4 apps for Earth exploration, chemical reactions, and more

This round-up ensures you won’t miss any of our weekly highlighted apps

july-appsEach week, we feature a new App of the Week on our website and in our newsletters. These apps are for students or educators and offer a range of uses.

But one thing is certain: educators and students are using apps now more than ever.

Here’s a round-up of the apps we’ve featured over the past month. Check back each Monday for a new App of the Week. And don’t worry–if you miss one, you can find a summary of recent apps at the end of each month.

1. Create a chemical reaction

Name: ChemCrafter
What is it? ChemCrafter lets you build your own lab to run fun and creative experiments.
Best for: Science students
Price: Free

(Next page: 3 more apps)


Jobs requiring STEM skills take longer to fill

Filling STEM jobs continues to post a challenge for employers

STEM-jobsThe difficulty of filling STEM jobs is a challenge, and it’s going to get worse. That’s the assessment of a report published in early July.

Across a range of industries and occupations, job postings for science, technology, engineering or math openings are being advertised on employers’ web pages far longer than for non-STEM jobs, the new Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program study finds.

“That’s 100 percent correct,” said Cynthia Smith, recruitment manager at the University of Kansas Hospital. “It’s never been easy to find qualified people for specialized STEM positions. Those jobs have a tendency to take up to 12 weeks to fill, if not a year.”

(Next page: What research reveals about STEM jobs)


Start the school year off with new furniture

Back-to-School Giveaway from OFM

OFM, an office and school furniture manufacturer, distributor, and wholesaler, announced today it is kicking off a brand new back-to-school giveaway aimed at teachers and other educational staffers. The winner will receive 20 colorful Rico Student Stack Chairs to start the 2014/2015 academic year off with a new classroom. Contestants can enter to win the “Sit Down and Learn Giveaway” simply by liking OFM’s Facebook page–www.facebook.com/ofminc–and sending an eMail to sitdownandlearn@ofminc.com with “learn” in the subject line along with a one-word description of the chairs their students currently use, for instance dirty, old, broken, worn, uncomfortable, etc.

Deadline: Aug. 15, 2014


$1K for tuition, plus tech, for motivated college students

VIZIO Back-to-School Success Contest

This contest gives college students the opportunity to share a story of determination to further their education. Whether they worked two jobs through school, overcame a learning disability or were the first in their family to graduate and go on to college, many students have a special story of perseverance and success. In this unique contest, students across the country are encouraged to visit http://www.VIZIO.com/student to upload a video or photo essay detailing a personal story of determination, telling VIZIO why they should win the grand prize. The winning student will receive a VIZIO prize package, including a 40″ E-Series Smart TV, a new 2.1 Sound Stand perfect for bringing rich audio to the dorm room, $1,000 toward tuition, money for books and be able to help VIZIO give back to a local Boys & Girls Club in their college town.

Deadline: Aug. 19, 2014


Innovative projects could get $1K

Toshiba America Foundation Grants For Grades K-5

Do you teach in an elementary school classroom? Do you have an innovative idea for improving math or science instruction in your classroom? Is your idea project based learning with measurable outcomes? What do you need to make learning math and science fun for your students? K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom.
With a Toshiba America Foundation grant, elementary teachers can bring their best new teaching ideas to life.

Deadline: Oct. 1, 2014


$1K awards for youth runners

Kids Run the Nation Fund Grants

In 2007, the RRCA developed the Kids Run the Nation Fund to assists running clubs, events, and schools that are interested in implementing or currently have a youth running program. Since 2007, the RRCA has granted a total of $95,000 to deserving youth programs around the US, along with donating thousands of copies of Kids Run the Nation program guides and kids booklets. This small grant program (20-30 grants of $500-$1,000 each) is funded by restricted contributions from RRCA members, individuals, foundations, and corporations. One hundred percent of the money raised is restricted to the grant fund and no portion of contributions to the Kids Run the Nation Fund are used for administrative expenses. Grants are awarded on an annual basis through an application and selection process overseen by a volunteer selection panel. Running clubs, events, or other organizations with the IRS 501(c)(3) designation are eligible to apply. Elementary and middle schools that provide an organized after-school running programs are eligible as well.

Deadline: Oct. 1, 2014


Triumph Learning Enhances Waggle Integration With Clever Partnership

NEW YORK, NY – July 30, 2014 – Triumph Learning, producer of critically acclaimed K-12 texts and interactive digital tools, expands its partnership with Clever to include integration with district student information systems and seamless single sign-on with Instant Log-in without additional charges. The collaboration allows teachers and students to access Waggle with one click, and relieves teachers and administrators of the burdens of data management tasks.

“With tools like Waggle, we are working to accelerate learning with personalized student pathways and provide insightful learning analytics for teachers,” said Aoife Dempsey, Chief Technology Officer of Triumph Learning. “The partnership between Waggle and Clever frees up valuable instructional time in the classroom so that the teachers can focus on making that goal possible.”

In addition to offering single sign-on access for Waggle users, the expanded partnership includes a secure connection to student information systems that will sync student enrollment rosters in real-time. As a highly secure and FERPA-compliant solution, this will be included at no additional cost to all Waggle customers.

“Like Triumph Learning, Clever is passionate about ensuring classroom time is valuable and productive for students and teachers,” said Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Waggle by offering this simple and effective log-in solution for districts.”

As a transformative learning system, Waggle generates a smart practice environment to help students in grades 3-8 prepare for assessments. The online tool champions productive struggle by creating a safe and engaging space for students to explore, build confidence, and accelerate learning. Waggle offers Common Core and state standards-aligned content in English language arts and math, and is fully integrated with Triumph Learning’s Coach resources for a seamless blended learning solution.

About Triumph Learning
Triumph Learning, LLC, is a leading educational content company and publisher of print and digital K-12 resources, standards-aligned instructional materials and effective literacy programs. Its state-customized products increase student achievement and raise scores on high-stakes exams for more than 6 million students in 36,000 schools in 2013. Triumph Learning offers unique student solutions, robust teacher support, and professional development opportunities. Triumph Learning is committed to serving all students with a mix of interactive digital tools and innovative student texts with products such as Coach and Waggle. For more information, visit www.triumphlearning.com

About Clever
Clever is the simplest way for schools to keep their learning software in sync with their existing student information systems. Over 20,000 schools across the United States use Clever, and over 100 innovative software applications now integrate with Clever. In 2012, the SIIA named Clever the “Most Innovative Company in Education,” and in 2013, Clever was awarded first place at SXSWedu. Clever’s headquarters are in San Francisco, CA. For more information contact Clever at (415) 562-6483, press@clever.com, or http://clever.com.


Learning Upgrade releases Math Upgrade 8 just in time for back to school

(SAN DIEGO) July 30, 2014 — To make the transition to Common Core State Standards easier on teachers and students, Learning Upgrade has released Math Upgrade 8. The course uses engaging videos and memorable songs to help students in 8th grade master every Common Core math standard.

The release of Math Upgrade 8 also marks the completion of Learning Upgrade’s three-year effort to offer math courses covering every Common Core standard for grades 1-8.

“Transitioning to Common Core will be a huge adjustment for both teachers and students as they return to school in the fall, particularly for older students who haven’t grown up with these new standards,” said Vinod Lobo, the co-founder of Learning Upgrade. “Getting Math Upgrade 8 ready for ‘back to school’ season was so important to us, and we hope this course will make the first weeks of school a little easier – and more fun!”

Rather than just doing the bare minimum to put a “Common Core-aligned” label on their products, the team at Learning Upgrade has designed every course from the ground up to address Common Core standards and the new computer-based tests. Each course covers every standard for one grade level with 60 interactive lessons. Teachers can quickly integrate the lessons into their classes using a simple one-page alignment, and can track every student’s progress on every standard with a graphical student monitor.

To further ease the transition to Common Core, Learning Upgrade is also offering 20 complimentary student licenses to U.S. schools with 300 or more students. Teachers can enroll students into any of the Math Upgrade and English Upgrade courses, which feature songs, video, and games to bring students up to proficiency. One teacher license is included for whole-class interactive musical lessons.

About Learning Upgrade
Founded in 1998 by educators, musicians, artists and programmers in San Diego, Learning Upgrade produces innovative, engaging lessons designed to support struggling students in reading and math. Through the incorporation of song, video, games and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped thousands of students reach and exceed grade level requirements.

For more information about Learning Upgrade, please visit them online at learningupgrade.com


Top 10 Educational Websites Visited by Students Using Kajeet Mobile Broadband

Kajeet Provides Insight into Student Online Usage Outside the Classroom

MCLEAN, Virginia — July 30, 2014 — Kajeet® (www.kajeet.com/education), the wireless service provider dedicated to kids and education, announced today the top 10 websites visited by students in its school district partners for educational purposes last month. Kajeet provides safe, affordable mobile broadband to 26 school districts around the country. As schools invest more money and resources to bring technology into the classroom, teachers are discovering many students do not have access to online textbooks, apps, cloud documents, websites and teachers once they leave school.

Kajeet is providing the solution to ensure disconnected students have a level playing field to improve academic success. Schools issue Kajeet SmartSpot™ hotspot devices — compatible with any mobile device — which includes customizable filtered Internet access with insightful analytics to keep students focused on school work and provide educational connectivity.

In addition to providing Internet access to students at home or on-the-go, the Kajeet SmartSpot provides analytics and usage reports so educators can see what sites their students are using most often, as well as to draw actionable conclusions to improve student work habits and academic success.

Top 10 Educational Websites Visited by Students*
1. Raz-Kids
2. ABCya.com
3. PBSkids.org
4. Weather.com
5. Coolmath-Games.com
6. WordPress
7. Discovery Education
8. The Kidsz Page
9. Starfall.com
10. Myon.com

* Educational websites from Kajeet Education customers in June 2014

“To succeed today, students need access to the vast educational facility that is the Internet. It is a realm that allows students to direct their own learning and gain skills needed to compete,” said Kajeet CEO and Founder Daniel Neal. “As the classroom paradigm shifts, staying connected to resources and people outside of the classroom becomes critical, and it is important for educators to understand how students are using the Internet and the tools it supports for school purposes.”
One of the key benefits of the Kajeet SmartSpot solution is that it allows districts and schools to fully customize and filter the websites students can visit, as well as the times of day or night they deem appropriate for student use. Teachers and administrators can manage access hours and filter out non-educational content, thereby keeping students on-task and controlling costs. As part of the Kajeet solution, teachers and administrators receive reports with learning analytics to help improve student achievement.

About Kajeet®
Kajeet, the only wireless service provider dedicated to kids and education, is solving the digital divide in schools. Kajeet for Education provides portable Wi-Fi hotspots with school-managed intelligent mobile Internet connectivity. Giving teachers or administrators the ability to set access hours and filter out non-educational content, the Kajeet Sentinel® platform connects students to essential academic resources on the Internet anytime, anywhere. The Kajeet SmartSpot™ is compatible with all devices students use today and is 100 percent compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). For more information, please visit us at www.kajeet.com/education.



The SIF Association releases “SIF Simple”: An Open Blueprint for transporting the Common Education Data Standards for simple education application usage or entire data enterprise development

The SIF Community is continuing in its seventeen-year leadership role in developing the most comprehensive and open technical blueprints for educational data management, movement and usage for learning. “SIF Simple” consists of tools, technical support and effective practices within 3 focus areas:

Simple: Modern technology usage, like REST transport, and new freely accessible developer “Try It Out” tools enables two applications to securely share educational data in minutes reducing data entry time for school, district and government staff – even without middleware.

Secure: Ensuring that access to critical learning data is restricted solely to applications specifically authorized by the local ‘data steward’, whether the data is held locally, in the cloud, or in partnership with third party providers thereby reducing the risk to the organization. It also supports multiple authorization types and restricts which application gets what data.

Standard: Already in use by hundreds of applications, regardless of platform or vendor provider, the new SIF Implementation Specification (North America) 3.2 is the only standard that includes ALL of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) developed by the U.S. Department of Education. Data definitions are CEDS, SIF allows for CEDS transport and utilization. Other CEDS “aligned” data initiatives utilize part of CEDS for a product – that is not a standard.

“SIF Simple” is the culmination of thousands of hours of volunteer technical and policy work from schools, government entities and vendors. This SIF Implementation Specification (North America) 3.2 is made up of a globally utilized reference infrastructure and a North America specific data model focusing on supporting the CEDS initiative. The REST-based SIF Infrastructure Implementation Specification 3.0.1 allows the transport of various data models, including those from the other global SIF communities, as well as data from the numerous “alphabet soup” data initiatives that are populating the education landscape. In essence, education can now utilize a standardized “one wire with one plug”, not the never-ending proprietary API’s and “one off” connections!

“The improvements by SIF do more than just move data better”, touts Peter Tamayo, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Service for the Washington State Office of Superintendent. “They are being responsive to the needs of state and local education agencies by simplifying the technical environment and helping organizations see gains in productivity and efficiency of their staff and systems.”

The SIF Association supports the fluid movement of data between applications, with the goal of improving the quality and efficiency of learning, teaching, and communication. Technology needs to bring along people; meet their concerns; be simple, understandable, accessible; and non-proprietary. The Community is listening to these real world needs beyond SIF and has developed tools and approaches to let data custodians do their jobs.

Details of the SIF Simple components can be found on the SIF website (sifassociation.org) as well as the SIF Data Model Implementation Specification (North America) 3.2, containing all of CEDS 4.0 (sifassociation.org/Specification/Pages/NA_3-2.aspx)

About the SIF Association
The SIF Association is a unique, non-profit collaboration composed of over 3,200 schools, districts, local authorities, states, US and International Ministries of Education, software vendors and consultants who collectively define the rules and regulations for educational software data interoperability. The SIF Implementation Specification enables diverse applications to interact and share data efficiently, reliably, and securely regardless of the platform hosting those applications. The SIF Association has united these education technology end users and providers in an unprecedented effort to give teachers more time to do what they do best: teach. For further information, visit sifassociation.org