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Monday, March 28, 2011

Announcing the SchoolE Awards Finalists // Voting is OPEN!

The time has come to announce the 2011 SchoolE Awards finalists! After two weeks of judging, the 7 finalists from each category are as follows (in alphabetical order):


1. Brownsville ISD
2. Clark County School District
3. Clear Creek ISD
4. Keller ISD
5. Newport News CPS
6. Polk County
7. San Bernadino City Unified


1. Independence 30
2. Natrona County School District #1
3. Oxnard Union High
4. Richland County School District 02
5. Rockingham County Schools
6. Upper Darby SD
7. York County Public Schools


1. Basehor-Linwood
2. Godfrey-Lee Public Schools
3. Lexington City Schools
4. North Mason School District 403

5. St. James School
6. University Academy
7. Zachary Community School District

Congratulations to all district finalists!

There were so many great district sites this year I'm not sure how the judges did it! The judges have spent the past two weeks evaluating the top 15 districts in each category on 3 different areas: Design, Content, and Overall. Our panel of judges were able to rate these areas on multiple subcategories. Here is an example of a rubric.

Also, a big congratulations and thanks to all the schools who were nominated or made it to the semi-finalist round! Your communities definitely showed their passion for your district’s websites. Even though you didn’t make it through to the final round this year, remember there is always next year!

We’d love to give feedback to any districts who didn’t make it as finalists to help you improve your district's web presence. Please let us know if this is something you are interested in.

We’d like to encourage you to stay involved with SchoolE and vote for whichever school district you believe has the best site! You can view all the finalists profile pages (with links to their websites) on the SchoolE Awards website (

Voting is now OPEN!
Make sure to spread the word to your community. This is the final round. Voting will end on May 5th, so there’s just a little over a month to vote your school to the top!

You can vote for the BEST school district website here.


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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Take the Leap into Mobile Learning

Cellphones. Every student uses one. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, most teenagers get their first cell phone by the age of 12 or 13. So why aren’t they incorporated more into the classroom? Many teachers are afraid of venturing out into the world of using cell phones in lessons, but the truth is, cell phones are becoming more and more common in schools. Within the last year, cell phones have gone from banned toys to encouraged tools.

Teachers can have trouble incorporating new media into the classroom, especially cell phones. It’s a risky venture to use something students are used to playing with and turning it into something they learn with. So where do you start?

edYOUcator was made for this. It’s hard to keep up with new technology, trends, and things that you’ve never used, or maybe never even heard of before. edYOUcator helps you find the best lesson plans, especially when you have no idea where to start.

This week, I came across some awesome plans on edYOUcator that use cell phones. They are great starter plans to ease you and your class into mobile learning. Mobile Learning Lesson Plans, found on the Scholastic web site, offers simple step-by-step instructions for educators. These steps even include instructions on setting up other media used in the plans, like Flickr.

My favorite plan is Collecting Biological Phenomena in Everyday Life. In this lesson students use their cell phones to take pictures of plants and animals they observe in their everyday life. Then they send the pictures to Flickr with a short description of what they found and where they found it. In class they are able to put all their photos on a Flickr map and the teacher covers biological classifications. How cool is that? Most kids use their phones to interact with friends and family, why not have them interact with learning too?

Not every student will use them only for learning. Inappropriate use of cell phones is one risk teachers take when using them in the classroom. The Pew survey mentioned earlier stated that 26% of teens have been bullied via text message and that 15% of teens age 12-17 have received a "sext message.” Luckily, lesson plans like these present a great opportunity for educators to teach mobile safety. Include a safety lesson or review every time cell phones are used in the classroom. However, the more engaged your students are, the less likely they are to stray away from your lesson.

These plans are just one example of the great resources available on edYOUcator. Not ready to use cell phones in your classroom? Start with something small like a blog. Do a quick search in edYOUcator for "blog" and pick a plan. This will help both you and your students begin with a familiar way of media based learning. Then you can progress to using different types of media.

edYOUcator helps teachers think outside of the box. Use it to help broaden your horizons and you’ll have the opportunity to grow and learn with your students.

Do you have any mobile learning lesson plans you would like to share? E-mail us at!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

We Woke Up This Morning...

to THIS!

I think we were all hoping that the forecast was over-exaggerated, but it happened. And it's still happening.

I can't even be mad because it's too pretty! Big fat flakes that blanket the trees and make everything seem calm and quiet are my favorite. And it will melt tomorrow anyway :). Let's hope this is the last snowfall of the year, but for now, let's enjoy it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

SchoolE Nominations are Now Closed. Who are the Semi-Finalists?

Time has really flown - the SchoolE Awards nominations closed yesterday! What an exciting nomination round it’s been. This year, we received more than 7,500 nominations, which is almost 5 times more than last year! I can’t wait to see how many votes we get this year, just based on the turnout thus far. These last few weeks of nominations have been VERY busy ones, with hundreds of nominations coming in each day. We have received nominations from districts across all 50 states. It’s awesome how many people have been cheering their districts on.

Without further ado, here are the Top 15 school districts from each category that will move onto the judging round. Congrats to these school districts!




1. Brownsville ISD
2. Marion County School District
3. Newport News CPS
4. Fayette County
5. Prince George’s
6. San Bernardino City
7. Clear Creek ISD
8. Montgomery County
Chatham County
Fairfax County Public
11. Keller ISd
12. Polk County School District
Clark County
14. Elk Grove Unified
15. Kanawha County School District
1. Rockingham County
2. Independence 30
3. North Allegheny SD
4. Upper Darby SD
5. Township HSD
6. Blue Springs R-IV
7. Oxnard Union High
8. Walker County
9. Richland County 02
10. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD
McAllen ISD
12. Lawrence Public Schools
13. Bradley Cty. School District
14. York County Public Schools
15. Natrona Cty. SD #1
1. Danville Independent
2. Zachary Community Schools
3. Groton School District
4. University Academy
5. New Milford
6. Lakeland District
7. Godfrey-Lee Public
8. St. James Schools
9. South Texas ISD
10. North Mason SD
11. Basehor-Linwood USD
12. Beggs Public Schools
13. Grain Valley R-V
14. Metcalfe County
15. Lexington City Schools

So what’s next?
Over the next two weeks, our Panel of Industry Experts will evaluate the district websites based on the Design, Content, and Overall presence. Our Panel of Industry Experts includes innovative leaders in areas such as educational technology, Higher Education web content, and graphic and web design.

Curious to see an example of what criteria the experts will be judging on? Check out a sample rubric here.

Judging will end on March 25 and based on the scores, only the top 7 districts in each category will move on to voting (21 districts total). We will be announcing the finalists on Monday, March 28th and after that, the voting will begin!

Voting will continue through May 5th and winners will be announced on May 6th.

Once again congrats to the 15 semi-finalists and good luck in the judging round! Make sure to keep checking out the SchoolE website for updates, district profiles, and more!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

SchoolE Awards Update for Week 2/26 - 3/4

There's only one week left until SchoolE nominations close. We've received around 7000 nominations from across the country, and they just keep rolling in. In addition, the SchoolE Awards now has at least one district represented in all 50 states. Hawaii became the last state to enter the race with the Kauai Complex Area District on the island of Kauai.

The Rockingham County School District has received more than 1,000 nominations, which is pretty awesome for a medium size school! Another medium size district, Independence 30, is also not too far away from reaching 1000.

We are seeing a very surprising trend...
small > medium > large

What does this mean?

The smaller school districts are bringing in more nominations than the medium districts, and the medium districts are bringing in more than the large!

Based on the total number of nominations, smaller school districts are behind the medium-sized ones, but overall, the smaller districts have been more active. To give you a bit of perspective, the top district in the Large category, Brownsville ISD, has almost 50,000 students, but has little more than 675 nominations, whereas the second-place district in the Medium category, Independence, has less than 12,000 students and more than 800 nominations.

Pretty ironic. I guess being a larger district doesn't necessarily mean more nominations. But that also gives large districts a huge opportunity to take over the lead or at least move into the Top 15 during the last week of nominations.

One large district that has been very active this week is Marion County School District in Ocala, Fla. The district has accounted for over 50% of nominations every day since Wednesday and has moved up to the 4th-place position in overall nominations. And it doesn't seem to be done yet! I love seeing the competition that comes out toward the end of nominations.

Most of our nominations have been from teachers, faculty, staff and the community but don't be afraid to encourage your students and parents to nominate also!

Remember it's the last week for nominations. They will close on March 11th, so make sure to nominate you district now! The judges will begin scoring the websites the week after. Voting will open on March 28 for only the top district websites.

Have fun and happy nominating for this last week!

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