$4,500 for school supplies

BIC, the world renowned manufacturer of writing instruments and correction products, has recently announced the launch of a nationwide back-to-school sweepstakes, inviting consumers to select their schools for the chance to be awarded $4,500 in funding for needed school supplies. The sweepstakes is an opportunity to help promote awareness about the great need that many schools have for these valuable resources. In addition to the launch of the sweepstakes, BIC is teaming up with Adopt-A-Classroom to donate backpacks filled with BIC products to schools in ten cities across the country, so children in need are properly prepared to have a successful school year. Sweepstakes submissions are open to U.S. residents ages 18 and over. Entrants must simply visit BIC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bicpenpals and complete a registration form including the name of their school. The deadline for entering the sweepstakes is September 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM EST.

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$2,500 for a bullying reporting solution

The CyberBully Hotline from SchoolReach announced the establishment of the CyberBully Hotline grant program.  This newly created program for K-12 schools and districts will award $100,000 in grants to support the implementation of an anonymous bullying reporting solution to help schools reduce and prevent bullying and cyber bullying episodes. Entries for the CyberBully Hotline grant must come from districts or schools that have a high (31-50 percent) or very high (50 percent+) Free and Reduced Lunch rating. Grant applications, available online at the CyberBully Hotline Web site at http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/grant-program.html, must be submitted by October 31, 2012.  Grants will be reviewed as the award committee receives them, and awarded until funds are exhausted. The maximum award per participant is $2,500 and the grant funds cover a 12-month service period starting from the date of service agreement signing. All terms and conditions of the grant program can be found at CyberBully Hotline grant program website.

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$150K to 750K for innovative literacy programs

The application filing period for Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program (IAL) school literacy grants is now open, the Department of Education announced today in the Federal Register. The American Library Association encourages school librarians to apply for the program grants, which can range from $150,000–750,000. The deadline to apply for the grant funding is Aug. 10, 2012, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The literacy grant program is designed to support innovative literacy programs for young children, increase student achievement by using school libraries and motivate older children to read. According to the Department of Education, the grants are to be used to “develop and improve literacy skills for children and students from birth through 12th grade within the attendance boundaries of high-need local educational agencies.” At least 50 percent of the $28.6 million is designated for school librarians. Local education agencies can use the funding to support school libraries and purchase materials.

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New ed-tech service aims to boost parent engagement

Parents can follow a daily link to watch the same videos that their children watched in class and see how their children did on assignments.

A simple text message could clue in parents to the perfect conversation starters with their kids: The Parent Connection, a new feature of Channel One News InterActiv (C1Ni), sends parents messages about what their children learned in school that day in an effort to strengthen the home-school connection.

C1Ni, an interactive video program that allows teachers to pause a Channel One News broadcast and work through accompanying lessons with students on Promethean ActivBoards, launched a year ago as a collaborative effort between Channel One News and Promethean.

The new Parent Connection feature, introduced this summer during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Diego, sends an eMail or text message to parents who sign up, with a link to the Channel One News InterActiv (C1Ni) video their child watched in school that day.

See also:

How to engage parents online more effectively

Using video to improve teaching and learning

Parents can watch the video themselves and can see how their child responded to the questions that were asked about the video, as well as how these responses compared with the rest of the class. Parents also receive sample questions to foster further discussion at home.

The National PTA will conduct a research study on the efficacy of the program in the San Diego Unified School District during the 2012-13 school year, and the service will be available nationwide beginning around Labor Day.

Too often, parents will try to ask their children what they did at school—only to get a bland answer such as “not much,” said Kent Haehl, CEO of Channel One News. “How do you change the subtext of that discussion at dinner?” Haehl asked, noting that this new service aims to do just that.

“What this service allows is for this dialogue between son or daughter and parent to open on common ground,” he said.

In the past, parents have used similar services to check whether their children made it to class or turned in their homework, said Jim Marshall, Promethean’s president.

Parents have accessed these basic kinds of services on average about nine times a week, Marshall said—indicating an interest in greater parental engagement.

With the Parent Connection, parents can watch the same videos that their children watched in class and see how their children did on assignments.

Teachers can also look at data available on their end to see which parents are engaged. They know which parents watch the Parent Connection news feed, and how often, which can make parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings more effective, he said.

The Parent Connection is unique in the frequency of parent engagement: Because Channel One News airs a different segment every school day—about 190 shows a year—“there’s something new to talk about every day,” Haehl said.

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North Carolina school moving to Google Chromebooks for its one-to-one program

The school is replacing the laptops for its 6- and 7-year-old students with the Chromebook project.

Educators at Millennium Charter Academy in North Carolina are seeing to it that their students will, so to speak, have their heads in the “cloud” this school year.

The cloud refers to where students will store their work from new Google Chromebook model laptops that will be rolled out this fall. According to MCA Director of Development and Information Technology Lu Anne Browne, this is the eighth year of the school’s one-to-one computing initiative—but the first year the school will be using Chromebooks instead of fully featured laptops.

“Our philosophy with technology is to teach our students that it is a tool and not an end in itself,” said Browne. “We want them to be comfortable with the understanding that technology is a wonderful toolbox for them to use to research subjects such as math and history. There are not just research papers but PowerPoint presentations and slide shows students can produce as projects.”

Browne said this approach makes Millennium students comfortable using technology and gives many a head start as they advance to high school already knowledgeable about using laptops and software for school work. She said the school previously had used Macintosh or Windows-based programs on student computers—but the Chromebooks and the application browser software will open up another world of possibilities.

“How many times has a student found themselves in trouble after they haven’t saved or backed up their work and their computer crashes?” asked Browne. “With their information being stored on the cloud, students will not lose their work.”

See also:

New Chromebooks could prove attractive for schools

Companies aim to help schools create digital learning environments

eSN Publisher’s Report: Visibility within the cloud

She explained that the Chromebooks rely on the cloud as the source for applications and data storage, connecting to Google’s Chrome browser as the interface for student work in Google Apps. The devices also “boot” up faster (eight seconds) and have a nine-hour battery life. Students can collaborate on projects much easier than they can on laptops that store data in their own internal drives.

Browne did say that some software programs would not be able to run on the Chromebooks, but she emphasized the benefits outweigh that drawback.

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Is a charter school chain called Rocketship ready to soar across America?

Inside a prefabricated beige building hard by the freight tracks, John Danner thinks he has solved one of the nation’s most vexing problems, the Washington Post reports. This is Rocketship Discovery Prep, one of five charter elementary schools founded by Danner that are bridging the achievement gap — the staggering difference in academic performance between poor and privileged children. The gap — which has persisted for decades despite heavy investments of time, energy and money — can cement the path a young life takes. Poor children are likely to enter school already behind, never catch up and then drop out, joining an underclass that threatens the country’s economic future. Policymakers, foundations and business leaders are ravenous for schools that can educate all children, regardless of income. And they don’t want just a handful of successes. They want a big idea, on a grand scale. Danner, a boyish 45-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur and onetime public school teacher, believes he has the answer…

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Charity pays for teen’s plastic surgery to avoid bullying

Nadia Ilse is looking forward to the new school year, when she will no longer be called “Dumbo” by her peers for her “elephant ears,” the Huffington Post reports. To ward off school bullies who began taunting her in the first grade for her ears, Nadia begged her mother at the age of 10 for an otoplasty — an operation to pin her ears back. The teen, now 14, was recently granted her wish by the Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that provides free corrective surgery to children born with facial deformities. Nadia told CNN that the bullying turned her talkative self into a withdrawn, antisocial girl. The taunting “hurt so much,” she told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. When the Little Baby Face Foundation was contacted by Nadia’s mother, the organization brought the duo to New York City from Georgia and did more than just pin her ears back. The organization’s founder, Dr. Thomas Romo, III. also performed reduction rhinoplasty, reducing the size of the nose, and mentoplasty, altering the chin…

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Roy Roberts, Weingarten talk teachers’ right to negotiate

Against a backdrop of noisy protest, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met with Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts Friday afternoon to discuss his recent decision to bypass collective bargaining and impose a contract on Detroit teachers, the Huffington Post reports. A controversial Michigan law called Public Act 4 allows Roberts to sidestep union negotiations. Despite a raucous rally of about 500 teachers, school employees and their supporters chanting “Negotiate Now” outside of Roberts office in Detroit’s New Center district, the outcome of the conversation was ambiguous. The Detroit Free Press reports that Roberts has agreed to review a union proposal calling for a negotiation process. Weingarten had hoped he would agree to negotiations and a timeline…

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Mass. high school may change start time so teens can sleep

Teenagers in Weston may be able to score a little extra shut-eye each morning starting in the 2013-2014 school year, depending on the findings of a local committee set up to study changing the high school’s start time, Boston.com reports.

“Teenagers need a lot, a lot of sleep,” said Weston schools Superintendent Cheryl Maloney, a member of the committee looking into changing the start time. “They’re exhausted, and they’re growing. Their body needs that rest in order to support this phenomenal physical, emotional, intellectual growth that’s happening.”

The school day at Weston High School runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., making it one of the longer school days in the state, Maloney said. The schedule was adopted in order to allow for students to have some free periods during the day, and Maloney said some of those free periods might have to be dropped if the school starts later…

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Microsoft Surface to officially surface on October 26th

Just in time for Halloween (and the launch of Windows 8), Microsoft (MSFT) has revealed that it plans on releasing its first Surface tablets on October 26th, BGR reports. Microsoft buried the Surface release date in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, where it told the SEC that “on October 26th… we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices.”

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