“If it’s edtech, it must be good,” used to be the mantra in schools. In fact, many school technology plans fluctuated depending upon the latest fads and what someone learned at a conference and had little connection to curriculum or learning goals. Now, recognizing the disconnect between school and district leaders, the realities of the technology infrastructure, and classroom needs, CoSN and AASA have created the Empowered Superintendent initiative, which is dedicated to helping superintendents, aspiring superintendents and district leadership teams build their knowledge, skills and confidence as technology leaders. During “The Empowered Superintendent: Leading Digital Transformation,” the first in a new edWebinar series, Dr. David Schuler, Superintendent, Township High School District 214 (IL), and Dr. Chris Gaines, Superintendent, Mehlville School District (MO), along with host Ann McMullan, Project Director, CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program, discussed the goals of the program. Overall, they implored listeners to move away from using “tech for tech’s sake” and to become intentional adopters of technology that enhances teaching and learning.
A strong understanding of digital citizenship is essential for students of all ages to be able to make smart choices online and in life. Meanwhile, technology is constantly changing and becomes outdated quickly, so there are always new and important skills that must be taught. The new, free K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Education has lessons for all ages to address the current technology landscape. Common Sense Education’s Kelly Mendoza, Senior Director of Education Programs, and Jamie Knowles, Senior Manager of Educator Learning Programs, reviewed the new curriculum in “Digital Citizenship: New Lessons for a Changing World.”
Children cannot grow out of dyslexia. Rather, the dyslexia will only have more severe consequences over time with lack of intervention. It is critical to keep an eye out for all possible red flags at every grade level to understand when intervention is needed. In their recent edWebinar, Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D., and Tracy Block-Zaretsky, Co-founders of the Dyslexia Training Institute, reviewed, grade level by grade level, the potential warning signs of dyslexia.
Bad behavior is a snowball effect—it grows and grows until it can’t be stopped. If teachers don’t have a system in place for addressing that behavior from the beginning of the year, they will appear to have a lack of credibility and authority. In his recent edWebinar, Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal of Republic Middle School in Missouri, went over essentials for setting the school year up for success by starting out on the right foot.
Dignity—it’s not a word often associated with social media and online interaction. However, as part of a new education program from Seton Hall Law School’s Institute for Privacy Protection, communication, community, and dignity are key themes of the curriculum. Overall, the goal is to educate students and parents about privacy and technology overuse. But they try not to shame the students and parents, said Gaia Bernstein, law professor and director, Institute for Privacy Protection at the Seton Hall University School of Law, and Najarian Peters, Assistant Professor, Institute for Privacy Protection at Seton Hall Law School. During the recent edWebinar, “Educating Students and Parents About Privacy and Technology Overuse,” they explained it’s counterproductive to become another authority figure telling students what not to do. Instead, by encouraging students to share their stories and having them explain how technology impacts their lives, the program gives students the agency to take control over their technology use.
According to hillforliteracy.org, about 66% of 4th grade readers cannot read proficiently, which often translates into a growing achievement gap for these children. Why is reading such a difficult task to learn and teach? While humans are born with a natural ability for spoken language, reading is much different. In fact, Dr. Vera Blau-McCandliss, Vice President of Education and Research at Square Panda, said that reading is a relatively new and unnatural phenomenon which she described in “Reading and the Brain.”
A social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum adds valuable lessons to a student’s normal school day that will help propel them beyond academic success and onto success in life too. No matter the program, there are common practices that lead to creating a successful and sustainable SEL environment. The presenters of “7 Must-Haves for Successful and Sustainable Social-Emotional Learning” reviewed these common practices and shared how they work in their district and school.
In an age where students seem to be attached to tech, why not take that as an educational opportunity? With WhatsApp being such a popular messaging app, there is a good chance students already have it. With the free app’s numerous features, it’s a natural choice for communication and more between teachers, students, and even parents. Meanwhile, Edulastic provides an easy way to create formative assessments and analyze data. In his recent edWebinar, Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, described how WhatsApp can be used for educational purposes, and discussed how teachers can use Edulastic.
Questioning the quality of instructional materials isn’t new to the digital education era. But with the rise of OER, growing use of supplemental resources over core textbooks, and the increasing flexibility of state funding, more purchasing decisions have moved to the school and district level. Thus, there is the potential for more disparity in the quality of materials from school to school. Confronted by concerns from their members that schools and districts might not be buying the best quality resources, SETDA updated its Guide to Quality Instructional Materials, which was introduced during the edWebinar “From Print to Digital: Discover and Implement Quality Instructional Materials for Learning.” The emphasis of the Guide, said Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director for SETDA, is not on critiquing specific content but in helping educators develop an ongoing review process and giving content providers a concrete outline for how the process should work.
With 10 million students in grades K-12 struggling to read, taking those struggling readers from disengaged to enthused may seem like a huge feat. However, doing just one thing to take action can cause a wave of reaction throughout the entire school. In a recent edWebinar, Nelda Reyes, a dyslexia interventionist at De Zavala Elementary in San Marcos CISD, TX, shared how she was able to establish a culture of reading at her school by creating a sense of belonging, building awareness, and never taking no for an answer.