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Empathize: Gather information from users In action: Fourth-graders in Colorado solicited ideas from local residents to help their city redesign a local park.

Define: Frame the problem In action: Administrators in Glenbrook High Schools District 225 considered student experience when redesigning classrooms. They chose furniture that let learners move around. 

Some call design thinking a revolution in learning, while others see it as just the latest fad, better left to Silicon Valley charter schools.

Though not yet used widely in special education, virtual and augmented reality have the potential to be game-changers.

Dan Phillips, director of the Technology Resource Center at the Marin County Office of Education in California, has given VR headsets to children in wheelchairs, allowing them to walk and move virtually as they work on a 3D digital science curriculum.

Digital games excel at building a range of skills without students realizing they are “learning,” says Marissa Miller, a special education teacher at Warwick Neck Elementary, which is part of Warwick Public Schools in Rhode Island.

Some of these games come with puzzle pieces, styluses and other physical components.


Link to main story: Edtech equalizers in special education 

Students who have significant physical disabilities can benefit greatly from advances in “eye-gaze technology.”

With various platforms, students move their eyes to type letters or select pre-programed phrases. They can also navigate the internet and use computer programs with eye movements.


Link to main story: Edtech equalizers in special education 

Find out more about certifications programs for campus tech leaders, their team and district educators:

Canyons School District: https://etc.canyonsdistrict.org/etc/index.cfm


Link to main story: Edtech equalizers in special education

TOUCH POINTS—Apps have provided new, more nimble learning alternatives at Kent Intermediate School District in Michigan.

More elaborate technology has opened up more possibilities for students with a range of needs. In some schools, robots now help children develop social-emotional skills.

WARDROBE FUNCTIONS—Evanston Township High School District relaxed its dress code after students protested, saying the rules unfairly targeted girls. No disruptions due to students’ clothing choices have occurred since the change.

“Don’t blame boys’ bad behavior on the way we dress.” That’s the message that led Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico to adjust its dress code in spring 2018.

Dan Hamlin is a postdoctoral fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dan Hamlin, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Paul E. Petersen have examined data to see what impact states lowering the bar on academic proficiency have had on student achievement.

Teachers in the Susquehanna Township School District are finding success with their new curriculum mapping program using Chalk. With it, they can easily locate and align state standards with lesson plans, and if they have any questions, they can get live technical assistance through “Mr. Chalk,” an online chat feature operated by company employees.

Mr. Chalk used to be available only Monday to Friday, but not on weekends when many teachers were finishing lesson plans for submission to principals Sunday evenings. So Superintendent Dr. Tamara Willis made a call.

Peter DeWitt is a professional development coach and the creator of Collaborative Leadership, a PD service that combines transformational and instructional leadership, and that includes ways to engage the school community with a focus on learning.

Collaborative Leadership is a series of one to four workshops focusing on research-based influences that can foster a supportive and inclusive school climate, increase academic and social-emotional learning, and maximize the efficacy of every school stakeholder.

This spring, schools have experienced a profound increase in student suicides and attempts, as well as school shootings. Recognize that as bad as things have been this spring, things are likely to be worse next fall. Contention over race, origin, LGBTQ, and sexual assault/harassment will increase, along with contention over gun control in the context of a focus on school shootings. Schools must be prepared to go into the 2018-19 school year.

KOHLER, Wisconsin—When Superintendent Quynh Trueblood’s mind races in the middle of the night, she quickly finds herself using a mixing bowl and her oven. 

“When I bring in baked goods, people in the district know I couldn’t sleep,” says Trueblood, who has led the single-building Kohler Public Schools in Wisconsin for the past six years. 

“I slept so well when I was a teacher—I used to be a 10-hour-a-night sleeper, now I’m a 3-in-the-morning waker-upper.” 

Derrick Brown, CIO,  Evergreen Public Schools

Since joining Evergreen Public Schools four years ago, Derrick Brown has overseen implementation of a districtwide 1-to-1 program.

Looking to illustrate an abstract concept from a novel she’d read, an Oklahoma high school student turned to her building-level school librarian. Then, with the school librarian’s encouragement to tinker in the makerspace, the girl sculpted a clay model of a kneeling woman balancing a 3D-printed replica of the earth on her back.

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