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

Vallejo school board declines to support computer resolution – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo City Unified School District will continue to buy new and refurbished computers.

Meeting on Aug. 2, the board of education declined to support a resolution directing district staff to purchase only used computers for classroom and office use during fiscal year 2017-18.

Board Vice President Burky Worel brought forth the resolution, admitting he only did so to put his fellow trustees on record regarding their respective beliefs on the issue.

The handful of teachers who addressed the board offered different reasons on why refurbished computers would not be helpful to students. One teacher said the used computers may not be physically capable of withstanding use in a classroom, nor have the ability to run the needed specific programs.

Former Vallejo trustee Hazel Wilson registered her disapproval with the resolution, stating it would not help the district save money.

Source: Vallejo school board declines to support computer resolution

New era for SCC’s biotech, science programs – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Solano Community College’s biotech manufacturing program has earned a sterling reputation for excellence, turning out graduates ready for 21st-century jobs, and on Monday faculty and students enrolled in the academic discipline will walk into a gleaming, $34.5 million, state-of-the-art structure in Vacaville to continue to enhance that reputation.

The celebratory day, the first of the 2017-18 academic year for SCC, will come a few weeks and a year after school leaders broke ground on the 38,000-square-foot project on North Village Parkway and a just few weeks after the same leaders broke ground on a new $37 million, 44,000-square-foot science building at the main Fairfield campus on Suisun Valley Road.

The projects, clearly a significant boost to the school’s educational mission and perhaps the envy of other colleges, are financed by Measure Q, the $348 million bond measure Solano County voters passed in 2012.

Source: New era for SCC’s bitech, science programs

‘Schoolifying’ Minecraft Without Ruining It : NPR Ed

By Anya Kamenetz

Steven Isaacs — @mr_isaacs on Twitter — is a full-time technology teacher in Baskingridge, N.J. He’s also the co-founder of a new festival that set the Guinness World Record for largest gathering dedicated to a single video game.

The game that cements both halves of his life together? Minecraft.

(In case you haven’t heard, Minecraft, originally developed by Markus Persson of Sweden, offers players the chance to build a 3-D world out of “blocks.” Since its release in 2009, Minecraft has sold more than 121 million copies, making it the best-selling game of all time after another blocky favorite, Tetris.)

Other games allow you to fight monsters, construct giant castles, build power plants, navigate mazes, chop down trees for wood, survive in the wilderness or band together into guilds. Minecraft has all of the above. It is so open-ended, in fact, that some refer to it as a platform instead of a game, or an “infinite Lego set.”

Source: ‘Schoolifying’ Minecraft Without Ruining It : NPR Ed : NPR

10 Free Apps and Tools for Starting Out (and Staying) Organized | Edutopia

By Monica Burns

The start of a new school year is a great time to reflect on what’s really working for you and what isn’t quite cutting it. When it comes to staying organized, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s all about finding a system that works for you and picking apps or tools that you will actually use. There isn’t a tool that will work perfectly for everyone—you may love a particular feature of one tool but use another that colleagues prefer to connect and collaborate with them.

As you sort through the following free tools, don’t try them all at the same time. Pick one or two, use them for a month, and then reflect on how well they’re helping you stay organized. You may choose to add a website or app to your tool belt as you explore another resource, or you may decide to scrap it and try something new.

Source: 10 Free Apps and Tools for Starting Out (and Staying) Organized | Edutopia