Aperture Education Essay Scholarship Contest

Through the Aperture Education Essay Scholarship Contest, students can win $1,000 for college by submitting an essay based on a provided question and telling friends and family to vote for their essay. Aperture Education will select a winner from the 3 essays with the most votes.

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2017 Innovative Educator Grant Program

The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning’s 2017 Innovative Educator Grant Program identifies and supports school and classroom leaders developing practices or programs to overcome achievement gaps, drive engagement, and personalize learning for their students. One-time grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to winning proposals.

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GenCyber Teacher Camp at COD

The GenCyber Teacher Camp at COD camp program targets middle and high school teachers who are passionate about providing students with the tools they need to be safe and responsible online. COD faculty from CIT and HSTI guide teachers through hands-on activities using current technologies, introduce the concept of digital citizenship and present online safety information to take back to the classrooms. Teacher applications are available beginning May 22, 2017.

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Is this increasingly popular teaching job the Uber for teachers?

Apps like Uber, Lyft, and Task Rabbit have helped millions of people use their skills to earn money on their own schedule. This model has now come to the American education market with 51Talk (pronounced “five-one-talk”), an online platform that connects educators in the U.S. with Chinese students who want to learn English.

During each 25-minute lesson, teachers interact one-on-one with students using a live videoconferencing platform. Here, three early adopters share the challenges and rewards of practicing their craft whenever and wherever they want.

A Pregnancy Leave Adventure for Karina Godoy

Last year I came across a Facebook ad for 51Talk. I was pregnant at that time and was not able to physically go to my regular job teaching preschool. For me, teaching via videoconference was a bit uncomfortable the first week, because during my eight years of teaching preschool, I had always been in a classroom environment. I had a trainer who was amazing, though, walking me through what I needed to know.

My biggest teaching challenge was getting used to the one-on-one interaction with the students. When I was a preschool teacher, I had a classroom of more than 14 kids ages 2 to 5, so I had to adjust to focusing on one student for a full 25-minute session.

When I started teaching online, I taught mostly repeat students, but after taking a training course offered by the company to improve my lessons with first-time students, I now have a great mix of both.

In my experience, the clearest cultural difference between American and Chinese students is that the Chinese students seem to be a bit more interested in learning.

Now, in addition to being a full-time mother and a zumbini instructor, I teach English from home 25 hours a week. It can sound scary to teach online, but I love teaching, and this gives me the flexibility to manage my own schedule.

(Next page: 2 more Uber-like teaching examples)

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3 innovative communication tips for students with autism

Communicating can be a challenge for certain individuals with autism. In “Communication Innovations for Individuals with Autism,” Howard C. Shane, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, discussed some innovative communication tips for students with autism. Specifically, different types of communication displays, the Visual Immersion System™ (VIS), and repurposing consumer products to provide Just In Time Communication to individuals with autism.

1. Visual Scene Displays vs. Grid Displays

Grid displays, or as Shane described, grate-like screen arrangements containing targets in which symbols are placed, used to be the most common way to teach communication skills to minimally verbal autistic individuals.

However, using visual scene displays instead, which give context to objects or events and are more realistic, can be a better way to teach certain children. “We might want to think about how we begin to introduce materials to individuals on the autism spectrum,” he said. He suggested starting by teaching visual scenes, then making your way toward grid displays, and eventually transitioning to text.

2. The VIS

The VIS is an instructional method for teaching language that is especially useful for individuals with moderate to severe autism.

It takes a functional approach to language so the individual can communicate with practical, everyday communication exchanges. The VIS uses technology to show visual symbols, maintain children’s attention, and provide compelling multimedia language instruction.

Shane explained that the VIS should not be used a couple times a week, but rather integrated into everyday communication.

3. Just In Time Communication

Just In Time Communication allows for the delivery of support on an as-needed basis, and content customized to the individual’s strengths.

Wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, allows for discrete support available whenever the individual needs it. In a paper published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, it was found that scene cues (symbols that represent an entire event or activity) can be successfully interpreted on the Apple Watch.

QR codes can be repurposed to provide in-the-moment directives as visual prompts for individuals rather than being told to do something. They can be placed in a visual scene display to provide labels for objects or directions for activities.

Shane also went into the possibility of using the Amazon Echo to deliver a command to a device. While this product did not work as well for this particular application, he explained, he is working on testing how Google Home might work in this situation.

By repurposing technology to provide Just In Time Communication, educators can provide efficient support to individuals with autism.

About the Presenter

Dr. Howard C. Shane, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he has worked for more than three decades. He has been associated with Monarch Center for Autism for more than a decade, assisting Monarch School with integrating technology and visual supports into the overall curriculum. He has designed more than a dozen computer applications used widely by individuals with disabilities and holds two U.S. patents. His technologies have led to the creation of three technology companies that create products for people with disabilities. Dr. Shane has received Honors of the Association Distinction and is a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association. He is the recipient of the Goldenson Award for Innovations in Technology from United Cerebral Palsy Association. Dr. Shane is the author of five books and has written numerous papers and chapters on severe speech impairment, lectured throughout the world on the topic, and produced numerous computer innovations enjoyed by persons with complex communication disorders. He’s been featured on 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, Dateline, 20/20, and Frontline.

Join the Community

Teaching Students with Autism is a free professional learning community that provides ideas and resources for teachers working with students with autism, particularly advances in technology that can lead to significant breakthroughs in communication and learning. This is a collaborative community where educators can share information to help support the needs of students with autism.

This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by Monarch Center for Autism, STAR Autism Support, and VizZle.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone at here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net.View more edWeb.net events here.]

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4 wireless network goals for schools

Managed Wi-Fi technology is having a profound, transformative impact on K-12 classroom environments. Although wireless access technology has been in schools for several years, earlier-generation solutions have not been robust enough to keep pace with growing mobility requirements.

Today’s more advanced managed Wi-Fi technologies now provide the functionality, scalability and bandwidth to support an ambitious set of classroom mobility requirements.

There are several K-12 education trends and initiatives driving the need for Wi-Fi:

Distributed Content & Shared Information: To remain competitive in the digital learning world, K-12 schools are developing ways to share educational content throughout the district over their high-speed networks by distributing live music classes, recorded video art lessons, video chat, virtual field trips and other educational content. Even social media channels have become learning tools for the creative classroom.

One-to-One Learning Initiatives: Many districts are empowering their students by opening a whole new world of learning by swapping traditional, printed textbooks for tablets, laptops, and computers, giving students the latest technology and access to the internet and building new curriculum in and around this marriage of education and technology.

Standardized Testing: By putting down the No. 2 pencils and adopting online testing, schools have faster access to results. This enables educators and parents to quickly assess students’ progress and better understand their strengths and areas needing additional focus.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): As mobile device ownership becomes more pervasive, students and teachers want to bring their own devices into classrooms. This trend has influenced schools around the world to consider BYOD as a way to leverage technology for enhanced teaching and learning.

(Next page: 4 wireless network goals for schools)

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Breaking: Microsoft just made its biggest education investment in history

Beginning this Saturday, May 6, Microsoft Store locations across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia will host STEM Saturdays throughout May in all full-line locations in addition to the range of free programs year-round that empower students and educators. STEM Saturdays brings pop-up classrooms to Microsoft Store and offers hands-on experiences like building a sensor that measures the flexion and extension of a finger to learn about the anatomy of a human hand.

Microsoft also introduced new offerings for education, representing its biggest investment ever in education, designed to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

New offerings include:

  • Windows 10 S – this new Windows experience, inspired by students and teachers, is streamlined for security and superior performance. When partnered with Intune for Education, Windows 10 S will enable schools to ramp up and manage computers in the classroom cost-effectively and quickly.
  • Surface Laptop, powered by Windows 10 S – Perfect for college students, Surface Laptop is incredibly thin and light, striking the right balance of performance, portability and beautiful design for a truly personal laptop. Starting at $999 USD, the Surface Laptop is available for pre-order now and will be generally available starting on June 15th.
  • New Windows 10 S partner devices – Our partners, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung and Toshiba already offer a range of new Windows 10 PCs for Education today – starting at $189. These partners will also offer a range of PCs with Windows 10 S – from beautiful, premium devices to highly affordable devices starting at $229 – starting this summer.
  • Microsoft Teams in the classroom – Adding to Office 365 for Education, Microsoft Teams is a digital hub that encourages active learning while helping students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.
  • Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition – A new in-game feature for “Minecraft: Education Edition” that inspires educators and students to learn to write code to explore, create and play in the full 3D Minecraft world.

For more details from today’s announcement, read this blog post from Terry Myerson, EVP of the Windows & Devices Group.

See also the BBC announcement here.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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9 steps to better online assessments

A new tool helps district leaders plan and create online assessments in the wake of their growing popularity.

The Online Assessment Planning Tool, supported by the Learning First Alliance, is accompanied by a report summarizing the best practices in online assessments.

The new report, which comes from CoSN, provides an update on the state of online assessments. It explains the different approaches taken by the national assessment consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, and also discusses the impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act on technology and online assessments.

Online assessments offer a number of direct benefits to different stakeholder groups, according to the report.

(Next page: Benefits to stakeholders; steps to best practices)

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App of the Week: Getting ready for middle school

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? 

Hall of Heroes is a social and emotional learning game that is designed to help students transition to middle school. Students begin by designing their own customizable “superhero” avatar. Soon after, students are given a quick orientation to their school by the stoic and heroic Principal Shields. Students are encouraged to interact with characters by choosing one of three options that appear in speech bubbles, which can be read aloud. These answers are logged and later appear in an assessment report for teachers; a teacher dashboard provides data on whole-group and individual student progress. Students can get help by clicking a question mark on the lower-left side of their screen, which either repeats a tutorial or has written instructions.

Price: Free to try, Paid

Grades: 5-8

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Engaging visuals, responsive feedback, and detailed progress reports boost learning potential.

Cons: Because each level takes time to master, students might become antsy or lose focus.

Bottom line: Wonderful and fun social-interaction game designed to teach cooperation and friendship skills needed for middle school and beyond.

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