During the ASCD conference, Edmentum announced version 2 of its EducationCity product. This interactive platform helps teachers deliver personalized, small group, or whole class instruction, while monitoring students’ progress toward mastering state and Common Core standards. Version 2 will be available in July, the company said.

Features designed with more rigor in mind include MyRevision Journals, which encourage students to revise their work for deeper understanding; and ThinkIts, which provide additional interactive challenges for students, developing their higher-order thinking skills.

The EducationCity platform is now available for mobile devices that don’t support Flash video through a new “Puffin Academy” app, a Flash-based browser that can be downloaded free of charge by students or their parents. This app allows schools to enforce their CIPA policies by letting students access only approved educational websites on their mobile devices.

WriteSteps, a Michigan-based company founded by a former teacher, demonstrated its self-named Common Core writing program. Available in both print and online formats, the curriculum teaches all of the Common Core standards for writing in grades K-5 and covers all of the grammar skills listed in the Language Cores, said product trainer Kim Gates.

The curriculum includes activities that help teach writing and grammar skills; more than 200 authentic student writing samples demonstrating all levels of proficiency; more than 500 visual aids; and 35 teaching videos. Schools using the curriculum have seen their average writing scores on state tests increase up to 30 percentile points, WriteSteps claims.

The Marzano Center unveiled a new professional development offering for schools, called “Essentials for Achieving Rigor.” This framework includes 13 instructional strategies for moving to a more student-centered pedagogy, in which students assume responsibility for their own learning. The strategies focus on analysis, reasoning, generating and testing hypotheses, and real-world applications of knowledge.

SmartTraining discussed its own professional development offering at the ASCD conference. The Scottsdale, Ariz., company helps teachers integrate the Singapore Math approach into their curriculum. Singapore Math takes the kind of rigorous approach espoused by the Common Core, and SmartTraining trains educators in the Singapore Math methodology and how it fits in with Common Core goals.

Other ASCD exhibitor news

Common Core readiness wasn’t the only theme discussed at the ASCD conference. Here’s a roundup of news from other conference exhibitors.

Right At School, an Illinois company, runs after-school and “enrichment on demand” programs for schools. For families who don’t need a daily program, but want to enrich their child’s education, the company offers 10-week after-school courses in the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Right At School operates a parent portal for enrollment, scheduling, and payment for after-school programs—relieving school leaders of these responsibilities and allowing them to focus on academics, said Pat Heibel, vice president of education relations.

What’s more, Right At School enables schools to “outsource” recess. In some school districts, Heibel explained, recess duty isn’t part of the teachers’ contracts, so the company supplies the supervision, equipment, and even a curriculum if desired.

(Next page: A Netflix-like approach to professional development; a new social network that connects students with mentors; inflatable planetarium domes; and more)

Dennis Pierce

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