How this principal uses personalized PD for teachers

Learn how a unique approach to professional learning helped a school principal offer personalized PD for teachers--with great success

In May, when surveyed principals, personalized PD for teachers was the number one topic of interest. With all the responsibilities and tasks on principals’ plates, relevant, engaging PD focused on best practices can be extremely challenging.

In a recent edWebinar, Dr. L Robert Furman, principal of South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania, asked the question, “Why is it that when we think of PD, it becomes a comedy or a depression and teachers automatically assume that it is going to be a colossal waste of time?”

Related content: 3 takeaways from my STEM PD

Personalized PD for teachers can alleviate these feelings because it gives teachers opportunities to be better teachers, which translates into improved student learning. Furman and the administrators in his school have completely revamped teacher PD by using curated webinars and accessible and relevant resources on edWeb.


4 ways to use school district GIS data beyond redistricting

Geographic information system data is priceless when redrawing school boundaries, and the benefits continue to add up even after the new lines are drawn

At Muskogee Public Schools, we recently had to redraw our school attendance boundaries. Using geographic information system (GIS) software gave us a wealth of data to inform our decisions; but after the dust settled, we began to put our geographic information to work in a number of other useful ways. Here are the four we’re most excited about.

1. Reviewing equity by tying student performance data to GIS data

Since each student has a unique student ID, we’re able to tie their performance data with geography-based data from our GIS software, ONPASS® Pro. We have our district and school boundaries and geocoded student data all in one place on a map. If a school is underperforming, we can go back and look at student factors we may not have considered before, such as whether the struggling students are transfers (and if so, where they’re coming from) or if they live in a part of the district where they’re spending an inordinate amount of time on the bus each day.

Related content: How we used GIS data and projects to connect with our community

This gives us another layer to look at when examining the makeup of the student body in a building. It’s added a whole new realm of data for us to uncover trends and then pinpoint specific issues and come up with a plan to address them.


3 real-world competitions that support STEM learning

The best way to engage students in STEM learning is to give them real-world problems to solve--here are 3 to motivate them

STEM learning is proving key to the future of work, as an increasing number of jobs–some of which have yet to be created–will require STEM knowledge. But topics such as math and engineering also can be challenging, leading many students to stop engaging in STEM learning.

Real-world challenges can help, though, because they motivate students and inspire problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Asking students to solve challenges that exist in the real world is a sure-fire way to truly engage them in STEM learning. It also lets students take what they learn in the classroom and use it to help others.

In fact, research shows that presenting students with a problem that actually exists is one of the key ways to generate and sustain STEM engagement–particularly among girls.

3 competitions that inspire a love of STEM learning

1. Samsung Solve for Tomorrow (Deadline: October 23): For the 10th consecutive year, Samsung has launched the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, which challenges 6th-12th grade public school students and teachers to use STEM to address issues in their communities. While STEM is the core classroom discipline, Solve for Tomorrow fosters skills development that goes far beyond, including: critical thinking, problem solving, agile iteration, civic engagement and team collaboration. Solve for Tomorrow aims to improve student outcomes and advocate for teachers while uniting communities. In addition to the contest, Samsung also offers professional development opportunities for teachers to help them grow their skills and assist in the classroom.


Training the future workforce for a data-driven society

An educational imperative: Our students must know how to live and work in a world that is dictated by data

Our youth are inheriting the future in real time. Over the past decade alone, the explosion in data, automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence has completely transformed the way we interact with the world – and it’s only accelerating. In fact, IDC predicts worldwide spending on AI systems alone will grow to nearly $35.8 billion in 2019 and will more than double to $79.2 billion by 2022.

All this means it’s more important than ever that today’s youth — and the newly-emerging workforce — are adequately equipped to work with these evolving technologies. Younger generations will enter a very different job environment than that of their parents, in many cases stepping into roles that may not even yet exist today. We’ll likely see some jobs disappear altogether, while others will evolve and adapt to meet the new climate.

Related content: Turning around school culture with data

This environment will drive competition for job candidates with unique data-driven mentalities and skill sets. And we’re already seeing a shift. According to LinkedIn data, the top three “hard” skills companies noted needing most in 2019 all surround tech: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and analytical reasoning.


Tips for using social media with educators

Social media platforms are a great vehicle for companies with valuable edtech tools--here are some strategies for using social media with educators

Social media is an essential marketing tool for educational publishers. But the changing algorithms, rise and fall of new platforms, and overall nature of social media make some developers hesitant. In their edWebinar, “Social Media Marketing 2.0: Educators Love Social Media,” several education marketing insiders offered their perspectives on using social media with educators.

First, because educators continue to flock to social media, it should be part of every marketing plan, along with email and media relations. It may consist of organic messages as well targeted social media ad campaigns. The key is to know when using social media with educators should be the prime channel, and when it’s going to support other efforts.

Related content: How to use social media in the classroom

For example, if the product is marketed directly to classroom teachers, then social media can be a primary focus of the campaign. If it’s an expensive product, like a district-wide adoption, or if it requires a long sales process from initial awareness to conversion, then social media becomes a lead nurturing tool instead of a lead generation tool.


Arkansas turns to VR for new education program

A partnership puts VR in the hands of students, as research shows the innovative technology has lots of promise for learning

Arkansas is using virtual reality (VR) to provide concussion education to every public junior high and high school in the state.

During Computer Science Education Week in December 2018, the Arkansas Department of Education announced the statewide launch of CrashCourse, a video education tool that highlights the signs and symptoms of concussions, as well as the long-term effects.

The goal is to educate students–primarily student athletes–of the effects, so they’ll better identify the symptoms and quickly receive proper medical care.

“We are proud to kick off this school year with interactive concussion education for all students,” says Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “The Arkansas Department of Education, Arkansas Department of Health, and Arkansas Activities Association saw the need to better educate our students, particularly our athletes, of the potentially life-threatening effects of concussions. By partnering with TeachAids, Arkansas students now have access to state-of-the-art software and equipment that mimic the real-life effects of concussions. Together, we are empowering our students to know the signs and symptoms and quickly make decisions that lead to better treatment and improved health.”


Online education: Strong, effective, and moving forward

Learn how high-quality online education is leveling the playing field for students—and will continue to do so

We’re at an interesting moment in the history of online education. Nonprofit providers like The Virtual High School (VHS) have proven that high-quality courses can be effectively delivered by skilled teachers online. This innovation has increased access to critical educational options and valuable enrichment for hundreds of thousands of students.

Related content: 5 things you don’t know about K-12 virtual learning

Concurrently, profit-motivated players have offered online courses of questionable quality and drawn off funding from schools that are already financially stretched. Schools are left facing the challenge of sorting out the good from the bad. Sadly, many states have imposed indiscriminate barriers to keep out the undesirable online providers. These barriers make it almost impossible for high-quality national non-profit organizations to reach more students.

This isn’t a new problem. States have been putting up barriers, such as requiring locally-certified teachers for every class taught within their borders, for decades. This broad-brush approach to restricting online education is making it difficult for legitimate providers to do what they set out to do: provide new and innovative learning opportunities to all students who could benefit.


October 2019 Guide: Robotics

We are excited to bring you the very first in a series of eSchool News Guides, which are full of resources, tips, trends, and insight from industry experts on a variety of topics that are essential to the classroom, school, and district.

The eSchool News Robotics Guide offers expert insight on why robotics is quickly becoming a cornerstone of classroom instruction. In the guide, we take a look at resources to make robotics instruction a bit more manageable. Plus, we’re giving you robotics grants and funding tips, showing you how real teachers incorporate robotics into their classrooms, and linking you to robotics learning apps.


Make the move from digital citizenship to digital leadership

An award-winning media specialist empowers students to take control of their own learning and online behavior

My motto and philosophy for my school library is “expect the miraculous.” Inspired by my favorite author, Kate DiCamillo, I encourage students and educators to keep their eyes open to the world around them to find the miraculous things that happen all the time. But this can be especially hard for educators faced with embracing new technology every year.

Instead of focusing on the negative connotations around technology, I want to shine a light on how it can empower students and schools to be digital leaders. By expecting the miraculous, I believe we can begin to appreciate the little miracles that happen when we teach our students not just digital-citizenship but digital-leadership skills.

Related content: 5 ways to develop a school leadership program

Taking digital citizenship one step further

As a media specialist, I begin the year with the idea that students hold the key to unlocking technology’s potential. I use past examples of student work where extraordinary things have happened and projects have reached beyond the walls of the school to inspire others. It’s stories like those that help students see the impact they can have.


6 times a converted school bus became a dynamic learning space

A converted school bus holds a ton of educational opportunities on the inside, from a makerspace to a traveling STEM lab

Spotting a converted school bus on the road is always a cool experience. What replaced those beloved rows of seats, and how did the vision for such a project originate?

Many people use a converted school bus as the foundation for a tiny house, others create traveling vacation homes, and others use a converted school bus for charitable or educational purposes.

Related content: Texas district launches connected school buses

But a school bus doesn’t have to stop being associated with learning just because it no longer transports students back and forth from school and field trips. Some educators and education organizations use converted school buses as an opportunity to start learning labs ranging from STEM education to art studios.

6 examples of how a converted school bus can transform learning

1. The STEAM Bus is an innovative project which helps children grasp scientific concepts through fun and learning. Through the support of Columbia Public Schools (MO), the STEAM Bus travels to students to bring more STEM-related learning to the classroom and better prepare children for their futures. The converted school bus can accommodate up to 25 kids at a time and features a variety of tools including 3D printers, virtual reality goggles, and micro:bits. Since it’s inception in 2015, the STEAM Bus has served more than 5,000 students within the district’s elementary and middle schools, as well as in neighboring districts in Boone County.