Ohio crash cautionary tale for families with teens

There were lies told to parents, a car with five seats carrying eight teens, and an unlicensed driver. The car was speeding. No seat belts were used, the Associated Press reports. If parents of teenagers need a real-life cautionary tale to sum up all their warnings and fears, surely the crash of a stolen car in Warren, Ohio that killed six teenagers is it.

“You heard about that story?” Daniel Flannery, an Ohio father of three teens, asked his kids as news of the tragedy filtered out. “This could happen to you. It’s horrible. These kids are not coming home. I don’t want you to be that person.”

Mario Almonte of Queens, N.Y., said he and his wife talked to their teenage son — who’s on the verge of getting his driver’s license — about it, too. “We pointed to this tragedy and mentioned that he shouldn’t think something like this can never happen to him,” said Almonte. “Sometimes it just takes one bad decision to end in tragedy.”

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Student brought $20,000 to school

A 12-year-old recently had quite the show-and-tell at school: According to the Detroit News, she brought a backpack stuffed with $20,000 in cash, the Sideshow reports. Police, who declined to name the girl, said the student received it from a child who lives across the street from her in Taylor, outside of Detroit. Word got around at the local Sixth Grade Academy that the girl was handing out cash to her friends. That’s when the principal stepped in and called the police.

“The school district called us and said a 12-year-old student had a backpack full of money,” Taylor Chief of Police Mary Sclabassi said. “The principal became aware of it when she heard the student was giving money away to friends. They brought in the student, secured the backpack and retrieved the money she had given away. This is a real first for me.”

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Bill would let counselors refuse LGBT clients

A bill proposed in Tennessee would let psychological counselors refuse to treat gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clients, prompting the Raw Story to run the headline: “Tennessee bill allows Christian counselors to reject suicidal LGBT students,” the Huffington Post reports. While arguably sensational, the headline is true. Tennessee’s HB 1185 would prohibit universities from taking disciplinary action against student counselors who, based on religious objections, wish to refer LGBT clients to others. The bill claims student counselors are protected based on a constitutional prohibition of religious discrimination, while basically letting counselors discriminate against clients based on their sexual orientation. State Rep. John J. DeBerry Jr. (D-Memphis) brought the bill before the House. He earlier supported a “don’t say gay” bill, which would prohibit the discussion of so-called alternative lifestyles in state-run elementary schools. He said parents should choose how to educate their children…

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Google closes the book on Reader, announces July 1 sunset

The day long feared by fans of Google Reader has come: the service will shut down, the company said, CNET reports.

“We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites,” the company said. “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.”

Google Reader lets users subscribe to and read feeds from all manner of publishers, in a format that resembles an e-mail in-box. Loved by information junkies, the nearly eight-year-old service was once among the most popular ways of tracking large numbers of news sites, blogs and other publishers. It was also an early experiment for Google in social networking, as the service’s sharing features inspired friendships and even marriages. Diehard fans of the service called themselves “sharebros,” as was detailed last year in a lengthy, definitive feature on Buzzfeed

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Integrating the ‘four Cs’ into instruction

Kay outlined seven steps to 21st-century education.

While policy makers and education leaders have been talking about the need to teach 21st-century skills for more than a decade, not enough attention has been paid to how this can be done, Ken Kay believes.

A veteran of the computer industry, Kay led the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) for nine years before leaving this organization to found EdLeader21, a professional learning community of superintendents who are integrating 21st-century skills into instruction.

Along with Valerie Greenhill, Kay has written a book on the topic, The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts, and at the Consortium for School Networking’s annual conference in San Diego in March, he shared his advice for teaching 21st-century skills with school district chief technology officers.

During his time at P21, Kay and his colleagues identified 18 skills that were important for students to learn as they prepared for 21st-century careers. But Kay told conference attendees he came to realize that 18 skills were too many for schools to manage.

After talking with business leaders about which of these skills were most important, he distilled these down to the “four Cs”—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Well into the second decade of the 21st century, Kay said he has grappled with the question: Should we still be calling the concept “21st-century education” at this point? To answer this question, Kay suggesting posing another: “Do you have a model of education that is preparing kids for the jobs of the future?”

If the answer is “yes,” then “you can stop calling it 21st-century education and just call it education,” he said. But the truth is, most districts still aren’t fully preparing kids for the world they’ll inherit.

The seven steps to 21st-century education that Kay outlines in his book are:


Ten educational technologies you should try this year

From code that lets any educator create a MOOC, to online flash cards that help students earn money, these educational technologies could gain steam this year.

It’s always hard to predict what technology will be a game-changer, but here are 10 educational technologies that have sparked our interest in recent months.

From code that lets any educator create a MOOC, to online flash cards that help students earn money, the following educational technologies could gain steam in classrooms this year.

Be sure to leave your suggestions for what we might have missed, or if you’ve tried some of these educational technologies before, let us know in the comments section—we’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Listed in alphabetical order)

1. Banzai

Between calculating the cost of college and the state of our economy, more and more teachers are incorporating financial literacy curriculum into the classroom. Banzai provides content using real-life scenarios—including taxes and auto insurance—for free! Lessons are online and interactive, or they can be printed; lesson preparation and grading are included with the program. http://teachbanzai.com/

2. Course Builder

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have really taken off in the last year. Now, Google is helping teachers complete their MOOC dreams with this new open-source platform that gives individual educators and universities the ability to create MOOCs of their own. Already, colleges like Indiana University and UC San Diego are using Course Builder. http://code.google.com/p/course-builder/



BoomWriter adds a 21st-century twist to a time-tested writing technique

Co-created by a teacher and the CEO of a technology company, BoomWriter is a free, easy-to-use group writing website that challenges students to produce their best work—and makes them published authors at the end of the process.

Here’s how it works: Teachers choose or produce the beginning to a story, then challenge students to continue writing the story. Each student submits the next chapter, and then they vote on which entry is the best. (Students can’t vote for their own submission, and they don’t know whose chapter they’re voting for.) The winning chapter is then added to the story, and the process continues.

Students earn BoomDollars for voting and for having their entries chosen, and they can use this currency to buy accessories for their site avatar. The teacher determines the total number of chapters to be completed, and when the story is finished, it’s published as a book that students and their families can own.

Students are captivated by this unique approach to writing, and it’s extremely easy for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum.


The Importance of Network Time Synchronization

Your network is time stamping files, email, transactions, etc., while server logs are recording the transactions for backup. Fundamental to this is the belief that the time is correct. This paper describes why network time synchronization is critically important.


The problem with high-tech ‘personalized’ learning tools

SWSXedu was a big hit in Texas last week, where technology companies (such as Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify Education) hawked their new education gadgets that they promised would help kids learning by providing “individualized” instruction, the Washington Post reports. Really? Here’s a skeptical view on that notion from educator Sabrina Joy Stevens, who attended SWSXedu and came away disturbed. Stevens is a teacher-turned-education activist based in Washington, DC. She currently works at the American Federation of Teachers…

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It’s time teachers move beyond the dusty old grade book

America is abuzz about education technology, TakePart.com reports. Teachers trade tips about new tools on social networks; the media frequently report on how schools are using it to improve learning outcomes; and just last week, educators, thought leaders and other innovators convened at SXSWedu to talk tech in education. From MOOCS and personalized learning to big data and BYOD, attention is on the next trend with the potential to “transform” education. However, that attention may be misplaced. To effect meaningful change, we must push past the hype and get back to basics: what are the real (not invented) needs and challenges of schools and how do we leverage modern technology to address them? When we consider this, sometimes the most impactful solutions are not radically new discoveries, but those that improve upon existing tools…

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