States can compete for $200 million in federal funds with STEM education focus

Beginning this week, nine states that were the runner-up finalists from last year’s Race to the Top competition can apply for a portion of the $200 million Race to the Top round three fund, the Huffington Post reports. The Department of Education announced Wednesday that Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina can seek funding for part of their Race to the Top plan, which should include a focus to improve science, technology, engineering and math education.

“Race to the Top round three will enable these nine states to further their reform efforts already underway and help them get better faster,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday. The grants will range from a maximum possible $12.25 million for Colorado to $49 million for California. Grant figures depend on state population and are adjusted based on assurance compliance and application proposals…

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This year’s top ‘toys of value’ named by U.S. educators

National American organization Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE) announced on Wednesday the results of its “2011-2012 Annual Toy Selection Guide” naming this year’s top ‘toys of value,’ Relaxnews reports. This year’s Annual Toy Selection Guide released November 16 by TRUCE highlights a number of toys which “support healthy play” and can be used as “guidelines for making purchasing decisions.” This year’s ‘toys of value’ selected by TRUCE promote five key areas which TRUCE argues combine to form ‘healthy play:’ these key areas are: ‘dramatic play,’ ‘manipulative play,’ ‘game playing,’ ‘creative arts’ and ‘physical play.’

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How higher-performing schools made it onto the ‘low-achieving’ list

Several dozen elementary schools with scores higher than the state’s target for academic success have been placed on a list of 1,000 “low-achieving schools.” Being on the list gives parents the right to remove their children and enroll them in higher-performing schools anywhere in the state, EdSource Extra reports. The designation of these schools as “low achieving” is the unintended outcome of the Open Enrollment Act, which was meant to give parents at some of the state’s lowest-performing schools greater choice as to where to enroll their children. Until passage of the law, transferring to schools in another district was exceedingly difficult for most children, achievable only through a hard-to-get inter-district transfer. This law, which went into effect in April 2010, requires districts to send letters to parents notifying them of the right to transfer to a higher-performing school in another district, based on its Academic Performance Index (API)…

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Watch: World’s most dangerous school commute?

For the children of Pili, a village high in the foothills between China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, getting to school isn’t just difficult, according to a report by The Telegraph, it’s life-threatening.

“Dangerous! Careful, hold on to the rope…” the man in the video says. The journey is a total of 120 miles, 50 of which cannot be accessed by vehicles. At one point, the path narrows to just a few inches over a cliff around 1,000 feet above ground. Teachers escort the children on the dangerous trek four time a year, since the youngest students are 6 years old.

“There is only one way to get to the village, and you have to climb up in the mountains,” head teacher Su Qin told The Telegraph. “The village is completely cut off.”

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Amazon may be planning smartphone

Amazon, which began shipping a tablet computer this week, may be eyeing the smartphone market, Relaxnews reports. Citigroup said in a research note published on Thursday that it believes the Seattle-based online retail giant plans to launch a smartphone next year.

“Based on our supply chain channel checks in Asia led by Kevin Chang, Citi’s Taipei-based hardware research analyst, we believe an Amazon Smartphone will be launched in 4Q12,” Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney said.

“We believe (Foxconn) is now jointly developing the phone with Amazon,” Mahaney said, and it will be manufactured by Hon Hai’s TMS business group, which makes Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader and Kindle Fire tablet…

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10 ways to change the minds of tech-reluctant staff

"Removing technology from its stature as something mystical and powerful is something I stress to whomever I'm working with," says one reader.

We often hear about tech-savvy educators and administrators who have an array of best practices and whose love for technology is evident. But as anyone who’s ever been part of a school or district knows, not all teachers and administrators are as comfortable or familiar with technology.

In a recent “Question of the Week,” we asked our tech-savvy readers: “How do you get tech-reluctant teachers and administrators to use technology effectively?” Here are our readers’ top answers (edited for brevity).

1. Use technology for personal reasons first.

“To get educational staff on board with tech, encourage and support them using tech for their non-work purposes. As soon as they develop comfort using tech for their personal purposes, that comfort level will easily transfer to work situations.” —Phil Shapiro, former instructional technology coordinator, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.

2. Emphasize how it helps them specifically.

“As a principal, I make time to offer and teach the [professional development] myself. I make the training mandatory and ensure that I do the trainings in a helping tone as opposed to an administrative tone. If teachers feel comfortable integrating the technology, and feel as though they are supported, they are more willing to incorporate it [with] ‘buy-in’ as opposed to ‘something we have to do.’ I also, as much as I can, go into classrooms and model lessons using technology. I try to make a point to emphasize to the teachers that time on task increases learning for students. Engagement = student success. Technology, when implemented correctly in classrooms, can yield large amounts of time on task!” —Dr. Chris Marczak, principal, McGavock Elementary

“During the past 12 years, and through all of the technology changes we have encountered, I have found that the most effective way to get others to effectively use technology is by modeling. First, you need to figure out where technology can be used in their classroom and to assist in their role as an educator. Second, find technology resources that can be effectively used for that particular educator. Lastly, model and demonstrate how the technology can be used effectively – if you can’t model it, then find someone else who can! Once teachers realize that effectively using technology will help them teach and be a more effective educator, then the reluctance gradually fades away.” —Jeff Duncan, assistant principal, Highland Springs High School, Henrico County Public Schools, Va.

“I have been presented with tech applications that could be used in hundreds of different ways and have been hurried through a presentation with a presenter who is trying to meet the needs of forty or fifty different educators who teach at levels ranging from pre-K to grade 12. [I would like it] if presenters were to follow the cycle of effective instruction by first beginning with narrow, focused presentations; and second, by training in shorter, more frequent sessions that include plenty of time for guided practice, and end by providing a well-developed lesson or activity that can be used  immediately upon returning to the classroom. Technology training should be followed up with on-site peer support. One-size-fits-all in-service doesn’t work.” —Terrie Alger, reading facilitator, Pablo Elementary School

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Case Study: Wenatchee Valley College

Click to read the Case Study: Wenatchee Valley College

 

Learn how Wenatchee Valley College transformed its distributed silo-based storage into a comprehensive Scale-Out NAS infrastructure using Gridstore Scale-out NAS. Deploying Gridstore enabled Wenatchee to eliminate server and storage sprawl and helped them achieve their goal of re-purposing their existing servers to provide resources for other purposes thereby reducing the need for further IT expenditures

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‘Weightless’ U.S. teachers eye giant science leap

“Excited,” “nervous,” “terrified”–just three emotions described by a group of US teachers about to take a dizzying “weightless” flight all for the cause of science, naturally, the AFP reports. The 30 classroom professionals donned blue “astronaut” jumpsuits to defy gravity in the skies above California, in a project designed to help them capture the imagination of young science students. On the back of her jumpsuit, teacher Michelle Luke taped a drawing made by her pupils at Manhattan Beach Middle School, southwest of Los Angeles, showing two figures taking a giant weightless leap into space. But with only a couple of hours to go before the flight, her smile was still a little tense…

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