Category: Partner News & Resources

Newsela’s Philosophy on AI Tools for Education

At Newsela, they believe the best education solutions power great teaching, they don’t replace it. Regarding AI tools for education, there are opportunities for positive classroom impact, potential areas of caution, and steep new learning curves. No matter how clever or powerful these new solutions are, there will always be a need for the uniquely human ability of teachers to empathize, connect, inspire, and smile with students.

What is Newsela’s philosophy on AI in education?

As you navigate this new frontier, they want to be transparent about our position on artificial intelligence in education and how Newsela uses it in our products:

  • They strongly believe that teachers know what’s best for their students and should always continue to be the architects, planners, and decision-makers in the classroom.
  • The teacher-student interaction is where learning is at its best. AI should be used to save teachers’ time and make certain tasks easier, creating space and time for teachers to have more powerful one-on-one moments in the classroom.
  • Privacy is always a priority. They ensure that all user data—whether from students, teachers, or other stakeholders—is meticulously blinded. This means that the teams and AI systems involved in leveraging the data won’t be able to associate it with an individual.
  • Their models thrive on aggregated data during the rigorous training process, and each iteration is quality-checked by our team before release. This dual-layered approach ensures the highest standards in the development of our AI systems and never loses the human element of what teaching and learning are all about.
  • They also know that education products must be built with teacher input. We leverage robust research, teacher feedback, and in-classroom experiences to drive the most valuable solutions at every step in the development process.
  • They believe the more specific the application of AI, the better. They always apply it to solve for a clear classroom use case. They focus on ensuring that our machine learning models have the right context and behaviors to deliver valuable outputs, specifically in a classroom setting.

How does Newsela use AI in its products?

For Newsela ELA, Newsela Social Studies, and Newsela Science, we leverage AI in:

  • Article planning supports—including main idea, key terms, discussion questions, and before-reading activity ideas for each text
  • Article topic tags
  • Generating Tier 3 vocabulary definitions
  • Generating writing prompts

For Formative, AI supports:

  • Generating questions, answer hints, and writing prompts
  • Flashcard and practice set generation

For EverWrite (beta), we use AI to power:

  • Real-time student writing feedback delivery, aligned to a chosen rubric
  • Assignment writing prompt generation

At Newsela, their goal is to open up teachers’ abilities to do what they do best: bring learning to life for their students in a deeply personal, human way.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

General inquiries:

Districts with 3000+ students
Patrick Gaffney
Illinois Partnerships

Districts with less than 3000 students
Claire Vock
Illinois Partnerships

Learn More About Newsela

Revolutionizing the K-12 Experience: A Smart School Layout

Student outcomes are suffering, but enhancing the learning experience can be easier than you think. We’ve seen schools with the biggest success go beyond standards, salaries, and curriculums to a focus on the network.

With a smart network, they’re optimizing school operations with:

  • Cloud management that saves on operational and support costs
  • AI automation to simplify backend processes
  • E-Rate-eligible networking solutions that put dollars back in the budget
  • Sophisticated Wi-Fi connectivity for an advanced student and staff experience
  • Advanced intelligence to take on redundant IT tasks
  • Built-in security layers that bring peace of mind from cyber threats

The result is a school network that can support the connectivity and operations that help make education easier for everyone – from students and teachers to parents and administrators.

Want a closer look? Take a peek at our infographic, Revolutionizing the Education Experience: A Smart School Layout.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Extreme Networks
Joe Yeagle
Senior Account Executive

Matt Ward
VSAM / Extreme Networks

Contact your Reseller Account Managers:

John Buttita
Sales Manager

Learn More About Extreme Networks

The Best Chromebooks for Students

To find the best Chromebooks for students, it’s important to think about how technology and education are connected. Today all students need reliable, durable, and high-performing computing devices with seamless connectivity to achieve what the National Education Association has termed “digital equity,” defined as:

“Digital equity ensures that all school-aged children have equal access to the resources they need for remote learning. These resources include internet and computer access. It is important for all children to have these resources, regardless of their circumstances. This ensures that they can fully engage in remote learning from home.”

— National Education Association, “Digital Equity for Students and Education Report”

Schools have done a great job at providing Chromebooks to students and there is a lot to choose from. However, making the right Chromebook technology investment is essential. IT departments at school districts and private schools should consider Chromebooks based on three essential criteria: future-proof performance, flexibility, and sustainability.

Future-proofing for technology challenges with student Chromebooks

Many schools offered 1:1 devices to students during the pandemic. Today, because of the age of these devices and the increasing computing power needs for applications such as AI, it’s time for a technology upgrade. Consider devices that can withstand the constant demands of schoolwork, can connect from anywhere, and offer a long-term plan for updates to ensure school district investments enjoy an excellent return on investment (ROI).

Chromebooks provide all the latest technological advancements with the processing power that students need today. Consider 4G and 8G RAM, at least 64G flash memory, and the processing power of Intel’s N100 or N200 chipsets.

Additionally, consider your connectivity plan. Some schools are now extending their networks beyond the school walls with private LTE networks, as demonstrated in a recent implementation in Tukwila. School districts are looking to provide connectivity at home in addition to at school, regardless of student’s economic situation and availability of a home network. Ensure your Chromebooks for students offer LTE connectivity capability. Thinking ahead, also ask about 5G potential connectivity plans as 5G reduced capability networks will eventually replace LTE.

One advantage that Chromebooks deliver over traditional laptops in the future-proof category is what’s commonly called “AU,” or Automatic Updates. According to Google, “Chrome devices (e.g. Chromebook, Chromebox, Chromebase, Chromebit) receive automatic updates that enhance both the device and its software. Automatic updates deliver the latest features, maintain device security, and apply across the operating system, browser, and hardware. Chromebooks receive 10 years of AUE.” Longevity of use is built into Chromebooks, maximizing a school district’s technology investment.


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Maureen Cooney
Account Manager

Learn More About CTL

Check out the current line of Chromebooks from CTL.

How-to Action Plans to Navigate Developing K-12 Education Trends

by: Brian Thomas, President and CEO of Lightspeed Systems

Educators are quite familiar with overcoming challenges, as the last four years have presented more disruption to school districts than at any time in recent history. Despite the unparalleled levels of disruption, several developing K-12 education trends have emerged.

This post highlights four prevailing education trends and provides an overview of how-to action plans to get your district proactively addressing its highest-priority challenges.

Cyberattacks on K-12 Schools Continue to Rise

Cybersecurity attacks present a costly threat to school districts across the United States. According to Comparitech, a cybersecurity and online privacy product review website, global ransomware attacks against K-12 and higher education institutions—breaching over 6.7 million personal records—cost over $53 billion in downtime between 2018 and mid-September 2023.

Cyberattacks on K-12 school districts are rising as cybercriminals identify districts as lucrative targets. Student information systems (SIS) store personally identifiable information (PII) of both students and staff, and many districts simply lack the resources to layer essential cybersecurity measures. The result is district data remains increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The Lightspeed Systems 2022 EdTech App Report showed most districts have more than 2,000 apps in use across their student population, but that only 300 apps account for 99 percent of student use. Regardless of usage rates, district IT leaders are responsible for safeguarding students’ personally identifiable information (PII) on all apps in the district, including the remaining 1,700 infrequently used apps. Unsecure websites and “rogue” apps, those used by staff and students but not vetted by IT, easily slip through the cracks, creating openings for cybercriminals to enter.

Recovering systems after an attack is both costly and time-consuming. In addition to often paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom, district networks are down an average of four days, and require30 days to fully recover.

Action Plan:

  1. Audit all applications in use across your school district, their privacy policies, and data security practices. Third-party analysis of privacy policies provides a reliable source of expertise. These steps can be completed manually or accelerated with digital intelligence software.
  2. Block students and staff from accessing new and unknown websites. Millions of new sites come online each day and the vast majority aren’t educational. These sites can be malicious and until they are categorized by your web content filter, the safest option is simply to prohibit access. If you’re using a web filter with an AI-driven dynamic database, educational or appropriate sites won’t remain uncategorized for more than a couple of hours.
  3. Inform all stakeholders about the importance of cybersecurity and data privacy to empower them with the knowledge to protect their privacy and the community. Mitigate risk by teaching staff and students about phishing emails and rouge apps to help prevent them from unintentionally opening malware that will leave them and your district vulnerable.


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Lightspeed Systems
Mike Durando
Vice President of Sales

Learn More About Lightspeed Systems

Frictionless Learning, Fortified Security: AI’s Role in Protecting Students and Boosting iPad Learning

Writer's picture Kevin Kuckkan, M.Ed, Deledao Education

In today’s digitally driven K12 classrooms, iPads remain popular educational learning tools, unlocking a world of interactive possibilities. However, ensuring a safe and productive online environment remains a pressing challenge. Conventional content filters often fall short, leaving students vulnerable to inappropriate content while inadvertently blocking valuable educational resources. This creates a delicate balancing act for K12 IT teams, burdened with maintaining student safety while navigating complex technical hurdles and juggling limited resources.

The limitations of traditional filtering methods are undeniable. Static blocklists, easily circumvented by tech-savvy students, prove ineffective against new and emerging threats. They often rely on keyword matching, leading to unintentional overblocking of legitimate educational content. This disrupts learning and frustrates students and educators alike. Additionally, deploying and managing these filters across numerous devices requires dedicated IT personnel, straining already stretched resources.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Greg Richman
Director of Sales & Channel Partnerships

Download the Portrait of a Graduate Toolkit

Prepare Every Student for Their Future With Personalized Plans That Track College and Career Readiness Metrics

Many schools struggle to align their education goals with a clear and comprehensive “Portrait of a Graduate,” making it challenging to prepare students for success in an ever-changing world and communicate their skills and abilities effectively to colleges and employers.Schools require a solution that facilitates the development and tracking of a “Portrait of a Graduate.” This ensures a structured framework for defining essential skills and competencies, enables ongoing assessment and documentation of student progress, and offers data-driven insights to adapt curriculum and instruction accordingly — all of which will better prepare students for their future.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Paul Kaskovich
Account Executive
773-789-5444 x110

Learn More About Otus

How Microsoft 365 Education Creates Secure And Productive Learning

December 8, 2023, Trafera

How secure is the data in our schools? In a single breach, cyberattacks–such as the use of ransomware–have the potential to expose sensitive student data and disrupt the very tools that support learning and teaching. The impact can be immediate and the subsequent data theft and network outages can lead to serious disruption to learning and even temporary school closures. In fact, in 2022, there were over 50 schools with reported ransomware attacks, four of which were forced to cancel classes due to ransomware (StateScoop)

These scenarios bring to light the role of cybersecurity in education—as a nonnegotiable measure to ensure learning continues smoothly, day after day.

When it comes to your digital education landscape, your chosen tools and apps can play a big role in fortifying your environment. Take, for instance, the productivity suite your students and teachers use. Everything from email to file storage to spreadsheets are potential entryways for bad actors to obtain private school data. On the bright side, the right apps can act as solid bricks in your fortress walls, keeping hackers out.

Microsoft 365 for Education steps up to this challenge with a promise: to create secure, seamless educational experiences where productivity and protection go hand in hand.

What is Microsoft 365 Education?

It’s common to use Microsoft 365 and Office 365, but there are differences between the two. Office 365 for Education is an application suite that contains familiar app names like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft 365 Education extends beyond the applications Office 365 with the addition of services and tools like Minecraft Education and security features.

You’ll find Microsoft 365 Education broken down into three tiers – Microsoft 365 A1, Microsoft 365 A3, and Microsoft 365 A5. Each plan is loaded with tools that include both educational and security aspects, giving you the flexibility to choose an option that fits your specific needs.

Microsoft 365 A1

The A1 plan offers a straightforward, no-cost option for eligible students and educators, focusing on the essentials for modern educational workloads. It includes key cloud-managed services, delivering basic tools necessary for a secure and productive learning environment. This plan sets the stage for schools to build a digital foundation that supports everyday learning and teaching activities.

Microsoft 365 A3

Alongside all the benefits of A1, the Microsoft 365 A3 tier introduces full desktop versions of applications like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, offering more tools for creative and complex tasks. The standout feature of A3 is its advanced security and analytics, making it a go-to choice for schools aiming to enhance their digital capabilities while safeguarding against cyber threats.

Microsoft 365 A5

Think of A5 as the all-in-one package, offering the most comprehensive range of features, including streamlined licensing, top-tier security measures, and advanced management tools. Ideal for schools that demand the best in both safety and functionality, A5 is the premier choice for those who want to ensure their technology is not just up-to-date, but ahead of the curve in protecting and empowering their educational community.

For more details on what each tier offers, check out Microsoft’s comparison table.


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Tim Peters
Account Manager

Learn More About Trafera


Adolescent mental health is a rapidly evolving area of study that has yet to be truly understood, and one of the newest topics of discussion is digital self-harm. Because digital self-harm has yet to be researched extensively, it’s likely that educators aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of this behavior.

That’s why ManagedMethods putting digital self-harm under the microscope — to help school districts understand the phenomenon and what they can do to help. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics and highlight some strategies you can use to detect and prevent self-harming behavior of all shapes and sizes.


Before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s review self-harming behavior in general, which can be broken down into two types:

  1. Traditional self-harm
  2. Digital self-harm

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

David Waugh
Sales and Marketing Vice President

Learn More About ManagedMethods

Discover STEM/STEAM Wonders: Embracing Innovation

By Abi Dreyer / November 07, 2023

Greetings, explorers of the STEM universe!

Mark your calendars because November 8 heralds the arrival of National STEM/STEAM Day! Get ready to embark on an exhilarating expedition into the realms of innovation and discovery. On this special day, we celebrate the profound impact of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEM/STEAM) in the lives of young learners.

At first glance, it might seem like just another entry in the calendar of national observances, but STEM Day is far more than that. It holds immense significance, especially for our dedicated educators.

Inspiring Futures

National STEM Day offers educators a unique platform to demonstrate the real-world implications of STEM. Teachers can guide their students to focus on problem-solving, teamwork, and perseverance, sparking inspiration that could shape their future paths. It’s about fostering a mindset that encourages resilience and fuels a passion for exploration.

Students and teacher problem solving image

Captivating Engagement

Engaging students with captivating STEM activities is key to nurturing their curiosity. By designing activities that resonate with their interests, we can create authentic connections between students and STEM fields. These interactions foster genuine enthusiasm, making learning a delightful journey of discovery.

For instance, get inspired by Chocolate-covered learning: Seven STEM activities for kids or for younger learners you might try The Dot: Read-Aloud STEM kits.

Opening the Doors to Careers

One of the most significant impacts of this celebration is its ability to unveil diverse career opportunities. For many students, these paths remain undiscovered until exposed by their teachers. By introducing them to various professions, we empower them to explore their true calling, equipping them with insights that can shape their future careers.

Student thinking about careers image

Consider working with your local businesses and industry all year round to fill workforce gaps in your area.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Erica Lopez-Negrete Smith
Illinois Sales

Learn More About Pitsco Education
Pitsco Education Blog

Download The Complete MTSS Toolkit From Otus

The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework is crucial in addressing students’ varying needs. Download this free toolkit to set MTSS meeting norms and agendas, analyze data, and set growth action items. Every student deserves the right support – use our toolkit to ensure they get it.

What’s in the toolkit?

MTSS has become a vital framework in classrooms nationwide, addressing the diverse needs of students. By combining academic and behavioral strategies, MTSS ensures that every student, from those who excel to those who struggle, receives the right level of support.

This toolkit will provide you with everything you need to:

  • Understand and create MTSS meeting norms
  • Examples of MTSS meeting norms
  • Plan and prepare for MTSS meetings
  • Analyze and discuss MTSS data
  • Meeting agenda template
  • Data discussion guide
  • Set action items to support student growth

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Paul Kaskovich
Account Executive
773-789-5444 x110

Learn More About Otus