Tech & Learning - Nov 2019

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By Tara Smith Strategies to use technology with digital natives.



By Matthew Joseph From artificial intelligence to drones to digital storytelling, edtech leaders share best practices.







A recent report from CoSN urges that new funding should help protect students online while giving them access.

Make district websites more accessible. Create middle school eSport leagues. Create professional development opportunites for administrators. By Jon Bergmann and Adam Sans As part of Tech&Learning’s 40th anniversary, we look back on one of the most influential articles.


34 REVIEWS BY TOM’S GUIDE Form 3 3D Printer




TRENDING The softer side of robotics. Improving rural Internet access. STEM successes. Big money for edtech success.

14 BIG IDEAS The joys of Emoji, The keys to successful strategic plannings 32 BACK OFFICE BUSINESS

Tech & Learning (ISSN-1053-6728) (USPS 695-590) is published monthly (except July and December) by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Tech & Learning, PO Box 8746, Lowell, MA 01853 Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices.


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note NOVEMBER 2019





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Contributing Editor Annie Galvin Teich Marianthe Williams, Steve Baule, Jean Tower,



CONTENT Managing Content Director Kevin Hogan Advisors Carl Hooker, Andrew Wallace,

ne of the best parts of this job is having the opportunity to meet some of the Tech & Learning community in person. For more than 20 years, T&L has hosted events throughout the country that bring together the most innovative and passionate educators in classrooms. Back in the day, this meant sessions on “computers in the classroom,” the finer points of Twitter, and how best to incorporate “multimedia.” These days, the conversations are a bit more sophisticated but every bit engaging. This month, our stalwart contributor Matt Joseph, Director Of Curriculum And Instruction at Leicester Public Schools, details our most recent gatherings on pages 20 and 26. At Tech and Learning Live in Texas, subjects ranged from artificial intelligence and coding to drones, robotics, wearables, and virtual reality. At the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Chicago, the topics focused more on the use and protection of student data. Both conferences proved the point that the integration of technology into the ways we teach and learn has never been more influential. I consider it a real privilege to be able to interact with our readers. Thanks to the thousands of edtech leaders that share their best practices through the years at our happenFOR MORE THAN ings, we can stay ahead of the trends and share them with 20 YEARS, T&L HAS our greater community both online and in print. If you HOSTED EVENTS haven’t been, I would encourage you to look for details at THROUGHOUT for our Live events next year in Chicago THE COUNTRY and New York and our Leadership Summits taking place in THAT BRING Washington, DC, Anaheim, CA, Nashville, TN, and Miami, TOGETHER THE FL. See you there!

— Kevin Hogan Managing Director, Content

Group Publisher Christine Weiser

Hank Thiele, Jenith Mishne, Frank Pileiro, Patricia Brown, Phil Hintz, Ken Wallace, Rick Cave, Chris Aviles, Diane Doersh, Mike Jamerson, Rico D’Amore, Todd Dugan, Grace Magley, Andrew Marcinek, John Marcus, Laura Chesson, Jon Castelhano, Karen Fuller

Production Manager Heather Tatrow, Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban

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Transforming STEM Education from a Noun to a Verb STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning.

How Is 5G Set to Change



the Classroom? Faster, smarter and more interactive—a new generation of learning.

Focus on the Doing of Social

Studies, not Just the Model Is it possible to take the best parts of Madeline Hunter’s classic model and adapt these principles for a world that needs our students to be engaged, informed, and knowledgeable citizens?

How Can Schools Better Use



Data to Personalize Learning? While most US high-school students aspire to earn a college degree, fewer than one in three succeed.

Personalized PD to Maximize Educator Learning Why design staff meetings and PD with a “one-sizefits-all” approach?


Spice up Your Slides with 600+

Free Design Templates Here are over 600 design theme templates for you and your students to use in your creations.

Yes . . . Your Class Does Need

a 12 x 8 Foot Map (and Online Interactives) Be sure to make a stop at the Nat Geo Mapping Resources page to find the MapMaker Interactive and other handy tools.

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Step beyond STEM one-time activities and making. Build a STEM culture that builds inquiry, is supported by authenticity, promotes rigor, and allows for student self-regulation and ownership of learning. —Michael Gorman You’re saying that integrating little graphic images used by millions of Instagram tweeners instead of more traditional tools is no way to teach historical thinking and literacy. But I’m convinced that these little graphic images have tremendous potential to help kids makes sense of evidence, increase literacy skills, and demonstrate learning. —Glenn Weibe

Fixing One of the Biggest

Accessibility Issues: Color Contrast Why is color contrast important, what’s the standard, and how can you make content with accessible color contrast?

Review: Epson BrightLink 697ui

Interactive Projector Epson describes its BrightLink 697Ui ultra short-throw interactive display as “the ultimate academic collaboration tool,” and it’s nothing short of amazing.

5 Ways to Make Your PLN Work An educational technology coach and district personalized learning coach shares ideas for supporting your colleagues as they learn to integrate technology into the classroom.




TOP TWEETS Dianne Krause@diannekrause: Wisdom informs innovation. If you abandon the former in pursuit of the latter, you will capture neither. —@Wes_ Kieschnick #boldschool #wisslearns #mciulearns Jon Becker@jonbecker: Imagine if all the money we spent on surveillance tech. in schools was, instead, spent on hiring school psychologists and social workers.




App of the Day picks are selected from the top edtech tools reviewed by Common Sense Education.

With increasing scrutiny of rural America and its lagging educational outcomes, it’s time to consider new, innovative approaches to improving and expanding educational opportunities in rural communities. So concludes a new white paper issued by the Center for Education Reform (CER), which offers several vital “ingredients” needed to transform education to serve all populations in rural America.

PebbleGo Next: Kid-Friendly Database for Grades 3–6

This student-centric research site gives kids a just-right amount of information to build foundational research skills.

“We are building a new ecosystem to deliver better education to children, families, and communities in rural areas where resources can be scarce,” says Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of CER. “The goal is to make education opportunities accessible for learners of all levels, all across the country— regardless of income, regardless of zip code.”

“Thinklets” Provide Path to Teaching Common Core Math Lessons

CueThink, an innovative, community-based platform, helps students plan, strategize, and collaborate.

The second in a series of reports drawing from CER’s research and experience over nearly three decades, the white paper documents CER’s new theory of change for rural education, which was developed following extensive first-hand research in the field that began in 2017. Bolstered by local leadership in several communities, CER consulted more than 60 leaders in education, technology, higher ed, state and local government, and philanthropy. According to the report, “If diverse groups of citizens and leaders from all sectors of life come together to expand and enhance educational opportunities in rural communities, school quality will improve, student outcomes will improve, and increasingly impoverished and desolate communities will be able to revive their once productive economies.” Read CER’s “Expanding Education Innovation and Opportunity in Rural America” in full here:


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Explore Photosynthesis, Carbon Cycle, and More with Virtual Lab App

CellEnergy Photosynthesis Labs helps high-school and middle-school students explore how photosynthesis and cellular respiration allow matter and energy to cycle through ecosystems.


THE SOFTER SIDE OF ROBOTS respond accordingly,” says Dr. Charlotte Edmunds of Warwick Business School. “Our results suggest it is reasonable to expect a machine learning algorithm, and consequently a robot, to recognize a range of emotions and social interactions using movements, poses, and facial expressions. The potential applications are huge.” The study was conducted by researchers from Warwick Business School, University of Plymouth, Donders Centre for Cognition at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England. It is published in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI.


Robots could be taught to recognize human emotions from our movements, according to a new study from the Behavioural Science Group at Warwick Business School in the UK. The WBS Behavioural Science Group is one of the world’s leading research centers in the field, with the goal of linking theoretical and policy challenges in the social sciences with experimental methods and results drawn from the natural sciences. Researchers found that humans could recognize excitement, sadness, aggression, and boredom from the way people moved, even if they could not see their facial expressions or hear their voices. These findings suggest that robots could learn to use the same movements, alongside facial expressions and tone of voice, to recognize human internal states. This research raises the prospect that robots, which are already used to teach second languages, could recognize when students are bored, and customer service robots could identify when people feel angry or stressed. “One of the main goals in the field of human-robot interaction is to create machines that can recognize human emotions and

The team of psychologists and computer scientists filmed pairs of children playing with a robot and a computer built into a table with a touchscreen top. The videos were shown to 284 study participants, who were asked to decide whether the children were excited, bored, or sad. They were also asked if the children were cooperating, competing, or if one of the children had assumed a dominant role in the relationship. Some participants watched the original videos. A second group saw the footage reduced to stick figures that showed exactly the same movements. Members of both groups agreed on the same emotional labels for the children, more often than would be expected if they were guessing. The researchers then trained a machinelearning algorithm to label the clips, identifying the type of social interaction, the emotions on display, and the strength of each child’s internal state, allowing it to compare which child felt more sad or excited. “Robot delivery services are already being trialed, but people tend to attack or vandalize them, often because they feel threatened,” says Dr. Edmunds. “The aim is to create a robot that can react to human emotions in difficult situations and get itself out of trouble without having to be monitored or told what to do.”


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EVERYBODY WANTS IT The recent Gallup report “The Education Technology Use in Schools” shows what all of us reading Tech & Learning already knew everyone wants: edtech. NewSchools Venture Fund and Gallup collaborated to survey a sample of 3,210 public school teachers (Pre-K–12) in the US; 1,163 public school principals; 1,219 district-level administrators; and 2,696 public school students (in grades 3–12). Key findings include:

Digital learning tools are integral to teaching and learning in and out of school.

Many teachers would like to use digital learning tools more often to teach.

About two-thirds of teachers (65%) say they use digital learning tools to teach every day; 22 percent use them a few days a week, and 13 percent use them once or less per week. More than half of teachers (53%) report that their students use digital learning tools every day to learn. About seven in 10 students report using digital learning tools outside of school for schoolwork at least a few days a week.

About half of all teachers surveyed (53%) say they would like to use digital learning tools to teach more often; 44 percent would like to use them about as often as they use them now. About six in 10 teachers who use digital learning tools a few days per week or less say they would like to use them more often to teach.

About four in 10 students would like to use digital learning tools to learn more often.

More teachers (64%), principals (73%), and administrators (66%) than students themselves (42%) say students would like to use digital learning tools more often to learn.

Educators select digital learning tools that support student learning and meet learning standards.

Among 15 possible selection criteria, teachers say the following are the most important factors for selecting digital learning tools for use in their classroom: provides immediate and actionable data on students’ progress (35%); allows for personalized instruction based on students’ skill levels (35%); engages students with school and learning (30%); and is easy to use (30%).

The majority of teachers, principals, and administrators say digital learning tools support content that aligns with state standards or district initiatives

Among rated criteria, teachers (53%), principals (51%), and administrators (51%) are most positive about the extent to which digital learning tools support content that aligns with state standards or district initiatives.

To access the full report, go to:


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In partnership with Learning Undefeated and Discovery Education, AstraZeneca announced today the launch of a new STEM program to inspire the next generation about science and build a strong foundation for tomorrow’s researchers. The three-year signature initiative is designed to make learning about health and disease engaging, accessible, and exciting for students in grades 6–8, primarily in underresourced schools across the country. Generation Health: How Science Powers Us will provide hands-on, standardsaligned STEM learning activities that enable students to investigate both preventative measures and innovative solutions to key health concerns in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. Generation Health provides a suite of educational resources, including Learning Undefeated’s Drop Anywhere Labs—custom-outfitted STEM learning spaces built from modified shipping containers. These light, easy-to-access, and inexpensive labs provide a range of career and skills education for middle-school students, as well as flexible in-classroom resources that empower teachers and enable them to serve up to four classes simultaneously. Visit www. to find free digital lessons, videos, activities, and more.


NBC LEARN: VAST VIDEO ARCHIVE TO SUPPORT CLASSROOM TEACHING AND LEARNING This huge archive integrates with Google Classroom and includes current events coverage as well as teacherfriendly extra links to Newsela articles.


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YOU HAVE TO PLAY TO WIN The Follett Challenge launched its ninth annual contest that rewards innovative educational programs teaching 21st century skills to students. The company again will reward a total of $200,000 in products and/or services to groundbreaking educational programs that illustrate critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. All public and private K-12 schools/districts in the United States, Canada, and Australia are eligible to apply. The 2019 contest marked the first time a school or district from outside the United States claimed the grand prize when Regina Catholic School Di-

vision in Saskatchewan, Canada, earned the honor. A total of 19 prizes will be awarded for the 2020 Follett Challenge contest: ■■ Semifinalists: The judges will select three winners each from the elementary, middle and high school categories. Each semifinalist will receive $15,000 in Follett products and services. ■■ Grand Prize: From the nine semifinalists, a grand-prize winner is to be selected and will receive an additional $15,000, for a total of $30,000 in products and services. ■■ ‘People's Choice’ Winners: The contest again will reward

the 10 schools that receive the highest number of online votes from the public for their submitted videos. The winners each will receive $5,000 in products and services. Semifinalists are not eligible for the “People's Choice” awards.

Submissions for the 2020 Follett Challenge are open to all PreK-12 educators and Parent Teacher Organizations. The contest deadline is December 12th. Go to https://www.follettchallenge. com for more details.


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• Built-in AEC (Acoustic Echo Canceller) enables full-duplex communication • Full-duplex communication • Two control relay outputs • Two tamper-switch inputs • IP54-grade water/dust proof construction • Mounts in 4-gang electrical box (YC-400)


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The Case for Emojis

They’re good for kids and fun to use. What’s not to like? By Glenn Wiebe


recently spent the day with 35 K–5 teachers focusing on the Inquiry Design Model. One of my favorite conversations centered on the idea of using emojis as a way to help kids make sense of social studies and incorporating them as part of a quality lesson to help improve student thinking and literacy skills. These little graphic images actually have tremendous potential to help kids make sense of evidence, increase literacy skills, and demonstrate learning. For example: ■■ Omaha middle-school teacher Lance Mosier uses emojis to help kids summarize and demonstrate an understanding of what life was like for soldiers fighting in the Civil War. This could extend to other historical events and people (e.g., World War II soldiers or people living through the Great Depression).


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■■ Ask students to analyze political cartoons using emojis to describe the emotions the cartoon evokes. How would Republicans react to the cartoon? Democrats? Independents? Rural or urban? Young or old? Readers in other countries? (This short article by Control Alt Achieve contains a Google Doc template to help with this.) ■■ I love the idea of asking kids to code text while reading primary and secondary sources. Encourage students to use a closed set of emojis you create—or, even better, allow them to develop their own set that helps them make sense of the text. ■■ What might it look like if you were to combine emojis with the SHEG Historical Thinking Chart? ■■ Disney has created a YouTube playlist that recreates some of their movies using emojis. Why not ask kids to create a video story of the modern Civil Rights movement using emojis, for example?


So we can use emojis for: sourcing and contextualizing primary sources; analyzing political cartoons; measuring and highlighting author voice and tone; summarizing; exit cards; writing a rebus story; formative assessment of knowledge; close reading and character analysis; summative assessment writing prompts; and surveys. I especially love the combination of analog and digital options for using emojis, as well as how both visuals and text are part of these activities. Much like memes, Frayer Model graphic organizers, and other visually based activities, integrating emojis can be a powerful method for helping students create their own schemas and frameworks for learning. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and John Medina’s Brain Rules are just two of the many resources that document the power of combining visuals with text to improve learning. Strategies that incorporate emojis can motivate learners, trigger emotional connections, improve comprehension, transmit content faster, and aid retention. Emoji-based activities also support the teaching, learning, and practice of a wide variety of literacy skills. And who doesn’t like that?

Emojis are fun for teachers too!

Credit: Glenn Wiebe


■■ Students could use the Google Docs > Insert > Special Characters > Emoji option or a Chrome browser extension to create a storyboard or script for a movie. The key to all of this is to ask kids to explain their thinking. Why did they select those particular emojis? Lance also shared a few other online resources: ■■ Matt Podbury, Russel Tarr’s geography colleague, uses emojis to help students identify and summarize issues affecting major urban centers. ■■ And Carol Stobbs uses emojis to support student research on the Treaty of Versailles.



Seeking Strategic Variety and Organizational Curiosity By Stephen Baule


his is often the time of the school year when school leaders begin to consider the strategic directions of their organizations. Often the strategic planning process begins with a bit of retrospection about the state of the organization and its challenges and successes. These meetings tend to engage the organization’s current staff. But this approach doesn’t always provide the necessary strategic variety for an organization to truly move forward. Strategic

variety requires organizational curiosity. As Grace Hopper said, “the most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’” True strategic planning requires looking beyond the scope of what is being done currently to examine the underlying goals and objectives of the organization. A common example is the railroads in the 1950s, which didn’t consider trucking companies or airlines as significant competitors. They saw themselves as rail companies and not as transportation companies. In many ways, that kind of thinking reflects that of schools that see themselves as brick and mor-

tar institutions and not necessarily as educational organizations in the broader sense. As we enter the strategic planning season, therefore, it’s important to look beyond comparisons to other schools in one’s conference or state and to look further—at Khan Academy, other virtual schools, and other organizations that educate children, like the Boy and Girl Scouts, public libraries, and the like. As educators look to develop gamification within courses, they need to be familiar with the MMOGs that capture the attention of many school-aged children. In addition to looking at other types of educational organizations, schools need to review their assumptions about financing. With the continued struggles of traditional tax revenue sources, public schools need to look for nontraditional revenue streams, such as grants and potential partnerships with other organizations. The key to successful strategic planning in the future may be the development of organizational curiosity. Curious organizations see that new opportunities are positive challenges. They keep an open mind as they review options. They look for diverse opinions and perspectives. Governing has a good article about cultivating organizational curiosity ( in order to solve problems. Harvard Business Review also has a brief article about why organizational curiosity is important ( TTA provides some ideas on how to develop a culture of curiosity within an organization (https:// As we all brace ourselves to deal with the changing educational environment, remember that curiosity didn’t really kill the cat.



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to protect and defend their networks and systems from cyberattacks.





n excerpt from COSN’s K12 Cybersecurity cost report, released in September, argues that E-rate funds should not only make the Internet accessible to all students, but also make it safe. Since the E-Rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 it has helped ensure that eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to the Internet. The 2014 E-Rate modernization orders (July & December 2014) continued this commitment. However, network access and Internet connectivity are no longer enough. While E-Rate funds help level the playing field by defraying school system costs for Internet access and network infrastructure, the very nature of the Internet has changed since the program’s inception. The Internet is now an essential communications and data transmission conduit for education, government, business, and personal activity. In addition, it is also host to a wide range of nefarious


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hackers, identity thieves, and criminal and nationstate sponsored organizations utilizing networks to steal data, disrupt network activities, and destroy data systems. The risks to school systems are only increasing as the number of data breaches and cyberattacks increase every year. According to USA Today, billions of people were affected by data breaches and cyberattacks in 2018 — 765 million in the months of April, May and June alone. In addition to data theft, ransomware attacks continue to pose a very real threat to school systems. This was recently demonstrated by the rash of ransomware attacks in Louisiana school systems in July 2019 which caused Louisiana Governor Edwards to declare a state of emergency. Louisiana’s experience is not an isolated incident; in 2018 there were over 204 million ransomware attacks worldwide. While E-Rate should not be expected to cover all aspects of school cybersecurity, several simple changes to the E-Rate program would have a very profound impact on the ability of school systems


Expanding the range of firewall services that can be reimbursed through E-Rate would significantly increase perimeter and data transit security for school system networks and Internet access. This would include expanding the definition of covered firewall equipment and services in Category 2 beyond the current basic firewall functionality of ingress/egress traffic management to encompass advanced protections such as intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), advanced threat protection (ATP), anti-virus/ anti-malware filtering, SSL encryption, encrypted traffic inspection, data loss prevention(DLP), and spam filtering. These are examples of additional functionality available on next generation firewalls that are not currently funded by E-Rate.


Expanding E-Rate to cover advanced security services provided by a school system’s Internet Service Provider, including DDoS mitigation and the same advanced firewall features recommended to be added under Category 1, would both enhance school system cybersecurity and remove the burden of finding staffing to support these systems. Currently, ERate will discount basic ingress/egress firewalls provided by the Internet Service Provider, if that is part of the ISPs basic service package. However, this is limited to the most basic of firewall functionality. Expanding the definition of covered firewall services that an ISP could provide would allow school systems to contract with their ISP for advanced firewall features to protect their networks, and have the ISP be responsible for operating and managing these systems, reducing the burden on school systems to find positions and qualified staff to do this work in house. Many school systems use the same ISP provider, being able to purchase advanced firewall functionality through the ISP could be more cost-effective and leverage economies of scale driving down the price as more school systems purchase additional cybersecurity services. E-Rate does not currently offer discounts for distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation services that help school systems maintain connectivity and availability when faced with a DDoS attack. Where school systems have been able to find funding for DDoS mitigation provided by their ISP, this has been an effective method to mitigate the impact of DDoS attacks on teaching and learning and deter future attacks. Those districts have found the rates of attempted DDoS attacks decrease once attackers

discover DDoS mitigation has rendered this attack vector ineffective.


Clarifying or updating the definition of “basic firewall” to align with technology industry standards would enable school systems to align their cybersecurity defenses with recognized industry standards and provide improved protection of their networks. E-Rate currently funds “basic firewall” services in both Category 1 and Category 2, and “basic” has been interpreted to be limited to ingress/egress traffic management. As noted earlier, this leaves school systems with inadequate firewall defenses. This definition of “basic firewall” no longer aligns with technology industry standards. A “standard” firewall across the technology industry is typically a next generation firewall (NGFW) or unified threat management (UTM) appliance or service that offers, but is not limited to, the following protections: ■■ Advanced threat protection (ATP) ■■ Anti-virus & anti-malware protection ■■ Data loss prevention (DLP) ■■ DDoS mitigation » Intrusion detection/ protection (IDS/IPS) ■■ SSL inspection ■■ Virtual private network (VPN) ■■ Web filtering

As new cybersecurity defense technologies become available, the definition of discounted firewall services should expand to encompass current protections.


Making managed security services and/ or security operations center (SOC) services for the purposes of monitoring and responding to cybersecurity attacks and incursions eligible for E-Rate funding would significantly improve the ability of school systems to monitor and defend their networks. Managed security services and SOCs leverage economies of scale to monitor and respond to security incidents across multiple organizations’ networks. The ability to fund participation in these services through E-Rate would expand school system access to cybersecurity tools and trained resources, removing staffing and technology funding challenges from the cybersecurity equation.


Adding web content filtering to the list of discounted services would remove a significant financial burden from school systems. The implementation of web content filtering is required for participation

in the E-Rate program but is not a covered expense. The FCC’s 2014 E-rate Modernization Order reiterates, citing to the 2001 Children’s Internet Protection Act Order, the agency’s position that the Children’s Internet Protection Act prohibits the use of Universal Service Fund resources for filtering. We believe Congress’s intent was for that prohibition to apply to other appropriated funding, and not E-rate funds, and we urge the FCC to work with Congress to address this issue. The E-Rate program has the opportunity to significantly improve the cybersecurity stance of currently funded networks and Internet access. An E-Rate program that does not address the lack of adequate funding for school cyberse-

curity equipment, services and personnel is putting schools and their communities at risk. The recommendations above do not include expansion of E-Rate funding to include user and end point protection technologies such as anti-virus/anti-malware endpoint protection, multi-factor authentication, mobile device management, and identity and access management. Those technologies are targeted toward end user devices and access, and as such, are less directly correlated to E-Rate’s goal of providing network and Internet connectivity and access to schools. The recommended changes focus on providing responsible and secure network and Internet connectivity and access to schools. For the full report, go to:


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eacher-librarian and school library media specialist Dayna Derichs wants every one of the 600 pre-K–fifth-grade students at Wheeler Elementary to have opportunities to experience the “wow” moments that happen when technology transforms learning. Wheeler Elementary, part of Millard (NE) Public Schools in Omaha, has a growing fleet of iPads and Belkin keyboards as well as Apple TV and wireless projectors in every classroom. Teachers share devices as needed and Derichs spends time team teaching with each grade level as they move up the SAMR model towards redefining learning with technology. She’s teaching students, but she’s also modeling for teachers how to use technology—and together they’re discovering new and creative ways to use tech tools.

CREATING “WOW” MOMENTS “When I show students how to split their screens so they can skim and scan, copy and paste notes and cite sources as they go, they’re happy to read more,” Derichs says. “We use NoodleTools for research, and then when we export their sources to a Google doc and they see their bibliography immediately alphabetized, they’re amazed.” Last year, Wheeler Elementary students made marshmallow slingshots to learn about Newton’s three laws of motion. The students took pictures and burst shots to record motion and velocity and created a keynote presentation to show their learning using the Clips app. “There was such great synergy as the students used technology to record data and communicate their findings—they didn’t stop to eat the marshmallows and they didn’t even realize they were learning!” says Derichs. This week, third-grade students learning about the ecosystem made shoebox dioramas, Derichs says, then took it to the next level with the Green Screen app. After creating an example together, she and the teacher draped the computer lab with


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Wheeler Elementary School students take their shoebox dioramas to the next level using the Green Screen app. green fabric. “The kids had scripts with their research,” Derichs says, “But as soon as we hit ‘record,’ they started sharing all of this information they’d learned that wasn’t in their notes—it was all in their heads.” She laughs. “They have enthusiasm and a deeper understanding because they know they’ll be on stage and in the lights. Many of them tell me they want to be YouTubers.”

THE ULTIMATE EQUALIZER “Technology is the ultimate equalizer,” says Derichs, who also works with some classes of ACP students. “There are no more haves and have nots. These tools help break down barriers and inhibitions.” In one ACP class, she says, “We draped green fabric over a student’s wheelchair so on the screen it looked like she was in the desert talking about what she’d learned. During the Winter Olympics, another wheelchair-bound student showed up on the screen in a bobsled.” All of


these moments are also really fun to share with parents, Derichs says. “It blows their minds—and brings some tears.”

CONNECTING TO THE REAL WORLD Using ChatterPix, Seesaw, and a retro phone set plugged into an iPad, therapy dogs can talk. With Google Expeditions, kids can visit the Aztec pyramids. With tools like Seesaw and Clips, students can make “real life” advertisements for the school book fair for their parents to see. The possibilities are endless and exciting, and Derichs is always on the lookout for fun new ideas and ways to bring concepts and real-world applications into the classroom. When she’s preparing lessons, she listens to the teachers and works with them to create “wow” moments. “I find a lot of ideas on Twitter,” she says. “Sometimes it’s a year or more before I find the perfect

Students engaged in a green screen activity.

application for an idea.” Having patience and reminding students (and herself) that it’s OK to make mistakes are important to creating a culture of learning and inquiry, Derichs says.

MINIMIZING DISTRACTIONS Even with plenty of “wow” moments, stu-

dents are just like adults when it comes to the tempting distractions of technology. Derichs has found that ZuluDesk, now Jamf School, is one of the best ways to keep students engaged. “Once I set up the lesson and make all the apps except the ones we’re using disappear, the level of anxiety goes down 100 percent,” she says. “They

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school to college to entrepreneurship than recent Westlake High School graduate and University of Texas student Rohit Srinivasan? He was passionate and funny as he shared the story of his first lemonade stand and how those skills motivated him to be creative. The skills he learned in school, Rohit shared, helped him launch his start-up company, Trashbots. Finally, Colleen Casey of Toyota spoke about the power of corporate partnerships. Following the keynote, one-hour sessions took place in two conference rooms with mini breakout sessions and vendor displays in the main hall. These opportunities provided a mix of engagement, hands-on learning, and information gathering.


By Matthew Joseph


n The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said, “I’ll be back.” On September 20th, #TLtechLive Austin came back—returning after an 18 month hiatus. The refreshed #TLtechLive added more opportunities for attendees to interact with the tech that they’re already implementing, or plan to implement, in their schools. The event also offered engaging learning sessions that covered some of today’s hottest topics, such as esports, SEL, and new approaches to CTE. There’s nothing better than being in a room with like-minded people, and that’s exactly what happens when you attend an event like this. You realize you’re not alone in wanting to enhance your skills and bring something back to your district. #TLtechLive Austin brought together high-level educators who understand the benefits of taking the time to learn something new. We felt the energy from the moment that Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) brought his energy and passion for learning as Master of Ceremonies at #TLtechLive Austin(or AmBADASSador, as he called himself), asked participants to high-five and even high-ten to get the energy flowing. Carl was perfect for the role of MC. In his previous role as Director of Innovation & Digital Learning at Eanes (TX) ISD, he helped spearhead the LEAP program, which put 1:1 iPads in the hands of all K–12 students in his 8,000-student district in addition to launching the popular iPadpalooza


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(rebranded as Learnfest) conference. Carl brought all of his knowledge and passion to #TLtechLive Austin. The opening keynote focused on how to better prepare students for tomorrow’s jobs. The power of this message came from the mix of individuals delivering it. Shannon Terry, from Dallas (TX) ISD, shared how a district focuses on students as thinkers and entrepreneurs. Jennifer Culver, from the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU, explained how thinkers apply skills to build themselves and find careers. Who better to talk about the transitions from high

The goal of each mini breakout session was to facilitate collaboration as well as to share practical tools matched with innovative ideas. #TLtechLive’s shift to more engaging breakout sessions resulted in more authentic participation as experts and attendees collaborated together. Because the breakout sessions ran all day, there was a more personal feel. This supported participation and involvement for the participants. These mini breakout sessions gave #TLtechLive participants a choice of topics, all under the umbrella of the event’s main theme, to learn more about: ■■ Artificial Intelligence. Speaker: Kimberly Lane Clark ■■ Coding. Speaker: Juan Orozco ■■ Drones and Robotics. Speaker: Rich Lombardo ■■ Wearables. Speaker: Randy Rogers ■■ Virtual Reality. Speaker: Pamela Anderson

Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) brought his energy and passion for learning as Master of Ceremonies at #TLtechLive Austin.



Colleen Casey of Toyota spoke about the power of corporate partnerships.

WALK-THE-WALK SESSIONS In today’s online environment with hashtags and Twitter chats, you’d think there would be a declining interest in face-to-face events. But when you have impactful learning opportunities like #TLtechLive, this is not the case. At #TLtechLive Austin there were many opportunities to hear new ideas and observe what those ideas look like in practice. At the Walk-the-Walk sessions, for example, educators gathered knowledge and new ideas during the presentations and also explored the latest technology tools. In addition, participants gained insight into the current pulse of education and educational technology—from practitioners who are walking the walk. The Walk-the-Walk sessions were broad and covered current themes in education. Following is a brief review of session content and presentation materials. (For access to the materials, go to and search for “Austin Live19”): Data Privacy: Teams from Wall (TX) ISD and Cypress Fairbanks (TX) ISD shared strategies for keeping track of evolving data privacy requirements, which can be a daunting task. Telling Your Story with Tech: Four dynamic educators (Claudio Zavala, Thom Gibson, Charlotte Dolat, and Jessica Torres) showed practical methods and tools for telling school stories and highlighting educators’ journeys with podcasts. In this creative session, participants even created a movie with AR. Participants were “extras” and a famous dinosaur was the star. Robotics: Not Just for After-School Programs Anymore: An engaging and knowledgeable team from Manor (TX) ISD presented and allowed time to build robots using LEGO curriculum and tools. School-to-Career Readiness: This session

focused on how schools are working to adjust their courses of study and graduation requirements to keep up with the evolving demands and rapid changes in industry. A panel of leaders shared their stories and successes using vocational/ technical education, certification programs, and computer science courses to prepare students. Personalizing PD: Personalization is not only for students. This session provided ideas and tools for increasing staff voice and choice in individual or group learning such as Flipgrid, Wakelet, YouTube, Padlet, Twitter, and more. Social/Emotional Learning: This interactive session combined the research of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the methods to improve SEL implemented at Westlake High School (part of Eanes ISD). These methods include teach-

ing students and staff self-management skills like time management, handling digital distractions, goal-setting, habit tracking, journaling, and yoga. The Essentials of Esports in K–12: When I heard about esports, I thought of Xbox video games like Madden or 2K. However, esports is a growing platform that incorporates team building, design thinking, and communication. This session shared the positive impact of esports in schools and talked about how to launch a successful program. The day ended with Susan Pelazo and Khechara Bradford from Spring (TX) ISD bringing the learning all together. A hurdle in implementing great ideas is marrying instructional technology and information technology. This session shared strategies for successfully navigating this marriage as well as suggestions for how to implement new ideas at your school. Coming together at an event and starting conversations with participants you’ve never met can sometimes be intimidating. However, Tech and Learning Live creates an environment that’s welcoming and inspiring. I made some new connections and had a chance to connect with old friends too. Collaboration is a team sport, and combining high-level learning with current practices and ideas shared by those doing the work is a recipe for success. We all left Austin inspired, energized, and thankful that #TLtechLive is back. Keep an eye out for the next event and join in the learning and collaboration that Tech and Learning provides. Arnold made that line famous, but now #TLtechLive is saying it a little differently: “We are back.”

Four dynamic educators showed practical methods and tools for telling school stories and highlighting educators’ journeys with podcasts during the “Telling Your Story with Tech” session.


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September 20, 2019 | Austin, TX








Expert Speakers


WHO WAS IN THE ROOM Principals & Superintendents

District Level Administrators across:

CTOs Technology/ Instructional/ Curriculum

• Network Infrastructure & Communications

Tech Trainers/Academic Coaches

• Learning Systems

Librarians & Media Specialists

• Emerging Technology


• Applications • Digital Innovations





Collaboration is a team sport! The Tech & Learning team creates the event and brings leaders together, and we all leave inspired and with the knowledge to shift instruction.

8K Twitter Impressions COMING SOON

TECH & LEARNING LEADERSHIP SUMMITS Dec 2019 New Orleans Oct 2020 Nashville, TN Mar 2020 Washington, DC Dec 2020 Miami, FL Jun 2020 Anaheim, CA TECH & LEARNING LIVE CONFERENCE Apr 2020 Chicago, IL Contact Us for Sponsorship Information Allison Knapp | | +1 650-238-0318

Personalized Learning in a Device-Rich Environment: Leveraging Technology to Help All Learners Succeed By Nikki Schafer


ne of the benefits of a technologyrich classroom environment is supposed to be better opportunities to personalize learning for all students. But what does that look like in practice? In October, over fifty leaders from districts around the country (and a few from Canada) met to discuss what personalized learning looks like in their districts. The Tech & Learning Leadership Summit gave participants the chance to network, learn with and from each other, and learn about programs that might be useful for them and their districts. The weekend started off on Friday with a huge welcome and a bus ride. Participants met with scientists at Argonne National Laboratory to learn about technology use at the highest level. One group of leaders got to learn about the supercomputer on campus, while the other group explored the Advanced Photon Source, or APS. Argonne National Laboratory is getting ready for a large remodel, and participants were treated to a discussion about all the upgrades that are on the horizon. The new supercomputer, Aurora, will be the fastest in the world. The rebuilt APS will allow for calculations that are ten times more precise and produce thousands of times more data. Companies that use space at Argonne for research will be able to work faster than they ever have before. The possibilities are endless with these new improvements, and the excitement was evident on the faces of all who spoke about it. After a tour of the facilities, participants were able to have a discussion about the educational


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District leaders from around the country shared stories about how they are personalizing learning. opportunities for everyone—from pre-K to postgraduate students. Argonne National Laboratory is leading the charge to bring STEM education into the classroom and to help students find their spark in whatever way they can. Megan Bruozas, manager of Argonne’s educational programs and outreach, introduced ideas tied to courses of study for different age levels and discussed the individualized attention that can be given to students in the workshops and camps the Laboratory offers. The bus ride back to the hotel was lively with dis-


cussions about opportunities for students, possible partnerships, and excited techies geeking out over the things they had just seen. Saturday morning began with an animated keynote by Alex Seeskin around the idea of adult relationships easing transitions for students. Seeskin’s work with the Urban Education Institute, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, has been instrumental in opening people’s eyes to the idea that factory-based education no longer makes sense and that relationships and autonomy now

Strategies for K-12 Technology Leaders

drive student success. The very idea that students can move through our current education system unscathed seems almost laughable after listening to Seeskin’s talk about his co-authored report “Practice-Driven Data; Lessons from Chicago’s Approach to Research, Data, and Practice in Education.” The lack of preparation for transitions—from class to class, teacher to teacher, and especially year to year—is a large part of why some students aren’t able to be successful in high school or beyond. Seeskin suggests that schools and districts plan for tough transition periods in a way that lowers as much of the risk of failure as possible. The table discussions after Seeskin’s talk centered around data—its use, place, and abuse in the public education sector. Groups were lively and informative, with many leaders sharing about their districts and learning about successes in others. The remainder of the day was split between working groups and vendor discussions. Participants had a choice of eight different working groups with collaborative discussions led by a Tech & Learning editor. Topics ranged from learning spaces to emerging technology and touched on ideas including personalized learning, student data privacy, and changing teacher pedagogy. Vendors showcased wonderful new tools meant to streamline school processes and

Working group discussions covered digital citizenship, data privacy, rethinking learning spaces, and more.

eliminate red tape. Technology resellers, Internet filter providers, and vendors of online portfolio platforms and single-sign-on solutions were all on hand to walk participants through demos. The theme of the weekend was “How can we make your lives easier and your students safer?” The discussion groups were designed to include a mix of people with different roles from districts of different sizes. This recipe provided for rich discussions of what worked, what didn’t, and why. The digital citizenship discussion, in particular, was energetic to the verge of heated, with every single participant in the room agreeing on one thing— they all want what is best for their students. Really, the idea that all participants want what is best for their students seems to be what this weekend boiled down to. Every educational leader there was eager to learn what they could take back to their districts that would make a positive impact on Argonne’s Educational Programs and Outreach Director Meridith Bruozas students’ lives. talked about ways schools can better prepare the next generation for an unknown From the Argonne future . National Laboratory

supercomputer to the keynote celebrating successful transition models to dinners around tables with newfound friends, this weekend was about relationships. What’s the relationship between a supercomputer named Aurora and the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne? What’s the relationship between a well-supported high-school freshman and their success rate as they think about college? While personalized learning can be enhanced by technology, isn’t it, at its core, about getting to know someone else? It’s about finding out what makes them tick and their priorities. Then technology can be called on to facilitate creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Tools are the how, but personalized learning has to come from the who and the why. Who are your students as learners, and why do they want to come to school? Thank you, Tech & Learning, for helping leaders bring it back to why we are here— to help students learn how to be successful. Nikki Schafer is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband, two little girls and two large dogs. Nikki has a bachelors in Music Education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, a Masters in Instructional Technology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and is currently working towards a Masters in Educational Leadership with Doane University.


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yber issues in schools can impact students, teachers, staff, and physical or virtual elements of schools and districts. Schools are driven by the notion of improving student learning through the tools and skills of educators. Unfortunately, cyber issues can stop learning without warning because systems are corrupted or a data breach occurs. Because Lightspeed Systems and Amazon Web Services are dedicated to improving digital safety in schools, they partnered with Tech & Learning on a Digital Safety Summit in Austin that brought professionals together from around the country to brainstorm, advise, and then support them moving forward with ideas and tools. I was lucky enough to be one of those individuals, and I was moved by the conversations and

the drive of Lightspeed Systems, Amazon Web Services, and all the dedicated educators in the room. The day focused on five pillars of digital safety: • Build an Understanding • Create Better Supports • Build Stronger Protections • Influence Policy • Communicate Policies with Parents and the Community



The focus areas are five separate points; however, to create a digital safety playbook, all areas need to function together to create a strong human and information system plan. This starts

Lightspeed CEO Brian Thomas closes the conference, noting their mission: "Lightspeed Systems is on a mission to protect students by giving schools the solutions they need to block dangerous content, identify at-risk students, ensure student data privacy, manage and secure devices, and promote safe and effective classroom integration of technology and digital resources. Our Relay platform filters, monitors, manages, protects, and reports on all activity across every device. We’re leading the way, with more than 28,000 schools using our solutions to protect millions of students. By being part of essential conversations at events like the Digital Safety Summit, Lightspeed Systems continues to deliver innovative solutions to the toughest ed-tech challenges. Learn more:"


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with learning and building an understanding of digital safety. The Internet provides an opportunity for children to learn, explore their world, and socialize with friends. Teachers and school leaders need to understand the potential dangers students face. Districts and schools can start by evaluating the access, privacy, and messaging policies of all apps, subscriptions, digital games, social networks, and online tools used by teachers and students. This evaluation can be done internally or by a consultant. It requires a deep dive into current practices and gaps in security. Once they know the areas for improvement and/or dangers, districts can begin to educate staff and students. Building an understanding will help schools have safer digital experiences. Educating students and faculty about potential hazards and what appropriate online conduct looks like can ensure a safe learning environment is adapted.



Better supports is not about locking down systems; it is about knowing which supports create a safe learning environment with a high level of security. One participant shared a powerful line around the topic of better supports: “Move from No to Know.” One way to ensure better supports is to review filtering options to prevent students from accessing inappropriate content—either deliberately or accidentally. Better supports can be put in place by filtering, limiting, and blocking software or websites that are not appropriate or linked to learning. Participants shared that this step should not be done in isolation. Teachers and staff can help determine which sites should be blocked. Regular audits should also be conducted to ensure that appropriate online educational material can still be accessed and to determine if blocked sites

should remain blocked. The second part of better supports is not behind the scenes but in the classrooms. Digital citizenship lessons, teaching students what it means to be responsible digital citizens and promoting a positive school climate, are important. Schools were encouraged to design and implement a digital citizenship curriculum. Topics for this curriculum include: privacy and security, relationships and communication, cyberbullying and digital drama, digital footprints and reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy, and creative credit and copyright. Additionally, having a district acceptable use policy will empower and create responsibility and expectations for students.



Stronger protections emphasizes the importance of better supports (like filters and curriculum) and adding more depth. One recommendation was to create a single online access point for a district and an umbrella of protection for all information and resources. Full control of the data that comes, stays, and leaves the district increases safety exponentially. Implementing a tool that designs a one-way street, or safety umbrella of protection, for data and information doesn’t solve everything, but commonly attackers only want to be successful once or twice a day. Then they’ll move on to the next district, so having something in place for that one time will give districts equipment protection and additional assurances over filtering. Stronger protection also has a human capital component. Developing terms of service statements for all vendors or resources to follow before a district purchases anything will help develop an understanding of best practices for data security and privacy. Terms of service may change with software updates, so it’s important to ensure that updated terms of service are implemented with every software update or new release of a purchased tool.



School systems operate with policies and procedures voted by school boards or committees. The next step in the digital safety playbook is educating school boards and influencing policies related to digital safety. Districts and states are different, but what can be universally agreed on is the need to review digital safety procedures annually.

Technology is advancing and digital threats are increasing at a rapid pace. Are school boards reviewing policies at this same rate? School boards know districts need safety policies and equipment, but these can be hard to present/sell to the community and justify the fees associated with purchasing software or hardware. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a crisis to get the action required. It’s important to be proactive and educate school boards so they know and understand safety needs. Once they understand what’s already in place and what it takes to keep the data and students safe, they will have the information needed to justify additional tools to help protect privacy.



Having an understanding, safeguards, and updated policies are all critical, but communicating policies with parents and the community turns ideas into action. It was universally suggested at the symposium that districts empower families with the information through updates, meetings, community notices, and any other ways to get information out. When they know the risks and what’s in place, communities are much more likely to be supportive. Students in school need to be safe physically, emotionally, and digitally. Communicating the policies to families and the community will create a culture of safety. District administrators realize the benefits of monitoring systems and students to keep everything safe. Using data to make informed decisions will enable districts to balance technical advances with the need to protect data privacy. Using the five steps from the digital playbooks is a start; it’s now up to us as educators to take the playbook and create a safe environment for learning. Dr. Matthew X. Joseph is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Leicester Public Schools. He has been a school and district leader in many capacities in public education over his 25 years in the field. Experiences such as the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation, elementary school principal, classroom teacher, and district professional development specialist. His work and experience focus on supporting teaching and learning. Follow Dr. Joseph on twitter at @MatthewXJoseph or read his blog


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HOW it’s DONE School and District Leaders Share How They’re Making IT Work

Create an Accessible Website By Lisa Nielsen Website owners want all visitors to their site to be able to access the content. This requires ensuring the site is accessible so no one is left out. Making a site accessible is not intuitive, but once you understand the basic concepts you’ll discover: • It’s not difficult • It becomes second nature, and • Accessible content is better content. Fortunately, more and more platforms support the ability to create and maintain websites that are compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Here are steps you can take to ensure you have a site that can be accessed by everyone, including the 15–20 percent of the population who have disabilities.

Lisa Nielsen is the Senior Director of Digital Literacy & Inclusion at the New York City Department of Education.


If you’re having trouble, contact your provider for guidance. They usually have a list of accessibility-ready options.

The first step is to select an accessibility-ready theme or template. Most sites allow you to search for accessible themes or templates. Some are even moving toward making them all accessible. While many accessibility issues can’t be addressed effectively if you have an inaccessible theme, some sites, such as Wordpress, have plug-ins that may help with common accessibility problems.

Sample of an accessible website.


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STEP 2: ACCESSIBLE CONTENT CREATION Once you choose a theme or template, or add a plug-in to solve the underlying accessibility of your site, you need to create, or re-create, accessible content for the site. Content remediation/creation includes: • Adding alternative text [Alt text]-descriptive text for images and graphics • Using proper color contrast • Structuring headings in an accessible format • Captioning videos • Making sure all documents on your site are accessible (avoid PDFs) • Providing meaningful hyperlinks.



Ensure ongoing compliance by creating a

regular WCAG 2.0 AA evaluation schedule. • Select a testing tool. • WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool is one that’s free, easy to use, and works well if your site is small. • If you require more robust testing, you may want to purchase an evaluation tool. • Determine priority page(s) for automated and/or manual testing. For links to further resources, go to the online version of this article at https://www. Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She’s a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Tech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal.


Build an Esports League By Chris Aviles

school teams have joined our league so far. That means if esports is going to happen at Esports in education is really taking off. NJ the middle-school level, it’s up to educators to is well represented, with three teams. We also make it happen. Organizing our league consists have teams from Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas, of a Google sheet, where the teams have put Florida, and New Mexico. their team info and availability, as well as a It’s important that we build our own middleschool league. At least in Jersey, there isn’t—and will likely never be—an official governing body for esports at our level. I’ve talked to the NJSIAA, our governing body for high-school athletics, and while they said they’re “getting background information on esports and doing our due diligence before we make any decisions moving forward…” with sanctioning esports The FH Knights showcasing their skills on the show floor of ISTE19. at the high-school level, they won’t be providing any guidance or oversight at the middle-school level. According to the Discord channel where we’re working out who people I talk to, that seems to be the norm will play whom and when. We’ll meet online at throughout the country: middle-school the agreed times and have our matches. esports is on its own. I have no doubt that middle-school esports, and esports in general, will continue its massive growth this year. It’s important that all schools embrace esports, and it’s important that educators take an active role in making teams and building leagues. Neither is as hard as you think, and both will lead to better opportunities for students. Check out my Guide to Esports for Education if you want to bring esports to your school. And stay tuned to hear more about our league. It’s gonna be big!

My school year is off to a great start. The Fair Haven Innovates program is entering its fifth year of existence, the second year with the program looking like I want it to. My esports team, the FH Knights, is also entering its second year. This means it’s time to take it up a notch. Last year, the FH Knights were the first middle-school esports team in the country. As such, it was hard to find anyone to play us in Rocket League. I wound up reaching out to Rutgers University and having a nice series of games with them. As the school year progressed, fellow edugamer Steve Isaacs (@ mr_isaacs) fielded a Rocket League team for us to play from his video game club. Steve’s team played my FH Knights in the first-ever middle-school esports match in the country. Afterwards, I met Harvey Scribner (@cougartek), who had started a middleschool esports team in Pennsylvania. We played Harvey’s Cougartek team in the firstever intercontinental (I have some WWE fans on my team) middle-school esports match. Having the first middle-school esports match and the first match across state lines ticked two of my three goals for esports in education last year. The third was to have a match against a team from another country. I was lined up to play a middle-school team from the Netherlands, but my son decided he couldn’t wait any longer to be born, so we had to cancel the match. This year, I have two goals for esports in education. The first is to play that international match, but the second is a big one: build the first middleschool esports league. Over the summer, I put out the call to any middle school who has, or will have, a Rocket League team this school year. Where once I was alone, I’m excited to say that eight middle- Team photo of the FH Knights.

Chris Aviles is a teacher in Fair Haven Schools, NJ. He presents on education topics including gamification, technology integration, BYOD, blended learning, and the flipped classroom.


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Become a Technology-Savvy Administrator By Ursula Martin, Ed.D. Mobile County Public School System’s Instructional Technology department works to help administrators understand the technology integration process—from participation and modeling to evaluating the effectiveness of the integration process. As technology integration into the classroom has increased, monitoring the effectiveness of the integration process has become the major focus. Teachers are responsible for the effective integration of technology in the classroom and knowing if what they’ve chosen to integrate is having an impact on learning. While administrators are observing the integration process, many do not understand the technology tools that are being used in the classroom. MCPSS’s Instructional Technology department offers professional development specifically designed to help administrators understand not only the technology tools being used in their schools but also how to evaluate the effectiveness of the integration process.

WHEN IS THERE TIME? With the growing responsibilities that administrators have, it can be difficult to find the time to gain an understanding of the technology that teachers are integrating into their classrooms. However, just as teachers require professional development (PD) to learn how to integrate technology into the classroom, administrators need professional development as well. The

MCPSS Instructional Technology department offers this training in three sessions, which gives the administrators time in between sessions to begin to apply what they’re learning and to formulate questions, before the following session, on what they experienced at their school.


The Instructional Technology department developed a Professional Learning Unit (PLU) for administrators as a means of helping administrators and prospective administrators better understand the technology integration that’s taking place in their schools. This PLU consists of an introduction to technology apps and programs that the department had previously trained teachers to integrate into their classrooms. Administrators and prospective administrators participate in professional development one day per month for three months. In between each session, they survey their schools on what they’ve learned. Each of the three training sessions for administrators focuses on several technology tools that are being used in many of the schools in the district. The administrators have the opportunity to see each tool in action, participate in an activity that involves them using the tool, and then document times they’ve seen that particular tool being used in a

Administrators as learners dur a PD exercise.


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Team shot of the Mobile County (AL) Public School System’s Instructional Technology department.


classroom or what they feel effective use of that tool should look like in their school. Administrators participating in this PD also have job-embedded tasks to complete when they return to their schools so that they can put what they learned in their sessions into action.

EVALUATING EFFECTIVENESS As part of the third training session, administrators learn about tools they can use to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology integration taking place in their school. They also have an opportunity to share best practices with other administrators from the time they’ve spent in classrooms observing technology use and evaluating its effectiveness. Administrators are introduced to what effective integration consists of, or “look-fors” in the classroom, to help them determine whether or not what they’re observing is effective integration. Last but not least, part of the evaluation process includes sharing with teachers what they’ve observed in the classroom and offering support in the form of technology PD that’s led by the administrator as a way to model what they’ve learned. This PLU has helped to bring administrators and teachers together in their efforts to integrate technology into their schools effectively. As a result, technology tools will have a greater impact on student learning. Dr. Ursula Martin is a district-level Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Mobile County Public School System in Mobile, Alabama.

BACK OFFICE BUSINESS Washington State District Adopts Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbook Highline Public Schools (HPS) opened its middle schools this fall using Discovery Education’s digital Social Studies Techbook to support standards based instruction. Through this new collaboration, Discovery Education is providing educators and students in seven Highline schools access to a digital social studies resource supportive of existing Common Core State Standards, the C3 Framework, and the new Washington State K-12 Social Studies Learning Standards. Highline serves approximately 18,000 K-12 students in the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and White Center in northwest Washington State. Highline sought a new social studies curriculum to support both existing and future social studies standards and fit into the school system’s existing inquiry-focused framework. The Social Studies Techbook pairs core content with essential questions, primary source analysis, and project-based tasks. Developed for diverse student audiences, Social Studies Techbook’s multimodal content aims to support the improvement of academic vocabulary, break down barriers to learning, and engages students in higher-level thinking. A variety of differentiation tools integrated at point of use help educators meet the needs of each student. Other features include access to two Lexile levels of core content, Spanish translation, as well as strategies for teaching students with special needs and English learners. To help HPS’s middle school educators integrate their digital textbooks into classroom instruction, Discovery Education is providing district teachers a number of professional learning opportunities. HPS educators are also receiving support from the Discovery Education Community. A global community of education professionals, the Discovery Education Community connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing, and inspiration.

Massachusetts Schools to Use PublicSchoolWORKS for Online Safety Training EmployeeSafe provides schools and districts with access to 600+ online safety courses, including Suicide Prevention, Restraint and Seclusion, and more, as well as courses on other important safety topics. North Adams Public Schools in North Adams, MA and Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in Palmer, MA have partnered with PublicSchoolWORKS, provider of online safety and regulatory compliance programs for K-12 schools. Both will use PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite to deliver customized training, accident management and reporting, and chemical safety. EmployeeSafe provides schools and districts with access to 600+ online safety courses. This includes courses districts are required to deploy to employees, including Suicide Prevention, Restraint and Seclusion, and more, as well as courses on other important safety topics, including Slips, Trips, and


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Falls and Armed Assailant. North Adams partnered with PublicSchoolWORKS this school year to deliver safety training to all of its approximately 300 staff members, including teachers, cafeteria and facilities workers, clerical paraprofessionals, and librarians. Pathfinder, one of 26 regional vocational schools in the state, is now using the EmployeeSafe Suite with all of its 132 full-time employees, as well as with its students. This includes training and reporting on OSHA requirements, asbestos awareness, lead paint, ladder safety, bloodborne pathogens, and more. “EmployeeSafe saves us so much time and really makes it easy for us to provide and track the training—we can send out reminders and see who has completed the necessary courses,” said Assistant Superintendent and Principal Eric Duda. “Our staff also really likes how the program gives them much-needed flexibility to complete training at times most convenient for them.”

New York State approves use for Impero Impero Software, a specialist provider of remote monitoring and management software for education, has received a contract from the Erie 1 BOCES in New York to be listed as an approved classroom management vendor. This allows districts who are served by Erie 1 BOCES, and all school districts across New York, to choose Impero to manage classroom devices based on a specified price. Erie 1 BOCES offers school districts access to vetted products via a negotiated rate. Schools can now purchase the software without having to go out to bid, allowing them to implement classroom management software in a more timely fashion. “Erie 1 BOCES put our offering to the test and found it met or exceeded its requirements for the management of classroom devices,” said Michael Watt, senior vice president of U.S. sales for Impero Software. “The BOCES takes the leg work out of selecting quality products for school districts and works to get them the best price available to ensure they are able to implement the latest technologies at an affordable price.” Impero’s classroom management software provides multi-device monitoring, including the ability to remotely view, manage and control devices such as Chromebooks, Windows, Mac and iOS to support schools with 1:1 programs. Teachers can monitor students’ screens in real time, share content with students, and control or lock student devices to keep students focused. Impero integrates with Google Classroom, ClassLink and Clever and provides messaging features. Statewide, New York school districts partner with Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in an effort to provide accountability, municipal sharing, efficiency and educational equity. Erie 1 BOCES, one of 37 BOCES in New York State, is a cooperative of 19 school districts surrounding the city of Buffalo. To assist school districts, the organization provides a variety of educational services, including alternative education; career and technical education; communications; health and safety; human resources; labor relations; business office functions; policy; professional development; special education; and technology support. Learn more by visiting

REVIEW Want to go deep? Our colleagues at put any and every piece of tech available through its paces. Tech&Learning highlights the gear that works for schools. For the full review go to:

Form 3 3D Printer Review: Expensive, But Excellent Excellent prints without a fuss.


By Richard Baguley


The Form 3 from Form Labs is a high-end Stereolithographic (SLA) printer that uses a laser to zap liquid resin into solid form. It’s a sophisticated printer that can produce excellent quality prints with little maintenance or tweaking, making it a great pick for those who want to do a lot of printing without hassle.

The Form 3 looks much like previous printers from Form Labs, with an orange plastic hood over the printing area and a black plastic base. That’s about more than just aesthetics: the UV-blocking orange plastic lets you see what is going on while printing is underway, but without outside lights interfering with the process. This hood folds back to reveal the important parts of the Form 3 — the

These quality prints don’t come cheaply, though — the Form 3 starts at $3,499. That may be a hard price to swallow, especially as rival 3D printer makers developer cheaper SLA models, such as the Peopoly Moai. But budget SLA printers often require a lot of experimentation and maintenance to produce quality prints. The Form 3 requires little of either: It just works. For this review, we tested the $4,999 complete kit that includes the Form 3 printer and the Form Wash and Form Cure devices used for cleaning and finishing prints.

resin tank and the print platform. Both are a little larger than the previous Form printers, offering a print area of 5.7 x 5.7 x 7.3 inches, or just over 237 cubic inches. A larger model, the Form 3L, ups this to 11.8 x 13.2 x 7.9 inches, a total of 1,230 cubic inches. The Form 3L, which is due to start shipping later this year, will cost you a cool $9,999, though. The removable resin tank is where the liquid resin sits during printing. The tank’s base features a thin, clear plastic layer that the printing laser shines through. To create each layer of the print, the build platform is lowered down to just over

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this base layer, trapping a thin layer of liquid resin. The UV laser then zaps the liquid, turning it into solid resin, which sticks to the build platform. The printer then lifts the platform, taking the hardened resin with it. The platform lowers again, trapping another layer of liquid resin, and the process repeats. Thus, the Form 3 creates the print layer by layer with layer heights ranging from 0.1mm down to 0.025mm. One of the innovations here is the flexible plastic on the bottom of the layer, which means that the Form 3 can use less force in pulling the hardened layers up. Form Labs calls this Low Force Stereolithography, and claims that it makes printing more reliable. Form Labs isn’t the first printer maker to use this technique (it’s available as an upgrade feature for printers like the Peopoly Moai), but it definitely seems to be effective. We had no failed prints in our Form 3 tests, which is a first for a 3D printer. The Form 3’s laser and optics are found under the resin tan, located in a sealed package called the Light Processing Unit (LPU). This, Form Labs claims, makes the printer more reliable as dust can’t get in to block the path of the laser. It also makes the LPU easier to replace, as the whole unit can be easily removed and replaced by the user. The Resin cartridge in the rear of the Form 3 holds the liquid resin. The printer automatically fills the resin tank: You never need to touch the resin or fill the tank yourself, which is a plus because it is nasty, stinky stuff. The resin tank and cartridge are removable so you can swap out different printing resins without having to clear out the whole printer. The tanks can be cleaned out and reused, but the resin cartridges can’t be reused. It is possible to fill a cartridge with a thirdparty resin, but Form Labs stresses that this might void the warranty of its printer. You can’t leave the resin in the tank for long: if you aren’t using the printer for a few days, Form Labs recommends that you drain and clean the tank to prevent the liquid from hardening in place.


CONTROLS The Form 3 includes an excellent touch screen that allows you to control the printer directly, accessing all of the features and stopping or starting prints. Most users will turn to the PreForm software and the online printing dashboard to operate the Form 3, though. PreForm is the software that prepares your print, loading a 3D model (standard .stl and Wavefront .obj formats are supported) and slicing the model for printing. Available as a free download for Mac and Windows, PreForm is straightforward to use, with a helpful one-touch printing feature that automatically prepares the print, creating the supports that hold it in place while printing and sending the file to the printer. If you want to tweak the process yourself, PreForm allows you to scale, move, spin and otherwise mess with 3D models, as well as arrange several models for printing at one time (a process called plating). The printing dashboard is an online service that manages the Form 3. It’s aimed more at users who operate multiple Form printers or those who share a single printer between multiple users. This dashboard allows you to queue and schedule prints, monitor print progress and pause or cancel printing. The dashboard can also notify you through your cellphone when a print is complete or when a printer has a problem or requires maintenance. Since there’s no camera inside the Form 3 to monitor the prints, you generally don’t know if


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a print has failed until it is complete, unless you take a look during the printing process. The Form 3 isn’t unique in this, though: The way that 3D printers like this work, with a large print platform obscuring the printing area, makes it harder to see how the print is progressing.

PERFORMANCE In our tests, the Form 3 produced excellent quality prints, with fine details and smooth, organic curves and surfaces, even when we used the fastest print settings. Our test models had smooth, even detail with barely detectable layers. Bottom line The Form 3 is a real plug-and-play 3D printer. We didn’t have to do any tweaking or fiddling around to get printing — we just plugged in the Form 3 loaded it up and started printing. The whole process was clean and generally hassle free, which is a lot different from typical SLA printers that require a lot of tweaking, calibration and other fiddling to get good results. The Form 3 just works. At $3,499 and up, though, the Form 3 is also one of the most expensive


3D printers we have tested, and it is expensive to run. For professionals and anyone else who relies on 3D printing, that won’t be an issue. The Form 3 will cost a lot up front, but will be worth it for the easier printing it offers. For enthusiasts and amateurs, it’s trickier, as you can get equally good results from a much cheaper printer like the just-announced $1,799 Peopoly Phenom if you are prepared to take the time to tweak the printer and develop a workflow for cleaning and hardening prints afterward. Still, if 3D printing is a critical part of your workflow, you’ll be pleased with the ease of use and quality results you’ll get by the Form 3.

Much has changed since the first issue of T&L, then called Classroom Computer News, was printed. From the Altair 8800 and dot matrix printers, to 2400 baud modems and the Oregon trail, to the Internet, the iPhone and Twitter, the editors and writers have covered it all. In honor of this anniversary, we will be looking back at some pivotal writings that mark important moments in the history of education technology.

Flipping the


Teachers from around the world have adopted the flipped classroom model and are using it to teach a variety of courses to students of all ages. In the excerpt below from the book, Flip Your Classroom (©2012, ISTE® International Society for Technology in Education), authors Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams outline reasons why educators should consider this model. Flipping speaks the language of today’s students. Today’s students grew up with

Internet access, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and a host of other digital resources. Instruction via video is not a big deal for [them]. When you walk into our classrooms, you will see students engaged in a variety of activities using different digital devices.

Flipping helps busy students. Students

today are busy. Our students appreciate the flexibility of the flipped classroom. Because the main content is delivered via online videos, students can choose to work ahead.

Flipping helps struggling students. When

we taught in the traditional manner, the students who tended to get most of our attention were the best and brightest. In the meantime, the rest of the students would passively listen to the conversation we had with the inquisitive students. But since our introduction of the flipped model, our role has changed—we spend most of our class walking around helping the students who struggle most.

Flipping helps students of all abilities to excel. Our special education teachers love

this model. Because all the direct instruction is recorded, students with special needs can watch the videos as many times as they need to learn the material.

Flipping allows students to pause and rewind their teacher. Even the best

presenters and lecturers have students who don’t understand or learn all that is required. When we flipped the classroom, we gave the students control of the remote. Giving students the ability to pause their teachers is truly revolutionary.

Flipping increases student–teacher interaction. We are not advocating the

replacement of classrooms and classroom teachers with online instruction. In fact, we strongly believe that flipping the classroom

creates an ideal merger of online and face-toface instruction that is becoming known as a “blended” classroom.

Flipping changes classroom management. Under a traditional model of

teaching, we had students who consistently did not pay attention in class. These students were often a distraction to the rest of the class and negatively affected everybody else’s learning. When we flipped the classroom, we discovered something amazing. Because we were not just standing and talking at kids, many of the classroom management problems evaporated. Students who needed an audience no longer had one. Because class time is primarily used for students to either do hands-on activities or work in small groups, those students who were typically a distraction become a non-issue.

Flipping educates parents. A surprising thing happened when we started talking to parents during parent-teacher conferences. Many of them told us they loved our videos. As it turns out, many of them were watching right alongside their children and learning science. This leads to interesting discussions between students and parents about the content of our lessons.

it is hard to obtain qualified substitute teachers. When we first started recording our lessons and posting the videos online, we simply recorded our lessons live in front of our students. It then dawned on us that we could prerecord a lesson for our students ahead of time when we knew we were going to be gone. This method is being used across the country.

Flipping can lead to the flipped-mastery program. We are [now] using the flipped-

mastery model, in which students move through the material at their own pace. No longer do all students watch the same video on the same night. Students watch and learn in an asynchronous system where they work toward content mastery. We should note that we did not start using the flipped-mastery program until two years after abandoning the traditional model. Our journey has been a process that has occurred over several years, and we recommend that those interested in flipping make the change gradually.

Flipping makes your class transparent.

Flipping opens the doors to our classrooms and allows the public in. Our videos are posted on the Internet, and our students’ parents and others have free access to them. Instead of wondering what their students are being exposed to in the classroom, parents can find our lessons in just a few clicks.

Flipping is a great technique for absent teachers. We teach in a semirural school where


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By Lisa Nielsen

The One-Take Video requires a topic, written script, narration, simple props, and a collaborative group of students with a small camera. The video, usually under three minutes, is done in one take. Students write a script covering the topic and prepare props that integrate with the script. When ready to shoot the video, the script, camera, and props are incorporated into a video production that begins with the record button being turned on, and ends with the record button being turned off.

While I certainly see benefits in flipping instruction, there are also reasons to move ahead with caution:

Pick a Topic

Flipped homework is still homework. There are a growing number of parents and educators who believe mandatory homework needlessly robs children of their after-school time. We believe time at home should be spent pursuing passions, connecting with friends and family, playing and engaging in physical activity. In some families, it might be time needed to take care of a sibling, work a job, or take care of their own child. Let us leave children to the activities they and their family choose or find necessary.

A simple One-Take Video can be the focus of an activity for any curricular area. Decide on whether it will explain a concept, demonstrate an idea, give a procedural overview, or show a demonstration of learning.

Assign the Groups

In the spirit of PBL, students should be divided into groups. Three seems to be a good number. While all students should help facilitate all tasks, a manager for each role will also help. These roles include script writer/reader, prop creation and manipulator, and technical and project manager.


The pre-production includes writing the script. It should be creative, easy to understand, and concise. Once it is written and all props and set are prepared, it’s time to rehearse. No camera is needed for the rehearsal.

Final Production

Students are now ready to shoot the final video. They will need a camera and possibly a small tripod. Students will also need their scripts, props, and set (could be just a white background). This session should mimic the final successful rehearsal. Any mistakes will require a complete retake.


Students should be assessed using both formative and summative methods. In the formative category, pre-production scripts could be the object of an assessment. The formative can also include teacher observation and facilitation throughout the project. Peer and individual assessment in the formative stage can include journaling with reflection. The final rubric should include content application, collaboration, and communication. A simple One-Take Video can provide students with a powerful process to practice 21st century skill development.



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We have yet to bridge the digital divide... Many of our students don’t have access to technology at home. The flipped classroom method does not have strong provisions in place for these children.



More time for bad pedagogy. Flipping instruction might end up just providing more time to do the same type of memorization and regurgitation that just doesn’t work. When I shared the idea of the Flipped Classroom with an administrator, she said to me with excitement, “This is great! We’ll have more class time to prepare kids for the tests!”


Grouping by date of manufacture... If we really want transformation in education, one thing we must do is stop grouping students by date of manufacture, which the flipped classroom is ideally suited for, but have schools put the structures in place? Are they ready to let students move at a pace that meets their developmental readiness and come to the realization that not everyone at the same age needs to be at the same place at the same time? True flipping should include a careful redesign of the learning environment, but this is often overlooked.


Lecturing doesn’t equal learning. The flipped classroom is built on a traditional model of teaching and learning: I lecture, you intake. While this method of teaching works for some learners, many others thrive with a model that takes a more constructivist approach.


While there’s no doubt that flipping is preferable to sending kids off on their own to make meaning of lectures, without questioning exactly how the pedagogy works, we are doing our children a disservice.


( Boxlight published “The Big Guide to STEM: Volume No. 2.” The guide offers tips and resources to guide teachers as they integrate STEM into their curriculum. Available for free, the comprehensive guide explains why STEM is critical for today’s students and shares how to incorporate STEM learning into the classroom.

Optoma ( announced its 406 series of ultra compact 1080p and WUXGA laser light source projectors. With 4K HDR image processing and simplified features to fit ProAV installations in education, government and corporate settings, the Optoma ZU406, ZH406 and ZH406ST will illuminate any mid-size projection environment with incredible picture quality.


( The Connections Model launched its

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software & online


Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the 20192020 school year and available to customers via Alexa-enabled devices. Families will have access to their child’s behavior data and messages using any Alexa-enabled device and via the Alexa app.

Check out the following resources from our partner sites:

WEBINARS address the newly revised New York State standards, includes a combination of student and teacher resources that address the demands for focus, rigor, and higher-order thinking to support standards mastery and proficiency.

How to Launch an Instructional Technology Strategy Sponsored by: OverDrive Education

Strategies for Building Proficient K-12 Writers Sponsored by: Voyager Sopris

Content, patience and a plan: How to launch an instructional technology strategy

Strategies for Delivering Required ESSA Reporting and Supporting Student Success Sponsored by: BrightBytes

8 Ways Teachers Can Incorporate Technology into the Classroom Sponsored by: Voyager Sopris Check for updates

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FrontRow 27 Gaggle



Kokomo 2 Lightspeed Systems

( & ( Kickboard announced that the Kickboard skill for Amazon Alexa will be hosted on


Peerless-AV 7 TCEA 33 Toa Electronics


highlight coding, creativity, exploration, solution thinking, and collaboration skills. Additionally, the K-1 kits will include cross-discipline, extension and enrichment activities.

( & ( Gale, a Cengage company, has partnered with Mackin to make its database content available on the MackinVIA digital content management platform. Now MackinVIA customers can search Gale databases using MackinVIA’s new Deep Discovery tool to quickly find authoritative content, delivering better research outcomes for student success.

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( SAM Labs launched new coding and problem-solving curriculum and resources for kindergarten and first-grade students, including Baby Blocky, a new character to the SAM Labs family, and other courses that

( Edgenuity customers now have access to six SEL courses integrated into Courseware: Mental Health & Wellness, College and Career Readiness, Social & Emotional Success, Unlock Your Purpose, Character & Leadership Development and Personal Development. The curriculum addresses topical interventions for students at risk or in need of behavioral supports and intervention.

Sponsored by: OverDrive Education



( With Turnitin Feedback Studio’s similarity checking service, leverage the world’s largest collection of internet, academic, and

student paper content. Teaching originality requires more than just plagiarism detection; paired with commenting and grading tools and classroom resources, Feedback Studio helps teach students the value of their authentic voice.


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