students to use in their math learning.

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Improving Learning in Mathematic

Check out Improving Learning in Mathematics at NCETM

From October 2008 interactive whiteboard files for Promethean ACTIVstudio and Smart Notebook to match the teaching units will be found at

Improving Learning in Mathematics (also referred to as the ‘Standards Unit Box’) is a resource which introduces a whole new approach to teaching and learning maths.  Piloted and trialled in the post-16 sector, there are ideas for any maths teacher who wants to make lessons interesting and engaging for their students.

The programme was started by the DfES (now DCSF) Standards Unit and is now funded by QIA and will be producing further resources which will focus on the quality of teaching and learning in a number of priority subject areas.

There are two main parts to the resource

  • Teaching sessions
  • Professional development sessions to help support the teaching sessions

The sessions cover mathematics topics at GCSE and A level.

Teaching Sessions

Mostly Number

Mostly Algebra

Read more ...

Access Thousands Of Frees Online Classes

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”- Mark twain

The “problem” with today’s school system is that every school around the world is teaching the same programs with the same classes.

Aren’t we then just creating more of the same?

What differentiates you from your classmates?

What are you good at?

Curriculum Innovation: Local Trends (with K-12 Basic Education Curriculum)


  • 1. Module 5 Addressing the Future: Curriculum Innovations Lesson 1 Curriculum Innovations: Local and Global Trends
  • 2. What is “Innovation”? According to The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus:
  • 3. Essential Question What are the things that you would like to Change and Transform in your life?
  • 4. I seek changes You seek changes We seek changes Man seek changes DEVELOPMENT “INNOVATIONS are INEVITABLE”
  • 5. With the demand brought about by the fast changing society, it is most likely that changes will occur. In curriculum, changes and modifications are being introduced to keep pace with the changing world. There is no stopping to innovations. In local or national setting, there are innovations that have been introduced.
  • 6. Local and National Curricular Innovations 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) K-12 Basic Education Curriculum
  • 7. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) VISION The Department of Education, envisions every learner to be functionally literate, equipped with life skills, appreciative of arts and sports and imbued with the desirable values of a person who is makabayan, makatao, makakalikasan and maka-Diyos.
  • 8. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) MISSION To provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all and lays the foundation for lifelong learning and service for the common good.
  • 9. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) PARAMETERS OF THE BASIC EDUCATION CURRICULUM 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Objectives Content Materials Teaching-Learning Process Evaluation
  • 10. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) OBJECTIVES are expressed in terms of competencies in: KNOWLEDGE  Cognitive Domain SKILLS  Psychomotor Domain ATTITUDE  Affective Domain These determine the content which focuses on the processes and skills of learning how to learn (Soft Skills) rather than on the content coverage of facts and information (Hard Skills).
  • 11. TEACHING
  • 12. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) CONTENT is delivered using a variety of media and resources. Traditional Books ICT and Community Resources Content is contextualized so that the curriculum is adjusted to the situation and local culture.
  • 13. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) MATERIALS The use of multi-sensory materials is encouraged in teaching. The use of local or community resources as well as technologydriven support materials are utilized in the learning environment.
  • 14. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) TEACHING-LEARNING PROCESS considers the learners as active partners rather than objects of teaching. The learners are constructors of meaning, while teachers act as facilitators, enablers, and managers of learning.
  • 15. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) EVALUATION is encouraged to schools. This will allow schools to make adjustments with regard to: Objective Content Materials Teachinglearning process In order to achieve learning outcomes.
  • 16. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) SALIENT FEATURES OF THE CURRICULUM
  • 17. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Five Learning Areas ENGLISH MATHEMATICS MAKABAYAN SCIENCE FILIPINO
  • 18. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) FILIPINO ENGLISH SCIENCE
  • 19. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) ENGLISH MATHEMATICS SCIENCE
  • 20. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) MAKABAYAN FILIPINO
  • 21. “Laboratory of Life” MAKABAYAN Philippine History Politico-economic System Local Cultures Crafts Arts Music Games
  • 22. MAKABAYAN in Elementary Schools GRADES 1-3 Sibika at Kultura w/ MSEP GRADES 4-6 Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika (HeKaSi) Edukasyong Pantahan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) Musika, Sining at Edukasyong Pangkatawan (MSEP) GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct) is Integrated in all subjects.
  • 23. MAKABAYAN in High Schools Social Studies or Araling Panlipunan (AP) 1st Year: Philippine History and Governance 2nd Year: Asian Studies 3rd Year: World History 4th Year: Economics Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH) Values Education (VE) or Edukasyong Pagpapahalaga (EP)
  • 25. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) THEMATIC TEACHING requires organization of themes around ideas. The theme provides focus and help learners see the meaningful connections across subject areas.
  • 26. Thematic Teaching English Filipino Philippine Cultural Heritage (Theme) Mathematics Science
  • 27. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) CONTENT-BASED INSTRUCTION (CBI) is the integration of content of learning with language teaching. The language curriculum is centered on the academic needs and interests of the learners, thus CBI crosses the barriers between language and subject matter content.
  • 28. Content-Based Instruction SCIENCE CBI ENGLISH
  • 29. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) FOCUSING INQUIRY is an interdisciplinary approach that uses questions to organize learning. Contents and concepts are given less importance than the process of conducting an investigation and communicating what was learned to others. Instructional process is built around inquiry, where teachers guide the students to discover answer to questions.
  • 30. 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) GENERIC COMPETENCY MODEL Learners are enrolled in three to four linked or related courses or subject areas. In Makabayan for instance, competencies can be clustered into: 1. Personal Development 2. Social Competencies 3. Work and Special Skills
  • 31. Local and National Curricular Innovations 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) K-12 Basic Education Curriculum
  • 32. Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) • This was the flagship project of the Department of Education on response to the Social Reform Agenda initiatives of the government. • TEEP aimed to build institutional capacity of the Department of Education to manage change and actively involve parents, teachers, community leaders for quality education.
  • 33. Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) • Funded by World Bank (WB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). • TEEP began in 1996 and concluded in 2005. • Initial findings: – Improved learning achievement – Rise in completions rates of the students – Access to quality education had been achieved
  • 34. Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. MAJOR EDUCATIONAL COMPONENTS OF TEEP Advocacy In-service training for Teachers (INSET) School Improvement and Innovation Facility (SIIF) Students Assessment (SA) Educational Management Information System (EMIS) Procurement Monitoring and Evaluation “TEEP advocate principal empowerment in all the educational component.”
  • 35. Local and National Curricular Innovations 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) K-12 Basic Education Curriculum
  • 36. Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) • SEDIP is a curricular innovation which dovetailed the TEEP. • Its purpose was to improve equitable access to secondary education in poverty affected areas. – Improving Teaching and Learning – Improving access to secondary education – Facilitating Decentralized Secondary Education Management
  • 37. Centralized vs. Decentralized
  • 38. Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) • The SEDIP innovations started in 2000 and ended in 2006. • Initial Results: – Showed gains – Best practices have been replicated in other divisions which were not participants in the project.
  • 39. Local and National Curricular Innovations 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) Secondary Education Improvement and Development Program (SEDIP) K-12 Basic Education Curriculum
  • 40. K-12 Basic Education Curriculum The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.
  • 41. K-12 Basic Education Curriculum SALIENT FEATURES 1. Strengthening Early Childhood Education ( Universal Kindergarten) 2. Making the Curriculum Relevant to Learners (Contextualization and Enhancement) 3. Ensuring integrated and seamless learning (Spiral Progression) 4. Building Proficiency Through Language (Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education) 5. Gearing up for the Future (Senior High School) 6.Nurturing Holistically Developed Filipino (College and Livelihood Readiness, 21st Century Skills)
  • 42. K-12 Basic Education Curriculum IMPLEMENTATION
  • 43. K-12 Basic Education Curriculum The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or Republic Act No. 10533, was signed on May 15, 2013
  • 44. Thank You for Listening!

Webtools for K 2 in Common Core Day 1

Teachers will leave with a comprehensive list of best practices and best educational sites that are free on the web. All materials will be hosted on a website that will be available beyond the Learning Circle. In this three day session, we will cover the following topics: 

1) Writing, Listening & Speaking Web Tools (1/27/15) - Learn and practice the basics and beyond as we cover workflow, productivity and shortcuts. Explore the best of the web when it comes toWriting, Listening & Speaking for your students. 

2) Tools to promote standards mathematical proactice (2/03/15)–Geared towards using tools that promote the Standards Mathematical Practice. Specifically ways for students to show conceptual understanding or presentation of learning in Standards 2-5. 

3) Early Learning iOS Apps (3/10/15) – Younger children plus screens has always been looked upon as a detrimental combination. Some of the thinking has been that young developing minds cannot distinguish real from what's represented on the screens well enough, leading to developmental issues down the track. There is also the obvious concerns of eye strain, over stimulation and the lack of physical activity that sitting and watching engenders. But as new interactive screens in the form of iPads have entered many classrooms & homes, the conventional wisdom around some of these has begun to change. Because a good iPad app requires active choices and creativity by young users, a number of early elementary students world-wide have begun using them, and new research is being undertaken into how they differ from the passive TV watching that previous studies were most concerned with. 

This collection of resources is meant to provide a window into this developing world to give some background and understanding as you begin exploring the apps in areas of reading, letters and sounds, shapes, songs and educational games!


10 Free Math Games Your Kids Should Be Playing

The mere mention of the word “mathematics” is enough to strike fear into the hearts of adults around the world. For thousands of people, the thought of doing annual tax returns, applying for a mortgage, or even just helping children with their homework can bring them out in an episode of cold sweats and get them running for the nearest calculator.

Luckily their are phone apps to help adults improve, but the long-term solution appears reasonably obvious; children need to be engaged with maths from a young age, making use of tools, games, and apps that make the process of learning arithmetic fun rather than an arduous task.

Here we look at some of the best games to help children learn mathematics in a fun way:

Fraction Flags (Ages 7-9)

Fractions can be a fiendishly difficult aspect of maths – they form a key part of basic algebra and underpin a surprising number of real-world situations. Unfortunately, common denominators, improper fractions, and repeating decimals have caused headaches for schoolchildren since the dawn of time, but “Fraction Flags” aims to change that.

Read more ...

While society innovates, our K-12 schools have remained stagnant. As a result, they are not graduating the doers, makers and cutting-edge thinkers the world needs. Certainly, some public and private schools are modernizing -- having students work in groups to solve problems, learn online and integrate science with the arts. But most institutions do not teach what should be the centerpiece of a contemporary education: entrepreneurship, the capacity to not only start companies but also to think creatively and ambitiously.

Related: The Joy of Raising a Teen Entrepreneur

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman advocates for inspiring young people to create the companies that will provide long-lasting employment for the country’s citizens. Because the jobs on which 61-year-old Friedman's own generation relied are no longer available, he advocates for having students graduate high school “innovation ready” -- meaning that along with their mortarboards, they receive the critical-thinking, communication and collaboration skills that will help them invent their own careers.

Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy.

Schools need not teach these skills on their own. They can reach out to the myriad organizations that help teachers in low-income areas teach entrepreneurship, or take advantage of initiatives that pair kids of all ages with science and engineering experts across the country so they can engage in hands-on projects.

Because entrepreneurship can, and should, promote economic opportunity, it can serve as an agent of social justice. Julian Young, 29, was a drug dealer facing a 15-year prison term when a mentor told him he was an entrepreneur. Years later, Young is the founder and executive director of The Start Center for Entrepreneurship, an Omaha-based organization that helps women and minorities launch businesses.

Just as Young's entrepreneurial instinct helped him escape the school-to-prison pipeline to become a successful business owner, so too can it help other young people at risk tap into their own unrealized talents.The nonprofit Prison Entrepreneurship Program pairs prisoners with top-level mentors in a curriculum that makes them entrepreneurs. The program’s less-than-10 percent recidivism rate lends credence to the argument that gaining business savvy reduces the likelihood that prisoners will end up back in jail.

Furthermore, entrepreneurship has historically spurred minorities, women and immigrants to create better lives for themselves and their families. Currently, minorities own 15 percent of all U.S. businesses, accounting for $591 billion in revenues. Women are starting businesses at one-and-a-half times the national average and currently own 40 percent of all businesses, producing nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues.

Immigrants are another inspiring example. Considering that members of this group own 18 percent of businesses, generating more than $775 billion in revenues, Friedman advises young entrepreneurs to imagine that they themselves are immigrants, because “new immigrants are paranoid optimists.”

Related: How These 10 Marketing Campaigns Became Viral Hits

While immigrants who start businesses know they might fail, they have nothing to lose, Friedman points out. They are risk-takers and they are persistent -- both vital traits for entrepreneurs.

Because entrepreneurship fosters these kinds of character traits, it promises to benefit all students—not just those from low-income backgrounds. According to Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed:Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, students who attend private schools are not world changers. The reason: These schools offer affluent parents “a high probability of nonfailure.”

In other words, affluent backgrounds often do not encourage kids to take risks and make mistakes, which are necessary for cultivating ingenuity. Perhaps if students were to study entrepreneurship, they would be forced to think outside the box, to fail and to persist -- experiences that would inspire them to become creative, inventive and innovative.

Additionally, entrepreneurship embraces talents and skills that teachers in conventional classrooms might otherwise penalize. “Entrepreneurs are anomalies; they don’t fit in,” Young says. They may not be “book smart” but thrive if given an opportunity to utilize their people smarts and risk-taking skills, he says.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is a good illustration. Branson often recalls how he was a bad student. And serial entrepreneur Bo Peabody similarly points out that entrepreneurs tend to be B students -- good at a variety of things, but not stellar at one thing in particular. It’s this ability to think broadly that allows these young people to complete the variety of tasks necessary in starting companies, Peabody says.

This famed venture capitalist's belief that entrepreneurs have limited attention spans is echoed by Anthony Pensiero, Pensiero, president of Pennwood Technology Group, says he has attention-deficit disorder and that because he was never medicated for it, he was able to channel his considerable energies into the endeavors that pointed him on the path to success.

Conversely, a prescription to the ADHD-drug Ritalin set Young on a destructive course until he met the mentor who told him he was an entrepreneur.

More reasons for entrepreneurship education include the likelihood that it will promote social and emotional well-being. Entrepreneurship might even correlate with happiness more than do other categories of business endeavors, according to a 2012 study of 11,000 MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

According to Wharton professor Ethan Mollick, who co-authored the study, the graduates studied who started their own businesses were for the most part “significantly happier” than others due to perceived greater control over their own destiny. It's no wonder, then, that well-known business schools such as Wharton, Columbia and Harvard are ramping up their entrepreneurship offerings: Student demand for these courses is on the rise.

Additionally, many business students are choosing social entrepreneurship -- doing well by doing good. According to the nonprofit Bridgespan Group, between 2003 and 2009 the number of social-benefit course offerings at top business schools more than doubled, on average. Matthew Paisner, who founded Altru-Help, a website that connects users with local volunteer opportunities, says he's noticed growing “philanthropic virtue” among Millennials. Millendials, Paisner says, tend to favor working for socially responsible companies and don’t see profit and purpose as mutually exclusive. 

There is more good news here: Entrepreneurship education is making its way into some schools, thanks to forward-thinking people and organizations. Certain programs already encourage students to start their own companies as early as high school; and certain schools are working with venture capitalists and angel investors to fund kids’ startups. Other schools have made entrepreneurship courses graduation requisites.

Boldface names in business are signing up: This past January, AOL co-founder Steve Case and former Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina headed a panel of businesspeople and academics, in which they called for the creation of a national competition in which teams of K-12 students would pitch their start-up ideas to judges.

Young entrepreneurs are making an impact as well. Emily Raleigh, a junior at Fordham University, is the founder and CEO of The Smart Girls Group, which “seeks to unite, inspire, and empower the next generation of influential women.” What started as a digital magazine, when Raleigh was a senior in high school, now consists of 12 distinct brands ranging from newsletters to online classes to a network of professional adult women.

Maya Penn, a 13-year-old TED talker, sells her own knit scarves and hats online, and donates a percentage of her proceeds to nonprofits. Sixteen-year-old prodigy Erik Finman, who recalls a teacher telling him to drop out and work at McDonald’s, founded the video-chat tutoring program Botangle and the startup Intern for a Day, which connects companies with potential interns who work for a day on a project that constitutes a vocational audition.

Given developments like these, traditional K-12 education -- the old "chalk and talk," memorization and regurgitation and bubbling in correct answers -- seems like the very nemesis of innovation.

As Albert Einstein once said, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” 

Related: Is Entrepreneurship Education Weakening in America? 

Immigrant children benefit from Finnish education

Finland's education system is already praised worldwide. Now, as its population becomes more diverse, it is setting a great example when it comes to educating its immigrant children, too

In Finland, it is customary for children to line up their shoes outside the classroom and to learn in their stockinged feet. Outside classroom 3C at Laakavuori primary in Helsinki, there are only four pairs of shoes and they include the scuffed trainers of a 12-year-old boy and the sparkly pumps of a seven-year-old girl.

Inside, four children – Anastasia, Artur, Kevin and Arthur – are taking in the basics of the Finnish language. Their teacher points at a picture of a jacket and articulates the word slowly – "takki". The children mouth it back. A teaching assistant, sitting at the back, joins in.

Anastasia, Artur, Kevin and Arthur arrived in Finland with their families less than two months ago. Like most newcomers here, they come from Russia and Estonia. Fortunately for them, their parents have chosen a country that has much to teach other nations when it comes to educating young immigrants.

Finland is seen by many outsiders as monocultural – its foreign-born citizens make up just 5% of its population, compared to about 11.5% in the UK. But, over the last 15 years, Finland has diversified at a faster rate than any other European country. By 2020, a fifth of Helsinki's pupils are expected to have been born elsewhere – the majority in Russia, Estonia, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia.

At Laakavuori primary, in the poorer, eastern part of Helsinki, 45% of pupils have a language other than Finnish as their mother tongue. And yet they achieve as much as others in more affluent areas of the country, where there are few, if any, immigrants.

Politicians and policy-makers the world over have admired Finland's education system for the fact that, over the last decade, its 15-year-olds have consistently had the highest – or among the highest – standards in reading, maths and science when compared with most of the developed countries of the world. Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) administers a numeracy, literacy and science test to about 470,000 15-year-olds in 65 countries, known as the Programme for International Student Assessment. In the most recent Pisa study, in 2009, Finland came third out of 65 countries, while the UK was 25th. In the 2006 Pisa study, Finland came top and the UK 14th.

Much of Finland's success has been attributed to the high prestige associated with being a teacher and the fact that it is as hard for Finns to win a place on a teacher training course as it is for them to get into law or medical school.

But another aspect of Finland's success – getting children whose first language is not Finnish up to the high standards of their classmates – appears to have been overlooked by the education tourists.

Anastasia, Artur, Kevin and Arthur stay in their class of four with a teacher and teaching assistant for 25 hours a week – for every subject except sports and arts. It can be anything between six months and a year before they are judged to have mastered Finnish and are ready to be placed into their correct year group.

It's no surprise that with this kind of immersion, half of Laakavuori's pupils – including a high proportion of those who come not speaking a word of Finnish – go on to pass the aptitude test that admits them to prestigious academic high schools.

It says something, too, about Finland's attitude that since the 1980s, the state has paid for Somali teachers to help young Somalis living in Finland to expand their vocabulary in their native language, too.

Helsinki's education department estimates that just over 11,000 pupils – almost 2% – have state-funded tuition in a mother tongue that isn't Finnish, before or after their other classes.

In England, meanwhile, a grant for schools to employ and train teachers to help pupils whose first language is not English has been scrapped.

Finland, on the other hand, has had what it describes as a "positive discrimination" policy since the 1990s. It gives schools extra funds if they are situated in relatively poor areas or have a disproportionately high number of children with special needs. It tops up these funds with €1,000 (£875) a year for each child on the school's roll who has lived in Finland for less than four years.

"The government rightly recognises that it is more intensive to teach in an area like my school," says Janne-Pekka Nurmi, principal of Laakavuori.

This sounds just like a more generous version of our pupil premium – the £488 that schools in England receive annually for each pupil they enrol who is eligible for free school meals. But there's a crucial difference. From next September, our government will be publishing what schools spend this on and, in time, will publish its suggestions of how best the pupil premium can be spent. In Finland, they simply leave it to the teachers.

Laakavuori primary has used this premium to employ social workers and psychologists a few days a week. The principal says this helps to "detect early problems and deal with them quickly".

It's not just in primary schools that young immigrants are helped. Helsinki's education department is running a pilot project that puts 15- and 16-year-old immigrants in touch with "social instructors" to ensure they fit in with Finnish society and don't drop out of school. Extraordinarily, these instructors work to find the young people friends to socialise with as well as helping them to find the services and careers advice they need.

Naldic (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) represents teachers in UK schools who specialise in educating pupils whose first language is not English. Amy Thompson, its chair, says that in England, the needs of non-English-speaking young immigrants are "no longer recognised as distinct from the needs of all pupils in terms of policy and funding". "The English system of 'sink or swim' needs to be brought in line, not only with Finland, but with English-speaking countries across the world that provide dedicated funding, curriculum and support for learners for whom English is an additional language," she says.

To many, a comparison between Finland and the UK is unfair. Finland's entire pupil population amounts to just 600,000, while that of England and Wales tops 7 million. Finland wants to promote skilled immigrants to compensate for an emerging labour shortage due to its ageing population, while in England, the aim is to reduce net migration to under 100,000 by 2015.

In Finland, unlike in the UK, an influx of immigrants is still new to the country.

Not everyone in Finland is quite so friendly towards newcomers. In April, The Finns – a populist nationalist party that wants to limit humanitarian immigration to refugee quotas – won 19% of the vote in the parliamentary election, becoming the largest opposition party in Finland.

A growing number of Finns are said to be removing their children from ethnically diverse primary schools, and some are reported to be demanding a cap on the number of non-Finns in a classroom.

But Finland's teachers and educationists are adamant that they will fight this on all fronts. They say that what they provide for young immigrants works.

Meanwhile, says Thompson, England should look at Finland's impressive procedures for the education of bilingual pupils. A national survey carried out by Naldic and the National Union of Teachers in February found that over 60% of respondents believed that support for pupils for whom English was an additional language and for bilingual learners had significantly deteriorated over the last six months. In England, she says, "the situation is becoming worse by the day".

Finland, the facts

 Parents can send children aged between eight months and five years to free daycare. At age six, there is a year of preschool

 All full-time pupils get free lunches

 Basic compulsory education starts at age seven and ends at age 16

 At 16, pupils either go to vocational school or an upper secondary school. Upper secondary schools tend to be for those who want to go on to university, although it is possible to study for degrees from vocational schools

 There are no league tables or inspections and the only national exam is at the age of 18 or 19

 Finland has no university fees for home or EU students

Why Finland’s Educational System is so Effective Infographic

To some people, Finland isn’t a whole lot more than a chilly, northern country boasting a population of around 5 million people. Whether you’ve been to Finland or not, you probably haven’t had the chance to take an up-close and personal look at one of Finland’s greatest accomplishments to date—its high-achieving education system. Students in Finland have, over the past several years, risen to the top of the academic food-chain, and they’ve become some of the top scholarly performers in the world.

Compared to many other developed nations, including the US and Canada, Finland’s high school graduation rates have continued to grow steadily and impressively. Furthermore, a huge percentage of students continue on to earn college degrees, and students at all levels perform exceedingly well on standardized tests. So what’s Finland’s secret? It’s hard to say for sure, but some good guesses as to the source of their success include respecting their teachers highly, assigning students less homework and more recess time, and keeping standardized testing to a minimum. The Why Finland’s Educational System is so Effective Infographic takes an in-depth look at some of the details behind Finland’s educational system, and what makes it work so well.


The Benefits of School Trips Infographic

The Benefits of School Trips Infographic

Going on a school trip can literally be a life changing event, allowing a student to create memories they’ll treasure forever. There are some disadvantages and dangers, but the benefits greatly outweigh anything else. The Benefits of School Trips Infographic points out 15 benefits of school trips, including breathing life into boring subjects and giving kids the chance to learn through experience.

15 Benefits of School Trips

  1. School trips can spark lifelong interests and hobbies.
  2. School trips offer students the chance to apply things they have learned in the classroom to the real world.
  3. New environments can provide challenges to children, allowing for more individual learning.
  4. Students can find new excitement in a certain subject.
  5. Students can take on a lot of information in one field trip clue to the practical learning style.
  6. School trips can break students out of rut they’ve gotten into with a certain subject.
  7. Life can be given to a boring subject.
  8. Students can get to know each other better and interact in a more relaxed environment without the stresses of the classroom.
  9. School trips work well to cement difficult to digest information.
  10. Historical facts, biology, and physics can be experienced first-hand on a school trip.
  11. Learning by doing has been proven to be a lot more effective, as the senses come into play.
  12. Tests and classroom education won’t work as well for everyone, but school trips put all students at the same level, as the learning is experienced and not taught.
  13. A lot of families won’t be able to introduce their kids to the arts and cultural events, due to lack of time, money, or knowledge.
  14. Students will enjoy activities and sights they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
  15. Students develop their physical skills and knowledge, personal and social development, the opportunity to set and achieve personal goals, environmental awareness, and even interest in health and fitness.


Teacher Network

 Secret Teacher: it’s time to go old school on targets

After 40 years teaching at the same school, this week’s Secret Teacher says “the last five years have seen a definite shift to a target-driven culture that permeates all schools and paralyses them”. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

I recently retired having spent my entire 40-year teaching career in one school – an 11-18 “good” comprehensive school.

When I was in my 20s, I did think about how 40 years would provide the best possible pension. But I never set out with that as a target and it was never more than a passing thought – I’m just grateful I survived this long. I could have carried on too. My exam results were good and I even got an outstanding from a kindly Ofsted inspector in my final year. But it became evident that I should be moving on when, during a lesson last year, a pupil announced with some genuine kindness, “My grandma fancies you.”

Over the years my career has progressed smoothly from newly qualified teacher to head of department, pastoral leader and then a position just below the senior leadership team. I've never wanted to get fully embroiled in the SLT; as a head of year I was too busy to pursue promotion and I liked the position of having considerable influence while being on the ground and independent of the management structure. Or perhaps I just knew I’d reached the optimum level of my ability and efficiency. I always valued having a work-life balance, a luxury some members of SLT are denied.

In the 1980s and 1990s some younger teachers looked at me with pity – I obviously wasn’t pushing myself or moving on. But why should I? I have loved my 40 years and I feel some pride in spending it all in one school where you see the teaching process through from one generation to the next.

Spending time with young people and sharing their sometimes painful, often hilarious journey through adolescence is the real joy of the job. Perhaps my fondest memory came at the end of one year 11 leavers’ assembly. More than one student who had given the school considerable problems with their behaviour for some years were now in tears. Genuine tears. These students were demonstrating what all teachers know deep down: troublesome pupils are just vulnerable young people who need the support and care of the whole school community.

I too have left my school with some feelings of sadness. The last few years have seen creeping demoralisation and the undermining of what essentially a school is – a community.

Children (and staff) are measured and assessed at the expense of being valued as people. The children know this too – you can’t fool them, they know the score. They can read people. My great-nephew came home for Christmas from his first year in primary school upset that he had not achieved as highly as his best friend. The evidence for this was in his target-setting book. Ben had failed to learn as many key words as expected. It’s outrageous that at aged four, during your first Christmas in school, your first nativity play, you need the reassurance of your mum and dad because you feel that you have not performed well enough.

In the last few years of my teaching career some excellent, talented, charismatic teachers just disappeared. I remember one colleague was observed and “dropped in” on 30 times in one term after their results didn’t meet impossible targets. Who can endure that for long? I know of teachers who have given up and resigned in July, quite exhausted by this process of performance management, only for their results to be among the best in a department when published in August. Monitoring and managing performance is not always a precise science.

I have seen and heard of pupils comforting and supporting teachers who are upset. This is a ridiculous situation of role reversal but speaks volumes for the relationship between pupil and teacher. It all adds to a climate of uncertainty, which can be debilitating to staff and undermines the children’s confidence in the school as a caring institution.

Some things have gone full circle. When I started teaching in the 1970s I taught with four teachers who had seen active service in the second world war. These D-Day landers and paratroopers were recruited in a post-war programme of teacher training. We’re there again with present policy. I worry sometimes when I hear government sources talking about this current programme. The ex-soldiers I taught with were calm and had a strong sense of humanity, probably born out of witnessing man’s inhumanity to man first-hand. I worry that some politicians today see the introduction of a soldier into a classroom as a shortcut to instilling the kind of discipline more associated with the 1950s. Mind you, many of Mr Gove’s policies would have felt at home in that decade.

I am not going to argue that all was well in the past. But I do feel the last five years have seen a definite shift to a target-driven culture that permeates all schools and paralyses them. In the 1970s there genuinely was a feeling that we were all in this together. Today, any perceived area of weakness or underachievement is picked on, highlighted, targeted. This applies both to students and teachers.

What would I want now for schools? I want senior leaders to be brave. Skilled, sensitive and strong management is required. Not a macho strength that can see schools decimated of staff in the pursuit of outstanding, but a strength that leads a school forward together. Headteachers: be strong. Do what is right. Middle managers in school: be strong and care for your teams.

I‘m not asking for a vacuous, Russell Brand-type revolution. Sorry Russell, but you’re like a puppy – often adorable, but frequently annoying. No, I want schools to become what they were when I started my career: person-centred, inclusive institutions and not the monitor it, measure it, and surgically remove it educational climate championed by Michael Wilshaw. Shortly after his appointment Wilshaw declared: “If anyone says to you that staff morale is at an all-time low you will know you are doing something right.” You are wrong, Mr Wilshaw. If you ran a business like that you would soon be bankrupt and educational bankruptcy is not something our children need or deserve.

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STEM Education Infographic

The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

STEM Education attempts to transform the typical teacher-centered classroom by encouraging a curriculum that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and require students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution.

To find more I highly encourage you to read the Understanding the Basics of STEM Education article.


Teaching and Learning with OER: What’s the Impact in a K12 (Online) Classroom?

Read More in Featured and Popular Education

Citizenship Education


Citizenship Education Outline

Citizenship Education Understanding civic duties and responsibilities are essential components of any social studies curriculum. Douglas Knepp Christina Peck Candice Johnson

Essential Questions • What does it mean to be a responsible citizen? • Who are you responsible to?• How do responsibilities vary based on culture and society?
Components Of Citizenship • Global Responsibility • National Responsibility • Local Responsibility • Family Responsibility
Global Responsibility • Students should understand that we have a responsibility to protect and sustain the global resources on the planet. It is also essential that students recognize that they can take part in preserving the environment. • Also covered in this area of civic duties is the responsibility we have to other citizens of the planet.
National Responsibility • Students need to recognize that they have certain responsibilities as citizens of a nation, to be a participant within that system. • Students should understand the basicelements of participation within government and society.
Local Responsibility As teachers, we need to show our students that to be responsible citizens, they need to have the skills and character to be informed participants within their community. Helpful Links:
Family Responsibility s As educators, we need to help our students to understand that within their families they have roles and responsibilities to their families. Also, the educators and students need to understand that each family has its own civic dynamics.
Should civic duties be included in social studies? • Civic duties and citizenship should absolutely be included in social studies. The responsibilities that fall under the category of civics and citizenship will be important throughout the lives of our students and will help them function on each level of society.