6 tips for a successful one-to-one rollout

Nowadays, one-to-one initiatives aren’t anything new. Even I, a journalist with no experience as an educator, have successfully deployed and maintained a one-to-one iPad Mini initiative for my two children.

But rolling out a school- or district-wide one-to-one program takes a lot more than choosing a device. It’s a fairly massive undertaking if done correctly, because before school leaders and educators even choose a device, they have to outline teaching and learning goals and find the right digital content to support those goals.

One of the first steps is to figure out what you want teaching and learning in your district to look like. Logical next steps are to determine the tools and actions to get you to that place, as well as involving all stakeholder groups along the way.

Here, educators from different school districts discuss how they successfully deployed one-to-one learning initiatives.

(Next page: Technology directors from two districts share their experiences)


App of the Week: Exploring natural wonders

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

Students take on the role of naturalist in this life-of-plants app as they water roots, pollinate flowers, and “blow” carbon dioxide onto leaves. NAMOO includes nine chapters of plant interactions including roots, root tips, leaf anatomy, plant cells, photosynthesis, flowers and fruits, trunks, and stems. Each of these chapters is an interactive lesson in plant biology, allowing students to turn item labels off and on, zoom, and change atmospheric aspects to spur the plant’s processes.

Price: $3.99 on iOS, $1.99 on Android

Grades: 3-8

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Beautiful artwork, intuitive interactivity, and solid, factual content.

Cons: Though the content is rich, it’s too easy to go through it quickly; no extended activities or online content exist.

Bottom line: This educational plant app illustrates lessons and engages students much better than any textbook or video.


Teaching Generation Z? Start by engaging their parents—here’s how we did it

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 1 of our month-long series on “What it means to teach Gen Z.” Check back every Monday in April to read the next installment!]

A huge body of research shows that parental involvement in a child’s education results in higher student achievement, both academically and behaviorally. I’ve been in K-12 education for 22 years, serving in roles from teacher to superintendent, and my students have always shown greater success when their parents are involved in the educational process. However, parents today are busy people, so connecting with them can be complicated to arrange.

I currently serve as the principal at Max Larsen Elementary, a K-1 building with 516 students. Nearly 70 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and we have a significant Arabic- and Spanish-speaking population, with about 30 percent of our students speaking a native language other than English. Of that 30 percent, approximately 90 percent have been in the U.S. less than a year.

I believe we desperately need to communicate with parents—especially those who are new to the country—and the best way to reach them is through processes that they are familiar with.

The way many schools communicate with parents hasn’t changed in decades. For example, hard-copy weekly newsletters look the same as they did 40 years ago, but parents have changed the way they stay in touch.

This was confirmed by a parent poll we took, where only 6.8 percent of parents who responded said that they preferred hard-copy newsletters. Parents are becoming more tech-savvy as the years go on, and these ancient methods of communication are simply not in step with the parents of Generation Z. We need to communicate in ways that fit with how parents access and consume information in 2017.

Harnessing the Age of Apps

In our efforts to find new, relevant ways to communicate with parents, we discovered Bloomz, a parent-teacher communication app. Bloomz offered direct messaging between parents and teachers, photo and video posting, volunteer and supplies sign-ups, a translation feature, and a behavior management feature.

Before this, we had been using Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Bloomz took the most important parts of those platforms, made them accessible on any mobile device, and refined them in ways to target parents specifically. It works on both mobile devices and desktops, increasing the number of our parents who could access it.

During our annual Title Night, well over 200 families signed up through the app.

(Next page: The future of parent communication)


Pitsco $350 Educator Grants

Pitsco Education appreciates everything educators do to positively affect learners. We also know that funding enriching learning opportunities for students can be difficult. Pitsco is proud to offer a $350 grant each month to assist with making hands-on learning possible. Nominations are accepted from the first day to the last day of each month (for example, the February grant application period is January 1-31).



2017 Digital Learning Innovation Award

The DLIAward competition recognizes exemplary higher education faculty-led teams and institutions for advancing student success through the adoption of digital courseware in undergraduate programs. Submissions from accredited U.S.-based applicants will be accepted through June 30 in two categories: Institution and Faculty-Led Team.



City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge 2017

The Amazon Web Services City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge recognizes local and regional governments, and private and public schools and districts as hubs of innovation in three categories: Best Practices, Partners in Innovation, and Dream Big. Winners will receive AWS promotional credits to start or continue their projects.



2017 Student Scholarship Program

Empowering students as lifelong learners is a central goal of The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning. Ten scholars matriculating to four-year institutions will receive an award of up to $10,000 per year for two years. Twenty scholars will receive an award of up to $5,000 for their post-secondary experience in any program of their choice, with the opportunity to apply for an additional award as they successfully enter their second post-secondary academic year.



Red Nose Challenge

Comic Relief Inc. has announced the call for entries for the Red Nose Challenge, as part of its Red Nose Day in School program. The Challenge inspires students in grades 3-8 to submit a creative video explaining how they plan to make a difference for children living in poverty. Winning entries will receive $5,000 to implement their plan of action and other exciting prizes.



Scholastic News Kid Reporters

The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps is a group of talented young reporters, ages 10–14, from across the country. For more than 17 years, Scholastic News Kid Reporters have covered “news for kids, by kids.” Their stories appear online at the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website and in select issues of Scholastic classroom magazines, which reach more than 25 million students in classrooms nationwide. The Kid Reporters have made news by interviewing journalists, politicians, entertainers, authors, and sports stars. The annual selection of Kid Reporters is based on writing ability, interviewing skills, and attention to detail.



Kepware’s 2017 School Grant Program

Kepware’s 2017 School Grant Program is now accepting applications! How would $10,000 improve educational opportunities for youth in your Maine community? The program is open to local schools and educational programs that share our STEM goals, providing supportive funding for programs that target expanded educational opportunities for Maine youth.