5 top tech tools of 2014

Graphite, from Common Sense Media, previews its Top Tools of 2014 list

tech-toolsSome of the year’s top ed-tech tools include a free slideshow creator, a reading tool with embedded assessments, and an adaptive math practice game. How many of 2014’s top tools have you used?

During an edWeb webinar, Ruth Okoye, a Common Sense Graphite Certified Educator, offered insight on five of the top ed-tech tools from Graphite, a free service from Common Sense Education that helps educators choose tools and resources for students.

Okoye also is the Communications Chair for the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Professional Learning Network and is a technology resource teacher for Portsmouth Public Schools in Virginia.

“The idea of finding apps is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack–there are lots and lots of them,” Okoye said.

1. Shadow Puppet is a free video slideshow creator for elementary school students. It’s available for iPad, iPhone, and iPad Touch.

“Digital storytelling is something a lot of people are doing,” Okoye said.

The app uses photos from a user’s camera roll to tell a story.

“The EDU version comes with a host of ideas and ways in which educators might be able to use the app,” she said. Students are able to search the Library of Congress, museums, and landmarks, which lets them use those pictures in a personal story or in a history project.

It’s also ideal for appsmashing–combining two apps in a project or lesson.

(Next page: Four more top apps and tools)


Transforming Math Education for a Digital Era

DiscoveryEdTechPOVA new digital textbook aims to improve conceptual understanding for lasting procedural fluency in math by focusing on real-world situations, using video and interactive games to engage students, and providing teachers with immediate feedback on student performance.


8 innovative ideas for the tech-strapped teacher

Slow internet? No devices? Here’s how to make the most of limited classroom tech for next to nothing

tech-strapped-teacherSchool districts in the United States spend billions of dollars each year to purchase technology for the classroom, yet the lack of technology and internet access in the nation’s public schools continues to be an issue. Often, a teacher who is faced with little technology in the classroom will feel overwhelmed and will resort to more traditional teaching methods.

This article outlines strategies for teachers to increase the impact of the technology to which they are limited. I have purposely left coordinated and intentional BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs out of this list. Even with the best-planned BYOD program, there will be students who do not have devices to bring.

These are strategies I have used in my experience in education, which began in a room with one computer and no projector, as well as strategies I have helped teachers to implement in my role as a professional development consultant and instructional coach. It’s important for teachers to focus not on what isn’t in their classroom but rather how they can use what they have.

(Next page: How to get free technology, free apps, and free money)


App of the Week: Tap into student creativity

tiny-creativityApp name: TinyTap

What is it? A free DIY app creation platform for making your own interactive games.

Best for: Students

Price: Free

Requirements: iOS 6.1 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up

•Educational games
•Interactive lessons and presentations
•Visual quizzes
•Music activities
•Illustrated stories
•Make anything interactive

Link: TinyTap


Mobile apps, gaming top students’ school wish lists

Classroom management software, e-learning solutions growing in popularity

school-surveyThree-quarters of schools in a recent survey say they currently use or plan to use e-learning software, and two-thirds of teachers and staff say they currently use or plan to use classroom management software.

Educators were surveyed for The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology study, from information technology trade association CompTIA.

“These tools facilitate online homework, accommodate students out for extended sick periods and make online collaboration between students and teachers easier,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA. “In many ways the education process is mirroring the way corporate America functions: remote access capabilities, teacher and student mobility and a 24/7 availability environment.”

Indeed, technology is pervasive in today’s classrooms and school administrative offices. Longstanding, traditional technologies – printers, scanners, desktop PCs and A/V equipment – have near universal usage rates. The high incidence of wireless network access in the classroom – 85 percent currently have it – suggests that mobile devices are fast becoming the preferred and primary computing tools for students and teachers alike.

(Next page: How students feel about gaming and mobile apps)


FCC approves $1.5B E-rate increase

Stakeholders rally in support of E-rate’s potential to expand 21st-century learning to students

E-rate-FCCThe Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 11 voted to increase funding to the federal E-rate program by $1.5 billion. The additional funding comes from a consumer telephone bill increase of $1.90 per year.

Ed-tech stakeholders have for years rallied behind the need to update the federal program, which helps schools and libraries receive discounts on broadband access and services.

The vote brings the annual program cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.

“Broadband is the greatest equalizer of our time, but this only holds true if everyone has access,” said Commissioner Mignon Clyburn in comments before the vote.

“Broadband and connected devices are changing every aspect of our lives,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “So many of our social spaces are now virtual. Plus the combined power of mobility and cloud computing means we can take content with us wherever we go. All this change does not simply stop at the school doors.”

(Next page: Educators react to the E-rate vote)