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3 Tips for Partnering With Parents for Student Success

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For many teachers, having parent contact is like visiting the dentist. We understand the need to maintain communication with parents and guardians. However, these interactions can be uncomfortable for some and entirely unpleasant for others.

When we realize the benefits of building and maintaining relationships with the parents and guardians of our students, we can begin to develop another worthwhile skill set to add to a diverse array of tools. The work begins by embracing a model of partnering with parents in order to strengthen the classroom.

I have found that when students know their parent or guardian and I are on the same page, when we speak the same language, when we support one another, it becomes easier for me to be a warm demander with high expectations of my students. Invoking the name of a parent becomes less of a threat and more of a reminder of our partnership and a shared culture of learning.

Here are three ways to establish and maintain partnerships with parents and guardians:

Determine the Best Method of Contact

Every parent is different. The parents and guardians of our students are small business owners, nine-to-fivers, gig workers who manage multiple jobs, and stay-at-home caregivers. Establishing strong partnerships with parents through effective communication involves a willingness to be flexible with our mode of messaging. For those of us who are introverts, this does mean that we will have to pick up the phone sometimes.

I have found that most parents are just as busy as we are and often prefer emails and text messages. Still, the tone and content of text messages and emails can be misinterpreted. Sometimes, going the extra mile to make a phone call can be the difference between a successful collaboration that mitigates student challenges and a stressful exchange that produces little support on the home front.

Normalize Positive, but Realistic, Communication

Most commonly, we contact families to notify them about student misbehavior and academic failure. However, when a parent or guardian receives positive communication from teachers, they are more likely to be responsive and supportive partners. For our part, as we work closely with our students week after week, we learn to identify the wins at every level. These are the moments that become the building blocks of normalizing positive contact with our parent partners.

We can do so by making a habit of sending a quick message to parents on the heels of acknowledging the student. As a teacher, I would send positive text messages about student effort, improved behavior, and class participation during class. I would even send an occasional picture of an engaged student. When I did so, I noticed an increase in the student’s confidence and an improved attitude (even if only for the day).

Spotlighting positive moments in this way, particularly for students with behavioral issues, became a part of the relationship-building process. One of the first times I messaged a parent about their child being engaged with writing during class, the student did not believe me, going so far as requesting to see the text. She told me that her teachers only called home about behavioral issues. That first positive contact alone did not manage all of our issues, but it was a sizable step toward strengthening the relationship between the student, her parent, and me.

However, positive communication should not be disingenuous. Many teachers use the “compliment sandwich” when communicating with parents, saying something nice about a student in order to slip in the real issue, followed by more praise. While this is well-intentioned, parents do not take it as positive communication. What really matters to parents and guardians is whether or not we can express that we see and understand their children.

Reflect on Mindset: Are You Engaging in Deficit Thinking or Taking an Asset-Based Approach?

Understanding our mindset—the way we frame our understandings of students—requires consistent reflection. As we reflect, sometimes we may find ourselves engaged in thinking about goals and challenges from a deficit mindset, fixed on problems rather than finding solutions. In my experience, deficit thinking is prevalent where diversity is not understood and therefore not valued.

Thinking about the families of our students through a deficit lens means focusing on our perceptions of what parents and guardians do not have, what they do not have access to, and/or what they are not capable of. Deficit thinking reveals itself when we engage in conversations about “saving” our students or providing them with food or supplies they cannot get at home. (Having a well-stocked classroom to meet the needs of students is never a bad thing. However, we provide pencils for students because they need pencils, not because there are no pencils at home.)

The concept of partnering with parents, in and of itself, is an asset-based approach to communicating with families about student progress. Communicating with parents through an asset-based approach means asking the question, “How can we work together to address the needs and challenges of your student in order to ensure their success?”

Adopting an asset-based approach to parent communication allows us to see parents and guardians as partners who are invested in their children’s success. If we begin our interactions with an asset-based assumption that families care about their children’s education, we are less defensive when parents have questions about our classrooms, our instruction, and our roles as teachers. We are able to concentrate our efforts on how we can effectively work together to ensure the success of our students. After all, through an asset-based lens we see clearly that as teachers and parents, we share a common goal.

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ACT Says Grade Inflation Is a Serious Problem. It’s Probably Not.

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The ACT has seen the writing on the wall—and it doesn’t look good.

At a time when more colleges and universities are taking tentative steps away from standardized tests, ACT is not only recognizing the threat, but urging caution. Its reasoning? Grade inflation is growing, and grade point averages alone are not enough for colleges to make informed decisions about applicants without an objective measure of competence—like, say, a standardized test.

Last year, the number of ACT test takers declined 22 percent, even as the number of test optional schools grew to include a slew of public state school systems. In March, the largest four-year public college system in the U.S., California State University, also stopped requiring students to submit them.

Thus this latest shot across the bow, which comes courtesy of a new report from ACT, the nonprofit behind the college entrance exam. In it, ACT researchers found evidence of grade inflation over the past decade—namely, that the average high school GPA increased 0.19 grade points, from 3.17 in 2010 to 3.36 in 2021. The implication is that students are not learning as much as their transcripts indicate, hampering their ability to succeed in challenging environments after high school.

“We recommend a holistic admissions evaluation approach that examines the whole student to the use of multiple measures, including both grade point average and a non subjective metric like the ACT,” says Janet Godwin, the organization’s CEO. “It’s also important that higher education, as it increasingly embraces a test optional environment, understands what is being foregone when a test score is omitted from the admissions process.”

The report examined data from more than 4 million high school students from 2010 to 2021 who took the ACT. It found that while ACT scores have remained flat during this period, cumulative GPAs have risen since 2018, jumping significantly since 2020. All demographic groups saw grade inflation, but when broken down further, ACT’s researchers found that female, Black and low income students saw the biggest GPA gains.

Of course, the pandemic is one huge variable that could have influenced the final results—which even ACT acknowledged. “We have to think about the change in grading policies that took place in conjunction with COVID-19,” says Edgar I. Sanchez, an ACT researcher who co-authored the report. “Given the variety of ways in which high school GPAs were assigned or used during the pandemic, a traditional understanding of high school GPA may not fit grades assigned during this time.”

So what does that actually mean for students and colleges?

Grade Inflation Isn’t Always Bad

Even 20 years ago, author and progressive education champion Alfie Kohn—who’s none too keen on standardized testing—was arguing in the Chronicle of Higher Education that, “Complaints about grade inflation have been around for a very long time,” adding they were “not unlike those quotations about the disgraceful values of the younger generation that turn out to be hundreds of years old.” Later in the same piece, Kohn threw cold water on the idea that stagnant standardized test scores can show evidence of grade inflation, since testing—he used the example of the SAT—has “never been much good even at predicting grades during the freshman year in college, to say nothing of more important academic outcomes.”

Whether grade inflation, when it does occur, is even a bad thing is also subjective. Of course, it’s not good pedagogy to give students higher grades than the ones they earned—except when it is.

Last year, Zachary Bleemer, a researcher and Harvard postdoctoral fellow, noted in the Washington Post that recent research has found awarding higher grades to female students helped push them toward STEM majors, where they are woefully underrepresented, and cited additional research indicating that it can motivate all students, including those from low income backgrounds, to stay in college and graduate. In other words, despite those higher grades, students may not be learning anything more than usual, but at least they’re sticking with school longer. (Interestingly, these are some of the same groups that saw high grade inflation in ACT’s report.)

Also, rising grades don’t have to be a good thing in order to not be a bad thing—they can simply be a reflection of changing practices and mores in education, contends Timothy Quinn, chief academic officer of Miss Porter’s School, an all girls boarding school in Connecticut, and the author of the book “On Grades and Grading.”

“The reality is that the way we teach has changed a lot in the last decade, for sure, as well as the way that we assess—and those things have allowed more students to experience success,” Quinn says. “There’s this sort of paradox to it. Everyone wants their students to do really well, and schools will say they want to help all students. But then people will say, ‘Oh, but some of them should be getting Ds.’”

Specifically, Quinn’s school uses a concept known as mastery-based learning, where students aren’t beholden to one-size-fits all midterms and finals, but are allowed to prove what they’ve learned in a variety of ways. Often, they end up creating portfolios of work that can be sent to colleges along with their grades and test scores. As colleges move away from somewhat objective measures like standardized tests, they need something to fill the gap, which portfolios and mastery-based transcripts—ones that spell out students’ strengths and weaknesses—might be able to achieve.

“My problem with traditional grades in general is they don’t tell anyone much,” Quinn says. “It doesn’t tell the student much. They know that an A is better, but that doesn’t give them feedback that is useful and growth oriented.”

Going Test Free

Making tests optional may be trendy, but it’s just one approach. Take Pitzer College, a private liberal arts school east of Los Angeles, which doesn’t accept SATs or ACTs at all. One of the first schools to go test optional two decades ago, Pitzer is now piloting an entirely test-free admission policy, in partial recognition of the fact that scores were unlikely to be high during the pandemic anyway.

Pitzer is a selective school, accepting only about 17 percent of applicants, but it has sculpted its admissions process—and perhaps its reputation—in a way that neither test scores nor grade inflation are of any particular concern.

“Generally, I would say that the vast majority of students that apply to us are probably admissible,” says Yvonne Berumen, the school’s dean for admissions and financial aid. “We base that off not just the GPA, but also on the rigor that the student is taking”—meaning whether they’re enrolled in AP or International Baccalaureate courses.

Uniquely, Berumen’s school looks at all four years of a student’s high school transcript, and an essay question hones in on how a particular applicant meets its “core values” in an attempt to separate students excited by Pitzer itself from those looking for a generic liberal arts education. (In Pitzer’s case those values include social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement and environmental sustainability.)

Tests like the ACT may still have value, Berumen adds, particularly for schools looking for specialized STEM students. But for those that already have holistic admissions processes, they might not say much about a student, especially given a rigorous course load and unblemished GPA.

“Back when we were a test optional school, when we did look at testing, it really didn’t impact [student] performance all that much,” Berumen says. “Maybe the first year GPA was slightly better for those that scored higher on the test, but everything sort of evened out after the four years.”

Pitzer’s pilot is slated to run until about 2025, when it will review its test-free policy. But if all goes according to plan, there’s a real chance that the college will never accept a standardized test score again.

It’s hard to imagine what research ACT will be presenting by then.

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The Pandemic’s Lasting Lessons for Colleges, From Academic Innovation Leaders

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The pandemic has dragged on, prompting colleges to ricochet back and forth on mask mandate policies and rules about holding classes in person versus online. Professors report that students are disengaged, so much so that it’s even hard to get them to take advantage of free support services. Many faculty and staff members say they feel burned out and demoralized. And college enrollments are down overall.

Meanwhile, institutions and instructors have been pushed to try new strategies—some of which seem promising. Shifting practices regarding grades may inspire students to take risks and study for the sake of learning. Recognition that the digital divide prevents academic progress has prompted colleges to do more to connect students with tech tools.

In the midst of these trends, we wanted to hear how academic innovation leaders are thinking and feeling about higher education right now. What are they worried and excited about? What do they believe is working well, and what should change?

We talked to:

  • Michelle Cantu-Wilson, director of teaching and learning initiatives and special projects at San Jacinto College
  • James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation and founding executive director for the center for academic innovation at the University of Michigan
  • Brian Fleming, associate vice chancellor of learning ecosystem development at Northeastern University
  • Sean Hobson, assistant vice president and chief design officer of EdPlus at Arizona State University
  • Matthew Rascoff, vice provost for digital education at Stanford University
  • Tyler Roeger, director of the center for the enhancement of teaching and learning at Elgin Community College
  • Wendy Schatzberg, director for the center of teaching and learning at Utah Tech University
  • Terik Tidwell, executive director of the Smith Tech-Innovation Center at Johnson C. Smith University

Here are the top trends they’re seeing.

Flipping the Classroom

Professors who recorded video lectures for online learning during the pandemic are realizing they have a new resource at their disposal. Some are putting those recordings to use by adopting the “flipped classroom” model of instruction.

Traditional teaching uses class time to introduce students to concepts, which they then engage with on their own through homework. In contrast, flipped learning involves students learning material on their own first, reserving class time for group activities and active learning.

The pandemic prompted more faculty to ask the question, “What do we actually want to use class time for?” says Tyler Roeger, director of the center for the enhancement of teaching and learning at Elgin Community College. And the answer many of them are landing on, he adds, is: “Actual face-to-face time can be dedicated to problem-working, and working in groups together.”

That model requires that students adjust how they spend their time and how they perceive course materials. For example, some students mistakenly assume that recorded lectures are “optional resources” rather than asynchronous assignments, Roeger says.

Flipped learning can be a big adjustment for professors too. So faculty who try it out should be open to evolving as they go, recommends Wendy Schatzberg, director for the center of teaching and learning at Utah Tech University.

“This is an interesting time to be innovative. It’s an interesting time to try out something new. If you’ve been interested in doing a flipped classroom, why not try it, see if it works. Be very open-minded into what will work, what isn’t—be adaptable,” she says. “Maybe I’m only gonna do a flipped classroom three days out of five, or two days out of five, and adjust to the circumstances of students.”

Building Virtual Reality In-House

As education, social media and entertainment technology companies promote virtual reality tools and services, some faculty members are putting in the effort to create their own VR experiences.

That’s the case at Utah Tech University, thanks in part to mini-grants that the center of teaching and learning makes available to faculty who want to test innovative ideas to improve instruction. Professors in the dentistry department are creating VR programs that replicate what it’s like to work with a body or mannequin. A physics professor is creating labs that can be done online or in virtual reality. And a third professor is learning how to code her own VR escape room.

One reason to build in-house VR systems is that there aren’t many great educational options on the market yet, says Schatzberg of Utah Tech. Plus, when professors create their own materials, she adds, it helps the university and students avoid having to pay licensing fees.

Certain disciplines and classes lend themselves to simulations that take advantage of the strengths of VR. Medicine and nursing programs have been natural fits, but some in the humanities are experimenting too, such as in architecture and film. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a VR experience that lets students step into the virtual set of a final scene in the classic Orson Welles film “Citizen Kane.”

“You can operate an old-timey camera (virtually) and reshoot the scene and make an argument for why it would be better that way,” says James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation at Michigan and founding executive director for the university’s center for academic innovation. The university had already started a push to VR experimentation before the pandemic, but the health emergency accelerated interest and development, he adds.

Accessibility concerns remain with VR technology, and Utah Tech University is working on accommodating students who don’t want to or can’t use it. For example, if a student tries to participate in a VR physics lab but finds it uncomfortable, he or she can switch into an in-person section of the course instead.

Embedding Student Supports in Courses

Students show up to college needing all kinds of support. But they don’t always know where to find it or feel empowered to seek it out—even when it’s free.

So Elgin Community College has been moving to embed information and access to support services within academic departments, courses and the learning management system used across the institution. For example, librarians are now tied directly into courses and work closely with faculty throughout the semester, so that students can more easily tap into their expertise.

Similar systems could work for embedded tutoring, health and wellness and advising, says Roeger of Elgin Community College.

“All those things being sort of put in the course itself is something I think that’s happened a lot more in response to the pandemic,” he says. There is “so much more being at student’s hands, readily available, rather than having to go out and seek things on our campus.”

It’s not just students who might benefit from this kind of shift. Rather than waiting for professors to find him at the center for the enhancement of teaching and learning, Roeger tries to put himself where faculty are.

Adopting a Student-Centered Outlook

As college campuses (like the country writ large) return to in-person activities, these shifts are accompanied by some flavor of “back to normal” messaging tinged with relief.

That doesn’t mean universities will do away with the innovations they deployed at lightning speed during the pandemic, though. The crisis did something in a few years that might have otherwise taken decades, says Sean Hobson, assistant vice president and chief design officer of EdPlus at Arizona State University, which supports the institution’s extensive online-education efforts. For better or worse, the pandemic gave every college student—along with teachers, parents, employers and just about everyone else—experience with online education. He calls it an “evolution in digital literacy.”

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for institutions, for faculty, for students, for technology companies to get back to the designer’s table to think about how to create some of these experiences that ultimately work better for the learner,” Hobson says.

Part of that innovation, to Hobson’s mind, will be adapting systems to students rather than the other way around. Ones that take into consideration how students learn best and are personalized to their needs. Tutoring, for example, during quarantine went from a process that required students to take care of scheduling and be physically on campus to one they could access remotely from their homes.

But the question remains, he says, whether there will be enough instructional designers in the job market to help those changes materialize.

“You couldn’t talk to a [university] president in this country who wouldn’t say they want to evolve and change and innovate and do these things,” Hobson says, “but the people that can actually get in the trenches and do that work, understanding the academic culture and the rules and the technologies and the people with the emotional intelligence necessary to get to an objective, there’s going to be talent issue.”

Building Community With Empathy

As college communities are rounding out their third spring living with and adjusting to the consequences of COVID-19, students and professors alike have been depleted by the pandemic, says Michelle Cantu-Wilson. She’s director of teaching and learning initiatives and special projects for the San Jacinto College District.

Cantu-Wilson posits a solution that is—given the copious Zoom hours logged by students over the past few years—decidedly analog: more empathetic classrooms. It’s important for commuter colleges like hers where students come from diverse backgrounds, don’t live on campus and don’t have time to stick around after class.

That means the community-building that’s going to connect students to support has to happen during class, Cantu-Wilson says. It can be as simple as a professor asking students how they’re doing or talking about available scholarships before jumping into a lecture.

“I still believe that we don’t know the depth to which they felt isolated,” Cantu-Wilson says of students during remote learning. “I don’t think we understand how severe the impact was to their psyches, to their hearts. But I do know that a faculty member who educates the whole student and appreciates the whole student and sees the whole student and validates the whole student is going to help to remediate some of that.”

San Jacinto College faculty and staff are taking eight weeks of training to do just that, Cantu-Wilson says, through asynchronous courses that cover topics including implicit bias, microaggressions and imposter syndrome. While Gen Z students—currently those ages 18 to 25—are adept at recognizing burnout and asking for help, it’s older age groups that she worries about. The ones who are caring for families and working full time alongside school.

“They’re not going to say that they’re struggling; they’re too proud,” Cantu-Wilson says. “That’s the same for first-generation students. We are gonna figure it out ourselves, come hell or high water.”

Rethinking How Universities Work

Some academic innovation leaders say they’re focused on stepping back to rethink how universities work—and developing practices to continually improve campus operations.

“Universities are in the business of knowledge, but universities do a very poor job of managing their own knowledge and strategy,” says Brian Fleming, associate vice chancellor of learning ecosystem development at Northeastern University. “You may have faculty members who study organizational development, but none of that gets applied to the university.”

He’s looking for ways to harness that internal expertise and build relationships with colleagues and peers across campus.

“When you really think about the volume of ideas that are out there,” he says, “how do we manage that knowledge and how do we build connections across those ideas?”

University leaders should learn to think more like futurists, he argues, working to imagine scenarios that might need planning for but are beyond the usual one-year or five-year planning cycles. He points to modeling tools like Earth 2050, a tool to think through predictions of how various technologies might evolve about 30 years from now, and resources from the nonprofit Institute for the Future.

“We need to start thinking more meaningfully about the future,” Fleming adds.

Gathering Pandemic Lessons

It’s been more than two years since the pandemic first shuttered campuses and forced a period of emergency remote learning online. With events evolving so fast and with so much uncertainty, it can be hard to take time to gather lessons from what’s worked and what hasn’t.

That’s a task that Stanford University researchers have been doing through an effort to draft a white paper that gathers observations about teaching and learning during the pandemic and notes key lessons that could be built on going forward.

“Every institution should be doing something like this, and have a process for collecting, documenting and synthesizing lessons learned from the pandemic,” says Matthew Rascoff, vice provost for digital education at Stanford University. “We need some shared narrative.”

Other universities are doing the same. At Harvard University, researchers gathered a “Harvard Future of Teaching & Learning Task Force” that issued a report in recent weeks. “We have an opportunity to not merely bounce back but to stride forward,” the report concludes.

Some academic innovation leaders say that the exposure to new teaching technologies by so many faculty members has upped their interest in trying new teaching techniques.

“There’s this newfound love for innovation growing throughout the corridors of many institutions,” says Terik Tidwell, executive director of the Smith Tech-Innovation Center at Johnson C. Smith University. “They’re asking: What can we scale next?”

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More People Became Unhoused Across the Bay Area Over Last 3 Years – Except in SF

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Despite a flood of federal and state dollars spent to keep people off the streets during the coronavirus pandemic, homelessness in the Bay Area continued to increase in the last three years — although not by as much as many had feared.

The population of housed and unhoused people increased by a total of almost 9% — to more than 35,000 people — across the seven Bay Area counties that reported preliminary data on Monday.

Among them, only San Francisco reported a slight decrease, of about 3.5%, even as the city still counted more than 7,700 unhoused people. The city’s unsheltered population — people sleeping outside and in vehicles — dropped by 15%, while those living in shelters and transitional housing grew by 18%.

“We have a lot of work to do, but this shows that we are moving in the right direction,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “The investments we have made and will continue to make, as well as our improvements in strategy around outreach and connecting people to resources are all working together to help get more people off the street.”

Contra Costa County saw the region’s steepest spike since the 2019 count, with the number of unhoused people up nearly 35% (to almost 3,100). In neighboring Alameda County, homelessness jumped nearly 22% (to more than 9,700), including a 24% increase in Oakland.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County, the largest county in the region, reported a more than 3% uptick, with an 11% jump in the city of San José. And in the North Bay, Sonoma and Napa counties reported 5% and 6.5% increases, respectively, over their last counts, which they both conducted in early 2020.

San Mateo and Solano counties have yet to report their preliminary numbers.

The numbers – which are generally considered a pretty significant undercount of the actual unhoused population – come from tallies of people sleeping on streets, in vehicles and in shelters on a single night in February. Counties must complete the count every two years to determine funding for homelessness programs (the 2021 count was postponed due to the pandemic).

More detailed information about each county’s unhoused populations, including age and racial demographics, is expected to come out this summer.

“I’m saddened that more people are homeless and a lot of that can be attributed to the pandemic,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, emphasizing the need for substantially more affordable housing. “I’m not surprised because I see them … I see people camping out there. I see people in the underpasses. I hear from constituents. So we know it’s a big problem. But, you know, it’s not just Contra Costa County. It’s everywhere.”

Yet, many local officials and advocates for the unhoused said the numbers could have been much worse if not for the emergency programs implemented during the pandemic. And while the number of unhoused people in the region did grow, the rate of increase was considerably lower than the nearly 26% jump between 2017 and 2019.

The Bay Area “staved off a catastrophic increase in homelessness” over the last three years, said Tomiquia Moss, CEO of All Home, a regional housing and anti-poverty group that helped coordinate the counts. “Bay Area governments and nonprofits played deep defense on homelessness during the pandemic and we have more or less held the line — but now we need to go on offense and end the suffering on our streets.”

Moss credited an array of local and state efforts, including eviction moratoriums, emergency rental assistance and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Roomkey and Homekey programs, which have allowed thousands of unhoused people to temporarily live in hotel and motel rooms, with some units being converted into permanent housing.

“Those types of solutions are happening all across our region and we believe help to minimize how many more folks were experiencing this challenge during this period of time,” she said.

But advocates and local officials fear that funding for many pandemic aid programs that have helped get people off the streets will soon dry up, and are imploring state leaders to continue supporting them.

Moss also stressed the need to focus on the deep roots of the region’s homelessness crisis, and address the structural racism and severe lack of affordable housing that have fueled it.

“Although the numbers in the point-in-time count are better than we anticipated, homelessness still continues to be our region’s and our state’s biggest challenge,” she said. “We have much work to do.”

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Trane Technologies and Discovery Education Launch a New National STEM Education Initiative to Inspire Students to be Climate Innovators

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Davidson, NC and Silver Spring, MD (Monday, May 16, 2022) — Today, Trane Technologies (NYSE: TT), a global climate innovator, and Discovery Education, a worldwide edtech leader, announce they have teamed up to launch a multimedia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education experience for students in grades 5 to 10. The multifaceted learning program includes interactive tools, resources, and volunteers to engage and inspire students to learn, think, and solve the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, like climate change and food waste, through sustainable innovation.

“We’re excited to launch this unique learning experience in collaboration with Discovery Education to reach students across demographics, including those in underserved communities,” said Deidra Parrish Williams, Trane Technologies’ leader of Global Corporate Social Responsibility. “The goal is to expose them to STEM concepts and experts at work in the real world, and encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, and sustainability. Our company’s purpose is to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world. This initiative does just that by inspiring students to explore themes and topics, problem solve and develop creative solutions. It is accessible to all, and easy for educators to incorporate into their curriculums.”

The program is part of Trane Technologies’ Sustainable Futures corporate citizenship strategy, which uplifts underrepresented students and communities through access to STEM education, enhanced learning environments, and pathways to green careers. The company has committed $100 million and 500,000 employee volunteer hours by 2030 to deploy Sustainable Futures in communities where it operates and serves.

A core feature of the learning experience is a virtual field trip, “Reimagining Today for a More Sustainable Tomorrow.” The engaging virtual experience gives students an up-close look at climate innovators at work across Trane Technologies. During the field trip, students will encounter professionals from diverse backgrounds as they demonstrate real cases of how bold thinking can spark leading edge innovation. Students can also connect directly with STEM professionals for classroom talks, mentoring, and career exploration. Program resources will be available to schools and educators throughout the United States, starting May 24. Learn more here.

“Innovation sprouts from courage and creativity in STEM. Sustainable Futures with Trane Technologies helps inspire students to create real-world sustainable solutions that make the world a better place, both in their own neighborhood and around the world,” said Beth Meyer, Vice President of Social Impact at Discovery Education. “By connecting the dots between STEM and sustainability, educators can access critical resources to empower students with forward-thinking content that sets them up for future success.”

Learn more about Sustainable Futures at sustainablefutures.discoveryeducation.com or within the Discovery Education K-12 learning platform. Connecting educators to a vast collection of high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, intuitive quiz and activity creation tools, and professional learning resources, Discovery Education provides educators an enhanced learning platform that facilitates engaging, daily instruction.

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit  www.discoveryeducation.com and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through  Twitter and  LinkedIn.

About Trane Technologies Trane Technologies is a global climate innovator. Through our strategic brands Trane® and Thermo King®, and our portfolio of environmentally responsible products and services, we bring efficient and sustainable climate solutions to buildings, homes, and transportation. For more on Trane Technologies, visit tranetechnologies.com.

About Discovery Education Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. Through its award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia resources, and the largest professional learning network of its kind, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning, creating immersive STEM experiences, and improving academic achievement around the globe. Discovery Education currently serves approximately 4.5 million educators and 45 million students worldwide, and its resources are accessed in over 100 countries and territories. Inspired by the global media company Discovery, Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to empower teachers with customized solutions that support the success of all learners. Explore the future of education at DiscoveryEducation.com.

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PowerMyLearning Honors Student, Family, and Teacher at 2022 Innovative Learning Awards

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NEW YORK (PRWEB) MAY 16, 2022 — PowerMyLearning, a K-12 nonprofit that unlocks the power of collaboration between families, teachers and students, recognized Brooklyn Landmark Elementary for exemplary resilience throughout the pandemic. At the nonprofit’s Innovative Learning Awards on Tuesday, May 10, a student-family-teacher “trio” was honored with the Triangle Award for demonstrating how teachers and families both play a significant role in academic achievement and student wellbeing.

“Today’s students are facing unprecedented trauma from the pandemic resulting in a critical need to double-down on student wellbeing. The school community at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary understands that a strong support system engages both teachers and parents,” said Elisabeth Stock, PowerMyLearning CEO and co-founder. “That is why PowerMyLearning gives our Triangle award to an exceptional student, caregiver, and teacher each year.”

The Triangle Award winners from Brooklyn Landmark Elementary are:

“I’m proud of Jahid, Keryan and Mrs. Sikder for their leadership in closing the gap between school and home,” said Joyce Beckles-Knights, principal of Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School. “With PowerMyLearning’s support, our school community has united our scholars, teachers, and families with learning that extends from school to home.”

PowerMyLearning is a national K-12 nonprofit with a track record of accelerating student learning by up to four months and improving key student wellbeing outcomes by 15 percent. PowerMyLearning generates these outcomes by building the capacity of teachers and families to better support student learning and team up with one another in that effort– something the organization refers to as the “Triangle Approach.”

“Through PowerMyLearning, I’ve learned small yet impactful ways to better my instruction. For example, implementing ‘think time’ for my students to reflect and internalize what they’ve learned and adding classical music to facilitate reflection have supported my students’ learning and wellbeing,” said Nusrat Sikder-Ali, teacher at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary and Triangle Award Teacher of the Year recipient. “I’m looking forward to continuing to engage students and parents through the Triangle Approach so that we can achieve more, together.”

To learn more about PowerMyLearning and support its mission, visit https://powermylearning.org/.

About PowerMyLearning PowerMyLearning is a national K-12 nonprofit that unlocks the power of collaboration between families, educators, and students. The organization serves nearly 45,000 students in over 15 school districts across the country. Through “The Triangle of Learning,” PowerMyLearning partners with school districts to advance educational equity, improve students’ social-emotional learning, and accelerate student learning. To learn more, visit http://www.PowerMyLearning.org.

About Brooklyn Landmark Elementary At Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School, scholars are empowered to choose how they learn and have a voice in what they learn. The school provides innovative, individualized instruction that addresses scholars’ unique learning styles, cultivates independent thought, promotes the building of character, and enables students to contribute their ideas locally and globally. The Brooklyn Landmark experience guides scholars as they develop their sense of identity and purpose in this world. The school is dedicated to comprehensively developing citizens who will be decision-makers in tomorrow’s society. The Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School scholars inspire greatness in others, allow their voices to be heard worldwide and create change through their actions and endeavors. By giving their scholars a choice in how they learn and a voice in what they learn, the school is building the foundation of critical thinkers needed in the best colleges and the 21st Century workplace.

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Using Frequent Feedback Cycles to Guide Student Work

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A big part of being a teacher is giving students the right kind of feedback. I’m a proponent of education researcher John Hattie’s view of feedback. He said, “While teachers see feedback as corrections, criticism, comments, and clarifications, for students unless it includes ‘where-to-next’ information, they tend to not use it.”

Kids, therefore, need feedback they understand and can readily act upon along the continuum of the learning process. They also need to be involved and invested in the feedback. So whether facilitating a project-based learning (PBL) unit or a performance task, I prefer to hold projects for two to three weeks and for my students to complete their products in three to four drafts using straightforward rubrics and critique protocols.

To activate frequent feedback cycles, I skimp on lengthy whole-group lessons to work with smaller groups to model, remediate gaps in previous learning, and reteach vital concepts as needed. Therein, I like to manage lessons, activities, and learning in the following four-step process within a workshop model–inspired structure:

  • Mini lesson (10–15 minutes).
  • Work time and reflection (35 minutes).
  • Feedback protocol (10–15 minutes).
  • More work time for either revision or continuing to the next draft and reflection (35 minutes). These timings are for two class periods at 50 minutes each. Adjust time frames depending on the length of your teaching block.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a structure I’ve used successfully to keep learning organized and evaluate students’ work as they use feedback to revise their drafts. This practice uses scripted educational protocols with influences that positively affect student learning, as ranked and supported by Hattie’s visible learning research.

For example, practices affirmed by Hattie’s work, such as small group learning, evaluation and reflection, and strategies emphasizing feedback, are shown to have positive effects on students’ learning and can support them in completing products in drafts.

The caveat here is that we need to model the strategies frequently and in ways that help learners accurately understand performance expectations and how to seek assistance when they don’t. By giving them the right tools to participate in their own rescue, they can become more independent learners over time.

Two Tools to Provide Better Feedback

1. Single point rubrics. A teacher friend introduced me to single point rubrics (SPR) for getting kids to discuss their learning and feedback. An SPR displays criteria for a single level of achievement. It also includes an open space for feedback, goal setting, or evidence. SPRs can be used for evaluation and reflection during a feedback protocol (e.g., Gallery Walk, Critique Protocol). They are easy to design, as they have the criteria descriptors in only one column.

My SPR adaptation has four columns with the following headers:

  • Emerging
  • Proficient
  • Highly Proficient
  • Score

Only the Proficient column articulates the learning goals for a specific product or task.

Both the Emerging and Highly Proficient columns begin blank, allowing students ample space to audit their own practice and receive more helpful feedback that addresses critical problem areas and notable areas of excellence. Similarly, the Score column is also blank, and a five-point grading scale can be completed for each learning goal.

Additionally, a Jennifer Gonzalez post has several templates for SPRs linked by her and others in the comments section.

2. Structured-feedback protocols. Protocols like TAG Feedback (for K–5), Critical Friends, and Charrette can be adapted to help students fine-tune their products and performance tasks in drafts. Critique Protocol by EL Education is my favorite—here’s how it inspired the way I scaffold the process for students taking turns requesting and providing feedback.

Step 1: The presenter explains their product draft and requests feedback while their peer(s) listen (2 minutes). Good norms to lift up here are for the presenter to use language from the learning goal(s) they’re addressing and for the peer listening to take notes. Students more experienced with the feedback process can also grade and complete the empty columns in an SPR.

Step 2: The audience asks the presenter clarifying questions for supporting their feedback. The presenter should respond.

Step 3: To begin with glows, the audience shares what they saw and heard that was in alignment with the performance expectations. The presenter listens.

Step 4: The audience shares concerns about the lack of follow-through of performance expectations or needs for further improvement. The presenter listens and can also update the SPR or take notes.

Step 5: Finally, the audience shares ideas and resources for improving the product draft. The presenter can take notes and respond.

You can download a kid-friendly short version of the protocol I created for my work.

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Bringing Project-Based Learning to Preschool

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Project-based learning (PBL) provides an interesting challenge for preschool teachers because it extends beyond early-childhood education mainstays such as teacher-directed themed crafts and short daily lessons.

PBL, which focuses on children learning through investigating a topic or answering a question, is an involved process that could last for as long as the children show interest. Facilitating PBL is easier when teachers pick something to explore based on the children’s interests and implement their ideas in the project. When children are engaged in the process, they naturally develop skills they can apply later in life.

Young Filmmakers

While teaching preschool in Seattle, my co-teacher and I observed some children playing cats and dogs in the drama area. We sat with that small group of children and talked about their play. The children expressed that they wanted to make cat and dog masks.

To honor their request, we propped up real pictures of cats and dogs and gave the children a variety of materials. While we filmed the children with their masks, they asked to make a movie! At first, I didn’t know how to make that happen, which led to the question, “How do we make a movie?”

During free choice, we pulled the small group of children for 15 minutes a day and asked them for ideas. They made the script and chose the film location outside. They even picked the title, A Dog’s Story: A Dog’s Life. The sessions grew longer as the children worked on their costumes and did rehearsals.

After two weeks of prepping, filming day finally came. We put a camera on a tripod, and the children took turns filming. They acted out their scenes and said their lines, which we read aloud and they repeated. I put together the final scenes with their choice of music. The children made movie premier posters and wrote invitations for families. They picked the snacks and set up the viewing area.

From an adult’s viewpoint, it was quite a bizarre movie with an odd plot of masked children jumping out of bushes and saying funny things. The ending was everyone on all fours meowing and barking. However, the children were so proud when their families came and watched the movie. Our final step was to create a learning story showing how we touched on all learning domains (math, literacy, language, social and emotional, drama, etc.).

4 Keys to Effective PBL in Preschool

1. Teachers create the opportunities. One way to start setting up PBL is to create a classroom culture of innovation. A teacher’s viewpoint on children’s capabilities is important. The children are inventors, architects, actors, artists, scientists, or engineers. They are capable of doing amazing things with the right space, materials, tools, and time, which is why creating indoor and outdoor spaces with a variety of open materials is so crucial.

2. Observe the children to find your topic or question. Once the environment is established, a teacher needs to intentionally watch and listen. This can be during large group, free choice, and outside time. It’s capturing an experience, seeing recurring play, or noticing a comment. How can we make our hot wheels go faster? How do birds make nests? How do you make a rocket ship?

3. Teachers are the project managers. Once a teacher picks a question or topic, they need to see themselves as a facilitator and organizer of the children’s plans. Young children have minimal experience and limited access to resources, materials, and information. They’re still learning how to get along with others. Teachers will need to model the process and maybe even take on some of the work that’s outside of preschool students’ abilities, such as conducting online research and using tools like glue guns.

4. Children generate the ideas. To start the project, the teachers can have an open discussion on the topic and write down all the children’s responses. What do we know? What do we want to know? How will we learn it? What steps do we need to take? What materials do we need? If the children are stumped, it’s OK to make suggestions for them to consider. Posting the children’s ideas shows them that their thoughts and concepts have value. The teacher’s next job is to make the children’s plans come to life—no matter how it may look at the end!

We tend to think PBL is better suited for older children, but preschool-age children are very capable. They just need opportunity. Children are eager to be a part of something big by creating things and solving problems. As a teacher models project planning, they show children how to work as a team, create a plan, and execute collaborative ideas. The focus should be on the process rather than the final product. Our dog movie may not be Academy Award worthy, but the skills and confidence gained by the children were the true gift. It will always be one of my favorite (and most hilarious) moments in teaching.

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Plot to Blow Up Democratic Headquarters Exposed California Extremists Hiding in Plain Sight

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Y

ears before law enforcement seized the contents of Ian Rogers’ safe, he earned a reputation as a talented mechanic and successful Napa Valley business owner. Rogers catered to an elite clientele of Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls-Royce owners inside a garage off Napa’s main drag, a street spotted with boutiques and high-end bed and breakfasts.

The 47-year-old from Sonoma County, who appeared to have a passion for guns according to Facebook posts where he dissed prominent Democrats, was also a loving husband and father who paid his bills on time, according to his family and friends.

In the fall of 2020, in the weeks after Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States, Rogers sent an ominous text to someone he trusted, according to court records.

“Ok bro we need to hit the enemy in the mouth,” he messaged.

“Yeah so we punch Soros,” Rogers’ former employee and gym buddy, Jarrod Copeland, texted back, referring to billionaire investor George Soros.

Copeland, a Kentucky native, was a mechanic at Rogers’ shop nearly a decade earlier.

“I think right now we attack democrats. They’re offices etc. Molotov cocktails and gasoline,” Rogers continued.

Copeland replied, “We need more people bro. Gonna be hard.”

The day after Thanksgiving, the chatter kindled a plan. Text messages contained in court records show the two men agreed to burn down the headquarters of the California Democratic Party in Sacramento, a building diagonal to the California Highway Patrol office tasked with protecting state lawmakers and daily visitors to the Capitol. Also nearby: a youth center, gym and popular bookstore.

The two men texted that they hoped hitting that particular target would send a message and ignite a movement. They viewed themselves as action film heroes, referencing “The Expendables,” a popular movie franchise.

On Jan. 8, 2021, the two acknowledged they might die carrying out their plan. Rogers asked Copeland if he was ready to leave his wife.

It never came to that.

Rogers and Copeland were arrested in January and July of 2021, respectively, according to court records.

The two are charged in federal court with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used in interstate commerce, with Copeland facing an additional destruction of records in official proceedings charge for allegedly destroying evidence of his communication with Rogers.

The Napa County District Attorney’s Office is also prosecuting Rogers for 28 felony counts over the numerous pipe bombs, and unregistered assault rifles authorities allegedly discovered inside his business, home and RV. He is also being charged with converting firearms into machine guns.

If the case goes to trial, Rogers faces a statutory maximum of 45 years in prison. Copeland faces a statutory maximum of 25 years, if convicted on all charges.

Their attorneys have been negotiating plea bargains over their alleged involvement for months.

Copeland has entered a no contest plea and is awaiting sentencing, his attorney, John Ambrosio, said.

“He’s going to pay his debt and he’s taken responsibility,” Ambrosio added. “And we’re just waiting to see exactly what his punishment is going to be.”

Part of a surge in domestic extremism

Rogers’ and Copeland’s case is part of a surge in violent extremist activity the FBI is investigating in Northern California and throughout the nation.

Federal law defines domestic terrorism as “acts dangerous to human life” that violate state or federal criminal law, and appear to be an attempt to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” or “affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

Since the spring of 2020, the FBI’s investigations of suspected domestic extremists have more than doubled, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

And just over a year after hundreds of people stormed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop the certification of the presidential election, the DOJ announced it was creating a special unit to address “the threat posed by domestic extremism.”

The Justice Department arrested and charged more than 725 people for their alleged involvement in the insurrection. KQED found that at least 40 were from California, including Evan Neumann, a Mill Valley resident charged with 14 counts, including assaulting Capitol police. Neumann fled to Europe, crossing through pre-war Ukraine and successfully claiming asylum in Belarus, according to the Washington Post.

In February, a sergeant at Travis Air Force Base allegedly aligned with boogaloo adherents in Turlock, part of a loose-knit anti-government group trying to ignite a civil war, entered a guilty plea for gunning down a federal officer in Oakland during a 2020 protest over police violence. He’s also accused of murdering a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy a week later.

And just last month, an Orange County man was arrested for allegedly threatening to bomb the headquarters of Merriam-Webster, the dictionary publisher, because he was upset by the company’s definition of “female.” According to the Washington Post, the man has allegedly been sending threatening messages since 2014, and the FBI interviewed him in 2015 and in October.

Amid growing concerns of potential extremist violence, the FBI and local police recently held a town hall in Modesto, urging residents to report possible domestic extremist threats.

United by rage

In an attempt to understand why two Bay Area men allegedly conspired to blow up a Sacramento building, KQED’s reporters visited the places where Rogers and Copeland worked, reviewed hundreds of pages of court documents and public records and interviewed more than a dozen people, including family members. Copeland and Rogers’ attorneys refused requests to interview their clients, pending a final decision in their case.

What emerged is a portrait of friends united by rage who found community within an obscure anti-government militia. But one kept his affiliation quiet, while the other proudly displayed his allegiance with a bumper sticker on his truck. Together, they allegedly hatched a violent plan that they hoped would spark more violence.

Jon Blair, the assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism at the FBI’s San Francisco field office, which investigated Rogers and Copeland, would not comment on the case, but said it’s not just the number of incidents that has gone up in California, but also the number of people involved and the severity of violence.

“There are actors who are predisposed towards these acts of violence, who are violating federal law and who are adhering to ideology,” Blair said. “They didn’t just come into existence after 2020, right? I do think they were a little more emboldened now because the rhetoric has become so pervasive and so loud in our culture.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups throughout the country, has identified 45 currently active anti-government groups in California, including four militias.

In the past, chapters of other groups – including III% United Patriots, III% Defense Militia, California Three Percenters, the original Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and West Coast Patriots – have all been active in California, according to the nonprofit.

Rogers and Copeland joined one of those, according to court records and screenshots obtained by KQED.

At the time of his arrest, Rogers told law enforcement he was a member of a “prepper group” called 3UP, a California offshoot of the Three Percenters, court filings show. Detectives also found a bumper sticker on one of Rogers’ vehicles of the III% symbol: three lines encircled by 13 stars.

The Three Percenters, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, are a sub-ideology of the broader anti-government militia movement, and some California members were charged for participating in the January 6 insurrection. Three Percenters believe the unproven assertion that just three percent of colonists defeated the English during the American Revolution.

3UP claimed to be a social club not affiliated with any militia, according to Facebook screenshots. When a reporter reached one member in Milpitas by phone, he said “no comment” and hung up the phone. Calls to a number of other members were not immediately returned.

Copeland was also a member of 3UP, according to prosecutors. Screenshots of a now defunct private Facebook group for Bay Area members showed Copeland as a member. A photograph posted to the page on Aug. 9, 2020, showed Rogers and Copeland with their wives at a barbecue that other members of 3UP attended, according to a screenshot shared with a KQED reporter.

But there’s nothing illegal about socializing with members of a so-called “prepper group,” purchasing tactical equipment and believing the government should be overthrown.

While the FBI’s strategy for combatting terrorism focuses on thwarting attacks before they happen — a concept the agency refers to as “left of boom” — the agency cannot interfere with people exercising their constitutional rights to voice their anger at elected officials and political parties.

And, Blair said, the agency does not investigate groups — only individuals who break the law.

“We don’t care what you believe, because we’re not allowed to care what you believe, no matter how reprehensible those beliefs may be,” said Blair. “It’s only if your beliefs or your ideology are motivating you to commit an act of violence — that’s when you would suddenly become of concern to us.”

Blair said the FBI relies on tips to identify potential threats. He thinks more people are reporting extreme rhetoric.

“There are people who are looking left and right and realizing that this is not necessarily the world we want to live in,” Blair surmised. “I think we are getting more reports from individuals who happen to be near people who are spewing the ideology and taking steps towards those violent acts, saying, ‘No, not here, not on my turf, not around me.’”

A ‘one-man militia’

An anonymous tipster urged the FBI to look into Rogers’ behavior.

A KQED reporter was able to contact the individual who reported Rogers and confirm that the two had once been friends. According to the tipster, they shared a love for exotic cars and guns and had both voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

But, in 2019, Rogers began to threaten violence, often seething with rage and lashing out at people around him, he said.

The informer began documenting Rogers’ behavior. In September of 2020, he mailed an envelope to the San Francisco field office of the FBI. Inside was an SD card with screenshots of Rogers’ social media posts and a video of Rogers firing an AK-47 at a shooting range previously owned by Craig Bock, a prominent member of the Three Percenter movement, according to a lawsuit filed by Bock’s family after county officials revoked their lease for the shooting range and reporting by the Vallejo Sun.

The tipster also emailed the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, warning that Rogers was “deranged” and “a one-man militia.”

The following excerpt from the tipster’s email was contained in a Napa County Superior Court filing:

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI jointly investigated Rogers, according to a declaration by a county detective filed as part of a motion opposing Rogers’ bail. In November of 2020, authorities learned that Rogers sold his home in American Canyon, a city about 10 miles south of Napa, and was flush with cash, according to the motion.

On Jan. 15, just nine days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, sheriff’s deputies detained Rogers at a traffic stop in downtown Napa and served him with search warrants for his home and auto repair shop, according to court papers.

Inside a safe in Rogers’ office, law enforcement discovered five brick-sized pipe bombs, along with raw materials “that could be used to manufacture destructive devices, including black powder, pipes, endcaps,” according to a federal criminal complaint. There was “a Nazi flag and a Nazi dagger with markings from the Elite SS in Hitler’s army,” according to a separate court filing. The safe also contained a “White Privilege Card,” according to an FBI affidavit and the federal complaint against Rogers.

In a storage closet, deputies found, according to records, “numerous rifles, including some that were fully automatic and some that had been modified to operate as machine guns.”

They also found seven manuals on bomb making and survival tactics, including one called “The Anarchist Cookbook” and another titled “How to Make Homemade C-4,” an explosive material; approximately 15,000 rounds of ammunition; a homemade silencer; and “go bags” with body armor and bullet-proof face shields.

Dozens more guns were found, unsecured, inside his home and RV. All told, officers collected 54 guns — including eight assault weapons considered illegal in California, according to the Napa County District Attorney. Rogers was arrested.

Rogers’ friends and family said he liked to pump iron, shoot semi-automatic rifles and drive fast cars. They also commented that he had used steroids to bulk up his 5’11” frame to 200 pounds in recent years.

In one Facebook photo that went viral after his arrest, Rogers sits at the wheel of his DeLorean, the gull-wing door raised, his muscular arms bulging under a cutoff T-shirt.

Rogers has a tattoo on his upper left arm of an eagle that resembles the Nazi Eagle, which he made no effort to hide. He is wearing camouflage fatigues and his hair is cropped.

Rogers learned how to fix cars in his father’s repair shop in Sonoma County when he was young. In 2005, he and his first wife, Julie Crisci, opened British Auto Repair in Napa. Rogers catered to wine country residents of diverse ethnic backgrounds who praised his mechanical skills and professionalism in dozens of online reviews.

But two witnesses told KQED they heard Rogers use racial slurs to refer to clients. Those individuals said he expressed rage towards people of other races.

A longtime Napa resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, described one of Rogers’ tirades: “He was just stomping around, you know, ‘these mother ****ing’— you know dropping N-bombs — ‘with their stupid’ — just like like flexing, just flipping out. Other times you just hear him screaming about whatever — the Jews or, you know, Nancy Pelosi.”

He also said Rogers told people he named his German Shepherd “Fritz” after Hitler’s personal dog handler, Fritz Tornow. Rogers also built a working MG 42, a machine gun Allied troops nicknamed “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” because of the noise it made spewing 1,200-1,500 rounds of ammunition per minute.

“He’s a bad dude,” the Napa resident said. “He’s going to get what he deserves, hopefully. But, he’ll also be some sort of martyr for extremists.”

Rogers also used racial slurs to describe his former Asian American neighbors in text messages to Crisci that were included in court filings. On Sept. 16, 2019, he wrote:

“I hate this town I’ll be happier away from the [N-word]. I’m sick of my stupid [racial slur for people of Korean descent] neighbors. I can’t forgive them for calling the cops on my numerous times over bullshit. Neighbors should have your back and they are backstabbers. Typical Asian assholes, they only care about themselvs and they’re families. I hate Asians they are rude and dishonest.”

A business acquaintance of Rogers said he never heard him use racist language. Cliff Marden, who sold auto repair tools to Rogers for over a decade, described his client as opinionated, but not violent.

“Ian is not a terrorist by any means, he’s not a threat to the public,” Marden said when reached by phone. “He was a businessman and he was an outstanding person and individual of the community.”

Marden said Rogers got in trouble because he said the wrong things at the wrong time, but never would have acted on those threats.

“He had too much to lose to do something like that,” Marden said.

Rogers has a young son from his first marriage, and had recently remarried.

A woman who answered the door at Rogers’ last known address confirmed she had married him a year and a half earlier. Yuliia Rogers said she met her husband online and that he came to see her in her native Ukraine three times before they married.

“It was very wonderful,” she said, smiling as she reminisced.

Yuliia Rogers said she now reminds her husband of that time with a photograph “to keep him positive” while he’s incarcerated. She said her husband had been collecting guns for 20 years and that it was his “passion.”

She did not believe he was capable of violence and never feared for her own safety, she said.

“He never was mean or trying to do something bad to another person,” she said.

She said her husband was probably drinking when he wrote those texts to Copeland and was just venting his frustration over the presidential election.

“He never was going to do it,” Yuliia Rogers said. “It was maybe like little boys like, ‘I will,’ ‘I can do this,’ or ‘we can do this.’ But it was just like playing.”

While Rogers had a big personality and a wide circle of clients and friends, Copeland was friendly but quiet, according to people who talked to him.

“I had more meaningful conversations with Ian than Jarrod,” said Jag Rattu, owner of Audio House, a Napa car audio and window tint business, who often saw the two weight-lifting at a nearby gym.

Copeland, 38, started working as a mechanic at Rogers’ shop in 2011 according to his Linkedin profile.

“They were like brothers. Like really close homies,” Rattu said. “They’d spot each other. I’m working (out) on a machine across from them, they’d be joking around, smiling.”

Rattu said he noticed that after Trump was elected, Rogers, who he’s known since 2007, became more politically vocal on social media.

“Some people got way to the left and some people got way to the right,” Rattu said. “I started seeing hatred come through in his Facebook posts. He hated Gavin Newsom for some reason. I heard something about him wanting to beat up Newsom. But I thought it was all jokes.”

Rattu said that he was most surprised by the Nazi memrobilia and “white priveledge card” investigators found in Rogers’ safe.

“I’m Indian,” Rattu said. “I get mistaken for Muslim. I’ve gotten racist attacks against me. After 9/11, I almost got jumped by these guys. I tell you, Ian never, never — and Jarrod, too — never brought up stuff like this. They treated me like any old guy.”

‘My communication consists of fists and bullets’

A few years after meeting Rogers, Copeland enlisted in the U.S. Army. But his military career was cut short when he was arrested for desertion in May of 2014, not long after the start of basic training. In 2016, he was arrested for desertion a second time. He received an “Other Than Honorable” discharge in lieu of court martial the following month, according to court records.

Prosecutors allege that after Copeland was discharged from the Army, he joined an affiliate of the Three Percenter movement.

According to court documents, Copeland told Rogers that he was offered an officer position in the group, in either communications or security.

“But my communication consists of fists and bullets sooooo,” Copeland messaged.

Several months after his discharge from the Army, Copeland became general manager of Pep Boys in Vallejo. Justin Laquindanum, who told KQED he worked there at the same time, said Copeland was into guns and wore a close-cropped, militaristic haircut.

“He’s more into the (right to bear) arms — one of the topics he says is a definition of being American. A lot of soldier talk,” Laquindanum said, adding that Copeland helped him through a difficult period in his life.

Politics often came up in their conversations while working.

“He would ask me, ‘Hey, what do you think about this Black Lives Matter shit?’”

[Read More…]

Savvas Learning Company’s Experience Chemistry Wins Gold Stevie Award, Its Fourth EdTech Industry Honor Since the Product’s Launch

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PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY — May 16, 2022 — Savvas Learning Company, a K-12 next-generation learning solutions leader, is proud to announce that its new, innovative Experience Chemistry solution has received a Gold Stevie from the 20th annual American Business Awards (ABA) program, with the judges hailing its learning model as “a very innovative and exciting concept for teaching chemistry.”

“We would like to thank the American Business Awards for honoring Experience Chemistry as an exceptional science learning solution,” said Bethlam Forsa, CEO of Savvas Learning Company. “Savvas developed Experience Chemistry to provide students with authentic, real-world learning experiences through the science of doing. By offering engaging student-centered activities that personalize learning, Experience Chemistry challenges and excites students to explore, question, and discover the hows and whys of chemistry.”

Experience Chemistry earned top honors in the “Science Instructional Solution” category, which recognizes the best science instructional materials that provide deep learning experiences for students, support standards alignment, and reflect current curriculum practice. More than 230 judges reviewed approximately 3,700 nominations to select the 2022 Stevie winners in the American Business Awards program.

The panel of judges praised Experience Chemistry as the “science of doing at its best,” describing it as “one of the best learning platforms … in the field of chemistry” with “great content and phenomenal structure for perfect learning.”

“This is a great initiative,” said one judge. “The best way for students to learn is through a fun and interactive environment, which is what [Savvas Learning Company] set out to do.” Another judge remarked, “I want to go back to school and learn through Experience Chemistry. I love how [the program] is meeting the students where they are at, and they can learn and discover in the format that works best for them. This is truly a great tool, and it was an honor being able to judge this nomination.”

Since being introduced to the market, Experience Chemistry has been honored with the 2021 EdTech Breakthrough Award for “Best Science Learning Solution,” the 2021 SIIA CODiE Award for “Best Advanced Science Instructional Solution,” and the Tech & Learning “Best of 2020” Award.

Recognized as a standout, interactive educational technology with a phenomena-driven curriculum, Experience Chemistry puts the focus on the student experience. This modern high school program features an interactive learning model with a wide variety of hands-on and digital activities designed to reach every learner.

ABOUT SAVVAS LEARNING COMPANY

At Savvas, we believe learning should inspire. By combining new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways of interacting, we design next-generation learning solutions that help prepare students to become global citizens in a more interconnected, digital world. To learn more, visit Savvas Learning Company.

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