15 spring and summer PD opportunities

Summer PD registration is open now—which opportunity interests you most?

PD-oppsSchool may last a little longer for some districts than others, depending on how many snow days some parts of the country experienced. But as schools close for the summer, many educators use their “free” time to enroll in professional development (PD) to prepare for the next school year.

For educators who may be seeking spring or summer PD opportunities in subject areas, Common Core implementation, technology integration, and more, options are plentiful.

Here, we’ve gathered a number of PD opportunities that span the spring and summer months. This is just a sampling, though, and if you know of a great PD opportunity, leave it in the comments section below.

(Next page: PD opportunities, seminars, and more)


Another brick in the wall: Will states mandate job skills?

Do businesses want state-specified mandates for students to know certain skills which other states would be expected to follow?


Faceless children in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Credit: Wen’s Language World.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we have all heard by now how Massachusetts leads the nation in public school academic achievement.

So much so that the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study report found that if Massachusetts were a separate nation, its 8th grade science students would rank second in the world only after Singapore.

Great news, right?

Apparently not for certain employment opportunities.

So what specifically has businesses up in arms over the Massachusetts public school system?

(Next page: Businesses say students excel in testing, fail in interpersonal skills)


Schools must adapt to innovative changes

Teaching techniques in schools must adapt as new information technologies are introduced and their impact on society is better understood

innovative-technology-schoolsIt’s “back to the future” in education today.

Following in the big footsteps of the 19th century educational pioneers who worked to create public schools fit for the new, disruptive Industrial Age, America’s most visionary educational leaders are striving to revitalize America’s public schools for our new globalized, disruptive Information Age.

Charter public schools are, of course, an innovative approach at the very forefront of these efforts. Yet charter schools today account for just about 6 percent of all public schools. Those who are quick to criticize charter schools seem to forget that they are still a relatively new model of public schooling — only about 25 years old.

And precisely because charter schools are, inherently, so much more flexible than traditional public schools, they are that much more capable of learning well from failures of the past — by adapting new techniques to create successes in the future.  That is an attribute that will likely grow in importance in the years ahead.

The job market of the Information Age will increasingly demand critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility, and the capacity to adjust and adapt to change.  Our schools will need the same characteristics — because the Information Age’s digital technology may be affecting learning, or the lack thereof, in unexpected ways.

(Next page: Studies say technologies reduce attention span)


App of the Week: Digital Citizenship

This app helps students navigate the often-tricky world of digital citizenship


Name: Learning.com Digital Citizenship App

What is it? This app provides students with information and instruction on online safety, ethical use of digital resources, and cyberbullying.

Best for: Middle and high school students and teachers.

Price: Learning.com is enlisting districts to pilot the app for free in mid-April; full availability, including pricing, will be announced in the fall of 2014.

Requirements: iOS or Android


The app:

  • Provides an easy-to-implement curriculum about online safety, cyberbullying, and the ethical use of digital resources.
  • Available on tablet and mobile devices for both iOS and Android.
  • Interface, content, lessons, and activities are specifically geared towards middle and high school students.
  • The app self-guided, yet ensures that students have a strong grasp of instructional objectives by requiring students to complete a quiz.
  • Instructional objectives are aligned to Digital Citizenship Standards, part of the ISTE Standards for Students.
  • Helps districts address the online safety and cyberbullying instruction requirement of eRate, and provides reports to show compliance.
  • Supports BYOD and 1:1 programs by helping districts ensure that students know how to use devices safely and ethically.

Link: http://www.learning.com/digital-citizenship/


7 ways to evaluate educational games

Educational games are becoming more mainstream–here’s how to evaluate them 

educational-gameAs educational gaming moves from a future technology to a practice found in more and more classrooms, educators are recognizing game-based learning’s (GBL) potential to engage students and help them prepare for future learning.

By ensuring that games meet certain requirements, educators will find themselves on the path to choosing an impactful game that goes beyond the typical drill-and-practice or end-of-unit reward game.

“It can be overwhelming, but as gaming becomes more mainstream and there’s more out there about it, educators will be better equipped to evaluate games and GBL,” said Dan White, founder of Filament Games, a member of the advisory board for Games for Change, and a founding member of the Games Learning Society at the University of Wisconsin.

(Next page: What makes a good educational game?)


Putting Google Glass into practice

How can Google Glass have an impact in K-12 classrooms?

Google-GlassIn February, education futurist Jason Ohler discussed a number of trends that would have a big impact on education in 2014. One of these predictions included the rise of bring your own device (BYOD), and as an offset of that trend, wear your own device (WYOD).

Google Glass, a wearable technology product from Google introduced with much fanfare, is now being used in some classrooms. Google Glass is operated by voice commands, which direct the technology to call up information, and the device also has recording and photo capabilities.

A unique feature of Google Glass is its facial recognition technology, which allows teachers to look at students and take attendance, creating a database to access each student’s academic record just by looking at them.

(Next page: Learning opportunities through Google Glass)


Feds reach out to kids over online predators

Efforts aim to reach parents, students and impart advice about online safety

online-safetyFederal agents are reaching out to children to get them to use street smarts online in a nationwide push to prevent sexual exploitation cases.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will send agents to school auditoriums and community centers across the country to teach teens and tweens–and their parents–how to be safer online and steer clear of Internet predators amid a rise in cases involving the sexual exploitation of children.

Authorities hope the effort being launched on March 25 will educate the young, savvy internet users and encourage them to turn to law enforcement since it only takes one child stepping forward to unravel a network of predators that could be preying on scores of victims in a so-called sextortion case.

(Next page: How the online safety workshops will work)


CUE exhibitors show new ed-tech innovations

Here are some highlights from the CUE conference exhibit hall


Plasq demonstrated a new version of its software for creating comics.

At the annual CUE conference in Palm Springs, Calif., earlier this month, dozens of ed-tech companies showed their latest products for educators—including a new interactive computer game for learning world history and a way to find apps and other classroom resources aligned with the Common Core standards.

Here are some of the highlights from the CUE conference exhibit hall.

Belkin announced three new ed-tech products at the CUE conference: protective cases and sleeves for Chromebooks; wired keyboards for iPads and Samsung tablets; and a system for securing and charging various mobile devices.

Belkin’s Air Protect Sleeve and Air Protect Case for Chromebooks help protect the devices from damage as they’re being used or carried. The $29 sleeve includes a separate bottom pocket that can store accessories and further insulates the screen from damage if a Chromebook is dropped. The $59 case zips open, allowing you to see the full Chromebook screen—and ventilation on all sides keeps the device from overheating.

Both the case and the sleeve are designed for 11.6-inch Chromebooks and can be used with other slim devices that size as well, such as a MacBook Air.

Belkin’s Secure Wired Keyboards are available in three different versions: a $29 model with a five-pin micro USB connector for Samsung tablets; a $49 version for 30-pin iPad models; and a $59 version for the new Lightning iPad connector. All three keyboard models are angled at five degrees for comfortable use and draw power from the tablet itself, so no battery is needed. They also work with mobile phones.

The Samsung version is available now, and the Apple versions—which are MFi (Made for iPad) certified—will be available in April.

Belkin’s Secure and Charge station is a lightweight but durable metal container for storing and charging any mobile device up to 11-inch Chromebooks. It holds up to 10 devices and is ventillated all around; up to three stations can be stacked on top of each other for full classroom coverage.

At 30 pounds, the Secure and Charge station is light enough to be carried from room to room, and it also can be bolted to an AV cart. It features a lockable door that can accommodate any type of school-issued lock, and its surge protector comes with a $15,000 warranty—meaning Belkin will replace up to $15,000 worth of equipment damaged from overheating or overcharging.

Belkin wasn’t the only company showing a product for storing and charging mobile devices at the CUE conference. Several other CUE exhibitors demonstrated similar types of products.

AVer, for instance, showed a new 40-device cart for storing and charging iPads, Android tablets, and Windows 8 devices, available in May for $1,499. And Black Box highlighted a wide variety of Universal Computing Carts ranging from 18-slot to 40-slot versions; all come with a laminated wooden top to provide a smooth working surface.

(Next page: Five new products for teaching with technology)


4 ways to leverage federal funds for ed-tech

Federal funding can help support ed-tech goals in a school or district

ed-tech-fundingEducation technology is a priority in today’s classrooms, and this includes ensuring that students have access to technology tools and high-speed internet to access digital learning resources.

While school budgets are still burdened, federal funding programs, including formula and competitive grant programs, can funnel funds directly to digital learning opportunities, even if program rules and statutes do not explicitly reference ed-tech.

In an open letter to educators, Richard Culatta, the U.S. Department of Education’s director of the Office of Educational Technology, outlines some ways that federal funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), along with funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), can support ed-tech goals to use technology tools to improve teaching and learning.

These funds might be used to improve ed-tech professional development opportunities for educators, expand access to digital content for students, promote educator collaboration and communication, and give students devices to access digital learning resources.

(Next page: Examples of how federal funds might be used to support ed-tech)


Which Google for Education resource is right for you?

Google’s education resources offer something for educators and students of all levels and interests

google-educationGoogle is no stranger to education. But the number of resources and tools available to teachers and students can overwhelm even the most experienced educators.

Google for Education focuses on anytime, anywhere learning for all students, teachers, and administrators. Different solutions, apps, and tools aim to address teaching and learning at all levels.

Here, we’ve gathered a number of Google for Education resources to help you explore how you might enhance your school. Read on to find out which tool or solution might be best for your own needs.

(Next page: Google for Education resources)