Are gifted students now an underserved population?

With all of the focus on helping struggling students achieve grade-level proficiency, students at the very top end of the academic spectrum often aren’t getting the challenges they need to stay engaged in school or tap their full potential.

Matthew Jaskol aims to change that. He is the program director and co-founder of Pioneer Academics, which identifies and empowers high-achieving students with university professors so they can take part in challenging and creative research opportunities across a wide range of disciplines while still in high school.

In an interview, Jaskol explained the thinking this bold approach Pioneer invented six years ago—and how it can help keep gifted students engaged.…Read More

This “open” innovation may indicate the future of learning

My hometown of Gastonia is a quiet place. Scant traffic. Nice neighbors. Folks still offer you a sweet tea when you visit. By most accounts it’s a sleepy southern town, with roots in textiles and major manufacturers producing Wix air filters and Freightliner trucks. Just what you’d expect from a small town in the South. It’s my idea of heaven, but according to Wikipedia, its biggest claim to fame is that it is the second largest satellite city in the Charlotte metropolitan area.

But get ready. Gastonia, though small and unimpressive to fancy outsiders like Wikipedia, is poised to take advantage of one of the greatest sea changes taking place in education in the last 200 years. Don’t let the headlines and the small-town charm fool you. Gastonia has potential!

Even with all our new technology and the amazing strides we have made in the science of learning, our sons’ classrooms in Gastonia look a lot like my classroom did–and an awful lot like my father’s, who was born in 1923. My father attended classes for 11 years (there was no fourth year of high school then and no kindergarten), but even so, his classes were separated by grade levels and students were assessed by letter grades. Every student was required to learn the same things during the same chronological period. With no technology except a chalkboard, my father graduated high school as a very literate person who was highly proficient in mathematics and knew Latin and Greek.…Read More

How to protect school district servers from overseas cybercriminals

Beginning on September 13th, the hacker group known as the TheDarkOverLord Solutions, the same hackers that breached Netflix’s servers, breached a Montana school district’s server and stole personal information including addresses and medical records. The hackers made contact with school officials and families making violent physical threats late on Wednesday the 13th and the following Thursday. Schools across the area were closed down and extracurricular activities were cancelled the 14th-19th due to the threats, affecting over 15,000 students. On Monday night, the sheriff’s department released a 7-page ransom letter that was sent to the school board demanding a bitcoin payment to stop the threats and prevent the release of the stolen information. Law enforcement including the FBI and other agencies are working diligently to identify the whereabouts of the hackers and have encouraged recipients to not make contact with the hacker or pay the ransom.

While there is no imminent threat of real physical harm due to the believed overseas nature of the hacking group, what is most concerning is how easily the hackers were able to access the district’s servers–they shutdown an entire community for multiple days and stole stockpiles of information on staff as well as past and current students.

The district has decided to not pay the ransom, so there is the potential for identity theft to occur if the hackers decided to release or sell the stolen personal information on the dark web. Details of how exactly the breech occurred have yet to be released; however, it is most likely to be a part of a mass malware distribution that discovered a vulnerability in the small Montanan community and is now affecting the lives of hundreds who had their information stolen.…Read More

4 exciting trends that will define the 2018 education industry

The education industry saw so many notable, significant changes this past year–from an increased focus on augmented reality and other visual technologies to make learning come alive, to the “Googlification” of the classroom with Chromebooks and Google education apps becoming staples–we’ve reached the point where education technology is now the norm, not a luxury.

This makes looking ahead at 2018 exciting because there is so much opportunity for districts and educators to elevate their curriculum with innovation right at their fingertips. On top of that, there is promise for continued education outside of the classroom; just look at Google’s recent $1B pledge over the next five years to help train Americans for jobs in technology. Called Grow with Google, the program targets not only teachers and students, but also local business, job seekers, developers and startups to provide online training initiatives and programs to prepare for tech-focused careers.

The most hopeful potential impact of 2018’s edtech landscape is the opportunity for nurturing skills that will help students succeed in the future of work. Considering how robots could replace 38 percent of jobs in the U.S. over the next 15 years, it’s absolutely vital that we’re arming today’s students, from as early as kindergarten-age, with the ability to succeed once they enter the workforce.…Read More

Wow! District creates revolutionary computer science program for K-12 students

Through a partnership with nonprofit Nextech and a collaboration with Apple, the Metropolitan School District (MSD) of Decatur Township in Indiana became the first school district in the state to implement a K-12 Computer Science Pathway.

MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse, nationally recognized school district that uses an innovative and personalized, small-learning community approach. The entire district offers multiple learning pathways to its students, encouraging a deeper, more applicable learning environment.

An Exciting, New Computer Science Program…Read More

Hey educators: Are you trustworthy? Here are 4 vital signs for identifying and assessing trust in schools

[Editor’s note: This post is the second in a new column for eSchool News. In her column on ‘Personal Development’, eSchool News Columnist Jennifer Abrams focuses on tangible takeaways, tools and teachings that all those working in schools can use to develop their leadership. Read more about the column and browse future content here.]

Trust is a big word. It may be just one syllable and it’s certainly not a word the Spelling Bee organizers would consider a great challenge (or have on their radar at all), but in more important ways it is huge.

Its dictionary definition is well-known, easily understood, and…meaningless, most of the time. Because in schools, it’s the connotation we attach to the word and the deep reservoirs of associated emotion that determine how we truly define it. Trust is unwieldy, vague, and fuzzy. It’s complex, huge, and complicated. And, by the way, it is essential: research says trust is critical to our schools moving forward.…Read More

Textbooks optional: What unbundling and BYOD mean for learning technology

The days of overhead projectors and chalkboards are behind us. Today’s educators are looking to Chromebooks, smartphones and maker spaces to enhance their teaching. Other tools going the way of the overhead projector? The traditional textbook and workbook combination, complete with a #2 pencil. As digital natives, today’s students have grown up with technology integrated into every aspect of their lives, and education is no exception.

When it comes to middle schools and high schools, the average classroom looks more like a typical startup office than the traditional classroom of the past. As part of the macro trend of unbundling education, teachers are delivering a modern, customized curriculum by curating content in the form of videos, online text, and apps–moving beyond the physical textbooks.

In response, students are also choosing the devices they want to use for learning, and why shouldn’t they? Similar to the age-old Apple vs. Android debate, students tend to have personal preferences about the devices they use for learning.…Read More

3 reasons to introduce kindergarteners to robots

The children we teach were born with technology as a part of their lives. They don’t know a world without touchscreen phones and computers in every room. In today’s world, saying that subjects like coding and robotics “are for ‘big kids’” is like saying “reading is for ‘big kids.’”

As Robin Ricketts from The Steward School points out, if we wait until students are in middle school to hand them a book, we have not only devalued reading, we’ve also missed out on the opportunity to make reading easy and fun. The same is true of STEM literacy, which can no longer be considered optional.

Children need to actually touch, manipulate, and experiment with objects in order to fully understand them. Robots bring this physical interaction to the potentially intimidating process of understanding engineering and programming. If we add in the social interaction of working with friends, we can deepen the understanding through conversation and the sharing of ideas.…Read More

Teachers: How to use your voice for a positive school culture

[Editor’s note: This post is the first in a new column for eSchool News. In her column on ‘Personal Development’, eSchool News Columnist Jennifer Abrams focuses on tangible takeaways, tools and teachings that all those working in schools can use to develop their leadership. Read more about the column and browse future content here.]

Moving from the classroom into the role of a teacher leader and a coach was a transition, to say the least. I recognized I was credentialed in teaching students English language arts, but didn’t have a credential in communicating effectively with adults. I took workshops and courses on facilitation and coaching, but the idea of being a professional in a learning community who was an effective group member as well as a leader continues to be something I am growing into everyday.

The Use of Voice…Read More

3 ways Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers) paved the way for edtech

“Every one of us—no matter how much money we have—needs to know that there’s something about us worth giving.”– Fred Rogers.

Regardless of whether Mister Rogers’ puppets, trains, and soothing voice touched your childhood personally, he was inarguably a very “good neighbor” to millions of preschool children during his nearly 40 years of public broadcasting from 1963 to 2001. A pioneer in the new educational medium of television for children at its inception nearly 60 years ago, his gentle educational program was aimed at 2 to 5 year-olds, and not only touched the lives of millions children, but made a lasting impression on Edtech as a industry, and still guides the direction it is taking to this day.

Video: May 1, 1969: Fred Rogers testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications…Read More