Survey finds gap in ed-tech access between rich, poor students

Technology has become essential to middle school and high school learning, but according to teachers, a gap in access to the internet between the rich and poor is leading to troubling disparities in education, the Washington Post reports.

Students depend strongly on the web to find information and complete their assignments. The vast majority of teachers say they also rely on sites such as Wikipedia and social media to find teaching resources and materials, connect with other teachers, and interact with parents, according to a survey released Feb. 28 by the Pew Research Center.

The findings come as educators debate the role of technology in classrooms, which pose great advantages for students to research and find information. But even as many schools race to adopt tablets, eReaders, and cell phones for their course work, those technologies are more widely available to middle- and higher-income students and schools…

To read the full story, click here.

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Pearson launches ed-tech incubator for startups

Publishing giant Pearson has launched an incubator program for ed-tech startups, following in the footsteps of other educational companies like Kaplan, Mashable reports.

Pearson Catalyst, the new program, will match educational startups with Pearson brands and resources. The company’s vast amount of content will be available to help participants further develop their products to target and personalize online learning.

Sharing industry insight and connecting with new companies will allow Pearson to promote learning and take advantage of new ideas, says Diana Stepner, head of future technologies.

Participating startups will have the opportunity to meet with Pearson executives and product experts, as well as present to executives and technology leaders. Pearson isn’t seeking ownership of the companies but might become a customer of the startup in the future…

To read the full story, click here.

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First lady announces website to help kids exercise

Imagine students learning their ABCs while dancing, or memorizing multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks: Some schools are using both methods of instruction, and First Lady Michelle Obama would like to see more of them use other creative ways to help students get their recommended hour of daily exercise, reports the Associated Press.

In Chicago on Feb. 28, the first lady was announcing a new partnership to help schools do just that. It starts with a website, www.letsmoveschools.org, where school officials and others can sign up to get started.

Mrs. Obama said too many penny-pinched schools have either cut spending on physical education or eliminated it outright to put the money toward classroom instruction. But the first lady who starts most days with a workout—and other advocates of helping today’s largely sedentary kids move their bodies—say that’s a false choice, because studies show exercise helps youngsters focus and do well in school.

The effort is one of the newest parts of Mrs. Obama’s 3-year-old campaign against childhood obesity, known as “Let’s Move,” which she has spent the week promoting…

To read the full story, click here.

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Can you see how Google Glass will disrupt education?

Wearable technology will be challenging to manage if schools aren’t prepared, EdTech Magazine reports.

Google is close to bringing one of its latest projects, Google Glass, to market—which is a pair of eyeglasses connected to the internet. Google hopes to solve a problem that the influx of mobile devices has created: Users are constantly distracted by devices in their pockets. What if the gap between humans and technology could be eliminated? It’s an interesting concept, and one that other companies are sure to explore in the coming years.

What impact will wearable technology like Google Glass have on students? While we’re still a few years away from needing to deal with this issue, educators and IT departments should begin planning a strategy now.

What will you do the first time a student walks into your classroom wearing web-enabled eyeglasses? Are you OK with students taking videos or photos in your class, or using the glasses to receive information faster than other students? Smart phones were a disruption, but wearable technology is likely to be even more of a challenge to manage…

To read the full story, click here.

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How to prepare for Common Core testing—and why current teacher evaluation systems won’t help

To prepare for the rigor of Common Core testing, school districts must engage teachers in sustained, in-depth professional development.

To prepare for more rigorous assessments aligned with the Common Core standards, teachers will need more time and opportunities to collaborate with each other, education professor Linda Darling-Hammond told superintendents at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education Feb. 22.

But she also warned that using value-added models to rank and evaluate teachers—a practice that is spreading among school districts nationwide—has the potential to impede this work, thereby hindering students’ readiness for Common Core testing.

Darling-Hammond, who is a nationally recognized authority on school reform and teacher quality, is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University.

She told AASA conference attendees that the new Common Core assessments to be given in 45 states and the District of Columbia beginning in 2014 are more demanding than what students are used to, and they’ll require a commitment to intense professional development on the part of school systems to make sure teachers—and their students—are prepared.

Two multi-state consortia, the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are developing next-generation assessments aligned with the Common Core standards, and students will take the tests online. To illustrate the level of rigor involved, Darling-Hammond cited a sample question from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

In the example, students are told to pretend they are the chief of staff for a congresswoman in their state. A power company is proposing to build a nuclear plant in the state, and the congresswoman wants to know how she should vote. Students are asked to search the web for information, find three arguments for and three against the use of nuclear power, evaluate these arguments, and then write a position statement either favoring or opposing the plan—using evidence to support their position.

Consider the skills that are being tested here: internet literacy (the ability to find information online and evaluate its credibility), writing, and critical thinking, for starters.

To prepare for the rigor of these exams, school districts must engage teachers in sustained, in-depth professional development, Darling-Hammond said. She said research suggests the right kind of professional development can increase student performance by up to 20 percent—but “drive-by, one-off workshops” have been shown to have no effect on achievement.

(Next page: What high-quality professional development looks like)

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What to consider when flipping the K-12 classroom

Flipped learning is not without its challenges–most notably, access to devices and the internet.

Flipping the classroom is one of the top trends in school reform, with more and more teachers trying the approach in an attempt to boost student engagement and achievement.

The concept is simple: Teachers create or find online short videos that explain a lesson or concept, and students watch the videos at home. Students then come to class the next day prepared to complete “homework” during class time.

Supporters say the flipped classroom model works because students aren’t struggling to finish assignments at home without the help of a teacher should problems or confusion arise. Teachers are able to spend less time lecturing and more time helping students.

Start off slow—one or two things at a time,” advised Gwynn Loftin, an educator with Highland Park Independent School District in Texas, during a Texas Computer Education Association 2013 conference session. “You are going to have bumps and bruises along the way, but it is so very much worth it.”

For more coverage of TCEA 2013, see:

New ed-tech products abound at TCEA 2013

How one school district deployed 10,000 iPads in five weeks

Tips for using Pinterest in the classroom

Even the most pro-flipping educators may experience some discomfort with the process. “The teacher’s role changes; you’re not the center of attention anymore, and for some of us that’s hard to get used to. You become a player on the side,” Loftin said.

Loftin’s district has flipped lessons about the planets, poetry, and social studies, using a website or tool such as Moodle or Edmodo to house videos, blogs, and assignments; and video creation tools or video sites such as YouTube, Brain Pop, Khan Academy, or LearnZillion.

On the other hand, flipping the classroom presents challenges for students who might not have access to internet-enabled devices, or the internet itself, at home, and who therefore encounter obstacles when they try to watch their teacher’s video.

(Next page: How one district overcomes access obstacles)

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Gloucester City Schools Improve Instructional Practices with ClassLink

Clifton, NJ – February 27, 2013 – Gloucester City Schools have expanded their use of ClassLink OnTrack to include Professional Development Services (PDS) after seeing strong results from their first two years of the initiative. ClassLink OnTrack is a powerful online curriculum management solution that provides teachers with easy access to their curriculum, units and lesson plans. Gloucester’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Elizabeth Curry added to OnTrack by implementing ClassLink PDS to provide quality, customized professional development services to meet the varying needs of her teachers. ClassLink PDS promotes higher achievement through integrated learning plans, effective instructional practices, Common Core Standards Alignment and the design of comprehensive curriculum through the assessment and evaluation of data.

“I love working with the ClassLink team,” said Dr. Curry. “Beatrice Elie-Pierre (Director of PDS at ClassLink) matches her staff to our needs so we are able to customize the training for our teachers at the varying levels; preschool, elementary, middle and high school.”

Dee Driscoll, the reading specialist and Language Art Literacy Coach at the Cold Springs Elementary School in Gloucester, worked closely with Elie-Pierre to execute the plan. “Beatrice was great to work with. She was able to keep the teachers focused on the objectives and encouraged group decision making. After decisions were made she delegated the tasks to individuals or small groups to get the units completed efficiently. Most importantly, the teachers are very pleased with the results and immediately put them in place in their classrooms.”

Berj Akian, CEO and Founder of ClassLink added, “OnTrack allows teachers to manage their entire curriculum online and provides quick access to evaluate and differentiate instruction. To help school curriculum leaders we’ve preloaded many different learning standard sets including the Common Core. I’m very pleased we continue to have the opportunity to help Gloucester City succeed with the combination of OnTrack and our Professional Development Services.”

To learn more about ClassLink Professional Development Services visit www.classlink.com/services or to learn more about ClassLink OnTrack visit: www.classlink.com/ontrack.

About ClassLink
ClassLink is a leading provider of web-based and cloud-based education products and services that connect teachers and students with their classroom, their curriculum and each other in richer, more powerful ways. Founded in 1998, ClassLink’s mission is to empower educators to improve learning through innovative systems and services.
ClassLink OnTrack ™Empower your curriculum team with an online curriculum and lesson planner that brings together differentiated instruction and alignment to any standards set including the Common Core. OnTrack is a simple to use and easy to implement. With OnTrack your curricula and lesson plans can be accessed from any computing device, anytime, anywhere. Whether your instructional program needs small improvements or is a revamp, OnTrack can put you on the path to success.

ClassLink LaunchPad™ is a cloud-based virtual desktop that provides administrators, teachers and students with personalized access to all of their files and applications from any device at any time.

ClassLink ClassMate® The only student administration and curriculum management system designed for unique schooling environments.
ClassLink, LaunchPad, OnTrack and ClassMate are trademarks of ClassLink.

ClassLink — the future of instructional technology
For more information, visit www.ClassLink.com
Call 888-963-7550 or email info@ClassLink.com

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CUE’s Rock Star Teacher Camps Take on the Common Core

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Danny Silva
Professional Development Coordinator,CUE
915-478-3458, dsilva@cue.org

CUE’s Rock Star Teacher Camps Take on the Common Core

Walnut Creek, Calif., February 27, 2013 – Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Inc. is seeking teachers who dream of classrooms where learning comes alive. If you would like to amp up your skills as an educator, then sign up for one of CUE’s Rock Star Teacher Camps, available in Spring and Summer 2013. The event, now in its 3rd year, has expanded to multiple dates and venues from April to August.

CUE’s Rock Star Teacher Camps are made up of hands-on “make-it, take-it” sessions taught by the award-winning CUE Rock Star Lead Learners, many of whom are Apple Distinguished Educators and Google Certified Teachers. The goal of the camps is to inspire educators who want to take their instruction to the next level through the latest and greatest technological tools, theories, and practical applications. Each camp is kept to a limited number of enrollees — 1:10 Rock Star Staff to participant ratio — and the camps are designed for those with intermediate to advanced technical skills. CUE is offering one Express Camp in Spring 2013 in Paso Robles and one Classic Rock Camp, which adds an exciting “camping” experience aboard the USS Hornet.

“CUE’s Rock Star Teacher Camps really motivate educators by giving them innovative ways of approaching teaching and learning,” said Danny Silva, CUE’s Professional Development Coordinator. “Not only do participants walk away with great ideas for their classrooms, but they also join a larger network of tech-savvy educators. These are the instructors that will be the leaders in their schools and in their districts, and their passion and expertise will engage others in amazing ways.”

With the exception of the Express camp, all camps include a light breakfast, lunch, beverages and a daily ice cream social for each day of camp. Dinner and sleeping accommodations are only included for the special Classic Rock Camp aboard the USS Hornet (see website for exact details). Each morning, campers will participate in “Shred Sessions” where participants get a LIVE DEMO by each presenter. One added feature to this summer’s camps is a focus on how technology integrates into Common Core.

Information on the three summer camps, the Classic Rock Camp and the Express Camp can be found at cue.org/rockstar.

ROCK STAR TEACHER CAMPS
Registration $159 (current CUE members): dinners and hotel accommodations
not included
CUE Rock Star Teacher Summer Camp Orange
June 11-13
Azusa Pacific Campus
Orange, CA

CUE Rock Star Teacher Summer Camp Lake Tahoe
July 9-11, 2013
Alder Creek Middle School
Truckee CA

CUE Rock Star Teacher Summer Camp Solana Beach
July 24-26, 2013
Skyline Elementary School
Solana Beach, CA

EXPRESS
Registration $59 (current CUE members): meals and hotel accommodations
not included
CUE Rock Star Teacher Express Camp Paso Robles
April 26-27
Estrella Warbirds Museum
Paso Robles, CA

CLASSIC
Registration $289 (current CUE members): includes all meals and room accommodations
Registration $259 (current CUE members): includes meals only
CUE Classic Rock Star Teacher Summer Camp USS Hornet
July 31-August 1, 2013
Aboard the USS Hornet, Alameda, CA
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About CUE
Ed Tech Professional Development is at the core of CUE’s work. We are passionate believers in advancing student achievement through technology. By providing Ed Tech professional development to schools, districts, and local educators on the infusion of emerging technologies, we can help better prepare students for college and careers ahead. | www.cue.org

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EDUCATORS AND TEENS EXPERIENCE MYRACLE AT GALAXIE LIBRARY IN APPLE VALLEY, MINNESOTA

BURNSVILLE, MINN (February 27, 2013) – Lauren Myracle, a nationally known award-winning author, recently visited the Galaxie Library in Apple Valley, Minnesota, as part of the Teens Know Best (TKB) author series. Sponsored by The Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), Mackin Educational Resources, and other partnering organizations, the author series is bringing eight of the hottest writers of teen literature to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

During her session, Myracle discussed her books and the somber-but-hopeful and inspiring elements behind their creation. She also participated in a very dramatic reading from her book L8r, G8r with assistance from two young adults. After the presentation, Myracle took time to sign books and to pose for photographs with fans.

The TKB series kicked off on February 9 with Jay Asher and will continue on Saturdays through April 6. All sessions are free and open to the public. Educators and librarians may earn five clock hours for each presentation. Visit www.melsa.org/tkb for full details and location information. The authors are appearing at TKB courtesy of their publishers: Amulet Books an imprint of Abrams, carolrhoda LAB, Little Brown and Company, Penguin Young Readers Group, Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster.

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About Mackin Educational Resources
Mackin Educational Resources has provided library and classroom materials to PK-12 schools for nearly 30 years. Known for its high commitment to customer care and customization, Mackin provides print books, eBooks, online databases, audiobooks, video resources and more to schools across the country and around the globe. Learn more about Mackin Educational Resources by visiting www.mackin.com or contacting them at 800-245-9540 – where every phone call is always answered in person and true customer service still exists.

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Win a playground for your school

Two grand prize winners will receive a $30,000 grant and a new playground from Playworld Systems. One of the grand prize winners will be chosen from a special drawing for Title I Schools. Three second prize winners will receive a $5,000 grant.

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