PBLWorks Introduces New Online Course for Teachers

PBLWorks, a leader in professional development for high-quality project-based learning, has created a new facilitated online course, “Adapting Your First Project,” to help teachers seeking a shortcut to implementing high-quality projects with students for either in-person or remote learning. The eight-week course uses PBLWorks’ new Project Designer, an interactive project planner, and a library of 72 ready-made projects designed for K–12 grade levels and subject areas. Participants pick one project, then learn step by step how to make it come alive for their particular students and context. In addition, teachers will learn how project-based learning can be a powerful tool for promoting educational equity.

Impero Creates Cloud-Based Solution to Record Student Health and Safety Concerns

Impero has created Impero back:drop, a free cloud-based solution to help schools manage and record student safety and health information, from first aid to COVID-19 symptom tracking to more complex mental health issues. Impero back:drop gives districts a way to monitor and communicate about potential concerns safely and securely. It eliminates the need for paper-based reporting systems and can be used whether students are learning at school or at home. Impero back:drop will remain free to schools indefinitely, filling a critical need for staying on top of students’ mental and physical concerns during the pandemic and beyond.

New School Supplies in Maine: Downed Trees, Clipboards, Buckets, and Tents

Mindful of lower virus transmission rates outside, educators at Portland Public Schools in Portland, ME, are working to get students outdoors as much as possible. Working with local architects, the district identified suitable outdoor areas and installed tents or other shade structures to accommodate changing weather. Each student was given a drawstring backpack and clipboard. Tree stumps and buckets serve as desks. Brooke Teller, a coach for science, technology, engineering, and math stated, “We know virus transmission rates drop dramatically outside, and that it’s safer for both kids and adults, and so right now our most important task is figuring out how to get 5,000 students outdoors as much as possible.” Teller estimates she’s purchased about 600 buckets for the schools. She has also partnered with the city arborist to locate dozens of downed or dead trees that can be cut into stumps and benches. Additionally, Teller has produced training videos and webinars to help teachers and students make the transition to these outdoor classrooms.

Teacher’s Colorful Response to Ban on Pride Flags Goes Viral

A TikTok video posted by a teacher in Reno, NV, has gone viral thanks to her colorful response to a school district policy that prohibits displaying a pride flag because it’s considered political speech. Jennifer Leja, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher in the Washoe County School District who is bisexual, posted her response to the new policy on TikTok. The short video features Leja sporting a rainbow lanyard in her rainbow-themed classroom. “If anybody asks, I just really like rainbows,” she says. “Rainbows aren’t political, not at all. Rainbows are just colorful and fun.” Leja states that she is the only openly LGBTQ teacher at her school and she’s always kept a pride flag and rainbow gifts from students in her classroom. Leja says that she believes having a rainbow flag is very much part of who she is, and it’s important for students who are questioning their identities. “It’s legal in every state to get married; it’s legal for LGBTQ people to exist in this country right now, so I don’t see how it’s a political issue,” she says.