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When best practices are engaged in blended learning, authentic personalized learning can happen for all students. Understanding ten key trends happening in the blended learning space can help educators achieve optimal results for students and schools. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 20, 2014, featured education experts who discussed these trends and how blended learning can be successfully implemented. In addition, a principal shared his school’s interpretation of blended learning and how it has resulted in improved student achievement.

Administrators at Greenwich Public Schools, in southwestern Connecticut, had been looking for a content management system that would bring all their existing online tools together for their instructional staff and 8,500 students. They also wanted to provide new online tools to their youngest students to help them develop digital literacy skills. “About two or three years ago, we realized we had many overlapping functions in learning systems, which was creating a lot of redundancies,” says Phillip Dunn, director of digital learning and technology.

Developing 21st-century skills are essential for today’s students to meet state standards, perform on assessments, and be college and career ready. When a project-based approach is used, educators can incorporate 21st-century skills into everyday teaching and learning. These digital skills also help to improve the critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity of students. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on March 5, 2014, experts from Learning.com discussed best practices for developing these skills in the classroom.

The latest notification systems enable district administrators to communicate instantly and across a variety of platforms to parents, teachers, staff and communities, from any location and in multiple languages. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 11, 2014, a director of educational technology and a 15-year educational leadership veteran shared their experiences using this technology in their districts, how such systems keep the community informed and engaged and the keys to using automated communications effectively and efficiently in any district.

The upcoming PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments require students to use secure, locked-down machines. When district leaders invest in this equipment, they should also consider selecting devices that will support increased student achievement and college and career success, such as Google Chromebooks. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2014, featured a Google for Education team member, who discussed the unique benefits of Chromebooks and how these machines can be used for online assessments.

Since Lancaster School District (Calif.) is a K8 school system, Rebecca Cooksey, director of IT, knows that none of her students have optimal listening skills yet. “Students’ audio processing tracks are not fully developed until they are 15,” Cooksey says. And the 25 percent of Lancaster’s 14,000 students who are ELL face additional challenges in listening to and processing information presented orally by teachers. “It is important for ELL students to hear the way teachers pronounce words, and the nuances in their voice,” Cooksey says.

Giving every student a more personalized learning experience is made possible through blended learning. The use of rigorous, engaging learning technology can help increase student achievement in mathematics. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 27, 2014, featured an administrator who discussed how she achieved teacher and parent buy-in for a blended learning model, how data extracted from learning technology drives instruction, and the measurable increase in student achievement after she implemented blended learning.

A video surveillance system, a necessity for districts today, must be properly managed to reap its greatest benefits. Disturbance alerts and mobile device access are two features that can help district leaders utilize their surveillance system effectively. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 6, 2014, featured a video surveillance expert who discussed features to look for in surveillance software, how to reduce the costs associated with surveillance software, and the importance of integrating fire alarms and panic buttons into the surveillance system.

Whether assessments administered in a district are producing useful data can be determined through establishing a comprehensive assessment plan. Assessments should support a district’s strategic plan and determine student progress according to Common Core State Standards. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 20, 2014, featured experts in curriculum development and school improvement, who presented the best ways to develop strategic assessment plans, how to determine assessment effectiveness, and how to inform stakeholders of student progress.

High-quality before- and after-school programs have the potential to enhance student engagement and improve academic achievement, by extending the school day in a fun, safe and relaxed environment. However, there are important factors to consider in selecting programs for a district, as well as determining the quality and effectiveness of existing before- and after-school programs.

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