What do administrators need to know ahead of the 2020 E-rate filing season? | Education Dive

By Roger Riddell

Though the filing window closes in February, it’s never too early to start the planning and paperwork for E-rate funds from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The program’s impact has been critical to broadband connectivity for many schools, especially when it comes to ensuring infrastructure is up-to-date and there’s enough bandwidth for the ballooning amount of tech in classrooms. This only grows in importance as more states take their annual standardized exams digital, particularly for rural schools and low-income schools at large.

Source: What do administrators need to know ahead of the 2020 E-rate filing season? | Education Dive

33 states adopted 57 computer science ed policies since 2018 | Education Dive

By Naaz Modan

As there is a national push for increased computer science literacy, many states are requiring high schools to offer courses in the subject, with some districts even making computer science a requirement for graduation. Some states are even requiring elementary and middle schools to offer computer science, the report says.

Georgia is among those phasing in the change through an incremental approach over the course of six years. The state has put in place benchmarks to see the plan through:

Source: 33 states adopted 57 computer science ed policies since 2018 | Education Dive

Parents of Kids With Special Needs Find Advice Navigating The System Online – Mindshift

By Laura McKenna

When Stasi Webber decided it was time to uproot her family from their Michigan home to find a better school for her 11-year-old son with autism, she turned to the internet for answers.

The public schools in her state don’t provide the specialized behavioral and life skills training, known as ABA therapy, that her son needs; he skips school every Tuesday and Thursday to receive these essential services. But recently, Webber learned from parents on social media that her son could get both academics and ABA training in schools in New Jersey, where she grew up.

With a tentative plan of returning to her childhood home in Mahwah, she found three or four local social media sites run by special education parents and asked about ABA services at the local district, its willingness to send students to specialized schools and comparisons with nearby towns. She put her house on the market.

Source: Parents of Kids With Special Needs Find Advice Navigating The System Online – Mindshift

‘Paperless First Day’ attendance recording boosts efficiency – Education Dive

Districts considering major paperless transitions should heed Jones’ advice about providing ample training ahead of time. Videos work well for new processes in many cases because they can be viewed independently and rewatched for further clarity.

The long-term benefits of going paper-free also pay off on the initial investment. Printing, copying and distributing paper documents is a waste of time, money and resources, with schools spending an average of $50,000 a year on paper and ink. Today’s students also often prefer to work on screens rather than paper.

Source: ‘Paperless First Day’ attendance recording boosts efficiency – Education Dive

Hackers’ Latest Target: School Districts – New York Times

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Some hackers demand ransom; others sweep up personal data for sale to identity thieves. But whatever hackers’ motives, school systems around the country have been the targets of their cyberattacks.

One attack forced the Houston County School District in Dothan, Ala., to delay the first day of school for 6,400 students. Others crippled computer systems at the Syracuse City School District in upstate New York and at three school districts in Louisiana.

Many public institutions, including hospitals, local governments and colleges, have been hit with ransomware attacks in recent years, but school districts have proved particularly enticing to hackers because they hold troves of private data and often lack the resources to fend off intruders.

Source: Hackers’ Latest Target: School Districts – New York Times

Is Wi-Fi a Health Threat in Schools? Sorting fact from fiction – Education Next

By Kenneth R. Foster

Since the early 2000s, when wireless connectivity and the Internet evolved into everyday technologies, they have come to pervade our home and work lives, revolutionizing the way we share and access information. Wi-Fi circuits, which connect a device to a wireless network and the Internet, are incorporated into billions of devices, ranging from bathroom scales and “smart” electric outlets to equipment that streams movies and music. Wi-Fi is installed on our smartphones and laptops, at home and in the workplace, in cafés and airports, and of course, in schools everywhere.

Digital learning and wireless connectivity have become so entrenched in schools that many educators now consider high-speed Internet access a requirement for effective teaching. The federal government, via the Federal Communications Commission, subsidizes wireless connectivity and other technology in schools through its E-rate program.

Source: Is Wi-Fi a Health Threat in Schools? Sorting fact from fiction – Education Next : Education Next

Video skills are a valuable gateway to digital literacy | Education Dive

By Lauren Barack

At Armstrong Jr-Sr High School in Pennsylvania’s Armstrong School District (ASD), students who take video production classes learn far more than how to interview people, use TV equipment and edit video — they’re learning to look critically at the world around them.

“I feel we’re teaching them real life skills, how things are created, why interviews are conducted the way they are,” Chris Garritano told Education Dive. “But we’re also teaching them how to interpret what they see in real life.”

Students can start taking some of the classes their sophomore year of school and continue through senior year. There’s a weekly TV show, shot with a three-camera setup in the district’s TV studio, that runs about 25 to 30 minutes. Students also produce a live show called Talent Talk that’s shorter, often seven to 10 minutes, said Garritano, ASD’s multi-media technician, whose primary responsibility is running the TV studio and equipment.

Source: Video skills are a valuable gateway to digital literacy | Education Dive

Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Rodney Okamoto as Director of the Technology Services Division. His division provides the California Department of Education with Information Technology (IT) leadership, technical services, and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enables it to deliver effective education services in California.

Okamoto most recently served as IT Manager II, overseeing the Information Systems and Services Office in the Technology Services Division. During his more than 20 years at the California Department of Education, he has chaired the multi-state Smarter Balanced Technology Workgroup and served as California’s IT Readiness Coordinator. His efforts were a major reason California was recognized for the most successful implementation of computer-based assessments in the country.

“Rodney has demonstrated a wealth of knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills. His team-oriented personality will help the CDE fulfill its mission of providing California students a world-class education in our multicultural, multilingual, and highly connected world,” Torlakson said. “Utilizing technology strengthens education for our students, as well as the educational support happening in our Department and at schools throughout California.”

Source: Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

School Bond Measures On November Ballot – SFGate

Two cannabis tax measures, three school bond measures and a sales tax measure are on ballots around Solano County for the Nov. 6 election.

Voters in Suisun City and Benicia will consider a cannabis industry general tax that requires majority approval.

The tax rate under Measure C in Suisun City would be no more than 15 percent of gross receipts and $25 per square foot of space used for commercial cannabis activities.

The estimated $2 million in annual tax revenue will pay for public safety, street maintenance and other city services until voters repeal it.

Source: Cannabis, Street Repair Sales Taxes, School Bond Measures On November Ballot – SFGate

How To Use Chromebooks For Powerful Creation in School | MindShift

By Katrina Schwartz

As technology becomes more ubiquitous in classrooms, many schools are choosing Chromebooks because it’s one of the least expensive devices, a big win for schools balancing spending priorities. A 2017 report of the education market found Chromebooks dominate with 58 percent of the market for school mobile device purchases. But many teachers aren’t using these new tools for much more than notetaking and slideshow presentations.

Tanya Avrith is a self-proclaimed techy-teacher. She piloted iPads in one school she worked at and Chromebooks in another. “By January I felt like I hit a wall,” Avrith said. She found the Chromebook more limited for student project creation than iPads and started digging for Google apps and plug-ins that could add functionality.

She teamed up with Holly Clark, an education strategist, to write “The Google Infused Classroom,” a book they hope will help teachers see Chromebooks as more than a testing device or an expensive notebook.

Source: How To Use Chromebooks For Powerful Creation in School | MindShift | KQED News

Kindness Campaign seeks student videos – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Students in seventh through 12th grades are encouraged to participate in a countywide video contest that underscores the impact of positive behavior in Solano County.

The Kindness Campaign student video contest, sponsored by 4th District Supervisor John Vasquez and District Attorney Krishna Abrams, invites students to produce and submit a video that is between 30 seconds and two minutes in length that expresses what the power of kindness can accomplish at school, at home and in our communities to make a positive difference.

All videos must be submitted by or before April 20.

Source: Kindness Campaign seeks student videos

Google it: Armijo High students experience augmented reality – Daily Republic

By Bill Hicks

High school students staring off into space is nothing new. But hundreds of students over the past two days at Armijo High School experienced that sensation in a different way.

With the assistance from a Google contractor, nearly 700 Armijo High students got to experience a range of different augmented reality and virtual reality applications designed to help enhance education.

Librarian Denise Monegato helped bring the Google program to campus, hoping it would plant the seeds for students and teachers to think about ways emerging technologies can benefit the educational experience.

“I wanted to promote this as a tool students and teachers could use in the classroom,” Monegato said. “You can do so much with this technology: You can look at sharks from underwater, you can visit the Roman Colosseum, you can visit Westminster Abbey.”

Source: Google it: Armijo High students experience augmented reality

School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As Measure S bond projects continue to move along, attendees of this Thursday’s school board meeting can get a greater understanding of which projects have been completed, which ones are nearing completion and which projects will be taken on next. The discussion will be presented by Bond Director Roxanne Egan.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at each of the Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. As of Dec. 31, 11 projects had been completed, technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, playground modernizations at the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School, painting the exteriors at Benicia High School and renovating Benicia High’s stadium.

Egan also identified 10 approved bond projects in progress. These include fire alarm replacements at Liberty High School and the District Office as well as Mary Farmar, Joe Henderson and Robert Semple elementary schools, a fire alarm upgrade at Matthew Turner Elementary School, a modernization of Benicia Middle School’s campus, miscellaneous infrastructure upgrades, alternative education improvements and repairing the gym floor at Benicia High. Another approved project is improvements to Benicia High’s Performing Arts Building, which Egan said is part of the district’s efforts to apply for a Career Technical Education grant for the building. If the grant is awarded, then the district will be required to match up to a maximum of $3 million in local funding. If the grant is not awarded, then a minimum amount of $400,000 will be allocated for PAB improvements.

Source: School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting

Solano 4-H SET program offers teens training workshop – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

High school students are invited to participate in the Solano County 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology program, which offers a chance for teens to engage in community service, learn new skills and experience teaching firsthand.

Program participants will be trained to teach science in teams to elementary-age children in after-school programs.

Training will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday at the 4-H office, 501 Texas St. Teens must attend both days. The deadline to register is Friday.

Source: Solano 4-H SET program offers teens training workshop

Fairfield-Suisun USD to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A discussion of 2018-19 budget priorities will be among the more significant items of an otherwise relatively light agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the discussion, which will be based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $190 billion 2018-19 state budget proposal, released in January and due for revision in May.

Her presentation, casting an eye on the impact of the state’s numbers on the district’s, will come two weeks after she led a budget presentation at the trustees’ Jan. 25 meeting.

Specifically, Henson will note that projected average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the coming year will be about $9,450 for each of the district’s estimated 20,550 students, yielding some $194 million in state funding under Brown’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, she will tell the seven-member governing board, one-time discretionary funds from the current year will account for some $6 million in additional funds spent on students.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities

Teach Students To Use Social Media (The Right Way) And The Possibilities Are Endless : NPR Ed

By Ariana Figueroa

CJ Marple wanted to teach his young students how quickly information can spread on the Internet.

So earlier this year, the third-grade science teacher wrote up a tweet with the help of his students, asking for other users to retweet the message, or even reply to the message with their location.

The Kansas teacher says he expected 1,000 or so retweets, but within days the tweet went viral and gained more than 227,000 retweets and 75,000 replies from users all over the world. His students, who are probably a little too young for their own social media accounts, learned a lot that week about the power of social media. If used right, Marple says, “The possibilities are endless.”

Source: Teach Students To Use Social Media (The Right Way) And The Possibilities Are Endless : NPR Ed : NPR

New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Barbara Murchison as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Professional Learning Support Division.

Murchison will oversee the division’s efforts to support educators throughout their professional career, from recruitment to leadership opportunities. This division works in collaboration across the Department and the state, helping educators implement the California Standards and curriculum frameworks.

It administers several professional learning programs for educators at all levels and in all content areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, history-social science, literacy, and arts, with the goal of ensuring equitable learning opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students, including English learners.

Murchison most recently served as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Lead, where she helped create a plan that meets federal requirements while shifting away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that helps local school districts better meet their own needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.

Source: New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Big Data Transforms Education Research – Education Next

By Michael J. Petrilli

For decades, education technophiles have envisioned a future wherein gee-whiz devices and engaging digital applications whisk students away from the doldrums of traditional classroom instruction and into a fun world of beeping computers, self-paced lessons, and cloud-based collaboration.

That may yet come to pass—and at some outlier schools, is already here—but don’t be surprised if the true transformative power of education technology is most evident when it comes to something old-fashioned: basic education research. The declining cost and easy availability of substantial computing power may enable us finally to unlock the black box of the classroom, giving scholars and teachers much more insight into what is and isn’t working. Technology can do more than just keep students engaged; it can equip teachers, school and district leaders, and policymakers with the sort of insights and analytics that can help them make better decisions for students.

Source: Big Data Transforms Education Research: Can machine learning unlock the keys to great teaching? – Education Next : Education Next

Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Raul Vega, a 2005 graduate of Benicia High School, recently published a mystery story using his hometown as an inspiration for the setting. It is not a book or even a video series, but in true 21st-century fashion, the story is presented as a downloadable or streamable podcast published in episodic installments.

Vega, who is also a musician, said the Rose Drive Podcast started as something he could write music to.

“I didn’t have any projects lined up, so one day I decided with my roommate, ‘Why don’t we create our own?” he said. “We decided to go for it and come up with different ideas.”Rose Drive Podcast tells the story of Markus Hill, a man still haunted by a man named Forrest Sutherland who ruined his family before the end of Hill’s senior year and suddenly disappeared. Ten years later, Hill relocates from New York City to his hometown of Southampton where he overhears two classmates talking about the recent 10-year high school reunion and learns that Sutherland was at the reunion. The podcast focuses on Hill as he tries to learn information on Sutherland’s whereabouts.

Source: Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast

An Academic Use for Social Media | Edutopia

By Rusul Alrubail

If we look at digital literacy and its implementation in the classroom for the past 10 years, we can see the impact on students’ writing and communication skills.

In an online survey by the Pew Research Center on the impact of digital tools on students’ writing, half the teachers who responded said that digital tools made it easier for students to write and that when using digital tools, students were more engaged and motivated to write.In another survey, 40 percent of teachers said that their students already shared their work publicly using wikis, blogs, and websites, and that those students were also adept at micro-writing, a mode that uses different digital platforms to convey, describe, and analyze thoughts and opinions and share them with a particular audience in short forms.

Source: An Academic Use for Social Media | Edutopia