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State unveils new classroom learning app

The state Department of Education has released an online application that teachers and students can use to create and share digital content in the classroom, Superintendent Patricia Wright announced Monday.

The tool, EduWidgets, is available at Right now, the software is still in beta release, meaning it has not been tested fully for glitches and bugs, but teachers still can register at the site and start creating.

Through EduWidgets, teachers and their students can make interactive timelines, graphs and images to coincide with their curriculum. The content can be shared on computers, tablets, interactive whiteboards and other electronic devices. Teachers will also be able to share their creations with other classrooms throughout state.

Wright unveiled EduWidgets on a visit to Pulaski Elementary in Pulaski County in southwestern Virginia. The school district was one of the first in the state to replace some of their traditional textbooks with online content.

Fairfax County also has debuted several online textbooks in county schools, and is in its second year of a “Bring Your Own Device” program for students.

“Tablets loaded with quality content help lighten backpacks and provide experiences that enhance instruction and student learning,” Wright said. “And with EduWidgets now available, Virginia teachers will be able to create their own interactive content using a platform developed specifically for them.”

Lesson materials to fight sex trafficking added to school curriculum

Lessons and videos to educate middle and high school students on teen sex trafficking have been approved by the county School Board.

The school system already endorsed the addition of lessons on teen sex trafficking to the curriculum in May 2013. However, the new lessons were being held until the accompanying videos were approved.

With this vote, teachers can start giving the new lessons in the second semester of the school year. The sex trafficking lessons are part of the Family Life Education curriculum, often popularly referred to as sex ed. Information on sex trafficking has been added for students in grades six through 10 and 12.

Providence Elementary honored by Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition

Providence Elementary has been named one of 11 “Programs that Work” by the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition.

The VMSC honors programs that bring innovative approaches to science and math education. The city of Fairfax school was recognized for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab.

Every Providence Elementary student spends time in the lab each quarter of the school year. For one week each quarter, students spend time in the lab each day undertaking an engineering challenge with their classroom teachers and the school’s two dedicated STEM resource teachers.