Alvo and Clients in the Press

Educators in High-Performing Schools Make Curriculum Available For Free Through Activate Instruction

San Francisco, Calif. – Teachers and students can now access curriculum uploaded by educators in high-performing schools – resources that can be linked with any school system’s assessment data – thanks to a free technology platform called Activate Instruction, the Girard Education Foundation announced today.

Activate Instruction is an open platform where teachers can browse, search, rate, add, share, and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students. Parents and students can follow sets of resources teachers have prescribed, or search for the ones they like best.

Activate provides access to grade 6-12 curriculum, soon expanding to K-12, in nearly all subject areas, including math, English, and science. The current content has been largely built and published by Summit Public Schools in the San Francisco Bay area and High Tech High in San Diego, high-performing public schools giving their curriculum away for free.

This fall, dozens of school systems nationwide plan to use the platform – the only free content aggregation system in existence that enables teachers to personalize instruction, because the technology allows curricular resources to link electronically to any school system’s student achievement data management systems.

Read the entire press release here.

August 7, 2013

Activate Instruction Puts Students in the Driver’s Seat

With sites like BetterLesson and ShareMyLesson offering databases of lesson plans (with the help of partnerships with large teacher organizations), the arrival of Activate Instruction this summer may beg the question: what’s so special this time?

One answer may be: putting students in the driver’s seat.

Born out of a partnership between Summit Public Schools, the Girard Education Foundation, the student data platform Illuminate Education, and The Alvo Institute, Activate Instruction is a free student-focused resource sharing platform that allows teachers to create, share and organize resources into “playlists.” Students work through the playlists at their own pace.

Activate Instruction was created out of “a vision of what education should be,” according to Jon Deane, Chief Information Officer of Summit Public Schools. The goal was to “totally modularize content and deliver it to kids so that they could access resources that were tied to standards.”

Read entire article here.

Copia Adds Text-to-Speech and New Study Aids to K-12 Social E-Reading Platform

By Tim Sohn, The Journal

Copia has improved its social e-reading platform focusing on tools for K-12 students and teachers. The updates, available now, are being piloted at the Los Angeles Unified School District to help improve students’ reading skills.

Copia is a social reading community. It includes an online bookstore that provides book and e-book details and reviews; a library where users can access their purchased books; tools to take and share notes with designated people or groups and highlight portions of books; commentary from authors, professors, and celebrities; and the capability to create and participate in secure online groups and discussions.

The platform can be accessed using desktop apps for OS X and Windows and through iOS and Android native apps.

New features of Copia include:

  • Embedded tools such as dictionaries, study aids, and other reference materials;
  • A “speak” capability, which reads highlighted text to students;
  • Embedding questions privately to teachers;
  • Tools for crowdsourcing information and questions and highlighting; and
  • Assessment and exam tools for individual students and groups.

The pilot program, which was implemented by learning design company The Alvo Institute in the summer of 2012, includes 230 student participants and four teachers in the New Open World (NOW) Academy in Los Angeles. When it started, 77 percent of participants said reading assignments made them nervous because of a lack of understanding, they lacked in class participation, and couldn’t do homework.

Read the entire article here.

May 30, 2013

Copia Transforms Digital Classroom with Enhanced K-12 Learning Solution to Bolster Student Achievement

Copia, the socially-driven digital content platform that provides customized, interactive solutions for students, educators and publishers, today announced an enhanced version of its learning solution specifically designed to meet the needs of K-12 students and educators. The platform, available across iOS and Android devices and desktop computers, is currently being piloted in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the country. The pilot was run by the blended learning design firm The Alvo Institute.

Since the summer of 2012, 230 students and four teachers have utilized Copia across different text intensive subject matters in the New Open World (NOW) Academy in Los Angeles with the goal of improving students’ reading skills and their ability to use reading to learn. According to research conducted at the beginning of this pilot program, 77% of participating students reported they were nervous when given a reading assignment because they could not understand what they were reading. Many admitted that, as a result, they did not participate fully in class or were unable to complete assigned homework. Mid-pilot results confirm that Copia is making reading more accessible to even the most reluctant and struggling readers. Final pilot data will be released by The Alvo Institute by the end of June.

“The opportunity to pioneer a technology-based program aligns with our school’s mission and vision,” said Dr. Charles Flores, Principal at the NOW Academy. “The partnership with Copia has allowed our students to further develop 21(st) century skills through the use of interactive digital texts in the classroom.”

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.

May 29, 2013

E-Reader Experiment in LAUSD

E-BOOK OF A DIFFERENT COVER: Expect to see many trials of digital curriculum popping up. Here’s an intriguing one that’s been going on in a corner of LAUSD: 230 students and four teachers in New Open World (NOW) Academy in Los Angeles have been trying out Copia, an e-reader that emphasizes creating collaborative learning environments where students can share questions, notes and so on. (Other features include dictionaries, study aids, a “speak” option that can read highlighted text outloud and messaging). Copia works on iOS, Android and Windows platforms. The pilot was run by the blended learning design firm, The Alvo Institute, which plans to release the full results of the effort in late June.

Copia, which launched in November 2010 has received at least $10 million from DMC Capital Funding, a New York-based privately held growth equity company that manages a $100 million investment fund. It features a catalog of 10,000 digital textbook titles, is used on 900 campuses. In addition to the U.S., it has a strong presence in Brazil, Australia and Spain.

May 29, 2013

Partnership for Blended Learning: Establishing a New Culture for Disadvantaged Learners

Learn about one the amazing gains in student proficiency where third graders went from 100% “below grade level” to 76% “at or above grade level” in math within four months.  Using the blended learning tool DreamBox Learning and relying on Alvo to design and implement their complex model, Rocky Mount Prep charter school in NC has turned a student population suffering from multiple academic disadvantages into engaged and highly achieving learners.  Read about the personalized instruction that DreamBox has introduced to Rocky Mount Prep, where “every student works continually in their optimal learning zone.”

March 28, 2013

Rocky Mount NC: Where Rocketship Meets Carpe Diem

Visit another article on the masterful changes at Alvo’s client school Rocky Mount Prep in NC. Termed a “high-poverty” school, Rocky Mount Prep fully embraced highly disruptive changes, such as removing classroom walls, installing computer-based learning labs, and revamping fundamental school-day scheduling. Now, RMP is reaping the benefits and getting noticed for their openness to and implementation of multiple blended learning and data-driven tools.

March 27, 2013

Hardware is Not a Strategy (and Other Advice for School Developers): Part 1

This practical advice for the School Developer, written from the point of view of a Gates Foundation grant-making team member, gives a significant shout-out to blended learning as a design principle in choosing educational technology, online content, and school models. Specifically, Alvo is called out as a provider for this design philosophy who “facilitate[s] design thinking,” which Alvo has championed from their inception in 2009. As Part I in a series, the blog asserts that founding principles like the personalized learning blended instruction affords – not the technology or the model itself – should drive the developers’ decisions in designing their schools.

February 23, 2013

Blended Learning: The Newest Frontier in Jewish Education?

Read about two Alvo clients in the Jewish Action, Spring 2013. Alvo is proud to have supported Yeshivat He’Atid in Bergenfield, NJ – the first blended yeshivat in the world – in their design and development phase, right up to their opening day. Alvo is currently supporting Ohr Cadash in Baltimore, MD in developing their blended design and blended learning training.

March 4, 2013

Lessons Learned from Blended Programs: Experiences and Recommendations from the Field

Read Alvo Founder and CEO Rebecca Tomasini’s chapter on Rocketship Education in this book detailing case-studies from the educational leaders in the field of blended learning today.

October, 2012

Alvo Client Da Vinci Schools Awarded Major Innovation Grant

Da Vinci Schools in Los Angeles was recently recognized nationally for their innovative work in real-world and project-based learning with a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. With an initial grant of $150,000, and the opportunity to raise another $300,000 that is eligible for a match from NGLC, Da Vinci is one of only 8 projects selected nationwide so far under NGLC’s Wave IIIa: Breakthrough School Models for College Readiness, a bold challenge to educators, innovators, and leaders to use technology to stimulate and scale the development of comprehensive, new learning models that improve college readiness and completion rates in the U.S. Originally launched in June 2010, to date the NGLC Program has awarded 48 grants totaling $18 million, with an additional $12 million available in Wave III.

The NGLC grant will help fund the start-up of a new Da Vinci charter high school in 2013 with a “blended learning” instructional approach that combines online learning with hands-on, project-based learning in the classroom, resulting in more personalized, mastery-based learning. Details of the new school, including location and staffing, are still in the planning stages.

June, 2012