George Lucas Educational Foundation

Best of Edutopia: Staff Picks for 2012

The Edutopia team shares their favorites blogs, videos, and articles from 2012.
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  • Cindy Johanson, Executive Director
  • The Power of the Positive Phone Call Home
  • At Edutopia, we strive to provide an array of strategies for people to improve education. When I look back over 2012, there are many standout blogs, videos, and social media shares, but Elena Aguilar captured my favorite kind of Edutopia content: a technique that any educator, anywhere, can do. It doesn't cost money. It doesn't require a ton of extra time. It's the human connection that matters in education.
  • David Markus, Editorial Director
  • A Parent's Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  • Speaking as a dad, who is sprinting at top speed to keep up with my newly minted teenager's unquenchable thirst for digital media stuff, I loved this guide. There are plenty of good ideas for channeling kids' energy in creative and productive ways, but also the guide gave me great ammo for discussions with my kids about how to stay positive and safe with digital media. One last bouquet to the Guide producers, thanks for the tips about how to fire up our schools on the virtues of 21st-century learning in the classroom -- and the great suggestions for how we parents can stay informed in the future.
  • Zachary Fink, Director of Video Programming
  • Building Career Skills in Video Production Class (Tech2Learn Series)
  • I'm part of the video team at Edutopia, and I have to call out this Tech2Learn piece about building career skills in video production. The video program at Visalia High School reminds me so much of the video program at my own high school so many years ago. I love to see how motivated these students are when creating amazing projects, and it makes me smile to see their teacher doing what he loves and sharing that passion with teenagers, some of whom, I am sure, will go on to work in the film industry.
  • Laurie Chu, Web Production Manager
  • Design Thinking: Lessons for the Classroom
  • I've tried to instill in my children the notion that life never works out as (pre)planned. That part of learning and growing gives us a sense of purpose, but it also means taking joy in taking chances, making discoveries, and yes, even changing your perspectives. Our own Betty Ray introduced me to the Design Thinking "mindset," and I became eager to learn more through her great facilitation of the five-week Design Thinking for Educators workshop. Wow! What inspiration! Don't impose restrictions on yourself or your students. Say "yes, and..." rather than "yes, but..." What a great way to start the new year, right?
  • Mariko Nobori, Digital Media Producer
  • Collaborative Learning Builds Deeper Understanding
  • Just when you think you know something, then you have to explain it to someone else, and you realize, "Uh, let me get back to you on that..." That's why I loved seeing these students working together -- they listened to each other's questions and explanations so intently and respectfully, and they described how much more they learned by having to explain things to each other. So while a teacher can never be replaced in the classroom, it's great to see how much students can learn from each other, too.
  • Todd Finley, Blogger
  • James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games
  • Teaching is really complicated. Absent rich contexts, kids view learning as shoveling smoke; words and concepts float away. However, when instruction aligns with gaming mechanics, learning zealots are manifested. In this eight-minute video, genius education researcher James Gee is not saying that teachers should bring "Call of Duty" into the classroom. However, they can motivate their students by incorporating principles of gaming: roles, rich contexts, challenges, cooperation, meaningful tools, responsive environments, and problem solving. Gee says that the problem with schools is that they "have handed kids all the manuals, without the games."
  • Gustavo Arizmendi, Ad Traffic and Sales Coordinator
  • Teaching Teamwork Through Video Game Development (Tech2Learn Series)
  • Since my early years, I have had an affinity for figuring out how things work. My initial exposure to computers was both a puzzle to solve and a challenge, in part because my knowledge of English was limited at the time, and resources in general were limited. Looking back, I can see how my early exposure to technology allowed me to develop analytical skills that were not only needed to understand computers, but also to understand the world around me. This video reminded me of that initial process, the research that was needed, the translation efforts to make sense of it all, the failures, and the satisfaction when the task was finally completed.
  • Amy Erin Borovoy, Video Programming Producer
  • Media and Digital Literacy: Resources for Parents
  • This article is a collaboration with Common Sense Media, a wonderful organization that helps parents, teachers, and kids navigate the multimedia world we live in. As a parent of a toddler myself, I really appreciate Common Sense's resources, and this page offers lots of useful tips in one place, with links to more. They help parents (and teachers!) make sense of our increasingly complex and media-saturated society. This article was published as part of our new Parent Engagement resources page, a home at Edutopia for parents who want to be productively involved in education -- also a treasure trove of resources!
  • The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con
  • This is one of the best pro/con pieces about the flipped classroom I've read this year. It doesn't lean one way or the other, but it lets you decide if it's right for you. It also squashes the many misconceptions of what a flipped classroom is -- a "must-read" for anyone curious about the flipped phenomenon.
  • Daniel Jarvis, Video Editor
  • Quiet Transformation at an Embattled School
  • The quiet transformation of Visitacion Valley through meditation is the most touching story I've had the privilege of editing at Edutopia. Not only was it an amazing and heartening experience to watch the students who live in a troubled neighborhood cope with traumatic experiences through meditation, it inspired me to practice meditation while working on the piece. Stories like Visitacion Valley's are a perfect reason why I love living in the beautiful city of San Francisco and feel so fortunate to be able to share the success of this "little school that could."
  • Vanessa Vega, Research Analyst
  • Financial Literacy Infographic
  • We designed this infographic to highlight the amazing financial literacy practices at Ariel Academy, which are bringing meaning to math and opening students' eyes to the economic ties that connect people in everyday contexts. I love this infographic because it helps to show how financial literacy can help students to make more informed decisions and promote their lifelong success.
  • Youki Terada, Research Assistant
  • Big Thinkers on Education
  • So many inspiring ideas on a single page! I especially like "Keeping Time: Music Is a Core Subject" by Wynton Marsalis. Having played the trumpet for most of my childhood, I love articles that emphasize the importance of music and art in providing students with a valuable education.
  • Doug Keely, Associate Producer
  • Integrate the Arts, Deepen the Learning
  • Thinking back on my own education, the moments I remember most all involved the arts. So when the Schools That Work team and I first visited Bates Middle School and saw how arts integration was improving the school and empowering students, I felt a strong connection with arts integration. This video showcases the hardwork of students and educators that we saw there, and it was a pleasure for me to work on this production.
  • Mary Beth Hertz, Blogger
  • Rethinking Conversations on Race
  • Many urban schools are filled with students who rarely come in contact with children that don't look like them and teachers who don't live in urban neighborhoods or look like their students. Vilson brings up the importance of getting over the discomfort to have real conversations and honest reflections on how race plays a role in our everyday lives and what we can do about it.
  • Lora Ma, Executive Producer, Web
  • Project-Based Learning from Start to Finish
  • Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas. Heard of it? They are successfully implementing a schoolwide project-based learning program that is transforming students' lives. On average, 98 percent of their students graduate from high school and 100 percent of those kids are admitted to college. But that's not what's stunning to me. Watch the video and hear the students talk about their projects, about what they are working on at school. They are excited, they are passionate, they are masters. It's the kind of story we LOVE to cover here at Edutopia: proven techniques that can inspire a lifelong love for learning.

Comments (3) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

mr.abdo's picture

Hello all,I don`t know your names but still your the leaders for your hard and fantastic words. You really helped me a lot with my teaching .So happy new years and thank you.

David bigpicture1's picture
David bigpicture1
Multimedia professional - teaching through CTE.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your inspiring, educational media examples. It's helpful to see a wide spectrum of professional viewpoints in this type of abbreviated format. Teachers can quickly review your selections and decide if the suggested content is a helpful resource for their course's learning objectives. Happy New Years to all of you at Edutopia and please continue your fine efforts to inspire education in 2013!

Paul Sinjani's picture
Paul Sinjani
School Principal, Grace Academy

Wishing you fruitful and productive 2013 to you all the Edutopia team. You have been great. I am learning a lot from what you share on schools that work. Africa is learning a lot from what you are doing and I know we will get there soon!!!!!

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