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Why Schools and Education Companies Need to Rethink Math Curriculum and Assessment

A director of math and computer science instruction for the San Francisco schools calls for curriculum and assessment in the COVID era that address a broad array of students’ needs.

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Congressional Bill Aims to Incentivize Education Companies, Schools to Sharpen Cybersecurity

A bill recently introduced in the House would help define best cybersecurity practices for K-12 vendors and outline new spending that could benefit certain education companies focused on online safety.

The Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act, introduced June 17 by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., would task the Department of Homeland Security with establishing a program to circulate K-12 cybersecurity best practices, training, and lessons learned, and with recommending online safety tools for purchase by state education agencies and school districts.

The bill calls on DHS to consult with school IT vendors and cybersecurity companies in putting together the list of best practices.

Doug Levin, the national director for the K12 Security Information Exchange is lobbying for the Matsui bill, expects significant regulatory action at the federal and state levels around K-12 cybersecurity, though it’s difficult to say exactly when that will happen. The K-12 Security Information Exchange operates the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, an online database that tracks K-12 cybersecurity incidents.

The House bill could face a steep climb to become law, as the House Education and Labor Committee currently has no plans to consider the measure, and companion legislation has yet to be introduced in the Senate.

Lawmakers failed to vote on a similar bill introduced in 2020, before the previous congressional term ended in December.

Schools are relying more on technology for remote learning, and policymakers are seeing the need to start imposing baseline internet safety expectations for school districts and vendors, he said.

With cybersecurity policies likely to tighten, school districts and government agencies will increasingly look toward education companies that have already crafted and adhere to a set of best practices for cybersecurity, Levin said.

If passed, the federal bill charts the creation of a DHS-run database that would recommend security tools and services for schools to purchase, and allow schools and states to find and apply for funding opportunities to improve cybersecurity.

H.R. 4005 doesn’t spell out how the money would be dispersed, so the federal government would likely issue further guidance on expenses that might qualify for any cybersecurity grants issued, if the legislation is enacted, Levin said.

In addition to defining best practices and outlining new channels for K-12 cybersecurity funding, the legislation proposes the development of a voluntary registry of K-12 cyberattack incidents, and would require yearly DHS reports analyzing cyber incidents across all levels of K-12.

Information to be collected into the registry may include descriptions of the incidents’ size, and whether each incident was the result of a breach, malware, distributed denial of service attack, or other method designed to cause a vulnerability.

“The bill certainly is responsive to the needs that members of Congress have been hearing from the field,” Levin said. “School districts are feeling under assault from ransomware.”

Levin has compiled data showing that many cyberattacks have targeted teacher and student data stored by education companies, not just within schools.

According to the K12 Cybersecurity Resource Center’s most recent annual report on the state of K-12 cybersecurity, at least 75 percent of all data breach incidents affecting public K-12 school districts resulted from occurrences involving school vendors and other partners.

The Federal Trade Commission has ratcheted up its focus on data breaches in K-12 recently, signaling a stricter enforcement posture toward companies that collect data on K-12 students and teachers.

Organizations endorsing the Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act include the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, the State Educational Technology Directors Association, and the Consortium for School Networking.

“As cyber criminals grow more sophisticated and aggressive, we must provide the resources and information necessary to protect our schools,” Matsui said in a statement. “The Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act provides a roadmap and prepares our cyberinfrastructure for the threats of tomorrow.”

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What Education Companies Should Know About How Kids Can Prosper in a Digital World

A driving narrative during the pandemic has been that students suffered academically because remote and hybrid learning had to rely too much on the use of technology.

Companies have reacted by developing products and services to address so-called “learning loss” and other problems that evolved when most school buildings were fully or partially closed. That makes sense,…

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What Education Companies Should Know About How Kids Can Prosper in a Digital World

A driving narrative during the pandemic has been that students suffered academically because remote and hybrid learning had to rely too much on the use of technology.

Companies have reacted by developing products and services to address so-called “learning loss” and other problems that evolved when most school buildings were fully or partially closed. That makes sense,…

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How Will Districts Spend Their Slice of the New FCC $7 Billion Connectivity Fund?

EdWeek Market Brief surveyed district administrators on how they plan to spend new stimulus funds focused on out-of-school internet connectivity needs.

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In Their Own Words: What Students Want From Ed-Tech Products

EdWeek Market Brief talked with two tech-savvy students about where digital products meet their needs, and fall short.

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Helping Your Children Develop Good Study Skills

If you want to help your child develop good study skills, keep reading!

A while back, we posted an article about figuring out if you need to teach your child how to study It’s funny, because  at first glance this one may seem like a given–“Of course!” After all, as homeschool parents we are right there with our children, teaching them every subject and walking them through the process of learning each day.

It can be easy, though, to miss the opportunity to sit down with our children and teach them how to study independently. (I went to public school, and I don’t remember ever being taught how to study there either.) The article above (Click the bold-print title of the article in the first paragraph.) will help you understand more about why you may never have realized your child didn’t actually know how to study.

It may sound like a difficult task, but there are some simple ways to start teaching your children how to study. It doesn’t have to be a challenging, scary ordeal! Keep reading to find out more.

Even though I studied a lot when I was in school, I still wasn’t really sure how to teach my children how to study. In fact, my son was in about 8th grade and my younger daughter was in 4th grade before I realized that they might learn and retain information better if I stopped and took the time to actually teach them how to study. I realized that I had been guilty of encouraging my children to “try harder” when I should have been teaching what that looked like (AKA “how to study”)!  I’m sure my children probably often thought, “I’m trying as hard as I can!”

Helping Your Children Develop Good Study Skills

So, how do you teach your children to study? While every child will have to take this information and tweak it here and there to make it work for him or her, there are some basic habits that our children need to develop before making these skills more personal. Here are 7 of them!

1. Teach your child to listen and pay attention during the lesson.

One thing that many students don’t do is simply listen and pay attention during the lesson. Whether the student is listening to an online class, listening to Mom read a story or lesson, or even listening to himself as he reads his own lesson, he needs to really listen and pay attention to what is being taught, said, and read. Try these ideas:

  • It may be that we need to help our students practice their listening skills by reading short passages to them and then asking questions.
  • Some students may simply need to be reminded occasionally to pay attention until it becomes a habit.
  • It might even be helpful to set a timer to go off at intervals throughout the class period or throughout the day for the purpose of reminding the student to pay attention.
  • Younger (more wiggly) children may need to learn to sit still and put on “listening ears,” before getting started.

Whatever system works well for you and your child(ren), implement it! Try out a few different systems, choose what works best for your child, and put that system in place. This is definitely one of the keys to getting ready to improve study skills!

2. Regularly make sure your child actually understands the material.

Besides just listening, the student needs to understand the material. I know this seems basic, but many students just want to get through a lesson quickly, so they don’t take the time during the lesson to clarify information in their minds. Younger students probably get help from the mom/teacher in this area as the lesson progresses because younger students are often taught by the mom (although more and more dads are homeschooling nowadays), and she probably makes sure they understand.

Middle school and older students, though, must take more responsibility for themselves to make sure they understand before moving on. You can help by encouraging them to demonstrate understanding by writing down practical examples or summaries of what they’ve just learned. Or, take a few minutes to discuss the material with your older child. That’s a great way to make your child feel more responsible for learning and to give your child a chance to show off his or her knowledge and skills!

3. Teach your child to skim chapter titles, subtitles, charts and graphs, etc. before reading the chapter.

Another tip that can be very helpful is simply skimming the chapter title, subtitles or section titles in that chapter, charts or graphs used in the lesson, and even the first sentence or two of each paragraph in order to get an idea of the most important information from the lesson. If the student keeps the main idea(s) in his mind, she can more easily recognize information that is pertinent to the lesson and that which is not as important to remember. Part of successful studying is simply narrowing down what’s important to remember and what isn’t.

When I read a fictional book for fun, I enjoy reading a short description of what the book is about before I start reading the book itself. The description tells me a little about what will happen in the book, and that helps me know what to pay close attention to as I read. This same principle applies to reading informational books and textbooks.

4. Make sure your child knows how to take good notes.

Taking good notes is extremely important–especially for older students! Younger students may be given study sheets that have been prepared ahead of time for them, but most older students (middle school and older) are responsible for creating their own study notes. It is very helpful for many students to go through the process of writing down lesson notes and study notes.

I’m the kind of learner who has to rewrite things in order to learn them. Even if writing isn’t necessary for your student to learn and remember the information, it is still a wonderful tool! Writing (and reading out loud as he writes) allows the student to see the information (for visual learners), hear the information (for auditory learners), and do something with the information (for kinesthetic learners). I know that many students don’t like to write, but I wouldn’t rule it out because it can be such a wonderful study habit!

5. Help your child create a study schedule.

Making a study schedule can be helpful. When I was a student and had a test or project or paper coming up, I always put off working on it until the very last possible minute. I could think of a host of “reasons” that I couldn’t study right at that moment. Then, when it came down to the last minute, I finally knew that I had no choice, and I buckled down to study. My children are the same way! I realized this is especially helpful and even necessary for my children. If we make out a study schedule and set aside specific days and times for studying, they are much more likely to study for days (or even weeks) ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute.

6. Use practice tests.

Creating and taking a “practice test” was very useful for my son (who has now graduated from our homeschool). Not only did creating his own test cause him to have to review the information, but it also required him to write or type the information out. Without even realizing it, he was practicing and studying the information over again while creating his own practice test. Then taking the practice test was yet another opportunity to review the information.

If your child isn’t yet ready to create his or her own practice test, there are other ways to create the same effect.  Some curriculums actually come with practice tests, or you can create them, or you can help your child learn to create them. If you have an older child who is willing and able to help, you can even have him/her help out by creating practice tests for the younger sibling(s)!

7. Review information often!

Even if there isn’t a test coming up soon, encourage your student to read over each day’s lesson and the information from previous lessons each day. This is not the same as making a study schedule. This is done every day either after class or at the end of the school day. The student simply reads over her notes and pays close attention to them. She’s not attempting to remember the information, but that will come anyway because she will be seeing the information over and over. Then, when a study session arrives, she may be surprised at how much she already knows!

These are just a few study skills that have worked for my own family. I would love to hear from you about any tips or study skills you can share with us! 

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Mississippi District Seeking Assessment Platform; N.Y. District Looks For Pre-K Provider

K-2 assessment platform, pre-K program provider, and online curriculum. A Mississippi school district is looking to buy a system to develop formative and summative tests for K-2 while a district in downstate New York seeks pre-K services. And a district in Utah looks for K-8 online curriculum.

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