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Articles: Technology

Every morning, principals in the West Bridgewater School District in Massachusetts get on the PA system to lead students through a few minutes of mindful breathing exercises.

The IRS is warning district officials: Be wary of phishing scams targeting tax forms and other sensitive employee data. Over two dozen school districts have fallen victim to these attacks in recent months.

Journalism classes at Junction City High School in Kansas—100 miles west of Kansas City—use the short-lived social media app Snapchat to learn long-lived lessons of storytelling.

Tina Weaver is director of teaching and learning for Madison County Public Schools in Virginia.

Seeking alternatives to expensive professional development that takes teachers out of their classrooms and requires substitutes, Madison County Public Schools in Virginia developed a solution.

Telemedicine, in which a remote doctor or physician’s assistant provides health care via the internet, has caught on in the business world and is now making its way into public schools.

OPEN PRESS—Students who write news stories at Kirkwood High School have freedom. Writing without needing administrator approval on stories teaches the full scope of the First Amendment, the principal says.

Neither Principal Mike Havener nor any of his administrators preview stories the students at Kirkwood High School produce for their TV broadcast, or for The Kirkwood Call newspaper or its website.

Educators want more effective ways to implement new teaching methods into lesson plans. The PD market is advancing, offering flexible and sustainable solutions rather than one-off workshops, lectures and in-service programs.

Hattiesburg School District designs technology training to empower teachers to take charge of their own professional development by letting them decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn it and how. 

WIDER WORLDVIEWS—At Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies in Washington, students Skype with their partner class in Brazil as part of UNESCO International’s Youth Virtual Town Hall on Global Citizenship. They worked on projects focused on sustainability, human rights and other topics.

In rural eastern Kentucky, teacher Jill Armstrong connects her high school students not just with towering historical figures, but also with real-live teens from schools on the other side of the world.

The E-rate program, which is entering its 20th cycle and is worth about $4 billion, is still giving. It can still help districts connect their school buildings to the internet—unbeknownst to some leaders, says John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning consulting firm.

Phishing attacks often involve receiving an email with an attachment or link from what appears to be a colleague’s email address.

It’s typically altered by just one letter—for example, instead of j.jones@schoolsample.org, it may be j.jones@schoolsanple.org (the “m” is replaced with an “n”). A user may not notice the subtle character change and click on an attachment (unleashing a virus or malware), or follow a link to a phony site that lures them into revealing private information.

Nationally, ransomware attacks surged from 4 million incidents in 2015 to nearly 638 million last year—a jump of 15,850 percent—according to a report from network security firm SonicWall.

Janna Payne Sells remembers well “the crate”—a 75-pound behemoth crammed with 200-plus folders she needed to review as instructional facilitator for an inner-city, dual-immersion, Title I elementary school. 

Sells, now district MTSS coordinator for the 20,000-student Iredell-Statesville Schools in North Carolina, also remembers her initial reaction to RtI: Stored!, an online platform that houses all data and documentation collected and completed through the Response to Intervention/Multi-Tier System of Supports process. 

For administrators taking on the challenge of turning around failing schools, developing a strategic focus for improvement efforts is crucial. The Stringfellow Elementary School—a pre-K through 5 school in the Colquitt County Schools in Georgia—had been one of the lowest-performing schools in the state, was given a failing grade by the Georgia DOE and was under risk of state takeover.

In the Wright City R-II School District in Missouri, the Wright City Academy provides online alternative education and credit recovery programs for at-risk high school students attending Wright City High School. In 2013, the academy began using Fuel Education original credit courses and credit recovery courses, helping the school meet a wide range of intervention and improvement needs while turning frustrated and unsuccessful students into motivated learners who take pride in their work and aspire to earn their high school diploma.

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