Hawaii partners on statewide STEM, energy curriculum

Defined STEM Curriculum aims to engage students in statewide renewable energy initiatives

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is moving to further support Ka Hei, its statewide strategic program kicked off in 2014 that educates students about sustainable energy transitions happening across schools throughout the state, through partnerships with Defined STEM, the flagship curriculum supplement of Defined Learning, and OpTerra Energy Services.

Hawai’i is the most fossil-fuel-dependent state in the nation, and the state’s schools spend $48 million a year on electricity alone. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative aims to relieve the state’s dependence on oil by using 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

The goal of the Ka Hei program is to integrate innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs.…Read More

Future Ready update adds new resources and PD for leaders

Future Ready overhaul coincides with the new national ed-tech plan

Last Thursday, The United States Department of Education held an event at the White House unveiling the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Future Ready initiative. There, along with several partner groups, they announced several new commitments and initiatives to help schools become more digitally capable.

The main theme of the event was connectivity, but that extends far beyond merely connecting students to technology. Instead, the idea of connectivity envisioned for the future is that technology will serve as a means to connect students to teachers, and allow all students to experience the same access to their interests regardless of demographics.

“There’s an answer for every challenge out there,” said Daryl Adams, Superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District, who attended the event. “United in purpose and mission, we can do anything.”…Read More

8 ways schools can become truly Future Ready

Advice for districts seeking to become better at digital teaching and learning

future-readyBeing Future Ready is about more than just signing a pledge or attending an event. It’s about taking measurable, sometimes scary, steps toward a digital future that is still very much uncertain, according to speakers at a recent ISTE panel discussion on the topic, “Is Your District Future Ready?

The Future Ready effort, championed by the Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education, hopes to permanently intertwine digital connectivity and learning in schools by getting administrators to think more broadly (and critically) about technology, PD, and the curriculum they use.

The backbone of the project is a short pledge superintendents take confirming their commitment to enlightened digital learning and advocacy (about 2,000 superintendents have signed it so far). There are also related regional summits that delve into how schools and districts can achieve Future Ready aims, such as empowering teachers, closing the digital divide, or supporting community efforts.…Read More

Using cell phones in class? The Oregon Department Of Education approves

Mobile devices are traditionally considered a nuisance in schools, Northwest Public Radio reports. But a Portland startup is developing a way to turn students’ cell phones into classroom tools. Some teachers and students across the Northwest are using the service. And now it has the blessing of the Oregon Department of Education. It’s seventh period at Portland’s Madison High School, and teacher Kim Kanof is starting her social studies class. Today’s topic is the big fall essay. The students have pencils and paper ready, but they’re not being used. Instead almost every student is on a cell phone, texting. “What I want you to do now is look to your warm up, looking to your working thesis statement, and I want you to text that in,” Kanof tells her class. “I want you to text in your working thesis statement…”

Read more

…Read More

ISTE: DOE talks 6 education technology changes, new initiatives

In yet another packed ISTE 2013 highlighted session, Richard Culatta, acting director at the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, discussed the challenges schools face today and how education technology, broadband, and new DOE initiatives can help solve them.

“There are really four main challenges schools are facing right now,” explained Culatta. “Students are disadvantaged by geolocation, students are treated the same regardless of need, class schedules are valued over learning, and data comes back too late to be useful.”

Culatta is a firm believer that education technology can play a large role in helping to solve these issues, as well as changing six points of “problem areas” education is facing today.…Read More

Feds launch new online tool to help students manage loan debt

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, like information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. Students can access the new resource, known as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, on StudentLoans.gov.

“Managing student loan debt can be a difficult and confusing process for many borrowers. That’s why the Obama administration has been working to unravel the mystery of college financing and arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them, instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. This new tool will help bring new transparency to the process of debt management on the front end and empower students to keep their school loan payments on track and on time after graduation.”

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool provides students with five interactive tutorials covering topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. Students can access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback that can help them better understand their financial obligations. In addition, college financial aid professionals can monitor a student’s progress in using the tool and provide assistance if necessary.…Read More

Feds: All kids, legal or not, entitled to K-12 ed

The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to districts around the country Friday, reminding them that all students–legal or not–are entitled to a public education, the Associated Press reports. The letter comes amid reports that schools may be checking the immigration status of students trying to enroll, and reminds districts they are federally prohibited from barring elementary or secondary students on the basis of citizenship status.

“Moreover, districts may not request information with the purpose or result of denying access to public schools on the basis of race, color or national origin,” said the letter, which was signed by officials from the department’s Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice…

Click here for the full story…Read More

U.S. says 25 percent of for-profit students default

For-profit schools’ former students default at more than double the rate of those from nonprofit schools, according to data released by the U.S. Education Department as part of its effort to push for tougher regulation of the controversial institutions, Reuters reports. The Education Department has criticized some for-profit schools, which range from universities offering PhD’s to trade schools offering training to repair cars or take X-rays for medical offices. Fully 25 percent of students who either graduated or dropped out of these for-profit schools in 2008 defaulted on their student loans within three years, compared with 10.8 percent of public schools and 7.6 percent of private schools, the Education Department said in its data…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Help stop bullying, U.S. tells educators

In a 10-page letter to be sent today to thousands of school districts and colleges, the Department of Education urges the nation’s educators to ensure that they are complying with their responsibilities to prevent harassment, as laid out in federal laws, reports the New York Times. The letter is the product of a yearlong review of the federal statutes and case law covering sexual, racial and other forms of harassment, officials said. Issuing the letter took on new urgency in recent weeks because of a string of high-profile cases in which students have committed suicide after enduring bullying by classmates, the officials said. The department issued the letter to clarify the legal responsibilities of the authorities in public schools and in colleges and universities under federal laws, the officials said. Certain forms of student bullying might violate federal anti-discrimination law…

Click here for the full story

…Read More