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No matter what the subject, before students can learn new skills or absorb new material, they need to be paying attention. Here, three educators share the tech tools and best practices they use to improve student engagement and make sure students are energized, focused, and ready to learn.

Three ways to focus on student engagement

1. Catherine Castillo: Guided math talks

We use Daily Math Fluency by hand2mind to help educators guide math talks with students. It provides educators with a framework for being intentional about using math talks and number strings in their classrooms.

Related: 5 online discussion tools to fuel student engagement

Since we’ve incorporated it, students are more comfortable exploring the multiple ways a math problem can be solved—and openly sharing their strategies and solutions. They’re developing strong number sense by connecting mathematical concepts and exploring relationships by using visual models such as dot patterns, ten-frames, and open arrays.

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Picture this: You roll out a new learning management system (LMS) for students, but all of your professional learning is either hosted on a different platform or conducted in person with notes shared via email afterward. Sound familiar?

It’s more common than you think, but separating the educator professional learning (PL) experience from the student learning experience can actually have a negative impact on both parties’ experiences in the long run.

Related: 3 reasons elementary schools should adopt an LMS

Using the same LMS for teaching students to host PL is a proven best practice. It allows teachers to experience learning as their students do, while providing opportunities for asynchronous PL, and making modeling easier to translate in the classroom.

According to the faculty and administrators who participated in Schoology’s State of Digital Learning Survey, 61 percent of them say the LMS used in the classroom is the same used for PL.

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It’s only recently that I’ve become much more disciplined in my use of the term “student agency” and how I apply it.

Thanks to a research assignment on behalf of the Center for Innovation in Education’s Assessment for Learning Project, I’ve learned that the term—and related terms, such as “self-regulated learning”—has a rich lineage of researchers and practitioners who have carefully defined it.

By looking across researchers (1), practitioners, and other thought leaders (2), common elements arise that begin to suggest a consensus.

Related: What student choice and agency actually looks like

From these sources, the dust seems to settle on a concept of “student agency” that involves four distinct components. The first three are temporally linked covering future, present, and past:
• Setting advantageous goals
• Initiating action toward those goals
• Reflecting on and regulating progress toward those goals

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When K-12 leaders think of protecting students online, the first thing that comes to mind is shielding them from hackers, predators, or inappropriate websites—and internet filtering systems can perform this function well. But there is much more to protecting students online than just monitoring or filtering their web access.

Adolescence can be a rough period for students, both socially and emotionally, and they face a wide variety of threats to their safety and well-being. Sometimes, these threats come from other students, such as bullying, sexual harassment, radicalism, or hate crimes; sometimes they can be self-inflicted, such as eating disorders, self-harm, or thoughts of suicide.

Read this full report to find out how Hillcrest Academy in Minnesota and Summit Preparatory school in Montana have tacked these issues within budget.

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According to Davis, Fuller, Jackson, Pittman, and Sweet (2007), the definition of digital equity is “equal access and opportunity to digital tools, resources, and services to support an increase in digital knowledge, awareness, and skills.” With that in mind, school leaders are working to strategically close the digital equity gap.

In a recent edWebinar, Sarah Thomas, educator and founder of the EduMatch movement; Nicol Howard, assistant professor in the School of Education at University of Redlands (CA); and Regina Schaffer, technology specialist at Middletown Township School District (NJ), embrace this definition and explain that school districts need to consider four critical components in their drive to close the digital equity gap that is widespread in K-12 districts and classrooms.

Related: 7 reasons why digital equity is a social justice issue

Honest conversation

It is essential that edtech leaders engage in candid discussions with crucial district stakeholders to identify critical digital equity barriers such as access, connectivity, and opportunities.

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In the summer of 2016, I decided to take on a fresh new challenge and, to be honest, I was a little intimidated at the start. The opportunity had come up to serve as principal at Lake Park Elementary, a Title 1 school where just one quarter of students were proficient in literacy and the school was on the state’s list of the 300 lowest-performing schools—the need for an elementary school turnaround was clear. I wondered, “Do I have what it takes to effect meaningful change at this school?”

Related: 3 common misconceptions that thwart school improvement

My hiring supervisor was quick to point out that I was already doing the same type of work over the past 19 years, primarily at the secondary level. Being principal at Lake Park would give me a chance to make a difference for students much earlier on. The fact that my own children were in elementary school at the time helped me realize that perhaps I was meant to do this job.

Driving an elementary school turnaround

All students need to be able to access a high-quality education delivered by well-trained teachers, and it would be my mission to make that happen. Together with my administration team and teachers, here are four actions we took to enable an elementary school turnaround.

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Across the country, residency programs are growing in popularity to help address teacher shortages and in teacher preparation. These programs provide alternative licensure for educators who are often changing careers to work in high-need schools–particularly in rural communities–and in hard-to-fill subject areas.

While some larger districts may run their own residencies, there are programs, such as the Boettcher Teacher Residency at Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC), that work with districts of all sizes to support this type of teacher preparation model. In this model, residents have the unique and valuable opportunity to be paired with an experienced mentor teacher for an entire school year.

Related: Do teacher prep programs need an overhaul?

As a former teacher and elementary school principal, and now as the field manager for the Boettcher Teacher Residency where I help support our coaches and residents, I understand the importance of having teachers-in-training receive hands-on experience facilitated by an expert in the field. This provides residents with the tools, training, and support needed for them to be successful in the classroom.

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Here are some of eSN’s most popular articles for teachers over the past month:

1. 10 things I do to boost my students’ self-esteem
Try any (or all!) of these strategies to make students feel safe, cared for, and loved

2. 4 ways I make learning fun in the classroom
From playing games to giving choices, this middle school teacher shares how she engages her students

3. How can educators support the parents of students with anxiety?
Schools must find practical ways to support not just students suffering, but parents as well

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NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a provider of commercial projectors and displays, today announced the expansion of its popular P Series line of projectors to include a new 6,000-lumen entry-level installation laser projector equipped with Whisper Quiet technology and the only filter-free LCD, low-maintenance design in its class.

NEC’s proprietary Whisper Quiet technology features a patented sealed cooling engine that almost eliminates fan noise, making the P605UL the quietest 6,000-lumen projector on the market. While typical projectors in its class generate an average of more than 37 decibels, the P605UL will generate just 19 decibels of noise in Eco mode. This makes it ideal for higher education classrooms, conference rooms and other locations where a large, high-quality image is needed with as few noise distractions as possible.

The P605UL is also equipped with advanced features including LCD technology, manual lens shift, and HDBaseT connectivity. The laser technology means there’s no lamp to replace, while the sealed cooling engine eliminates the need for a filter, considerably reducing maintenance costs – a key consideration for budget-conscious education and corporate customers.

“Our new P605UL is the quietest 6,000-lumen projector on the market today,” said Ryan Pitterle, Product Manager, NEC Display Solutions. “The P605UL makes laser projection technology more accessible than ever before, bringing professional-level brightness and advanced features like a sealed cooling engine to a whole new set of customers. The filter-free, low-maintenance design is a high priority for corporate and higher education customers who have projectors deployed across a broad campus, and we’ve designed the P605UL to meet their specific needs.”

The 6,000-lumen brightness enables the P605UL to deliver large, clear and dynamic images up to 4K/30hz resolution even when the lights need to stay on in the lecture hall or board room. In addition, the laser light source offers a minimum of 20,000 hours of reliable life, which combined with its filter-free and low maintenance design, lowers its total cost of ownership.

True to NEC’s P Series heritage of offering exceptional value and performance, the P605UL has a unique combination of installation features at a low cost, including manual horizontal and vertical lens shift, 1.6x zoom lens and HDBaseT input. The P605UL also offers improved wireless collaboration capability and advanced networking connectivity including:
• Dual HDMI for seamless switching between Blu-ray, computer or other digital sources
• USB with 2.0A support for powering third-party devices
• LAN port for network control and asset management
• Optional Wireless Module (NP05LM1) with MultiPresenter capability for up to 16 simultaneous connections.

The P605UL is backed by a 5-year/20,000-hour warranty with NEC’s InstaCare replacement program included. The P605UL begins shipping in July for a minimum advertised price of $3,599. For additional information and specs, please visit NEC Display Solutions.

# # #

About NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc.
NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a leading designer and provider of innovative displays, offers the widest range of digital signage products on the market, such as commercial- and professional-grade large-screen LCD displays, desktop LCD monitors, direct view LED panels, a diverse line of multimedia and digital cinema projectors, integrated display solutions, and analytic business intelligence solutions. The NEC Analytic Learning Platform (ALP) optimizes message delivery with automated content creation and recommendations using AI-based analytics, enabling retailers to customize content based on non-identifying demographic data. Benefitting from the technologies of NEC Corporation and its own Research and Development, NEC produces leading-edge visual technology and customer-focused solutions for a wide variety of markets, including education, retail, transportation, broadcast, enterprise, healthcare, houses of worship, and many more. NEC is orchestrating a brighter world with the quality and reliability of its products and outstanding customer service. For additional information about NEC Display Solutions of America products, call (866) NEC-MORE, or visit the website at www.necdisplay.com. Follow us on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Career and employment goals continue to be one of the top reasons students pursue online education, according to an annual report recapping higher-ed online education trends. As higher-ed models change according to student needs, what proves successful in higher ed could make for promising models in K-12.

A full 69 percent of surveyed online students say employment is their primary goal for enrolling in an online education program, according to the Online Education Trends Report from BestColleges.com.

Related: 7 myths about online learning in higher ed

This year’s report includes candid feedback from more than 450 school administrators and 1,500 students.

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