Tech Tips

GreyEd_techGreyED Solutions is pleased to partner with SmartBrief to provide busy K-12 education technology innovators with “Tech Tips Tuesdays.” Published every Tuesday in the SmartBrief on EdTech newsletter, Tech Tips are written by educators for educators to boost their know-how and expand their skill set. Read Tech Tips here on our site or subscribe to SmartBrief on EdTech to get them delivered directly to your inbox.

 If you’re an educator and would like to contribute to Tech Tips, let us know!

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Fostering Community from the Inside-Out

A Vision for School Safety

One of the most significant steps you can take when it comes to implementing initiatives and reaching organizational goals such as School Safety, is growing and maintaining healthy, active relationships. Districts find that executing a vision can be more seamless and successful when trusting, transparent organizational and community relationships are in place. Yet, this step is often circumvented due to time constraints and planning logistics. No doubt a grass-roots community building takes time and effort. But it is critical to obtain the support and commitment needed to successfully carry out your School Safety vision over a multi-year period. The more people who understand what you are trying to do and how students will likely be impacted by it, the greater commitment and support your stakeholders will demonstrate.

Relationship building starts with regularly connecting to your constituents about the district’s School Safety vision, aligned initiatives and goals with your local partners, community members, parents, building administrators, teachers and students. Depending on how far along you are in the process, you might be interested in forming a steering committee representing multiple perspectives to create a shared vision. Wherever you are, consider regularly asking for feedback and provide open, transparent communication pathways. This feedback cycle will assist you in developing the next phase of the initiative.

Pinpoint digital and face to face opportunities that offer synchronous and asynchronous communication.

You will notice a domino effect occurs when positive relationships are in place.

  • Buy-in from multiple entities maximizes visibility of School Safety
  • Visibility increases accountability
  • Accountability increases the likelihood of success in terms of improved student well-being and safety
  • Positive student outcomes demonstrate a Return on Investment when it comes to the digital solutions and programs adopted by the organization

Districts across the country are joining the Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative, led by Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) and McREL using a framework based on the National Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Program from Title IV-Part A. School Safety is beyond background checks, visitor check-in software and intruder procedures. It offers a multi-faceted framework that looks at:

  • Emergency Preparedness & Management
  • Emotional & Behavioral Health
  • Physical Health & Wellness
  • Physical Campus Security
  • Digital Safety

It is not likely that stakeholders and board members will protest about investing in School Safety and making it a top priority for your organization. But what may happen is that something gets lost in the translation of School Safety. It extends beyond physical campus security. That’s where using standard visuals, description and definitions comes into play. Regardless of who is facilitating or contributing to a School Safety conversation, developing a common language across the board ensures that everyone hears the same message. This simple but intentional act will dramatically elevate misunderstandings and confusion while talking about how the district intends to secure the safety and well-being of its students and staff.

While the activities and outcomes will vary- the vision is driving everyday Safety in Schools. Specific examples of implementing your vision effectively include the following:

  • Align training and professional development activities to the vision outcomes within schools as well as district sponsored training and PD.
  • Request that all building administration include the School Safety vision and goals within their school improvement plans by integrating it into existing priorities and initiatives.
  • Capture students and classes in action that represent vision outcomes through video and audio recordings that are shared out via social media and website.

Consider two-three recommendations you can start integrating into your existing processes and activities. Impactful, committed community building can be so powerful and rewarding for all parties involved. Inclusiveness and trust draw people in and keep them coming back for more.

If you haven’t already, consider joining the Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative as a next step. As a part of the program, schools qualify for grants that fund between 2 and 5 pre-integrated innovative safety EdTech solutions from over 25 global providers to be deployed and measured at no cost to the schools for a minimum of three-year program term.

How are Technology Implementations Contributing to School Culture and School Safety in your District?

What does school culture have to do with integrating technology into teaching and learning? How does this foundation lend itself to school safety? School safety relies on a myriad of systems and technology to ensure that all the aspects of school safety are communicating and working together as a symbiotic unit. However, if the fundamental systems, practices and mindset aren’t in place to support and sustain a school safety ecosystem, it’s wasted time and resources. It’s worth the due diligence to assess your current culture, leadership and technology ecosystem if school safety is an urgent priority. Reputable digital solutions such as FilterED can help you with this task. So before diving into piloting and adopting school safety solutions, zoom out and look at the big picture. 

Gary Phillips (1996) defines school culture as, “The beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors which characterize a school.” Dr. Christopher Wagner (2006) adds:

  • Shared experiences both in and out of school
  • Agreement on how to do things and what is worth doing
  • Staff stability and common goals
  • Recognition of school stakeholders

We offer a few easy steps to help you take a pulse on the existing school culture and technology foundations developed in your district.

  1. As you reflect on the district as an organization and each school as its own entity, identify examples of how each of the actions and behaviors above are integrated into the culture. School communities are more likely to see increased positive student outcomes and safe spaces when a healthy school culture embraces trusting, transparent relationships and the purposeful use of technology.
  2. Ask yourself:
    • How is technology currently integrated into our everyday routines?
    • What’s our staff’s comfort level around the amount of technology we are using?
    • What processes, timelines, and protocols are in place for vetting and piloting digital solutions?
    • What does the planning, execution, management and collection of data look like around technology implementations?
    • Would the current actions transfer to designing, implementing and maintaining a school safety ecosystem?

  3. The table below is divided into possible inputs that the district and schools contribute to this side of tech support, training and PD services. Many of these practices can be extended to school safety. Identify which ones you have in place and if there are any you can add to your foundation.
District-supported services School building-supported services 
Teachers across multiple school buildings receive support from the district in a combination of ways. School administration encourages and provides opportunities for staff within a building to participate in multiple activities that support staff needs while providing convenience.  
District technology troubleshooting support School building troubleshooting support  
The district provides school personnel with a multi-tier approach to technical support that may include one or more steps:
  • Following a series of standard, recommended troubleshooting steps
  • Approaching the building technology facilitator or technology lead teacher within the building for assistance
  • Submitting a work order to the district help desk
  • Contacting a student-led help desk
If staff follow the suggested troubleshooting steps and cannot solve the problem, the individual goes to a designated colleague within the building for assistance.
District technology training                  School building training  
These sessions are usually held off-site (in a location other than the teacher’s assigned school building) or online. The focus is on:
  • Establishing a knowledge base
  • Building a skill set
  • Attaining additional practice and experience
Summer months and professional development days are popular times to offer these types of training
Training in a school building happens formally and informally throughout the year and utilizes internal resources. It may include:
  • One-to-one time after school
  • Department working through new material during a team meeting
  • User groups where teachers can practice and share
  • Q and A sessions during preparation times
  • Staff meeting
District professional learning School building professional learning
These sessions are usually held off-site (in a location other than the teacher’s assigned school building) or as online webinars or user groups. The focus is on:
  • Expanding an established knowledge base
  • Refining and cultivating a skill set
  • Synthesizing the knowledge base and skill set to integrate the best practices in teaching and pedagogical district initiatives
  • Offering credit for alternative professional learning – social media, virtual networking, online webinars
Summer months and professional development days are popular time for face-to-face PD sessions. Online opportunities offer greater flexibility and can be made available after the school day.
Ongoing professional development can take on many forms. Examples include:
  • Encouraging staff to develop and perform action research
  • Inviting teachers to observe colleagues. Peer reviews provide an excellent way to see how others do things.
  • Offering a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in which teachers can come together multiple times a year to focus on the integration of technology
  • Encouraging staff to engage in alternative professional learning – social media, virtual networking, online webinars
Taking advantage of professional development days by providing workshops, sessions or collaborative workdays focusing on interactive digital materials and resources.

Interested in learning more? Take the FilterED Micro Inventory and contact us for a review of your organization.

Supporting Schools Safety and Security

FilterED is Teaming up with Global Grid for Learning and McREL!

GreyED is an organization of nationally recognized K-12 education leaders with deep experience helping institutions transform themselves for the digital age. GreyED shines the light on district’s existing technology ecosystem, teaching and learning via our cloud-based data analysis tool, FilterED. Stakeholders take an online, adaptive inventory responding to statements that apply to their role, experiences and perceptions in six critical areas that make up a tech ecosystem. The results are presented on a dashboard that provides highly visible data that are organized, measurable and impactful. Customized profiles, bright spots, prioritized opportunities for growth, recommendations and talking points are all available at both the district and school levels. The platform also helps key players engage with one another so they may find consensus and set course toward positively increasing learner impact.

Recently, GreyED joined Global Grid for Learning and McREL’s partner program, “Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative.” This grant-based program adopted the national Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) framework found within Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  

“All students should feel safe and supported as a condition for learning.”

Joining collaborative forces in this high caliber mission is just what GreyED was looking for as an extension of our ongoing work with districts. The evidence and context generated by FilterED helps school systems effectively prioritize, measure and monitor ongoing implementations.  At the same time, leadership can gain insights into technology and school climate, community engagement, digital safety as well as emergency preparedness and management.

We love the thoughtful, long-term planning behind Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative’s structure. GreyED sees it as a way to level the playing field for GG4L Members, who can apply for a grant that allows three schools within a district to evaluate a handful of solutions offered by partners like us. This pilot process helps to ensure that the digital solutions are a good fit for the entire organization before substantial monetary and resource investments are made.  While this process potentially staggers the planning and execution phases for the district, it is a best practice that GreyED has always embraced and recommended to both vendors and districts alike.

Over the coming months, we will feature a series that includes best practices and smart hacks in the FilterED areas that align with the Safer Schools framework.  These areas include Healthy Culture, Engaged Community and Digital Safety.

Not a GG4L member? No problem! To learn more about this innovative program and try out FilterED risk free, go to

GreyED Partners with GG4L and McREL for $25M “Safer Schools in America” Impact Grant!

Global Grid for Learning has awarded 85 schools with edtech grants aimed to improve the safety and culture in schools

(Minneapolis, MN) March 6, 2019 — GreyED Solutions announced today that it has been included in the Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) Safer Schools in America Impact Grant. GreyED’s FilterED, a cloud-based solution that offers state, district and school leaders a comprehensive view of their technology landscape, is part of the estimated $9 million in philanthropically funded edtech grants awarded to 85 schools from 54 U.S. school districts across 15 states in Phase I of the grant program.

The Safer Schools in America Impact Grant Program will support the implementation and usage of select edtech products from leading education providers who are focused on K–12 school safety solutions. These solutions will be implemented and studied for a period of three years at no cost to the school grant recipients. The grants will also address an industry-wide need to capture data-driven validation research on a significant range of activities believed to foster safer teaching and learning environments. These include emotional, physical, and digital safety, as well as emergency preparedness, school facilities, culture, and community engagement.

“We are excited to have GreyED as part of our expanding ecosystem and pleased to offer their solution as part of the Safer Schools in America Grant,” said GG4L Founder and CEO Robert Iskander. “FilterED ties perfectly into what we are trying to accomplish with this grant. It aligns with healthy culture, digital safety, and engaged community—three of the seven areas that foster the Student Support and Academic Enrichment framework for school safety.”

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FilterED Receives ‘5 Apple Outstanding’ Rating!

FilterED is an adaptive, cloud-based tool that offers school leaders a comprehensive view of the current technology landscape within their schools and/or district.  School leaders can use FilterED to get the evidence, data, and context needed to prioritize, implement, measure, and monitor ongoing technology initiatives. 

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FilterED Recognized in 2018 NSBA Technology Innovation Showcase!

NSBA Announces 2018 Education Technology Innovation Showcase

March 22, 2018

Alexandria, Va.  (March 22, 2018) – The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced today the six companies selected for its annual Technology Innovation Showcase.

“NSBA has worked at the intersection of education technology policy and practice for more than three decades to bring entrepreneurs, school board members and district leaders together to discuss innovative solutions that can support public education,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director & CEO. 

The 2018 Technology Innovation Showcase includes the following companies:

Align Us, Inc.: The interconnected team-productivity tools are built on a modern, private, social collaboration platform to ensure all staff have the same opportunity to understand the mission, vision and strategy established by district leaders and how it relates to their daily contributions.

EdPrivacy by Education Framework: The world’s first student data privacy management system that helps K-12 school districts proactively protect student data, engage parents in the privacy conversation and manage privacy obligations with transparency and accountability.

FilterED by GreyED Solutions: This framework-aligned, data analysis tool enables districts to diagnose the current state of technology, teaching and learning across their organization. School leaders obtain the evidence, data and context needed to prioritize, implement, measure and monitor ongoing technology initiatives.

MathBRIX: With initial funding from the National Science Foundation, cloud-delivered visual games and activities help children ages 3–8 “see” the big ideas behind math. They emphasize higher-order thinking skills and concept acquisition, areas often overlooked in early elementary instruction.

Muzology, LLC:  Learning experts and hit songwriters combined efforts to harness the power of music to boost academic outcomes and make learning fun. Muzology’s gamified, web-based platform uses music videos to trigger memory, emotion, motivation, and attention, four critical areas of the brain related to successful learning, in its first algebra-readiness offering.

PAIRIN:  The PAIRIN Readiness Management System™ provides a baseline measurement that integrates soft skills and hard data to match students to optimal programs, careers and jobs and offers comprehensive resources to help students further develop those soft skills through coaching.

Submissions were solicited from start-up companies providing innovative approaches to challenges across the K-12 curriculum, administrative operations, and communication channels. Reviewers included educators from NSBA’s “20 to Watch,” a recognition program that honors emerging education technology leaders.

“The showcase serves as a reminder for school leaders to question previous practices, explore new offerings and keep an eye on future developments as technology capabilities enable educators to approach old challenges with new tools,” said Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Innovation.

The 2018 class will be featured in an exclusive area of the exhibition and participate in a Tech Innovation Showcase panel during the National School Boards Association Annual Conferencein San Antonio, April 7-9, 2018. Later this summer, they will be featured in NSBA’s magazine for school leaders, American School Board Journal, and participate in a Technology Leadership Network (TLN) webinar hosted by NSBA’s National Connection program.

Today’s TLN addresses cybersecurity for school board members and highlights innovation at district site visits and through its annual recognition programs including the Digital District Survey and “20 to Watch.”

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The National School Boards Association is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.



Looking Back to Get Ahead: Strategies for Prioritizing and Maximizing Your EdTech Initiatives

February 21, 2018 @ 3:00 CST

Considering your 2018 budget, new initiatives, and organizational focus? Now is the time to plan for a successful new school year in the fall.
Register now for this applicable presentation by Dr. Julie Carter, who will explore the importance of the organizational wellness check to help you answer the critical questions on the return on both investment and learning.

  • How do you decide what to keep?
  • How do you decide what to put aside?
  • How many initiatives can you prioritize this spring?
  • Where are your stakeholders in this technology landscape?
  • How can you do more with what you already have?

Reserve your space now!

Using Padlet in PD

Source: SmartBrief on Education in partnership with GreyED

Padlet, a free web-based tool that functions like an digital bulletin board, is a great tool to use in professional-development sessions. It’s simple to use. Start with a blank page – a padlet – and double click on it to post content. It’s that easy.

Use Padlet to curate resources before, during and after a session. Participants can contribute links to websites, documents, images, video, songs and more. Encourage teachers to add and share relevant resources to Padlet even after the session has concluded.