South Portland ‘university’ promotes high school STEM education

The transparent gelatinous alginate strands South Portland High School junior Jackeline Zarate and Portland High School junior Bailey Ruesch pulled from a test tube last week at Fairchild Semiconductor were nanotechnology at their fingertips, The Forecaster reports. “I’ve always liked math especially, so I was happy to come,” Ruesch said as she created the compound with Zarate during the three-day, first-ever Semi High Tech University in Maine. Sponsored by the nonprofit Semi Foundation of San Jose, Calif., the intensive course merged fun, practical applications in science, technology, engineering and math with mock job interviews for students who are not always selected just because of outstanding grades…

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Mobile platform helps teachers, students stay connected

connected-schoolsRemind101 is a mobile platform that closes the communication gap between home and school, helping students, teachers, and parents stay connected in a modern way. It allows teachers to send reminders, notifications, and updates via text or eMail—and already, more than 30,000 schools are signed up, its creators say.

Signing up takes less than two minutes on the website, iPhone app, or Android app, and it only takes seconds for students or parents to join a class by sending a text or eMail message to a designated number, Remind101 says. Safety is a primary feature of the service: Teachers never see students’ or parents’ phone numbers, and students and parents don’t see theirs.

Teachers can manage up to 10 classes, sending messages to an entire class or to individual students or parents instantly—or they can schedule a message for later if they’d like, such as a reminder about a test that’s in a month.

“I have been using Remind101 for two and a half years. My students and parents love it,” one teacher reports on the website. “I love how it helps my students be more productive, because they don’t have the excuse of, ‘I forgot.’”


10 digital citizenship resources

Educators and administrators have a variety of tools to educate students about digital citizenship

digital-citizenshipStudents may be able to operate technology tools and navigate resources without a problem, but students don’t always realize that what they post or make public online, and behaviors they exhibit online, tend to stick around. To help students learn about appropriate online behavior and decisions, school leaders are turning to digital citizenship education.

It’s important to instruct kids “how to not only use the computer, but how to live in this digital world,” said Lenny Schad, chief information technology officer in the Houston Independent School District, during a recent webinar reviewing important aspects of digital deployments.

Digital citizenship is becoming an increasingly important consideration during the mobile device deployment process, experts say.

(Next page: What district leaders say about digital citizenship; Plus, take our poll.)


Developing and deploying Facebook for school districts

How school leaders can leverage Facebook to boost district visibility in the community

district-facebookThe Norris School District has deliberately cultivated a combined social media brand over the last several years by deploying multiple official district-managed Twitter feeds, and primarily by deploying a Facebook fan page.

Our school district is a system of about 2,100 students in southeast Nebraska. The district covers a wide geographic area and is a consolidated system serving students in seven small communities, as well as in rural areas just south of Lincoln, Neb.

It is our belief that having a vibrant, timely, and active social media presence has become an expectation of our constituents. For everything from the latest sports scores to school closures, our followers on Facebook access information online and share it with others–and it spreads the word and magnifies our presence as a district. When it comes to the realm of social media, our district’s parents and many of our constituents are active on Facebook.

Our Facebook page has now been “friended” by more than 2,000 separate users, including alumni, current students, parents, and others in our district population. The fact that a district our size has attained this level of followership indicates the potency of social media in penetrating a crowded information environment.

(Next page: Steps to make Facebook an integral part of your school district)


Are states measuring students’ career readiness?

New report shows Common Core has “little impact” on states’ career and technical tests

career-assessmentsWith a nationwide emphasis on preparing students for the workplace, accompanied by a push to use the Common Core State Standards to buoy these skills, a new report sheds light on the varying ways in which states and school districts assess students’ career and technical skills.

The report, “Career Readiness Assessments Across the States: A Summary of Survey Findings,” from the Center on Education Policy (CEP), found that while most states give one or more assessments of career readiness, technical, or employability skills to high school students, the types of tests used vary considerably across states and are sometimes decided at the school district level.

Despite the fact that Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are not always part of the required curriculum, 96 percent of students take at least one CTE course, and 38 percent take three or more, according to 2013 statistics from the U.S. Department of Education–thus, knowing how states assess course outcomes is critical, stakeholders say.

(Next page: State definitions and types of assessments)


Teaching our children to code: a quiet revolution

In just under a year, England will become the first country in the world to mandate computer programming in primary and secondary schools, The Telegraph reports. Children will start learning to write code when they enter school the age of five, and will not stop until at least 16, when they finish their GCSEs. By the end of key stage one, students will be expected to create and debug simple programs as well as ‘use technology safely and respectfully’. They will also be taught to understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions. By the time they reach key stage 2, pupils will be taught how to design and write programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems. They will also learn how to understand computer networks and use logical reasoning to detect and correct errors in algorithms…

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How much freedom to give kids with school-issued iPads?

Parents pack into a gym at Cahuilla Desert Academy, a middle school in the southern California city of Thermal, Mind/Shift reports. The near triple-digit daytime heat of the Coachella Valley, southeast of Palm Springs, has given way to a cool evening. It’s iPad information night. Before addressing the crowd, Principal Encarnacion Becerra talks up the district’s ambitious new iPads-for-all initiative with the fervor of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. “It’s truly a revolution, what’s happening,” he says. “Technology has finally caught up to where truly you hold the Internet in the palm of your hands. The power of the mobile devices that exist now — we have to have to leverage that capacity and to evolve as educators to address those needs.”

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WWU researchers to study math, science teaching methods in area schools

Starting this fall, researchers from Western Washington University will study local elementary school math and science teaching methods in an attempt to figure out if specialists – those who teach only one or two subjects – are more effective than those who are expected to teach all subject areas, the Bellingham Herald reports. The three-year project, funded by a $449,957 grant from the National Science Foundation, will compare math and science instruction models currently in place in the Anacortes, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison, Ferndale, Nooksack Valley and Sedro-Woolley districts. Elementary school teachers have traditionally been generalists, teaching all subject areas to students in the same classroom…

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Must-read sections from October

Be sure to check out all the popular sections in eSchool News for the latest technology news and innovation in education.

sections-eschool-newsWe encourage you to visit our popular sections to catch up on the latest commentary from October. Our “Site of the Week” section located in the “Resources” tab is a list of Websites with resources for K-12 educators and selected for their excellence. Read October’s weekly winners now:

Another resource for creating educational ‘playlists’

New website helps schools manage educational travel

Here’s Common Core help for students with disabilities

OpenEd highlights Common Core-aligned videos, games

‘Schoola Stitch’ helps clothe families, support schools

Another popular section is our “Funding” tab, which looks at school funding and education technology grants for K-12 and higher ed educators.

Connected Educator Month, an initiative to help educators learn and collaborate online, was a big hit in October. In case you missed it, read Six can’t miss Connected Educator Month panels by Associate Editor Meris Stansbury. Don’t miss a guest post, Six ways to engage in Connected Educator Month, by Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent for Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts.

You can also receive the latest information on education technology events, conferences and webinars for K-12 and Higher-ed educators by visiting

This way, if you can’t travel to make one of the events, you can catch up and view the information online.

Another great way to stay connected is to follow our growing community on Facebook and on Twitter @eschoolnews.

Follow me on Twitter @Michael_eSM and use the hashtag #eSNTopNews.