How our students avoided the ‘COVID slide’

When the pandemic forced schools to shut down this spring, ensuring that our nearly 250 students remained fully engaged in learning from home was a significant challenge.

A researcher from the American Enterprise Institute estimates that only one in five schools across the United States offered what he describes as “rigorous” instruction online. Other scholars warn of the effects of the “COVID slide,” or the disruption in learning that hit the most vulnerable student populations the hardest when schools closed.

Related content: Feedback and flexibility are key for this district’s fall goals

While the COVID slide is real, we were able to keep the vast majority of students at San Diego’s Juarez Elementary School learning from home during the pandemic. In fact, despite a 40-percent rate of students who come from underprivileged households, we had as many as 73 percent of our fourth and fifth graders logging in every day for online math instruction even after we closed our doors.

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An integration specialist meets students–and teachers–where they’re comfortable

In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Krista Barbosa
Integration Specialist
TVT Community Day School, CA

“We are all trying different things and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but then you come in the next day and it’s a new day.”

How has your school shifted to a remote learning model?

We actually started planning for remote learning a couple of years ago. We wanted to be prepared in case of an earthquake or fire or another instance where we wouldn’t have a brick and mortar building, so we wanted to have a plan of action.

After the school closed, we had about two days without students, where we just met with teachers and helped them prepare. I spend a lot of time getting resources together, recording screencasts, and creating tutorials—just to make sure the teachers are set up for success. Teachers will also reach out to me to join their Google Meets to help work with the students too.

At the beginning of all of this, everyone was sending in emails to let us know about all these companies that were offering free services. It was helpful and kind of them to reach out, but it made everything feel more daunting. So to support our teachers, we slimmed it down and just started with teachers holding a Google Meet, even if for a few minutes, to say hi to their students, and then have their students work on their assignments offline.

Right now we are using a learning management system specifically for private schools. Our goal is to really make sure teachers are using that to post assignments and to communicate with their students and parents. We also decided to stick with Google Meet instead of Zoom because our teachers were already used to Gmail and the Google world in general. Google Meet wasn’t really made for the classroom, but we thought it was best to keep things really simple for both students and teachers.

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Aver launches advanced AI auto tracking distance learning camera

AVer Information Inc., the award-winning provider of video collaboration solutions and education technology solutions, announced today the launch of the ground-breaking TR310 AI Auto Tracking Distance Learning Camera. Designed specifically for the evolving K-12 distance learning classroom, the TR310 boasts advanced Artificial Intelligence to automatically detect the teacher’s movement in the classroom, allowing them to focus on delivering their curriculum instead of worrying about staying within the camera’s view.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms of the TR310 drive two auto tracking modes including Presenter Tracking or Zone Tracking with no need for a camera operator. Presenter Tracking allows the camera to automatically follow the presenter with either full body or half body, or manually track any other specific presenter with a simple click. Since the AI technology focuses on the body rather than simply the face, the camera recognizes and follows the presenter even if he or she is wearing a PPE mask. Zone Tracking allows automatic and seamless tracking between multiple preset zones to support different learning stations in the classroom.  Completely hands-free, the TR310 provides the flexibility for the teacher or presenter to move freely about the room and let the camera do the work. The 10X optical zoom provides a clear and concise image of the teacher regardless of how far he or she is from the camera, allowing remote students to remain engaged with the instructor. The optical zoom is important as it provides better quality video from a further distance than cameras featuring only digital zoom that can greatly reduce the resolution of the image.

The included free software allows for video recording, image capture and live streaming, while administrative features allow for the easy maintenance, control and management of hundreds of cameras from a single location. Compatible with all major video conferencing platforms used for distance learning such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout, the TR310 will integrate with whichever solution the school is using. Connecting a document camera allows the teacher to display physical objects and material simultaneously during a lesson.

“K-12 schools need to solve the large problem of providing an immersive classroom experience to remote students with an affordable but professional-grade solution, not just another Band-Aid,” says Andy Teoh, Director of Product Management, K-12 and Pro AV. “The AVer TR310 addresses this with advanced AI technology that stands out among all video options on the market to track the teacher automatically without a camera operator.”

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Founded in 2008, AVer is an award-winning provider of education technology and video collaboration camera solutions that improve productivity and enrich learning. From accelerating learning in the classroom to increasing competitive advantage for businesses, AVer solutions leverage the power of technology to help people connect with one another to achieve great things. Our product portfolio includes Professional Grade Artificial Intelligence Enabled Auto Tracking Cameras, Microsoft Teams Certified Enterprise Grade USB Cameras, Document Cameras and Mobile Device Charging Solutions. We strive to provide industry leading service and support that exceeds our customer’s expectations. We are also deeply committed to our community, the environment and employ stringent green processes in all we do. Learn more at averusa.com and follow us @AVerInformation.

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5 ways the homework gap is worse for students of color

School districts dealt with the sudden move to remote learning due to COVID-19 in different ways–some were more prepared and shipped devices out to students in record time, while others struggled to ensure students had basic internet access and were checking in each day.

But no matter how successful a district’s foray into remote learning was, the homework gap remained in the background, keeping many students–too many students–from reaching their learning potential.

Related content: 5 steps to closing the homework gap

New joint research from the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Indian Education Association, the National Urban League, and UnidosUS shows that while more than 55 million students transitioned to at-home learning, 16.9 million children were “logged out” from instruction because their families did not have home internet access. Known as the homework gap, this critical lack of access exacerbates other opportunity gaps.

The homework gap hits students of color particularly hard–one out of three Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native households lacks home internet access.

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Distance learning for students with dyslexia

As the dyslexia coordinator for my district, I’m a big believer in individualized, in-person interventions. So much of the support we offer our students with dyslexia is centered around small group work during our intervention block. It certainly made the sudden switch to distance learning quite the challenge!

The keys to overcoming that challenge were the same for us as they were for educators across the country: keeping in touch with students, using the right tools, and being as flexible as possible.

Related content: 3 keys to teaching students with dyslexia to read

Staying connected

Our biggest concern has been to stay in touch with our students just to make sure they’re okay emotionally and physically throughout this time. We know it’s been rough on them. I’ve bragged more than a bit about all of my interventionists lately because they’ve done such a good job of staying in touch with each of their students personally.

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Klassroom, the first parent-teacher communication app designed specifically for elementary schools

Klassroom, the Paris-based company that reinvents parent-teacher communication in pre-kindergarten and all elementary school grades, just raised a $3 million seed round led by Bpifrance and several angel investors including Jerome Lecat, CEO at Scality, and Andy Myers, President at Waterford.org and former executive at Renaissance Learning.

This funding will enable Klassroom to accelerate growth in countries outside of France, including in the U.S. where more than 700 educators started using the app during the last school year without any significant investment in that market. Klassroom is already the leading app of its type in France with nearly one million users. Klassroom’s user community doubled in just under two months during school closures and the COVID-19 crisis.

Klassroom: an inclusive, engaging foundation for parent-teacher communication that enables deeper involvement in the school life of children

Klassroom provides a platform for remote learning, video-conferencing, and homework management in an intuitive format for parents and educators. Klassroom caters specifically to educator needs while offering the level of engagement and ease-of-use found in the most widely used online social platforms. When a teacher starts to use the app in one classroom, other teachers in the school join in very quickly and easily. Teachers can create a new class in just minutes, and they invite parents to access posts in the class feed including announcements, homework, videos, pictures of activities, polls, events, documents, and more.

Klassroom’s level of parent engagement is outstanding: more than 90% are monthly active users. Parents can react to posts, contact the teacher for appointments, or initiate private conversations using tools that are designed to strengthen parent-teacher relationships while protecting the teacher’s time. Klassroom can translate all posts and private messages between parent and teacher into 100 different languages, and Klassroom can also accommodate the visually impaired. Every parent or guardian can be involved – even across multiple households.

“We are grateful for the support of our investors, and we appreciate the dedication of our employees and educator ambassadors in helping us get to this exciting inflection point for Klassroom,” said Frank-David Cohen, Klassroom co-founder and CEO. “Communication between parents and teachers is key for children’s academic and social- emotional growth during the early years, and this is especially true when COVID-19 or other factors cause interruptions to the in-school routine. Impactful communication always will be the ‘center of gravity’ of our app.”

About Klassroom

Klassroom co-founders Frank-David Cohen and Damien Rottemberg have been friends since childhood and planned that one day they would build something together to make a positive difference in the world. That opportunity came in 2016 when both were divorced dads who found themselves distanced from the education of their children and wanting to be better connected.

In Paris and New York respectively, Frank-David and Damien provided the first Klassroom app prototype to the teachers of their young children. The result was the same on both sides of the Atlantic: enthusiastic adoption by the teacher and a 95% parent view rate of all classroom communication.

By listening closely to teachers’ needs, Klassroom has maintained a nearly perfect satisfaction rating. The Klassroom app is now used in thousands of English, French and Spanish-speaking classrooms across 30 countries.

About Bpifrance

Bpifrance is the French national investment bank: it finances businesses – at every stage of their development – through loans, guarantees, equity investments and export insurances. Bpifrance also provides extra financial services (training, consultancy) to help entrepreneurs meet their challenges (innovation, export…).

For more information, please visit: https://www.bpifrance.com/ Follow us on Twitter: @Bpifrance – @BpifrancePresse

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Flinn Scientific Launches New Solutions to Support Hands-on Science in Any Learning Environment

Flinn Scientific, a flagship provider of science lab materials and safety and STEM solutions for the K-16 education market, is launching two new solutions – 360Science™ and Science2Go – to support hands-on learning this coming school year. Now, regardless if learning is taking place in a virtual, hybrid, or in-person environment, educators will have the resources needed to teach students about important scientific concepts and phenomena in a safe, effective, and engaging way.

“Even though in-person learning was halted this spring, Flinn has been busy developing new hands-on learning programs for this coming school year,” said Mike Lavelle, CEO of Flinn Scientific. “We saw the need for programs tailored to both in-person and remote learning and created 360Science and Science2Go, respectively, to meet this need. These complementary offerings will help teachers deliver engaging science education no matter where teaching and learning is taking place.”

Designed for in-classroom learning, 360Science is a customizable program that provides high school teachers with 200 easily-modified, hands-on biology, chemistry, and environmental science labs along with complementary digital content. The program, which is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and other state science standards, features a unique instructional approach in which students begin each class with an inquiry-based lab.

The accompanying digital content includes assessments, videos, virtual reality (VR) clips, and simulation activities. This content is designed to increase students’ lab confidence, help them get a truer understanding of science at the molecular level, and enhance the overall learning experience.

All of the labs – including short on-time inquiry labs, guided inquiry labs, open inquiry labs, and advanced inquiry labs – can be customized based on students’ skill sets and feature adaptable print and online instructions. Teachers are also provided with Flinn’s online safety course and guidelines to ensure proper lab protocol is followed, as well as access to a teacher dashboard for classroom management and rostering.

As a counterpart to 360Science, 360Science Storylines provides the tools needed to help students develop a clear understanding of a phenomenon. Each of the 16 Storylines includes a series of three to seven different 360Science labs along with materials to tie the labs together. Materials include an implementation guide, daily planner, driving question template, four versions of each lab activity, and videos to help students perform unfamiliar techniques and make real-world connections.

The complementary Science2Go program is a digital learning solution that combines videos focused on lab techniques and data collection with downloadable, editable worksheets intentionally designed to engage middle and high school students in science and engineering practices. The program, which is also aligned to NGSS and state science standards, allows students to engage in scientific discovery without access to supplies or equipment thus making it an ideal solution for both in-classroom and remote learning.

“Science2Go was born out of Flinn’s free Live Lab Series which helped teachers and students continue lab experiences during COVID-19 school closures,” said Lavelle. “We used teacher feedback from these sessions to guide the creation of this new remote solution which can be used across numerous science disciplines.”

Science2Go can be used in numerous ways. For example, for in-person learning, it can be used as a supplemental, pre-lab activity for students to complete in preparation for each 360Science lab or it can be used as a standalone activity to provide students with a hands-on experience even when there are no hands-on materials available because of social distancing measures. For hybrid learning, it can be used on days where students are at home so they can prepare for in-person labs on the days they return to school.

360Science and Science2Go join Flinn’s family of science education solutions, including WhiteBox Learning, Digital Dissections, FlinnPREP™, and more. FlinnPREP specifically was recently updated with new teacher reporting features and new inquiry labs to support students in AP Physics and AP Environmental Science.

To learn more about Flinn’s solutions, visit www.flinnsci.com.

About Flinn Scientific

Flinn Scientific supports STEM/STEAM educators in opening young minds to the challenges and joys of scientific discovery and the design thinking process. The leader in science education and lab supplies and safety, Flinn Scientific also provides learning systems and professional development that incorporate differentiated digital experiences with hands-on learning grounded in the real-world to help all students think critically, explore like scientists and engineers, and solve problems creatively so they are ready for college and careers in an increasingly technology-driven world.

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Promethean Joins Google for Education Partner Program

Global education technology provider, Promethean®, announced that it has become a Google for Education Partner, integrating its ClassFlow® software with Google Classroom rostering, Google Drive, and Google Single sign-on.

ClassFlow® is a cloud-based lesson delivery software with advanced collaboration tools that empower student engagement. ActivPanel® is an interactive display series that delivers innovation and ease of use that matters to teachers and students and provides the security and manageability trusted by school IT professionals and administrators.

Promethean products work well on Chrome OS™ operating system environments, offering customers intuitive educational solutions that promote student-teacher interactivity, productivity, and engagement. Key features include:

  • Dynamic Lesson Creation with ClassFlow. ClassFlow allows teachers to energize the classroom with interactive lessons, activities, and quizzes. Teachers can save time by importing Google Classroom rosters and accessing Google Drive™ online storage service resources directly from ClassFlow. Teachers can create and deliver ClassFlow lessons from Google Drive using the Google Chrome Extensions™ plug-in, and Google documents can even be made interactive by embedding them in ClassFlow lessons.
  • Quick access to Google Drive® online storage service. As Promethean Cloud Connect gives teachers instant access to their Google Drive from the ActivPanel, sharing lesson content is fast and easy. Further, content can be recorded or delivered live and shared with devices using Google Meet and other similar apps.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical for teachers and students to have the ability to work together seamlessly, regardless of their location,” said Steve Halliwell, Chief Product Officer at Promethean. “By becoming a certified Google for Education partner, Promethean can help bridge the learning gap by enabling better interaction and engagement. We’re honored to be a part of this program.”

For more information about Promethean and its award-winning product suite, please visit www.prometheanworld.com.

About Promethean
Promethean is a true partner for educators and innovators with more than two decades helping people learn and grow together. We believe collaborative discovery is at the heart of the learning experience. Our award-winning interactive displays and lesson delivery solutions transform learning and workspaces into creative, connected environments to foster collective success. With headquarters in Seattle, WA, and offices worldwide, Promethean is a member of the NetDragon Websoft Holdings Limited (HKSE: 0777) group of companies. Visit us at PrometheanWorld.com.

Promethean, ActivPanel, and ClassFlow are registered trademarks of Promethean Limited in the U.S. and/or other countries around the world. Google, Chromebox, Chrome OS, Google Play, Google Chrome, and Google Drive are trademarks or registered trademarks of Google, LLC.

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You’re invited: Learn how to enhance safety and communications in your school

Register Now

Safety is a critical component of any K-12 school, and a key part of safety is having the right information during an emergency. Leveraging tools and practices that keep the right people informed at the right time goes a long way toward enhancing safety and security in schools and districts. However, safety is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen all at once, and it should never be thought of as something that can be done once and then be left alone. Safety requires continuous adaptations to respond to the needs of your school or district.

Attend this free webinar to:
• Learn about emergency preparedness and response
• Understand how to build a mass notification ecosystem that reaches everyone
• Receive best practices for using mass notifications to communicate about new schedules and expectations that have been implemented as a result of COVID-19

Register Now

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Assessment in 2020: How data will mitigate COVID-related learning losses

In normal times, a discussion about the future of assessment might look five years ahead to talk about the prospects of more authentic computer-aided assessments or potential developments in continuous assessment. However, in 2020, we have more immediate needs right in front us, and the assessment tools we may have had for years will be even more relevant.

We will start this next year with many questions. How will the lack of summative assessments from this past spring impact the coming school year? How quickly can teachers determine what students may have missed in the chaotic close of the 2019–2020 school year? How can teachers parse the interim and formative assessment data of incoming students and focus on the areas that will provide the greatest return?

Related content: Data vs. COVID: How one district runs the numbers

The answers to these questions will vary from school to school, but we can be certain that, across the board, assessment is going to be critical to getting students back on track in the aftermath of school closures.

What’s different this fall?

The majority of schools closed in the spring before they had a chance to perform their standard end-of-year summative assessments. That’s one source of data that teachers are not going to have as they begin planning for the new academic year.

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