Skyward School Management System (Skyward Inc.)

Skyward’s School Management System includes a Student Management Suite (a web-based student information system with attendance, grading, scheduling, discipline, and more) and a School Business Suite, which encompasses accounts payable and receivable, bid and budget management, employee evaluation, payroll processing, inventory, substitute tracking and fulfillment, and more. The software automates reports and other processes, saving administrators time and freeing them from menial tasks.

“Our K-12 district uses the Skyward Student Management System for attendance, grading, scheduling, discipline, fee management, food service, athletic eligibility, transportation, keeping up with NCLB requirements, tracking our preschool program, and everything else that is required by our state board of education,” said Carolyn Grant, technology coordinator for Danville School District 118 in Illinois. “Skyward has fantastic, patient, helpful, and knowledgeable programming and tech-support staff, including a dedicated group who work specifically with the state [education] department to make sure the program is always up-to-date and meets the state’s requirements. … This is the fourth student data management package our district has used since I began working in this capacity. This one is by far the best.”

SimpleK12 (InfoSource Inc.)

SimpleK12 is a subscription-based professional learning network in which teachers can share ideas, collaborate, watch live and recorded webinars and how-to videos, and learn from one another as they strive to integrate technology effectively into their instruction.

“I am a middle school art and health teacher who has just been given new technology to use in my classroom. I am struggling to learn about what I can do with a document camera and projector,” said Holley Smothers of Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City, Mo. “I happened to find SimpleK12, and it has changed my life! The webinars are great. The staff walks you through apps, programs, how to use different technology, and then there is support afterward. I am already up and running with a webpage, new lesson plans, and my students are loving the new things I am trying. … I am improving as a teacher because of this site.”

SmartScope (SmartSchool Systems)

The SmartScope handheld digital microscope is easy to use for even preschool students. It comes with software that can record still images, videos, or time-lapse videos to view a week’s worth of change in minutes. Its six LED lights are easily controlled with a dial on the device, and it can magnify objects at up to 200x magnification.

Diana McMillan, a pre-kindergarten teacher for the Austin Independent School District in Texas, says the SmartScope is facilitating an inquiry-based approach to science for students at a very young age. “I have three digital scopes in my class, and the SmartScope is the best because of its flexibility,” she said. “It takes photographs, video clips, time lapse, operates as a webcam, and has a measurement feature. It is so easy to use that my four-year-olds mastered it in one day! It is durable, and the price is right. I leave it out and the students are able to use it independently. I have other technological tools, such as iPads, [a] projector, [an iPod] Nano, flip cameras, and digital cameras—but my favorite … tool is the SmartScope!”

ST Math (MIND Research Institute)

ST Math is a supplemental program that takes a visual approach to learning, tapping into the brain’s innate “spatial temporal” reasoning ability to visualize and solve math problems. Through a carefully engineered sequence of visual puzzles, students work at their own pace to solve increasingly difficult problems that require them to think multiple steps ahead in space and time—and they receive instant feedback about why a solution works or doesn’t.

“Over 16,000 K-5 students in Anaheim City School District are using ST Math,” said Leisha Morton, math curriculum specialist for the district. “The non-linguistic representation of key mathematical ideas provides students, regardless of their language proficiency, access to higher-level thinking and problem solving without the hurdle of decoding text. … [Our] school district has experienced gains in our high-stakes mathematical test scores since implementing the program, but more importantly, ST Math has made math meaningful and exciting for students.”