9 TED-Ed Lessons about different holiday origins

Most schools are gearing up for December break, and students’ attention spans are likely to grow shorter each day. But crafting a video-based lesson that explores different holidays is a surefire way to boost student engagement.

These TED-Ed Lessons cover Labor Day origins, they examine why we celebrate Groundhog Day, they delve into St. Patrick’s Day, and more.

The TED-Ed platform is especially cool because educators can build lessons around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk, or YouTube video.…Read More

Give teachers ownership to make computer science a success

Well-intended computer science initiatives are often met with reluctance and resistance before they even get off the ground. Teachers may see the new initiative as “just another thing” on their plate or may feel ill-prepared to tackle an entirely new discipline.

To ensure a smooth transition to teaching computer science, campus and district leaders will need to empower teachers with ownership of the change, versus simply asking them to comply with it.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your teachers are provided with space, support, and resources that will help them confidently assume ownership over the implementation of computer science initiatives.…Read More

Hey teachers–what is your ‘why?’

More than half of the teachers in the US are seriously considering leaving the profession earlier than planned. A number of factors have led to this, including Covid-19 learning interruptions, lack of resources and support for teachers, and more.

Right now, teachers are also experiencing burnout at an all-time high. This has shown to impact our students’ learning and future success. In fact, both teacher burnout and constant turnover have serious negative consequences for students. Teachers who are highly dissatisfied with their job and have intentions of leaving can impact their effectiveness and disrupt students’ academic progress.

While the burden to improve teacher conditions lies with school districts, communities, and legislators, both teachers and students benefit when teachers intentionally reflect on and connect with the current that moves them to be a teacher. Every teacher has a reason that drives them to teach–whether it is connecting with learners, sharing content you feel passionate about, believing that every learner deserves a high-quality education, or something else. Every teacher has a “why,” and school districts, departments, and teachers can intentionally build in opportunities for teachers to reflect on their why and connect with colleagues who may share that “why.”…Read More

Modern students need modern librarians

When you think of a school librarian, what comes to mind? Is it shelving, stamping, and shushing? That’s the stereotype you’re probably most familiar with.

Librarians are so much more than this, though. We’re the keepers of the information, the resource kids use to explore new lands through the turning of pages – but our role as librarians is one that has historically been misunderstood. Because as times have changed, technology has advanced, and student needs have evolved—so, too, has the role of the librarian.

Who is the modern librarian?…Read More

Pennsylvania Evidence Resource Center Adds IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts to List of Evidence-Based Resources for Schools

HARRISBURG, Penn.  — IXL, the personalized learning platform used by more than 13 million students, announced that the Pennsylvania Evidence Resource Center (ERC) has added IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts (ELA) to its list of evidence-based resources. The ERC’s approval signals to educators that IXL Math and IXL ELA have rigorous research supporting their effectiveness in the Keystone State. IXL is used by nearly 30 percent of all K-12 students in Pennsylvania, accounting for more than 560,000 learners.

The Evidence Resource Center is a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and provides lists of effective learning resources to the state’s educators. Following its review of IXL’s quasi-experimental research, The IXL effect: Measuring the impact of IXL Math and IXL Language Arts in Pennsylvania schools, the ERC determined that the study met ESSA Tier 2 standards for evidence-based interventions in each subject and added the resources to its list. 

The study investigated hundreds of public schools in Pennsylvania that used IXL Math or IXL ELA. Using data from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone Exams, the study found that schools using IXL outperformed schools not using IXL in math and ELA on each exam. Additionally, an analysis showed that if students mastered just one more IXL skill per week, schools would increase their proficiency rate by 13 points in math and 15 points in ELA. …Read More

5 tools every school tech director should use

Teaching methods have changed dramatically over the last few years, leading to numerous electronic resources entering the classroom. This makes school IT a formidable challenge—security experts have to juggle budget constraints with heavy traffic on the network due to a huge number of connected devices.

There is no stopping the use of technology to enhance student engagement and learning. Therefore, cybersecurity concerns are increasing along with K–12 schools’ dependence on technology.

While no network is impervious to assaults, a reliable and effective network security solution is crucial for safeguarding student data and decreasing districts’ vulnerability to data theft and sabotage.…Read More

In post-COVID schools, let’s redouble efforts to support students

The other day, my friend’s high school daughter complained, “It’s not fair!” “What’s not fair?” her mother asked. “Everyone is cheating!” her daughter replied. “They started doing it during COVID, and now it’s a habit.” Unfortunately, academic dishonesty is just one example of the many negative consequences of the COVID pandemic.

In hindsight, we have ample evidence that remote learning during COVID increased hardships for PK-12 students, both academically and non-academically. Some students lacked necessary resources. In one study, even after all students were provided with a laptop computer, internet access, and headphones, low-income students’ school attendance and engagement were consistently less frequent than their higher-income peers (An, 2021). Food insecurity also increased during COVID, partly due to the hiatus of school breakfast, lunch, and take-home snack pack programs (Parekh et al., 2021). And worst of all, children at home during COVID were twice as likely to experience physical abuse and three times likely to experience emotional abuse during the pandemic than in prior years (Park & Walsh, 2022).

Without a doubt, remote learning during COVID was distressing for students, with 71 percent of parents in one study reporting that the pandemic had “taken a toll on their child’s mental health” (Abramson, 2022, para. 2). …Read More

Growing ransomware threats require maximum data protection

Higher education institutions and K-12 schools are still reeling from the changes made during the pandemic, and the looming threat of a ransomware attack continues. Sixty-four percent of higher education institutions were hit by ransomware in the last year – a significant increase from 44 percent the previous year.

Institutions are attractive targets for bad actors, as they often lack a resilient IT infrastructure, operate with tight budgets and stretched IT teams, and struggle to secure outdated infrastructure with limited resources. Modern institutions run on data, making a meaningful data protection strategy essential.

Ensuring continuity of learning and research is a top priority for higher education institutions as any disruption threatens the student, educator, and researcher experience. They can benefit from solutions that prioritize data protection against changing ransomware threats – and investing in data-centric, flexible, and scalable solutions offers secure and reliable data protection.…Read More

5 ways to use ESSER funds to create cleaner environments

Funding is often schools’ biggest obstacle when it comes to enhancing the learning environment beyond the basics.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is providing a significant influx of resources for schools across the nation. However, an interesting problem revealed itself as schools find themselves struggling to decide how to spend the largely unexpected funds. In fact, according analysis of the federal ESSER data by the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 19.1 percent of the program’s funding has been used as of Feb. 28, 2022.

The relief package, which provided nearly $190.5 billion to the ESSER Fund through three separate stimulus bills, is incredibly helpful and impactful in addressing the impact that COVID-19 has on schools across the U.S. For many schools, which are historically underfunded and lacked resources, this money gives them the opportunity to make facility updates that have been needed for years.…Read More

6 classroom tech tools that help educators’ mental health

Many teachers are embracing the return to a standard classroom setting. Naturally, some are worried about how much stress will come with trying to get students settled into in-person classes again.

Educators must receive ample support for mental and emotional well-being, as the strain of returning to normal will likely impact their mental strength and emotional wellness. Classroom tech can help relieve some of the stress educators carry and help them successfully navigate mental health challenges.

Video Conferencing…Read More