Advancing educational equity with UDL and generative AI

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As we all struggle down the path toward true educational inclusion, we are confronted with four pillars of equity as described by Rochelle Guiterize: Access, Success, Power and Identity.

Educators with a mind towards equity typically excel at access. Opening doors to all students is an obvious move. However, we must continually push systems so that all students are able to be successful in spaces where they have ownership and feel a sense of belonging (identity). Otherwise, equity and inclusion are still just a dream. …Read More

Promoting music education beyond the classroom

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At its core, music is about self-expression and creativity. Music education also gives students a chance to reflect on their inner thoughts and helps struggling children build their confidence in a safe space.

When used correctly, music can even uplift entire communities and help folks overcome hardships. Inspirational scores make a real difference to individuals who are down on their luck and lonely students can bond around a shared love of music.…Read More

Edtech tools to beat our state of emergency in reading and math achievement

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Back in early 2020, educators and students nationwide were living in a fast-paced world full of choices, adjustments, and constant changes. But in March of that year, everything changed.  Our district, like so many across the country, was forced to re-imagine what learning looked like. Under the great leadership of Dr. Shawn Foster, the Orangeburg County School District Superintendent, my school district had an active plan of action to ensure continuity of learning for all students. 

While we move further away from day-to-day impacts of the COVID pandemic, in some ways it is still with us. Although all members of the team worked hard to maintain continuity of learning during the pandemic, COVID has left our students’ reading and math skills in a state of emergency. Today, our challenge is to empower, encourage, equip, and support our teachers and students as they recover the learning lost during the pandemic. …Read More

5 critical ingredients in a school safety plan

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Teacher training programs often introduce aspiring educators to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, an eight-decade-old principle that reminds teachers that learning is significantly more difficult when other needs are not accounted for.

Physiological needs such as air, water, and food are most important; however, safety, including personal security, follows closely as a foundational requirement. After years of devastating and heart-breaking incidents of school violence, school safety sentiment has plummeted.…Read More

Bluum Names Dan Groskreutz as CFO

PHOENIX — Bluum, a leading provider of education technology, this week named Dan Groskreutz its new chief financial officer (CFO). Groskreutz brings decades of executive experience to the Bluum leadership team, having served as CFO for Appvion, Whitehall Specialties, and Scientific Protein Laboratories LLC over the past 20 years.

Before embarking on a financial career spanning 40 years thus far, Groskreutz earned his undergraduate degree from Bethel University and his MBA from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.

“We are thrilled for Dan to join Bluum,” said Erez Pikar, the CEO of Bluum. “He brings a wealth of experience that will help Bluum continue to drive growth and innovation in the market and improve learning outcomes for all students.”…Read More

Prioritizing student safety with enhanced first responder and cellular communication coverage

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For any school, keeping students, faculty, and staff safe is a top priority. Many school leaders will therefore be shocked to learn that 52 percent of U.S. schools include areas that fail to meet current building code requirements for minimum indoor radio signal strength for police and fire department communications.

The implications are clear. In an emergency, when timely and effective communications are vital, first responders may have trouble connecting via their smartphones, hand-held radios, or other devices. This can adversely affect their ability to respond to an emergency and, in worst-case scenarios, put lives at risk.…Read More

What a 4-day school week might mean for your district

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West of the Mississippi, a new approach to seat time is catching on. Roughly 1,000 different schools have transitioned to a four-day school week (researchers abbreviate this as a 4dsw), which amounts to a sixfold increase since 2000. Twenty-five percent of schools in Missouri have implemented a 4dsw in their districts.

Schools in the American West and Southwest have led the way in trying this trend. There are a handful of reasons for this, but many deal with the geography of the school district. Rural schools often see different challenges than their urban counterparts. Transportation, extracurriculars, and family obligations can keep students out of school for half a day for something as quick as an orthodontist appointment once travel time is factored in.

Consolidating required seat time into four days does lengthen the four days spent in school, but the fifth day—which often is a Friday or a Monday, resulting in a three-day weekend—is completely free of school obligations. Some schools still elect to provide a meal for multiple reasons, including funding preservation and food insecurity. Teachers who travel to the district save on commute costs and consider the fifth day a perk of employment. One district switched and saw four times2 as many teacher applications.

Not every school site in a district has to adhere to the 4dsw—one prime example includes pre-kindergarten classes, which meet on different schedules than their older peers. But evidence is mounting that a 4dsw could help attract and retain teachers, manage scheduling for rural districts, and impact students’ sleep. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of a 4dsw.

The cons of 4dsw…Read More

Frontline Education Announces Chris Tonas as Chief Technology Officer

Malvern, Pa. (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Frontline Education, a leading provider of administration software purpose-built for educators in K-12, today announced that Chris Tonas has joined the company’s executive team as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Chris brings with him over three decades of invaluable experience in software engineering and development, having held leadership roles at Pluralsight and Oracle.

As CTO, Chris is responsible for leading the technological aspects of the company including engineering and development and managing cloud infrastructure and security.

Mark Gruzin, CEO of Frontline Education, expressed his excitement about Chris joining the team: “As we continue to grow and innovate, we are pleased to welcome Chris as our new CTO. We will gain the benefits of Chris’ extensive experience in software engineering, a track record of strategic leadership, and his commitment to engineering advancements. Chris’ passion for innovation and collaborative spirit align seamlessly with Frontline’s goals.”…Read More

The power of AI in education: Enhancing instructional coaching for student success

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Last fall, ChatGPT, an AI-powered language model, became the subject of widespread discussion, from lighthearted memes about robots taking over to genuine confusion about the capabilities and implications of AI. While we have come to understand this technology better, there still remains hesitancy and caution surrounding AI and its integration into education. A prime example was the New York City School System, which had prohibited students and teachers from accessing ChatGPT’s website on school computers.

This hesitation is understandable, as any new technology brings about both excitement and trepidation. However, it is essential for educators and instructional coaches to embrace emerging technologies like AI, as doing otherwise would mean doing our students a disservice. By integrating AI into the classroom, we have the opportunity to enhance teaching practices, coaching conversations, and ultimately support student success in innovative and meaningful ways.…Read More

K12 cybersecurity threats to your school can be lowered-here is how

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The school bell is about to ring in another academic year, and as children pull out their lunchboxes and teachers decorate their rooms, schools continue to face an onslaught of K12 ransomware while also grappling with perpetually insufficient budgets, legacy IT, and under-staffing concerns.

The increased level of connectivity in today’s schools means richer opportunities for learning and community, but it also puts at further risk the financial data, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive information that educational institutions hold.…Read More

For school leaders, routine decisions aren’t so routine

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In the tapestry of leadership, decisions are often viewed through a lens of routine or regularity. It’s easy to fall into the belief that some choices are mundane, merely navigating the day-to-day operations of an organization. However, beneath this seemingly commonplace surface lies a profound truth: no leadership decision is truly routine. Each choice, whether seemingly minor or monumental, has the potential to send ripples through the fabric of an organization or impact an individual in ways that may extend beyond the leaders’ view.

Understanding the potential consequences of seemingly routine decisions is not just an important leadership skill; it’s a necessity. Every leadership decision, regardless of its apparent simplicity, possesses the potential to have a far greater impact than it appears viewed on the surface. A few examples illustrate this premise:  …Read More

How video coaching helps us support teacher growth and retention

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At the Van Winkle Early Childhood Center within Jackson Public School District in Mississippi, we enroll students for one year to prepare them for kindergarten. Family engagement is critical to a student’s success throughout their academic career, so we also help prepare families to support their children every step of the way.

We believe that successful mentoring and instructional coaching sustains teachers, especially new ones, throughout the year and improves their ability to build strong relationships with students and families. To ensure that our mentoring and coaching is intentional, focused, and fits into everyone’s tight schedules, we recently began using video. Here’s how it works.…Read More