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Learning Library Blog 5 steps to get started with ISTE's new student standards
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5 steps to get started with ISTE's new student standards

By Kristin Harrington
October 21, 2016
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The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students offer exciting opportunities for the future of education and the changing landscape of student learning. Standard 1: Empowered Learner encapsulates the importance of this educational shift. By using the student standards in our classrooms, we empower students to:

  • Set goals and make choices about their learning.
  • Ask and find answers to challenging questions.
  • Become important contributing members of our global community.

With the goal of empowering students at the forefront, our district is beginning an implementation of the new ISTE Standards for Students in classrooms across our PK-12 school district. Here are five ways to get started.

Figure out where you are. We started by examining the standards and determining those we were already addressing in our district and those that require more scaffolding.

Identify model teachers. We looked for teachers who were already facilitating global collaboration, student choice and goal setting as well as other concepts embedded in the ISTE Standards. We give these teachers recognition in our professional development courses and asked them to be leaders and mentors for other teachers.

Review your resources. We took a closer look at our digital resources and app-approval process to ensure that teachers would have the materials necessary to implement these standards in their classrooms. We noticed that although our students have devices, there was a need for more apps and programs that allow for creation and choice. We are working now to increase our resources and approve more apps that allow for student engineering, computation and problem solving.  

Develop creative learning spaces. We are fortunate to have flexible-learning and technology-rich spaces in our schools. Taking the place of traditional labs, these spaces allow students to collaborate, create and use a variety of technology tools.

Offer incentives. As we worked to align the standards with our Technology Integration Matrix, we decided to develop gamified courses using the Credly micro-credential platform, which allows teachers to earn badges for both learning about the new student standards and for implementing them. We also created a lesson-planning form for district digital support colleagues to use when co-planning technology lessons with teachers.  

Start with the empowered learner course to bring the ISTE Standards to life through online PD.

ISTE Standards toolbox

Like many school districts, we are in the early stages of implementing the new standards. Here are some tools and resources we’ve found that have helped us better understand the standards and implement them across our district.

  • The ISTE Grade Band Articulation (included in the ISTE ebook available on the student standards page) was helpful in determining what the standards look like for students in elementary, middle and high school.
  • The ISTE Standards Community is open to any ISTE member and is a great place to ask questions, share resources and network with other ed tech leaders.
  • The CPALMS Model Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are great lessons that help students meet the Innovative Designer and Computational Thinker standards. Students in grades K-12 have opportunities to analyze data, and engineer solutions to open-ended problems. These CPALMS lessons contain the directions and printables teachers need to begin implementing the MEAs in their classroom.
  • The CS Fundamentals UnPlugged includes resources from to help teachers encourage students to become computational thinkers through the creation of algorithms.

Much like project- and problem-based learning, we continue to learn valuable information during this ongoing process of research and implementation. We look forward to sharing more about our first year using the new standards and are excited to learn how schools and districts around the world are using them.

Kristin Harrington is a digital support colleague for Flagler County Schools in Florida. She is a co-moderator for #FLedChat, which takes place on Twitter each Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. Follow her on Twitter @KristinCHarr.

Learn more about the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students and download the ebook today.