District launches responsive website from Rediker Software

Waltham Public Schools chooses Rediker Software’s RediSite for their 10 schools and district office to meet the increasing mobile needs of parents, students and staff

Serving more than 5,500 students and 10 schools, Waltham Public Schools unveiled an improved approach to mobile communications recently by launching a district-wide responsive website from Rediker Software.

The service provides schools and districts with an attractive and affordable website that delivers an optimal viewing experience on any device. The site automatically adjusts to any size screen for easy reading and navigation on smartphones, tablets and computers without having to maintain a separate mobile site.

In keeping with Waltham Superintendent Drew Echelson’s strategic priorities for the district, RediSite will make it easy for all parents to access information about their students’ progress and about their schools.…Read More

You are a global educator. It’s time to start thinking like one

Building collaboration skills today means building global collaboration skills. Educators have their work cut out for them

PLCs-communitiesEd note: Innovation in Action is a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

It’s one thing for today’s students to connect with the world and to appreciate the diversity and significance of potential interactions through everyday, real-time interaction. It is a whole different challenge to be able to collaborate with learning partners across town — or around the world.

The latter, in truth, is what all educators and learners should be aspiring toward, but the reality is you cannot run before you can walk. Unless educators understand and experience the power of using digital technologies for online collaboration in a local context first, it is likely that jumping head-first into global contexts — with its myriad challenges — will not be successful.…Read More

13 apps that promote higher-order thinking standards

These mobile apps go way beyond games

Mobile devices are becoming increasingly common in schools because they cost so much less than computers—especially since so many students are willing to bring their own devices to school.

While mobile devices, tablets in particular, have been commonly used to reinforce math and reading skills through the use of games, they can also be used to promote the development of higher level skills and knowledge included in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S): creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information fluency; and critical thinking and problem solving. Here are a handful of high-quality apps that reinforce these skills and promote others.

Writing skills

Students who resist typical writing instruction with pencil and paper may blossom as authors when given the opportunity to compose electronically on computers and tablets. Some that struggle with the fine motor skills necessary for producing legible print are liberated by the ability to type. Although pressing letters on a flat screen without being able to feel them may be awkward for an adult accustomed to typing on a keyboard, students that learn to type on these devices when they’re young are likely to be as skilled on them as they are on a traditional keyboard.…Read More

Are you making the most of mass notification?

Customization, using social media and pushing out safety routes just some new capabilities of mass notification systems (MNS).

Anyone who says the use of mass notification is a new trend for education institutions and communities doesn’t fully understand it. Mass notification is as old as communication itself. Paul Revere blasted a verbal warning that “the British are coming.” The Cold War broadcasts interrupted TV shows with the message “this is a test of the emergency broadcast system.” Local volunteer fire departments conduct regular fire drills at the elementary schools. Some schools already send campus-wide text messages with class cancellations.

What has changed about mass notification is the methodology, the granularity and specificity of the message, and the customization to individual recipients or groups. Mass notification itself is a general term. With respect to critical events, the capability better fits into the category of “mass communications,” in which an organization sends a message through a communication channel to a large anonymous group of people and/or organizations.

So when did the transformation to modern mass notification systems (MNS) occur? Despite the advances through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, nearly every critical event during these time periods was characterized by dangerously ineffectual communication.…Read More

5 leadership requirements essential for change

How does your school’s leadership readiness stack up when it comes to preparing for change?

Most educators want the classroom to change; to improve teaching and learning by leveraging technology. The terms blended learning and its subset, flipped learning, are touted extensively as useful educational goals.

However, to increase the probability of long term success and to reduce teacher/instructor frustration, organizations need to ensure that the broader fundamentals are in place before asking teachers to change. Fundamentals fall into a number of categories. I will consider one (leadership) in this article. Other areas, such as infrastructure, are discussed in related articles in this series.

There are some leadership requirements for change in the classroom to begin. This is not an exhaustive list, but it contains some major points. While reading these points, rate your organization on a scale of 1 (Poor) to 5 (Excellent). You can use this graph.…Read More

Should you treat your school like a business?

As parents have more choices regarding where their children go to school, some districts are beginning to view students and parents as “customers” — with surprising results

The idea of treating students, parents and the school community as customers isn’t an entirely new one, but it’s still one that makes some school leaders balk. After all, schools are institutions of learning, and traditionally, they have not been thought of as businesses.

But with the growth of charter schools and online schools, parents have other options to explore if their child’s school does not meet expectations — and when students leave, so, too, does funding.

And in an effort to increase parental engagement and ensure that parents and community members feel as though they are part of their children’s school, the newly-passed Every Student Succeeds Act includes multiple methods to increase parental engagement, including expanded accessibility, regular two-way communication, and enhanced parent and family engagement policies.…Read More

Teach students to communicate effectively in the Innovation Age

Communication looks different in the Innovation Age compared to the Information Age of yesteryear. Here’s how to help students succeed

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: Innovation In Action is a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

Ready or not, education has entered the “Innovation Age,” where it’s not about what students know but what they can do with what they know. Teachers can prepare students to thrive in the Innovation Age by teaching them to think at three levels: “what,” “so what,” and “now what.” Students might think of it in terms of three overarching questions: What is the basic concept? What is its relevance and what is it related to? And now, what can I do with what I have learned to find solutions to unmet needs?

In the Information Age, the era we are just now emerging from, knowledge was power so educators taught students to access, gather, analyze, and report information. In the Innovation Age there is a glut of information and data are readily generated or at fingertip accessibility. Successful educators in the Innovation Age must empower students by leading them discover their agency, define their purpose, and be open to fresh perspectives.…Read More

6 apps to help parents and teachers communicate

Keep parents in the loop with these tools

Educators know that students’ home lives play an integral role in their academic success. Communication between teachers and parents makes it easier for educators to understand the outside challenges students may deal with, and it helps parents understand how they can better support their children in school.

SimplyCircle
SchoolCircle helps parents stay connected to teachers by organizing school communications in a central dashboard with action items and alerts.

Ringya
Ringya lets users create groups and, within those groups, create subgroups or lists. Users can call, text, email, and chat with individuals, subgroups, or the entire group. Group members are identified by how they’re connected to the user, so a teacher knows who is calling or texting.…Read More

N.C. deploys new parent-school feedback tool throughout state

The cloud-based solution aims to strengthen responsiveness and track response time to stakeholders throughout the state

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has partnered with K12 Insight on a statewide implementation of the company’s cloud-based Let’s Talk! communications solution.

The department is using Let’s Talk! to create a culture of two-way communications between state education officials and community members, be it parents, teachers, students, taxpayers, or staff.

Feedback submitted through Let’s Talk!, accessible through a button on the department’s website, is automatically routed to the right state department official for a timely response. On the backend, the department is leveraging the information and data collected through individual conversations to inform decision-making and better serve local communities.…Read More

11 tech integration tips to share with your school

Share these innovative tech integration tips with your team

tech-tipsEmbarking on a technology integration plan or beginning a technology pilot can be daunting. However, mapping out a clear path, being flexible, and communicating the stakeholders can help that plan be successful.

Jeff Downing, an elementary school computer specialist in California’s Fremont Unified School District, offered technology integration tips for administrators and teachers based on his experiences in his own school during a webinar for edWeb’s Digital Citizenship community.

Three years ago, Downing developed basic goals for his school, including providing every classroom with a high-quality projector, finding ways to give every student access to some type of technology each day, and increasing internet access.…Read More