Khan Academy now Common Core aligned

Free website includes thousands of exercises for helping students prepare for the new standards at their own pace, founder Sal Khan announced


Each student will get his or her own learning dashboard to show progress toward mastery of the standards.

Over the last few years, Sal Khan’s free Khan Academy website has become a go-to resource for teaching and learning math skills. During the annual CUE conference in Palm Springs, Calif., on March 22, Khan announced a major expansion of the website that will help prepare students for Common Core math testing.

“While the standards may be common, we know that students are not—they each have their own learning journey,” Khan said. “This is why we are committed to personalized learning that lets students practice what they most need help on, at their own pace, at absolutely no cost.”

Khan Academy now includes thousands of new, interactive math problems fully aligned to every Common Core math standard in grades K-12. Created and reviewed by 40 math educators, these exercises focus on conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and real-world applications of math.

Khan Academy users can search for exercises that address each strand within the standards by grade level. Every single problem for every single standard is accompanied by a step-by-step solution created specifically for that problem.

What’s more, Khan unveiled new grade-level “missions” aligned with the Common Core, to help students work through these exercises at their own pace. Each student will get his or her own learning dashboard that uses state-of-the-art, adaptive software to identify learning gaps and show progress. Students also will receive badges, energy points, and avatars as they complete each mission.

(Next page: New teacher resources from Khan Academy as well)


App of the Week: SymbalooEDU

app-weekName: SymbalooEDU

What is it? SymbalooEDU is a free educational tool that allows teachers and students to save their online resources in the cloud with access from any device. Teachers can easily save their favorite web 2.0 sites to a webmix with just a few clicks then share it with colleagues or students. With an account a users resources are available on any iPhone, PC, Mac and iPad.

Best for: Students and teachers

Price: Free

Requirements: iOS 4.2 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Requires Android 2.1 and up.


–Users don’t have to manually type in web addressing, saving class time
–One-click functionality
–Safe web environment for student learning
–Resources are saved in the cloud for later access
–No advertising



Google Play



How to dispute one-to-one, mobile learning criticisms

Ed-tech leaders discuss how to address critics of one-to-one initiatives 

one-to-one-criticsEd-tech initiatives will always have critics. But administrators can take action and leverage resources to ensure that their one-to-one and mobile learning initiatives are implemented carefully and successfully.

A panel of four ed-tech experts discussed how recent criticisms have questioned the effectiveness of one-to-one initiatives after several initiatives encountered much-publicized bumps in the road.

But these initiatives, when implemented properly, are tools that help districts transform teaching and learning into impactful models that give students skills they’ll need in the future, such as problem solving, critical thinking, the ability to locate and evaluate information, and more.

(Next page: One-to-one advice from four ed-tech leaders)


Critics question Common Core’s effectiveness

Common Core has been mired in controversy for the curriculum and because opponents view it as federal interference in local affairs

common-core-wisdom-effectivenessCommon Core State Standards are a set of rigorous academic standards in math and English. The Common Core has been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this academic initiative was intended to ensure that students graduate from high school with critical thinking skills to help them lead a successful life.

eSchool News has covered Common Core Standards extensively. The initiative may be losing public support as a result of limited resources for implementation, underdeveloped high stakes testing, and what critics see as a set of standards that stifles creativity.

(Next page: What fuels Common Core controversy?)


Questions to answer after high school

New report on scarcity of “useful” postsecondary data details what questions students need answers to

questions-school-collegePostsecondary data should be able to answer certain questions, not only for higher-ed institutions, but for prospective students and the community, according to a new report. It’s up to national databases to help combat rising college costs and stagnating rates of completion through better collection and dissemination of data, the report notes.

The report, “Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain: Problems and Possibilities,” produced by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asserts that seemingly straightforward questions such as which students have access to which colleges can’t easily be answered with currently available data.

“A careful mapping of federal data systems against these questions shows that while we have a solid base of understanding in some areas, we fall far short in others,” notes the report.

And though many voluntary data initiatives have arisen in recent years to help fill these gaps, the report emphasizes that there is still a ways to go before critical questions are answered.

(Next page: 4 questions institutions must answer)


New ed-tech products target Common Core readiness

Common Core readiness was a key theme in the ASCD Conference exhibit hall


A number of companies showed products aimed at teaching students to think more deeply.

At the 69th annual ASCD conference in Los Angeles this past week, preparing for the Common Core was a common theme. In the conference exhibit hall, a number of companies showed products aimed at teaching students to think more deeply in order to meet the standards’ rigor.

A Virginia-based company called Mathalicious is trying to make math more engaging and relevant for students, using multimedia lessons that incorporate a real-world, inquiry-based approach. This approach fits nicely with the goals of the Common Core, challenging students to think critically about the world around them.

For example, in basketball, should you ever foul someone at the buzzer? Students use probabilities to determine when the defense should foul—and when they shouldn’t. Another lesson asks students: Who should buy health insurance? Using percents and expected value, students explore the math of health insurance from a variety of perspectives.

The Learning Institute, of Hot Springs, Ark., has released what it calls Core Guides. These are online “model instructional units” designed to help English language arts teachers integrate the Common Core standards into instruction.

Designed to cover about seven weeks of teaching, each Core Guide focuses on an anchor text, as well as several shorter, supporting texts. The Core Guides include formative and summative assessments, as well as a variety of activities that students can complete in the classroom and at home—all intended to have them engage more deeply with the texts.

Eighty Core Guides are available in all: four literary units and four nonfiction units for each grade level from three to 12. Literary units for grade four, for instance, include The Lightning Thief and The Trumpet of the Swan; nonfiction units include The Story of Sacajawea and Discovering Mars.

(Next page: A Common Core writing program; a professional learning program that teaches the ‘Essentials for Achieving Rigor’; and more)


10 things that keep superintendents up at night

Superintendents share their top concerns at CoSN 2014

superintendent-concernsSchool superintendents deal with a seemingly never-ending list of responsibilities, but some concerns are more pressing than others.

During a CoSN 2014 session moderated by Digital Promise CEO Karen Cator, Matt Akin, superintendent of the Piedmont City School District, and Cynthia Elsberry, superintendent of Horry County Schools, shared some of their top priorities.

Overall, building support for technology initiatives and managing some of the day-to-day issues that accompany these initiatives are things every superintendent deals with, but superintendents also have concerns about data, the digital transition, and more.

(Next page: So, what keeps superintendents up at night?)


Digital report card seeks to build best innovation education system

We are replacing books with digital devices and have moved on to the Information Age while many schools remain in the Industrial Age

digital-report-cardThe blackboard was a revolutionary piece of technology when introduced into classrooms back in the 19th century. Teachers could, at last, give group lessons and present group problems.

To show you how slow technology advanced in education, the blackboard and its descendants, such as the grease board and overhead projector, still are the focal point in most classrooms.

And meanwhile, the outside world is caught up in a digital revolution that has transformed almost every facet of our lives. We have moved on to the Information Age while far too many schools remain mired in the Industrial Age.

We have the most diverse student population in history. It’s unrealistic to squeeze them all into a 19th century education model. They cannot be expected to master the same material in the same way and at the same pace.

This also runs counter to life outside the classroom, where these digital natives have used technology to personalize communications, entertainment options, social networks and information gathering.

(Next page: New technology designed to maximize student potential)