July: 4 education grants you don’t want to miss

School grants offer much-needed financial help for schools

grants-julySchool funding difficulties show no sign of abating, and school budgets are stretched to the limit. Many educators and administrators rely on school grants to fund important projects and opportunities for students.

Each month, eSchool News compiles a list of the most current education grants expiring soon—from a focus on STEM learning to funding for financial education programs. You don’t want to miss out on these July school funding opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

(Next page: July’s funding opportunities)

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5 anti-bully apps you should know about

With proper use, these five apps can help educators and parents combat cyberbullying in schools

bully-cyber-bullyingNo matter what generation you’re from, it’s evident that bullying has consistently played a role in the educational system. In movies, it’s usually the stereotypical intimidating character going for children’s lunch money, or in some cases, it’s the popular kids bullying less-popular students.

But for today’s generation, bullies have become more of an unstoppable obstacle for students. While mobile phones have improved communication, they also have heightened the lengths of what being bullied can entail.

With social media and smartphones, everything is open. Regardless of what teenagers believe, getting rid of a digital footprint is hard. Often, apps are used for the wrong purpose.

Just a year after being released to the public in 2013, Yik Yak has become popular for all of the wrong reasons. Creators Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll developed this app in the hopes it would bring college communities together.

In an interview with Venture Beat, Buffington admitted that while college kids were falling in love with the app, high school students were too. As reports surfaced about students abusing the app’s anonymous aspect to bully others both creators removed its use from middle and high school zones.

“’They didn’t have the maturity…they’re just not psychologically developed enough to handle our app,’” said Buffington in a June interview. “’They weren’t using it for what we built it for.’”

While technology provides easy access to information and makes communication among distant family and friends easier, it also provides new platforms for kids to tease and torment each other.

Teachers and administrators aren’t able to block cyberbullying at all times, but a potential solution exists in cyber security apps. Take, for instance, the following programs.

(Next page: Five anti-bullying apps)

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Districts can provide high quality digital learning with Project 24

Project 24 resources have helped guide almost 1,000 school districts through a digital learning planning and implementation process

districts-digital-learningOn Digital Learning Day 2013, The Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit advocacy and policy group based in Washington, D.C., unveiled Project 24, a framework for Digital Learning implementation offered free to schools and school districts across the nation.

In the 15 months since implementation, Project 24 materials and resources have helped guide almost 1,000 school districts through a digital learning planning and implementation process.

In 2013, the Alliance recognized a perfect storm for innovation; districts being pushed to achieve higher career and college standards for all students, budgets that were stagnant or shrinking, price points of technology that were advantageously dropping, and in many states the deadline for online assessments looming on the horizon, all of which began forcing discussions about devices, infrastructure, and adequate connectivity.

Former Governor of West Virginia, and now President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, Bob Wise, beckoned an urgent call to action for school districts across the nation.  A call to STOP and make a “plan for progress” in an era where purchasing devices without the appropriate vision and support, often with little thought or planning, was running rampant.

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Deliver the Bilingual Advantage

rosettaresizedPreparing today’s students with 21st Century skills increasingly includes language. The Academy for International Education (AIE), a tuition-free public charter school in South Florida/Miami-Dade, has implemented an exciting language learning “technogogy” for students to build bilingualism through bi-literacy in Spanish and English. Watch how one elementary school is developing global, bilingual citizens

Click on the image below to watch the video!

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The best tweets from ISTE 2014

In case you missed the 2014 ISTE conference, eSchool News has compiled a list of some of the best interactions and feedback from Twitter

tweets-ISTE-2014Last month, the 2014 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta surpassed expectations. With more than 16,000 in attendance, educators and tech experts nationwide engaged in a series of lively seminars on the latest in innovation and education.

As the biggest ed-tech conference in the nation, it should come as no surprise that the conversation extended beyond the conference. Many participants took to Twitter to reflect and opine on some of the most relevant issues discussed, and eSchool News wants to share that list with you.

Is there something omitted which you think deserves our attention? Tell us why by sharing your views and opinions in the comments section below and joining the discussion on Twitter at @eschoolnews.

While acknowledging the importance of technology in education, Tom Murray, an eSchool News contributor and the State & District Digital Learning Policy & Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education, stressed the importance of human interaction. “My best resource from ISTE was people,” he said.

(Next page: More personal accounts from ISTE2014)

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7 PD tips for your instructional technology integration plan

These 7 professional development tips for your instructional technology integration plan can help educators adapt to new technological advances

professional-development-technologyThe role of instructional technology in the classroom has steadily increased over the past decade.

These advances include the use of computers and tablets in classrooms, over 300,000 K-12 students enrolled in fully online programs in the 2012-2013 school year, and the use of new instructional technological tools – including interactive whiteboards, digital light processing projectors, and digital cameras.

While the proven benefits of instructional technology highlight the need for its widespread adoption, it is important to consider that professional development opportunities are essential to better train educators in the effective use of instructional technology.

Major challenges for districts include preparing teachers who are trained in “traditional” classroom delivery methods to integrate instructional technology into curricula as well as the infrastructure or knowledge base to effectively integrate technology into instruction.

Professional development provides educators the opportunity to understand new advancements and adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to make effective use of available educational enhancements.

Based on our research at education research firm Hanover Research, we present 7 tips for structuring instructional technology professional development:

1.  Provide ongoing support

Through instructional technology coaching, professional learning communities, and information repositories, teacher professional development should be highly customized. There is a need for delivering immediately usable solutions to the daily challenges that teachers will face when making major curricular changes in their subject areas.

(Next page: PD tips 2-7)

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Using eLearning tools to maximize summer PD

Denise Douglas-Faraci, EdD, shares useful advice to help teachers maximize summer Professional Development

professional-developmentSchool’s out for summer, and what better time for teachers to continue their education through professional development programs?

Between travel plans, family commitments, and taking a well-deserved break, it can be a nuisance for teachers to report in-person for professional development programs.

eLearning options, however, offer teachers the chance to virtually engage in active learning collaborations and without the confines of a classroom, online professional development gives teachers access to peer-learning, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and digital citizenship opportunities (Aoun, 2011; Boulos & Wheeler, 2007; ISTE NETS for Students, 2007).

Not to mention, several studies have reported that e-Learning professional development provides additional options for teachers to update skills and knowledge that they can then apply to instructional practices (Santovec, 2004; Smith, Clark, & Blomeyer, 2005).

Maximizing summer professional development

Effective teacher professional development meets the following characteristics: collaborative, sustained, results-oriented, and standards-driven, embeds in teacher instructional practices, and promotes deep understanding of new topics to expand expertise. Additionally, teachers should seek out professional development programs that target curriculum to affect student achievement, and enhance teaching practices.

Summer eLearning professional development should align with professional standards, address individual learning styles, and promote collegial discussions and creations in a virtual environment. Of course the goal of these programs is implementation of e-Learning knowledge into instruction. A relationship should exist between the variety of e-Learning tools and various learning styles, creation of activities that align with professional standards, and the presence of collaboration and interaction.

(Next page: How to use summer PD eLearning tools)

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Three terrific virtual tours for the classroom

Access these science, space, and history virtual tours for a truly transformative classroom experience

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Virtual classrooms may be the norm in the future

The benefits of virtual field tours are well known: They’re inexpensive—often free—and are less time-consuming than a real trip.

But researching which virtual field trips are best can prove labor-intensive, and many resources are out-of-date.

Know of any other great virtual field tours that didn’t make the list? Be sure to leave your suggestion in the comments section below.

(Next page: Virtual field trips and tours)

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6 questions to ask about data

Data–including big data and learning analytics–has incredible potential for teaching and learning

data-analyticsThe term “big data” is everywhere and, in a nutshell, is the term used today to describe large collections of data that companies use to personalize their products and services.

But what does this concept mean for K-12 education? Well, for starters, increased knowledge of individual students can lead to personalized teaching and learning. This is called learning analytics, which involves using big data for educational purposes, as defined by the New Media Consortium K-12 Horizon Report. The report is produced in collaboration with the Consortium for School Newtworking (CoSN), which recently released a report that examines, in-depth, learning analytics’ potential.

School districts already use data, but learning analytics would enable educators to use this data to a greater extent, examining what the report calls “student-level data” and using that information to determine how students are learning, what might help them learn better, and what teacher practices are or are not having an impact on this learning.

(Next page: The 6 questions you should ask about data)

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Browse free math, ELA resources for grades 2-12

LearnZillion offers teacher-developed resources aligned to Common Core

LearnZillion-resourcesLearnZillion.com offers a free and growing set of Math and ELA resources for grades 2-12 that have been developed by expert teachers directly from the Common Core State Standards.

LearnZillion champions teachers and provides schools and districts with an effective bridge to the Common Core. LearnZillion’s math curricular resources and close reading/writing program are built by a Dream Team of top educators directly from the standards to unlock the instructional potential of teachers and prepare every student for the rigorous new assessments.

A flexible learning platform allows schools and districts to develop teacher leaders as they customize a high-quality curriculum for every building. Over 415,000 teachers now use the LearnZillion platform.

Teachers:

  • See the new standards in action: Learn how other expert teachers have interpreted and structured each standard across grades 2-12
  • Save time and refine your practice: Why recreate the wheel? We’ve got thousands of lessons with great visuals, and conceptual explanations that both kids and adults can understand
  • Support individualized instruction: Use LearnZillion to identify what students understand, and to provide challenge or support in class, or at home

The site’s creators say it exists to help all teachers create powerful learning experiences for students. To that end, the site offers thousands of resources created by a Dream Team of amazing teachers, available for free to registered users.

These resources include:

  • Lessons crafted with classroom experience: See how a teacher has interpreted every standard into a set of highly visual lessons that build on each other, and connect across grade levels
  • Tutorials for you; practice for your students: We’ve created a wealth of resources to support great teaching – from videos that highlight pedagogical choices to practice problems for use with students
  • Student assignment & tracking: Use our quick codes or assignment features with students to support differentiation. LearnZillion is also a great way to enlist the help of parents and guardians.
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