Here are some of the top educational technology stories from the September 2012 edition of eSchool News.

A new project aims to transform the first five days of school; federal officials urge teachers to connect through online communities of practice; Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. launches a new tablet-based pilot for education: These are among the top educational technology stories in the September 2012 edition of eSchool News.

Our September edition is now available in digital format on our website. You can browse the full publication here, or click on any of the headlines below to read these highlights:

Starting school off with a bang

While there is general agreement that the first five days of school are “absolutely essential” for establishing a culture of learning that will set the right tone for the rest of the year, there is very little research or discussion about how to make these first five days the most relevant and productive they can be, said ed-tech thought leader Alan November…

ED urges teachers to connect

“Improvement requires connection” with peers, colleagues, and new ideas, said Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Education Department (ED), at a recent ed-tech conference—and that was the idea behind the first-ever Connected Educator Month, which was held in August…

News Corp. to launch tablet-based education pilot

In a further expansion into the education market, News Corp.—Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate that owns FOX News and the Wall Street Journal, among other properties—on July 23 unveiled its new K-12 education business, called Amplify, and said it was partnering with AT&T to fund a pilot project that aims to put tablet computers in students’ hands in the coming school year…

New program helps educators teach in blended-learning environments

Many school leaders want to incorporate more online instruction—but how should teachers prepare for the newly popular blended classroom? An update to a national certification program for educators promises to help them teach in a blended learning environment…

ISTE 2012: Educators seek the brass ring of engagement

“Redefining horizons: Encouraging students’ passion to achieve” was the theme for this year’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference—but in what looked like a scene that was more appropriate for a rock concert than an ed-tech show, it was educators’ passion that was evident in the overflowing crowd that appeared for the opening general session on June 24…