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Leaders from LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum agree: students need soft-skills and social-emotional competencies to be effective leaders and team members in the 21st century. Prominent education publications are also discussing this, focusing on the need for teachers to understand social-emotional learning and brain science to better support their students in developing social skills that complement academics. Funders like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are embracing the whole child approach to learning, and there is growing interest in STEM — with its natural connection to curiosity, experimentation, and teamwork — as an integrated, content-forward way to foster growth mindset, grit, perseverance, and the soft skills most essential to 21st-century life.

Our Teacher Forum members have pointed out that the myth that STEM is only about hard skills is slowly waning, and partners are already taking early steps in this direction. The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin is partnering with Agile Mind to lead a Project Team that aims to support students in adopting a growth mindset by addressing teachers’ implicit biases about who can and cannot excel in STEM. Colorado Education Initiative has championed the Student-Centered Accountability Program (S-CAP), a joint effort by small, rural Colorado school districts that considers the whole child to develop an approach to accountability that incorporates a wide range of indicators of district and school quality, focuses on the needs and interests of local communities, and is supported by a network of peers. With more partners contributing and more national attention, we predict that in 2019 we’ll see STEM increasingly being used to strengthen metacognitive and social-emotional skills so that more students can flourish in all aspects of their lives.



My Top 5 Edu-live for Monday 25th Feb  EARLY EDITION

The things that caught my biased eye since last week.


Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers

Pew released Feb 20 a new report that notes concern about mental health cuts across gender, racial and socio-economic lines, with roughly equal shares of teens across demographic groups saying it is a significant issue in their community.

From <http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/02/20/most-u-s-teens-see-anxiety-ad-depression-as-a-major-problem-among-their-peers/>

2. MEANWHILE IN CANADA: Well-being as a lens for decision making                  

The Canadian Index of Well-being (CIW)

regularly reports on the quality of life of Canadians – nationally, provincially, and locally – and advocates for social change that reflects their values and places wellbeing at the heart of policy.

From <https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/>

3. KIA ORA (That’s ‘Hello’ in New Zealand) Ten Trends by COREeducation notes WELL-BEING 

Wellbeing has emerged as a hot topic across many areas of their social, workplace, and government ecosystems in recent years. While there is currently no agreed international definition for wellbeing, those who research the area agree that wellbeing is more than the absence of disease, it is a construct with many parts. In order to flourish people need to experience high levels of wellbeing.

From <http://core-ed.org/research-and-innovation/ten-trends/2019/wellbeing/>


4. FORBES: Recently noted the following well-being trends for the workplace:

  • Wellbeing is a strategy AND a responsibility.
  • Personalization and relevancy are key, gone are the days of “burpees and broccoli” only programs.
  • Realizing and acting on the fact that HR does not own wellbeing and employee experience alone – everyone does.

From <https://www.forbes.com/sites/colleenreilly/2018/12/19/2019-these-three-wellbeing-trends-are-here/>

5. MICROSOFT Empathy and innovation: How Microsoft’s cultural shift is leading to new product development

The message: Empathy leads to understanding and collaboration, which helps innovation push its way through the often-messy journey toward helpful products.

From <https://news.microsoft.com/innovation-stories/empathy-innovation-accessibility/>

Past editions of the LIVEFIVE on my blog www.sparvell.com

See you in around


p.s. register for the 3 free webisodes, TEACHING HAPPINESS



My Name is not Kevin, but apparently he has a phone problem.

I was browsing the New York Times on Saturday 23rd February in a Starbucks near Seattle (how very America that sounds right?) and a great piece by journalist Kevin Roose grabbed my attention.

Get the full article here

The reason I was interested was I’d just finished reading Your Happiness was Hacked co-authored by Alex Salkever https://www.amazon.com/Your-Happiness-Was-Hacked-Brain/dp/1523095849.

Kevin rightly ponders if obsessive or excessive use is indeed an addiction in the true sense of the word. Although cell phone addiction is not yet listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5 th Edition (DSM-5), research has compared it to gambling addiction, which has clearer diagnostic criteria and is included in the DSM-5.

Kevin noted some classical symptoms of heavy-use moving into unhealthy-use

  • incapable of reading books
  • unable to watch full length movies
  • struggling to maintain uninterrupted conversation- on this. Have you head there’s a word to describe when you snub someone in favour of checking your phone? #phubbing


  • finding online engagement that used to provide pleasure, no longer , infact making him anxious or angry

How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain

Kevin needed his phone (as a Tech writer, made sense) and here’s a summary of the support he had from a coach

  1. Address the root cause of phone obsession, the emotional triggers in order to unhook from harmful routines.
  2.  Gather statistics- make it visible and become accountable e.g. how many times you pick up, how many minutes per day doing what.

Kevin noted 5 hours 37 minutes in one day …picking up the phone 101 times.

3. Create mental speed bumps to slow and think

  • a rubber band around the phone which has to be removed first
  •  change the lock screen to 3 questions WHAT FOR? WHY NOW? WHAT ELSE?
  •  become aware of bizarre habits i.e. checking email while brushing teeth
  •  become aware how you deal (or not) with stillness
  •  watch people and life instead of the screen in transit

4. Phones not in bedrooms or, in one case, purchase a safe with combination and give the phone it’s own panic-room experience!

5. Do something interesting with the 5 hours a day you get back.


Kevin ultimate discovery was greater self-awareness and therefore, self-regulation.





My Top-Five Edu-Live for Monday 18th Feb


My Top 5 Edu-live for Monday 18th Feb

The things that caught my biased eye since last week.


  1. RESEARCH How does the time children spend using digital technology impact their mental well-being, social relationships and physical activity?   Unicef 2017      

Super interesting evidence-focused literature review. In summary, moderate use of digital technology tends to be beneficial for children’s mental well-being, while no use or too much use can have a small negative impact. The evidence reviewed suggests mostly positive outcomes from using edigital technology in terms of children’s social relationships- to an extent that consensus may be said to exist.

Get your research geek on here


2. INSIGHTS: Decoding the teenage brain   New technologies are shedding light on what really makes adolescents tick—and providing clues on how we might reach them better. From Edutopia, read the full article here


“Social and emotional learning programs that show adolescents “how to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and consider other people’s feelings” can have positive effects on executive functions more generally, improving focus and self-discipline, and setting teenagers up for academic and professional success well beyond high school.”




3. ACTIVE LEARNING SPACES + EDTECH Our Flagship School partner Steelcase produces excellent research around active learning spaces and learning design. This recent post caught my attention. The Institut International de Lancy (IIL) is integrating active learning and technology to create a campus that reflects life outside of school. See how partnering with Steelcase Education @Leigh Cresswell helped IIL design classrooms that break the traditional mold and are preparing students for the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yti7CVidqG4&feature=youtu.be


Full details here

Nothing dramatic here but a good introduction. If you are interested in the concept of Active Learning Spaces, check out:

        1. https://www.fieldingnair.com/
        2. https://www.steelcase.com/discover/information/education/?redirect=shortlink
        3. Or my sloppy out-of-date internal OneNote Learning Space Design Principles and Practice  (Web view)

classroom version 2

  1. VIDEO: OECD’s Andreas Schleicher on the world’s best education systems

In December, ExcelinEd hosted a thousand state and national policymakers, education leaders and advocates at the 2018 National Summit on Education Reform (#EIE18). Today, we’re releasing videos of our keynote featuring Andreas Schleicher



  1. EDUCATION TO EMPLOYMENT: Designing a system that work (McKinsey)

Including an analysis of more than 100 education-to-employment initiatives from 25 countries, selected on the basis of their innovation and effectiveness. Plus, a survey of youth, education providers, and employers in nine countries that are diverse in geography and socioeconomic context: Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Get it here


Past editions of the LIVEFIVE on my blog www.sparvell.com

See you in around


My Top 5 Edu-live for Monday 11th Feb



The things that caught my biased eye since last week.


  1. A VIDEO:What if we didn’t have teachers? EdTech Update  featured a number of must-watch videos and this one What if we didn’t have teachers?, caught my eye. Nothing ground breaking in one sense- same old Ken Robinson- schooling robs children of creativity schtick …but some greater optimism about action. View this here




2. AN ARTICLE: Boredom caught my eye this week   I’ve been pondering writing a blog on Boredom: The New Luxury Item and suddenly I see it everywhere. This from the New York Times




3. AN APP: Our own Microsoft Font Maker APP

This is actually very very cool and super example of digi-logue – that convergence of analogue and digital. This app allows you to use your digital pen to create a true-type font from your own handwriting. Very very personal.

I think kids would love it. Find it free here\


4. A PODCAST: Our own @Dan Ayoub features in this podcast from edtechtimes speaking about how AR/ VR can produce measurable learning outcomes. Check it out here  SPOILER ALERT: We have a great new paper, a collaboration across our 3-teams written by serious academic influencer on this topic coming down the pipeline.

Skype 2


5. A RESEARCH SNIPPET: What worked and didn’t work across 2018 to take into 2019? Chalkbeat synthesized what they learned from research in 2018, focusing on which policies seemed to work and which didn’t. They used “what worked” as a shorthand for policies that improved test scores or affected metrics like suspensions, attendance, and high school graduation rates.  Check it out here



Follow me on Twitter for more @sparvell 

See you in around



My Top 5 Edu-live for Monday 4th Feb



My Top 5 Edu-live for Monday 4th Feb

The things that caught my biased eye since last week.

  1. Game-based learning is changing the way we teach  Edsurge ran this sponsored content by Minecraft today here  If you’d like to find out more about Game-based learning, Edutopia has an easy to consume summary here Of particular note is the use of #edtech as empathy machines

game learning


  • The Benefits of Constructionist Gaming  On this theme, this one is important as they are making the link between education theory ‘Constructionism’ and ‘Gaming’ Playing and building games helps students understand complex systems—including their own systems of thinking. From Edutopia



Sparvell Cheat Sheet: What is Constructionism?

Constructionist learning is when learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. Constructionism advocates student-centered, discovery learning where students use information they already know to acquire more knowledge. Students learn through participation in project-based learning where they make connections between different ideas and areas of knowledge facilitated by the teacher through coaching rather than using lectures or step-by-step guidance.



  1. Social and Emotional Data might Identify Problems, but can schools fix them?

This is important as FRESNO, one of hero stories @Maria Langworthy features prominently in this article which examines research  where seeing survey data about school climate and students’ self-perception of social and emotional strengths motivated educators to change their practices.

From Education Week


  1. Google opens up data analytics program in Singapore for undergrads The inaugural batch of 25 students is in the midst of completing a 12-week digital analytics technology course prerequisite, including sessions with industry subject matter experts from Google and its partners. STRAIT Times   



  • Australians are largely happy with tech use in schools with some reservations The regarded EducationHQ Australia shares results from research conducted by Monash University here



The key curious findings of the report include:

  •      66 per cent of adults agree that digital technologies make a positive contribution to Australian schools
  • 37 per cent of adults believe ‘Big Tech’ companies cannot be trusted to play a role in school technology
  •      79 per cent of adults support schools banning the use of mobile phones while students are in class
  •      44 per cent of adults are happy to see online exams; 34 per cent want blended learning opportunities

LIVE FIVE – Things you need to know


My Top 5 live for Monday A

Topic focus: Social and Emotional Skills

  1. Today: DonorsChoose releases its 2018 classroom funding data- our Class of 2030 research found teachers wanted to spend more time on Social-Emotional Learning but lacked time and resources



2.      Today: Education Week: Top 10 Topics Everyone should be talking about -be    surprised about how many are related to social and emotional skills.

Get the scoop here

3.       Last Week:  Oftsed – The UK Office of Standards in Education announced fundamental changes to how they measure quality schools to include how students interact, the social expression of emotional intelligence.


4.        Jan 18th Aspen Institute (US) published a significant report , the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development   (note the intentional inclusion of academic) https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/national-commission-on-social-emotional-and-academic-development/


5.       Microsoft Education, The tech giant, brings for the second year, the  topic of social and emotional skill prioritization into the heart of one of the worlds largest education technology conferences with a lead keynote Emotion and Cognition in the Age of AI which builds on 2018’s, Class of 2030