Teaching Generation Z? Start by engaging their parents—here’s how we did it

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 1 of our month-long series on “What it means to teach Gen Z.” Check back every Monday in April to read the next installment!]

A huge body of research shows that parental involvement in a child’s education results in higher student achievement, both academically and behaviorally. I’ve been in K-12 education for 22 years, serving in roles from teacher to superintendent, and my students have always shown greater success when their parents are involved in the educational process. However, parents today are busy people, so connecting with them can be complicated to arrange.

I currently serve as the principal at Max Larsen Elementary, a K-1 building with 516 students. Nearly 70 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and we have a significant Arabic- and Spanish-speaking population, with about 30 percent of our students speaking a native language other than English. Of that 30 percent, approximately 90 percent have been in the U.S. less than a year.…Read More

These 8 schools have A+ mobile device programs—here’s why

Technology continues to raise the bar of what is possible in education. As more schools discover the power and benefits of education technology, mobile devices such as Chromebooks, Macs and iPads in the classroom are becoming commonplace.

Here are eight innovative, real-world examples of schools that are using mobile devices along with a mobile device management (MDM) solution to unlock what’s possible in the classroom:

1. School District of La Crosse: Providing Student Equity for All & Managing a Massive Student iPad Handout…Read More

Incredible: Growth of this technology crushes Apple, Microsoft in K-12 classrooms

Chromebooks continued their steady growth in education, securing 58 percent of K-12 market share in 2016, according to a new report examining technology trends in the K-12 education market.

The report from Futuresource Consulting notes that annual mobile PC shipments in the K-12 education market grew 18 percent year-on-year in 2016.

The steady growth is due in part to school districts expanding one-to-one learning programs and technology initiatives. The report also notes that PC and tablet sales are on an overall decline in the business and consumer markets, causing major device providers to concentrate on the education market.…Read More

Teachers and IT: How to keep kids safe on Chromebooks

Just a few short years ago, Apple was the undisputed king of tech in schools. If you didn’t have iPads in your classroom, you were planning to get them soon. But today the momentum has shifted dramatically. Google’s Chromebook has almost completely replaced Apple’s iconic tablet as the first choice for classroom-tech initiatives.

Chromebooks are in many ways ideal for classrooms, allowing teachers to leverage online resources to provide richer, more differentiated educational experiences to your students. In addition, Chromebooks have multiple, substantial layers of built-in security, providing peace of mind regarding certain types of cyber threats.

To improve on that security, school IT probably also use a secure web gateway appliance and a firewall to protect students and staff from web-borne threats. Depending on the solutions the school or district has chosen to install, this is effective—as long as the devices are connected to the school network.…Read More

Why my students are real world-ready with nothing but a device

[Editor’s note: Award-winning science teacher Anthony Johnson, whose real-world ‘Johnsonville’ approach article was a viral hit, delves further into how his students use their devices in every lesson, every day.]

Just as few modern-day workers could function in their jobs without a cellphone, a laptop, or periodic trips to Google, I want my students to learn how to solve problems using devices that will likely be similar to ones they will encounter for the rest of their lives.

I strongly believe in the power of technology to transform learning and the lives of my students. In fact, I’m not sure where my classroom would be without it. My school is fortunate enough to have gone 1:1 with iPads, and I challenge my students to use their devices in every lesson, every project, and every experience we share as a class.…Read More

School district invents custom charging solution for all schools

As Denton Independent School District (ISD) prepares for future ready classrooms with technology and builds new schools, the Texas district is partnering with LocknCharge to create a new mobile device charging cabinet – the Carrier 15 Charging Station™.

“There were no solutions designed to fit the unique needs of Denton ISD,” said Judy Bush technology manager. “LocknCharge stepped in and constructed a new charging station to fit the vision of the curriculum and technology team to incorporate Chromebooks into classrooms.”

This customized solution will store, charge and deploy up to 20,000 devices in the school district.…Read More

App of the Week: Tools for wireless making

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.

What’s It Like? 

littleBits Invent utilizes electronic building blocks that can be combined and recombined to make endless inventions. Once built, creations are controlled wirelessly by a smartphone or tablet. Kids can follow directions to build a remote control car or a Burglar Buzzer that sets off an alarm if anyone tries to take their piggy bank. The power of littleBits lies in its Invention Cycle. Kids are encouraged to create, play, remix, and share their inventions. This engineering process with a creativity twist encourages kids to use craft materials to personalize the electronics they build.…Read More

#4: What does research really say about iPads in the classroom?

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on February 15th of this year, was our #4 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues tomorrow with #3, so be sure to check back!]

Popular mobile devices may come and go, but the iPad has remained a hit in the K-12 classroom. But even though they’re in schools, our work with teachers has led us to understand that while many of them would like to use iPads meaningfully in their classrooms, they can’t because of time, access, and training.

So for the past year and a half, we’ve both been working with teachers and university students integrating iPad technology into the classroom in a controlled way. While doing this, we came across several outcomes that made us question and dig deeper into what the research actually says about using them in the classroom. Do students and younger teachers use them more effectively? Do they work better for some student populations? It’s probably not giving much away to say that the most important learning outcome we found was that experience is the greatest teacher.…Read More

7 things Gen Z students say about educational technology

Student-teacher interaction is one of the most important things when creating a positive and effective classroom environment–in fact, it ranked higher than educational technology use, according to both teachers and students in a new survey.

The survey from online learning service provider Quizlet seeks to outline how teachers and students, including Generation Z students (those born in 2001 or later), feel about technology in their classrooms.

Eighty-seven percent of surveyed teachers said interaction with students is an important part of their teaching environment.…Read More

5 ways connected school buses are on the rise

As internet connectivity becomes a necessity for schools and students, there is a new call for the government to make school bus wi-fi eligible for federal E-rate funding.

The trend is growing. More and more, school buses are equipped with wi-fi to give students connectivity while they are on their way to and from school and during travel to extra-curricular activities.

School bus wi-fi also is viewed as a way to close the persistent homework gap that occurs when students have internet access during school, but lack it at home. Many schools are developing initiatives to park wi-fi enabled buses in school communities after school to help more students connect when the school day ends.…Read More

Chromebooks are on the rise, but Windows reliance remains

Sixty-two percent of K-12 schools participating in a recent survey support Chromebook initiatives, and 22 percent of those schools use Chromebooks as a primary classroom device.

While Chromebooks appear to be increasing in popularity, Windows presence remains heavy–92 percent of survey respondents said their schools use at least one Windows-based application, and 29 percent said they use five or more Windows applications for teaching and learning.

[Editor’s note: We’re always tracking mobile device trends for you; click here and here for the latest information.] …Read More

Stop asking whether laptops improve learning outcomes

The media might not be able to get past the question — but we in education need to dig deeper

It’s a question we hear all too often—from parents, technology critics, and, of course, the news media: Do those pricey laptops schools buy actually improve academic results?

On the surface, it seems logical. Schools make big investments in technology and stakeholders want to see a return on that investment—by way of better school ratings or big jumps in test scores. But really, the question is superficial and shows a limited understanding of what is needed to enhance teaching and learning using technology.

Laptops by themselves change little. They are simply one component of a range of things that need to change in order to leverage technology to enhance education. Introducing laptops while not changing the teaching and learning paradigm is of little use, and may even produce negative academic outcomes.…Read More