eSchool News

eSchool News
eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
  • Public libraries to offer digital early literacy tools
    In an effort to support public libraries’ life-long learning initiatives, Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, is launching Miss Humblebee’s Academy, a new early literacy product that will assist the library’s youngest learners in building foundational literacy skills. Partnering with Miss Humblebee LLC, Gale has co-developed a product tailored specifically to the public library user, which includes the assessment tools libraries need to measure their impact on early literacy development in their communities. Studies show that participating in quality early learning can boost children’s educational attainment and earnings later in life, underscoring the importance for public libraries to provide resources that serve this young audience. “Libraries are evolving into institutions of learning and service that have a direct impact on the lives of community members,” said Paul Gazzolo, senior vice president and general manager, Gale. “By offering a product like Miss Humblebee’s Academy, libraries will play a pivotal role in helping children establish strong literacy skills and preparing them for kindergarten and beyond.” Designed for children ages 3 to 6, Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an easy-to-use, interactive and award-winning online and mobile-accessible kindergarten-readiness solution. It offers hundreds of lessons spanning all major academic subjects, weekly progress reports, and is the only product that provides assessments to measure proficiency and learning outcomes. Miss Humblebee’s Academy provides children an opportunity to learn while having fun in a safe online classroom environment with no pop-ups, ads or links to other websites; and provides parents with tools to measure their child’s kindergarten-readiness while working at the library, at home or on the go. The product assesses cognitive skills at regular intervals for measurable improvement toward kindergarten-readiness and offers a developmental observation checklist allowing parents to review and record social and emotional growth as an additional condition of school preparedness. Weekly emails alert parents to review curriculum progress and assessment results that are available online 24/7. A portion of the curriculum is also available offline in the form of printables and worksheets.
  • Could sharing iPads boost achievement?
    Students who shared iPads significantly outperformed their peers in one-to-one classrooms and in classrooms without iPads, according to data from a Northwestern University researcher. According to the International Communication Association, researcher Courtney Blackwell studied 352 kindergarten students in a midwestern suburban school district that was in the middle of an iPad implementation. Blackwell worked with one school with an operating one-to-one iPad program; another school with a limited number of iPads, prompting students to share the devices; and a third school without iPads. For 9 months, Blackwell compared the impact that iPad use and non-use in the three classrooms had on students' performance on the STAR Early Literacy Assessment. She found that students who shared iPads with their peers significantly outperformed students in the other two groups on the spring assessment. Data remained the same after controlling for baseline scores and demographics. In fact, students in sharing classrooms scored roughly 30 points higher than students in one-to-one and non-iPad classrooms. The research points to the increasingly important role that collaboration plays in classrooms, especially among younger students, and how the combination of collaboration and technology tools can best be leveraged. "One-to-one tablet computers may not be the most effective way to use technology for all grades and from a policy standpoint, we need to rethink what developmentally appropriate technology use is for young children," said Blackwell in a statement. "Shared iPad students significantly outperformed both the one-to-one and non-iPad condition, suggesting it's the collaborative learning around the technology that made the difference, not just the collaboration in and of itself. While schools and districts may still want to go one-to-one in all grades, they may reconsider how the tablets are used, especially in earlier grades, in order to make the technology most effective."
  • Opt-out movement accelerates amid Common Core testing
    Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance. This "opt-out" movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing. Resistance could be costly: If fewer than 95 percent of a district's students participate in tests aligned with Common Core standards, federal money could be withheld, although the U.S. Department of Education said that hasn't happened. "It is a theoretical club administrators have used to coerce participation, but a club that is increasingly seen as a hollow threat," said Bob Schaeffer with the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which seeks to limit standardized testing. And so the movement grows: This week in New York, tens of thousands of students sat out the first day of tests, with some districts reporting more than half of students opting out of the English test. Preliminary reports suggest an overall increase in opt-outs compared to last year, when about 49,000 students did not take English tests and about 67,000 skipped math tests, compared to about 1.1 million students who did take the tests in New York.
  • App of the Week: Dr. Guts
    Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review. Dr. Guts What’s It Like? Dr. Guts is a game where middle and high school kids learn about the digestive, cardiovascular, excretory, and respiratory systems through online experimentation. Students act  [ Read More ]
  • The problem with the SAMR model
    As I have watched teachers at my own school attempt to use the SAMR model to both evaluate current uses of technology and to plan future ones, I have begun to identify a few big concerns.
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