App of the week: Shape the Village

shapevillageappName: Shape the Village

What is it? An interactive introduction to circles, triangles and squares for kids. Featured by Apple as “Best New Apps” in 11 countries, this “high-design” app is created to stimulate children’s imaginations while educating them about shapes. This lively village, illustrated in bright colors, is packed with characters and buildings with personality—all made up of circles, triangles and squares.

Best for: Young children.

Price: $2.99

Rated: 4+

Requirements: Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.


  • 16 varied activities to teach kids all about circles, triangles and squares
  • No need for tutorials: the app has an intuitive, child-friendly design
  • Interactive, motivating rewards for activity completion
  • “Day” and “night” modes: the characters sleep at night just like kids!
  • Cooperative workbook activities with easy-to-prepare materials
  • Supports 7 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean
  • Supported on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch (Universal)



Mike Huckabee walks back his support for Common Core

The Washington Post reports that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has now put himself on the list of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016, which explains, perhaps, why he is backing off his once outspoken support of the Common Core State Standards initiative — even while insisting that his original backing made sense. Huckabee wrote a letter dated June 3, 2013, to legislators in Oklahoma that said in part..

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After Sandy Hook, states begin upping security, mental health care in schools

In December 2012, just days after gunman Adam Lanza left 26 children and staff dead at Newtown Elementary School, a Gallup poll found that half of Americans thought “[increased] police presence at schools” and “increased government spending on mental health screening and treatment” would be effective in preventing subsequent shootings, the Huffington Post reports. One year later, a look at legislation enacted around the country reveals that some state governments have allocated more funds for mental health care in school, while others are working to increase or better utilize the police presence on campuses. A small number of states have even embraced both approaches as a means of making schools safer, despite warnings from civil rights groups that having police in schools can be especially harmful to students with mental health issues…

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Microsoft woos Gmail users

In early 2010, Google tried to accelerate the growth of Google Apps by launching Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange, server software designed to help companies move data from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, InformationWeek reports. That was several months after Google launched Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook to help Outlook users connect to Google Apps as a back end. That same year, it also debuted Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes and Connect for Blackberry Enterprise Server to make it easier for users of those systems to “Go Google.” On Wednesday, Microsoft returned the favor, adding another front in its broad counterattack on Google and on the threat ad-funded software poses to its business model…

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Toddlers and tablets

The first iPad was released in April 2010, EducationNext reports. Three years later, a Pew Internet survey found that half of American parents with children at home own a tablet computer. Mosey on over to the iTunes app store, and 9 of the top 10 paid education apps are designed for small children, ages four and up. To summarize: families with means are loading up on tablets, and they are buying education apps targeted at preschoolers. I believe four-year-olds will shape the future of education technology (edtech), long before they ever set foot in a kindergarten classroom. And when I say four-year-olds, I’m just being politically correct. Two- and three-year-olds will get in on the action, too…

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The Classroom of 2024: Four future hallmarks

What does the future hold for classrooms? How can 10 years impact education?

classroom-futureTen years may not seem like much, but it’s enough time for transformation, according to education experts who see the future of education becoming more collaborative and less restrictive.

Nearly every part of education will have to change in order to accommodate the kind of learning that educators discuss today—from professional development and physical learning spaces to availability of and support for technology.

But it’s possible with the right vision and plan.

Here, educators and stakeholders share their views for the classroom of 2024.

(Next page: Classroom predictions)


Five must-have tools for social studies instruction

What are the ed-tech tools that educators can’t live without? Each month, we’ll ask a different reader.

tools-social-studiesGeography and More: Google Earth

This amazing tool can be used for more than just geography. For instance, you can use it to track the travels of historical figures, such as following a particular unit during the American Civil War by adding image overlays to create “then and now” images and looking at its locations over time.

3D Modeling: Google Sketchup

When combined with Google Earth, Sketchup allows you to bring 3D models into locations on Google Earth. Check out the 3D Warehouse to find historical buildings, famous landmarks, monuments, and statues from history. You can also have your students research a monument and then recreate it in Sketchup.


5 ways schools throw away talented teachers

New report reveals there’s no pipeline for teacher talent in schools; leadership not cultivated

leadership-teachers-schoolsAccording to a new report based on thousands of educator responses, schools across the country don’t have a pipeline for leadership, discouraging talented teachers from staying in education. The problem: The unending cycle of mediocrity based on last-minute leadership hires for those often unprepared for the challenges facing schools today.

The report, “Building Pathways: How to develop the next generation of transformational school leaders,” by Bain & Company—a management consulting firm often working with schools and charter schools—discusses how despite student achievement progress in many districts across the country, there is still a lack of consensus around what works…except good leadership.

“We know that an essential ingredient behind each school success story is extraordinary leadership,” says the report. “Yet we have far too few transformational school leaders today to replicate the results that are possible at a greater scale. The reason: Most school systems fail to methodically develop talented educators into a deep bench of prospective leaders with the experience and ability to build an extraordinary school.”

(Next page: 5 roadblocks to great leadership)


Why teach computer science in high schools?

Derek Acosta is a junior at Cristo Rey New York High School, an innovative school in Harlem where students work to finance their education. He has good grades and wants to study computer science in college. He knows this because he has tried it in high school. Derek participates in a course taught at Cristo Rey by ScriptEd volunteers. During the year long course, his second programming course at Cristo Rey, he learned the basics of web design and introductory programming. “I liked the class but I now know how hard programming is… I have a real respect for programmers.” Unfortunately, Derek’s story is rare. Nationwide there are 3.3 million seniors in high school but in 2012 only 26,000 took the AP Computer Science Test. Wouldn’t it be great if students could try programming while in high school? Why aren’t more high schools teaching computer science? The problem lies in three fallacies…

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Today’s CEO leader in STEM

Our future depends on the strength of our scientific spine, reports. The skills derived from a STEM education are the mission-critical elements of the jobs of tomorrow, for they are directly linked to economic productivity and competitive products. Moreover, education is more closely correlated with upward mobility than anything else. It’s the best way to reduce excessive inequality in incomes and opportunities, and the best way to avoid having our society degenerate into a class system. The men and women who will make up America’s tomorrow and the core of its economy are in its classrooms today, and there are way too few of them in the fields of science and technology that create the dynamic of our economy today, the future of our economy, and the best-paying jobs. ..

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