6 ways to get teachers on board with edtech

We’ve all heard about veteran educators who have been teaching the same way for years and are reluctant to integrate technology into their practice.

Why should they? It’s scary to try something new, especially in front of a class of kids who seem to already be tech experts.

Adam Juarez and Katherine Goyette have heard it all.

Related content: 4 ways to focus on edtech in 2019

“The biggest reason is fear,” says Goyette, a staff development and curriculum specialist at the Tulare County Office of Education in California. “But we encourage them to leverage kids to help each other and build a culture where the teacher doesn’t have to have all the answers. It’s OK to fail because that’s how we learn.”


Schools focus on community college pipeline

Across the country, efforts are growing to build a community college pipeline that will help students transition from community college to four-year institutions seamlessly and with greater success.

Xavier University of Louisiana has received a three-year, $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to do just that.

The grant will help support initiatives designed to expand the university’s community college pipeline and to establish a new summer bridge program.

Related content: Here’s how we’re preparing our students for workplace success

The grant will fund ongoing university efforts to engage and enroll more community college students by streamlining its transfer administrative process, clarifying course and major requirements, and reducing any course-related hindrances to graduating in four-years.

It will also fund a new pilot summer immersion program, Mellon Humanities Summer Scholars Initiative at Xavier, which will provide potential community college transfer students an opportunity to “test drive” the university prior to matriculating.


Discovery Education acquires Inspyro

Discovery Education, a leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms, announced the acquisition of leading virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) provider Inspyro. Terms were not disclosed.

Discovery Education’s acquisition of the UK-based Inspyro is a critical component of the company’s global content and product strategy. VR and AR content empowers educators to create immersive learning experiences such as virtual science labs and virtual field trips either back through history or to places students cannot easily or safely visit. While VR and AR content is currently available across Discovery Education’s digital services, the purchase of Inspyro provides the company an in-house ability to quickly design, build, and integrate new VR and AR content into its award-winning Math, Science, and Social Studies Techbooks, the new Discovery Education Experience, and other digital solutions.

“For almost 20 years, Discovery Education has provided the educators it serves the innovative digital resources and best-in-class professional learning they need to create engaging learning experiences for all students,” said Discovery Education Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy Philip Nanney. “The purchase of Inspyro and the addition of their talented staff to the Discovery Education team expands our capacity to develop and quickly deploy VR and AR content educators can use to create captivating lessons that ignite students’ natural curiosity.”

Winners of multiple prestigious Bett Awards, Inspyro is a highly regarded, experienced VR and AR developer. The creators of curriculum-aligned learning modules supporting science, history, and geography instruction across the UK, Insypro is a full-service company whose assets can be scaled across multiple platforms and are compatible with various VR headsets and displays.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring our technology and approach to the most trusted and respected brand in education,” said Phil Birchinall, Managing Director at Inspyro. “Discovery Education shares our commitment to bringing teachers and learners the immersive technology they need to create modern learning environments, and we look forward working together on that joint mission.”

“VR and AR content has the ability to help create truly transformative learning experiences for all students,” said Hall Davidson, Discovery Education Senior Director of Global Learning Initiatives. “The addition of Insypro’s high-quality educational assets to Discovery Education’s services, which are currently used by over 5 million educators and 51 million students around the globe, will accelerate the use of this valuable content and help create unforgettable classroom experiences that will drive deeper student engagement and ultimately improved academic achievement.”

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit www.discoveryeducation.com, and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Facebook, follow us on Twitter at @DiscoveryEd, or find us on Instagram and Pinterest.



12 back-to-school apps you’ll want to use this year

Confusion, stress, new schedules–sound familiar? If it does, then it must be time to head back to school. But as the now-common saying goes, there’s an app for that. Back-to-school apps can help teachers and students hit their stride, organize assignments, multitask, and more.

The start of a new school year can be stressful for even the most seasoned educators. Maybe you’re looking for some new ways to incorporate digital tools and resources into your instruction, or maybe you tried out a new app over the summer and want to give it a whirl in your classroom.

Related content: 8 great apps to enhance classroom learning

Whatever your need, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up some back-to-school apps that can help you get through the craziness of the first few weeks of school. If you have a favorite app that isn’t listed here, tell us on Twitter: @eschoolnews.


Are you sure your edtech tools are working?

Elkin City Schools (ECS) is my home. It’s a small district, located near the North Carolina border, with three schools and about 1,200 students. It’s a small, tight-knit community full of passionate leaders, dedicated teachers, and inspired learners. We rank considerably well in the state almost entirely across the board. We’re ranked 7th or better for ELA in grades 3-7. We’re also 10th in the state for ACT scores, 12th for high school math, 8th for English II instruction, and we’re 3rd in the state for biology.

As a small district, we’re proud to be recognized among the top academic school systems in North Carolina. Despite our strong academic standing within the state, however, we know there’s always room for growth. At the end of the day, we want to be number 1 in all areas. Attaining this goal comes down to two factors: 1) the people we have in place that deliver the instruction and 2) the apps and tools they’re using to differentiate lessons and embrace our support of the whole child.

Related content: 4 ways better edtech management empowered our district

I believe ECS’s teachers are one of our greatest assets. But determining if we’re using the best piece of technology for every student in every instance has often been a challenge.


Here’s how family tech nights help close the digital divide

When we talk about digital equity, the conversation often focuses on providing opportunities for all students to learn in an increasingly connected world. We talk about devices and home connectivity. We talk the importance of parental support. We talk about training all educators to integrate digital tools in their classrooms in meaningful ways.

Seldom, though, does the conversation focus on ensuring that parents acquire the same skills we want for our students.

But when schools support students in transferring their skills to their parents, they are narrowing the digital divide.

Related content: 6 apps for parent-teacher communication

Studies have shown that in higher-income households, where parents have higher levels of tech proficiency, many parents educate their children on various uses of the internet and online applications. In lower income households, parents still do some of the educating, but their children often provide a significant amount of help.


Improving reading skills and SEL through text-based discussions

As the importance and benefits of social-emotional learning (SEL) have become more widely recognized, many teachers have struggled to combine this type of learning with their required curriculum.

A recent edWebinar led by Bobbi Bear, director of customer advocacy for Achieve3000, identified effective ways to integrate SEL with reading instruction, through classroom conversations about nonfiction and fiction texts.

Recent research has shown that SEL increases high school graduation rates, and post-secondary enrollment and graduation rates, as well as employment rates and wages. SEL also decreases behavioral issues, dropout rates, drug use, and teen pregnancy, so the advantages of including it in elementary and secondary classes are clear.

Related content: 5 discussion tools to fuel student engagement

While definitions of SEL can vary, key elements include self-awareness and social awareness, relationship skills, self-management, and responsible decision making. And, the goals for students engaged in this type of learning include self-esteem, empathy, motivation, and commitment.


10 awesome district brands worth checking out

No one is great at everything, but everyone is great at something. These 10 school districts identified why their district is awesome, then structured everything they do around it to produce a noteworthy brand.

Let’s take a peek into their worlds and identify some methods K–12 districts are using to build a great brand.

First, a quick note: I have not worked for nor do I live near these districts. My perceptions as a complete outsider only serve as testament to the strength of the branding we’ll showcase. If a total stranger can understand your brand without ever visiting, you’ve probably nailed your social media and website messaging.

Related content: 5 reasons your school needs to brand, now!

1. Camas (WA) School District

Brand differentiator: We are all about student experiences.

It’s a great sign to land on a district homepage with glowing testimonials from families. The district really showcases its dedication to sustainability and community pride on their website, and the welcoming brand extends to a YouTube channel that greets viewers with an enchanting depiction of edtech journeys.


ESSA’s needs assessments: Closing the prevention-treatment gap

We are leading a national conversation about the importance of “prevention” versus “treatment” of health and well-being of our youth, families, and society. It is critical, in our view, that all 50 state governors and chief state school officers relay to students, parents, health care professionals, and teachers the interconnectedness among mental health and well-being to their success in school and in life.

Overview of authorized topics under Section 4108 of the ESSA

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) is helping to make headway in prevention with provisions for whole student development and well-being as a part of the definition of “achievement or student success” and alternative measures.

Related content: Academics and SEL go hand-in-hand

We are proud to have influenced the new ESSA requirements and provisions through our research, publishing, consulting to the United States Department of Education, and advocacy work.


4 challenges facing school principals each year

In May 2019, 150 school principals from across the country participated in an edWeb survey on the topics, challenges, and accomplishments they experienced this year as the educational leaders in their buildings.

Some of the most significant challenges and successes were highlighted in a recent edWebinar, presented by Shannon Holden, principal of Pierce City High School (MO), and Dr. L. Robert Furman, principal, of South Park Elementary Center (PA).

Related content: Are you a principal or a New Learning Leader?

Interestingly, no matter what the topic, all surveyed school principals pointed to a universal message that school culture can either be a catalyst for student success or a roadblock to positive changes.