Posts tagged with "teachers"

Rita Azar illustrates a candy article for 360 MAGAZINE

Sugarfina Care Packages

Going back to school this year is different from every other year. Instead of loading up on pencils, notebooks, markers and erasers, students are logging into computers every morning to attend virtual versions of their classes. Teachers are also preparing in a way they’ve never had to. Online lesson plans and zero face-to-face contact are making it more difficult for teachers to engage with students.

Sugarfina, a luxury candy store specializing in candy for grown-ups, recognizes that struggle. Accordingly, they have put together care packages for anyone in need of a little bit of sweetness during this time.

The care package includes Sugarfina specialties like Peach Bellini gummies, Birthday Cake Caramels, Rainbow Bears, Pink Sparkle Pops, Cold Brew Bears, Peanut Butter Milkshake malt balls, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels and Ice Cream Cone gummies.

Sugarfina is also giving away one of these care packages every day from August 17 to August 31. They’re encouraging Instagram users to nominate someone deserving of a special treat by posting a video with #TreatItForward.

Scott LaPorta, the CEO of Sugarfina, said Sugarfina was inspired by people sending each other candy during the quarantine period.

“Whether you’re treating a classmate, hard-working teacher, first responder, or fellow homeschool parent, this set is the perfect gift to put a smile on their face,” LaPorta said.

Sugarfina will also take entries into the “Thinking of You Sweepstakes” between August 20 and August 31. Anyone looking to share a $2,500 care package with a loved one can enter right here.

The standard care packages are $24 by themselves or $28 with a hand-written note and are available online or in Sugarfina boutiques.

Rita Azar illustrates a video game article for 360 MAGAZINE

Video Games x Standardized Testing

Standardized testing in schools is one of the most hotly contested subjects in academics. Does it actually measure academic skills and learning progress? Is there a better, more definitive way to measure those skills? Is standardized testing punishing hard workers and high achievers who also happen to be anxiety-ridden or bad test-takers?

In an interview with CMRubinWorld, video gaming industry veteran and founder of Breakaway Games Doug Whatley said the next step for these pesky measuring sticks is in the video game world.

“We already have simulation games that are capable of being used as a standardized test, so I think there is real promise for many types of tests to be replaced by games,” Whatley said, adding that games are often better, more secure and more affordable tests.

Whatley also predicted that free-to-play games and large market games would close the gap between the two.

“Mobile apps will get bigger and AAA games will get smaller using multiple season type distribution,” he said.

Whatley used that premise to make five more predictions. First, he said video games will cover a wider variety of content. Next, he said phones will become more powerful, thus driving more gamers to mobile devices as a gaming platform. Third, he expects to see games use new media platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom. Fourth, he expects to see more distribution in rolled out packages, like the already popular DLC model, and finally, he anticipates student-created content to be judged and used by peers.

The pandemic has forced education to adapt on its feet, and it appears technology and video games will be beneficiaries of its modern adjustments and pivots.

Mask illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Indiana School Quarantines on First Day

By Eamonn Burke

Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana opened on Thursday, as one of the first high schools to do so in the country. Within hours, the school had to quarantine when a student tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. It appears that the student was tested days before and went to school without knowing the results.

The emergency “Positive COVID-19 Test Protocol” that went into action following the testing involved isolating the student and a two week quarantine order for those who had come in contact. The schools superintendent, Harold E. Olin, knew the situation was coming but was “shocked it was on Day 1.” Nonetheless, Olin said in a letter that “It was very evident today that nearly all of our families and students were prepared to properly follow the safety protocols we have established”.

This comes amidst a national debate over the re-opening of schools in the fall. While most major school districts have announced a remote start, some in places like Texas and Florida, where the virus is running rampant, plan to open in the fall. Teachers unions have been vehemently opposing an in-person opening, threatening and executing lawsuits and strikes to make their point. They put pressure on Trump’s administration, who is urging for children to get back to school.

Further complicating matters is a study from Northwestern and a Chicago Pediatric Hospital found that children five years and younger carry the virus in high concentrations, although a study on their transmission rate has not been conducted.

On top of all the virus concerns is that of the mental health and success of students who are learning virtually. This spans everything from eye health to sleep patterns to ability to socialize. In addition, it can be harder for many students to pay attention and retain material when studying from home.

Cityscape illustration by Mina Tocalini

NYC in Phase 4

By Eamonn Burke

While the better half of the country is riddled with a massive spike in coronavirus cases, New York City is in the fourth and final phase of reopening, an achievement that governor Andrew Cuomo calls a “hallmark.”

Phase 4 means that sports can resume, as can the entertainment industry. Venues like zoos and gardens can open at 33% capacity. People will also be able to visit popular attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. These developments come as the U.S hits 4 million coronavirus cases and adds 1 million new cases in just 15 days, mostly coming from southern and western states.

Officials are not overstepping bounds however, careful to remain cautious after seeing the negative effects of early reopening in other states. “I want all New Yorkers to be on high alert,” said Cuomo on Friday, warning of the second wave coming. Indoor dining is still prohibited in the city, and malls, movies theatres, and museums remain closed. Perhaps most impactful is Mayor De Blasio’s statement that schools will not fully reopen. He says the decision will be made in September. He plans for a hybrid open, but the teachers union is prepared for a legal fight if schools are forced to reopen unsafely.

Schools Debate Fall Opening

By Eamonn Burke

As the Coronavirus spreads at its fastest pace yet in the United States, schools and colleges are facing the tough question of how to face the fall semester. Education facilities from kindergarten to graduate school have to rethink how classes will be run in person, and if they will be run in person at all.

According to the Federal Government, opening all schools in person is the imperative course of action. President Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are practically demanding schools to re-open, as Trump even threatened to cut funding to education if they do not. “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools—get them open.” Trump said at an event last week. Secretary DeVos backed him, asserting that re-opening schools “should absolutely be the goal.”

However, for public school districts and colleges, the situation is not so clear-cut. California, one of the COVID-19 hotspots in the world, the two largest districts of San Diego and Los Angeles have announced that they will not reopen for in-person instruction. Many districts, such as New York City, are pursuing a more hybrid plan, which involves partial in-person learning in three different models propped by Mayor DeBlasio. The state of New York as a whole is allowing districts to open based on certain criteria. In some cases, such as Nashville, districts have actually had to backpedal and turn over plans to re-open in light of the recent spike in coronavirus cases across the nation.

Colleges, both public and private, face the same dilemma. While some have announced full closure in the fall, such as the State universities in California, others such as Harvard, Princeton, and Georgetown will bring students to campus in a limited manner. Harvard and Princeton will have roughly half of the students on campus for each semester, split by grade, although all classes will remain online. Harvard will not discount their tuition, while Princeton will offer 10% off. Other universities such as Carnegie Mellon are offering more flexibility, allowing students to choose which semester to come back and offering some classes with both a remote and in-person option.

Another complicating factor in decisions for colleges are the new restrictions on international students put in place by ICE under Trumps administration. These rules, stating that international students who have only online classes must go back to their country, have caused more than 200 universities to sue the Trump administration, following in suit of Harvard and MIT. These rules were dropped quickly after facing the wide opposition.

Art for the Now

COVID-19 is ravaging the cultural field to an extent not seen since the AIDS crisis. It is forcing us to re-envision how we collaborate, to consider new types of programming and interactions that can flourish in digital space, and to shift our resources as we begin to reach the public differently.

Vera List Center has announced a new initiative, Art for the Now, intended to provide direct support to some of the most vulnerable in our communities; artists, freelancers, teachers, and students. Their goal is to raise $15,000 by June 1, and to make it possible, they are selling fine art prints commissioned from artists such as Dan Graham, Sarah Morris, Matt Mullican, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Fred Wilson.

Their plan is a radical one: to significantly raise the scope of our honoraria, expanding whom we pay and how much. Starting now and running through the fall, for each online event we will offer both presenter fees and ten modest stipends for members of the public.

The prints are available here.

$750 will get you an artwork of your choice and the assurance that 100% of the income received by the VLC will be directly passed on to their online program participants.

If you prefer, you can donate an amount of your choosing here.

FOLLOW THE VERA LIST CENTER: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Rebecca Friedrichs’ book #1 on Amazon

Friedrichs appeared Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “The Next Revolution” with Steve Hilton to discuss how corrupt teachers’ unions inject their agenda into every aspect of the education system and beyond. Watch the full interview here.

When asked about the school choice debate, Rebecca stated, “There’s only one reason America does not have school choice teachers’ unions state and national teachers’ unions.”

According to Rebecca, state and national teachers’ unions employ teachers’ dues money to plan, lobby for and enact a radical leftist social, sexual and political agenda. This is despite the fact that, according to three internal studies* conducted by the NEA, most teachers lean conservative. This means most teachers unknowingly fund — via their union dues — the demise of their own beliefs, safety, authority, and classrooms. Rebecca says the best remedy is for Americans to adopt teachers educate them through her book Standing Up to Goliath, and empower them to reject union control.

After the interview, Rebecca’s book Standing Up to Goliath jumped to #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list in all three of its categories — Educator Biographies, Education Reform & Policy, and Labor & Industrial Relations. Due to the influx of demand, Amazon has been forced to delay shipping while awaiting more copies from the publisher.

*NEA’s Status of the American Public School Teacher 2005-2006 (most recent available)

 

Ariana Grande Shares Brain Scans

Popstar Ariana Grande shared photos of her recent brain scan on Friday evening revealing the effects that PTSD has taken on her body resulting from the horrific bombing from her May 2017 concert in England. In a world where trauma is becoming a little too realistic, having a celebrity share their story can hopefully only encourage someone else experiencing these struggles to also step forward and receive help.

Newport Academy, a leading nation-wide mental health treatment center is working to help get word out on the seriousness of this topic that affects so many.

They provide resources and information on:

  • How impactful is Ariana’s story for those who idolize stars and celebrities?
  • Why breaking down the stigma about PTSD should be further expressed throughout the US
  • The lasting effects PTSD can have on anyone and how to live with these affects
  • Stats: Why it’s important to seek help right away when experiencing trauma  
  • The best ways to talk to your child if you’re concerned about their mental health

About Newport Academy

Newport Academy is a series of evidence-based healing centers for adolescents and families struggling with mental health issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse. With locations across the United States, Newport Academy offers a compassionate, family-systems approach, providing gender-specific, individualized, and comprehensive holistic programs that encompass clinical therapy, academic support, and experiential practices. Offerings include residential treatment, intensive outpatient programming, recovery-based therapeutic day schools, and day treatment. Newport Academy nurtures the physical, psychological, social, educational, and spiritual needs of adolescents and their families, from a foundation of compassionate care, clinical expertise, and unconditional love. Our primary mission is to empower teens and restore families. Experts include MDs, Psychiatrists, Therapists, Registered Dieticians, Nurses, Licensed Social Workers, Teachers, and more.

Nurses Congratulate L.A. Teachers

Registered nurses with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) applaud news that—as the result of a historic strike—30,000 educators represented by United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) have reached an agreement, ratified in voting last night, with the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD).

“This is a huge victory for the children, families and hardworking teachers of Los Angeles. The courageous teachers and community supporters have proven that when working people stand together, they can move mountains,” said CNA/NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, citing the L.A. strike as the latest example, along with a wave of historic teachers strikes in 2018, of workers rising up in collective opposition to corporate attacks and the defunding and corporate privatization of our public institutions— in this case, our public education system.

“No one has taken advocacy to the streets of America in the past year the way the teachers have done, from West Virginia to Los Angeles. We are so proud of what our UTLA sisters and brothershave accomplished through their solidarity, and their unwavering demand for justice, in the face of corporate greed,” said Castillo.

Nurses say they especially congratulate teachers on winning a reduction in class sizes.

“Teachers cannot do their job when they are overloaded with students. Nurses had to fight hard in California to win our own safe staffing protections—and are still fighting at the national level, so we are very pleased to see this particular win,” said Castillo. “Students deserve to learn in conditions where teachers are able to give them the attention, time, energy and resources to help them flourish.”

RNs also cheer news that the agreement includes the hiring of nurses, to provide a full-time nurse at every school, five days a week.

“Nurses know that when kids are not healthy, they’re not able to learn,” said Castillo. “Students today show up at school with a wide variety of complex and serious health conditions—especially since many of them may not have adequate health care outside of school. It is imperative that a nurse be on site to care for them.”

CNA/NNU registered nurses have voiced support for the teachers throughout the strike, which began January 14. RNs say they shared educators’ concern that with a pro-charter school majority on the LAUSD board, and pro-charter businessman Austin Beutner acting as superintendent, equal opportunity to education was impossible.

“The effort of billionaires to erode the public education system and push public resources to charter schools is a blatant attack on our democracy. Los Angeles teachers said, ‘Enough is enough!’—and took a huge stand for public schools, which serve high numbers of children of color and low-income children. What they have accomplished is a victory for equality in society,and for quality education for all,” said Castillo.

“Social determinants, such as the educational opportunities or level of schooling a person receives, greatly influence the health of our patients. So nurses thank the teachers for their righteous fight, which is a win for a healthier society. We want the teachers to know the nurses will continue standing with them to protect education as a public good—today, tomorrow and always.”

How cheap Internet prices has helped online education in evolving?

Imagine this is 2004, and you’re an engineering student aspiring to clear the GATE exam. What would your first instinct be? It would undoubtedly involve looking for a nearby institute or consulting your college seniors about how hefty a fee you should be expected to pay for the course.

The year 2017 alone projected the growth of EduTech market at about $255 billion. This number is likely to grow at an exponential rate because more and more students are deciding to enrol for online courses. But what are the circumstances that contributed to this enormous growth? What are the factors that dominate this market niche?

Online Education:

An underlying sense of how online education works is dependent on the goal of the learner. The primary category of learners come to earn certifications which when added to their resumes, boost their career portfolios. The second category of learners come with a sole goal to improve their professional skill set and thus to establish expertise in that area.

Gaining an online degree was earlier not respected or considered credible. But all that is rapidly changing with the drastic increase in the number of students opting to study online and also the number of quality education providers online. While the availability of high-speed internet is one major factor, ease in accessing this technology, economical pricing, superior quality of education and the flexibility it provides form the other significant factors which contribute to the growth of students opting to learn online.

How does affordable internet contribute to this growth?

India and Internet:

The origin of the seed for digital education in India is a bit hazy, but the presence of E-Learning has been prevalent thanks to the educational programmes done by Doordarshan and Aakashwani in the previous decades. Though the internet was a common phenomenon in the early 2000’s, learning wasn’t the main takeaway from any of it. It was primarily used to communicate and not an everyday household luxury because of its expensive setup costs.

With the advent of affordable and high-speed bandwidths, the penetration of internet increased, and with it, the user base surged. The highest surge in the number of users in India was probably towards the end of 2016 when Reliance Jio made affordable and cheap 4G internet a reality while the Indian Currency Demonetisation forced digital literacy in the country.

Rural Penetration and Indic Languages:

The internet has opened up a wide range of possibilities in rural India. Students who previously travelled hundreds of kilometres and paid thousands of rupees at coaching institutes for GATE, UPSC, CAT etc. examination preparation, can now prepare from the comfort of their homes. All they need is a laptop or a smartphone with a small internet pack or access to a community WiFi network.

Sreenath K, a railway coolie from Kerala has cleared the UPSC examination by using the free WiFi available at the railway station. Every day, while he moved the luggage around the station, he used to listen to classes via his earphones on his smartphone. While this is an epitome of ‘how affordable internet has empowered the common man and thus helped in evolving the education in India’, the question of content and trust issues still exist.

A Yourstory article indicates that a majority of the Indian population prefer and trust content in their native languages. This opens up an excellent opportunity for regional content creators.

Thus teachers from anywhere in the country can upload their content in their native languages, and peer-reviewed content ratings help students choose the best of the lot and learn from them.

Accessing Content and types of Content:

While there is an abundance of text-based content available for students to consume, the most preferred content type is video. Video-based content has made it easy for students to understand complex topics from a primary school level to even GATE, CAT or UPSC.
While this stands, audio and image-based content rank next to video content. This is so because before the advent of 4G, accessing a video file was a difficult task but affordable 4G and free WiFi has made video streaming easier and faster.

While there are numerable video tutorials and audio tutorials available for free on youtube and other podcasting mediums, there are many other paid course portals available which provide various certification courses. The increase in the demand for skilled certification has increased the number of contenders in this category. This healthy competition, in turn, has contributed to improving the quality of the course content available.

Educational content is not just confined to the limits of the formats mentioned above. There has been a significant surge in content being generated for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality too. Gamifying the material has helped it, but at the same time, the pricing and the costs involved in including these technologies in a daily learner’s life are huge as of now.

It is not just this new technology, India is ranked 67th by Ookla’s internet speed test, the average internet speed in India is 18Mbps. Though this is an acceptable speed, it is not enough to cater to the ever-growing digital population.

With an estimated growth in the edtech industry to about $1.6 Billion by 2021, the best way to achieve this is by complete rural penetration of the internet, promotion of Indic and regional languages based content, affordable higher bandwidth and integration of new technologies into e-learning modules.