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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?’”

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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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Schools amplify inequity with failed solutions to teacher shortage

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We’re racing against a ticking clock to resolve the teacher shortage for our students’ futures as the number of unfilled positions at schools and districts hits record levels.

Every unfilled staff vacancy at a school means that students are not receiving a high-quality education, which has a resounding effect on outcomes. One study shows that 10 additional teacher absences per year lead to 1.2 percent and .6 percent of a standard deviation decrease in math and English test scores, respectively. This principle applies to core subjects, which give students a solid foundation for academic and career success, and enrichment classes, which expand their skill sets and understanding of the world.

The teacher shortage is even more detrimental to students in underserved districts, where teacher absences tend to run higher than the national average of 11 days per year.

But there has been a solution in front of us the whole time: live-streaming teachers can serve in-person or virtual classrooms around the country at the click of a button, providing the quality education that all students deserve.

Failed solutions

Desperate to solve the teacher shortage, schools are trying everything they can, including pleading for parents to volunteer in classrooms. Meanwhile, state governments are trying to help, sometimes by taking actions that have been frantic, extravagant, or misguided. Tennessee offered free apprenticeships to would-be teachers. New Mexico recruited National Guard members.

Perhaps most alarming is the trend of schools lowering certification requirements for people willing to teach. An AAEE survey found that 16 percent of the teachers hired in the past year did not have traditional preparation and were either emergency hires or had non-traditional preparation.

Evan Erdberg, President and Founder of Proximity Learning, has over 16 years of online K-12 and higher education human capital management experience. Prior to Proximity Learning, Evan was the director of Teachscape, managing one of the largest implementations in the country of principal certification and teacher evaluation systems that incorporated student data.

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Here’s why blended and hybrid learning are the future of education

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Blended and hybrid learning models were first introduced to extend personalized and flexible learning options to selected individuals or groups of students. But with onset of the pandemic, widespread adoption of blended and hybrid models suddenly became a necessity across all student populations.

Two years later, how have districts overcome the initial challenges and applied the lessons learned to re-imagine teaching and learning and develop an innovative vision for change in their school communities?

Join eSchool News for a panel discussion with leaders and educators who share a passion for the bold new vision of blended and hybrid learning as the future of education.

You’ll hear how schools can:

As an educator and curriculum content creator, I’m always seeking to develop lessons that offer students opportunities to express complex emotions and share personal experiences. Inspiring self-expression and building a…

The average day in a K-12 school has little margin for error; educators have perfected the art of stretching resources. Yet the typical day rarely goes as planned. Staff absences are on the rise this year, and for each person who is out, others are asked to stretch themselves to make it work.

With recent research showcasing the growing number of STEM-related jobs that will be available to our graduates in Indiana in the coming years, teaching computer science skills has become as important as teaching students how to read or do math. The state has recognized this importance by mandating that all schools incorporate computer science for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

At Scott Elementary School, our approach to education is defined as GAIN (Growth in Academics through Innovation and Neuroeducation), which includes multiple initiatives to ensure each student reaches their maximum potential. Our focus is to inspire a love for learning and prepare students to be successful throughout every stage of their lives.

Close to half of student may have a learning different, and more than half of parents in say they have sought supplemental learning services for their child, according to a recent survey.

Blended and hybrid learning models were first introduced to extend personalized and flexible learning options to selected individuals or groups of students. But with onset of the pandemic, widespread adoption of blended and hybrid models suddenly became a necessity across all student populations.

During all the tumult of the last two years of schooling, from remote to hybrid to masked in-person, educators prioritized the social and emotional needs of students. A full 70 percent of schools now offer mental health programming, according to a recent survey from the American School District Panel and 20 percent of these schools say they added these services as a response to the pandemic disruptions.

Nearly everyone remembers the stress of taking a test in school. In-class exams have the power to make even the most dedicated of students quake with fear, not to mention the damage they can do to the egos of struggling learners.

The collective damage caused by the pandemic has yet to be fully understood, but the toll it has taken on youth mental health and emotional well-being is becoming exceedingly apparent.

According to the CDC, 9.4 percent of children have ADHD. Teachers are often familiar with the associated behaviors of ADHD. Each child’s presentation of ADHD is unique.

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4 innovative online learning practices educators should keep

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Over the past two years, education systems across the nation have been challenged with oscillating shifts, from classroom learning to remote and online learning, and even hybrid approaches, due to COVID-19 precautions and responsiveness. Amid these ongoing changes, educators reimagined the ways they engaged with their students, and many turned to museums and other community organizations for support to better understand how to leverage our collections, educational resources, and expertise creatively for their students.

For the community of more than 300 museum educators at the Smithsonian, the sudden urgency to scrap our traditional modus operandi unleashed new levels of innovation. We reimagined how to share a vast library of artifacts, artworks, specimens, and content expertise with our audiences to best meet their teaching and learning needs.

As teachers and students return to schools and museums searching for a “new normal,” below are some practices from the past two years I know we’ll keep.

Connecting with students–wherever they are

At the start of the pandemic, our team faced the challenge of helping students learn from home with the support of their teachers and caregivers. As classroom teachers switched from, “How do I engage students in the classroom?” to “How do I teach from home?” our team shifted from “How do we engage people in the museum?” to “How do we meet people where they are?”

Getting there meant making deliberate shifts in how we fulfill our mission and serve our learners. We took our role in a community ecosystem of learning to heart and launched online programs to provide ongoing pedagogical and technical support for the effective use of the Learning Lab – a free portal providing digital access to vast collections of education resources, and developed new templates and tools for teachers to support a range of approaches to learning. We partnered with national and local organizations to provide education resources that supported their evolving needs.

As the return to both classrooms and in-person museum visits is upon us, we will continue to be responsive to the needs of schools and students across the country, no matter where the learning happens.

Better curation

The ways in which we present information as educators shifted during the pandemic, too. Teachers rushed to find high-quality digital content in a vast sea of resources. They turned to podcasts, videos, interactive games, and other media. By experimenting with new types of content, educators changed their own processes of curation.

Ashley Naranjo, M.Ed., is a museum educator, specializing in the use of digital resources for teaching and learning. She currently manages distance learning initiatives and education partnerships for the Smithsonian. She can be reached at learning@si.edu.

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Promoting SEL Through Bulletin Boards

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When you’re walking down a school hallway, what do you notice? Does the environment seem inviting and accepting, or does it seem dull and neglected? Are the walls overpowered with color or bare and gray? My point is, bulletin boards are the billboards of classroom halls—they can capture a school’s mission, display what students are learning, and be interactive for bystanders.

I’d like to share some strategies to use bulletin boards to promote social and emotional learning. The pandemic brought a wave of anxiety to teachers and to the students and families we care for. Consequently, social and emotional learning is even more important now.

Over the past six years, I have taught in environments with a high number of military children. I can recall growing up as one of these kids and experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear of the unknown, and with the pandemic we’ve seen even more anxiety, stress, and fear. The ability to recognize feelings and manage them is vital—prior to learning and teaching, our students and staff must first feel emotionally supported.

With the idea of supporting students, when I create bulletin boards I think about how to make them inclusive and helpful. They don’t have to be extravagant, over the top with decorations, or overstimulating. If we are displaying student work, I want the work to be varied and not just focused on the “best.” This helps every student feel seen and included.

I enjoy creating boards that catch students’ attention and make them want to invest a few minutes into looking at what we are sharing. I believe bulletin boards are something that can get easily overlooked, and the right displays can be a helpful tool for students. Below are a few examples of bulletin boards to support students’ social and emotional learning and inclusivity.

Supporting SEL and Inclusivity With Bulletin Boards

Breathing exercises: In social and emotional learning lessons, I always incorporate breathing exercises to promote self-regulation, and I believe these exercises make one of the best types of bulletin boards. Combining a visual that introduces students and adults to a calming exercise can be beneficial for all. When you teach breathing exercises, students will start to incorporate these strategies when they need to, like when they are taking a test or feeling anxious. I have used bulletin boards to share images that show students how to do “triangle breathing” and “mountain breathing,” for example.

Student check-ins: Checking in with students is a great way to encourage them to express themselves, especially those who may be hesitant to speak up if they feel dysregulated. Connecting students to something like different characters in the Avengers movies is a great motivational tool to get students to recognize how they are currently feeling—are they feeling like the Hulk or Groot today, for example? So I have put up a bulletin board with “Which Avengers character do you feel the most like?” as a prompt above images of five or six characters with different facial expressions.

While students can be hesitant to share how they are feeling, it’s important to know how they are feeling because it will affect their learning. You can construct this kind of board as a virtual board using Jamboard, or as a physical interactive board using sticky notes.

Self-reflection: I believe that as educators, we are constantly reflecting on ourselves and our work. A reflection can be a wonderful tool to recognize our accomplishments and a great way to celebrate them. To support this with students, I created a bulletin board—with a laminated background and dry erase markers handy—with the prompt “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” When my class showcased something they were proud of, more classes joined, and eventually students from all grade levels participated.

This board helps create a positive atmosphere and promotes empathy. One student wrote, “I felt proud when I helped someone up when they fell during recess.” Having students be reflective is a great way to have them create goals and recognize that we all do something every day we can be proud of, whether it be big or small.

Building empathy: Empathy can be a difficult skill to teach and learn. It takes time to understand how others are feeling and requires being present and listening intently. It gives a sense of hope to see a student being empathetic toward another student, and it builds up the community. For these boards I love using emojis because kids can easily connect to them and they’re gender neutral. They’re a simple way to have students connect how someone’s body might look or feel with specific feelings, and they can promote ways to self-regulate.

For example, a board I call Emoji Emotional Awareness has an angry emoji on the left and a relieved emoji on the right, with this prompt: “If you notice your body feeling like the emoji on the left, what is something that helps you to feel like the emoji on the right? Add a sticky note and give your suggestions.”

Then if students are curious they can view the notes and suggestions that fellow classmates have given to help support each other.

Activities: When we engage students in activities, we can challenge them to work toward a goal. With a bulletin board similar to the game tic-tac-toe, students can choose what challenges they want to do.

To set this up, I make a big tic-tac-toe board and fill the spots with the following prompts:

  • Row 1: List 3 things you like about yourself; What is something you’re thankful for?; Stretch up like a tree
  • Row 2: Write a positive note to someone you care about; Complete a breathing exercise; What is something you do well?
  • Row 3: Write a goal you have for the week; What is something you hope for?; What was the last thing that made you laugh?

Students can pick three activities in a row—across, down, or diagonally. When students have choice, we know it increases engagement and helps provide motivation to complete a task. This board is a great tool with a variety of tasks to complete that include physical movement, breathing exercises, and reflection.

Situations: When students are tasked to respond to a situation, they need to synthesize it and figure out if it’s something positive or dangerous. For example, consider asking students to choose two of the situations below and talk to a partner about what they would do:

  • There’s a new classmate and it’s their first day at school.
  • During recess, a classmate called another student unkind names and shoved another peer.
  • You see two classmates arguing at recess about who gets to go first in a game.

These scenarios give students a chance to reflect on their own actions and start to recognize situations where they could bring something positive.

Billboards can be more than a tool to hang student work. When used effectively, they can help students embrace social and emotional learning and teach them tools to help reflect and build empathy and kindness toward themselves and others. Making social and emotional learning the first priority for students creates a positive and inviting culture that brings one classroom community together with everyone else in the school.

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4 Meaningful Activities to Mark the End of School

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As the end of the school year approaches, many middle and high school teachers find themselves faced with less structured time and more opportunities to engage students in community-centered activities. We can dedicate some of this time to meaningful end-of-the-year activities to help our students acknowledge and celebrate the growth they have made while also setting goals for the future.

4 End-of-the-Year Activities

1. Letters to the future. For this activity, students write a letter to themselves one year in the future. Students are allowed to write anything they want, but I encourage them to focus on what they would like to be true in a year. For some students, this might mean writing about how they are now on the varsity basketball team, are captain of their debate club, or have an A in science class.

The possibilities are endless, and I remind students to include both academic and personal goals for themselves.

In order for this project to work effectively, you can either hold the letters and deliver them to students the next year, or work with your school to have the letters sent home.

While teaching sixth grade, I held on to all the letters and then returned them to the seventh graders at the end of the next school year. This was easy to do, as all of my students were still in the same building. For students who are transitioning from one school to the next, it might be easier to work with your school’s front office to mail the letters home.

2. Thank-you notes. Another option for helping students reflect on the year is writing thank-you notes. For this activity, I simply provide blank thank-you cards to students and encourage them to write at least one note to someone in the school and one note to someone outside of the school. Many of my students take the opportunity to write thank-you notes to their parents, friends in the class, teachers, or athletic coaches.

This is one of my favorite end-of-the-year activities because it creates such a positive environment in which students feel grateful for all they have accomplished and are able to acknowledge the people who helped them do it.

You could easily just provide students with blank paper for this activity and even alter the directions to make it more academically focused. For example, you could require that students write at least a certain number of sentences or use specific vocabulary words they have learned over the course of the school year.

3. Performances. This next option is a great way to let students show off all the amazing things they have accomplished over the past year that might not be academic. To effectively engage students in this kind of activity, I provide at least two weeks’ notice so that any students who want to perform can prepare.

In the past, I have had students sing, read poetry, and dance. I have also had a few students present drawings or paintings they had done at home or in outside art classes.

You can decide what types of performances you want to focus on and can even tie them to academics by having students read short stories they wrote in English or perform a skit they wrote in their foreign language class.

I have tended to allow students to show off whatever aspect of their talents they wanted, as many do not have the opportunity to be in the spotlight if their talents are not academic. I have utilized my school’s gym and cafeteria in the past for performances, but the classroom can also work well as long as you are intentional about setting it up.

4. Vision boards. This last activity encourages students to think about what they want their futures to look like. Students are given a poster board and tasked with creating collages that illustrate their future goals and the people, words, and phrases that inspire them to achieve those goals.

A few days before I plan to do this activity, I tell students to start collecting photos or magazines that they might want to use on their vision board. Several students always ask to use the printers at school for their images, so it’s helpful to be prepared to let students access computers and printers when completing this activity.

Many of my students include a picture of the college they want to attend or the professional sports team they hope to play for. I have seen students include photos of their friends, family, and other inspirational figures. Once all students are finished, I have allowed students to share their vision boards in small groups or in front of the entire class. It’s an incredible opportunity to hear students speak about their dreams, goals, and futures.

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