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Will Education Companies Require Employees to Get Vaccinated?

will education companies require employees to get vaccinated
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The highly contagious COVID-19 variant stressing school reopening plans is forcing education technology companies to confront how much leeway they give their employees to choose whether to get vaccinated.

The decision for those businesses – like those across the U.S. economy – is not only about the rules they set for their own work environment, but…

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Texas Districts Seek Online Software Programs, Instructional Supplies; Michigan School System Needs Reading Intervention Program

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Online software platforms, instructional supplies, blended reading intervention program. A district in Texas plans to purchase multiple online software platforms, while another district in the state intends to buy instructional supplies, materials and equipment. Further, a Michigan district has issued an RFP for a reading intervention program.

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4 Lessons for Teachers About Social-Emotional Wellness in Simone Biles’ Olympic Experience

4 lessons for teachers about social emotional wellness in simone biles olympic

Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from a series of Olympics competitions last month care for her mental health was surprising and transformative. The move, especially by an Olympic athlete who is considered one of the greatest the world has ever seen, was more influential and inspiring than any athletic feat thus far.

The gymnast’s withdrawal from the competition emphasizes the importance of holistic self care and should inspire us to think about how we can practice taking care of our own selves and supporting those around us — our children, our colleagues, and our family members — to do the same. When we’re feeling unwell, it’s hard to be the best version of ourselves. The “twisties” can take many different forms and the connection between mental health, social emotional wellness, and performance is real. (Biles, after not participating in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, as well as the all-around event, later re-entered the competition and won a Bronze medal on the balance beam.)

By withdrawing, Simone Biles has shown courage and vulnerability. She has prioritized her own wellbeing over the fame and glory of being crowned Olympic champion. Coming off of Naomi Osaka’s decision to pull out of the French Open in May for similar reasons, there’s an opportunity to follow these athletes’ leads to prioritize their own wellbeing as inspiration for your students to do the same.

Here are four ways we can encourage students to follow Biles’ and Osaka’s leadership and cultivate the skills in themselves that will strengthen their own social-emotional wellness.

Explore Expectations

Invite students to write out an expectation that is weighing on them from their family, school, or society. Then have them come up with a gentler expectation they choose to place on themselves.

Ask students to reflect on whether the expectation that is weighing on them came from themselves or from someone else. By thinking about how we can replace this external expectation with a kinder one, we’re being gentler on ourselves and the pressure we hold.

Care Fully

Generate ideas for self and community care. Students explore ways they can care for themselves and their community and how that might feel by expressing this through movement.

Students can do a movement to represent a self-care step they would like to take (like taking deep breaths) and a frozen statue in their bodies for how that self-care step makes them feel. Then, invite students to make a movement for a community care step they can take (like picking up trash at a park or speaking out about unfairness) and a frozen statue in their bodies for how that might make folks in their community feel. Debrief with students and reflect on what they can do to take care of themselves and their community.

Follow the Follower

Understand the importance of both leading and following. Invite students to form a circle and have them try to move their hands at the same time and in the same way as everyone else. Without speaking, the group should choose one student to be the leader and follow that student. The group then lets the leadership pass to a second person and follows the second leader. Last, have everyone be a leader.

Debrief with students and reflect on what it felt like to lead and to follow. Discuss how they can take the lead in their school and support someone today who is taking the lead.

The Leader Shop

Recognize when to step up and when to step back. Invite students to practice 3 energizing movements that could help them prepare to take a bigger role in a group, like jumping jacks or a Shake Off. Then have them practice 3 calming movements that could help them prepare to let others lead, like pressing their thumb and pointer fingers together in a triangle and breathing, or standing quietly in mountain pose.

Students then reflect on when they might need to step up versus step back while working or collaborating in a group. Discuss how we can make a space where everyone can be authentic and real, and in order to do this, we need to know when to step up and take a bigger role, and when to step back and let others take the lead.

Leveraging the celebrity appeal of the Olympics and Simone Biles and understanding her strong, inspiring decision can be an authentic way to explore and apply social-emotional wellness in the classroom. When we can process and reflect on our feelings and connect them to current events, we give students an opportunity to see social emotional skills in real life application.

Photo: Simone Biles prepares to start her performance on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women’s apparatus final at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Aug. 3. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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New Institute Backed by National Science Foundation to Explore AI’s Role in Education

new institute backed by national science foundation to explore ais role in education
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A ed-tech nonprofit will join four universities in launching a new institute dedicated to creating artificial intelligence tools that can be applied to human learning and education.

The effort is meant to encourage the development of products for use in K-12, influence future AI products made for K-12, and is intended to improve upon past AI technologies that were difficult for teachers to use, said Jeremy Roschelle, executive director of learning sciences research for Digital Promise, the education nonprofit involved in the initiative.

“There’s an emphasis here on what people are calling classroom orchestration – how to help teachers organize for longer-term, more complex, collaborative, problem-solving things,” Roschelle said. “I think the classroom orchestration part, in particular, could be part of a big change in what products people emphasize in the market, and how they support teachers.”

A 5-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support the AI Institute for Engaged Learning, Digital Promise said. Analysts, policymakers, and product developers from Digital Promise will join researchers from North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, Indiana University, and Vanderbilt University, for the initiative.

The work of the institute will have three main goals:

  1. Created platforms will incorporate story-based problem scenarios fostering communication, teamwork, and creativity.
  2. Platforms will generate AI characters capable of communicating with students through speech, facial expression, gesture, gaze, and posture.
  3. The institute will build a framework that will customize educational scenarios and processes to help students learn, based on information collected from conversations, gaze, facial expressions, gestures, and postures of students as they interact with one another, teachers, and the technology itself.

Schools, museums, and outside nonprofits will work with the institute to ensure created tools are ethically designed and advance diversity, equity and inclusion, according to the announcement.

District officials, and advocates for the ethical use of technology, have raised repeated concerns about potential pitfalls in applying AI-powered technology in schools. One fear is that because AI systems are dependent on collecting large amounts of data and using algorithms to guide policy and classroom practice, they will end up reinforcing racial, gender or other stereotypes.

For example, could an AI-powered curriculum platform, or one that recommends academic interventions for students, end up directing more students of color into remedial coursework, because of biased algorithmic assumptions?  (See Education Week’s recent special report breaking down concerns about AI’s role in classrooms.)

Data Privacy in Focus

A November report by the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences cites several concerns and considerations come into play when it comes to how AI technologies safeguard student privacy.

How will AI-recorded student conversations and emotional data be used? How long will information be saved? Will it be part of a student’s record? These are all questions that come into play when AI and children interact, the report notes.

AI detection of emotions, through facial expressions, is well-developed, though challenging from a privacy and ethical standpoint, and appropriate policies must still be determined to address these challenges, the report says.

“A very strong focus of this institute … is coming together to really think about how do we tackle some of these issues of privacy, security?” Roschelle said. “None of this is going to fly if people are terrified.”

If AI can be applied creatively and responsibly, it has the power to enrich lessons across subjects, Roschelle said.

He offered an example detailing how forthcoming AI tools might generate story-based situations that promote collaboration and creativity.

Imagine a science class planning a trip to Mars over a three-week period, he said. For the purposes of that trip, they would need to measure gravity, the strength of the Sun’s energy, and air moisture. They would have to plot out measurement devices that they need, the composition of student teams to observe measurements, and what vehicles to bring.

In this case, an effective AI system could “help them along the way whenever they get stuck,” Roschelle said, and “tune the story to the choices they make.”

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Two-Minute Tip: 3 Mistakes That Hurt CEOs’ Relationships With Their Boards

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In this video, EdWeek Market Brief Reporter Emma Kate Fittes breaks down the key missteps CEOs make when it comes to building and maintaining a positive and productive relationship with their board.

The Two-Minute Tip is one of a series of videos offering advice to company officials on how to improve their work and…

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In this video, EdWeek Market Brief Reporter Emma Kate Fittes breaks down the key missteps CEOs make when it comes to building and maintaining a positive and productive relationship with their board.

The Two-Minute Tip is one of a series of videos offering advice to company officials on how to improve their work and the products they deliver to schools. It’s based on a story Emma Kate wrote in which she gathered advice from investors, advisers to boards, CEOs and ed-tech board members about how leaders of education companies can nurture trust and communication.

Those executives talked about embracing tough conversations, keeping the board fresh with new members, and seeking advice from a variety of sources.

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The Delta Variant’s Impact on Education Companies Entering the New School Year

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Education companies are making sure they have technology and plans in place in case the new COVID variant ends up disrupting in-person learning this school year.

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What District Officials Love — and Hate — About “Learning Loss”-Focused Products

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EdWeek Market Brief surveyed district administrators, principals, and teachers about whether they have a positive or negative view of products designed to curb “learning loss” — and why.

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5 Fantastic Tips to Enjoy a Relaxed Back-to-Homeschool Time

5 fantastic tips to enjoy a relaxed back to homeschool time
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Want to make your back-to-homeschool time special but you’re feeling overwhelmed? No worries! Use these 5 fantastic tips to enjoy a relaxed back-to-homeschool time!

If you feel like you’re a jumbled mess of nerves when it comes to getting back into the groove, you’re not alone! Most likely, you’ve spent a lot of time researching and making tough decisions like what curriculum to use, how to organize it all, and which homeschool planner to use.

mom and daughter enjoying back-to-homeschool time

GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY! After reading this article, please take a moment to enter the giveaway (found at the bottom of this article).

After getting those things sorted, you picked a week to get started. And then you panicked.

What’s the best way to start a new homeschool year?

How can you make the first back-to-homeschool day special? 

How will you keep your school year flowing without losing your kids’ interest (or your mind)?! 

Keep Your Cool for an Amazing Back-to-Homeschool Time

After a few major first-day flops with my 5 boys, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks. Here are my ideas to help you keep your cool and enjoy back-to-homeschool time.

1. Take It Slow

Sure, you probably feel energized and ready to go. Starting something new is exciting! But you should fight the urge to zip through your routine.

Yes, I know it’s hard! You have all this new curriculum sitting in front of you. You can’t wait to dive in! I understand!

But I encourage you to pump the brakes. Ease into your homeschool year. Give yourself and your children some transition time.

Start the day with a yummy breakfast and chat about what’s to come. Talk about your own ideas, but be sure to listen to what your kids have to say too.

Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Today is day 1 of your homeschool adventures this year.

2. Stay Focused

Before your first day of homeschool arrives, think about what you’d like to do on your first day. Choose one or two goals to make it easier to focus on getting them done. Consider how those goals will help you ease into your homeschool year.

An example of a first-day goal might be to establish a solid homeschool routine. 

Some possible steps for reaching that goal could be:

  • Review the routine with your children.
  • Create a chart or posted with your kids to serve as a visual reminder throughout the year.
  • Practice the routine with your children and make sure they understand it.

Another great first-day goal could be to make sure your children know how and where to store curriculum and supplies. 

Do you want your children to be responsible for getting out and putting away their own books, notebooks, pencils, art supplies, etc.? If so, you should:

  • Make sure your children know where to find everything.
  • Make sure each child has a place to keep his or her materials and supplies.
  • Talk with your children about when they will need to get these things out and when to put them away. (How will they know when they need to do these things? Will you tell them? Will they need to do it at a certain time?)

Knowing and reviewing goals and routines with your kids will make the whole homeschool year run more smoothly!

3. Keep It Simple

You may feel the need to do more, but back-to-homeschool time is like most experiences with kids: simpler is better!

Remember when your kids were little and you got them a cool toy, but they had more fun playing with the box than the toy? Keep that in mind as you plan and prep for your first day of homeschool.

Simple activities that are short and sweet take the pressure off and have much less chance of being a flop.

4. Keep It Fun

You also might feel like you have to be super serious right away. If you don’t, your homeschool will get out of control, right? Well, you know your kids and yourself best. If a tight rein is necessary from the start, then go with your gut.

I will encourage you, however, to loosen that grip a bit on the first day. Play a game. Share some silly jokes. Make a tasty treat.

Fun activities are perfect ways to ease your transition into a new homeschool year.

5. Look at This Day as an Opportunity

Maybe you’re not so excited about starting back to homeschool. That’s totally normal! You may dread dragging out the books and getting back into a routine.

Instead of getting upset about your first day of homeschool, consider it a chance to grow. Doing things that you don’t necessarily want to do can help you become a stronger person. And you might find that getting back into your homeschool routine is exactly what you need!

If you or your kids aren’t feeling the whole back-to-homeschool thing, talk about it. Open up the conversation to share your thoughts and feelings. And then work together to come up with solutions.

For example, if the idea of suddenly going from summer break to a full schedule is overwhelming, consider easing into it. Start with two or three subjects. And another subject each following day or week.

If sitting at a desk or table for hours at a time seems like too much, do some “book work” and then enjoy a brain break between those blocks of work. Build on that progress!

Back-to-homeschool time is also an amazing opportunity to work on growth mindset skills. You and your kids will be practicing self-awareness, resilience, and more.

You CAN keep your cool when it’s time for back to homeschool. Jot these five tips down on an index card or post-it note. As the big day arrives, review these ideas and think about how you can make them work for you.

Best wishes for a brilliant back to homeschool time!

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It’s hard to believe it’s time to get back to school! Or maybe you homeschool year-round and take breaks whenever it works for your family. Whether you’re already back at it, preparing to get going, or homeschooling year-round, a little extra money for homeschool curriculum and resources is always an exciting prospect!

Since many homeschooling families are on tight budgets, I joined a group of homeschool blogger friends to offer a HUGE gift card giveaway to  We will be blessing THREE homeschool families with $200 to spend at for you to use on curriculum, books, games, puzzles, or whatever educational supplies you might need! Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) so they can decrease that burden and buy the curriculum and supplies they need.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers has generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries.  And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!

Giveaway ends August 13, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.  Must be at least 18 years of age.  Must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada to enter.  Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn.  By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).

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Amy Milcic helps you make life & learning fun. As a homeschool mom of 5 boys, she knows the value of keeping it simple and relaxed. Amy loves to share resources, tips, & free printables over at Rock Your Homeschool. You can read more from Amy at Rock Your Homeschool.