By Tim Goree
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District connected virtually Thursday evening with nearly 900 high school seniors and their families. The Virtual Senior Information Night presentation was conducted via livestream on YouTube. The important information was shared on the topics of graduation requirements, satisfying the University of California “a-g” requirements, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate exams, college entrance requirements, credit recovery, graduation ceremonies, and senior events/activities.
“We could have just sent an email or a letter to our families, but we wanted to try a different approach to reach our students,” said Superintendent Kris Corey. “I’d say it was a huge success based on the number of viewers who logged in. We were especially pleased to have nearly 90 viewers for our presentation conducted in Spanish.”
Source: Press Release: Fairfield-Suisun Connects with High School Seniors and Their Families
By Thomas Gase
There is a popular spiritual saying that goes, “Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test.” It seems as if the Benicia and Vallejo school districts didn’t get that message.
Although the world is facing a test of high proportions with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, local educators have made more noise than an elephant in a library this week. Since the announcement last Friday that schools would be closed until at least mid-April, educators have rallied to create ways for distance learning with online classes, activities and instructions.
Instead of hearing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” kids have instead been turning up Google Classroom, a free web service, developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. Other programs being used include YouTube, Clever and Zoom.
Source: Despite COVID-19 crisis, Solano County teachers rally to continue lessons online – Times-Herald
By Kathleen Morris
How would you feel if someone said you need to change your whole approach to teaching immediately? Imagine if, instead of interacting face to face with students in your classroom, you had to create and deliver a virtual program.
Perhaps you’d feel nervous? Overwhelmed? Excited? Unqualified? Inspired? Or perhaps plain lost.
Online learning is fast becoming a reality for hundreds of millions of students worldwide. Teachers, students, families, administrators, departments, and whole communities are being forced to respond and adapt quickly.
Source: Resources For Teaching Online Due To School Closures – The Edublogger
By Thomas Gase
In the 1992 film, “Sneakers” Robert Redford’s Martin Bishop/Brice character is asked by a bank teller, “So, people hire you to break into their places… to make sure no one can break into their places?” Redford then replies, “It’s a living,” while the teller then retorts back, “Not a very good one.”
Nearly 30 years later it’s actually a very good living, and Benicia High teacher, Andreas Kaiser, as well as Career Tech Educator, Annette Fewins, want to make sure that more students get interested in the field. Especially women.
Benicia High School has launched a girls competitive cyber security team, Cyber Panther, and approximately 25 students have already joined. The Panthers class is taught by Kaiser and Fewins.
Source: Benicia High launches girls competitive cyber security team – Times-Herald
By Tribune Content Agency
A few years ago, Mitchell Robins wasn’t able to tell anyone precisely what he was thinking. He lost the ability to speak when he was 4 and relied primarily on a system of pictures and limited sign language to tell his parents and caregivers what he wanted to eat or when he felt sick or how he wanted to spend his time. Then his parents realized he could spell.
Now Mitchell, 17, communicates deliberately, pointing letter by letter to a board that displays the alphabet. Ask him a question and his expression will flit between deep concentration and a jovial grin as he slowly spells his answer. Mitchell, who has autism and is nonverbal, said using spelling-based communication has changed his life.
“It changed everything because I could get my wants and needs met,” he spelled during a recent interview at his home in Highland Park, Ill., curled up in a couch corner while one of his therapists held the board at his eye level. “I am very happy people are finally figuring out how to reach people like me because it is a human rights issue we need to solve.”
Source: 17-year-old boy with nonverbal autism blogs to reach others like him: ‘People need to stop underestimating us’
Congressman Thompson announces 2019 App Challenge winners; Winners selected by local tech experts
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that Kai Rush and Benji Ryujin have been selected as the 2019 App Challenge winners for the Fifth Congressional District for their app Space Trace. Kai and Benji are seniors at Benicia High School and competed against more than a dozen other app designers in this year’s challenge. They were selected by a group of local technology experts.
Source: Benicia High students win App Challenge for Fifth Congressional District
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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