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Paper Textbooks Could Be a Thing of the Past, Even in Elementary School

The decision by textbook publisher Pearson to adopt a digital-first strategy for its textbooks business could affect K-12 schools because of the fact that many of these schools are not only not completely fully digital, but many still have yet to step into that space. Jay Diskey, a consultant and former executive director of the Association of American Publishers' PreK-12 Learning Group, says the move is likely to have an greater effect in secondary schools, where some educators already are using a blend of traditional and digital texts, but is certain to spill over into elementary schools as well.

Online Course Teaches Math of Hockey

Nearly 30,000 K-12 students, including many in Chicago Public Schools, are learning math by studying angles and other concepts used by professional hockey players. Students are taking an online course called Future Goals-Hockey Scholar, created by the National Hockey League and tech startup EverFi. The course helps students see the real-world applications of math and helps bring STEM to life.

Esports Curriculum Offered

As you have probably read and heard, many schools are beginning to form their own e-sports teams for students who prefer their playing fields to be digital. The High School Esports league has released a new and free esports curriculum supported by Microsoft. It includes an overview of esports gaming, full lesson plans, and exploration of careers in the gaming field. It is a resource that could be good for schools interested in getting involved.

Students Benefit From Large Print Books

According to a survey of students, teachers and librarians, large-print books, in print or on digital devices, may aid students' reading comprehension. Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans said large-print books were found to improve reading abilities and students' attitudes about reading. The survey, conducted by Project Tomorrow on behalf of Gale's Thorndike Press, also found that middle school students reported a 43% reduction in feelings of anxiety about reading when using the large print format. 67% of teachers noted that large print text reduced stress and anxiety in students reading below grade level and at grade level, and 80% teachers said large print would benefit their students who have trouble tracking when reading or lack self-confidence in their reading abilities.

Have a child you think larger print books would help? Don’t forget you can easily change the font size on most tablets, iPads, eReaders, and even on computer screens.

Virtual Reality Leads to School Safety

A school district in Massachusetts is using virtual reality (VR) to better support students with disabilities. In one example, video-production students at the middle school are using VR to create a virtual tour of the campus that can give new students an early, up close and personal view of their school.

App Expands Reach of Books to Kids Everywhere

Students in developing countries can use a free app called Library for All to access books and other resources that would otherwise not be available to them. Rebecca McDonald of Australia created the app after volunteering for hurricane relief work in Haiti in 2010. She says the books, available through the app, are authored by local writers and illustrators, allowing students to read books in their own languages. The books and educational resources can be used on a mobile phone or e-reader.

Harry Potter Wands Teach Math and Coding

Seventh-grade students at one Pennsylvania middle-school are using Harry Potter wands to learn coding and complete puzzles on a tablet. Students use their math skills to program the wands to perform "spells" such as create fireworks on the screen. Parents can buy the same wand on Amazon for about $70.

Google Expands College Search Function

Google has expanded its year-old college search function to include data on not just four-year colleges, but also two-year programs and institutions as well as certificate programs. The search provides data including graduation rates and tuition as well as location and potential areas of study. Google’s focus on only four-year colleges in the first iteration of its search feature had been criticized as a “blind spot.”

Tech Tools For Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Youth Programs

Is your child’s school looking for a different and meaningful way to use technology, but also build empathy and a sense of community spirit as well? A report entitled “Reclaiming Digital Futures” aims to help community-based and school organizations incorporate digital tools into their programs that help nurture social and emotional learning skills. Tools, including esports programs and digital maker projects, are good ways to teach collaboration, relationship-building and empathy, says Rafi Santo, a researcher for the report reviewed in Edutopia. Also referenced are some practical case studies on the topic.

Useful Chrome Extensions for School

Does your child use Chrome as their browser for school? In a recent article from Edutopia, special education teacher Kathryn Nieves shares a list of 10 free extensions for Google Chrome browsers that her students use most often at school. The list includes extensions such as Noisli, which provides customizable mixes of ambient sounds to aid concentration, and AlphaText, which lets users customize their browsers for accessibility. Others on the list are VoiceIn Voice Typing, which provides speech-to-text functions for dictating notes, and Dualless which gives the capability to split the screen so you can work in two tabs simultaneously. Nieves suggests trying these extensions out in the summer before the school year starts and schedules get hectic.