Top 10 of 2014, No. 3: The emergence of teacher leaders

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and the emergence of the teacher leader is No. 3

teacher-leaderEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 3 on our list for 2014 is the teacher leader’s new role.

School leadership is expanding, and some of today’s most celebrated local, district, and state leaders say that a school’s success depends on strong teacher leadership.

When teachers feel supported and empowered, their instructional practices can change for the better, and this has a direct impact on student engagement and achievement.

(Next page: How teacher leaders took charge in 2014)

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Let’s talk tech: Yes, students need computers

Computers are more important than ever in today’s schools and workforce

computers-classroomComputer Science Week ended not long ago, but the whole month has felt tech-centric.

I’ve covered kids learning computer coding, talked to teens competing in cybersecurity and watched school board members try out Google apps. I’ve also scanned agenda after agenda discussing internet connection upgrades, administrative software and class sets of laptops.

There is a tech-tonic shift happening, pardon the pun, from the inkwell world where classrooms got their start. Encyclopedias to Googling. Wide-ruled binder paper to spreadsheets. Pencils to styluses.

More than the classic No. 2s have their futures on the line here. Whole industries have sprung up to help the massive education market spend its billions in new and exciting ways. A host of less-than-glamorous needs also will cost a pretty penny.

(Next page: How computers and classroom technology help prep students for success)

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Top 10 of 2014, No. 4: The Maker Movement

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and the Maker Movement learning is No. 4

maker-movementEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 4 on our list for 2014 is the Maker Movement.

The Maker Movement and maker spaces are popping up in classrooms, labs, and libraries across the country.

In these spaces, students are encouraged to explore ideas and concepts with tools such as 3D printers, design software, and more. This hands-on approach supports the “learn by doing” concept, and also helps generate student interest in STEM.

(Next page: The Maker Movement makes headlines)

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Competition essential to solving U.S. STEM gap

Reform, not funding, key to engaging students in STEM

STEM-reportDeveloping a rigorous vetting process for talented teachers and opening up school choice options are paramount to engaging students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), according to a new report by National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Research Fellow Lloyd Bentsen IV.

“It’s important to remember that real education reforms are necessary to effectively engage our students in the education process,” says Bentsen. “Finding and retaining more talented teachers and allowing students to choose the school that makes them the most comfortable are both key to engaging students in difficult subjects like STEM-related education.”

“There is a growing shortage of STEM-skilled workers, but many STEM graduates are not working in STEM fields. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and other data, total STEM employment in 2012 was 5.3 million (immigrant and native), while there are over 12.1 million STEM degree holders (immigrant and native). Only one-third of employed native-born Americans with an undergraduate STEM degree actually work in a STEM occupation,” according to the report.

(Next page: Key recommendations in the report)

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Top 10 of 2014, No. 5: Common Core and online assessments

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and the Common Core and online assessments are No. 5

Common-CoreEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 5 on our list for 2014? Common Core and online assessments.

States are inching closer to the deadline for implementing online assessments tied to the Common Core State Standards.

As some states work through early implementation, many wonder if they’ll have enough devices, bandwidth, manpower, and funding to meet the demands of online assessments.

At the same time, some states are reevaluating—or outright ending—their participation with the Common Core.

(Next page: The reality of Common Core assessments)

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Wake County schools want to abolish state A-F grading system

Proposal would rid state schools of grading system

grading-systemWake County school leaders want the General Assembly to abolish a new program that will give every public school in the state an A through F grade based on students’ performance on exams.

Republican legislative leaders have said the new grading system will help parents know how their children’s schools are doing, while school board members say no school can be evaluated on a single grade. The new system’s elimination was among items a school board committee recommended Monday for state lawmakers’ consideration when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

“You always hope that your voice will be heard on different matters,” said school board member Keith Sutton, chair of the government relations committee. “We always want to take advantage of the opportunity to speak out on particular issues.”

The full board is scheduled to discuss and vote Tuesday on the legislative agenda.

(Next page: How the new grades are structured)

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App of the Week: Doodle with math

math-appApp name: Doodle Critter Math Shapes

What is it? Interact and play with basic shapes such as ‘triangle, rectangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, and circle’! Various motivational activities will inspire your children to learn more about shapes.

Best for: Students ages 5 and younger

Price: $2.99

Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

Features: There are six creative ways to play with Doodle Critter Math
1. Learn Shapes
Draw different shapes by touching each critter.
Kids can understand the basic concepts of shapes and learn their names while drawling lines between points.

2. Sort out Shapes
Look at each shape and group all the matching pairs.
It allows kids to compare each shape and find out how these shapes look different.

3. Match the Pairs
Match shapes to the real world objects like sandwiches and clocks.
Kids learn that our everyday objects all have shapes and develop their sense of curiosity.

4. Remember Shapes
Carefully look at each shape and remember how they look before they hide inside the box.
It encourages kids to identify and remember each shape.

5. Make Different Shapes
Put all the puzzle pieces together to make different animals and vehicles.
Learn how these shapes are combined to make new things.

6. Find Shapes
Find all the hidden shape in the fable.
You will be surprised to know that your kids can find all these complicated shapes in each scene.

Link: iOS 

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Top 10 of 2014, No. 6: STEM

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and STEM is No. 6

STEM-2013Each year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 6 on our list for 2014 is STEM.

STEM education has been a mainstay among educators who want to ensure students are building skills that will be in demand in the globalized workforce they will someday inherit.

Part of the challenge in attracting students to STEM lies in making the topics appealing and engaging.Often, that means eliciting students’ interest in early years before they hit middle school and decide that math, science, engineering, and other tech-related fields are boring or too difficult. And recently we’ve seen a push to encourage more girls and minority students to pursue these fields.

(Next page: Efforts to boost STEM learning)

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Top 10 of 2014, No. 7: Flipped learning and blended learning

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and flipped learning and blended learning are No. 7

blended-flippedEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed -ech conversations. No. 7 on our list for 2014 is flipped learning and blended learning.

Flipped learning—where students watch lectures at home or after school hours and engage in hands-on more constructive tasks during the school day—and blended learning—which mixes online and face-to-face instruction—have certainly moved beyond buzzwords this year.

These two instructional models differ widely, but both frequently make use of students’ personal technology—from smartphones to laptops—and can help a variety of students with different learning preferences.

(Next page: Flipped and blended learning in action)

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