TECHNOLOGY RE-ENERGIZES RURAL DISTRICT
A national technology program offers Polk County (TN) Schools in southeast Tennessee new tools and new approaches. Polk County Schools is one of the few rural systems in the US to be named a Verizon Innovative Learning School. The designation comes with 500 iPads, five gigabytes of data per month for each student and teacher in the sixth through eighth grades, and professional development support for teachers. The program is focused on academic achievement, technology proficiency for both students and teachers, student engagement, and exposing students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Two-thirds of the county is in the Cherokee National Forest, which has a big impact on development patterns and school revenue. “We don’t get opportunities like this often, so we’re trying to get the most from it,” says Ryan Goodman, the district’s director of innovation. “It’s really re-energizing our district.” In addition to providing hardware, Verizon is sending edtech experts from Digital Promise to Polk County three times a year to conduct professional development for teachers. Teachers complete 12 technology-integration modules throughout the year. The district also has model teachers who help lead at the middle school. In addition, Polk has established student tech teams to provide tech assistance—a strategy that not only provides support but also deepens student leadership skills.
HOUSTON (TX) TITLE I SCHOOL TAMES CHAOS OF DROP-OFFS AND PICKUPS
Codwell Elementary, a Title 1 school in Houston ISD uses PikMyKid, a comprehensive dismissal platform, to improve safety and efficiency during dismissals. By connecting schools, teachers, and parents with real-time updates, the app allows open communication between parents and teachers to ensure students are where they need to be at the end of each day. The platform’s car line app is free for parents to use to manage pickup schedules and permissions easily and to make changes when necessary. The app uses geofencing technology to alert the school when a parent has arrived, either by vehicle or on foot, to pick up their child. The app has cut the actual dismissal time by 10 minutes, but it’s also saved critical instructional time and streamlined the entire process overall to 45 minutes. The school is able to dismiss students directly from classrooms rather than sending kids to a cafeteria or gym to wait, which has resulted in a decrease of disruptive behavior. The administrators and teachers know where students are at all times, from the time the bell rings to the moment the students are released to a parent, an approved adult, or the bus.
REALNETWORKS PROVIDES SAFR FACIAL RECOGNITION SOLUTION FOR FREE TO EVERY K–12 SCHOOL IN THE US AND CANADA
RealNetworks has announced the immediate availability of SAFR for K–12, an AI and machine learning based facial recognition solution to help enhance safety in more than 100,000 schools at no cost. For the first time, K-12 schools can confidently apply state-of-the-art facial recognition to better protect the school environment. SAFR utilizes existing IP-based cameras and readily available hardware to recognize staff, students, and visitors in real time to help improve school safety. The solution also provides additional benefits that strengthen security, such as streamlining entry, record keeping, campus monitoring, and guest check-in. SAFR encrypts all facial data and images to ensure privacy, and all facial data and images remain exclusively within the school’s domain as part of, or complementary to, an existing school ID system. Schools can download the software at https://safr.ai/k12/
TEXAS DISTRICT SELECTS DISCOVERY EDUCATION TO SUPPORT LONG-TERM STRATEGIC PLAN
A new three-year partnership between Harlingen Consolidated ISD (HCISD) and Discovery Education brings award-winning digital content and professional learning services to the district’s STEM2 Preparatory Academy, empowering educators to help students develop the important critical-thinking and solution-seeking skills needed for college and career success. Harlingen recently began implementing a new strategic plan entitled Transforming Learning for Global Achievement. HCISD’s leaders chose Discovery Education’s unique combination of dynamic digital resources and sustained, job-embedded professional development to support this plan’s key goals, which include providing all educators with the tools they need to maximize student success and deliver to all students the high-quality instruction and individualized learning that result in maximum achievement. HCISD educators in the STEM2 Preparatory Academy will also soon begin using Discovery Education’s STEM Connect to enhance core curriculum and bring STEM to life in classrooms. A cutting-edge, web-based, interdisciplinary K–8 supplemental resource built on a 4Cs STEM skills framework, STEM Connect helps students develop the creative, critical-thinking, communication, and collaboration skills they need for success beyond graduation.