New tool tracks state educator prep programs

Dashboard uses SAS software to track teacher, school leader impact; tool monitors quality and quantity of public school educators

unc-educatorThe University of North Carolina system’s new Educator Quality Dashboard provides public access to the university’s research and trend data on the performance of North Carolina’s public school educators.

Built with SAS data visualization software, the interactive online tool enables citizens to analyze and display data on the UNC system’s efforts to prepare more and higher-quality teachers and school leaders for the state’s public schools.

Creating an Educator Quality Dashboard for educational institutions, policymakers and the public was a key recommendation of the UNC Board of Governors Subcommittee on Teacher and School Leader Quality. The result is a way to monitor, track and assess the performance of the UNC system and its 15 nationally accredited teacher education programs. The dashboard uses SAS Visual Analytics to display multiple years of data collected for the university’s educator quality research efforts.

Next page: What users can do with the dashboard data


Why maker technology is crucial for students with learning difficulties

3D printing and hands-on learning opens up new worlds to some students

difficulties-stemI had always been good at building or “making” with my hands. Whether it was helping my dad with repairs around the house or building model airplanes, I found tremendous focus and inspiration with these types of projects.

The classroom was another matter. Throughout my time in school, I struggled greatly with traditional learning methods. My teachers quickly became frustrated with my lack of enthusiasm and focus on my work. Most assumed I was unintelligent or lazy. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of sixteen that things began to change.

Like myself, other students with learning difficulties—from dysgraphia (a difficulty with writing, mainly in spelling) and attention disorders like ADD and ADHD—respond well to visual or tactile learning and activities that allow physical participation, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And these learning impediments are not as uncommon as you might imagine. In the US alone, approximately eight percent of children were identified by a health professional as having a learning disorder, according to a 2014 study. As these types of difficulties become more recognized every day, the importance of adjusting teaching methods has started to increase accordingly.

Depending on the effect of the disorder itself, some students struggle with focus, others with reading and writing skills, all of which are fundamental to a typical classroom setting. In order to garner the same results in the classroom between students with learning difficulties and standard learners, various schools have adopted alternative teaching methods, primarily utilizing technology. Not only is technology promoting successful results for students with learning disorders, but it is also spurring additional interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Next page: Inspiring STEM careers with technology


Can blending tech into data collection deepen interest in STEM?

PASCO white paper examines a tech-enabled, inquiry-based approach to teaching science

STEM-scienceResearch shows a growing global demand for qualified science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions.

But many schools struggle with how to deepen students’ understanding of scientific concepts, while engaging and inspiring them to learn more.

To help educators provide students with the scientific literacy and hands-on experience needed for college and STEM careers, PASCO Scientific commissioned a white paper to review the research and expert opinion related to high-quality, engaging science instruction.

Titled “Meeting the World’s Needs for 21st Century Science Instruction,” the paper examines the worldwide need for more qualified scientists, medical professionals, engineers and technologists, and the call for students to be more scientifically literate and experienced with science tools and practices.

It further explores the positive impact that hands-on, inquiry-based instruction and technology tools have on increasing students’ understanding, as well as their motivation and interest in science.

“Technology by itself doesn’t create scientific understanding. However, the research is clear that when technology is used in an inquiry context and fully integrated into the curriculum, students’ mastery of subject matter and scientific reasoning improve considerably,” said Steven Korte, CEO of PASCO Scientific. “We hope this white paper will edify readers as to the need for changes in our approach to science education, while shedding light on current best practices for hands-on, inquiry-based science. To further support these changes, this paper also provides sample investigations for students, as well as examples of how teachers and students around the world are using technology tools to collect, analyze and visualize data in scientific explorations of real-world issues.”

The white paper can be found at

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Mimio unveils MimioMobile for browsers

Company also gives educators first public demos of the touch-enabled MimioProjector 280T

mimio-isteIn an effort to expand teachers’ ability to create unsurpassed collaborative learning environments, Mimio has launched two major updates to its MimioClassroom family of interactive teaching technologies: the MimioProjector 280T touch projector, and expanded device compatibility for the MimioMobile application.

MimioMobile’s expanded compatibility

The MimioMobile app will now be compatible with any device with a supported web browser, so educators and students can access and use the application’s assessment and collaboration features from nearly any device, including Chromebooks and Windows surface tablets.

“Our newest version of the MimioMobile application makes real-time collaborative learning and ongoing formative assessment easier than ever to implement,” said Christopher Leonardo, Director of Research and Development at Mimio.

The app allows for an easy transition from full-classroom instruction to small-group learning, and it enables teachers to develop assessments with short-answer, short-essay, numeric, and multiple-choice student responses.

These features support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that call for creating a stronger collaborative learning environment for students, while providing teachers with an in-depth understanding of their students’ progress and comprehension.

MimioProjector 280T

Mimio will also be conducting its first public demonstration of the MimioProjector 280T touch projector at ISTE 2015. This exhibition will give attendees an in-depth look at the projector’s interactive touch capabilities.

The MimioProjector 280T is a touch-enabled projector that turns conventional dry erase boards into touch boards. The 280T provides one of the largest interactive areas available today – as large as 100 inches diagonal – and it allows up to 10 students to work together simultaneously.

Users can work directly with their fingers or with the included styli. The 280T technology utilizes Mimio’s easy to set up Laser Curtain module, which is powered directly from the projector. The MimioProjector 280T is a full-featured solution that includes MimioStudio classroom software for lesson creation, assessment, and collaboration.

“At Mimio, our objective is to anticipate what technology-driven resources educators need to actively engage their students and increase learning,” Leonardo noted. “Our goal is to help educators create the type of learning environments that meet their needs, today and into the future.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Apperson align social-emotional assessment to Open Circle curriculum

Alignment empowers educators to foster and assess students’ social and emotional development

apperson-assessmentAs part of its commitment to educating the whole child through academic and social-emotional learning (SEL), Apperson Inc., a K-12 provider of assessment tools and software solutions that are designed to assess performance and measure success in students while streamlining workflow for educators, has partnered with Open Circle, a provider of evidence-based curriculum and professional development for social and emotional learning in elementary schools.

Through the partnership, Apperson will align the skills from its Evo Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) assessment with skills and practices from the Open Circle Curriculum.

This will allow educators to measure and track outcomes from implementing Open Circle programming, as well as refine and target Open Circle instruction based on identified student strengths and needs.

Next page: How an assessment solution could help educators better connect with students


How well is your state teaching the whole child?

Updated ASCD data highlights whole child progress, initiatives nationwide

whole-childASCD has released updated Whole Child Snapshots for each of the 50 U.S. states to display the progress the nation has made in supporting the whole child as well as the areas where negative trends have continued.

The snapshots encompass various stages of a child’s development, from prekindergarten through postsecondary education; provide a picture of child success and well-being that extends beyond academic performance; and reflect the collaboration and shared responsibility of families, schools, communities, and policymakers in supporting the whole child.

The snapshots do not rank or grade states but instead provide data points aligned with each of the five whole child tenets―which contend that each student must be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged―so that each state can measure its individual progress and compare its successes and challenges to the other states and to the nation as a whole.

Next page: A look at whole child data from across the nation


Flipped learning is changing the face of special ed

Flipped learning and one-to-one are a powerful combo for some populations

flipped-special-edAt E.L. Haynes High School in Washington, D.C., 44 percent of students are English language learners, have special needs, or both. Yet all of the students in this urban charter school’s first graduating class have been accepted into college, said Principal Caroline Hill—and she attributed this success to a personalized, self-paced approach made possible by technology.

E.L. Haynes has a one-to-one laptop program, and students also can bring their own devices to school. Using a flipped learning approach, teachers record their lessons and post them online, so students can watch the content over and over again until they understand—and class time is used to provide more personalized support.

If schools are to meet the learning needs of every student, including those with disabilities, then “we have to think differently about how we provide instruction,” Hill said.

Hill was speaking at a June 17 briefing on Capitol Hill that focused on the intersection of technology and special education. During the event, which was hosted by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training, Hill and other educators described how technology is empowering students with disabilities to achieve at high levels.

About 2.5 million children in the U.S. have some kind of learning disability, said Kim Hines, associate director for the National Center for Learning Disabilities. For these children, “technology has been a game changer,” she said, “and for some, it’s been life-changing. … We now know what kids are able to do, and not just what they are unable to do.”

Next page: Tech reduces anxiety


Pearson reaches 1 million subtest milestone for psychology test tool

Cleveland Metropolitan School District psychologists target an increase in student engagement, time and cost savings with Q-interactive

q-interactivePearson announced that more than 1 million clinical assessment subtests have been administered on Q-interactive, a digital system used by psychologists and speech-language pathologists.

Designed for use in schools, clinics, hospitals, private practice and universities, Q-interactive allows clinicians to administer tests via two iPads connected with Bluetooth.

Q-interactive is intended to improve accuracy, reduce testing time, increase flexibility and allow for more personalized assessment through features including real-time scoring, audio recording, and on-the-fly editing of tests.

Next page: How an Ohio district is using Q-interactive


App of the Week: Seashores to Sea Floors – The Ocean Biome

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? A comprehensive digital textbook with six options on the home page: Read, Map, Media, Tests, Settings, and Credits. When kids tap Read, they gain access to the reading pane where text appears on the left side of the screen. After creating a digital bookmark that tracks reading progress, kids swipe to read text. As various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the reading pane, supporting media appear on the right. Kids can tap blue keywords to trigger the visual support and red keywords to see and hear vocabulary definitions. Kids can also highlight text and create notes as they read.

Price: $14.99

Grades: 1-8

Pros: Thorough content coverage, different reading level options, and interactive components engage kids of varying abilities.

Cons: The price is a little on the high end, and kids don’t get immediate feedback on tests.

Bottom line: The steep price tag aside, this is a fantastic digital resource that can be adapted to a range of learning styles and abilities.