Managing class in the age of distraction: 6 ideas

Managing your class in the age of distraction? It’s a quandary for many teachers, WJU EdTech reports. Do I allow them to use their device? What if they surf the web or go to Facebook? It’s easy to give the answer I commonly give – make your class engaging enough and they will pay attention. But this may not be fool proof. I recently read a blog by Dr. Maryellen Weimer The Teaching Professor. Dr. Weimer is a highly regarded authority in effective college teaching. She wrote about a study by Kuznekoff and Titsworth (2013), and described how students who use their mobile phones during class lectures tend to write down less, recall less, and perform worse on multiple choice tests. Phones can be distracting – for anyone…

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CEOs join forces to support eRate modernization

eRate program, broadband upgrades are essential for students, group says

eRate-upgradeA group of 50 executives, innovators, and entrepreneurs joined the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway on Jan. 30 to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize the federal eRate program – a move that will help advance President Obama’s ConnectED goal to connect 99 percent of America’s K-12 students to high-speed broadband in five years.

The group includes CEOs from American Express, Adobe, Airbnb, Bloomberg L.P., Dell, Dropbox, eBay, EMC Corporation, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, HP, Intuit, Microsoft, Netflix,, Tory Burch, Xerox, and Yahoo and represents approximately $785 billion in annual economic activity and two million workers.

The nonprofit got a funding boost in December 2013, when Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates offered support for the organization. Zuckerberg’s Startup: Education and Gates’ foundation have contributed a combined $9 million to the nonprofit.

(Next page: Details from the letter)


Educators praise FETC’s 2014 annual conference

If you are at FETC in Orlando, share your views with us in the comments section below and stay tuned for exclusive commentary on the event

educators-fetc-conferenceThe Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) is one of the largest conferences in the United States devoted to educational technology. This program is designed so educators and administrators can learn how to integrate different technologies across their curriculum – from kindergarten to college. FETC is designed for teachers, principals and deans, district administrators, curriculum designers, media specialists, technology directors and various other educators.

While FETC’s 2014 national conference in Orlando is underway, eSchool News Associate Editor Meris Stansbury has covered the latest developments in innovation and education. Be sure to look for her forthcoming stories on the conference.

In the meantime, here’s what some of you are saying on Twitter about FETC.

Jimmy Casas, a high school principal and the 2012 Iowa Principal of the Year, shared a link to FETC attendees on ways students are paying it forward by helping others.

Jimmy Casas

Jeff Tron, an eLearning Coach for an elementary school, two middle schools, and a high school, rejects the notion that technology alone contributes to student apathy.


Stacey Roshan, a high school math teacher and NAIS Teacher of the Future, shares important STEM learning resources.


If you are at the FETC conference, share your views with us in the comments section below and follow eSchool News Associate Editor Meris Stansbury on Twitter @eSN_Meris for instant updates.


Five pressing education issues you’ll see in 2014

A handful of important education issues will take top billing in 2014

education-issuesAlthough many states, districts, and education leaders are beginning 2014 with a fresh perspective on education priorities, familiar issues–including funding, Common Core, and policy–are sure to emerge.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) released its annual top five education issues that legislators and education advocates will encounter this session.

“It is clear we need American students to be more than warehouses of knowledge and information as the expectation has been in the past. As a nation we must bring our educational system up-to date so students also can apply knowledge and solve complex problems. This begins with high-quality early learning, continues through K-12, then continues until college completion and careers,” said CSG Education Policy Director Pam Goins. “Students must be able to work not only independently, but also with each other; they also need to be able to communicate ideas effectively. In short, to be successful in today’s world, every student must graduate from high school college- and career-ready.”

(Next page: Five important education issues in 2014)


Nation’s youngest will face less competition getting into college

Demographics are changing rapidly in the United States. From the late 1980’s until a few years ago, the number of high school graduates has been steadily increasing until it peaked in 2008 at about 3.3 million students, Forbes reports. This number has been declining and will continue to decline for the next few years. For every 100 18-year-olds there are today, there are only 95 four-year-olds and in some parts of the country the spread is much greater. The numbers by themselves do not tell the whole story. The composition of our younger population is changing significantly. Areas where the younger population is growing are primarily lower income; by contrast in many of the highest income, most educated counties in the country, the number of young children is much less than the number of 18-year-olds…

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Estimate for statewide pre-k in New York puts schools chief in a tangle

New York State’s top education official was caught in a battle between city and state leaders on Tuesday after he suggested that providing universal access to prekindergarten would cost substantially more than what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had proposed, the New York Times reports. John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner, said at a hearing in Albany that the state would have to spend roughly $1.6 billion per year to offer free, full-day prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds. Mr. Cuomo has called for spending an average of $300 million per year…

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Civil rights hero launches ‘American Child’s Education Bill of Rights’

Calling modern school reform “catastrophically misguided and ineffective,” civil rights icon James Meredith is launching what he calls the American Child’s Education Bill of Rights, a 12-point declaration of obligations that he says the nation owes every public school child, the Washington Post reports. The 80-year-old Meredith was the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. placed Meredith first on his own list of heroes in his 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail…

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Meet our 2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award winners

eSchool Media announces eight winners of its 2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards


These eight recipients were chosen by the editors of eSchool News with help from last year’s winners

One is a former Gates Foundation executive whose district uses computer programming to teach essential math skills. Another has advised the Federal Communications Commission on digital textbook use. All are working to transform instruction from a passive activity to an active, more inquiry-based model that prepares students for success in a digital, information-based world.

Meet the winners of our 2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, sponsored by Lenovo. Now in its 14th year, the program honors the nation’s top K-12 superintendents who best exemplify outstanding leadership and vision in using technology to advance their district’s educational goals.

Chosen by the editors of eSchool News with help from last year’s winners, the 2014 superintendent honorees will be recognized in a series of live webinars in March. During these free webinars, scheduled for March 19th and March 26th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, senior-level executives from school districts nationwide will have a chance to hear from these eight winners and learn the keys to their ed-tech success.

To register for the March 19th webinar, click here. To register for the March 26th webinar, click here. To read about past award winners, click here.

25 BrownLuvelle Brown, Superintendent, Ithaca City School District, N.Y.

Before becoming Ithaca City’s superintendent, Brown served as the CIO for a school system in Virginia. He has also been a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, and his experiences in all of these positions have given him broad insight into how technology can transform education.

Brown envisions creating a student body of “6,000+ Thinkers.” To meet this goal, he has enacted many initiatives, such as reducing the ratio of students to computers fivefold and adding ubiquitous wireless coverage throughout all buildings. A “Contemporary Learning Spaces” initiative seeks to redesign the district’s learning spaces, and Brown has piloted game-based learning in the elementary schools.

One key to Brown’s success is that he seeks to learn from others. For instance, a Student Advisory Council meets monthly with Brown and his cabinet. These student representatives from each school make recommendations on acceptable technology use, ed-tech purchases, and so on. Each summer, Brown hosts a national conference in Ithaca that features innovative thought leaders discussing contemporary trends in education—and he has held a series of “Community Conversations” about his district’s strategic plan among local businesses, places of worship, community centers, and even hair salons.

25 DanceDallas Dance, Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools, Md.

Since assuming leadership of the country’s 26th largest school district in July 2012 at the age of 30, Dance has focused on giving students a high-quality, comprehensive classroom experience. His vision is this: “To equip every student with the … 21st-century skills needed to be globally competitive, BCPS must ensure that every school has an equitable, effective digital learning environment and [that] every student has equitable access to learning and developing proficiency in a second language.”

To this end, Dance has started a “digital conversion” that will give each student a digital learning device by the 2017-18 school year. Dance places learning and curriculum first and aims to use technology as a tool to enhance teaching. Rather than simply buying devices and asking teachers to figure out how to use them effectively, curriculum is being rewritten to align with the Common Core and to be delivered from a digital platform. The district is a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. Dance also created a Department of Digital Learning within the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, which is charged with implementing the digital conversion and integrating technology fully into teaching and learning.