Sonoma County Office of Education

21st Century Learning

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The World Begins Again
10.10.18
For many in Sonoma County, the last year post-fire has felt like a time of limbo. Similarly, people in the scientific community and engaged in science education in California have been living between stories. Anna Van Dordrecht encourages that in all of these cases we have the chance to engage with and shape the new world. Read More...


The Times Are a-Changin'... So What Will You Do?
05.24.18
The educational system and the world are always changing, and the present moment is no exception. In this blog, author Anna Van Dordrecht reflects on her mother's twenty-five year teaching career and retirement speech and invites readers to consider how they can invoke change in education and so shape how the world changes. Read More...


Looking Out, Looking In
05.07.18
NASA has a dual focus on discovery and understanding, on looking outward and inward. Anna Van Dordrecht shares her reflections on this from a recent experience at the NASA Armstrong facility witnessing the last stage of the ATom mission. She also suggests how this dual focus can be used as a model for supporting science educators and students. Read More...


Recognizing Unseen Possibilities: The Story of the STEAM Showcase
03.27.18
In this blog, Science Coordinator Anna Van Dordrecht shares the story of transitioning from a traditional county science fair to an interactive STEAM Showcase that encourages the integration of making, innovative technology, and creativity within STEAM-based projects. She also highlights how the Showcase promotes diversity in unity and invites both students and teachers to realize previously unseen possibilities. Read More...


Student Leadership in the Wake of School Shootings
03.12.18
After the tragic school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, several students began speaking out about gun violence and started a national conversation about school safety. Some of these students went to Washington to speak with lawmakers while others planned a protest march or used social media to spread their message. Students have always had the capacity to lead; they were at the forefront of the civil rights movement from sit-ins at lunch counters to the LA student walkout in 1968. They have led protests around the country about the end of DACA. So it should be no surprise they are once again leading a movement... Read More...


Linking SBAC Accessibility Tools to Daily Learning
12.22.17
Accessibility tools are for everyday learning and testing. For the past three years schools have acknowledged the value of SBAC accessibility tools to help students understand and express themselves on test questions. In many situations learning about the tools has been limited to the last part of the spring semester and work related to SBAC test preparation. Actions to help students learn about and apply accessibility tools throughout the school year can yield results for both daily learning and summative assessments. This blog post provides details on a process underway in a number of Sonoma County schools making SBAC accessibility tools a part of everyday learning and testing. Read More...


The Hope of Science Past, Present, and Future
12.19.17
Science Coordinator Anna Van Dordrecht reflects on her experience at NASA Langley's Centennial Anniversary and their focus on the past, present, and future of NASA. She encourages science educators to use similar themes when approaching science instruction. Read More...


The Power of Teacher Leaders
12.07.17
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Documenting the Community Response to the Wildfires
10.18.17
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Education in a World Turned Upside Down
10.17.17
In the wake of these horrific fires, we are adjusting to a new reality and reexamining what’s important. Educators have an important role to play in defining what life looks like going forward. As students return to school, they are looking to teachers for how to respond in the face of such an overwhelming tragedy. And so every educator has a huge and important task ahead. How will you help shape the new reality? Read More...


Back to School Night
09.28.17
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Connecting Educators to Cultural Understanding and Civic Engagement
09.01.17
The Unity Center at the California Museum in Sacramento, California opened to the public on Saturday, August 26th. Created to foster mutual understanding among Californians and inspire them to civic action, the Unity Center offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to come together for the common good. Read More...


They’re Telling Us Something
08.24.17
All behavior tells us something. When students show us or say they “don’t care” they are telling us something, whether they know it or not. As educators, we have the opportunity to question, probe, and seek deeper understanding in an effort to meet students where they are and help them thrive. Read More...


No One is Alone
08.23.17
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Sanitizing White Supremacy
08.15.17
When I first started teaching twenty years ago, I worked in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Not far from where I lived was the popular tourist attraction of Stone Mountain Park. Many of my eighth grade students would talk about the “cool laser light show” there. Families would bring a picnic and watch the laser show which included cartoon depictions sports figures and American flags; the show was accompanied by patriotic music. The light show also included glorified renderings of three Confederate figures: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I was especially shocked that people would bring their families to celebrate those that rebelled against the United States in defense of slavery and white supremacy. New generations of children were being told a sanitized version of history, for nowhere in the laser light show was shown the institution of slavery nor the dark history of Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain was the site of the rebirth of the KKK in 1915. One year later, the Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned a relief carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson into the side of the mountain. The KKK was given perpetual rights to meet on the mountain until the State of Georgia purchased the property in 1960. Now the park is the most popular tourist attraction in Georgia. As teachers and as parents it is easy to fall victim to the sanitizing of our history through what we include and what we leave out of our lessons. From the outfits students create to celebrate Thanksgiving in kindergarten classes to the textbooks we have our students read we risk continuing to sanitize white supremacy. Covering all content in a superficial way can actually give students a worse understanding of history. Read More...


Learning From Pittsburgh's Maker Community
06.26.17
We visited Pittsburgh last week to deliver a keynote at the Pittsburgh Fab Institute and to connect with maker educators in the area. We had heard of the amazing things happening there over and over again and wanted to see it first hand. Pittsburgh has a vast network of connected makers including libraries, universities, museums and schools. Read More...


Game Based Learning at the Pacific Coast Air Museum
06.19.17
On June 6th, fifty seven educators from Sonoma County visited the Pacific Coast Air Museum as part of the 21st Century Summer Institute hosted by the Sonoma County Office of Education. The teachers were engaged in a week of learning and designing focused on creating a climate of possibility in classrooms and schools by incorporating creativity, innovation, and student voice. To kick off the week, the participants competed in teams to win a scavenger hunt at the museum. Read More...


Cultivating Discovery, Creation, and Possibility
05.31.17
In his 2013 TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson draws a parallel between a spring bloom in Death Valley and the potential in education: “Right beneath the surface are seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about in order to spring to life…(therefore) the real role of leadership is climate control- creating a climate of possibility.” Read More...


Learning about making at NASA's Langley Research Center
05.15.17
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Students Impacted by Poverty
05.04.17
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5 Minute Film Festival Video Recap
04.21.17
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The Power of Science Education: An Earth Day Reflection
04.21.17
Jane Goodall, arguably one of the preeminent environmental scientists of our time, once said “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” This is the core message of Earth Day and is at the heart of what I hope students are taking away from their science education and school in general, along with the skill and wisdom to make such a decision. As we celebrate Earth Day this year, Goodall’s words are also a call to action for us as science educators. Read More...


EL Students and Their Families Need to Know
03.13.17
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Science-Minded Citizenship
02.21.17
Science is controversial right now. In the midst of media coverage that is now consistently tumultuous, scientific topics feature prominently. While this can feel like a big shift, controversy surrounding science is nothing new. Read More...


It is Time to Ditch the Projector
01.27.17
As more and more schools move to 1:1 environments the need for an LCD projector is quickly declining. While it is nice to display documents on a screen in front of the room, there are several shortcomings often present with this approach. Many of the classrooms I visit have an LCD projector that is on a cart or on the teacher’s desk with cords going everywhere making it difficult to move around the front of the classroom. The teacher or student presenting often moves in front of the screen causing viewing problems. These projectors are often too close to the whiteboard (or screen if there is one) which makes the viewing area too small for students in the back of the room to see. Read More...


Breakout EDU- Activating Collaboration & Critical Thinking
12.03.16
Critical thinking and collaboration are key skills for 21st century citizens. Working to promote these skills, McKinley Elementary School teacher Matthew De Lucia-Zeltzer (Mr. D-Z) has been providing ‘Breakout EDU’ activities with his 4th & 5th grade students. Breakout EDU is a new game based activity where students collaborate to solve puzzles and unlock codes within a 45 minute time period. Finding answers to ‘Breakout EDU’ activities requires brainstorming and teamwork to arrive at solutions. This blog post describes Mr. D-Z’s Breakout EDU game efforts with students at McKinley Elementary School. Read More...


The Next Day
11.10.16
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Where’s the Grammar?
11.08.16
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SCOE's STEM Makerspace
10.21.16
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Promoting Access and Expression with Technology
10.18.16
California Standards require many learning ‘shifts’. One important shift involves differentiation for varied learning styles and abilities. Technology can play a key role in this differentiation. Digital learning materials can be personalized for learners according to their needs and interests. Technology can also provide different ways for students to demonstrate their understanding of standards and express themselves. This blog post offers ideas to support personalized learning with technology. Read More...


Reading Through the Seasons: October’s Falling Leaves
09.22.16
Children need opportunities to investigate autumn leaves first hand. There is no substitute for watching actual trees drop their leaves, for touching the leaves, examining their forms, feeling their textures, and noticing the varying shades and intensities of their colors. Autumn is nothing if not a sensory experience. Read More...


Virtual Reality With Google Cardboard
09.16.16
Creating VR content is a great way for students to showcase learning and experiences that take place outside of the classroom. Students can create VR content about different ecosystems they visit and share it in science classes and with other students anywhere in the world. Teachers can create VR content at historical or literary sites for virtual field trips; the curricular opportunities are unlimited. Read More...


Videos from the reMAKE Education Summit
09.06.16
Last month 250 educators from around the country came to 180 Studios in Santa Rosa, California for the first annual reMAKE Education Summit. Here are the videos from the general session keynotes. Read More...


First Graders Leading the Way with PBL
06.13.16
First grade students at University Elementary at La Fiesta in Rohnert Park, California engaged in project based learning to design a new train for Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit. After hearing from an engineer from SMART, students in Mr. Kurda’s class designed and built a life-size, 16-foot long model of the new SMART train out of cardboard. They also created a custom logo, and route map. Read More...


Ten Years a Teacher: Pondering Purpose
05.27.16
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2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment Reporting
05.26.16
Over 37,000 students in Sonoma County took the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests this Spring. The tests measure progress with California State Standards for grades 3 through 8 and 11. The annual state tests are one measure districts, parents, and communities can use to check school achievement. This blog post offers information on 2016 SBAC reports including report elements, types of reports, and timelines for release of information. Read More...


What is the role of math class?
04.26.16
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The Case for Student Empowerment and Creativity in the NGSS Classroom
04.07.16
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Radical Collaboration at SXSWedu
03.15.16
One of the great things about the SXSWedu conference is the collaboration between different groups of people. There is a good mix of participants attending and presenting including educators, edtech professionals, educational non profits and policy makers. The national scope of the conference allows participants to gain a broad perspective of what is working in education and where things are headed. Read More...


The Possibilities and the Dilemma
02.22.16
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Productive Chaos in Fourth Grade
02.05.16
This week I visited Vicky Hill’s fourth grade class at Oak Grove Elementary to help them finish their films for the 2nd Annual Sonoma County Five Minute Film Festival. Vicky had no experience with filmmaking on iPads in her classroom before she embarked on this venture two weeks ago, but she was willing to take a risk and see what her students could do. She felt that the two weeks were a period of “productive chaos.” Read More...


A Tale of Technology and Thanksgiving
11.23.15
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Connecting with children in the wake of tragedy and political violence
11.18.15
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We are all Math People
11.10.15
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What I Can Do
11.06.15
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Why We Need Maker Education
10.14.15
I few weeks ago I accompanied Anna Van Dordrecht, SCOE's Teacher-on-Loan for Science, and her AP Biology Class from Maria Carillo High School on a field trip to Medtronic in Santa Rosa. Medtronic is a medical technology and services company with more than 85,000 employees worldwide and $9.4 billion in revenue last year. There are about 950 employees in Santa Rosa where Medtronic's vascular division makes coronary stents and stent graft systems for treating artery disease. Read More...


Get Your Tech Projects Funded!
08.14.15
Many teachers were very excited to learn how to use a green screen to change the background of their videos at workshops at Santa Rosa City Schools and Mark West Union School District this week. Some of these teachers wanted to find ways to be able to do this in their own classrooms since they did not have an iPad. Luckily for them, there are funding options available to them to purchase an iPad for their class. Read More...


Personal Information & Privacy in the Information Age
06.30.15
The Internet is constantly evolving and there are many powerful and wonderful opportunities afforded through it. Working with children and adolescents, it is wise to cultivate an understanding of how the Internet operates and safe practices. An area for particular care and discretion centers on personal information and ways companies use information about us. This blog post examines information security and privacy from the standpoint of both operations and safe practices. Read More...


State Accountability Metrics in Transition
05.29.15
Strategy California is in transition with its K-12 public school accountability measures. The State Board of Education is currently reviewing ideas to replace the Academic Performance Index (API). Since work in schools in now largely based on Local Control & Accountability Plan (LCAP) outcomes, the goal is to align new accountability measures with the LCAP. Read More...


My Father’s Most Valuable Lesson: Teaching with Passion in the NGSS Era
05.28.15
For Anna Van Dordrecht’s entire career, she and her father have both taught at Maria Carrillo High School, on opposite sides of the campus. He is in the math building and she is across campus in the science wing. However, this will change in June when he retires after 37 years of teaching. In this blog post, Anna reflects on what her students say stands out about Mr. Van and his teaching, then she relates these thoughts to what lies ahead for educators as they align their instruction to the new science standards. Read More...

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