New Common Sense tool shows how secure your ed-tech apps are

New educator resource is intended to find accurate, up-to-date evaluations of privacy and security practices of ed-tech applications

Common Sense Education, in collaboration with over 70 schools and districts nationwide, launched its K-12 Ed-Tech Privacy Evaluation Platform to support educators in their effort to make informed decisions about the educational software being used on campuses throughout the country.

With schools and districts struggling to manage the challenge of evaluating the privacy and security practices of thousands of educational technology products on the market, Common Sense convened stakeholders to develop a platform that provides accurate and up-to-date evaluations of the security practices of the most commonly used ed-tech apps. The robust set of resources is available at https://privacy.graphite.org.

“Evaluating the privacy and security practices of educational software is a daunting task for most schools and districts, but it doesn’t have to be,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. “By working together with educators, Common Sense has developed a comprehensive, centralized, and free resource to help an education community that is spread out across the country learn from each other and make more informed decisions about protecting student privacy.”…Read More

App of the Week: Eat your way to basic math skills

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? DragonBox Numbers surreptitiously introduces kids to basic number concepts through puzzles, challenges, and free play. “Nooms” represent each number from 1 to 10. Kids can stack Nooms, have them “eat” each other and turn into different Nooms (for example, 3 eats 5 and becomes 8), or slice them into smaller Nooms. In the sandbox, kids freely experiment with the Nooms against a number line. In “ladder,” kids build a Noom to reach a star on a number line, which gets more challenging as they want to avoid or pass through certain points along the way. In “puzzles,” kids create pictures using the Nooms in certain ways. All activities earn coins that kids can use to “buy” more levels.

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: Daily news and events, just for kids

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? News-O-Matic, School Edition, 2015-16 is a daily news and activity app for kids in grades 2–5. Teachers and kids can read five current events articles daily, answer questions, chat with classmates about the stories, and send comments or questions to the editor. Topics include everything from religion and politics to scientific discoveries and kid entrepreneurs.

Rating: 4/5…Read More

App of the Week: Shakespeare for the iPad generation

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Common Sense Graphite. To read the full app review, click here.
shakespeare-in-bits

What’s It Like? Within Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet, the full text of the play is featured side-by-side with an animated reenactment. While the style of animation is somewhat simplistic, there are professional actors voicing the parts. Within the text, simply tapping any highlighted words offers a more modern-day term. Tabs at the top of the text let students move easily between the text, section notes, a synopsis, and their own notes. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows all options — viewing by scene, examining characters, reading analysis, and reviewing notes.

Graphite Rating: 4/5

Price: $15…Read More

App of the Week: Skaffl

Ed. note: App 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.
 skaffl

What’s It Like? Skaffl is a tool for distributing, completing, and grading work on the iPad. Teachers create classes and then share each class’s unique access code with their students, who can then use that code to enroll in the class via their own Skaffl login. Teachers then create three types of activities: an in-app assignment, a student dropbox, or a handout. A handy workflow for these activities appears every time teachers create a new one. Teachers can distribute activities instantly (to some classes, some students, or all at once) or schedule them for a later date.

Price: Free/subscription

Grades: 6-12…Read More

6 tech tools that boost teacher-parent communication

Most educators agree: Effective communication with parents is important (if not crucial) to helping students learn, according to Graphite. But if you talk to any teacher, they’ll admit that it can be challenging. Teachers may hesitate because they’re swamped with grading papers and lesson planning, or because many of their communications have gone unanswered. Parents may be reluctant because of a language barrier or because they’re working multiple jobs. When I was teaching, though, I did find some simple tech tools like the ones below that helped improve communication. From keeping a blog to sending short updates, they’ll help you strengthen school-family partnerships…

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