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Innovation in the Classroom

The U.S. Department of Education listed “redesigning academic content and instructional practices to promote active and hands-on learning, aligned with post-secondary and career-readiness” as a principle for Next Generation High Schools. This means that schools are in charge of the curriculum and setting the expectations for students’ knowledge and skills. A great way to bridge high schools to colleges and careers is by providing innovation in the classroom.

What is innovation in the classroom?
Innovation in the classroom, or innovative teaching, is the process of leading to creative learning. Unlike a traditional classroom, in which the teacher lectures and the students just soak up the information, innovation in the classroom calls for more involvement from the student. In this setting, the student’s role is the same or even more important that the teacher’s role. It encourages students to be fully engaged in learning and reaching their full potential. Innovation in the classroom can be students playing educational games on iPads (technology) or researching real issues (project-based learning).

How do you use project-based learning? 
Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that encourages students to learn and apply knowledge and skills through solving “real world” challenges. PBL prepares students for challenges of the 21st century and helps students feel confident to take on any future situations. An example of PBL can be starting a student farm. This project will provide a hands-on way to learn science, social studies, math, and economics while teaching students fun, useful skills. The Buck Institute for Education provides training for teachers and other school leaders by helping them redesign their curriculum to include PBL. For more information, visit www.bie.org.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Next Generation High Schools!

Transforming into Next Generation High Schools

As mentioned in our first November blog, features of Next Generation High Schools include:

  • Redesigning academic content
  • Personalizing academic content
  • Ensuring strong content knowledge
  • Providing and personalizing academic and wrap-around support services
  • Providing high-quality career and college exploration and counseling
  • Offering multiple opportunities to engage in post-secondary learning in high school
  • Redesigning learning in more innovative and meaningful ways

The Alliance for Excellent Education has developed toolkits in the form of slideshow presentations for school leaders. These toolkits present methods, in accordance to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that schools can use to transform high schools into Next Generation High Schools. The toolkits focus on five topics: Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, career and technical education, dual-enrollment and early college high schools, deeper learning, and personalized learning. Find downloadable toolkits here.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Next Generation High Schools!

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

As educators, you have most likely heard the idea that you are “preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.” Think about it: a few years ago the job titles “mobile app developer” and “cloud software engineer” were unimaginable.

For years, many organizations and individuals urged for high school education to be redesigned so that students could be better prepared for success in a new, global innovation economy. The idea was that previous education laws were outdated and were no longer suitable for a more diverse and creative world. In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama signed ESSA which then went into effect during the 2017-2018 school year.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a bi-partisan K-12 federal education law that focuses on providing an equal opportunity for all students. It replaces the “No Child Left Behind Act” and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  One of the main changes provided by ESSA is that it gives the states and school districts the power of assessing school performance.

For more information on ESSA, view the video by EdWeek below:

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Next Generation High Schools!

Next Generation High Schools

“…I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy… We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.”
— President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union Address

During the month of November, we will be discussing Next Generation High Schools. This is a hot topic of discussion in the United States’ education system, especially since President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013. Next Generation High Schools are high school institutions that have altered their curriculum in order to better prepare students for success in the twenty-first century by focusing on individual students. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of a partnership between high schools, post-secondary institutions and businesses or organizations which are potential work places for students.

The U.S Department of Education established the following principles of Next Generation High Schools:

  • Redesigning academic content to promote active and hands-on learning aligned with post-secondary and career-readiness
  • Personalizing academic content and strengthen the connection to the educational needs and interests of individual students
  • Ensuring strong content knowledge and skills for teachers in all subjects including STEM
  • Providing and personalizing academic and wrap-around support services for those students who need them
  • Providing high-quality career and college exploration and counseling on options for students after high school graduation
  • Offering multiple opportunities to engage in post-secondary learning, which includes earning college credit while still in high school
  • Redesigning the scope and sequence of learning time in more innovative and meaningful ways, incorporating innovations such as educational technologies, project-based learning, and competency-based progressions

During the next few weeks we will be providing high school educators with various information on Next Generation High Schools. Make sure you keep up with our blog and follow us on social media!

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Next Generation High Schools!

How to Manage Student Debt

Welcome to our last post for the month of October! Unfortunately, your students will continue being haunted by student loans long after deciding what loans are most convenient for them.

Developing a plan to manage their student loans is crucial to long-term financial and overall health. Here are a few tips to help your students manage their loans.

To learn how to budget click here.

For more information on consolidating your loans click here.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!

Student Loan Forgiveness

If there is no way for your student to get around student loans, there are a few options for students to stop paying back their loans. However, theses methods are not always easy to obtain and are not available for all students.

Student loan forgiveness is when a student is no longer required to pay for their student loans. There are three overarching circumstances that might lead to forgiven loans.

  • Career: If your student pursues an education in a public service sector, they can be eligible for loan forgiveness after completing a certain amount of on-time payments and working in that field for a certain amount of years. This option does not apply to private loans. Some student loan forgiveness programs that depend on careers include but are not limited to:
  • On-time payments: If your student pays their loan on time, they can be eligible for student loan forgiveness after 20 years. This sounds like a long time but it usually the remaining balance is forgiven after 20 to 25 years. In this option, career field does not play a role and it does not apply to private loans. Some programs depending on on-time payments are:
  • Student loan discharge (extraordinary circumstances): This option is usually awarded by a judge so there is not guarantee of acceptance. Student loan discharge applies to both federal and private loans. Extreme circumstances for this discharge include but are not limited to:
    • permanent disability
    • death
    • identity theft
    • unauthorized signature of the loan without the student’s knowledge
    • bankruptcy

For more ways a student can obtain student loan forgiveness, click here.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!

Types of Loans

After heavily researching and applying to scholarships and grants to pay for college, students might need to look for student loans. As discussed in our previous blog, Components of Loans, there are three basic components students should look out for when considering loans. Student loans come in various shapes and sizes and there is no universal “better” option. It is all very dependent on the individual student. This can, definitely, be overwhelming for your students; however, here is a quick cheat sheet we have created for you!

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!

Components of Loans

Early this month, we briefly mentioned loans, but what is a loan and what must a student look out for when considering one to pay for their higher education? To that I say, “Do not fear; we will show you the ins and outs of loans here!”

A loan is when a party borrows money from another with the agreement that the amount (plus a percentage) will be repaid to the lender. There are three basic components of loans: interest rate, term of the loan and security.

The interest rate is basically the extra amount the lender is charging the student to borrow their money. This is usually a percentage of the total amount loaned and can range greatly. The lower the interest rate, the better. It is very important that the student understands the exact amount of money that the interest is adding on to the loan, because it adds up quickly. There are two types of interest rates: fixed and variable. Fixed rates will not change throughout the life of the loan; on the other hand, variable rates will change depending on market conditions.

The term of a loan dictates the maximum amount of time the student has to pay the loan plus interest back in full. The term of a loan can be anywhere from 1 to 30 years. It is important to note that loans can be completely paid off before the term with no repercussions. The term of the loan will affect the student’s monthly payment, so it is something that will depend on the individual student.

Loan security is either secured or unsecured. A secured loan requires a collateral. This means that if the student does not pay the loan, the lender can keep that collateral. This guarantees that the lender will somehow get their money back. Contrarily, an unsecured loan requires no collateral so the lender cannot make their money back if the student does not pay back. However, unsecured loans usually have a higher interest rate because of the risk taken by the lender.

There is no universal correct way to decide on a loan. It depends solely on the individual student and their financial situation.

Look out for our next blog post to learn about the different types of student loans available.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!

Scholarships

Another great way to help your students avoid student debt is by encouraging them to apply for scholarships. Unlike loans and other student aid, scholarships do not have to be paid back, which make them the best alternative to student debt. There are thousands of scholarships available for students every year. It is only a matter of students making time to find them and to apply.

Good news! There are multiple reasons your students can be awarded scholarships and not all of them merit-based. Everyone has an opportunity at receiving scholarships. Some types of scholarships available are:

  • Academic scholarships or merit scholarships are awarded to students with a high GPA or SAT/ACT test scores.
  • Average academic performance scholarships are awarded to students with average GPAs but also focus on well-rounded students and scholarship essays.
  • Athletic scholarships are awarded to students who excel in sports. These are usually awarded by universities in order to persuade the athlete to play on their teams.
  • Minority scholarships are awarded to students belonging to “minority” ethnic groups. There are scholarships for individual ethnic groups as well as scholarships for students of any minority.
  • Women scholarships are awarded to women to encourage a more diverse campus. Another tip is to look for major-specific scholarships for women, especially STEM subjects.
  • Creative scholarships are awarded to those who want to pursue a creative career in music, art, dance, etc. These scholarships are usually more common in art schools and sometimes require a sort of audition.
  • Unusual scholarships are awarded for many fun reasons. There are scholarships for unique talents or random competitions. For example, creating a prom dress entirely out of duck tape. There are plenty of unusual scholarships awarded by private companies; they might just be a little harder to find.
  • Community service scholarships are awarded to those who have completed community service activities. If your students are interested in scholarship, it is very helpful for them to put together a community service hour log to track their involvement.

There are several free websites that match your students’ profile to scholarships that might be available for them. Here are a few of these resources:

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Financial Aid Alternatives

What if your students don’t meet all the requirements for federal financial aid?

If a student is not eligible for federal aid, they might be eligible for financial aid from their state. Almost all state education agencies provide at least one form of financial aid or have student aid programs available to residents of that state.

It is important to check both the student’s state of residence and their university’s state financial aid options. Heads up, many states require students to fill out the FAFSA, regardless of FAFSA eligibility, to determine the amount of money to award or other possible financial aid opportunities. Other states have their own applications, which can easily be found here.

Can undocumented students receive financial aid?

If your student is undocumented, many states offer financial aid for U.S non-citizens, especially Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. If your undocumented student needs to complete the FAFSA application, here is more information on filling out the application.

How can a student with a drug conviction receive financial aid? 

If your student has a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid, they must complete the FAFSA and the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet. This form helps the federal government determine if they are eligible for full or partial aid.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!