3 steps to creating a comfortable learning environment

Students have started a new school year and are facing the many challenges still present with in-person learning amid a pandemic. One of the most important to address is how schools address student safety and health–both physical and mental. CDC research has already documented the negative effects COVID-19 has inflicted upon children’s mental well-being.

Schools that established health and safety policies and procedures before this academic year began are best poised to help protect their students’ well-being. But it’s not too late–as school leaders confront the evolving situation, security technology can help build an environment where students feel safe, comfortable, and confident, and where every person’s well-being is prioritized.

Integrating security technology doesn’t have to be a complex process. Keep reading for an easy-to-follow approach school leaders can use to identify and execute on opportunities for enhancing their students’ health and safety journey.…Read More

Using the rule of threes for a technology strategy

As the new school year starts amid fresh uncertainty, educators are grappling with how to navigate what I’ve come to call the “And Era.” The And Era is not about going only remote or returning to purely in-person experiences, but adopting the best of both. While many schools are bringing kids back into classrooms this year, the spread of the Delta variant and other factors out of their control mean they must again be prepared to support a mix of virtual and in-person learning.

That means focusing on what they can control–developing and deploying a strong technology strategy that will give them the agility to combine varying degrees of in-person and remote elements into a seamless learning experience. The heart of that strategy should center around three interdependent components: hardware, software, and the network.

While the stakes are enormous, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and its $130 billion in new K-12 funding offers great hope that schools will be able to secure the technology, expertise- and resources they need to build an educational infrastructure for the next generation. Given the possibility that many students will spend one-fourth of their learning journey under these trying circumstances, making best use of those funds to implement a thoughtful technology strategy is more important than ever.…Read More

Delta variant forcing districts to find new ways to assess learning

At this point last year, we hoped we’d be on the other side of COVID-19. Instead, the combination of the Delta variant and a new school year means educators and administrators are finding themselves in a state of flux. Cases in school districts are on the rise. Large numbers of students are quarantining. In some instances, there aren’t enough teachers in school buildings to conduct in-person learning.

As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic, teachers are facing a whole new type of disruption to their ability to teach. Now more than ever, they need to be able to continually assess learning, to have a line of sight into what students know and what students do not yet know.

Why is it so hard right now?…Read More

Do your teachers think PD is a dirty word?

This past year, teachers were introduced to a lot of new technology to help facilitate distance learning. And, because of this, professional development (PD) time often morphed into technical training–how to use Zoom, how to best utilize a new learning app or software program, how to troubleshoot student device issues.

With so much on teachers’ plates, this so-called PD became draining. Teachers simply couldn’t spend any more valued time learning yet another new program. And they weren’t getting the important support they needed to make tactical pedagogical shifts for their evolving learning spaces.

Heading into a new school year, we have a chance to hit the reset button to restore true PD time into teachers’ schedules.…Read More

3 technologies needed for remote learning

As everyone spends the summer preparing for a new school year, many are preparing for virtual options to stick around post pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by Instructure, two-thirds of the educators surveyed believe remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future. But what will this future look like, exactly?

A recent survey of districts estimated 56 percent of schools will offer a remote learning option in the fall. One of the biggest lessons this past school year taught us was that educators teaching students online and in-person at the same time is typically not a successful teaching model. Moving forward, many districts offering a virtual option are planning to have virtual teachers solely with virtual students, while teachers back in their regular classrooms will only teach in-person students.

In this same survey, 89 percent of teachers said they taught online for the very first time during the pandemic. So as districts ask teachers to volunteer to switch to remote teaching, there are technology considerations to get in place this summer to help make teaching virtually this coming school year a success.  …Read More

8 COVID learning practices this district is keeping

As educators across the U.S. enter their classrooms for a new school year–one that is still a bit uncertain given concerns over new COVID variants and how to safely bring students back to school–many are bringing new strategies, tools, and practices with them.

While COVID presented educators with myriad challenges, it also prompted many to discover new ways to teach, to lead, and to inspire. In fact, many educators are starting this new school year with so-called “COVID learning practices”–tools, mindsets, and strategies they never used or knew about until COVID forced their hands.

One important–arguably the most important–lesson? Learning cannot return to how it was pre-COVID.…Read More

Assessing at Home i-Ready Diagnostic Kit Helps Educators Administer Diagnostics

After the extended period of distance learning this past spring, it is more important than ever that educators know students’ strengths and areas for growth as they enter the new school year. Beginning the year with an assessment like the i-Ready Diagnostic is critical to this effort. While assessing at home is challenging regardless of the test or provider, many schools successfully tested remotely this past spring. To support school reopening plans that may require educators to administer the i-Ready Diagnostic remotely, Curriculum Associates has created the Assessing at Home i-Ready Diagnostic Kit. The online kit includes a collection of turnkey tools for district leaders, school leaders, teachers, and families.

“As schools resume either in person or virtually, it’s critical that teachers know what each child knows and what they need to learn after months of lost learning,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “To support students beginning the year at home, teachers need tools and guidance to help families proctor the i-Ready Diagnostic so they can get the most accurate data to support their students.”

Drawing from lessons learned and tips from schools that successfully administered the i-Ready Diagnostic at home in the spring, the kit gives teachers resources to get their classes ready to assess at home. Teachers can access a checklist and calendar tool for planning key assessing at home activities. Additional resources include tips on proctoring assessments remotely, tools for communicating with families, and resources to motivate and celebrate students. District and school leaders have access to similar resources, specific to their own roles.…Read More

New McGraw Hill Assessment Solution Helps Teachers Support Students Who Have Fallen Behind Following COVID-19 Disruptions

As teachers prepare for classes to resume this fall, McGraw Hill today announced the launch of McGraw Hill Rise, a new reading and math supplement with embedded assessment and personalization to help educators identify and address individual learning gaps for each student. The new solution is intended to help ease the transition back to the new school year, regardless of teaching format, and ensure that every student is prepared to succeed this year and beyond.

 

“The extent to which COVID-19 has impacted student achievement, though uncertain, is likely significant. Teachers now, more than ever, need a consistent, convenient and customizable toolset to help document time on task and individual student progress through key learning objectives – all to help close those gaps,” said Sean Ryan, President of McGraw Hill’s School Group. “The use of data to make informed and personalized decisions is critical in determining where students are during and after a period of school disruption. Rise adapts and targets to each student’s needs helping educators create a comprehensive, individualized plan.”…Read More

PBS Offers At-Home Learning Broadcast and Digital Resources

As the nation prepares for the beginning of a new school year unlike any other, PBS and member stations are helping support educators, parents and caregivers with a variety of free high-quality, accessible educational media resources. Available to more than 97% of the country through over-the-air television access, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel(for young learners ages 2-8) and the WORLD channel At-Home Learning Service (for learners grades 6-12) will feature broadcast programming linked to at-home learning resources that can be used by educators to supplement distance learning plans, or by parents to provide added enrichment and support for children’s educational needs.

Research shows that more than 24 million Americans still lack access to fast and reliable broadband internet.* PBS has the ability to reach a majority of these households with free, over-the-air station broadcast and a deep trove of digital resources (PBS LearningMedia, pbskids.orgPBS KIDS for Parents, and more) designed to support both in-school and at-home learning for students, which was critical at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. When COVID-19 shut down schools across much of the country, PBS LearningMedia, an online destination that offers free access to thousands of classroom resources, saw its users quadruple to nearly 4 million per month. Additionally, young children’s engagement with PBS KIDS content increased notably, with reach growing by 15% among kids 2-8 on-air, streaming by nearly 30% and game play by 40%.**

Leading these charges locally, PBS stations across the country forged partnerships with their school districts to address specific, state standards-aligned educational needs in each community, including filming and broadcasting local teachers’ classroom lessons.…Read More