Study demonstrates math program’s impact on students

Test scores see a boost among students using MIND Research Institute’s ST Math

ST-MathJust one year of education technology in classrooms can move a school that was performing at the 50th percentile in the state up to the 66th percentile in the state, according to a study released by the independent education research firm WestEd and the nonprofit MIND Research Institute.

WestEd measured the impact of MIND’s ST Math program in 209 second through fifth grades – including more than 19,980 students at 129 California schools across California – that fully implemented the program in a blended learning environment.

The report used several models to measure ST Math’s impact. Those grades using ST Math for one year exhibited 6.3 percent more students scoring proficient or better on the CST, compared to those at similar schools without the program. Getting students to score proficient on the state test meets the No Child Left Behind requirements.

(Next page: Breaking down the ST Math program’s impact)

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Preparing for Success with online assessments

PreparingforSuccess200x300With the move to state-mandated online assessments, decisions about hardware, network infrastructure, professional development, and community outreach have never been more important. Please see how ACER, through GovConnection, is helping schools laying the foundation for success.

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Enhance your classrooms 1:1 technology

Enhance your classrooms200x300Enhance your students classroom learning experience with the right Tablet accessories. With so many choices and options it is challenging to ensure your classroom technology is being used to its greatest potential. Belkin, through GovConnection, can help. Please download this information sheet and then contact GovConnection to learn more.

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#Gamergate—and what it means for gaming in education

Game designers, MIT, professors weigh in on what educators need to know about the controversy, and how it applies to classroom practice

gamergate-gaming-womenGames, but especially games for education, need to allow for gender equality and freedom of expression, say gaming experts—two critical game design components needed in the fight against Gamergate’s revelation of misogyny in the gaming industry.

Gamergate originally began as a hashtag in social media after an independent game developer’s ex-boyfriend made public allegations against her regarding a close relationship between the developer and a journalist in exchange for positive press, which was later proven false.

Since then, the controversy has escalated to reveal what many in the gaming industry say is a bias against women in gaming, evidenced not only by death and other malicious threats made against female game developers and female game players, but also by the male-heavy themes in many of today’s commercial games.

Considering that more classrooms and educators are now incorporating gaming into education, never has the controversy surrounding Gamergate and the bias toward women in gaming been more relevant in education, says gaming experts.

But to understand gaming’s standing in education, the gaming researchers and developers at MIT’s Education Arcade say that educators must first understand gaming in the context of an equal right’s movement.

For example, though bias against women is not exclusive to gaming, “digital gaming, like computer science and other STEM fields, is another one of those fields that have long been unwelcoming to women and other marginalized people for a variety of historical, social, economic, and accidental reasons,” said a spokesperson for the Arcade. “However, in terms of people playing games, we do not see that sort of numerical bias. Gaming is more openly diverse than it ever has been before.”

The problem is that the diversity in players doesn’t translate to diversity in representation within most commercial games.

According to Sherry Jones—a Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Game Studies instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, as well as game studies facilitator for the Metagame Book Club at ISTE’s Games & Simulations Network—the reason most commercial games favor one gender [male] over another is because of the misogyny prevalent in the game design industry.

“Most games heavily favor the male experience because there’s this perception by game studios that most gamers are male and that this is what sells. Most game studios then hire all-male game designers,” she said. “That’s why you see all these independent game developers—who are mostly women—go outside of the AAA game studios, since there’s no pressure to conform to the solely-male experience.”

(Next page: Biggest mistake game developers make when it comes to designing for gender.)

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‘Let it Code’ with Frozen-inspired coding

Hour of Code initiative aims to help students, especially girls, get coding with real-world examples

code-codingOn Nov. 19, Code.org unveiled a computer science tutorial featuring heroines Anna and Elsa from The Walt Disney Company’s film “Frozen.” The tutorial kicks off the second annual Hour of Code campaign, a worldwide effort to broaden participation in computer science – especially by girls – during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 8-14, 2014.

Thanks to Disney Interactive, students will learn to write code that enables Disney Infinity versions of Disney’s “Frozen” characters Anna and Elsa to draw snowflakes and snowmen and perform magical “ice craft” in Code.org’s signature lesson for the Hour of Code 2014. The tutorial aims to teach logic and math and nurtures creative thinking through introductory computer programming.

Role-model technologists and celebrities, including Polyvore CEO Jess Lee, Microsoft engineer Paola Mejia, app developer and model Lyndsey Scott, and model Karlie Kloss, provide short video lectures to guide students through the one-hour activity. Students will be able to share their artwork online or with friends through a unique link.

(Next page: Access the Frozen-inspired coding resources)

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8 special education communication apps

These apps are intended to help special-needs students build communication skills

special-communicationTechnology facilitates faster and easier communication for everyone, and it plays a unique role in helping students with special needs develop important verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

Here, we’ve gathered a handful of special education communication apps summarized on APPitic.com, an app resource site with more than 6,000 apps in more than 300 subcategories.

[Editor’s note: eSchool News has not reviewed these apps, but has selected some that may help you meet your instructional needs.]

1. Eye Contact, $2.99 
Eye contact is a social skill that some children find challenging. This game helps them practice the skill while earning fun rewards.

(Next page: Seven more APPitic apps for special-needs communication)

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New York Times launches in-school, K-12 subscriptions

Students will have access to articles from devices in their school’s IP range

nyt-schoolThe New York Times recently launched NYTimes.com In-School Access, a new digital subscription offering for K-12 institutions. The subscription offers full web access to NYtimes.com on any device within a school’s IP range, with no login required.

Since The Times began selectively offering NYTimes.com In-School Access this summer, dozens of schools from around the country have signed up to participate in the program. Now, The Times is making the program available to K-12 schools worldwide.

NYTimes.com In-School Access is available exclusively to schools below college or university level and includes:

  • Full access to NYTimes.com within a school’s IP range, with web access on any device
  • Access method that is seamless for students and faculty and addresses concerns for student privacy
  • Unlimited access to The Times archive from 1851-1922 and 1981-present. (No access is available to articles from 1923-1980.)

“K-12 teachers and students have used The New York Times newspaper in classrooms for years,” said Yasmin Namini, senior vice president, chief consumer officer, The New York Times. “With this new in-school offering available at affordable rates, schools can access even more news, opinion and analysis from The New York Times on any device, in addition to the award-winning video, photography and infographics only available on NYTimes.com.”

NYTimes.com In-School Access is an additional offering to The Times’s existing education digital subscription program, which offers full access to NYTimes.com on the web from any location, as well as access to all NYTimes.com smartphone apps, using individual NYTimes.com user registrations.

More information is available at nytimes.com/inschool.

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Multi-state K-12 collaborative seeks proposals for OER

Request for developers to create free, openly-licensed mathematics and English language arts content aligned with state standards

OER-collaborativeThe K–12 OER Collaborative, an initiative led by a group of 11 states with the goal of creating comprehensive, high-quality, open educational resources, is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to create open educational resources (OER) supporting K–12 mathematics and English language arts. The resources will be designed to enable all students to master foundational skills and knowledge to achieve college and career readiness.

Studies of high performance school systems around the world show that the quality of teaching and learning improves when instructors are more deeply engaged in the creation and continuous improvement of the learning materials and assessments used in their classrooms. OER fully support that type of deep instructor engagement and the creation of educational communities of practice that support advanced professional development opportunities for teachers.

“This is a great project, for at least two reasons,” said Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. “First, it’s going to support local control by empowering districts to adapt the materials to their own community needs. Second, it’s a low-cost and high-quality way to help students meet our state’s learning standards.”

(Next page: Details on what the collaborative is seeking)

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4 ways to create a successful hybrid school

Heather Hiebsch, principal at Poudre School District Global Academy, shares four lessons for creating a successful hybrid school

hybrid-learning-schoolsSeveral of our high schools in Poudre School District (PSD), Fort Collins, Colo., serve more than 2,000 students each, and for the vast majority, these are positive places to learn and excel.

But there are also students whose needs are not met in a large, traditional school – students who, for a variety of reasons, need a smaller environment and more individualized attention to succeed. This is the story of a school that was created to serve these non-traditional students and the lessons we learned along the way.

Six years ago, our district created the PSD Global Academy, and I was hired to launch the school. Our charge was to provide students with online learning opportunities. We partnered with personalized learning solutions provider Aventa Learning – now Fuel Education (FuelEd) – and started by serving a few high school students, primarily targeting dropout prevention and recovery.

Lesson 1: Students need to feel they belong somewhere
Soon, we saw that our students weren’t succeeding, but we knew they had much more potential than was showing in the data. These students weren’t completing their courses, and almost none of them returned the next year. While there were various reasons that students dropped out, we knew that one of the keys to engaging students in any kind of learning is to provide opportunities for affiliation with their school – something we weren’t doing well in a solely online environment. Learning exclusively online from home, they considered PSD Global Academy a temporary measure to get back on track, rather than “their school.”

To remedy students’ feelings of being unanchored, we secured a small modular building in the second year and hired a local school counselor. At that time, we shifted to a full K-12 school, hired local teachers and implemented a hybrid model of online and classroom learning. The next year, having outgrown our space, we moved into a former elementary school. We then expanded our offerings at PSD Global Academy, attracting a wide range of students, including those seeking accelerated courses. We also saw an influx of elementary students – including former homeschoolers – and secondary students looking for a smaller learning environment.

(Next page: Hybrid lessons 2-4)

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Google, gaming, and going mobile: Today’s 5 tech trends

Trends point to a handful of major ed-tech focus areas that grab educators’ attention

ed-techA few years ago the education world found itself entranced by the iPad, a powerful tablet that promised to revolutionize one-to-one programs and revitalize teacher engagement with technology in the wake of sweeping mobile device adoptions. For years, the iPad seemed to dominate educators’ discussions. Now, that storm seems to have passed, as educators and ed-tech enthusiasts are broadening their horizons and looking to the future.

Last week, a group of educators from California and across the U.S. converged on a Napa Valley high school for the Fall CUE 2014 Conference, centered around a theme of next-generation learning.

Here are 5 takeaways from the sessions, tweets, and conversations that came up time and again during the conference, and which offer a revealing glimpse into the types of technology and interventions educators are turning to now.

(Next page: The five ed-tech conversations dominating educators’ conversations)

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