Arizona district turns to tech to improve equity and access in college and career readiness

Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, all students in grades 9-12 in Dysart Unified School District in Maricopa County, Arizona, will be able to more effectively collaborate with school counselors to identify their strengths, plan academic coursework, determine career aspirations, find best-fit colleges, and discover scholarships using Naviance by Hobsons, a digital college and a career planning platform.

Having tripled in size since 2000, Dysart USD is recognized as one of the fastest-growing school systems in the state, serving a high population of Latinos and English Language Learners (ELLs), as well as first-generation college-bound students. Despite its unprecedented growth, the district has maintained an 85 percent graduation rate among its four comprehensive high schools. The district’s goal is to graduate all students ready for college, career, and a productive life in the 21st century.

“We take our responsibility to prepare students for the opportunities and challenges beyond high school graduation very seriously. We work as a community—of teachers, parents, students, and community leaders—to provide a supportive learning environment that empowers students to achieve life-long success,” said Dysart Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick, who was named Arizona Superintendent of the Year in 2015. “As we continue to grow and serve a more diverse student population, we consider Hobsons a strategic partner to help us scale our college and career readiness initiatives and inform our district-wide strategy, ensuring that all students are set up for success.”…Read More

5 things changing today’s CTO role

During ISTE 2016, a panel of CTOs and educators examined how changes in today’s schools and technologies are impacting the role of the traditional CTO

Chief technology officers (CTOs) in school districts juggle any number of demands relating to IT support, technology integration into classroom instruction, and future district technology plans. But as technology changes, and as the needs of students and teachers change, so does the role of the CTO.

A panel of CTOs, ed-tech specialists, and educators at ISTE 2016 in Denver, moderated by Jeremy Shorr, the director of innovation and education technology in Ohio’s Mentor Public Schools, explored some of the challenges that come along with those changes and shared their best practices for ensuring that technology continues to meet the needs of teaching and learning throughout those changes.

Blended learning…Read More

Bloomz announces new features at ISTE 2016

The teacher-parent communication app will be free for schools and introduces student timelines, behavior tracking, and video support

Just in time for ISTE 2016, the teacher-parent communication app Bloomz is announcing a major award and introducing new features, including offering its basic schoolwide product for free.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) recently named Bloomz a Best Website for Teaching & Learning in the Social Networking and Communications category. “Members of the Best Websites committee were very impressed by Bloomz,” said AASL President Leslie Preddy. “The site combines the features of several collaboration and social media platforms in order to optimize communication with parents. Bloomz’s ‘one-stop shop’ opens a window into the classroom that today’s parents expect—while protecting student privacy. One committee member said, ‘Honestly, I wish it had existed when I was a classroom teacher!’”

Bloomz also announced four new updates that will be coming to its mobile and web app in time for the upcoming school year:
• Student Timelines: As teachers share pictures of a students’ work, parents will now see a portfolio or timeline of their child’s creations, and watch them evolve over time. The feature is similar to that of a Facebook timeline view for every student over time, across all activities. This feature is scheduled to launch in August.
• Behavior Tracking: This feature helps teachers send home reports of how students behave in class. Taking a cue from the app’s name and to reinforce positive student behavior, “blooming” flowers will be used to provide parents a pictorial representation of their child’s behavior throughout the school year. Behavior tracking will also be available in August.
• Video support: This feature has been the most requested by Bloomz users. Now, teachers will be able to record moments from the classroom and share them directly on Bloomz, where parents can watch and enjoy them. Video support will be available starting in September.
• Free for schools: Bloomz is also making its current basic schoolwide communication product (currently in beta until the new school year), free for schools moving forward.…Read More

eSchool News, Xirrus launch Innovate to Educate Awards at ISTE 2016

Innovate to Educate Awards to recognize the best ed-tech innovation and commitment to making the digital classroom and personalized learning a reality

eSchool News, in partnership with Xirrus, provider of next generation, cloud-enabled Wi-Fi networks, invites K-12 schools and districts nationwide to participate in the first ever Innovate to Educate Awards program, kicking off June 27 at the ISTE 2016 conference at Xirrus Booth No. 2937.

The Innovate to Educate Awards program recognizes the country’s finest ed-tech initiatives, and offers schools and districts across the U.S. the opportunity to showcase their groundbreaking approach to improving teaching and learning through the use of technology. ISTE 2016 attendees will have the first chance to enter the contest which runs until October 14, 2016. Attendees can enter by creating a video that describes their ed-tech innovations at the Xirrus booth and will receive five free raffle tickets for the daily Xirrus Apple Watch drawing.

The winning school or district will be awarded the grand Innovation Showcase Prize November, 2016—a multi-faceted eSchool News media package that promotes the success of the winner’s technology program to local and national stakeholders and constituents. The award package includes a feature story in eSchool News print and digital issues, a success story for the winner to share and distribute, a grand prize winner press announcement, and a custom-designed “Innovate to Educate Winner” icon for online posting and promotion.…Read More

InFocus displays Mondopad and JTouch now feature ‘capacitive touch’

Interactive touchscreens are getting a 4k, mutli-touch upgrade

InFocus is adding premium capabilities, including projected capacitive touch and 4K resolution, to a variety of its interactive touchscreen and video conferencing solutions, the company announced today. InFocus created the original all-in-one video conferencing touchscreen solution and the company is once again defining the category by enabling the best image clarity and most intuitive multi-touch capabilities for professional and education environments.

InFocus 65-inch Capacitive Touch Mondopad

InFocus new 65-inch Mondopad, interactive 65-inch and 70-inch JTouch whiteboards, as well as the previously announced 40-inch JTouch whiteboard and 65-inch Canvas Touch are the first InFocus products to employ projected capacitive touch. The technology, used on leading smartphones and personal tablets, eliminates the need for a stylus and enables a more intuitive and responsive user experience. Unlike IR touchscreens, capacitive touch technology allows more touch points with faster response and bezel-free edge-to-edge glass, allowing for a brighter and sharper display, a sleek design and remarkably fluid multi-touch capabilities.…Read More

Gale expands historical digital newspaper offerings

New collections include historical archive of The Telegraph – one of the world’s best-known newspapers, a unique collection of Chinese periodicals, and British Library Newspapers

Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, has expanded its digital historical newspaper collections with the launch of several new archives. Now available are The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000, a 145-year archive of Britain’s best-selling quality newspaper; China from Empire to Republic: Missionary, Sinology, and Literary Periodicals, a collection of English-language periodicals published in or about China from 1817-1949; and British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950, which adds newspapers from the northern part of the United Kingdom to Gale’s comprehensive digital collection of British newspapers. All collections are fully indexed and the metadata and data are available for text and data mining and other forms of large-scale digital humanities analysis.

“These collections speak to the range of partnerships Gale has with different institutions around the world – from the British Library to the National Library of China and beyond – and what allows us to bring such unique, global content direct to researchers,” said Terry Robinson, senior vice president and managing director for Gale International. “In addition, we hope having access to these archives as data leads to the discovery of new insights by digital humanities scholars. Analyzing historical newspapers is a great way to uncover rich cultural and societal perspectives across any number of themes.”

The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000 enables researchers to full-text search more than one million pages of the paper’s back issues, including the Sunday Telegraph from 1961. Providing a balance of personal interest stories alongside incisive analysis, the archive offers a fascinating glimpse into daily life as it was experienced over the past 145 years.…Read More

The 4 essential elements of passion-based learning

Teaching students effectively means getting to know them — and their passions

Think back to when you were still in school. What do you tend to remember most? Do you think back to the unique field trips you went on? The cool science experiments? What about a favorite teacher?

For me, it was projects and Mrs. Gianni. That’s what I remember most about school and the teacher that comes to mind. Mrs. Gianni had blond hair that always looked like it needed to be dyed. She was young and energetic. I also remember the way she made me feel, her high expectations, how she was always smiling, and how I felt like I could be anything in her eyes.

Teachers have always had the ability to make a big impact on their students. The teacher chooses whether it will be a positive or a negative impact. Of course every year we start the year with the best intentions. We love all our kids the same. However, there is always that one student (sometimes more) that we just can’t seem to reach. We try different things, we ask for help, we learn their background, but we still can’t seem to figure out how to get through.…Read More

TED-ED clubs give students a platform for sharing ideas

The clubs are fashioning the next generation of TED speakers one big idea at a time

One of Mitzi Stover’s biggest challenges as a teacher is convincing her students they have a voice. Stover teaches speech and English at North Torrance High School in a working-class area of Los Angeles where kids seldom travel or even leave the neighborhood.

“Their world is very small geographically,” Stover said during a recent presentation at the CUE 2016 national conference in Palm Springs. “And teenagers are already so dismissed most of the time.”

From her years of teaching, Stover knew that having students delve into their interests and personal experiences was one of the best ways to develop their passions — and in turn their public speaking. But presenting to the same classmates they saw every day was decidedly low-stakes and hardly helped her convince students they had a voice, let alone a global reach.…Read More

The benefits of adding video to teacher evaluations

A Harvard researcher shares her national perspective on improving professional development

One of the biggest challenges in K-12 education is finding an effective and productive way to evaluate teacher performance. In a world where technology is rapidly reshaping the classroom, it’s natural to look to its potential, especially considering that many schools now have the technology to do classroom observation via video. However, these same schools aren’t yet convinced whether the investment will change status quo evaluations. To find out, in 2012, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard, where I work, piloted the Best Foot Forward Project (BFF), a study that grew out of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project.

BFF began with pilot programs in large districts in Georgia and North Carolina as well as Relay Graduate School of Education. In an effort to gather data from large and small districts in both urban and rural areas, we then expanded the study to include Los Angeles Unified School District, the state of Delaware, and a number of districts in Colorado.

We randomly selected half the teachers to be in a treatment group that would take videos of themselves in the classroom. These videos were then passed along to their principals for evaluation purposes. We also had remote peers provide our treatment group teachers with formative feedback on their subject matter. The control group did “business as usual” when it came to their evaluations.…Read More