Source: EdTech Digest

naikuwebNaiku studentA unique and comprehensive cloud-based software that helps transform teaching and learning through more effective assessment, Naiku is used across all subjects and grades to provide deeper and faster insight into student knowledge for informed instruction that better engages students and truly supports the personalization of learning. Comprehensively used for student assessment, from instant student polling and formative quizzes to benchmark and summative tests – teachers can create, import, and share items and assessments with their team, school, or district using the platform. Teachers can instantly view student and class proficiency for any learning standard, either for each individual assessment or longitudinally over time, and collaborate with others for informed and differentiated instruction. Meanwhile, students are actively engaged in their learning: in addition to answering a wide variety of question item types, students can express their confidence and provide justification and journal about their answer. After test submission, they can review and reflect on their performance and knowledge by viewing each question, correct answer and automatically supplied answer rationale along with their answer, confidence, and justification; these research proven self-assessment processes accelerate student learning. In addition, they can automatically be provided instructional resources such as videos, ebooks and more – all personalized for them based on their proficiency.

Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson to provide personalized EdTech services to solution providers and educators

greyed logoToday the K-12 and EdTech industries are getting the solution they have been seeking with the launch of GreyED Solutions.  The new company, headed by nationally recognized education leaders, will help schools plan and execute their technology implementation and integration goals.  GreyEd will also supply EdTech providers with industry insight to aid in the development and refinement of their products and services.

GreyED Solutions was co-founded by Julie Carter, former executive director of technology for Minnetonka Public Schools, and Rob Dickson, current executive director of information management at Omaha Public Schools. Carter brings years of successful consulting experience in both the K-12 and EdTech industry. During her time at Minnetonka, she oversaw one of the best 1:1 computing efforts in the country and was named a Tech & Learning “Leader of the Year” as well as one of NSBA’s “20 to Watch” in 2010.  She has since continued consulting with districts nationwide to support various implementations.

Recently named 2014’s “20 to Watch” from NSBA, Dickson’s other accomplishments include leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education, launching one of the fastest growing virtual schools in the nation as well as advising district leaders nationwide with their technology planning and integration efforts.

“With the growth of technology and digital content in the classroom, EdTech vendors need to hear the voices of educators now more than ever,” Carter stated. “We facilitate the discussion between supplier and consumer; it is our mission to utilize the dialog to foster the development and improvement of EdTech products and services, thus ensuring the most innovative and successful technologies in the hands of students.”

Drawing from years of experience in technology and administration, GreyED Solutions’ industry expertise provides districts nationwide with technology implementation solutions, designed to empower today’s learners. Through their personalized LEARNing (Listen Engage Analyze Recommend Next Steps) process, GreyED Solutions helps schools and districts achieve their technology goals. By gathering leading national educators and administrators together for Feedback Forums, GreyED Solutions also aims to help organizations within the EdTech industry develop and refine their products and services based on current market needs.

“We could not be happier to make this announcement. As current and former district administrators, we recognize the challenges that administrators and EdTech service providers face in today’s tech focused environment,” said Dickson. “We are here to ease the strain on both sides.”

For more information about GreyED Solutions, please visit http://greyedsolutions.com/

18-year IT business veteran will lead market expansion

TeacherMatchLogo_4colorTeacherMatch, a revolutionary teacher candidate assessment solution, is excited to welcome Elizabeth Fadil as the new Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Liz has joined TeacherMatch from SchoolMessenger, the nation’s leading provider of K12 mass notifications, where she was Senior Vice President of Sales. Liz brings fresh performance initiatives and new efficiencies to the TeacherMatch team.

Liz began her career at Xerox Corporation, where she developed a passion for working with K12 school districts, and other public sector entities. She continued to provide technology alternatives to the education marketplace at Sun Microsystems, and Information Builders

“I’ve always had a passion for expanding the use of technology in schools, and am very impressed with how TeacherMatch uses technology in the teacher hiring process,” said Fadil. “I firmly believe that in order to sell a product you need to have faith in its ability to improve the lives of your consumers. TeacherMatch does just that; it maximizes the administration’s ability to hire the most qualified and appropriate candidates. I look forward to expanding the market potential and helping school administrators.”

As the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Elizabeth will lead and oversee sales staff development, business processes, strategic planning and market expansion.

“Liz brings a tremendous amount of experience in education technology and a style that enriches our company’s values,” said Don Fraynd, PhD, CEO and co-founder of TeacherMatch. We are lucky to have her on our team and look forward to her leading our efforts to expand our reach to more and more partners across the education space.”

For more information about TeacherMatch, visit their website at www.TeacherMatch.org

Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby and Mitch Weisburgh Revolutionize online Professional Development

edchat logoToday Edchat Interactive announces the platform that replaces talking head webinars with an interactive, online Professional Development web experience.

Nationally recognized authors and social media icons, Steven Anderson, and Tom Whitby join with humanitarian and veteran edtech consultant Mitch Weisburgh to launch Edchat Interactive, transforming the way educators participate in live online professional development.

The inaugural Edchat Interactive web event takes place Wednesday October 22 at 8:00 PM EST. The first session will highlight Anderson and Whitby’s co-authored book, The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning. Participants in this interactive session will examine how connectedness empowers educators to be better professionals, to share tips and techniques to save time, to overcome obstacles, and to develop new skills.

“There are so many incredible educators out there doing absolutely amazing things with their students,, “ explains Mitch Weisburgh. “But we saw that there is no effective way to transfer these practices across the country and around the world. Live face to face PD isn’t scalable, and webinars just don’t teach the way we all learn.”

“The three of us saw an opportunity to conduct PD that is more in tune with the way we learn,” stated Steven Anderson. “Educators are far too busy to sit and watch a lengthy talking head presentation. They want to interact, reflect, and participate in their learning.  We believe the Edchat Interactive model fits into the busy lives of educators. Five years ago we started the Edchat Twitter chats because we saw an opportunity for educators to direct their own development by interacting with other educators. We see a next generation opportunity today with Edchat Interactive.”

“We wanted to replicate the presence, interactivity, and social learning that takes place in great face to face PD with the scalability offered through the Internet, and we believe that Edchat Interactive provides the platform for learners to be in charge of their learning,” stated Whitby. “Participants will work in small groups to discuss the challenges faced by connected educators and how we all can over come them.”

Together these education experts and founders of Edchat Interaction bring years of successful teaching and consulting experience in both the K-12 and EdTech industry.

Steven Anderson, a former teacher and Director of Instructional Technology is highly sought after for his expertise in educational technology integration and using social media for learning.

Tom Whitby, founder of Edchat Interactive, is a highly recognized expert in Social Media for Education. He served as a social media consultant for SmartBrief and a contributing Editor for SmartBlog on Education for SmartBrief. Currently, he blogs for Edutopia.

Mitch Weisburgh, co-founder of Academic Business Advisors, applies his knowledge of business, instructional design, and systems to help organizations align their products and services with academic needs and education market funding requirements so that they can scale and make a difference to kids and educators.

For more information about Edchat Interactive and to sign up for the event, please visit http://www.edchatinteractive.org/

Source: Smartblog on Education

LU logoI can hear the fear in my colleagues’ voices when they talk about the Common Core State Standards. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the new standards and how to teach to them.

The fear is even more prevalent in the special education community, and with good reason. I spent 15 years in the classroom as a special-education teacher, and I would have been terrified if somebody told me, “We want you to teach math and science and health this year. Not only that, but we want you to teach in a way that goes deeper and requires more mastery from students than ever before.”

While special-education teachers do a wonderful job of helping students gain access to information in various subjects, they’re not necessarily experts in particular subject areas. As I’m sure you can imagine, they’re now tasked with an incredibly overwhelming burden.

In my new role as a special education academic support teacher — SEAST –, part of my job is to listen to and empathize with these teachers’ frustrations. But my next question is, “I know it’s going to be tough — so where do we go from here?”

A new perspective

Getting past a teacher’s mental hurdles is a daunting task, so I try to help them see common core in a new light.

If you’re familiar with special education at all, you might be familiar with the buzzwords “universal design for learning” — an educational framework that has been around for several years. UDL is very popular in the special education community, and it’s starting to catch on in mainstream classes as well.

Essentially, UDL suggests the most effective way to design a lesson plan or a classroom is by thinking about how it will affect every student, including students with disabilities. If you’re building a new classroom, this can save you costly retrofitting down the road. And if you’re writing a lesson plan, it saves special-education teachers the stress of rewriting their lesson to fit their students’ needs.

Naturally, special-education teachers love UDL. Their students are being considered from day one, instead of being added as an afterthought. But most teachers are a little surprised when I tell them UDL isn’t all that different from common core. In fact, I’d say a UDL teaching model is essential for common core success. Like UDL, common core tells teachers, “We want you to reach these kids in multiple ways. We don’t want you to just stand up and lecture to them.”

Teachers are also being asked to give students a variety of ways to show that they have mastered something. So instead of just telling students, “Write what you know,” excluding students who aren’t good writers, teachers can allow students to demonstrate mastery in a way that makes sense to them.

That could be by creating a PowerPoint presentation, making a Prezi, shooting a video — or, if a student wants to dance to a song they wrote about the Revolutionary War, more power to them! Common core asks students to represent what they’ve learned in their own way, instead of treating every student the same.

When you understand the goals of common core, it’s easy to see the connection between these abstract standards and UDL. For common core to work, teachers across the country will need to weave UDL principles into their instruction. If you’re a special-education teacher, that should be cause for celebration.

What you can do

Once my teachers have a new outlook on common core, I give them resources to make this transition a little easier.

We’ve found our professional learning communities to be incredibly helpful in this regard. I’ve started bringing general-education teachers to our SPED PLC meetings, which allows the general-education teachers to talk about the common core standards they’re focusing on in class and equip special-education teachers to take that information back to their students. At the same time, the special-education teachers can share some UDL principles to help the general-education teachers design their lesson plans more effectively.

We’re also relying on new educational technology, particularly products that are designed specifically for the common core. As an example, we’ve been using Learning Upgrade, an online math and reading curriculum that uses catchy songs and fun games to address common core standards in a relatable way. The courses also have built-in reporting features that make them ideal for case management.

We have so many great tools and great minds right at our fingertips, and we’re trying to pull them together so the transition to common core will be successful.

Out of all the educational movements that have been thrown at teachers over the years, I strongly believe common core has the most potential for the greatest growth for our students. Change is always a little scary, but I’m so glad I have the chance to help teachers see the big picture and inspire them to make a difference in their students’ lives.

Written by Christine Fax-Huckaby, a special education academic support teacher (SEAST) in Sweetwater Union High School District. She has worked in special education for 18 years and spent the first 15 years of her career in the classroom.

Source: THE Journal

myON logoA Texas school district is expanding use of a digital book service that helps schools address literacy. McAllen Independent School District in Texas has committed to deploying myON in all of its elementary and middle schools, 27 in total. The school system began using the company’s digital books 15 months ago in four schools.

After an assessment and “interest inventory,” myON generates a custom student dashboard that shows books based on their interests and reading abilities. However, students are allowed to access any of the books in the collection. Those include fiction and nonfiction, picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, Spanish and bilingual titles and books specifically intended for “struggling and reluctant” readers. The program includes book quizzes, and students can download up to 20 books for offline reading. Teachers gain access to a dashboard that shares student reading metrics and provides long-term reading growth projections.

McAllen, which runs one of the largest student iPad programs in the country (25,000 at last count), adopted myON to help students — including its English learning population — gain a love of reading and increase their reading abilities. It will be made available on 17,000 iPads.

“We take literacy extremely seriously… However we believe that making reading fun and engaging is critical to our students’ reading and overall academic growth,” said Brenda Huston, the district’s library and media coordinator, in a statement. “In addition to the platform’s personalization and customization features, the fact that our students are able to read books wherever they are, even without access to the Internet, was a huge factor in our decision to choose myON for our students. It has been extremely rewarding watching our students further embrace reading and taking ownership of their own academic success.”

Since the beginning of school this year, added myON President, Todd Brekhus, the students have read “over 60,889 books.”

The school’s iPad program began in 2011 as part of its TLC3, or “Transforming Learning in the Classroom,” program.

myON is also in use at Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, Colby Public Schools in Kansas and Oakland Unified School District in California, among other districts.

OW logo

Source: Tech & Learning 

By Kelly Hurtado

In the late 1990s, the parents of a special needs student in Tucson, Arizona were dissatisfied with traditional schooling. Fortunately, they had extensive educational expertise. They founded Mountain Rose Academy, a charter high school featuring an individualized, self-paced, computerized program for each student. On day one, they set up a card table in front of the school. Each student got a desktop computer and also participated in small-group instruction. They were expecting 40 students, but more than 100 students seeking an alternative to traditional education enrolled.

Since that time, the Rose Academy has expanded into four schools that serve 1,200 students. From the start, our teachers were pioneers in blended learning, combining computer-based instruction with individual and small- group instruction. One of our challenges was to find a rigorous electronic curriculum with an appealing look and feel that offered a variety of course options and met state standards. Originally, Rose spent time and energy developing its own computerized curriculum; however, the use of our time was best served in helping teachers implement a blended instructional model. So, in 2013, we began to look for software that would match our system of education. After thorough evaluation, we selected OdysseyWare. Our students find the new curriculum appealing, yet challenging.

Implementing OdysseyWare curriculum has allowed us to focus our time and energy on instruction rather than developing curriculum. Our instructional approach focuses on teaching students how to learn and how to perform. Teachers emphasize teaching strategies so that our students can meet academic demands. Our teachers are coaches. We educate students “how to fish” so that they can become independent lifelong learners.

We, as well as our students, are well prepared to incorporate any future innovation because our system demonstrates a step beyond competence.

Kelly Hurtado is superintendent at Rose Academies, public charter high schools that have been serving the Tucson community for more than 15 years.

New branding reflects commitment to Next Generation Science Standards

activate learning logoTo emphasize the company’s commitment to engaging learners and making science learning fun, Sangari Active Science is changing its name to Activate Learning. The company announced its new name at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Richmond, Va., today.

“We want to activate learning by stimulating students’ minds and getting them excited about learning science,” said Eric Johnson, Activate Learning’s CEO. “While our name is changing, our mission and values will remain the same. Activate Learning will continue to provide our customers with the best research-based, standards-aligned curriculum available.”

Activate Learning’s popular middle school science curriculum, IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World Through Science & Technology), brings comprehensive standards to life, allowing students to discover and learn science in a relatable, innovative way.

While the company’s name is changing, Activate Learning’s engaging elementary school program, Sangari Active Science, will keep its name moving forward. The curriculum is designed to build the knowledge and skills younger students need for success in science.

Each lesson integrates one or more of the eight scientific practices identified in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education.

“We are deeply committed to the goals and practice of the Next Generation Science Standards.  We work with many of the academic leaders in the science education field to make sure we have the most modern programs available,” said Johnson. “Our company is a leader in NGSS-aligned solutions, and we will continue to lead the industry moving forward as Activate Learning,” said Johnson.

Source: Tech & Learning

myON logoMcAllen Independent School District (MISD) in McAllen, Texas, is implementing myON to provide students with 24/7 access to over 7,000 books. The district viewed myON’s digital library as an important addition to its 1:1 initiative.

District administrators opted to deploy myON to all 20 elementary and 7 middle school campuses, giving students full access to myON’s library. MISD saw the platform as a good fit to support students at all reading levels, as well as their growing ELL population. The district began using myON 15 months ago and, seeing gains in reading at the four campuses that had access, decided to expand the use of myON.

“We take literacy extremely seriously at MISD, however we believe that making reading fun and engaging is critical to our students’ reading and overall academic growth,” says Brenda Huston, MISD’s Library/Media Coordinator. “In addition to the platform’s personalization and customization features, the fact that our students are able to read books wherever they are, even without access to the Internet, was a huge factor in our decision to choose myON for our students.”

For more information on myON’s personalized digital literacy platform, visit www.myON.com.

OW logoSource: Tech & Learning

Odysseyware Academy, a nationally accredited distance-learning school that provides individualized 3-12 instruction, announces course approval by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

All of Odysseyware Academy’s courses are provided by Odysseyware online curriculum. NCAA-approved courses are available in English, science and math.