11 things I think I know ed-tech folks really want to promote

I had an important conversation with my wife (a classroom teacher) the other day that reminded me (an educational technology coach) how easy it is to be misunderstood, says Tim Wilhelmus for The Playground Advocate. I was trying to understand how I could more effectively reach teachers with the resources and messages that I am trying to promote. In my mind, it was a question of efficiency and communication. How do I best reach my audience, and under what circumstances are they most likely to be open to working with me…

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Four must-have tools for improving children’s learning

Heather Williams and Emily Gooch of Sylvan Dell Publishing share their favorite tech gadgets used in education.

emily-gooch-heather-williamsHaving worked with teachers across the country to implement programs, served on literacy committees, and seen first hand how technology has allowed students to become more creative and talented, those experiences inspired Emily and I to collaborate on this list of classroom resources that will enhance any child’s learning experience.

Skype or Facetime

The ability to video chat over any WiFi network has changed how the world communicates. In today’s digital age, students and teachers can visit faraway places without tons of paperwork and travel expenses. Students can share creative work with a partner classroom or authors can visit from another time zone. It’s a world of possibilities where learning occurs across cultures and communities, students are empowered to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences, and a great way to being discussion on critical media literacy. Price: Free

Apple TV

All you need is an HDMI port and a building with WiFi to project your content. In class, teachers can read eBooks, watch educational videos, or show a Keynote or PowerPoint without being limited the length of a mouse or to the board in front classroom. A remote comes with the Apple TV and you can use any of your apple devices on the same WiFi network. The device is small enough to fit in your back pocket, so if it is a personal purchase it can easily go from the classroom to your living room for a little R&R. Retail Price: $99.

Kidblog.org

Not everything in school has to be work! This site is a safe and secure web platform where students are able to create their own blog and share thoughts on lessons, class, or life. Teachers have ultimate control over what is published, but a blog is wonderful because it lets students develop creative writing and discussion skills, and also allows students to own and share thoughts, and learn the ever-important online social skills that are a growing presence in our lives. It is amazing what ownership and freedom do for creativity.

Drawing Pad

Can you design a building? Identify the parts of a frog? Paint and colored pencils are usually reserved for art class, but with Drawing Pad, introducing STEAM-inspired lessons is much more efficient. This app is very user friendly even for the non-artist and it allows students to share their drawings via email or social media programs. This is a great easy to use tool for young children, but older students can also use it.

We are not in the classroom everyday, and we don’t pretend to understand the trials of a classroom teacher today, but at a local literacy event I showed a young girl a book on a tablet and how she could flip from Spanish to English, her eyes lit up. This was magical to a girl who was struggling to learn English. It is through these experiences and the wonderful help of the teachers that contributed their stories that we have developed this list, and our own eReading platform.

Have great tech essentials you’d like to share with readers? Send your contribution here.

Heather Williams is the public relations coordinator for Sylvan Dell Publishing. Emily Gooch is the Education Programs Mgr / School & Library Sales.

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 5: Apps in the classroom

eSchool News counts down the ten most significant developments in educational technology during the past year. No. 5 reveals how apps have spread in classrooms across the country.

apps-top10In school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These are only some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on K-12 schools this year—and how they will continue to shape education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

(Next page: Apps on the rise)

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Four great tips on how schools can use technology for Common Core

Mark Strassman, senior vice president of product management for Blackboard, shares four tips to help schools prepare for the Common Core

common-core-blackboardReady or not, Common Core is coming. The national educational standards for K-12 schools will officially debut in the 2014-15 school year, and it is bringing a new way of teaching and learning with it. These new standards will change how teachers teach, what teachers are teaching, and how students are evaluated.

Some school districts across the country still have work to do before these changes take place. But the good news is that the right technology tools will ease the transition for all stakeholders.

Here are four tips for how your school district can use technology to prepare for the Common Core:

1.       Train up with online collaboration tools

Districts are focused on getting teachers trained not only on the deeper subject matters, but also on feeling comfortable using online tools in the classroom.  And, as studies show, the most effective way to get anyone familiar in an online learning environment is for them to take online classes themselves. By conducting professional development via digital tools teachers learn, and learn to embrace, the same technologies that their students will use for their Common Core “digital competency” evaluations.

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Leadership and ambiguity

We like our leaders to be confident, clear, in control, writes Greg Richardson for ELUMN8. We take comfort from leaders who have a vision, who are insightful, who know where they are going. We want leaders to make sense of the world…The difficulty for leaders, and for us, is that many significant challenges are ambiguous. It is rare that we face a challenge like extraterrestrials attacking us or giant asteroids hurtling toward the earth. Our challenges are not usually clear or easy to understand…

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 6: BYOD and social media

eSchool News counts down the ten most significant developments in educational technology during the past year. No. 6 highlights the importance of BYOD and social media.

BYOD-top10In school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These are only some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on K-12 schools this year—and how they will continue to shape education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

(Next page: BYOD, social media on the rise)

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Eight conversions toward global competitiveness

Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools S. Dallas Dance shares eight steps to help students succeed in the global economy.

global-competitiveness-dallas-dance

Listening to yourself read to improve fluency, speed, and pronunciation. Building computational skills with exercises that adapt to your level and interests. Re-watching a mini-lesson at your pace. Continuing a classroom discussion through blogs and online forums to enrich evaluation of texts. Sharing pictures and videos of your work with your parents on your e-portfolio.

This is the student experience of the instructional digital conversion in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), which touches everything we do through eight conversions—curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, infrastructure, policy, budget, and communications.

The heart of Blueprint 2.0, our five-year strategic plan focused on academics, safety, communications, and organizational effectiveness, is equitable access to digital learning environments and second language proficiency that will prepare all students to graduate globally competitive.

Some ask: Why disrupt the status quo in a district where many students achieve at high levels? Our rationale is simple and urgent. Even our on-time graduates need new skills in an economy where success depends not on what you know, but what you can do with what you know, as described by international researcher Andreas Schleicher.

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How to move PD forward

The fact that there are plenty of companies touting video-based PD as more efficient, individualized, cheaper, and faster should not surprise anyone who has been in the education game long enough to have suffered through Harry Wong, says Shelly Blake-Plock for EdSurge. But to suggest that video versus in-person PD is the real play here totally ignores what is happening back in reality. A reality where we merge online and real-life everyday through the act of sharing…

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The Power of Desktop and Application Virtualization

VMware-User-Centric-Computing-for-Education-SO_Page_1VMware provides an innovative approach to cloud computing that allows educational institutions to reduce IT complexity with the flexibility and scalability needed to support them as they grow. By adopting the VMware approach to usercentric computing, educational IT organizations gain the ability to manage, secure and deliver a superior end-user experience to students and faculty across devices, locations and platforms.

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