App of the Week: Create a chemical reaction

Students can create chemical reactions with an interactive app

app-chemicalName: ChemCrafter

What is it? ChemCrafter lets you build your own lab to run fun and creative experiments.

Best for: Science students

Price: Free

Requirements: iOS 6 or later

Features: Chemical reactions don’t just happen—you have to make them happen. As your strategy guides you through experiments with water, acids, and salts, you’ll create surprising color changes, encounter fire and smoke, release various gases, and shatter equipment as your achievements earn you an impressive set of trophy-room badges.

Use the Chem-o-convertor to measure energy released and gain points that unlock new experiments, equipment, and chemicals. Use your new supplies to craft more gases, liquids, and solids.

Link: iTunes 


7 key steps in creating an online learning program

Vanessa Wren, director instructional technology at Granville County Schools, shares seven tips for educators and administrators when preparing a district online learning program


Single district online programs are the largest and fastest-growing segment of online and blended learning. There were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in K-12 school districts in 2009-2010, almost all of which were online courses (Economics & Statistics, 2011).

Fueling the growth of district online learning programs are technology initiatives. School districts across the country continue to create technology enable learning environments by providing students and teachers with computing devices, often called one-to-one programs.

The expansion of technology in the hands of educators and learners has created an organic movement to online and blended learning. A natural progression to move content and leaning opportunities online once the technology infrastructure is in place to support anytime, anywhere learning. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that as of October 2010, more than 68 percent of households used broadband internet access service (a four percent increase from 2009), and over 77 percent of households had a computer (Economics & Statistics, 2011).

Digital subscriptions, teacher sharing sites, and free web applications encourage the creation of interactive online content. As a result, districts have organically moved into developing online learning programs. Equity, engagement, and problem solving are often addressed though online learning and digital initiatives.

School administrators understand that access to a locally managed online learning program provides flexibility in scheduling, increased access to courses, professional development and the ability to be student focused. One rural public school district embarked on this journey in 2010 and has learned several lessons.

(Next page: District online learning program lessons learned 1-3)


5 ways to teach kids about the Declaration of Independence

These apps, videos, and activities will teach your students about the country’s roots


Having sizzling burgers during the day and watching a lit-up sky at night seem to be hallmarks of celebrating the Fourth of July.

But if that’s all our students think of on Independence Day, they are missing a huge part of the U.S. experience.

Here’s how you can take advantage of the perfect moment to give kids a little history lesson with these resources.

Because they’re all interactive, you can still enjoy your summer break while students learn a little about the nation’s founding.

1.     Apples4theTeacher

This educational resource for teachers has an entire page dedicated to Fourth of July activities and games for kids. It even includes delicious recipes like “Booming Firecracker Cupcakes.”

2.      Washington D.C. App by Kids Discover

With this app, kids can get a virtual tour of Washington, D.C., as well as learn about the monuments, take quizzes, and play games. There’s a separate section for students to learn about the Declaration of Independence titled, “Of the People, By the People, For the People.”

(Next page: List 3-5)


What’s APPening: 100 apps for education

Need an app? You don’t have to look far

app-100There really IS an app for that, whatever “that” may be.

Need help taking notes or staying organized? Do you want an on-demand guide to coding and computer programming? Whether you want a resource for reference, early learning, math, science–the list goes on and on.

Straight from Microsoft comes a list of 100 apps, with information on age and grade levels, price, categories, and descriptions.

(Next page: 100 apps for education)


4 Web 2.0 tools that keep students engaged

Jamie McWilliams, a graduate candidate at Nicholls State University, shares four Web 2.0 programs to enhance the classroom

student-web-programsThe world we live in is evolving at an astounding rate. Smartphones, digital tablets, and computers give us instant access to an unimaginable amount of information.

We are able to communicate and share information with people around the world we wouldn’t have met otherwise. Now this technology is being integrated into our school systems in ways that allow for active engagement across the curriculum. One way to effectively integrate technology with your students is through Web 2.0 tools, internet pages and programs that are interactive unlike the static pages of the past.

Here are some of my favorite Web 2.0 programs you can use with your students to spice up your classroom.

1.  Weebly
This program allows you to create your own websites or blogs easily without having to spend any money. There are many different themes to choose from to get you started. No need to worry anymore about complicated codes. All you have to do is drag elements such as text, images, maps, documents, surveys, or forums onto your desired page before typing or uploading images.

The forum element can be utilized by parents to ask questions without flooding the teacher’s inbox or the teacher can post announcements and reminders about the week’s events. This can be a great way to keep your students and parents engaged, informed, and active outside of the classroom.

(Next page: Web resources 2-4)


What will the classroom and curriculum of the future look like?

One educator highlights future classrooms and curriculum during ISTE 2014

classroom-curriculumIt’s an interesting question: What will something look like or be able to do 5, 10, or 20 years down the road? Classrooms and curriculum are no different. With education stakeholders calling for reform and a stronger focus on measuring 21st-century skills, classrooms and curriculum must change.

During an ISTE 2014 session, Douglas Kiang, a computer science educator in Hawaii and instructor for EdTechTeacher, sought to identify some of education’s future hallmarks, which, he said, are starting to appear in classrooms today.

One of the most important things to remember is that today’s kids “are part of the Maker generation, the do-it-yourself (DIY) generation, and this is really driving informal learning,” Kiang said.

(Next page: What will classrooms and curriculum look like?)


Design Common Core assessments–for free

New tool lets teachers design assessments required by Common Core State Standards

assessments-CCSSOpenEd, a K-12 educational resource catalog, is offering a free tool designed to enable teachers to easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standards.

OpenEd’s assessment creation tool enables educators to create tests incorporating their own questions, or existing questions automatically suggested by OpenEd’s unique educational recommendation engine. The assessment tool supports traditional question types such as Multiple Choice and True or False as well as newer types such as Multiple Response, Free Response and Composite Items.

OpenEd’s assessment creation tool also allows teachers to associate resources to individual questions. Should a student miss a question on an assessment, OpenEd automatically recommends resources such as videos or games they can review to achieve mastery.

“When we added assessments to our library, we found that there wasn’t a wealth of free, quality content. Since formative assessments are such an important tool, we asked our teacher community what they used for creating them. The answers we heard varied from Google Forms to Hot Potatoes to handwritten worksheets,” said Adam Blum, CEO and co-founder, OpenEd.

“But none of the currently available free tools supported the types of questions required by the Common Core. So we decided to create one and make it free and open source. And our recommended resources functionality finally makes it practical for teachers to personalize content for each student based on the results of formative assessments.”

With the large catalog of standard-aligned videos and games–all curated by educators–OpenEd provides teachers and parents with a free, simple tool to find videos, games and assessments that enliven lesson plans and aid students in class or at home. OpenEd provides teachers with powerful content to refresh their lesson plans, blend media content into classroom lectures and aid students with their work in class or at home.

To visit OpenEd go to

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool:

  • Free and Open Source
  • Intuitive interface allows educators to quickly create quality assessments
  • Supports IMS QTI import
  • Unique recommendation engine auto-suggests questions based on standards and other metadata
  • Allows educators to attach supplemental videos or games to questions
  • Recommends content for intervention for students’ weak points based on assessment results

What school leaders need to know about 9-1-1 operations

9-1-1 is a critical component of an effective active shooter response plan


Beyond understanding the need to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, many people are not familiar with how emergency dispatch works. Unfortunately, this is also true for many school administrators who are tasked with evaluating and implementing technologies and procedures for use in active shooter scenarios.

It is strongly encouraged that school administrators work closely with their local law enforcement agency and 9-1-1 center to develop a solution that works best for their specific situation. With this in mind, the following are a few key points to consider.

In the United States, 9-1-1 calls are routed based on the caller’s location to one of approximately 6,400 public safety answering points (PSAPs). Depending on a school’s locality, 9-1-1 calls from different facilities in a district may go to one or more different PSAPs. Those calls are answered by professionals trained to quickly analyze the situation and dispatch the correct resources to the correct location.

The 9-1-1 call-taker /dispatcher answering the call has access to all of the different responders in the area (law enforcement, fire and EMS) via radio and other communication tools. Many centers also have tracking systems which allow the dispatcher to see locations and statuses of all those responders in real time.

Most don’t realize that within seconds of receiving a call for help, and while still asking questions of the caller to better ascertain the situation, the dispatcher is already directing the necessary resources to the scene of the incident and engaging others are needed. It is important to understand that 9-1-1 is effectively “incident command” for the length of most active shooter scenarios (the average lasting less than 12 minutes). 9-1-1 is skillfully coordinating the response as units arrive on scene, assess the situation, report back and request additional resources.

(Next page: Three important considerations for school safety)


5 critical iPad mistakes to avoid

Here are five reasons why school iPad initiatives tend to stall

ETT-iPadTablets, including iPads, are all the rage in today’s classrooms. But how many iPad initiatives fail due to common mistakes that could be avoided with proper planning?

During a jam-packed ISTE 2014 session, EdTechTeacher director and co-founder Tom Daccord gave an overview of what he said are five common mistakes schools across the country seem to make when it comes to iPad implementations.

“It struck me that there were ways in which schools were making common mistakes with iPads,” Daccord said.

Part of what contributes to those mistakes is the fact that many administrators believe the iPad by itself will fix any and all problems. But that isn’t so. An iPad for an iPad’s sake will not work.

(Next page: The five critical iPad mistakes you should avoid)


Preparing the K-12 network infrastructure for common core and online assessments

We are confident that we will be able to give our students an exceptional educational experience in common core and online learning

common-core-online-learningLike many school districts across the United States, the Oyster River Cooperative School District (ORCSD) in New Hampshire is making the move to Common Core. As part of this move, we are implementing changes not just in lesson plans and classroom activities, but also in our network infrastructure.

As we started transitioning to a version of the Common Core State Standards called the New Hampshire College and Career Ready Standards, it became clear that our previous network infrastructure lacked the capabilities and capacity necessary to support the wireless devices that Common Core’s curriculum and assessments require.

Prior to Common Core, ORCSD was providing wireless devices to classrooms, but not at a 1:1 student-to-device ratio. With tight budgets, implementing a full one-to-one program via district-owned devices was cost-prohibitive in the short term.

However, we noticed the increasing number of devices that our students were bringing to school, and we viewed it as an opportunity to supplement the district-owned devices already deployed in the classrooms to expand our students’ access to the network and the valuable educational resources that reside on it. Rather than block students’ personal devices, we embraced them, and put them to work helping our students and teachers move toward the Common Core.

(Next page: How to implement this BYOD initiative)