If you follow the Spark blog, you already know about our weekly news roundups. Every week, we gather up articles and blogs that discuss digital education and culture and bring them to you. Throughout the year, many of the most innovative ideas we’ve found on the web have come from Edutopia — the education-centered website of The George Lucas Educational Foundation. The organization just published a list entitled “10 Big (and Simple) Ideas for 2011.” The articles that are featured examine revolutionary learning practices implemented by teachers in 2011. Since Spark is dedicated to technological innovations that improve the education of children, we can’t think of a better way to end the year. Click on the titles below to read the  full articles. Who knows, maybe what you learn will help you begin the new year with some brainstorming of your own!

1. Empowering Teachers with Do-It-Yourself Culture

The DIY movement brings educators and innovators together. Edutopia editor Betty Ray explains how Maker Faires, “unconferences,” and TEDx are changing the face of education.

2. Making the Case for Open-Source (Read: Free!) Textbooks

Guest blogger David Thornburg explains how the open-source movement is transforming the textbook industry. With a lower cost, higher quality, and the ability for endless revisions, digital textbooks will (and should) eclipse their paper partners.

3. The Video Game Model as a Learning Tool

Blogger and neurologist Judy Willis MD explains the system of goals and rewards commonly found in video gaming. Understanding how dopamine fuels this process can help us apply the system to best teaching practices.

4. An Instructional Model to Close the Achievement Gap in Urban Classrooms

Algebra teacher Kadhir Rajagopal explains his strategy for capturing the attention of at-risk youth. He credits his instructional model “CREATE” for his success in closing the achievement gap in his urban classroom.

5. Three Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching

Teachers rely on more than just end of the year test scores to assess student need and teaching systems. Rebecca Alber explains the tools educators utilize throughout the school year to gauge their student’s comprehension and identify best practices.

6. Flipped Classrooms

Ramsey Musallam details the pros and cons of the flipped classroom and offers steps for reflection to help educators determine if they should rethink the way they use class time.

7. Using Digital Badges to Reward Self-Directed Learning

Deputy director of the Learning First Alliance  Anne O’Brien explains how digital badges can be used to make out-of-classroom learning “count” and capture a more accurate picture of each student’s skill set.

8. Using a Website to Save Classroom Time

Nick Provenzano shows how the addition of a classroom website can help students stay on track, optimize class time, and boost student involvement.

9. Creating Classroom Rules with a Bill of Student Rights

Social Studies and English teacher Nick Provenzano shares how he makes the most of legislature and history lessons by forming a curriculum around the creation of classroom “laws.”

10.  A Model for District-Wide Collaboration

Andrew Marcinek covers the collaborations of the Massachusetts Digital Publication Collaborative and explains how they moved from brainstorming e-publications to forming a new system for curriculum creation.