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Articles: Technology

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.

Today’s educators need versatile products that can be used to teach more than one aspect of STEAM. Schools want to engage students with hands-on activities that, for example, blend art and reading with core science and math instruction.

ACTION—Students at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, New York, write and shoot their interpretations of classic literature as part of English curriculum.

At New Rochelle High School, about 20 miles north of New York City, students use smartphones and tablets to create short movies based on classic works of literature.

Springfield Public Schools is the largest district in Missouri, serving some 25,000 students and employing 4,000 staff members across 36 elementary schools, an intermediate school, nine middle schools, five high schools, a center for gifted education and an early childhood center. Personalization is one of the district’s themes, reflected in its motto—“Engaging. Relevant. Personal.”—as well as in a school choice program that offers over a dozen unique learning options through academies and other alternatives.

While online curricula platforms have propelled personalized learning to new levels, Coppell ISD in north Texas takes the concepts a step further.

When the central Connecticut town of Cheshire moved to reduce power use, it upgraded six of its eight public schools with the latest internet of things technology. The plan combined energy-efficient LED fixtures with sensors and cloud-based servers that automatically turn the lights off in an empty room or adjust brightness.

The district cut its electricity bill by 84 percent, saving about $390,000 out of an annual $65 million budget.

Los Angeles USD and the New York City Department of Education both received electronic bomb threats on December 15, 2015. LAUSD called off school. New York students remained in class. Which district made the right call?

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