App of the Week: Browse the Earth’s visual history

If the Earth had a photo history, it might look like this…

earth-viewerName: EarthViewer

What is it? What did Earth’s continents and oceans look like 250 million years ago, or even 1 billion years ago? What do we know about the climate back when our planet formed?

EarthViewer is like a time machine for exploring Earth’s deep history. Based on the latest scientific research, it lets you scroll through the last 4.5 billion years with your fingertips. Follow a favorite landmark, be it Greenland or New York City, as its position shifts through time, or watch a famous fossil like Tiktaalik make an incredible journey from its origin to its current location. Layer your view of shifting continents with data on atmospheric composition, temperature, biodiversity, day length, and solar luminosity, to get a more complete view of our dynamic planet.

Best for: Students and teachers

Price: Free

Requirements: iPad and iOS 4 or later; Android 7″ and 10″ tablets


EarthViewer features include:

• Continental reconstructions and accompanying data dating back billions of years
• World temperature map for the last 100 years
• Ability to manipulate the globe and zoom to any location
• Locations of modern cities tracked back over 500 million years
• In-depth features on major geological and biological events in Earth history
• Clickable details on geologic eons, eras, and periods
• Automated play modes
• Extensive reference list
• Suggestions for classroom use
• Tutorial videos
Link: EarthViewer App for iOS and Android


7 ed-tech summer workshops worth exploring

Ed-tech summer seminars offer professional development and best practices from some of the brightest leaders in the nation


Looking for new ways to improve your ed-tech skills? Look no further.

For educators who may be seeking spring or summer professional development (PD) opportunities in subject areas, Common Core implementation, technology integration, and more, options are plentiful.

Check out the following summer PD opportunities located in New England, California, and Texas. Know of a great PD seminar that we missed?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below and follow the conversation on Twitter @eschoolnews.

(Next page: PD opportunities, seminars, and more)


How Minecraft can help with Common Core math

One educator created Mathcraft to transform his students’ math performance


As gaming gains steam and loses its stigma in the wake of educators who champion its engaging nature, more teachers are incorporating the strategy into their instruction.

One gaming strategy involves Minecraft, a sandbox game touted for its open-ended nature and ability to engage students through creative thinking and problem solving.

The gaming evolution has prompted one educator to create Mathcraft, a Common Core-focused math curriculum focused around Minecraft.

(Next page: Minecraft and math instruction)


7 online tools to improve students’ writing

Complete your writing assignments on time and impress your teachers with these helpful tools

writing-toolsSome students struggle to complete their writing assignments in school. Sometimes they experience a mental block or struggle to find inspiration.

Academic writing is indeed a difficult activity in school and not everyone is blessed with exceptional writing ability.

But no matter how stumped you are, you have to do your best to complete your academic requirement in order to pass the subject.

If you take your academic writing seriously, you have to establish an effective writing process. To assist in your writing dilemma, here are some of the best online tools at your disposal.

Drop Box

Cloud storage is popular because it offers availability, security, and convenience to its users. Drop Box is one of the best cloud storage applications in the market. A centralized storage system like Drop Box is very important not only to writers but to students as well. With Drop Box, students can easily access their files anywhere.

(Next page: More writing tools)


How web-based journalism reveals Common Core’s relevance

Real-world applications can help engage students in new Common Core challenges

journalism-ccssIn order to give students purpose to engage deeply in the Common Core, District 21 in Wheeling, Ill. has partnered with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a journalism organization, to bring real-world issues and a global perspective to students.

By framing the Out of Eden Walk and the Everyday Africa Project with problem-based, authentic learning units connected to the Common Core, students had the opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field, peers from around the globe, and their own communities to solve real-world problems.

The Out of Eden walk features Paul Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Pulitzer Center grantee, and National Geographic Fellow, who is walking around the world for seven years. Paul is walking the original path of human migration beginning in Ethiopia and ending at the southern tip of South America. The primary goal of the walk is to take a ‘slow approach’ to journalism, hearing and sharing the stories of those he meets along the way who wouldn’t normally have a voice in the media. A secondary goal of the walk is to reach students across the world and be a part of their learning experiences through his journey.

(Next page: How the projects impacted students and their learning)


12 STEM resources for all grades

These sites are intended to help students strengthen much-needed STEM skills

stem-resourcesIn classrooms across the nation, STEM education is hailed as one of the most important concepts for today’s students.

After all, STEM know-how, coupled with skills such as problem solving and strong communication, will help students compete with peers on a global level.

We’ve compiled a list of STEM websites for elementary, middle, and high school students. Each grade range features one science, one technology, one engineering, and one mathematics resource.

What are some of your favorite STEM resources? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Next page: 12 STEM resources)


Stopping the bully in your classroom

For schools and classroom teachers to combat bullying, they must understand what it entails and identify it in their hallways and classrooms


While bullying has long existed, it has only recently been recognized as a pervasive problem in schools across the nation.

According to recent studies, up to 30 percent of U.S. students in 6th through 10th grade are involved in moderate to frequent bullying either as bullies, victims, or witnesses/bystanders.

This means that nearly one in three children will be involved in bullying at some point in their education journey.

With an ever-increasing emphasis on academic outcomes, the link between student behavior and academic achievement can no longer be denied. If students are acting out, disturbing others, interrupting lessons, or suffering under fear, the learning environment is compromised.

Setting the tone for acceptable behavioral expectations and creating a positive culture for a school are critical for creating a successful learning environment.

Know how to identify bullying

In order for schools and classroom teachers to be able to combat bullying, they must be able to understand what it entails and know how to identify it in their hallways and classrooms. Generally, bullying can be defined as aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time, and occurs in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power or strength. Common types of bullying include physical, verbal, non-verbal (such as obscene gesturing, ostracizing), and cyber bullying.

(Next page: The tools and skills needed to end bullying)


Four steps to securing mobile content delivery

Students and staff expect 24-7 access to content and information from any device; here’s how to provide safe, secure access via mobile devices—whether they’re school-issued or part of a BYOD program


Understanding the differences between managing school-owned or “bring you own” devices is key.

Students, teachers, and administrators expect access to educational content and information from any device, at all hours of the day—and these demands place a huge burden on school IT staff. How can school leaders provide secure mobile access to content and information?

Answering this question was the focus of a recent eSchool News webinar sponsored by Symantec Corp.

Called “Enabling the Classrooms of Tomorrow,” the webinar featured advice on providing 24-7 access to content and information in a safe, secure way from Ben Orencia, education practice manager from Symantec; Matthew Peeples, president of Advanced MarketPlace Inc.; and Advanced MarketPlace’s Mark Robinson.

During the webinar, four key steps to securing mobile content emerged:

1. Mobile security starts with educating end users.

“From a PC perspective, we’re pretty savvy and cautious” about online security, Orencia noted—but when it comes to mobile security, most people are less cautious.

He showed some statistics to support this notion: While 90 percent of computer users delete suspicious eMails from people they don’t know, only 56 percent of mobile device users do this. Seventy-two percent of computer users have at least a basic antivirus solution installed, but only 33 percent of mobile device users do.

(Next page: Three more steps to securing mobile access to content and other resources)


Why a writing workshop framework works for young authors

Our goal is to develop independence in young authors

writing-workshop-authorsWe all have stories to tell. Regardless if our stories are told orally, through body language, or written composition, students need to feel ownership and validation in their work.

As a member of the National Writing Project and a national literacy consultant, it is my goal to share the importance of choice in student writing.

Writing workshop is a model that encourages students to self-select topics of interest while developing young writers as independent authors who write for an authentic purpose and audience.

As young authors, students (as young as pre-kindergarten) should be given the creative freedom to write about the stories they’re passionate about telling. It is our responsibility as educators to cultivate that passion through actively becoming interested in their stories and building relationships with our students so that we know precisely how to suggest key revision strategies to support each individual writer.

I often tell parents and fellow educators that it is not about the medium used to tell the story but rather the message being told. Stating this is important because I’m often asked about students with learning differences.  With the accessibility of assistive technology, students are now able to share their stories in a variety of mediums.

(Next page: Do you teach the writer or the writing?)


Why some teachers are choosing compensation over open source for lesson plans

It is no secret that many teachers believe they should be compensated more for the work they do

teachers-lesson-plansIn 2012, one kindergarten teacher defied the norm and earned more than $700,000 by selling her lesson plans online. This success story was just one of many stories involving K-12 teachers who received more than their yearly salary by selling their lesson plans in an online marketplace called Teachers Pay Teachers.

Two years later, there is a rising popularity with posting and using free, open-source material. Yet, Teachers Pay Teachers remains popular and is even expanding with more investors and members.

This begs the question: Why are some educators still choosing to pay for lesson plans?

Torrey Trust developed her own site, K-12 Tech Tools Database, to aggregate free, open-source materials for educators who wanted to use technology but didn’t know where to find resources.  “Two main obstacles to teacher learning are time and resources,” Trust said.

(Next page: Saving teachers time and money)