Let’s dive into what digital citizenship is and why it’s so important to teach in the classroom!
Basically, digital citizenship is about teaching young people how to act responsibly online. In today’s digital age, students have a heap of information at their fingertips, and with all this exposure, it’s important they know the basics about digital etiquette and online safety!
Learning how to be a good digital citizen comes hand-in-hand with learning how to be a considerate person; nurturing a sense of empathy towards others, and developing healthy relationships. Digital citizenship will also give students a headstart in their future careers as more and more jobs will value digital skills in the coming years.
There’s a lot to pack into this topic of digital citizenship for kids — and we know you teachers are busy — so let’s break things down into four key focus areas that will help guide students as they grow into good digital citizens: Respect, Digital Footprint, Protection, and Copyright.
When teaching students about the basics of being a good digital citizen, try starting with the most fundamental golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated – in real life and your digital lives!
We all know how easy it is to misinterpret messages we receive online. These situations are even harder for kids as online interaction takes away the social cues they’re often still learning. Without tone and body language, it’s easy for words to get lost in translation. Put this into practice by playing a fun game with your students where you include some examples of messages that could be misinterpreted to demonstrate the difference between communicating face-to-face and digital communication. This will help to bring home the point that online messaging can so easily get lost in translation!
This is also a good time to address cyberbullying. Teaching kids how to be good digital citizens is a key way to prevent cyber-bullying. It’s always good to set students up with responses and always remind them that if they’re being bullied online, they should tell you, their parents, or any trusted adult! Hold a brainstorming session with your class and see if they have some ideas on how to best respond to harassment online.
It’s also important to discuss the very real impact cyber-bullying has on people’s well-being – kids can often feel detached from their online personas and not understand the social and emotional impact of their actions.
In relation to respect, students also need to be reminded anything posted online is going to stick around. The common phrase “think before you speak” is now also “think before you post.”
Because of the rapid shift to digital learning and 1:1 programs over the past two years within K-12 education, it is understandable that schools and districts have become overwhelmed with managing these technologies efficiently.
Juggling vendors, contracts, warranties, funding sources, and device inventories? To help you stay organized this year, we put together a Tech Wellness Guide Template!
Engineering and creativity lead the way in this open-ended and all-inclusive kit! The STEAM Builder Bin can be used for a range of educational concepts – from design and construction to implementing the engineering design process.
Endless Opportunities – Potentially hundreds of different builds in one kit
Prompts – 15 categories of open-ended Idea cards
Level Up – Idea cards have three difficulty levels for self-paced learning
To Each Their Own – Every student has a unique outcome
Teacher Friendly – You get Teacher Tips to guide students through the engineering design process
Storage – A durable, stackable bin and compartment to keep things tidy
Imagine dissecting a frog in biology class without the nauseating smell of embalmed amphibian flesh or the risk of accidentally cutting your finger. Picture yourself mixing active compounds in chemistry class and learning from your mistakes without shattering any glass or causing chemical reactions that overflow their beakers. You’re wearing different goggles in this lab.
Leaping from the pages and screens of science fiction into our reality, a technology that feels at once familiar and perhaps even disappointing is poised to transform education in some remarkable ways, with new classroom products gaining traction in schools.
Better Late Than Never: VR’s Overdue Arrival in the Classroom
Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting technology that has captivated imaginations for decades without living up to its billing as a transformative learning tool of the future. VR refers to computer-generated environments that people can explore and interact with using an audiovisual headset that creates the illusion of being within a digital space.
Today, VR is finally showing signs of reaching technological maturity in several sectors beyond entertainment. With long-awaited breakthroughs in hardware and software, virtual-reality tools are now revolutionizing learning and collaboration at the leading edge of high-tech professions, from immersive combat training and psychotherapy sessions to architecture design and practice surgeries.
The classroom is no different. You don’t have to be an astronaut to learn safely in VR. Especially since the coronavirus pandemic overtook the world, society has struggled to find innovative ways to teach the next generation of lifelong learners safely.
Perhaps VR is the next wave of education technology (EdTech) at all levels, from K-12 to higher education and beyond to specialized professions like jet piloting and practices like dentistry. It’s no longer implausible to predict that entirely new disciplines and industries will emerge based in VR in the near future.
In the education sector, from kindergarten to Ph.D. programs, the presence of VR is growing. As a relatively new audiovisual medium for connecting and sharing knowledge, VR has great potential for classroom instruction and experiential learning.
Are you looking for more information about classroom VR? Keep reading for everything you need to know!
KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, presented on Tuesday, March 15th in partnership with JourneyEd on the training content platform Compliance Plus. Compliance Plus training offers an interactive and engaging experience with real-life simulated scenarios to help teach employees how to respond in a challenging situation. The content addresses difficult topics like sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, discrimination, and business ethics. Compliance Plus includes various types of media formats and reinforcement materials to support compliance training programs.
Compliance Plus gives you:
A whole new library with fresh compliance content updated regularly
Full coverage of legislative requirements, such as HIPAA, FERPA, and many others
New-school high-quality customizable modules
Short, interactive modules to keep learners focused, newsletters, docs, and posters are all included
Completely automated compliance training campaigns with world-class support and extensive reporting
KnowBe4 customers can add Compliance Plus to their current subscription. For more information, visit https://www.knowbe4.com/compliance-plus or talk with your dedicated Account Manager, Christine McConnell at JourneyEd and mention you are an ILTPP member to take advantage of our contract pricing.
About KnowBe4 KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, is used by more than 37,000 organizations around the globe. Founded by IT and data security specialist, Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 helps organizations address the human element of security by raising awareness about ransomware, CEO fraud, and other social engineering tactics through a new-school approach to awareness training on security. Kevin Mitnick, an internationally recognized cybersecurity specialist and KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer, helped design the KnowBe4 training based on his well-documented social engineering tactics. Tens of thousands of organizations rely on KnowBe4 to mobilize their end users as their last line of defense.
The pandemic has shifted chief technology officers’ roles and job responsibilities — taking them from a traditionally behind-the-scenes role to putting them front and center with staff, families, and the greater community. Now, chief technology officers are playing a critical role in ensuring school-to-home communications are effective — in many cases, working collaboratively with public information officers and other administrators to identify the best tools and techniques to reach all stakeholders. Here are tips and tricks we’ve gleaned from our conversations with CTOs for more engaging, effective, and equitable communications — from the district level to the classroom and home.
1. Go the Extra Mile to Ensure School-to-Home Communications Are Equitable
School closures, adapted learning scenarios, language barriers, unstable housing situations, and more have presented a slew of challenges to parents and guardians — making it more difficult than ever for districts to connect with families. Districts have to find new ways to reach families in order to bridge the equity gap as best they can. Here are a few tips from other technology leaders on ways you can ensure equitable school-home communications:
Track and improve parent contactability. Do you have a platform in place that measures who you are and are not reaching through your daily, weekly, or monthly school-to-home communications? If you do, do you quickly review and fix contact details for any failed texts or emails? If you don’t, then it may be time to evaluate your current communications tools and strategy to ensure you’re reaching 100% of families (or close to it).
Go beyond digital communications. Does your district need boots on the ground to physically visit with families who are not engaging with your communications? Is there one form of communication that families prefer over others? Don’t discount the fact that some students may be under the care of grandparents who may not be technologically savvy. Do you need to print and post paper flyers at school sites or send them home with students? These are important questions to consider when parents and guardians are not engaging with your school-home communications.
Address language barriers. Do you have instant translation tools, bilingual staff on hand, and interpreters for the languages your staff doesn’t speak? Some districts leverage Family Engagement Units to physically visit with or call disengaged parents and guardians in their home language. For districts with English Language Learner (ELL) communities, it’s essential to have a system in place to quickly and easily overcome any language barriers to promote equity among students and families.
2. Striking the Balance Between “Too Much” and “Not Enough”
Almost every district has difficulty finding a good balance between over-communicating and not communicating enough with parents and guardians. The CTOs we spoke to explained that having a unified communications platform such as ParentSquare makes communications more manageable for families. Here are some of the reasons why:
Streamlined communications. A unified platform removes the need for parents to manage a confusing network of things like different district emails, social media channels, classroom apps, payment systems, and survey platforms.
Customizable notification settings. ParentSquare allows parents to personalize how and when they receive notifications (text, email, and/or push notifications). This ensures parents are communicated within the way that best works for them, helping to eliminate frustration and message fatigue.
Dashboards with analytics. Administrators can gauge what’s working and what’s not working, allowing schools to continually adapt their communications, so they reach the most parents and guardians possible.
Communications must be secure. That means staff should not share their personal cell phone numbers for student-related communications or message students’ or parents’ personal cell phones. Free classroom apps can be problematic, as they may expose personal contact details and can allow non-authorized parents or guardians access to student information. Most free apps also do not have administrative oversight or a way to access a paper trail of communications — making FOIA and other requests nearly impossible to manage.
Simplify management of sign-on and users. People with old credentials can jeopardize student information security, and no district wants to deal with the fallout. Make sure you don’t leave people with access to information when they don’t need it anymore. Single sign-on (SSO) is an important piece of managing that process, so CTOs and other administrators have fewer places to go to manage users when they leave the district.
Implement a communications platform that protects both students and teachers: The CTOs all appreciated StudentSquare, the safe and secure platform for all student communications at school, which protects both students and teachers with administrative oversight and an electronic paper trail (with access for up to five years). Teachers also appreciate this capability as an added layer of security if any questions arise concerning student-teacher communication. In fact, ParentSquare’s security features are so powerful that many schools require coaches and staff to use StudentSquare in order to protect all parties.
Note: StudentSquare is the student version of ParentSquare, designed so that high school and middle school students can easily communicate and engage with their teachers.
4. Have the Right Tools in Place to Handle COVID-19 Communications & Workflows
Keeping school communities healthy is one of the most important things on everyone’s minds right now. The CTOs touched on specific communications needs their districts had that stemmed from the pandemic such as the need to:
Be prepared and have the right communications in place to address exposures. From a legal perspective, districts have to make sure the right people are notified in the case of on-campus COVID-19 exposures. There is also a huge need for the capability to carry out daily health screenings and to quickly communicate home to parents and guardians when exposures happen. Does your district have the right tools in place to monitor exposures and quickly communicate with staff, students, and families? If not or if you could be doing a better job, here are five critical questions you should ask yourself when evaluating health screening solutions.
Use targeted messaging. When an exposure happens, everyone who was exposed may need to be contacted. Using a unified communications platform like ParentSquare allows for targeted messaging to groups or anyone who has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person while at school.
5. Be Strategic When You Roll Out New Technology
There is a right way and a wrong way to roll out new technology. Whether it’s to families, students, or staff, you have to be strategic in how you introduce new platforms and products. Here are some considerations:
Don’t mandate adoption. Instead, offer new technology to staff and educators, stressing the benefits they’ll receive. Once the innovators and early adopters begin using a new tool and discover that they love it, they’ll naturally promote it to their colleagues — not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
Offer training and support. Staff will have more success with the uptake of a new tool if you offer training and make yourself available to answer questions. Another alternative is to “train the trainer” and leverage your champion users to train others on how to use new tools.
Have some fun. Show staff how fun it can be to use new technology like ParentSquare. With capabilities like posts, social sharing, newsletters, attendance, Community Groups, and more, staff will quickly see the amazing benefits of using a unified communications platform.
Change management, especially when it involves adopting new technology, can be difficult for a lot of people. Beyond that, the additional challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic have given educators enough to manage. It’s understandable that some may be apprehensive about implementing a new school-home communications tool. However, CTOs can support staff by explaining and demonstrating the many ways that technology like ParentSquare can help make school-to-home communications more engaging, effective, equitable, (and fun).
Ongoing Google for Education feature changes can make it difficult for you to keep your institution’s Google Workspace domain up to date. Neglecting to properly configure even a few settings in the Google Admin console can leave it vulnerable to undelegated access, metric and data errors, and security breaches. The Google for Education Audit analyzes your Workspace environment against the latest education best practices and Google Workspace updates and provides an actionable plan to improve the efficiency of your domain for the success of your administrators, teachers, and students.
CDW GETS GOOGLE, AND THEY KNOW EDUCATION
CDW is a Premier Google Partner on a mission to empower schools to get the most out of Google Workspace for Education. Our team of education and technology experts has served more than 4,200 districts across the U.S. and Canada, including 12 of the 15 largest. Get the support you need to establish a simple, reliable, and secure domain with Google for Education. Learn more
Since March 2020, federal lawmakers have passed three COVID-19 stimulus bills that provide more than $190 billion in emergency relief funding for K-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Education has created the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to distribute this money to schools.
States receive this funding from the federal government based on the proportion that each state receives under Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In turn, states must distribute at least 90% of the funding to local school systems based on each district’s share of Title I funding. States can set aside 10% of the money to use for emergency educational needs related to the pandemic.
What Can ESSER Funds Be Used For?
There are three different pools of ESSER funding, each made available by a different piece of legislation:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020, provided $13.5 billion to the ESSER Fund
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), passed on Dec. 27, 2020, provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER II fund
The American Rescue Plan Act passed on March 11, 2021, provided $122.8 billion in additional ESSER funding, known as the ESSER III fund
Funds can be used to cover a wide range of expenses related to preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. These include, but are not limited to:
Providing supplemental learning opportunities for students
Providing mental health services and supports.
Purchasing educational equipment, technology, cleaning supplies, and PPE
Addressing the unique needs of disadvantaged populations
Filling gaps of unfinished learning
Preparing schools for reopening
Testing, repairing, and upgrading buildings to improve air quality
Funding may be used for new purchases, as well as to reimburse school systems for pre-award costs dating back to March 13, 2020, when the national emergency was declared. School systems must use at least 20% of the ESSER III funding they receive to address student learning loss.
FAQs About ESSER Funding
How do school districts access ESSER funds?
School districts must apply to their relevant state education agency for funding. Every state must use at least 90% of its ESSER money to make subgrants to local school systems by formula based on FY 2019 Title I, Part A allocations.
What is the timeline for using ESSER funds?
States must award ESSER funding within one year of receiving it from the federal government. In turn, local school systems have until Sept. 30, 2022, to spend original ESSER funding. They have until Sept. 30, 2023, to spend ESSER II funding, and they have until Sept. 30, 2024, to spend ESSER III funding.
Are ESSER funds a supplement to a school system’s Title I, Part A grant award?
No. The ESSER Fund is a separate federal program. Although school districts receive ESSER funds via the Title I, Part A formula, these funds must be awarded and tracked separately from Title I, Part A funds. Although ESSER funds can be used for allowable Title I activities, they are not subject to Title I requirements.
Getting the Most Impact from ESSER Funding
There are many ways that school districts can choose to spend ESSER funding. Here are four high-impact strategies in particular.
1. Designing flexible learning environments
Replacing the traditional desks, tables, and chairs in classrooms with agile, modular furniture that can easily be moved around the room and configured in a variety of ways serves many purposes. For instance:
It can help educators quickly create safe, socially distanced learning environments with minimal effort.
It facilitates a wide range of learning modalities, allowing teachers to shift seamlessly between whole group, small group, and individual instruction. This helps teachers differentiate instruction and provide targeted intervention to offset COVID-related unfinished learning.
It supports a broad range of learning activities, including active and collaborative learning using a variety of group sizes. Research shows that active learning is a more engaging and effective learning strategy.
How School Specialty can help:
Using mobile and flexible furniture, such as NeoRok, NeoSync, and NeoRyde seating from Classroom Select, allows educators to create highly adaptable learning spaces that are suitable for any need or purpose.
2. Supporting students’ social-emotional needs
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on students’ social and emotional well-being, resulting in feelings of anxiety, loneliness, grief, or trauma for many students. The American Psychological Association advises that youth who have experienced TRACEs+ (Traumatic and Adverse Childhood Experiences), need school-based intervention to guide them toward resilience. During the pandemic, students who were already exposed to early childhood trauma may have increased adverse effects that need to be addressed. Even students who were not initially exposed to trauma may feel distressed, anxiety, or grief after living through COVID-19.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has issued guidance on how educators can help students cope emotionally during the pandemic, and the American Occupational Therapy Association has put out recommendations as well. One approach is to help students learn self-regulation strategies for dealing with these emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
For instance, mindfulness exercises such as meditation, visualization, or deep breathing can help students calm themselves, so they’re more prepared to learn. Spending time in a sensory room may also help students control their emotions.
A calming sensory room offers a quiet space to regroup, which might help students manage their responses to stress or anxiety. A sensorimotor space, or “wiggle room,” provides opportunities for gross motor movement. It’s an active space where students are encouraged to move, play, and explore using a variety of sensory activities, including opportunities for vestibular input (movement), tactile input (touch), and proprioceptive input (deep touch pressure and heavy work).
While all students need to move throughout the school day, those with certain sensory processing challenges or difficulty self-regulating need to move more frequently—and research supports the idea that frequent movement might help them focus and manage their emotions more effectively, leading to better learning. Allowing students to utilize some of these strategies within the general education classroom encourages them to apply these self-regulation strategies in other settings.
3. Cleaning and disinfecting school environments more effectively
Currently, the most popular strategies employed by schools are disinfecting surfaces with chemical sprays and using low-rated MERV filters to purify the air that people breathe. Yet, both methods have shortcomings that could put students and staff at risk.
Although the chemical sprays that schools are using are EPA-approved, they could still pose health risks, especially for individuals who have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues. No one really knows the long-term health effects of spraying powerful chemicals so frequently within enclosed spaces that might have poor ventilation, particularly when those spaces are used for hours at a time by children. Air filters, meanwhile, must be replaced periodically as recommended by the manufacturer. Changing them regularly requires a lot of time, money, and discipline.
To clean and disinfect learning spaces more effectively, K-12 leaders can learn a lot from hospitals and other sterile environments. These entities have been using technologies such as photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which involves the safe and responsible use of ultraviolet-C (UVC) light rays, to remove harmful microbials both on surfaces and in the air for years—and these techniques are proving to be effective in destroying COVID-19 as well.
How School Specialty can help:
School Specialty has partnered with select manufacturers to offer safer and more effective disinfecting options for schools. Solutions for disinfecting materials in a classroom include UVC cabinets like the UV Tech Tub from Copernicus Educational Products, which uses UVGI lamps to kill viruses and other germs in under two minutes—allowing educators to disinfect learning materials during class and between periods, so the next class of students can use them safely.
Solutions for air filtration and disinfecting of classrooms include room air purifiers and even UVC robots. For instance, the TRIO Plus Portable Air Purifier from Field Controls combines HEPA filtration, UVC lamps, and PCO air purification in a single, lightweight, portable unit that is extremely quiet. It can clean the air in a typical classroom of 775 square feet three times every hour. ADIBOT UVC robots from UBTECH use UVGI lamps mounted to a small, cart-sized apparatus to irradiate the air and surfaces within a classroom when it’s not in use. The robots can irradiate an entire classroom in less than three minutes.
Solutions for air filtration and disinfection throughout an entire school site include the Field Controls Cube and Duo line of products, which are installed within a building’s Air Handling Unit (AHU), HVAC system, and/or ventilation ductwork.
4. Addressing unfinished learning with supplemental at-home learning
After a year of school closings and remote learning, more than half of public K-12 teachers said the pandemic resulted in a “significant” unfinished learning for students, according to a report by Horace Mann.
Nearly all educators—more than 97%— reported seeing some unfinished learning in their students over the past year when compared with children in prior years, and 57% estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress.
One method to make up for this unfinished learning is to provide supplemental at-home learning tools for students to continue their learning after school hours. This at-home support can be online learning opportunities that support summer learning. These can be in addition to in-school instruction.
Activities that address the unique needs of low-income, homeless, English learners and children in foster care are supported in this funding also. These outreach activities must address these needs.
How School Specialty can help:
School Specialty has put together a special collection of supplemental materials and activities that can support the unique needs of these learners. Educators can find ideas and resources to share with parents by age, subject, and need here. Additionally, we have educational experts available to assist you in brainstorming the best way to meet the unique needs of your students. We can assist you both in the classroom and with at-home strategies.
A Unique Opportunity
The nearly $200 billion in federal COVID relief aid for K-12 education represents a unique opportunity for leaders to make smart investments that will have long-term impacts on their schools. As education experts committed to the success of your schools and students, School Specialty can help you invest federal funds where they matter most and will have the greatest effect.
Funding is an enormous step toward achieving safe schools and successful learning. But the next steps are just as critical—finding the right partner to connect you with the best solutions for leveraging this money effectively. Count on School Specialty to offer the resources and expertise you need as you determine how to make the most of your funding. School Specialty will work side by side with districts to help leverage funds with your district goals. We are here to help.
Creating flexible learning environments for better learning outcomes.
Learning is no longer bound by the physical walls of a classroom. Instead, learning happens with a high level of flexibility and collaboration that extends student capabilities—and extends opportunities to more students.
Intuitive tools tailored for today’s changing classroom make this possible. These tools enable multiple learning modalities like individualized learning and small group collaborations, accommodate different learning structures like in-person and hybrid, and address the individual needs of students based on their stage of development or learning needs.
To achieve these benefits, tools must:
Ensure the technology is accessible and inclusive.
Make a measurable difference to students and educators.
Be flexible and simple enough to be used by all students.
The full whitepaper on Logitech Classroom of the Now will guide you through the process of changing solutions for a changing classroom. Both JourneyEd and Logitech can help you shape the future of education in your school.
Access Savings Today
Mention ILTPP to save time and money with JourneyEd purchases for your school or district. You can also access contract pricing through our full catalog contract with FREE shipping on all orders over $500.