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In the past two years, school districts across the country have been moved to write equity policies or pass resolutions to publicly commit to being a more equitable district. Unfortunately, for some districts, the work stopped there. Now, many community members inside and outside of the district are likely to see the approval as nothing more than a symbolic gesture. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
As an equity officer, I’ve partnered with districts and organizations at many stages of readiness to make their policies a reality. However, no matter where a district is in their quest to become an equitable organization, some key components are necessary in the process.
Have a Common Language and Shared Beliefs
My first step of working with district leaders is to make sure that there’s a common definition of equity they all use and that everyone believes all students can be successful in their school system—especially those who have been minoritized. This coming together is launched by a training where leaders are asked to unpack their own journeys to racial consciousness.
During a training I facilitated in Tennessee, district leaders walked through the cycle of socialization created by Bobbie Harro in order to see the impact of socialization on them growing up and how it manifested in their current leadership roles. This exercise led us into a conversation about what they may consciously and unconsciously be doing that gets in the way of students’ success.
This may look like making quick budget, personnel, and/or transportation decisions without talking to those who are impacted the most by the decision. It could also include not speaking up when you know a new policy or program will be detrimental to a particular group of students. Leaders essentially make decisions on an hourly basis that have a direct impact on students. Focusing inward is fundamental to helping leaders articulate what they actually want the experience of their district to be and motivates them to take on individual and collective responsibility in making it happen. The conversation around shared beliefs doesn’t end with training.
Between and after trainings, I spend a lot of time talking with individual district leaders as they balance their own personal journeys to racial consciousness with being public spokespersons and decision makers in equity work. I often support them in drafting a set of questions that they can use in conversations as well as for personal reflection, such as, “What impact will this decision have on those who are the most minoritized?” or “Whose perspective do we need to hear from before making this decision?” or “How can I ensure equity of voice in every meeting?”
Leverage Acquired Data
I’ve led several districts through a community-centered equity audit that provides districts with actionable data. These audits aren’t just quantitative but also include discussion groups and voices from a variety of stakeholders. With a district in Florida, we leveraged an equity group of over 50 people that included students, community organizations, teachers, and families to lead the audit.
This group grappled with how we’d manage getting input across a very diverse district and ensure that those voices were the ones that weren’t always being asked for feedback. This meant offering focus groups and surveys in multiple languages and having facilitators that were known and respected by the community to ensure honest responses. These facilitators were teachers, principals, parent coordinators, or community liaisons whose role was to connect the school to the community. Once the surveys and focus groups were analyzed along with artifacts, a clear story was being told about the district that couldn’t be ignored.
The story that materialized in the audit wasn’t just about student achievement gaps or lack of access. The compelling story highlighted a systemic issue. The story showed a lack of access for students of color, which was the same as lack of teachers of color, which was the same as lack of access for paraprofessionals of color. These systemic sentiments were shared by a variety of stakeholders across the district. The feedback catapulted the district to create a plan that leveraged the shared data and positioned equity as a top priority.
Craft an Action Plan for Accountability
After data is gathered from an audit, an action planning process can commence. My push to districts is to ensure that they put into place short-term actions that can be easily measured and monitored. When I worked with an education agency in Iowa, small groups brainstormed a variety of next steps based on their data and then narrowed their focus down to one or two high-leverage action steps.
One of those next steps was to create an equity officer position and office. However, before they could do that, they needed clarity and agreement on what the person in the position would be asked to do and how the role would be set up for success (in terms of funding and access to resources). I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure that the plan is created in collaboration with a cross-section of roles, including community members, teachers, and students.
Each school district and organization will bring its own unique set of challenges—especially if they’re in a community (and/or state) that has been pushing against any work labeled “equity.” However, successful leaders stay focused on the need to serve all students and ensure that they’re academically, emotionally, and socially successful. Once the focus is there, challenges can be seen as opportunities, and the next steps can fall into place.
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With tons of desktop real estate and the processing power to run practically as many apps as you can open, staying focused on a single task while using your PC can be a challenge. Luckily, in recent years developers have created a number of new tools to help you establish a distraction-free workspace at home or in the office. These apps and tools hide unused windows and menus to help you focus on what’s important and to be more productive.
Without the distraction of extraneous apps, windows, and notifications, you’ll be able to work more productively and with fewer interruptions than you would otherwise. Here is our roundup of tools that will let you write, work, and even browse the Web while keeping distractions to a minimum.Distraction-Free Word Processors
The movement toward distraction-free tools started with word processors, and it’s easy to see why: Writing requires a lot of mental energy; and if your attention drifts to the other windows and apps open on your PC, you can lose focus. Several good, distraction-free writing tools are available tools to choose from. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites here, but you may also want to dive into the settings of your favorite word processor to see whether it offers an option to shut out extraneous notifications and toolbars. Many modern writing apps include a distraction-free full-screen mode as an optional feature–a simple setting that saves time and ensures that you can continue to use your editing software of choice.
If you’re a Windows user looking for a clean, simple writing tool, consider the free Writemonkey. This app is great for getting work done, but so is Q10 (also for Windows). It’s mostly a matter of personal preference, but I find that Q10’s timer feature is especially useful when I’m trying to write on a strict deadline or when I’m following the Pomodoro method.
Mac users also have several distraction-free writing apps to choose from, including a handy app called WriteRoom that creates a full-screen word processor and hides all menus until you need them later. Though WriteRoom has updated over the years with a number of strong features (for example, there’s an iOS version now that syncs well with the desktop app) it costs $10 in a field where most competitors are free.
I prefer OmmWriter for distraction-free writing in Mac OS X; not only does it help me focus and work more productively, but it also has a few customizable themes (more are available in the premium version of the software), along with some soft ambient noise tracks to help drown out any distracting outside audio.
Linux users and any Windows or Mac users dissatisfied with other offerings should take a look at the cross-platform FocusWriter, a great little full-screen text editor that supports themes and tabbed document browsing in addition to the usual hidden menus and keyboard shortcuts.Distraction-Free Desktop Apps
There’s no reason to limit your distraction-free work environment to writing tasks. Plenty of other great tools can eliminate distractions from your PC desktop so you can stay more productive.
Not all apps will have full-screen support, however, and in any case you may have to run multiple windows at once. If so, you can still minimize distractions from other apps with the help of Backdrop, a handy app that lets you hide not just other applications but also your computer’s desktop when you’re trying to get work done in one particular tool.
Windows users may be interested in Ghoster, a free (donationware) utility that dims all of your windows except the currently active one, to help you stay focused. It won’t actively block notifications from programs such as AIM and TweetDeck, but you can probably shut those down on your own if you need to get some serious work done.Distraction-Free Web Browsers
Undeniably the chief cause of distractions and reduced general productivity is the Web browser. The moment you open your browser you’re just a new tab away from hours of distraction; worse, most people need to stay connected at work and have a Web browser open for at least a few sites (email, server management, CMS access, and the like) for much of the day.
Unfortunately, this feature only works for Chrome users running Windows or Linux on their PC. Mac OS X devotees looking for a site-specific Web browser should check out Fluid, a free app built for Macs that lets users create dedicated shortcuts for specific websites. The full version ($5) lets you unlock a few more productivity features, including the ability to add Fluid links to your toolbar so you that you can have a dedicated Wikipedia or GMail application.
It can be galling to admit how much time we waste during the workday; but with these productivity tools at hand (and a little bit of will power), you should be able to make any computer-related task the unchallenged focus of your attention.
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You don’t need to sit in a big theater to get the full movie experience. Pixabay
This week, Warner Bros. announced that it will release all of its 2023 movies in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. That means you don’t have to venture out into the world to see Dune next December—you can bring Timothée Chalamet and those big sand worms directly into your living room.
Watching movies at home on the kinda-big-screen is wonderfully convenient—you can eat a foot-long Subway sub without having to worry about getting busted by the ushers—but the experience can’t compete with the enormous screens and booming sound systems of a dedicated theater. With a little tweaking, though, you can make your home feel a little more like the local multiplex (minus the pricy snacks).Get some backlight
The Philips Gradient backlight system is a pricy way to make your TV feel more immersive. Philips
Ambient light obviously messes with your TV’s picture by causing glare and reducing perceived contrast, but you also don’t want your room to be pitch black, either. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a bright screen in a dark setting makes your eyes work harder, which causes fatigue. Adding some light behind the screen also makes the darkest parts of your screen seem even darker while you watch. Darker blacks in the picture increase perceived contrast, which makes the scenes seem punchier.
The backlighting doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a cheap LED strip from Amazon will do the trick. Just make sure you get the right size for your TV so you don’t get an inconsistent—and distracting—halo around the back of your display. If you’re feeling fancy, you can upgrade to the $200 Philips Hue Gradient. It syncs up with the Hue Bridge and can mimic the colors of whatever you’re watching on-screen. It’s an impressive effect, but a total luxury at that price.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of adding light to your TV, you can leave the lights on low in your room. You’ll want to avoid any lights that make bright point-of-light reflections on the screen itself. You also want to avoid directional lights from the sides of the screen because they can throw a glare across the entire TV.Position your TV correctly
I cringe every time I see a home design show with a TV placed high above a fireplace or in some other elevated location. It may work for the decor, but there is a right place to put or hang your TV if you want the best possible viewing experience. Ideally, your eyeline will fall right on the centerline of the TV. Depending on your seating arrangement, that may be even lower than you expected. You don’t have to bust out the tape measure to get it perfect, but it’s also not that much work for a big payoff in terms of quality.
Distance from your screen matters, too, but not quite as much as it used to. When TVs struggled to reach 720p HD resolution, sitting too close to a big screen would allow you to see the pixels more clearly, making the image look grainy. With 4K TVs, you have to get really close or go really huge to notice that effect. You can use a calculator to see just how far you should actually be sitting, or simply sit close enough that the screen fills most of your peripheral vision, but doesn’t require you to physically move your head to see what’s going on at the edges of the picture.Step up your sound
The superior audio experience at the local cinema isn’t just about volume. To get a true movie theater experience, you’ll want something that provides some kind of surround or directional audio. Theaters have speakers stashed all over the room, even behind the screen, to make the audio feel immersive. You don’t have to go overboard adorning your living room with woofers, but if you’re going to be watching first-run, top-tier movies at home, you probably want more than your paltry built-in TV speakers can offer.
If you’re just jumping into surround sound, a soundbar with Dolby Atmos built in is a great place to start for easy setup and pronounced directional effects. Atmos attempts to create a bubble of sound around the viewer that makes the viewing experience more convincing. It’s widely supported by most of the streaming platforms, and HBO Max is adding compatibility starting with the release of Wonder Woman 1984 when it’s released on December 25th.
There’s a wide variety of Atmos soundbars to choose from. If you’re on a budget, this Samsung system comes in under $400 at the moment. Vizio makes an impressive $500 setup with a subwoofer. And you can step up to the excellent Sonos Arc for $800, which adds access to the company’s wireless music streaming platform.
Soundbars can go up into the thousands of dollars, but if you’re simply upgrading from TV speakers, it’s probably unnecessary to spend that much cash right off the bat.Switch on cinema mode
If you never dig into the various modes on your TV, you might be missing out on some performance. For instance, gaming mode on most televisions tries to prioritize responsiveness so you don’t notice lag between the controller and the screen as your play. If you’re using HDMI 2.1 and a compatible console like the PS5 or the Xbox Series X, it will turn on automatically.
Cinema mode is a bit different. You’ll likely notice that it’s a bit more subdued in terms of brightness and saturation than the typical mode you use for watching TV. If you have motion smoothing enabled for everyday watching, you’ll also notice that cinema mode typically turns it off. That helps prevent your motion pictures from looking like soap operas. That motion smoothing is great for sports, but it’s terrible for movies.
If your TV has HDR—and it should—this mode will also provide the most accurate and vibrant colors your TV can produce.Turn off your phone
Not to mention that anyone who happens to be in the room with you will get annoyed. But then again, maybe that’s part of what makes your home more like the real theater experience.
Minecraft’s oceans are dangerous. There is plenty of hostile mobs, dangerous structures, limited visibility, and a constant risk of drowning. Even if you are on a boat in Minecraft, some mobs can still catch you off guard. With these many horrors, most players choose to stay away from the waters. However, if you know how to make a Conduit in Minecraft, you can get special abilities to keep you afloat and protect you from drowning and dying. These abilities are similar to the effects of the best Minecraft potions, but they don’t expire as quickly. Moreover, this special block can even take fights on your behalf. So, if you are ready to get oceanic powers and an amazing weapon, let’s learn how to make and activate a Conduit in Minecraft.Make and Use a Conduit in Minecraft (2023)
You need a variety of items to make and then activate a conduit, so we have divided the guide into separate sections for your ease. Use the table below to explore everything about the conduit at your convenience.What Is Conduit in Minecraft
Similar to a beacon in Minecraft, a Conduit is a block that gives special abilities to its user. However, unlike a Beacon, Conduit also attacks other hostile mobs underwater. So, you can use it as a power boost as well as a guard to protect your house in Minecraft.
Now, you must be wondering – how useful is a conduit in Minecraft and what all powers you get when you use it. When you place a conduit and activate it, it gives an area-of-effect status called “Conduit Power”. It combines the effects of Potion of Water Breathing, Potion of Night Vision, and haste to give you immense power underwater.How to Get a Conduit Naturally Items Required to Make a Conduit
To make a conduit, you need the following items:
Heart of the Sea
8 Nautilus Shells
Crafting TableGet Heart of the Sea
The Heart of the Sea is one of the rarest items in Minecraft, and it only spawns in the buried treasure chests. It can’t be crafted or traded. Lucky for you, we already have a guide to help you find buried treasure in Minecraft. You can use the linked guide to easily find a buried treasure.
Irrespective of where you find it, every buried treasure chest has a Heart of the Sea. However, you can’t get more than one of these rare items in a single chest. So, to make multiple conduits in Minecraft, you have to find multiple buried treasure chests.Find Nautilus Shell Crafting Recipe of Conduit in Minecraft
Once you have all the ingredients, it’s easy to craft a conduit. To do so, open the crafting table and place the Heart of the Sea in the middle cell of the center row. Then, you need to surround it with nautilus shells. So fill the remaining cells of the crafting area with nautilus shells. Once ready, you can pick up the conduit and place it in your inventory.
Now, unlike other utility blocks in Minecraft, you can’t just place and use the conduit. You first have to create a special area dedicated to the conduit and activate it to obtain conduit powers. Let’s see how.How to Activate a Conduit in Minecraft
To activate a conduit, you need the following items:
9 water blocks (can be source blocks, waterlogged, or flowing water)
16-42 blocks of prismarine, dark prismarine, prismarine bricks, or sea lanterns.
You don’t need to collect water to activate the conduit if you are building it underwater. As for prismarine and its alternatives, you can find them in ocean ruins and ocean monuments. Once you come across them, you can easily mine prismarine blocked with any pickaxe.Types of Conduit Structures
16 blocks structure with a power range of 32 blocks in every direction
30 blocks structure with a power range of 63 blocks in every direction
42 blocks structure with a power range of 96 blocks in every directionMake a Conduit Structure in Minecraft
To activate a conduit, you need to make a structure around it. This structure consists of 5 blocks on all axis lines of the conduit and must be done underwater. Here’s how to do that:
1. First, find an open underwater area, preferably in the ocean. It should be at least 5 blocks wide in all directions.
2. Next, create a straight vertical line of 5 prismarine blocks. You can also use dark prismarine or prismarine bricks.
4. Finally, connect the corner of the two new lines to form a vertical line parallel to the first one. The final structure should look like a hollow square. What you have at the moment is a 16-block conduit structure, which has a 32 blocks range in every direction.
5. To expand it further, you can repeat the steps above and make an intersecting hollow square (from the middle block) on the other side. It will result in a 30-block conduit structure whose range extends to 63 blocks.
6. Finally, to make the best conduit structure, one that also fights mobs for you, connect the middle blocks of adjacent sides of the conduit using 3 blocks. The final structure will have 42 blocks (looks like the screenshot below), and its range extends up to 96 blocks.Activate the Conduit
Irrespective of the structure you make for the Conduit in Minecraft, the activation process remains the same. Let’s see how it works.
2. Then, place the conduit on top of the newly placed block. It won’t get activated just yet.
3. Finally, break the block placed under the Conduit. Doing so will immediately activate the Conduit, and it will start floating and emitting power (as well as light).Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you fully power Conduit?
To make a full-power Conduit, it needs to be surrounded by a 42-block structure of prismarine. It will then function at its full potential, giving you Conduit power and fighting hostile mobs for you underwater. Also, it is important to know that the range of a fully powered Conduit extends up to 92 blocks in every direction.
You only need 16 blocks to activate a Conduit. However, to push it to the full power, you need 42 blocks of prismarine or its alternatives.
Q: Which blocks do I need for a Conduit structure?
You need 16-42 blocks of prismarine, dark prismarine, prismarine bricks, or sea lanterns. While making a structure, you can use them interchangeably. Mixing these blocks doesn’t affect the Conduit or its power.
Q: Which is better in Minecraft – Conduit or Beacon?Make a Conduit in Your Minecraft World
What’s notable is that WhatsApp is openly providing details around user data collection and storage for the first time. This spells some significant changes that you need to understand, and it’s mandatory to accept the policy by May 15, 2023, to continue using the messaging platform.
UPDATE: At the start of May 2023, WhatsApp announced that you will not lose your account if you do not accept the new policy. However, you will have only limited access to your account.
There are three main kinds of changes coming to WhatsApp in 2023. They center around how:
WhatsApp processes your data.
businesses use Facebook services to store and manage WhatsApp chats.
WhatsApp will integrate with other Facebook products.
So let’s clarify the answers to the most pressing questions you might have about this.
Why do I need to accept this policy?
If you do not accept WhatsApp’s latest terms and conditions, you will get only limited access to WhatsApp features post May 15, 2023. Your account will not be deleted, but you will see a persistent reminder to accept the new terms. So, you must accept the policy to continue using WhatsApp as usual.
To do so, whenever you see the new policy popup on your screen, tap on AGREE to continue using the messaging platform as usual.
What personal data will WhatsApp collect and store?
According to its new policy, WhatsApp will collect hardware data such as:
mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP),
your phone’s battery level and signal strength,
language and time zone,
your IP address,
device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).
None of this was part of the previous policy.
What information will WhatsApp share with Facebook?
According to the policy changes, WhatsApp can share almost all of the information mentioned above with Facebook. The terms clearly state that your phone number, IP address, mobile device information, how you interact with others and businesses, etc.
Why you won’t be able to use WhatsApp if you don’t accept the new T&C?
WhatsApp has made it mandatory for all users to accept the new policy changes. If you do not agree to the updates by May 15, 2023, your account will begin to get restricted access to features such as chats and calls. So, there are no two ways about it. If you want to continue using WhatsApp, you will eventually have to accept the new terms and conditions.
How do I maintain privacy on WhatsApp?
Well, from now on, your data from WhatsApp, such as your phone number, businesses you interact with, etc., will be shared with Facebook. However, your chats will continue to be encrypted end-to-end, so they are still private.
Can a third party access my WhatsApp?
Going by the official policy, third parties may access the information you share with businesses on WhatsApp. However, regardless of the policy changes, third parties can also access your WhatsApp account through unlawful means like hacking. However, this is a rare case scenario and not something you should worry about. After all, any app or device is susceptible to hacking. It’s just part of living in the technological age.
Does WhatsApp sell data?
Can anyone see my WhatsApp chats?
The short answer is no. WhatsApp chats remain end-to-end encrypted, so your messages are private for now.
What about WhatsApp Business?
If you interact with businesses on WhatsApp, they may provide the platform with information about you. The updated policy states that any content shared with a business on WhatsApp will be accessible by “several people in that business.”
This is undoubtedly a call to action to be more vigilant about how you interact with businesses on WhatsApp.
What about WhatsApp Payments data?
Should I delete my WhatsApp account?
If you are highly concerned and don’t want Facebook accessing your data, you should delete your WhatsApp account and use alternatives like Telegram or Signal. However, do bear in mind that deleting your account will not necessarily delete all your data from the servers. WhatsApp is vague about what data it will continue to store after you delete your account.
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Mehak has a master’s degree in communication and over ten years of writing experience. Her passion for technology and Apple products led her to iGeeksBlog, where she specializes in writing product roundups and app recommendations for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on her MacBook Pro, she loves being lost in a book or out exploring the world.
Venmo is a popular peer-to-peer payment app. It aims to make it easier to split the bill or pay someone back who fronted the money for a joint venture. While Venmo is convenient, there are potential serious privacy issues that come along with using the app. Venmo may be a payment app first and foremost; however, it also wants to be a “social network.” Unfortunately, like many social networks, this means user privacy is often a second thought. Here we show you how to make Venmo private to protect your privacy.What’s the Privacy Problem with Venmo?
If you’re questioning why using Venmo may pose a privacy problem, do know that the app collects a scary amount of personal info about its users by default, often without them realizing it.
First off, all transactions are public by default. This means literally anyone can see how much you paid your friend for Rangers tickets using the app’s search function. In addition, Venmo aggressively encourages users to link their Facebook profiles and their phone’s contacts during the setup process. While it makes sending and receiving money from friends and family easy, these friend lists are also public. The ability to view anyone’s friend list and all of their transactions can paint a detailed picture of their personal lives. This information can then be exploited by anyone – be it a stalker or a data mining corporation.Make All (Past and Future) Transactions Private
To make all of your future transactions private – meaning that no random person will be able to see them:
1. Open Venmo and tap on the hamburger menu icon (three lines stacked on top of each other).
At this point, you’ll probably want to make all of your previous transactions private as well. This is particularly true for those with friends who like to put embarrassing things in the payment description field. Fortunately, it’s easy to do.
3. At the bottom of the Privacy menu, find the option labelled “Past Transactions” and tap on it.
4. You’ll have two different options: “Change All to Private” and “Change to Friends.” Opting for the latter means anyone in your friends list will still be able to see your transactions. We recommend the “Change All to Private” option. After all, does anyone really need to know that you split a pizza with Dave?How to Make Your Friend List Private
Prior to June 2023, there was no way to make your friend list private. Fortunately, the latest update to the app grants users the ability to hide their friend list. If you are having trouble following the steps below, try updating the Venmo app through the iOS App Store or Google Play.
To make your Venmo friend list private:
1. Tap on the hamburger icon on the top left of the app.
3. In the Privacy menu, scroll down to the bottom and tap on “Friends List.” This will bring you to a new screen labelled “Friends List.”
4. Tap on the “Private” option to make it so that your friend list is only visible to you. A blue checkmark should appear in the “Private” field to indicate that the list is now private.Prevent Being Found Through Facebook and Phone Contacts
When setting up a Venmo account, users are encouraged to link their phone’s contacts as well as their Facebook friends list. Most people opt to do this, as it gets them up and running quicker, saving them the hassle of having to manually enter every person they may want to send money to or receive money from. If you don’t want to be automatically added to anyone’s Venmo friends list, you can prevent that from happening with a few taps.
1. Open the Venmo app and tap on the hamburger menu icon in the top right.
2. Tap on “Settings.”
3. In the Settings menu, scroll down and tap on the option labeled “Friends & Social.”
4. In the “Friends & Social” menu that appears, you’ll see three toggle switches. Tap the switches next to the options labeled “Facebook Connect,” “Phone Contacts” and “Facebook Contacts.” This prevents Venmo from utilizing your contacts from Facebook or your phone to populate your Venmo friends list.
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