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Nina Caliri

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Old VS. New: Why K-12 Teachers Should Embrace EdTech

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

As technology continues to evolve and develop, it’s steadily taking over the K-12 education space. Although new edtech is designed to help and assist teachers with tasks in and out of the classroom, some teachers are still on the fence.  Why is there so much resistance among teachers when it comes to new educational technology, or edtech?

EdTech - Education Technology

The Ed Advocate says there are many anti-tech teachers due to the power of tradition. A teacher-centered approach in which K-12 teachers are sharing their wisdom with their students and classrooms, engaging the class, and motivating them to be the best they can is the more traditional way to teach.  Now education is changing to more of a student-centered approach instead. The Ed Advocate explains, “In the student-centered approach to education, the teacher serves as a guide who facilitates the learning process, instead of seeking to control it.” Teachers can utilize edtech to help facilitate the student-centered approach to teaching.

Another key reason teachers haven’t completely embraced edtech is because of the lack of training on the different technologies that could help them. Older generations of teachers simply did not have access to the newer edtech that is out there, and even the younger generations are not fully trained on how edtech can help them in the classroom.

Edtech …Out With the Old, In With the New

  • Traditional Attendance Calls vs. Automated Attendance Alerts
    Chronic absenteeism and truancy are plaguing K-12 schools and districts across the country. Each day school administrators are calling parents to report their children are absent, taking up valuable time that could easily be used on other administrative tasks. Introducing Automated Attendance Alert edtech! With automated attendance alerts educators don’t have to worry about calling home as the alert is sent automatically to parents or guardians using their preferred communication method through a school notification platform. This is more efficient than manually calling parents, allows for accurate attendance reporting, and saves staff hours of time.

  • Parent-Teacher Meetings vs. Video Conferences & Calls
    Nowadays there are a high number of working parents who may not be able to attend parent-teacher meetings due to busy schedules, travels, and meetings. By using digital tools such as Skype or Google Hangout teachers can set up video conferences to ensure good parental involvement and parent engagement without parents without having to rearrange their work schedule.

  • Sending Home Paper Information vs. Digitally Sending Information
    Sending students home with field trip approval slips and announcements is not always the most efficient way to get information into the hands of a parent or guardian. Edtech school notification platforms are a great way to communicate important information with parents and ensure they receive it. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows teachers to communicate more effectively with parents and improve parent engagement and response. With secure document delivery, teachers can also automatically email report cards, progress reports, transcripts, and more to student families. This again ensures delivery with real-time reporting, reduces risk of message interception by students, and also reduces paper, ink, and mailing costs.

  • Snow Days vs. Digital Learning Days
    For those living in areas in the U.S. with harsh winters, snow days can take a toll on learning opportunities for students. Even though students may not complain about multiple snow days, edtech is making it possible for some K-12 schools and districts to host ‘digital learning days’ in replacement of the traditional snow day. Anderson School District 5 in South Carolina was selected to be a part of an eLearning pilot program. This program allows students to access their assignments at home via Google Classroom with Chromebook devices. “At the end of the day, it makes common sense and financial sense to implement this program,” Superintendent Tom Wilson said in a news release. “No longer will we need to run buses mid-June for a makeup day that only a quarter of our students attend.”

  • Reporting Bullying Incidents In-Person vs. Anonymous Tip Lines
    Bullying is a problem every K-12 school wants to eliminate in all classrooms. It’s difficult for teachers to intervene with every single bullying incident that occurs inside and outside their classrooms, and with the growth of cyberbullying it becomes more and more problematic. Utilizing an edtech solution like an anonymous bullying tip line can help! Our Speak Up! Anti-Bullying Management platform was designed for schools to help them dramatically reduce school bullying and cyberbullying incidents by allowing students to make reports anonymously.

As technology continues to evolve, Alert Solutions does too. By implementing edtech in your classroom, you could save valuable time, increase parent engagement, and reduce bullying incidents, all while promoting your student-centered teaching approach. There is a lot more educational technology out there. So, teachers… it’s time to embrace edtech!

If you’re interested in any of the edtech tools Alert Solutions has to offer we’d be happy to assist. Please contact us today!

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Topics: bullying, cyberbullying, attendance, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, parent engagement, parent communication, technology trends

Teacher Strikes: The Impact on Students & K-12 School Security

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, May 14, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

In early 2019, the United States saw multiple large-scale teacher strikes in California, Colorado, West Virginia, and more. With large groups of teachers picketing outside K-12 schools, many students were either not showing up to learn, or were simply watched in auditoriums and gymnasiums within school grounds.

Teacher Strikes: The Impact on Students & K-12 School Security

Although teachers across the country were striking for the future of public education, there were some negative impacts on school security and student’s learning opportunities. When there are no teachers, there is no teaching.

Teacher Strike

EdWeek published an article showing how principals handled the teacher strikes, and one of the key takeaways was closing schools if possible, during a teacher strike. During the strike in LA, some “encountered expletives from picketing teachers while trying to enter the building.” Denver kept their schools open during their own teachers strike and videos surfaced showing “students dancing in the hallways and students painting a chaotic scene…”. The small percentage of students attending school during a teacher strike has little to no supervision, as staff are spread so thinly. This could lead to potential hazards and dangers to both school security and student safety. For example, limited staff means there is less supervision of students in the hallways and lunchrooms, which is when bullying or fighting incidents could occur.  One principal stated, “I believe that we should close schools, if it's not a safe and secure environment.".

Students may enjoy not having to finish homework assignments and study for tests and quizzes, but teacher strikes do have a negative effect on more than just learning. LA School Report explains every day students are not in the classroom they’re losing valuable learning opportunities. “Students lose daily social interactions with their peers, which helps build character and good citizenship.” If parents are not able to provide childcare during teacher strikes they’re either losing out on their earnings from work, or are leaving their children unsupervised. Students who rely on school breakfasts and lunches could also have their nutrition compromised. The fallout of not having the structured school week can have detrimental effects on everybody in the school community.

Teacher Strikes: Why Did Teachers Go On Strike?

In Los Angeles, California, more than 30,000 public school teachers went on strike, affecting 500,000 students in 900 schools. As this district is the second largest district in the country, this teacher strike had a large impact on both student success and school security.

The New York Times explains, “The decision to walk off the job came after months of negotiations between the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Although educators on all sides agree California should spend more money on education, the union and the district (were) locked in a bitter feud about how Los Angeles should use the money it already gets.”

For the many school teachers who participated in the LA teacher strike, their reasoning behind the strike was not just about labor issues, but for the future of public education in the area. Michael Schepps, who teaches 7th grade world history, said, “I have 41 students, and in two of my classes it prevents me from doing things I want to do, such as group work. I used to do plays in my classroom, with costumes, and because of the numbers, I can no longer do that.” The overflowing classrooms made it difficult to foster positive learning environments for students, leading to disciplinary problems and an impact on student academic success. According to Morningside Center, California has the highest student-teacher ratio of 24 students per teacher. This compares to “a ratio of 12 to 1 in states like New Jersey, North Dakota, and Vermont.”  Another teacher in the area explained, “"It's not about salary. It's about having a nurse every day in our school. Currently we have a nurse for two days a week, and students get sick every day or get hurt every day.”

After an overwhelming amount of support for a contract agreement between the school district in LA and the union, the teacher strike in Los Angeles ended after 9 days.

School security is extremely important to us here at Alert Solutions. Our reliable and efficient school notification platform, SwiftK12, is used to send out alerts and messages to keep students safe and parents informed. Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

 

Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education

Teacher Appreciation Week: We Appreciate YOU!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 09:05 AM

Thank You - Teacher AppreciationTeachers should always be appreciated.  Being an educator is an extremely demanding and important career, as it is teachers who play a large role in shaping for the futures of their students. They must understand certain subject matters, curriculum, and school standards as well as form connections and encourage students to succeed. For this reason there is a full week dedicated to showing teachers how much we appreciate them!

Great Schools put together a list of several characteristics that make a wonderful teacher:

  • They set high expectations for all students
  • They’re always prepared and organized
  • They engage students and get them to see issues from several perspectives
  • They form strong relationships with their students and show them they care about them
  • They’re experts of their subject matter
  • They keep open lines of communication with parents and guardians

With all the characteristics that make an amazing teacher, it’s up to the students and parents to make Teacher Appreciation Week one to remember!

Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas: Celebrate Your Teachers

  1. Appreciation Gifts
    A great way to celebrate your teachers is through considerate gifts. These could be flowers, chocolate, gift cards to their favorite store or breakfast spot, or jewelry. Making your gift meaningful by personalizing it can really show your teacher how much you care and respect them.

  2. A Thoughtful Letter
    Nothing says appreciation like writing it out in words. Younger students can make cards and draw pictures and older students can type or write up an honest letter of their appreciation. Earth Networks suggests students should “Make sure to highlight a specific instance when your teacher really helped you through a problem or helped you learn a difficult concept. Remember, some of the most important lessons teachers pass down to students aren’t academic lessons but life lessons.”

  3. Classroom Supplies
    Public school teachers often use their own money to buy classroom supplies such as paper, crayons, markers, etc. Consider working with classmates to raise money to purchase more supplies for your teacher! Not only is this thoughtful and something your teacher may not expect, but it also takes a significant financial burden off them as well.

  4. Class “Thank You” Book
    Earth Networks brings this great idea as something to present to educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. “This gift is the perfect place to have each student thank their teacher for teaching them something throughout the year.” One of the most touching gifts a teacher can receive.

  5. A Note From Parents
    A teacher is a partner and an ally to parents and guardians. With teachers spending the majority of the week with students, parents rely on them to keep them informed, address concerns, and be a great influence on their child. School administrators can work with parents to put together a nice letter or note for Teacher Appreciation Week by sending a message home through a school notification platform, such as SwiftK12. You can keep this under wraps and encourage parents to write a kind note to bring in and surprise teachers with.

At Alert Solutions we work with K-12 schools and districts, both large and small, across the country and around the globe. We know the hard work that goes into being a great teacher, and appreciate all that they do. 

We want to help you show your appreciation for your teachers! Contact us today.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

National Admin Day: Say Thank You To Your K-12 School Administrators!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Mon, Apr 22, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

This week is Administrative Professionals Week, and on Wednesday, April 24th, we celebrate National Admin Day! Across the United States there are nearly 4 million secretaries or administrative assistants within the workforce, which includes the incredibly hardworking school administrators!

The History of National Admin Day

National Admin Day - Students Giving Admin Gift

According to Hallmark, there were three key individuals who led the effort to create Administrative Professionals Week/Day. They were; Mary Barrett, the past president of the National Secretaries Association (now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals), King Woodbridge, the president of Dictaphone Corp., and Harry Klemfuss, the public relations account executive at Young & Rubicam. They worked together to get recognition for the skills, loyalty, and efficiency of administrators and secretaries in the workforce.. 

Back in 1952 the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Charles Sawyer, proclaimed the first observance of National Secretaries Week which was celebrated the first week of June. In 1955 the dates were changed to the current celebration during the last full week of April. The name of the observance changed a couple of times as the National Secretaries Association became Professional Secretaries International, and then developed into the Association of Administrative Professionals. This name change occurred to reflect the changing job titles and responsibilities of today’s administrative workforce.

How Your K-12 School Can Celebrate National Admin Day

Here are a few fun ways you can celebrate your school administrators for National Admin Day.

  • A Nice Handmade Card/Note
    Nothing says appreciation like a hand-written and handmade card! Include something meaningful about them that stands out to you. Showing you value the work they do will make their day.
  • Appreciation Lunch or Breakfast
    Host an appreciation lunch or breakfast for your staff in honor of your school administrators on National Admin Day! Bring in a catered meal, or make it a pot-luck and have other staff members and teachers bring in their favorite dishes. You could even hire some substitutes so that your faculty can all enjoy the delicious food without rushing.
  • Give Public Praise
    Giving public praise to your school administrators on National Admin Day is a great way to show your gratitude and respect, and it costs absolutely nothing at all! Share your praise on social media or during your morning announcements.
  • Spruce Up Their Work Space
    Surprise your school administrators by decorating their work spaces for National Admin Day. You can decorate with balloons and streamers to make them feel special.
  • Sweet Treats
    School Webmasters has cute ideas of ways you can say thank you with notes and candy. Some of them include:
    • “Thanks! You’re a real LIFESAVER.” (Lifesavers)
    • “Thank you for being a sweet and well-rounded secretary!” (M&Ms)
    • “You’re a JOY to have on our staff!” OR “Working with you is a real JOY!” (Almond Joy)
    • “You are out of this world!” (Milky Way)
    • & more fun ideas listed here!

Make sure you share the importance of National Admin Day with your staff and students by recognizing all they do for your school. Try sending out a parent notification so that nobody forgets! Our SwiftK12 notification platform allows you to segment your lists so that your school admins won’t know the surprises to come.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

Questions to Ask your School Notification System Provider

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 12:04 PM

Communicating with your school community is critical to ensuring that everyone is on the same page, feels included and is kept informed of important details that might affect them.

For some K-12 schools, using a school notification system is one way to efficiently communicate with students, teachers, staff and parents. If you’re evaluating your options, make sure to ask these questions to your school notification system provider.

Can they provide a secure and reliable network? 

Ask for details on data center redundancy. What types and how many data centers do they have? How do they ensure reliable message delivery? What level of encryption do they use to keep data secured?

How do they provide rapid message delivery?shutterstock_200713358

How many simultaneous voice calls and text messages can they support per second? How do they leverage routing capabilities to maximize speed? Is their system flexible enough to adjust voice call speed to local phone networks or uses email throttling to adapt to different throughput requirements of various ISPs?

What other K-12 schools have they worked with?

How long have they been working as a school notification system provider? How many K-12 schools and students do they support? Are there any K-12 schools in your area that you can speak with?

What features do they have?

Do they offer a mobile app that allows users to send email, voice, social media and SMS text alerts directly from their smart phone? Can the mobile app connect with your student information system, like PowerSchool, to allow users to instantly access up-to-date contact information? Can you automatically email parents important documents such as report cards, progress reports, transcripts, evaluations and student schedules?

By asking these questions to your school notification system provider, you can make sure you’re doing your due diligence in selecting a solution that works best for you and your K-12 school.

Alert Solutions' School Notification Systems

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

K-12 Schools Must Address Student Mental Health Concerns After 2 Parkland Survivor Suicides

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Apr 04, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

There is nothing more upsetting than switching on the T.V. or radio to hear about a devastating school shooting. In 2018, thirty-five people in the U.S. died in school shootings, with many losing their lives in the February 14th shooting in Parkland Florida. That number doesn’t include the 79 people injured during these country-wide school shootings, and the many more that were deeply affected and are living with mental health issues. These student mental health concerns include PTSD and depression due to survivor’s guilt and the heartbreaking loss of friends and faculty.

Student Mental Health

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred just over a year ago, yet the Parkland community continues to mourn over the effects of that tragedy. Within just one week, two Parkland survivors took their own lives.  Sydney Aiello, a 19-year-old graduate and a senior at the time of the mass shooting, died of an apparent suicide after struggling with PTSD and survivors guilt after living through the deaths of her classmates. The second survivor who committed suicide has been identified as 16-year-old sophomore, Calvin Desir. These suicides have shaken the community to the core, and have prompted people to take a closer look at the well-being of students and their mental health.

According to the Cut, “this is not the first time we’ve seen the toll of experiencing the trauma of a school shooting can take.” After the Columbine incident, a student and a mother of a student who was injured both took their own lives, and six students attempted suicide after a tragic school shooting in Ohio that left three students dead.

3 Student Mental Health Concerns to Look Out For

The Daily Beast explains, “Witnessing a school shooting is especially traumatic given the malleable shape of the brain of school children. Younger pupils are developing foundational skills that will allow them to learn more complex skills, while older students are balancing emotional and intellectual maturation through puberty.” With this being said, there are a few student mental health concerns educators, school administrators, and parents should be looking out for after a school shooting or school tragedy.

Multiple triggers such as smells, sounds, or even a memorial, could initiate a downward spiral for somebody who is suffering from depression, PTSD, or “survivor’s guilt”. Below each are defined:

Depression:
Depression, or major depressive disorder, is defined as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. “Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.” If you notice your students no longer care about their coursework, are absent often, and are uncharacteristically withdrawn, they may be experiencing depression or another mental health disorder.

PTSD:
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is common for those who have witnessed gun violence. It is defined as “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” According to The Daily Beast, PTSD affects the area in the brain that processes stress and emotion, which is why many survivors report to feeling “numb” and are unable to respond in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy.

Survivor’s Guilt:
According to the Cut, survivor’s guilt by itself is not a diagnosis. It is a phenomenon that occurs involving the belief or question about one’s worth and one’s value. Students may ask “why did I survive when other people did not?” Or “why did I deserve to live and others did not?” Survivor’s guilt triggers these questions and students can blame themselves for not doing something more to save a friend or faculty member. These distortions are often linked to mood changes and depression, and are associated directly with PTSD.

Teachers and school administrators spend the most time with school-aged children who may be suffering from depression or PTSD after a detrimental tragedy.

Alert Solutions recommends keeping open communication with both students and their parents as often as possible, so teachers and administrators can effectively address a student’s mental health concern. Keeping a lookout for any signs or symptoms of depression, PTSD, or any other mental health issue is extremely important.Sharing any and every concern could end up saving a life.

Rave Mobile Safety recently acquired Alert Solutions, which allows us to share new school safety products such as the Rave Panic Button. The Rave Panic button allows users to alert 9-1-1 of an emergency and simultaneously send notifications to people on-site of the incident with just the push of a button. It has been proven to shorten response times, which could be a matter of life or death in school shooter situation.

Interested in learning more? Feel free to schedule a free consultation today.

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Topics: student health, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, school culture, school climate

Earth Hour Day: 5 Ways to Encourage Students to Participate

Posted by Nina Caliri on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 @ 15:03 PM

Earth Hour Day is almost here! On Saturday, March 30th, millions of people, businesses, landmarks, and schools will set aside an hour of the day to switch off their lights and electronics. This event aims to spread awareness  about climate change, unite people around the world, and prompt individuals to take responsibility towards creating a sustainable future by turning off electronic devices and lights. Many participate, proving large populations are committed to protecting our planet.

Earth Hour Day History

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According to Time and Date, Earth Hour Day began in Sydney, Australia back in 2007. People wanted to stand up for climate change that year, and about 2.2 million businesses and homes turned their lights off for one full hour. After this first Earth Hour event, the effort gained traction and became a large global sustainability movement. 50 million people joined the next year across 35 countries and large monuments and global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the CN Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge all stood in darkness for an hour.

Celebrating Earth Hour Day in K-12 Schools

Although Earth Hour Day is always on a weekend day, your K-12 school can celebrate and encourage teachers and students to participate on another day during the week, or throughout the entire week leading up to Earth Hour Day.  Ontario Eco Schools have great ideas to make celebrating Earth Hour Day fun and informative for an entire school. Consider trying these creative activities in your classroom:

  • Earth Hour Pledges
    During the hour of no electronics and lights, pass out slips to your students and have everybody write their own pledge to the environment. Afterwards, collect each pledge and display them for everybody to see in a common area of the school such as the cafeteria.

  • Earth Hour Awards
    Celebrate students who are actively engaged in positive environmental actions! Reward the students who (for example) turn off or unplug electronic devices at the end of the day. Try presenting awards at a classroom or school-wide level with an audience to promote why the student is receiving the award.

  • Flashlight Campfire
    As you cannot light a real flame within school walls, host a flashlight camp fire! Encourage students to sit around the flashlight campfire to share stories and sing campfire songs.

  • Earth Hour Art Show
    During the day inspire students to create meaningful and eco-friendly art projects. Once completed, display them within the classroom or out in the hallway for others to see. During Earth Hour, lead your students with flashlights to look at each piece of art from a different perspective.

  • Flashlight Yoga
    What better way to relax and reflect on the Earth Hour pledges mentioned above than flashlight yoga? Ontario Eco Schools suggests, “During, or leading up to, Earth Hour set up a yoga class and hand out flashlights to participants. Students can reflect on their Earth Hour pledges as they exercise, relax, and meditate.”

Promoting these fun activities will hopefully prompt your students to participate in Earth Hour Day at home with their family.

At Alert Solutions we’re very conscious of our environment, and the importance of spreading a green message to K-12 schools and districts across the country. We’ve blogged about several ways schools can ‘go green’ and lead in a movement toward a greener future. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, is a great way to send texts, emails, and calls home to parents to spread awareness of the Earth Hour Day activities teachers and administrators are planning out.  

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

St. Patrick’s Day Lessons: Your Students are Lucky!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 @ 10:03 AM

Top of the mornin’ to you! As we’re sure you already know, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Every year St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, the anniversary of the death of the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick. This holiday has been observed on this day by Irish families for over 1,000 years.

Who Was Saint Patrick?

According to History.com, Saint Patrick lived during the fifth century and is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain and at just 16 years old he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. After escaping, he returned to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to its people. History.com shares “In the centuries following Patrick’s death the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well-known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.”

Educators are consistently looking for ways to engage their students, but also provide important lessons and knowledge. Holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day are the perfect way to do so. This year the holiday falls on a Sunday, which makes celebrating in K-12 schools difficult. We suggest continuing the celebration on Monday, March 18th.

Boy With Four Leaf Clover St Patrick's Day

You’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of 4 great ideas that several K-12 schools have incorporated into their classrooms for St. Patty’s. These include informative lessons on Irish culture, history, and traditions, as well as fun activities promoting teamwork and creativity. Bring the luck of the Irish into your school and share the excitement with your students, fellow faculty, and parents at home with a quick and easy school notification or digital newsletter.

4 St. Patrick’s Day Themed Lessons for Your Students

  1. History of Irish Writers
    There are several incredible Irish born authors including W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw. Try sharing history on these authors, or encouraging your students to think about how these writers’ Irish heritage influenced their writing. For younger students consider looking at classic Irish folklore.

  2. Potato Science Project & Irish Potato Famine History
    Potatoes are a big part of Irish history, so incorporate them in your lesson! TeachHub suggests growing a potato in a jar of water so young students can see the root system. For older students they recommend “growing several potatoes in a variety of solutions – plain water, water with fertilizer, water with bleach, etc. – and see which grows best.” You can also teach your students the history of the Irish Potato Famine as a St. Patrick’s Day lesson as it is controversial and related to World History, American History, and Government.

  3. Celtic Knot History & Tutorial
    This is a fun St. Patrick’s Day themed art project teachers could cover in the classroom. There is a lot of history behind Celtic Europe outlined here. National Education Association also encourages teachers to use this great resource – a tutorial on the introduction to knot work construction. “This tutorial covers basic interlacing techniques, simple border and panel construction, analysis of existing patterns, interlaced corners, more advanced patterns (such as “doubled” knots), and provides links to other, advanced sources for your further research.”

  4. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt
    Encourage your students to hunt for gold!
    We Are Teachers recommend getting your students up and moving with this free printable scavenger hunt. “You can time the hunt, create groups, or even conduct the activity outdoors. To extend the activity, you might have your students decorate old tissue boxes as treasure chests in which they can store their findings.”

At Alert Solutions we strive to bring interesting and different ideas to teachers to help engage students. We certainly hope these 4 St. Patrick’s Day lessons come in handy! Working with K-12 schools and districts across the country, and internationally, we believe being a resource to our customers is one of the components that makes us a wonderful company to work with.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

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Topics: holiday, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, student engagement

Parent Engagement Nights: Ideas to Boost Parental Involvement

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 05, 2019 @ 10:03 AM

Parental involvement in education is a highly discussed topic that’s gaining traction among K-12 educators. Encouraging parents to be engaged with their child’s school work is not only seen as an important rule of thumb, but it has many benefits for students.

Parental Involvement in Classroom

Studies tell us good parental involvement leads students to attend school more regularly, earn better grades, and have higher test scores. Children also have been shown to have lower rates of substance abuse and delinquent acts. The positive results speak for themselves; the tricky part is convincing parents to get involved.

Planning Your Parental Involvement 

It takes more than just parents and teachers to get parent engagement activities in the works. Kelly Bielefeld plans out her parent engagement nights to be informative sessions for parents to learn things that will ultimately help them support their child. This is what she does when planning:

  • Recruit a Team:
    Gathering a group of people to help with putting together a fun and inclusive parent engagement activity is essential. You want to make sure you’re hosting an event that parents want to attend, which is easier to do with a group of helpers on your side.

  • Pick Your Focus:
    There are a lot of fun ideas and informative areas your team can focus a parental involvement activity on, but choosing one can be difficult as there are many places to start. Should the focus be about curriculum, social issues, technology, student work, or the school’s mission? Reach out to parents and see what resonates with them and go from there. Bielefeld suggests rotating the areas of focus so that all parents are engaged.

  • Base Your Focus on Data
    Once you have decided on your broad idea you should try to narrow it down to a specific focus. This should be decided after you’ve looked at the data. Bielefeld explains the following, “The first piece of data to consider would be achievement data. If the plan is to have a “math night,” there should be data to support the need for a focus in this area. The other data that is important is parent feedback, often in the form of a survey.”

  • How to Engage
    Your topic has been chosen. Now you need to decide how exactly you’ll engage parents and get them involved. Consider open discussions, encourage movement and reflection on topics, and have people speak and share ideas on the chosen topic. A lecture simply will not cut it! Make the activity fun and engaging for a successful parental involvement night!

  • Plan, Plan, & Plan Some More!
    Parents are busy, so planning out your parental involvement activity in advance is key. Make sure you share your plans with parents early so they are more likely to attend!

4 Fun Ideas to Boost Parental Involvement

K-12 schools have devised a variety of different parent engagement and family themed nights to get parents through school doors. Below are 4 fun examples from creative schools:

  1. Family Yoga Night
    A school in Virginia has yoga as a part of their curriculum and often encourages students to bring their parents to join them. Attendees bring their own mats or towels to class and enjoy teacher-led stretching and poses. “It’s a great way for kids of all ages and their parents to spend time together in a positive way,” says PTA president Susan Estes.

  2. Wildlife Night
    A Florida elementary school partnered with a nearby local wildlife sanctuary. They brought animals such as snakes, skunks, and even an alligator into school for a live presentation. The students were learning about different habitats, so it fit in well with the curriculum. Plus, is there anything more fun for young kids than seeing animals up close? Parents were invited to join this fun-filled evening.

  3. Rockin’ Through the Decades
    This fun dance party took place at Vine Hill Elementary School in California. Parents and students showed up for an exciting evening and danced away in costumes from their favorite decades to music starting from the 1950s through to the present day. PTO Today suggests asking students and parents to submit song requests in advance to make sure all the favorites are covered!

  4. Annual Cook-Off Event
    A little competition never hurt anybody! A New Hampshire PTA holds an annual Chili Cook-Off competition where students’ parents prepare their favorite chili recipes. The winner takes home a special trophy and keeps it until the following year and then the trophy is passed to the next winner. PTO Today recommends tying this event in with a football game or pep rally theme.

When it comes to planning a fun night and promoting parental involvement, the possibilities are endless! PTO Today has more great ideas if you’re feeling stuck – click here!

At Alert Solutions we understand the importance of parent engagement and keeping parents involved. Communicating with parents throughout the week is a great way to keep them informed of what’s happening at your school. Hosting entertaining parent engagement nights will improve your school’s rapport with parents… and it’s fun!

Check out our Parent Engagement Best Practice Guide for additional tips, tricks, and strategies to kick-start your parental involvement.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, parent communication, student engagement

5 Ways to Promote Student Motivation During the Dark Days of Winter

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

Some call these long cold days the ‘February Funk’, others refer to them as the ‘Dark Days’ of winter, but we can all agree that the lack of sunlight and warmth definitely puts a damper on your daily motivation. It may make you feel better to know that this feeling is actually a common phenomenon that affects a large population yearly. Commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (Yes… SAD!), many experience irritability and low energy around this time of the year. 

School Bus

Teachers may begin to notice their students and colleagues are down, and have less of a spring in their steps because of these cold dark days. As an educator, this can make teaching during this lull extremely difficult if your students are lacking any and all motivation. 

Although promoting student motivation is the topic of this blog post, teachers aren’t excluded from these winter blues. As an educator, make sure you’re doing what you can to take care of yourself, and in turn you’ll be taking care of your students.

If you’re not excited to promote student motivation, your students won’t be either. Mother Nature Network shares some ideas to help adults battle seasonal depression, including: taking advantage of daylight, being active, eating healthier foods, and avoiding germs. Teachers are often exposed to a lot of germs in schools, so taking extra precautions during the cold winter months is very important. 

Let’s get back to the excitement of the beginning of the school year with some fun ideas to promote student motivation. We’ve compiled ideas from several K-12 schools that have experienced the dark days themselves, and have made it out happy and ready to seize the day.

5 Ideas to Promote Student Motivation

  1. Switch It Up
    An easy way to engage your students and keep them motivated is to simply switch things up, and allow the unexpected to become the expected! TeachHub tells us that patterns and routines are important and helpful when it comes to student learning. However, “when students begin heavily anticipating what they’ll be doing, part of them goes on “autopilot” and less effort is required from them.” Keep your students on their toes by doing simple changes around the classroom. Reorganize the desks in a new formation and adjust the decorations on the walls to give students the change they need to spark some motivation.

  2. Keep Your Students Moving
    Avoid seeing your students slouching low and being confined at their desks by getting them up and moving throughout the day. Playing games or even group projects that require your students to get up and move around will help motivate the body and mind. Physical movement not only increases student energy, but it also improves performance and mental acuity.

  3. Get Competitive
    There is nothing wrong with a little competition! TeachHub suggests taking ordinary lessons and giving them a gameshow like spin. This will make the lesson both fun and interactive, which will likely engage your students and boost student motivation. “Students love to compete against one another and themselves. If we can harness this motivation to “win” with the objective to “learn,” there are all kinds of possibilities for achievement.”

  4. Let Students Own the Day
    Teachers are the experts on what students should be taught, and what students should know. Try allowing your students to take control of the day, and set the classroom agenda. TeachHub proposes students should be able to “decide on a classroom party or reward day, select the next topic to learn from a provided list, or even bring in their own ideas, possessions, or videos related to the class topic.” This gives the students some control on what they’re learning, which will also promote student motivation and potentially contribute to increased student attendance.

  5. Praise & Positive Reinforcement
    Praising student success is a great way to improve student motivation. Everybody loves being recognized for a job well done, and positive reinforcement is one way to do this. Celebrating even the ‘small’ wins will motivate your students to continue to work toward more classroom successes. You want your students to feel so great in their work that they’ll strive to do better on the next task. Alert Solutions suggests teachers should share praise in messages home to parents. School notification systems like SwiftK12 don’t always need to be used for school safety and emergencies. Simply sending home positive remarks on student work and achievements is a great way to praise your student, but also connect with the parents and keep them engaged as well.

At Alert Solutions, we want all K-12 schools and districts to succeed in motivating today’s students. Share these ideas and remind parents of their child’s hard work with the help of your school notification system.  It’s time to say goodbye to the February Funk with these student motivation tips! Try incorporating these ideas in your classroom to help boost morale and encourage students to enjoy learning during the long, dark winter days.

For more information on SwiftK12, contact us today!

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, student engagement

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