The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Eleanor Kennedy Blog, Special Ed

A student may know her 12 times tables, be perfect at reciting the alphabet of a second language, or have full knowledge of a river’s features, but one of the most important lessons a student can benefit from in the classroom is her social-emotional learning (SEL). Social and emotional learning is the process of developing and using the skills, attitudes, and knowledge that help youth and adults to identify and regulate emotions. In turn, the knowledge gained from SEL could help young people to develop positive relationships and make responsible decisions. This message was presented recently at the annual MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium. Research clearly shows that integrating SEL into school life is good for both students and teachers. In fact, it is estimated that SEL improves student achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, while also increasing prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improving student attitudes toward school, and reducing depression and stress among students. This is something that is key to many educators’ teaching, including Dr Ruha Benjamin of Princeton University. Dr Benjamin, who is  professor of African American studies and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier, delivered the key note at the 2017 MassCUE Fall Conference which was attended by the 30hands team. She spoke passionately about the importance of social and emotional awareness among students, in particular with regard to people’s cultural backgrounds. One particular point Dr Benjamin regularly pushes is the idea that race is socially constructed while asking how …

If At First You Don’t Succeed – Try, Try Again

Eleanor Kennedy Blog, Iterative Creativity

It’s a proverb made popular in the 1800s, one that can be applied to many of life’s disciplines. But, it has to be noted how fitting it is that the famous saying, which acts as a piece of advice to those facing adversity, was made famous by an educational writer (William Edward Hickson). Iteration is a huge part of a student’s learning experience. It’s foolish to think skills can be perfected and knowledge obtained at first deliverance. Yes, the speed at which knowledge is retained depends on the person. One student might have to recite their multiplication tables twice before they are memorized, while another student recites them five times. But what is important to remember is that each time you make a mistake, you’re a step closer to getting it right. One would suggest this is a startup culture, and perhaps it is. According to Edutopia, many educators that seek to incorporate design thinking and collaborative processes into teaching and learning are looking to the unique culture exemplified by startup companies. They say that by embracing these business models for learning, teachers somewhat become entrepreneurs themselves as they take on a DIY spirit and transform the process of constructing meaning and searching for knowledge. By choosing this startup culture, these educators and their schools are essentially placing a renewed focus on the role of the learner by enabling them to search for solutions to their problems through design activities and iteration. At 30hands, this is preached daily. Failure is a …

Spaced Learning and its Value in Teaching

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

What is Spaced Learning? Spaced Learning is a pretty new learning method. It was first developed in 2008 by Dr Paul Kelley, a neuroscientist who was at the time investigating methods for long-term memory retention. In theory, spaced learning is when you condense learning content and repeat it three times, with two 10-minute breaks during which distractor activities (such as physical activities) are performed by the students. While this methodology is very unique, its ending is a common goal shared by teachers throughout the world – that is for students to retain knowledge long-term. So does Spaced Learning have a place in classrooms and workplaces? That’s something we will explore throughout this article. One thing we do know as educators is that effective long-term learning is rarely achieved by a one-off event, but according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), designers all too often think about one-off events when building training solutions. This means that it is very likely for students to forget a lesson as soon as it ends. This problem isn’t new. In fact, it was first spotted by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885. He discovered that we as people do not only have a learning curve, but a forgetting curve where we lose what we learn if the information is not used regularly. So let’s try an experiment. If I give you a list of nonsense three letter words right now, how long do you think you will remember them? Ebbinghaus did this exact experiment more than …

Molding a Musician: 30hands Tips from a Music Teacher

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

“Lots of my shy students have started to become emboldened to sing louder and with more confidence as they’ve had chances to hear what they sound like.” These are the words of Kerrie French, a music teacher at Conant School in Acton, MA. Kerrie has credited technology and 30hands with bringing out the best in her students and strengthening their confidence, be it in performance or academically. She said: “With the older students, the more academic-oriented projects have allowed those who struggle with singing or other musical skills to find other ways to contribute and shine in my classroom. It has also motivated some of the older students to be more active participants in group-work because they all want to use the iPads to create the slides. “It can sometimes leads to arguments,” she chuckled, “but learning how to work well in a group is a very important and life-long skill.” Project-based learning is something the 30hands team encourages and sees great benefit in. Kerrie first heard about 30hands from her district’s educational technology specialist, Peggy Harvey, who taught a professional development class on digital storytelling. She played around with it and noted it was a quick and easy way for her students to record themselves singing. As a music teacher, she says, it can be hard to share what goes on in her classroom with families outside of performances. Kerrie saw 30hands as a great opportunity to share her students’ voices with their families and the school community. “I teach approximately 450 students each …

STORY 2017 – The Key Takeaways

Guest Blogger Blog

Recently, we developed the 30hands Storyteller Web App because we believe that stories are an integral part of learning. After all, stories help people connect with lessons and ideas in an enjoyable and easily understandable manner, allowing them to remember important points better. STORY follows that same principle. The conference, which was held last September 21-22 in Nashville, Tennessee, was geared towards storytellers, artists, and other creatives who use stories as a platform to trigger change in the world. The premise of the conference was for both instruction and inspiration, and participants were challenged to exercise creativity through their medium of choice. Using the art of storytelling to teach lessons is nothing new. In fact, the Huffington Post says narratives have served as tools to transmit messages even before writing started. To understand better, consider the relationship between an abstract and a technical subject. For example, Tootsa presented the idea that math and arts can be combined together to introduce complex concepts to children, proving that creativity is not on the opposite side of the fence of hard sciences. What STORY sought to do was not dissimilar, in the sense that it encouraged storytellers and artists to hone their craft so they can present elaborate ideas effectively to their respective audiences. The speakers at STORY 2017 are among the leaders of the creative industry today. The roster included Matthew Luhn, a story consultant and writer, who has over 20 years under his belt of working at Pixar; Steven Spiegel, an …

Learning and Staff Development in an Age of On-Demand

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

We live in a world where demand and expectations drive quality of living, or at least what we perceive to be quality. Missed last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? No worries (okay, except for the danger of spoilers). You can literally speak into your remote control and your television will catch you up. Want to know the weather forecast for the next week? Siri will have your answer in a matter of seconds. Our expectations are growing dramatically with each passing year as a result of this desire for immediate delivery of what we want. The on-demand culture has not only affected our home life but our professional lives, too. Today’s workforce is expected to be immediately productive on everything needed for the job. But is this realistic? How are we supposed to be 100% knowledgeable when each release of a product has a whole new batch of features and functionality? Often, the user interface and UX are dramatically changed. The reality is that the rapidly changing nature of technology is in conflict with our on-demand desires. We want everything now, but we can’t have that, since everything changes too quickly. To meet this demand, we need to have ways to teach and learn more quickly. Company hierarchies must be willing to encourage learning and development within their workforce to truly get the best possible results from staff. What do you mean when you say, “learning and development”? Learning and development is exactly what you think it is. It’s a way …

Back to School Teacher Tips with 30hands

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, but time seems to go so fast these days. The summer has come and gone. Teachers are getting their lesson plans ready, students are getting their supplies, and both are preparing to surpass a number of important milestones over the next academic year. It’s an exciting time, when possibilities seem to be infinite and goals unlimited. Over the next 9 months or so, teachers will bond with their students and create a permanent impression on not only their learning, but their lives. If you’re a teacher preparing to head back into the classroom, or perhaps your district’s school year is already underway, we’ve  decided to give you a few tips to make this year the most rewarding yet. Happy teaching, and learning! Set clear objectives. This will not only be useful for you as a teacher, but your students too. With each grade a student enters, their knowledge and capabilities are expected to grow. Set some objectives on your first day back in the classroom to keep both you and your students motivated.  Learn from your colleagues. Often times, the best way to develop professionally is to talk to your colleagues. Each teacher has his or her own ways of engaging students and delivering content. Whether your colleague has 20+ years experience in the classroom or is just starting out, it can be hugely beneficial to pick their brains for teaching methods, and also share your own ideas! One way …

The Value of Taking Things Apart and Putting Them Back Together

Eric Braun Blog, Iterative Creativity, Teaching

When I decided to dive into the world of education several years ago, I spent a lot of time exploring models of great learning. My exploration came through reading articles on pedagogy and research, talking to educators and learners and thinking about my own experiences. Although I had been a very good student in the traditional sense, I realized that what had made the most impact on me was hands-on and experiential learning. For some reason, I was the kind of person who explored tangential curves that veered off the main course and usually returned back through some sort of twisting wormhole. It began with taking apart clocks, radios and other gadgets to fix them and find out how they worked. It continued through music and the arts and into entrepreneurship, which was more about putting things together and creating something new. Taking things apart and then putting them together in a different manner, creating something new from the analysis and understanding that came from deconstruction. Deconstruction and reconstruction can happen in many subject areas. Jazz musicians take apart a song and put the ideas together in a new improvisation of the original. Writers take a well-known story and retell it in a new, fresh way that may not even look like the original. The musical West Side Story was based on the storyline from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and James Joyce’s Ulysses is a modern-day retelling of The Odyssey by Homer. The key learning component in deconstruction is the analysis …

Project Based Learning Comes to Life with 30hands

Moia Rowsome Blog

Knowledge construction, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and learner autonomy. These are just some of the crucial elements that teachers have been endeavoring to include in their daily lessons for some time now. As you can imagine, it is no easy feat. With time restraints and a strict curriculum to cover, it is a challenge to foster all of these valuable skills in class each day. Project Based Learning (PBL) is an effective way to bring multiple elements into your students’ learning process. With 30hands Storyteller, you can make the whole process more engaging as your learners can record and document their learning. Perfect for formative assessment. Sign me up! What is PBL? Many believe that the traditional teaching model, where the learner is a passive observer or listener, does not prepare our students for the world we live in today. This is not to say that instruction is not valuable or necessary for learning. However, it has become clear that room is needed for more critical inquiry, problem solving, collaborative group work and decision making at school. Project Based Learning involves having students actively engaging in real world projects that they care about. The student moves from the passive listener to key instigator in their learning. Their role is investigative and this investigation drives their own learning. According to Thomas (2000), there are five criteria that a project must have in order for it to be considered PBL: Centrality – The project actually is the curriculum. It is not …

How to Make Training Stick: A 30hands Lesson

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

Studies show that only 10% of skills presented to employees during training sessions are retained after 6 months. The reasons for this is something we have already discussed here and here. It’s a frustrating reality for the corporate trainer but how do we incite change to ensure that our workforces are more productive than they were yesterday, more in line with company policies, and perhaps most importantly, happier in their job? It’s all about commitment, from the very top down to the trainer and trainee. It would be virtually impossible for any company to successfully train its staff without the support of its highest representative. According to TrainingIndustry.com, this involves a commitment to change, and this doesn’t start with the employee being trained. It starts with leadership, for without the commitment of leadership, there can be no real change. But there must also be a commitment to execute, something which takes time, energy and insistence to adopt new beliefs. And then there’s the commitment of time. New beliefs, behaviors, skills and competencies take time to develop – more time than most people believe is necessary. No matter how good the training is, the actual acquisition of competencies is not gained in a single training. Those competencies are gained in the field, over time. This last point is perhaps the most important. The ease and ability to revisit training, as well as meaningful follow-up assessment is perhaps the key to retained skills. With 30hands video, this is possible while ensuring vital company …