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CEEAS Selects Partner Agencies for Unjammed, Our Blended Learning Initiative

“David, the youth at our facility in Liberty need this.  Our Woodsbend program is located in rural Appalachia, an area our state has consistently recognized as one of need. We must strive to get access to the Internet and the educational resources to our youth, no matter the location.  We are with you on this initiative to bring new and innovative practices to our programs.”
That’s what Sylvia Kuster, Director of Educational Programming for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice told me when I asked her why they wanted to participate in Unjammed, our blended learning initiative.
We are thrilled to announce that we will be working with state juvenile justice agencies from Alaska, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, as well as the Los Angeles County Office of Education as we launch Unjammed.  In February 2014, we announced that we would be accepting applications from juvenile justice agencies to participate in the BLI. Twenty-three agencies applied to participate, and after two rounds of interviews we selected the seven agencies listed above.
Unjammed has a number of unique features: 
First, we will launch Unjammed with a multi-day technology camp in July of 2014. Each participating agency will send a team that includes a teacher from each school, one member of the agency’s leadership team, a principal, and one secure care staff member. 
Second, the project is highly focused on teachers as change agents and innovators.  Teachers from each school in Unjammed can apply to become Teaching and Innovation Fellows. The Fellows will represent their schools at the camp and throughout the year. They will have access to special training and opportunities to visit schools, and will be eligible for innovation micro-grants that they can use to test out ideas in their classes. 
Third, Unjammed emphasizes peer support and collaboration and directly confronts the isolation that many educators working in secure settings feel. CEEAS will facilitate communication among the participating agencies using the Edmodo platform, allowing teachers and administrators from around the country to work together, share ideas, and support each other. 
We are incredibly excited to partner with these agencies.  Some of them have already been allowing students limited access to the Internet for educational purposes, and have been piloting technology-supported instruction. Other agencies will be allowing students in their care to access online tools for the first time.  Through Unjammed, participating agencies will be able to combine safe, secure Internet access (using filters and monitoring) with the best online educational tools available and teacher-focused training and support.
If you would like to learn more about Unjammed, please email Kat Crawford.

Chelsea Clinton, R. Dwayne Betts, Josh Lefkowitz and Joaquin Zihuatanelo Agree to be Final Judges for Words Unlocked 2014

April is National Poetry Month, which means we are kicking off Words Unlocked once again.  We’re proud to announce that Chelsea Clinton and R. Dwayne Betts, two of our judges from last year, will be joined by Josh Lefkowitz and Joaquin Zihautanelo.
This year’s theme is Boundaries, and we are encouraging students to explore through poetry the boundaries that exist in their lives.  Our Words Unlocked Wiki page is up and all of the curricular and instructional materials are ready and available in ActiveBoard, SmartBoard, Word and PowerPoint formats.  Once again we are supporting both a seven day and a month long unit, and will be running our nationwide contest. 
We’ve made a number of improvements this year, hoping to make the unit even stronger.  The readings include a number of the winning poems from last year’s competition, as well as poems written by our judges.  We have formed a Words Unlocked Edmodo Group for teachers so far 49 have already joined so that we can facilitate communication and collaboration. We also have a range of additional resources, including a how-to guide for creating on-site poetry competitions, poetry anthologies, and links to a selection of youtube instructional videos.  
We will be accepting student poems for the nationwide competition from April 14th through May 2nd and will be highlighting submissions that we receive in our newsletter, website and wiki page as the month goes on.
We have a number of partners this year who are helping us to spread the word about Words Unlocked, including Young Chicago Artists and InsideOut Writers.  In fact, you can click here to watch a brief video that InsideOutWriters worked on to support Words Unlocked. 
If you have ideas on how to improve Words Unlocked, or suggestions on what our next nationwide initiative should be, feel free to send an email to Christy Sampson-Kelly.   

Los Angeles County Office of Education Joins Our Consortium

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) operates schools in the 13 long-term secure juvenile facilities in Los Angeles County.  Under the direction of their Superintendent, Arturo Delgado, who assumed his position in July of 2011, LACOE has been working aggressively to improve the educational programming provided to youth in its care.  They are making great strides.
In early March, LACOE became a member of our Consortium, joining with eleven state juvenile justice agencies committed to reforming the schools in their long-term secure care facilities. 
We are elated to work with and support LACOE, and will provide updates on some of the programming they are working on in subsequent newsletters and on our website.  For now, we want to highlight that LACOE is in the process of scaling its Road to Success Academy (RTSA), a model centered on Project-Based Learning and supported by significant technology integration. LACOE initially implemented RTSA at one site. Now it is expanding it to six additional sites.  We think RTSA can be the lever for enhanced school climate, heightened engagement, and improved outcomes for students in LACOE and beyond, and are excited to support LACOE in this endeavor.
If you are interested in learning more about LACOE and our work in California, feel free to email Hailly Korman.

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