A 4-step approach to leveraging technology in instruction

The adoption and assortment of technology in K-12 classrooms has soared over the past decade, posing challenges for schools tasked with deciding which technologies to introduce into their classrooms. Too often, these conversations around leveraging technology in instruction revolve around the what and how of physical tools — what to acquire and how to use it. However, we need to first start with the why of technology to truly address learning outcomes for all students.

Technology needs to be evaluated and chosen for its ability to engage students in meaningful and productive ways within a culture of accelerated learning. Students who are proficient with digital literacy skills and practices will have the advantage of being flexible and adaptive critical thinkers who can engage with new technology in meaningful and productive ways in every content area.

4 Steps to Integrating Technology with Purpose…Read More

Scholastic Provides Educators Award-Winning Digital Solutions For Virtual Learning

As school districts nationwide begin the 2020–21 academic year, whether in person, remotely, or following a hybrid model, access to high-quality, flexible digital literacy resources is more critical than ever before. Amidst this shift, Scholastic is meeting the needs of nearly 50,000 educators nationwide with a suite of award-winning personalized learning programs designed to fit varying schedules and implementation models with equitable learning opportunities and robust analytics: Scholastic F.I.R.ST. for grades pre-K–2, Scholastic W.O.R.D. for grades K–5, and Scholastic Literacy Pro for grades K–8. In August, Digital Promise recognized Scholastic F.I.R.S.T. and Scholastic W.O.R.D. with Research-Based Design product certification, verifying for parents and educators that these programs are steeped in research about learning.

To learn more about the full range of Scholastic digital solutions to support literacy instruction, visit: www.scholastic.com/edtech.

“School closures and disruptions to learning have presented unprecedented challenges for educators and families,” said Beth Polcari, President, Scholastic Magazines Group. “We know that educators are doing the best they can right now to keep their students safe and ensure that learning continues. Scholastic remains committed to supporting teachers by making personalized learning accessible and equitable, to help students continue to grow as skillful readers, regardless of their learning environment.”…Read More

Digital Skills Playlist – a free resource for K-8 students

Learning.com is offering the Digital Skills Playlist – a free resource for K-8 students. It consists of grade-specific digital literacy lessons that students and parents can easily access and launch at home without any setup or district subscription required.

With this tool, your students, and at no cost, dive into the interactive digital lessons and hands-on projects available in a Learning.com curriculum subscription.

The tool is available here: https://info.learning.com/digital-skills-playlist…Read More

Beanstack Distance Learning Reading Challenge

Grades 2-5

Zoobean’s new Beanstack Distance Learning Reading Challenge, sponsored by  Lerner Publishing Group, promotes independent student reading through the use of best-in-class digital learning resources with free access to the Lerner™ Sports Database, featuring athlete biographies using digital literacy tools that correlate with curriculum standards.

Zoobean and Lerner invite all interested school districts to participate, even if they are not current customers of either organization; free product licenses will be provided for those that need them. In addition, Lerner pledges to donate new books to the winning institutions upon completion of the challenge.…Read More

5 questions students should ask about media

Do your students love to take and edit photos to post on Instagram? Are they obsessed with watching (or maybe even becoming!) YouTube celebs? Do you want to help your students learn how to spot a stereotype on a TV show? Or how to identify bias in a news article? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider integrating media literacy education into your lessons.

Digital and media literacy expand traditional literacy to include new forms of reading, writing, and communicating. The National Association for Media Literacy Education defines media literacy as “the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, CREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication” and says it “empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators, and active citizens.” Though some believe media literacy and digital literacy are separate but complementary, I believe they’re really one and the same. They both focus on skills that help students be critical media consumers and creators. And both are rooted in inquiry-based learning—asking questions about what we see, read, hear, and create.

Think of it this way: Students learn print literacy—how to read and write. But they should also learn multimedia literacy—how to “read and write” media messages in different forms, whether it’s a photo, video, website, app, videogame, or anything else. The most powerful way for students to put these skills into practice is through both critiquing media they consume and analyzing media they create.…Read More

This cool new program helps kids develop better tech habits

Dignity—it’s not a word often associated with social media and online interaction. However, as part of a new education program from Seton Hall Law School’s Institute for Privacy Protection, communication, community, and dignity are key themes of the curriculum. Overall, the goal is to educate students and parents about privacy and technology overuse. But they try not to shame the students and parents, said Gaia Bernstein, law professor and director, Institute for Privacy Protection at the Seton Hall University School of Law, and Najarian Peters, assistant professor, Institute for Privacy Protection at Seton Hall Law School. During the recent edWebinar, “Educating Students and Parents About Privacy and Technology Overuse,” they explained it’s counterproductive to become another authority figure telling students what not to do. Instead, by encouraging students to share their stories and having them explain how technology impacts their lives, the program gives students the agency to take control over their technology use.

The program, which is taught by Seton Hall law students, targets students in fifth and sixth grade, typically the age when they get their first cell phone. It’s a time when parents feel like they are losing control of their kids, yet the kids still have the capability to learn good technology habits.

Since students are getting phones at younger and younger ages, they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand the ramifications of their actions and need parental guidance. Thus, the program has both a student curriculum and parent talk. Parents need to learn what privacy really means in the digital world and how their tech usage affects their children. The program focuses on collaboration and helping students and parents discuss good technology habits together.…Read More

Moving from digital citizenship to digital leadership

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.

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.…Read More

8 essential qualities of a digital literacy curriculum

“Jeff. I’ve got a big challenge. Help!”

That was a voicemail message I received from a friend, a principal at a local elementary school one sunny summer afternoon. What was the challenge? Her 30 slightly apprehensive teachers had to deliver a digital literacy curriculum to her 450+ students the next school year. Like many other educators around the country, the principal’s team understood the need for their students to learn digital-literacy skills to become responsible citizens and to be prepared for the challenges of college, and careers, but … where to start?

Before discussing building, purchasing or creating a digital literacy curriculum, we decided to devise a set of essential qualities that we felt would be helpful to evaluate potential digital-literacy curriculum options. Ultimately, with the help of other schools and districts, we decided to focus upon these eight themes:…Read More

App of the Week: Google Applied Digital Skills

Ed. noteApp of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

Google Applied Digital Skills can be used as a semester curriculum to teach a digital literacy course or as stand-alone lessons integrated into a core class on an as-needed basis. For example, the If-Then Adventure Story unit fits easily into a creative writing class, but would also be a good project for a history class where students use real events to envision alternative histories. There are several spreadsheet budgeting activities for personal finance class, and librarians can get on board with multiple units focusing on research and technology ethics.…Read More

S.C. districts access digital literacy tools for free

To empower students in school districts across South Carolina with digital literacy skills, Learning.com announced the Palmetto Digital Literacy Program (PDLP), in partnership with the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee and Department of Education.

The initiative will help prepare students for college and career success by offering access to a comprehensive digital literacy skills curriculum and provide teachers and students with assessments that can identify technology challenges.

“The importance of a strong skillset in digital literacy and safety in our modern global society has never been higher,” said South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “I look forward to this collaborative partnership and the complementary resources to our current computer science programs that will be provided to students so that they can be successful upon graduation.”…Read More