Q: There seem to be a lot of changes in education, and I want to get "smart" about what's going on, especially in technology. Can you recommend some reliable e-newsletters and websites for news and trends that parents might find useful?
A: This is a dynamic period for K-12 schooling and you're wise to keep up. Let this list guide you to those resources useful enough to invite to your inbox on a regular basis.
-- ASCD SmartBrief: News on the future of K-12 education. This free daily e-newsletter provides links with easy-to-scan annotations to articles and podcasts that cover curriculum, parental involvement, technology integration, research and the best education practices and projects from around the country.
-- ASCD SmartBrief on EdTech: If you want a heavier dose of education technology, sign up to receive this free daily e-newsletter. A recent issue offered links to topics ranging from web-based money lessons for teens to families who share their experiences with virtual schools.
-- EdSurge.com: This geeky, cheeky e-newsletter offers a weekly rundown of the latest in education technology. Described as a "TechCrunch for education," it charts trends, looks at which districts are trying what in ed-tech, and identifies new companies entering the school market.
-- Edutopia.org: This thought-provoking and inspiring site, which offers a free weekly e-newsletter, spares readers policy fights. Founded by The George Lucas Educational Foundation 20 years ago, its mission is to "empower and connect teachers, administrators, and parents with innovative solutions and resources to better education." Editors offer an astounding menu of resources -- from the benefits of project-based education to a guided tour through the evolution of gaming and how it can help students customize their own educational experience. Material is organized by grade level. Bloggers deliver high-quality insight and practical advice.
-- Education Week: "American education's newspaper and news site of record" is to schooling what the Hollywood Reporter is to the entertainment field. Many educators, administrators, media folks and policymakers find it indispensable for its cogent and timely reporting on curriculum, policy, funding and technology trends. Look for provocative op-eds in each issue. Test-drive the site's free areas before deciding to purchase premium access. Go to edweek.org for pricing. If you subscribe, call customer service to get the best deal, which is often less than what is posted.
-- GreatSchools.org: The resources listed above are geared to a range of audiences and are of most use to educators. This site's rich range of videos, tips, resources, free grade-by-grade newsletters and school rankings is targeted to parents. Advice comes jargon-free, and editors don't shy away from tough topics and parenting dilemmas. The site has deep resources on learning problems, free worksheets and activities, and homework help. An active parent community freely shares "been there!" advice.
-- Education.com: Also targeted to parents, this site is organized by topic and grade level. You won't find policy trends or opinion pieces to inform you for the next school board discussion of No Child Left Behind, but you'll find a science project the night your son says, "I have to have one by tomorrow!"
(Do you have a question about your child's education? Email it to Leanna@aplusadvice.com. Leanna Landsmann is an education writer who began her career as a classroom teacher. She has served on education commissions, visited classrooms in 49 states to observe best practices, and founded Principal for a Day in New York City.)