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As in districts elsewhere, curriculum directors at Garland ISD in Texas were facing a challenge in their efforts to formalize progress monitoring in classrooms: It was very time-consuming to create assessment questions that accurately reflected state standards.

As district administrators nationwide are cutting summer school programs due to budget shortfalls, with some using the last of their stimulus money to retain teaching positions, other districts are prioritizing these programs. They know that, particularly for high poverty students, cutting programming means learning setbacks and a precarious time with few opportunities for physical activity, academic and cultural enrichment, creative exploration, or in some cases, proper nutrition.

School districts gather an overwhelming amount of information from testing, attendance and disciplinary actions each day. But often they find — as the Ozark School District did — that they are data-rich and information-poor.

District Administration aired a Web seminar in April, “Using Smartphones in K12 Classrooms Today: From Why to How,” that gathered experts in mobile learning. They discussed their own programs in the Katy (Texas) Independent School District, the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Central School District, and St. Marys City (Ohio) Schools.

After discussing these programs, which are explained in our Mobile Learning Pioneers special section in this issue and which are linked below, they answered various questions from the participants in the Web seminar.

 

When seeking technology funding, don't overlook new or obscure grant sources, even if their connection to K12 may not be obvious at first glance.

 

CDI HAS ALWAYS SHIPPED FREE REPLACEMENT PARTS for its recertified computers, no questions asked. But for some clients, waiting for even overnight delivery of a critical component means too much downtime.

 

Sanija Hodzic has been employed by CDI for 11 years, the last two as customer service manager. He has reason to be proud of his work: A company survey last year found that 93 percent of CDI's customers would recommend the computer refurbisher to a family member or friend.

CDI has joined forces with Numonics to offer cost-effective interactive whiteboards as part of its comprehensive technology solutions for schools.

Numonics, based in Montgomeryville, Pa., developed the first pen-centric interactive whiteboard in 1994 and continues to provide innovations in the field. CDI is North America's leading supplier of certified refurbished computer equipment for the educational market.

<b>What are your district's key technology goals?</b>

We're trying to move forward to all 21st century classrooms. Each classroom would have an interactive smartboard, a projector, wireless connectivity and a computer unit to hook into. Eventually we'd have integrated audio, too.

Getting technology into the classroom is tough in an era of budget cuts. Not to mention the difficulty of finding items that actually fit into a teacher's lesson plans.

With oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling explosion and experts scrambling to discover the elusive solution that will halt the unceasing flow of pollutants, it's time to begin grappling with the necessary question that legislators, bureaucrats and everyday citizens must now address: How do we prevent this kind of disaster from happening again?

1830:

The first common, or public, schools open in St. Augustine and Tallahassee.

1869:

The legislature establishes a state board of education.

1954:

The Supreme Court rules against segregated schools, including those in Florida, in Brown v. Board of Education.

1959:

More than 200,000 Cuban refugees fleeing the Castro regime come to south Florida over the next decade. Schools in Dade County eventually invest more than $100 million in bilingual education programs.

Four years ago, the growing pains at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Texas were getting severe.

The district was adding 4,000 students a year, and the percent of children from families living below the poverty level was growing by about 3 percent annually. The ELL population also was growing.

This is a digest of a District Administration Web Seminar. Participants were Terry Abbott, founder of Drive West Communications; Michael Ebner, collaboration solutions specialist for Insight; and Michael Kuhrt, superintendent of the Giddings (Texas) ISD.

When Adam Fletcher was hired as the student engagement specialist for Washington state's education department 10 years ago, it didn't take him long to realize how difficult his newly created job would prove. "No one was talking about the roles of students other than as learners," says Fletcher, referring to a state teachers' conference early in his career. "They laughed out loud at the proposal of students being partners in school improvement. It really was preposterous to them."

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