3 ways our school uses data to drive instruction

For the last six years, data has been part of our “secret sauce” here at Bronson Elementary School in Bronson, Fla. Many of our students come from economically disadvantaged homes so we know we need to continually work harder than most schools to help our students succeed academically—and data helps us do this.

Our teachers and administrators are constantly looking at data trends—including data over periods of time, across grade levels, and for individual teachers and subgroups of students—to help drive instruction and student achievement. Specifically, Bronson uses schoolwide data to determine core instructional needs and proficiency targets. We use grade-level data for insight into groups for intervention, classroom data to support differentiation in the classroom and teacher effectiveness goals, and student data to identify intervention needs and IEP goals.

The data we analyze is collected from various sources, including the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) in reading and math for grades 3-5 and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test Science for grade 5. We also use diagnostic data that we collect three times a year using the i-Ready program for reading and math in grades K-5.…Read More

How to take a student-centered approach to classroom AV

Schools are increasingly moving toward personalized and adaptive learning programs. The idea of tailoring teaching styles, materials, and approaches to individual students promises deeper engagement and better academic outcomes.

Technology plays a leading role in making personalized learning possible. In previous generations, the ratio of one teacher to a few dozen students made an adaptive approach almost impossible, but today’s students can engage with curriculum in new ways. For example, many schools have adopted one-to-one initiatives in which each student receives a tablet or laptop for educational use.

In addition to school-issued devices, many students also carry at least one personal electronic device with them to class each day. Today’s typical student is adept at a wide variety of devices, from smartphones to wearable technology. To keep pace with the students’ technology-rich world outside the classroom, it’s important for schools to use audiovisual (AV) technology that meets—and exceeds—those expectations.…Read More

8 benefits of cloud-printing solutions

It has been nearly 600 years since the printing press was invented. With this much history behinds us, why is printing across all the schools in a district so challenging?

There needs to be a better and easier way, as printing is an essential element for any education ecosystem.

A quick history of printing…Read More

Are K-12 data systems ready for AI?

As educators who love technology, we can barely contain our enthusiasm for the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI). But AI requires massive amounts of data, so before jumping on the AI bandwagon we need to:

  • reflect on the kinds of data that would make teaching more effective and improve learning outcomes;
  • consider the systems that will allow us to collect and manage the data; and
  • create processes to share and analyze the data.

Most districts do not yet have the foundation to make the leap to AI (other than what is already embedded in the apps and programs they’re currently using). Schools still exhibit a lack of maturity around data collection that should make us cautious about AI. There are also algorithmic bias and equity issues that need to be resolved before we move to wide-scale AI adoption. For most districts, spending money on AI over the next three to five years would be money down the drain. The ecosystems to support AI implementation are simply not yet in place in most schools and districts.

5 essential questions to test your district’s AI readiness…Read More

3 tips for jumpstarting your district’s connectivity discussion

This year’s E-rate cycle may be over, but in order to be well prepared for the next one, now is the time to start the connectivity conversation with your school district. In today’s classrooms, high-speed internet is no longer an option; it has become a necessity.

Digital learning helps students grasp concepts more fully, and not having access to the wealth of information found in online videos, apps, and curriculum puts these students at an immediate disadvantage to their connected peers. As schools increasingly turn to digital learning, all classrooms must have reliable, fast internet connections in order to prepare students sufficiently for future challenges like college and the job market.

While dramatic progress has been made in closing the connectivity gap in our public schools, there are still 6.5 million K-12 students who lack access to high-speed classroom internet, leaving them unprepared or underprepared for the world’s digital expectations.…Read More

Everything you ever need to know about interoperability standards

Digital systems need to work together to meet your district’s needs, but today’s digital learning environment is disjointed. The ever-growing number of tools do not seamlessly integrate into the learning environment, thus making it time consuming for teachers to innovate and personalize instruction. Luckily, there is a way to greatly reduce the time spent manually uploading rosters so that teachers can access digital learning tools and content, search multiple platforms to find the right resources, link them in the learning platform, and automate the pass back of grades from various digital tools into their gradebook system.

How does a school district make these things possible? One way is by using IMS Global interoperability standards to achieve a successfully integrated digital ecosystem.

A quick guide to interoperability…Read More

What it really means to be a data-driven district–and how to make it happen

A simple internet search for “data-driven instruction” yields nearly four million hits. Clearly, the concept is neither new nor novel.

Yet still, research continues to show that educators’ ability to actually use data to guide instructional decisions is lacking. How can that be?

While sifting through those search results, I realized something: Just about every article focuses on why data-based instruction is important, but not a single one I’ve found has addressed what that really means and how to make it happen in real classrooms with real students.…Read More

6 ways school bus wi-fi could benefit your district

Gaps in internet access are an all-too-familiar struggle for many schools, particularly those in rural or low-income districts where coverage is spotty or too expensive.

In 2015, President Barack Obama said internet access was no longer a privilege, but a basic necessity. School districts are adopting that frame of mind and are trying their best to keep students connected as long as possible.

Equipping school buses with wi-fi helps extend learning, especially for students who have long bus rides due to rural locations or extra-curricular activities.…Read More

6 questions to ask when selecting your district’s AV equipment

Audiovisual (AV) technology is at the center of many classroom initiatives. Whether students are watching videos in a one-to-one classroom setting or English language learners are working on speaking and listening activities, AV lets them connect with media during classroom time.

While innovations are certainly taking place in the world of classroom AV, it’s convenient that some edtech staples are still functional and effective. For example, as long as a classroom’s current headphones are comfortable, durable, and safe, they won’t likely need to be updated.

As you review your AV needs for the 2018-19 school year, keep this checklist of priorities in mind.…Read More

Do you use video to hire teachers? If not, you should!

Savvy school districts are starting to harness the cost and time-efficiency benefits that video interviewing platforms provide to make faster, cheaper, and smarter hiring decisions. The key feature of any video interviewing platform is what is referred to as the one-way, on-demand, or asynchronous, video interview.

Here’s how it works:

• First, the district invites candidates to complete a video interview within a given amount of time, usually three to five days.
• Using their smartphone or any webcam-equipped device, candidates will view a welcome message about what it’s like to work for that particular school district. (Many school districts already have recruiting or promotional videos that serve as great welcome messages.)
• Next, the candidate is asked some interview questions by an administrator or—at my district—a student, and then has time to record a video response for each question. We’ve found that candidates are more at ease when they see and hear students asking them the interview questions.
• The interview ends with a goodbye message, which could be a video or text with next steps and an estimate of the timeline for completion of the selection process.…Read More

How our district is narrowing the digital divide

The digital divide and the opportunity gap. These are two of the closely related and defining issues that educators and administrators are grappling with today. At DeKalb County School District in Georgia, we set out to create a plan that narrows the digital divide our students are facing at school, in the community, and at home.

By providing our students with the digital technology needed for modern learning, we’ve started closing the opportunity gap caused in part by digital and technological inequities. Throughout this process, we learned important lessons and discovered key takeaways along the way that all schools can integrate into their own initiatives.

Installing hotspots to fire up learning…Read More

4 surefire ways to get more for your edtech dollar

As warmer weather approaches, students start looking to spring break with excitement as a sign that the end of the school year is near. Not so for school IT directors, who are trying to determine how they will accomplish all of their summer projects in the absence of students and staff. These projects likely include planning their summer edtech refreshes and wondering how they are going to purchase everything they need with limited resources.

Finding the budget and time to do large technology refreshes will always be stressful, but there are a few ways IT directors can lessen the burden and get more for available dollars.

1. Use current technology to buy down the new fleet.
When it’s time to refresh devices, first look to your current technology fleet to determine its value. By making smart technology purchases and timing refreshes right, schools can use the residual value of their current devices to reduce the cost of purchasing the next fleet. I have found that there is enough equity in some devices after the second year to pay off the third and final year’s lease payment. This allows school districts to purchase more current hardware and software to ensure that educational goals for digital learning are met. Conversely, keeping devices too long can be a costly practice because schools miss out on the ability to leverage the optimal residual value of devices to offset the cost of the next purchase.…Read More