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Serving Students Who Are Homeless is one of the four books on education DA promotes in this month's Noteworthy Books feature.

DA promotes four books about serving homeless students, inspiring disengaged kids, improving communication skills and studying personalized learning in K12.

Hardware and software increasingly include assistive technology features as standard items to help students in K12 and beyond. (GettyImages.com: Ilyast)

The ever-increasing pace and variety of technological developments continues to be a challenge for K12 assistive technology products.

This education guide explores the ways new technology and designer mindsets engage students in science.

Books on improving teachers, engaging science students, evaluating second languages and teaching media literacy education.

This year, District Administration’s Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products features selections from more than 1,500 nominations that range from cutting-edge student information systems and cloud-based security to innovative gamification software and state-of-the-art classroom projectors.

Administrators and school leaders nationwide have shared feedback on a wealth of education resources to help their K12 peers find the best products to achieve district excellence.

K12 educators increasingly embrace life skills curricula that promote social-emotional learning, mindfulness, problem-solving and other soft skills. Many districts no longer view such programs as “nice to have,” but as essential components of overall instruction.

When it comes to data analytics, Maribeth Luftglass,CIO at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, focuses on ensuring privacy of all student data. And, she adds, it should be a top concern for all CIOs. (Photo: Donnie Biggs, Fairfax County Schools)

Just a few years ago, CIOs—if they were involved in data analytics at all—would run a report, export it into an Excel document and share it with teachers and district leaders once a week or at the end of each semester. Now it’s all about creating systems that aggregate and sort data automatically, making it easier for educators to view crucial information every day

The maker movement is poised to transform K12 learning. Makerspaces—workshop areas that provide tools and raw materials for students to invent, create, collaborate and learn—reinforce STEM skills and enable more authentic learning. While there are a variety of ways to design and build makerspaces, there are some key strategies administrators can employ to ensure their program is successful.

WHO KNOWS THE ANSWER?—A teacher at Immaculata-La Salle High School in Miami reviews an analysis report with her students to discover concepts they are struggling with to better inform instruction for the rest of the class.

Two decades ago, most student response systems were simple clickers that could only record and display answers to multiple-choice or yes-no questions. But now, many systems let students enter free-form responses to questions. Teachers can see those responses as they are entered, and can provide immediate feedback.

As teaching has evolved with the increase of educational technology, so has the classroom space itself. Many schools are creating more comfortable, coffee shop-like collaborative environments with a new breed of desks, chairs and work tables.

While robotics is two to three years away from mainstream adoption in K12 education, potential uses are gaining traction for hands-on learning. Many classes and clubs incorporate robotics and programs to help develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

Robots Rev Up Classes: Advances in technology bring the use of more robots, like the one at the right, to K12 classrooms—to help students with everyday core subjects, or to cater to homebound students.

McKenna Smith, a high school student in Missouri’s Nixa Public Schools, had been unable to attend classes since elementary school because of chemotherapy treatment. But she didn’t miss as much interaction with teachers and classmates as she could have because she connected with them remotely—via robot.

Model students: Students at Cupertino High School in California learn the basics of math modeling during an AoCMM workshop.

High school math classes focus traditionally on solving equations. The world of mathematical modeling emphasizes creating equations.

The nonprofit Association of Computational and Mathematical Modeling is developing a free mathematical modeling curriculum that it plans to share with teachers by early 2017. It will show students how to construct equations that solve complex real-world engineering, science and computing problems.

Educational publishers say they understand the draw of free or one-off materials for purchase online. But they caution administrators: Just because you can build a car from parts and tutorial videos from the internet, it doesn’t mean it makes sense.

Many publishers employ experts who have doctorates in instructional and curriculum design—which they say is a different skill set from classroom teaching.

SIS vendors are working to develop technologies that work across all platforms and are cloud-based. Particular effort is being devoted to the design of user interfaces to create easy and intuitive functionality so that accessing an SIS is as simple as navigating a social media program on a phone.

Measuring movement: The Polar GoFit Ecosystem includes a wristband or chest-based heart rate monitor and fitness assessment software to measure a student’s physical intensity and exertion.

Digitizing education content and learning processes has changed the way students learn and interact during classroom sessions, according to Technavio’s report, “Classroom Wearables Technology Market in the U.S. 2016-2020.”

So classrooms emphasize collaborative learning and visual learning, says Technavio analyst Jhansi Mary J.

Using wearable technology will significantly increase student engagement levels and improve content absorption abilities, says Jhansi Mary J.

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