5 good things in education in 2013

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As someone who is typically critical of American education, I recently took a look back, reflecting on what’s positive about teaching and learning in our country. Here are five good things that happened in education in 2013.

    via: digitaltrends.com
  1. Minecraft — Gaming in the classroom is trending, and games like Minecraft are showing educators how this kind of student engagement can transform classrooms in a variety of subjects. Minecraft can teach kids powerful lessons about engineering, architecture, planning and complex thinking, while doing it in a way students enjoy. 
  2. STEAM education — the addition of “arts” to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is long overdue. STEM education became popular when bureaucrats started scaring school leaders with the idea that we are losing some mythical global war in the areas of math and science. I’m all for STEM for different reasons, but adding the arts into the mix, creating STEAM, adds creativity to the sciences — an integral piece of applying any skill.
  3. ASCD’s EduCore — I may not be a stentorian voice of approval for the Common Core State Standards, but if standardized education is the current trend, we should do it right. Education publisher and professional development leader ASCD has made Common Core integration much easier with its interactive website, EduCore. Disclaimer: I do work for ASCD, but as a former classroom teacher, I haven’t seen a better tool to help educators in a long time.
  4. Mobile learning — The charging bull of education, mobile learning picked up even more speed in K-12 classes nationwide in 2013. What started as a few 1-to-1 schools, using iPads, has become a major movement, with students using cell phones, iPods, Kindles and an array of tablet computers for a myriad of learning activities. With the power of the Internet in students’ hands, the sky or, perhaps more apropos, cyberspace, is the limit.
  5. Non-traditional grading — Granted, this one may be a bit self-serving, but I have witnessed firsthand some schools enhancing their grading practices and other schools eliminating traditional grades completely. With many enlightened methods driving education, the most enlightened — eliminating number and letter grades — seems to be gaining traction.

What is on your 2013 “Good-things-in-Education” list?

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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