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Getting There: Innovations in Education
29 minutes | 14 days ago
Educational Innovations: Charting an Educational Course for Success in Choppy Pandemic Waters.
Marianthe Williams, School Administrator and Director of Technology for the River Dell Regional School District in Oradell, New Jersey, took a journey back in time to March of 2020 to help break down her district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Call it good fortune, or maybe just innovative planning, but the River Dell School District already created the environment and infrastructure to provide remote learning for students and teachers. So, when the pandemic hit, it was ahead of the curve. On March 11, it knew school closures were imminent, and Williams said the staff used a PD day to plan for online learning. “We’re a Microsoft school,” Williams said. “So, we had all the 365 tools, years of PD with the HP device, and this was the game changer; everyone had a digital pen.” With all of the digital tools in place, something the district was slowly rolling out, Microsoft Teams, kicked into high gear once things moved to remote learning. Fast forward to the fall of 2020, and a new challenge emerged. Williams explained there was a combination of kids learning from home and kids learning in person. “Even though there’s a camera on your laptop, now there’s a barrier,” Williams said. “And everyone is six feet apart, and it’s much harder. You can’t just turn your laptop around.” It was essential to make sure every student had a webcam to communicate with every student, whether in class or online. One of the benefits of online learning Williams found is having one-on-one interactions between teachers and students. The situation was more manageable when everyone was doing online learning in the spring. This fall proved more challenging when teachers met new students with masks on their faces. “Even though you’re there, and there is a bond, there is a barrier too,” Williams said. With her district's 'we got this' mentality, Williams believes there are no obstacles it cannot overcome.
36 minutes | a month ago
The eLearning Lessons We Can Take into Post-Pandemic Life
Most teachers and students now have figured out how to utilize the technology that suddenly become required in March. Student evaluation remains a challenge, especially with some state standards lagging behind technology growth. Resources utilized during the pandemic still can be important tools going forward. In March, most school districts were sent scrambling when the start coronavirus pandemic made it clear it was not wise to conduct school on campus – at least not in the traditional way. Some students are back in the physical building, while others are learning entirely remotely. But, with nine months of time to develop strategies and best practices, not only are districts now starting to get a clearer picture of how to best educate students, but teachers are, as well. Randy Rodgers, Judson ISD’s Director of Instructional Technology, said one teacher he works with struggled to get the hang of the learning management system but is now a campus leader. It’s hardly the only collaborative moment he’s seen among faculty members during the pandemic. “One of the things that has been really exciting is that, when I’m not sure of an answer, one of the teachers will chime in and say, ‘Oh, I already figured that out!’” Rodgers said. “I think their skill level is going to be dramatically [increased]. They’re not going to be out there writing code, necessarily, but, as far as just the basics and how to integrate technology into their instruction, I think that’s definitely going to be a plus.” That will require districts to remain committed to a different way of learning, even when it’s safe for classrooms to be full and everyone to be learning face-to-face once again. Rodgers said he hopes the gains made through hard work this year won’t be thrown away. “We’ve got to maintain that presence. We’ve got to get better at integrating it seamlessly into our face-to-face instruction,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got that opportunity now.” With more time to plan what to do post-pandemic than what to do at the start of it, Rodgers said districts should start thinking about how the technology they’ve invested in and trained their students and teachers on can continue to help improve the learning process for years to come. Brought to you by:
24 minutes | 3 months ago
How automation keeps student bullies in check—both in-person and remote.
Even a pandemic won’t stop bad student behavior and in many cases inflames it. In this conversation with eSchool News, Laura Lockhart, director of student services of Keller Independent School District in Texas talks about how the district digitally updated their bullying reporting process to keep students safe and meet federal reporting regulations.
25 minutes | 3 months ago
STEM in the time of COVID—How one district keeps innovating in “The Weirds.”
Like every educator, Frank Pileiro has had to pivot. As Supervisor of Technology at Linwood Board of Education in South Jersey, he has the added pressure of overseeing their robust maker space programs while managing the current hybrid teaching setup. In this conversation with eSchool News, Frank explains how to keep engaging students, even if it’s from a distance.
29 minutes | 4 months ago
Looking For The Little Wins
Everyone has a crazy COVID story. For Brigantine, NJ Superintendent Glenn Robbins, it goes something like this—lead a school district through a global pandemic having hardly met the students, parents, or faculty. In this conversation with eSchool News, Glenn details the never-ending variables of getting back to school in 2020 and how the priority should be well-being first. In some cases, technology can help not hinder.
26 minutes | 4 months ago
Game On—How one district is using gaming to build community and serve student well being.
James O’Hagan is not playing around. As Director of Digital and Virtual Learning for the Racine Unified School District in Wisconsin, his job entails not just managing the virtual learning program in response to the pandemic, but also supporting library services, as well as developing his passion project of Esports. In this conversation with eSchool News, James talks about the essential role Esports can play when it comes to student health, mental wellness, social-emotional learning, as well as connecting to collegiate and career pathways.
30 minutes | 5 months ago
Time to Get Real—How one rural district is dealing with both connectivity and equality for fall.
For Todd Dugan, Superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8, a small, remote district in Southern Illinois, issues surrounding back-to-school COVID-19 style are not abstract but all too real. In this conversation with eSchool News, Todd tries to keep the glass half full as he looks to take advantage of these incredible disruptions to education.
35 minutes | 6 months ago
Time to Get Real with Equity
How one rural district is dealing with COVID-related connectivity and equality for fall. For Todd Dugan, superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8, a small, remote district in southern Illinois, issues surrounding back-to-school COVID-19 style are not abstract but all too real. Some of the district’s biggest priorities include: Rural struggles–and successes–as COVID hit Address learning loss that comes with inequity As school resumes, freedom of choice In this conversation with eSchool News, Todd tries to keep the glass half full as he looks to take advantage of these incredible disruptions to education.
28 minutes | 6 months ago
A Device in Every Hand—How one district handles the chaos of pandemic asset management
For Sandra Paul, Director of Director Of Information Technology at the Township of Union Public Schools in Northern New Jersey, the goal is simple—every one of the 7,200 kids in her district must have a device this fall. How to accomplish this? Not so simple. In this conversation with eSchoolnews, Sandra details her asset management tactics for whatever scenario her district winds up with—in person, hybrid, or remote.
18 minutes | 6 months ago
Feedback and Flexibility—Two Keywords for One District’s Goal for Fall.
As the newly installed Director of Student Information at Barrington School District in suburban Chicago (IL), a district with 9,000 students and 13 schools, Phil Hintz has an added challenge to an already impossible situation—discover unprecedented solutions in an entirely new environment. In this conversation with eSchool News, Phil details how the district is reinventing itself through data collection, making tough logistical decisions, and inspiring both faculty and parents to stretch their imaginations when it comes to instruction.
20 minutes | 6 months ago
Professional Development Pandemic Style—How one District Is Prepping Staff For Success
Jon Castelhano, Executive Director of Technology at Gilbert Public Schools in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, is making lemonade. Instead of stopgap measures to make it through the COVID-19 crisis, his district is crafting strategic changes with an eye toward the long term. These are ideas long talked about but never implemented in the 40 schools that serve 34,000 students. For it to work, faculty need to reinvent themselves too. In this conversation with eSchool News, Jon describes how they intend to do just that.
23 minutes | 7 months ago
Stepping Back To Succeed—How one district is dealing with the intangibles of the unthinkable.
Forget about tech for a minute. For Adam Phyall, Director of Technology and Media Services for Newton County School System (GA), connectivity, communication, and emotional support are what is key for district success during the pandemic. In his discussion with eSchool News, Adam talks about the big picture challenges the next school year brings for his students, parents, faculty, and administration and how he plans to deal with them.
30 minutes | 7 months ago
Data vs. COVID-19
How one district runs the numbers through mapping software to find blended learning solutions for this fall. When Mark Finstrom, Chief Technology Officer for Highline Public Schools (WA) first integrated data analytic mapping software into his district’s digital toolbox a few years ago, it was to better visualize his district’s data to consider things like potential new school construction or bus routes for approximately 20,000 students. Little did he know he would end up using it for disaster logistics. In this conversation with eSchoolnews, Mark demos the GuideK12 Analytics Suite (watch the video below) and suggests ways districts can make better decisions faster.
22 minutes | 7 months ago
Whatever It Takes—South Portland Maine Schools Pivot With The Pandemic
When speaking with Andrew Wallace, Director of Technology, South Portland Maine Schools, two classic marketing slogans come to mind: “Think Different” and “Just Do It.” Whether it is getting Chromebooks and hotspots to students in need, supporting faculty in the move to remote learning, or just giving students a sense of comfort, he and his district, which includes a pre-k center, five elementary schools, two middle schools, and South Portland High School, are making up new rules as they go along in this pandemic era.
21 minutes | 8 months ago
How Newport-Mesa Unified School District became closer by being apart
Jenith Mishne is a relentlessly positive person. Not even a global pandemic can dampen her enthusiasm when talking about her job as Director of Education Technology in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (CA), where she serves 22,500 students at twenty-two elementary schools, two intermediate schools, four high schools, one alternative education center, and one adult education center. In this conversation with eSchool News, Mishne finds the silver linings in the world’s largest beta test for remote learning—from device management to compassionate teacher professional development and better community communication. She also shares some of her thoughts about how education can grow from this tragedy.
24 minutes | 8 months ago
District leaders share successes while managing school tech in the midst of the COVID crisis
That COVID “where were you when” moment from last March is still fresh in Paul Sanfrancesco’s mind. Watching neighboring districts announce closures and realizing his own faculty would be stranded at home, contingency plans were hatched and devices were launched to prep students for remote learning. And while no one could have been completely prepared for what has since developed, schools in the Owen J. Roberts School District (OJRSD) were already using several learning management tools that eased the transition. They also continue to learn new techniques and strategies as all schools everywhere move into the unknown. Sanfrancesco is Director of Technology for OJRSD. The district, located in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, comprises five elementary schools, one middle school, and the Owen J. Roberts High School. The student population for the entire district is around 4,800 students. Sanfrancesco teaches as a professor in the Graduate Education Department at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA and Neumann University, Aston, PA. He was named CTO of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology and one of the “20 to Watch” educators by the National School Boards Association for his work in IT.
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