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Education / 2013

LA Kids Rock!

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Skoolbo LTD

We want to end the cycle of under-achievement and prove that LA kids really can “ROCK” in their learning! LA Kids Rock! will be an online extravaganza for elementary students to come together in fun reading and math games. LA Kids Rock! will take place from 15 October to 15 December, 2013. We are passionate in our belief that every child can learn to read and gain confidence with numbers. We also believe firmly in the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” LA Kids Rock! will mobilize community role models and celebrities to help motivate the children. We need everyone to play their part to help children love learning and reach their potential. LA Kids Rock! will be completely free of charge for the more than 1.2 million elementary school children in the Greater Los Angeles Area (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties). We expect more than 100,000 children will take part. LA Kids Rock! will be based on two fundamental premises: 1) Children do best when learning is fun. 2) Positive affirmation is essential. We will use a specially customized version of the Skoolbo eLearning platform. Skoolbo is the largest ever educational game and since its launch in June 2012, has been attracting both rapid growth and extremely high levels of improvement in reading and math. How will LA Kids Rock! work? • LAKidsRock! will be multi-platform and can be played on the web browser or as a downloadable app (iOS, Android, Windows 8). • Children will play fun reading and math games anywhere, anytime. • Every child will receive a personalized learning program based on individual needs. • Children will be encouraged to connect with their parents, grandparents and teachers. • LAKidsRock! will be fully compliant with COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act). How will LA Kids Rock! mobilize the entire LA community? • Throughout the two months we will have a total of 12 special live events at various venues around Los Angeles. These live events will complement the online event and will help take LA Kids Rock! to the whole community. The live events will involve local school children playing learning games with community leaders. • In addition to the live events, we will convert an old school bus into a mobile learning lab. This bus will be equipped with study desks and tablets. The bus will visit more than 100 schools, shopping malls and community centers over the two months. • Parents and Grandparents will share the experience. They will see their child’s results and be able to play with him or her. • We will work closely with teachers and help support them in their vital role. There will be a sub-section called LA Teachers Rock! where teachers will be honored. Teachers will be provided a special portal to view powerful learning analytics and reports. • We will invite community role models and celebrities to use their privileged position to encourage and motivate the children. What about children who do not have access to the internet at home? • We will work closely with schools (especially enrichment after school programs) and libraries to provide access to LA Kids Rock! outside of school hours. • Both the 12 live sites and the mobile learning lab school bus will play an important role in assisting children without internet access at home. • Children will also be able to use LA Kids Rock! at school. What about children from non-English backgrounds? • There will be a special section for the more than 30% of Los Angeles children who are English language learners. This will assist children in their vocabulary and speaking skills. How will the curriculum be chosen? • The reading and math content will be closely aligned to Common Core State Standards. How will LA Kids Rock! motivate children? • Children will find the actual learning games highly engaging. • There will be inbuilt game rewards designed to encourage optimal use. • Children and schools will be entered into a draw for “money can’t buy” prizes. We are planning for 20 children and accompanying parents to attend an LA Lakers game along with a “meet the players” afterwards. There will also be three school prizes where key LA sport franchises will visit the winning schools. • LA Kids Rock! will make it easy for parents, grandparents and teachers to say “Great Job!” to children. We know this to be one of the most important motivators of all. How will it impact the education indicator? • LA Kids Rock! will lift reading and math test scores • Children will be more engaged and positive in their learning • LA Kids Rock! will support teachers in their vital role • Lower high school dropout rates in years to come • Bring the community together to focus on supporting children’s learning • Decrease the disparity between the education “haves” and “have-nots.”

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Our dream is that every child learns to read and gains confidence with numbers… these are life’s essentials. We believe technology can dramatically help and that the best way to do it is to make it lots of fun and to make it free! We are committed to making great learning resources accessible to every child.

Prior to founding Skoolbo in 2010, Shane Hill also founded Mathletics and World Math Day. These programs have seen millions of children from around the world participate in fun learning events and they have demonstrated highly rapid improvement.

Over the last three years Skoolbo has created the world’s largest educational game. Our focus is literacy and numeracy for 4 to 10 year olds. Shortly we will be adding 26 languages to the Skoolbo platform.

Skoolbo was invited to be part of the Global Social Innovators Accelerator program, a sub-strand of the Global Social Innovators Forum 2012 (GSIF). GSIF is the foremost forum on social enterprise and innovation in Asia and it aims to create a community of change-makers for sustainable and meaningful impact.

In 2012, Skoolbo organized an online educational event named Smartest Singapore for Singapore primary school children. The event partners were Samsung, Microsoft, Collins, the Media Development Authority of Singapore, and several regional and local businesses. Within one month, children from 118 primary schools in Singapore answered correctly a total of 2,725,288 questions on Smartest Singapore. There was an average improvement of 42.6% among children who played more than 100 games.

In February 2013, Shane Hill was honored with the Social Innovation Leadership Award at World CSR Congress and Awards 2013 in Mumbai, India. This is the most prestigious award an individual can receive for contribution in Corporate Social Responsibility. The World CSR Congress brings over 130 countries under one roof to unite and celebrate leadership in building a better society and making a better world.

In March 2013, Shane Hill was invited to speak at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF), Dubai. Shane co-presented with Senator David Coltart, Minister of Education, Zimbabwe and Dr. Matthew Kam, Senior Technology Strategist, American Institutes for Research, Washington D.C., in a session titled “Smarter Content, Better Learning”. The GESF aimed to explore how governments and the private sector can work together to create real, sustainable and scalable education change in developing countries at global and local levels. The GESF was keynoted by Bill Clinton and attended by more than fifty Heads of State / Education Ministers.

In September 2013 Skoolbo will be hosting which is a collaboration with Peace One Day and Microsoft. Children from across the world will unite and play friendship games of geography, languages and culture on the Skoolbo platform. We anticipate this will be one of the largest educational events ever held.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Skoolbo understands the critical importance of partnerships. Since launching in June 2012 Skoolbo has partnered with numerous organizations including: • Microsoft • Samsung • Peace One Day • Harper Collins.

We have also been working with Auburn School District (Maine) on their Advantage 2014 project. The project aims to increase 3rd grade literacy and numeracy from 63% and 60% to 90% by the end of 2014.

LA Kids Rock! will seek to partner with organizations who share our vision of helping every child succeed in learning. In particular: • Los Angeles school districts • Los Angeles Public Libraries • Community groups • Los Angeles sport franchises • Celebrities and community role models • Technology partners • Media partners.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

LA Kids Rock! will measure itself on a number of short and long term metrics.

Phase 1 – 2013 (The initial LA Kids Rock! 2013 event) • Total Participants Target: Hundred thousand children in Greater Los Angeles Area. • Total Correct Answers Target: 50 million correct answers in reading and math. • Total Learning Time Target: A quarter of million learning hours. • Learning Improvement Target: Average improvement in reading and math greater than 20%. • Sustainable Ongoing LA Kids Rock! A fundamental goal of LA Kids Rock! is to develop a self sustaining model where every child can participate and benefit.

Phase 2 – 2014 and Beyond (Sustainable Ongoing LA Kids Rock!) • Total Participants Target: One million children in Greater Los Angeles Area by 2015. • Test Scores Target: Los Angeles Unified School district to achieve the benchmark 800 in the overall Academic Performance Index (API) by 2017.* • Reduce Disparity Target: By 2017 achieve a 30% reduction in disparity levels between both African American and Latino students with White students. In 2011 the API gap between White and African American was 186, while for White and Latino it was 163. • Graduation Rates Target: By 2024 achieve 85% high school graduation rate for LAUSD.

In addition to the above quantitative metrics we will be seeking periodic feedback from teachers, parents and students.

We will work with a university or research agency (eg American Institutes for Research) to study our data and help determine ways to further improve.

  • LA Kids Rock! is inclusive and will be pitched at all elementary children within the Greater Los Angeles Area (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties). For measurement purposes we will use data from LAUSD – the largest school district.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

LA Kids Rock! will lift reading and math test scores “Thank you so much for this program. I have a young man in 4th grade who has a severe reading disability and SKOOLBO has been one of the programs he has taken to!!! We are so excited to see how much he has improved. Thanks a million…” – A teacher from Florida.

Learning pedagogies underpinning LA Kids Rock! include: • Make learning fun! • Individualized, differentiated curriculum. • Immediate feedback and support. • Fast paced efficient learning. • Multi-layered rewards and motivation mechanism. • Reports and analytics for parents and teachers. • Provide many opportunities for positive affirmation. • Build a culture of engagement and success for every child.

Children will be more engaged and positive in their learning “I have to say my students are “crazy” about Skoolbo. They have become so loud during the play as they shout when they win. – A teacher from Illinois.

“Our children LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this app!” – a teacher from Maine.

Engagement and success in learning are essential for creating sustained positive attitudes towards learning.

LA Kids Rock! will support teachers in their vital role “One of the main challenges a teacher faces is providing differentiation to their struggling students and their advanced students. Skoolbo allows my students to work at a pace and challenge that is most appropriate for them.” – A teacher from California. Teaching is difficult and teachers need as much support as they can get from the entire community. LA Kids Rock! will support teachers by: • Providing powerful learning analytics and reports. • Differentiating learning through sophisticated, in-built algorithms. • Creating exciting learning environments which lead to less behavioral issues. • Engaging and including parents and wider famly members in the students’ achievements. • Alerting teachers to critical learning milestones in the student’s progression.

Lower high school dropout rates in years to come “For many students the dropping out process commences in elementary school. The two most consistent indicators of ultimate school dropout are early academic performance and students’ academic and social behaviour.” - The California Dropout Research Project.

Success breeds success, conversely failure often leads to more failure. A happy, successful elementary education will result in a reduction of high school dropout rates.

Bring the community together to focus on supporting children’s learning • We believe society as a whole needs to take greater ownership of education. Each and everyone of us has this responsibility. • LA Kids Rock! will connect parents, grandparents, teachers and community in one common purpose – supporting children’s learning.

Decrease the disparity between the education “haves” and “have-nots” • LA Kids Rock! will be completely free of charge and accessible to every child regardless of economic circumstances.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Our vision for 2050 is a Los Angeles where every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential. It will be a society where educational outcomes are not pre-determined by zip code or race. Education of our children will be valued as the highest of all society’s priorities. It will be prosperous, cohesive and innovative where Angelenos are employed in ways that fully utilize their considerable skills and passion. We are convinced this is within our power, however it will not occur naturally.

We thank the Goldhirsh Foundation for this important initiative.