#8: 10 TED-Ed videos your students can use today

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on November 1st of this year, was our #8 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues tomorrow with #7, so be sure to check back!]

More often than not, students pick up a mobile device or use a computer to access videos and digital media online. With a wealth of resources online, educators can find content that meets students where they’re comfortable learning, with interactive and engaging presentation.

TED Talks have grown in popularity in part for their inspiring and frank perspectives on any number of world issues, and educators can leverage these resources for learning.

Educators can build lessons around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or YouTube video through Ted-Ed. Once they locate the video they wish to use, they next use the TED-Ed Lesson editor to add questions, discussion prompts and additional resources. When the lesson is published, educators can monitor their progress and submitted work.

TED-Ed’s public lessons library offers customizable existing lessons for educators to use, as well.

(Next page: 10 TED-Ed lessons for students)


#10: What does a flipped classroom look like at each grade level?

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on September 26th of this year, was our #10 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues tomorrow with #9, so be sure to check back!]

Although the term “flipped learning” is almost universally recognized, teachers apply it in many forms, in all grades levels, and in various school environments. If you are a teacher using flipped learning, the chances are that you share some similarities with other teachers who flip—as well as some differences. However, the major commonality among all flipped learning teachers is that every one of them is creating personal learning experiences for each student.

We asked three flipped teachers — one from an elementary school, one from a junior high, and one from a high school — to describe what learning looks like in their world.

Beth Hobbs, third-grade teacher
Burkett Elementary, Pennsylvania

“Over the past few years, I have transformed my traditional classroom into a student-centered classroom. Through flipped learning, my students are able to complete weekly reading assignments and tasks at home to extend their learning beyond our regular curriculum.

Depending on the student’s role within each task, students question each other, share an interesting part of a reading passage, provide a summary, define new words, and connect the reading to their experiences or similar stories. Students become excited to meet and discuss their novels.

Before I moved to a flipped classroom, it would take weeks to read a novel together in class, and the discussion was led and influenced greatly by what I said. By completing the assignments at home, the students are able to form their own opinions and even challenge their classmates to look at the book through different perspectives.

With the help of exciting apps such as Chatterpix, iMovie, Adobe Voice, Touchcast, and ClassFlow, students can showcase their mastery of learning through a fun outlet. Without flipped learning, it would not be possible for me to integrate the use of such engaging apps within the classroom. Flipped learning has allowed me to go outside my comfort zone and put the learning into my student’s hands.”

(Next page: More flipped classroom examples)


App of the Week: A gorgeous cooperative journey

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is tough to review. It is a relatively easy and enjoyable-to-play adventure game that has a novel control scheme. The story, however, focuses on heavy themes of family bonds and perseverance after grief and tragedy, and it lingers long after the player is done playing. Spoiler alert: The game does not end happily ever after. That said, there’s good reason why this game has been extremely well-received among the gaming press.

Price: Game for PS3, Xbox 360

Grades: 7-12

Rating: 4/5

Pros: The control scheme is brilliantly mirrored to the game’s message.

Cons: Its mature themes can be depressing, and sometimes it’s hard to suspend disbelief for some puzzles.

Bottom line: With good support, an extremely powerful game to build empathy.


Things might be looking up for online language learning

A recent report notes that a decline in U.S. foreign language learning could have negative impacts on the U.S. workforce, but new forecasts indicate the demand for online language learning tools could increase thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices.

Technavio analysts forecast the online language learning market in the U.S. to grow by almost 9 percent during the 2017-2021 forecast period, according to the firm’s latest report.

The research study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the online language learning market in the U.S. for 2017-2021. To calculate the market size, Technavio analysts consider the revenue generated from the sales of foreign language learning products and services provided by online language learning providers.

The widespread penetration of smartphones and mobile devices and increased internet accessibility have boosted the online education system. This has led to the evolution of mobile learning, and consequently, many foreign language learning mobile apps are developed to provide online language courses to end-users.

All these fundamental developments in schools and colleges are encouraging language learning companies to invest in software, which can provide language learning solutions to diverse student population base in the U.S.

Next page: Four factors contributing to the growth of online language learning


8 teacher-loved edtech tools to try in 2017

Want to be an innovative teacher? There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of apps and online edtech tools for that! But which ones have the most potential for the New Year? Probably the ones that have already seen success in a number of schools and districts across the country.

Information technology has already changed the way education is provided and it continues to make even more impact with new apps that are designed every week. To help you get a little bit more innovative in the coming academic year, here is a list of proven-effective edtech tools that may be highly useful in the classroom. Explore and enjoy!

For Online Courses/Blended Learning

1. Coursera

Everyone who took at least one online course on this platform knows how great it is. If you have not had this opportunity, then it is a great reason to try it, especially if you want to take education to the next level. Coursera is known to work with both K-12 and higher education institutions and provide them with access to online courses. They use the latest available knowledge to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of education, which showcases the professionalism of the company. After completion of the courses, all participants have the opportunity to receive certificates. For K-12 teachers, the platform also has many learning opportunities; for example, check out this course on integrating technology in the K-12 classroom that starts this month.

2. iTunes University

Have you ever downloaded an online lecture from iTunes? Well, Apple took its education effort to a new level by creating this tool, which is essentially a vast library of free educational resources. It has a lot of resources for students, including books, videos, lectures, flashcards, and other materials. All K-12 teachers and students with Apple devices can use it, enabling educators to create custom courses and assign particular materials for learning. Students will have an opportunity to engage in individualized lessons, which is also important.

Interactive Information Providers

3. Wolfram Alpha

This tool could replace Google in K-12 classroom. It works just like the well-known search engine and can provide information about specific inquiries related to learning subjects. For example, when “Abraham Lincoln” is typed in this engine, basic information, images, leadership position (with dates!), timelines, notable facts, physical characteristics, family relationships, associated historical sites, and more is retrieved. As a result, a lesson on Abraham Lincoln could easily be constructed, as well as visual presentations and reports. More educational uses are described on the official portal here. Wolfram Alpha is also a serious tool used by higher education institutions and businesses. For example, its research capabilities are used by social media researchers, book researchers, business researchers, and ordinary users who need to know the weather.

4. Google Knowledge Graph

This edtech tool is another way to get information to prepare teaching materials. It includes short, accurate answers revealed after Google-ing something; so instead of looking through numerous websites, the user may get the answers for queries more easily. As the result, K-12 educators can search for materials more quickly than by using Google, which can be beneficial for time management in lesson creation. The platform is user-friendly and can also help teach educators skills needed for internet research, which is essential for digital literacy nowadays.

(Next page: Edtech tools 5-8)


Are librarians the key to a Future Ready school?

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology, librarians are at the forefront of helping schools become future ready. However, too often librarians are left out of the planning process for infrastructure and devices, professional learning for teachers, and digital content strategies—areas where they often have expertise.

The Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) launched its Future Ready Schools (FRS) initiative in October 2014 with the aim of leveraging technology and connectivity to personalize and transform learning. In June 2016, the Alliance, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, expanded FRS to position school librarians as leaders in this effort.

Michelle Luhtala, department chair of the New Canaan, CT, High School Library and a 2015 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, is a leader in helping teacher-librarians all around the country to become Future Ready.  She kicked off Season 6 of the Emerging Tech series of webinars on edWeb.net October 19th with a live broadcast from New Canaan High School on the topic of “Future Ready Librarians.” Her guests for this online discussion were Mark Ray, Chief Digital Officer for Vancouver Public Schools and Sara Trettin, Open Education and Digital Engagement Lead, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education. The broadcast was attended by 450 librarians and educators for an informative and engaging discussion with the whole audience.

Watch: Changing the conversation about librarians

Future Ready Goals=Librarian Goals

The Future Ready movement grew out of the Connect Ed initiative launched by President Obama in 2013 with several goals: to connect 99 percent of students in schools to broadband, and to address the need for more professional learning and leadership to ensure the effective use of technology. In 2014 a Future Ready Pledge was launched as a commitment on the part of superintendents to provide the necessary infrastructure and devices, to support professional learning for teachers, and to provide high quality digital content.

However, Future Ready is focused on collaborative leadership, not just the superintendent.  The Future Ready Framework published on the website futureready.org is designed to help many people who are looking to make change concurrently. Future Ready has developed a common set of information, tools, and assessment, that are all available for free.

Luhtala commented that New Canaan High School went BYOD just this year as part of their personalized learning initiative, and it’s helping teachers empower their students to develop their own interests and learning plans with more flexible learning environments, extending learning outside the classroom, and collecting data to inform instruction so that it is truly reflective of each learners ability.

Trettin mentioned the 2016 National Education Technology Plan that is updated every five years and relates very closely to these initiatives. She said that some schools are reading the Plan as a kind of book club for their professional learning communities, reading one chapter at a time.

(Next page: Why librarians can help become future ready)


Um…so what do teachers do now after the Hour of Code?

Yearly one-day events meant to promote critical subject areas not taught within traditional curriculum, like computer science and coding, are great for awareness. But outside of these specific days, how can teachers continue seamlessly integration of the concepts learned? What resources are available outside of those provided by the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek)? And are these resources good for teachers not well-versed in coding?

These are the main questions experts answered during edWeb.net’s celebration of CSEdWeek (December 5-11), an annual initiative that aims to inspire K-12 students to take interest in computer science. During this annual program, schools around the world host their own Hour of CodeTM. Organized by Code.org, Hour of Code is a one-hour basic introduction designed to celebrate and expand participation in computer science.

This year, two of edWeb.net’s professional learning communities (PLC) presented webinars that highlighted not only the importance of coding and computer science in education, but what educators can do after this special week to continue teaching computer science and coding in their classroom.

Beyond the Hour of Code: Implementation for All

Because coding helps students develop the 4 Cs of 21st century learning (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking/problem solving), helps them with learning to learn (or recognizing that they can learn on their own) and helps develop a mentality of a 21st century world, experts recommend teaching coding throughout the year, and not just one day or week per year.

The Coding & Robotics K-8 PLC, sponsored by Wonder Workshop, hosted the webinar, “Beyond the Hour of Code: Implementation for All,” on December 6th. Bryan Miller, educator community manager at Wonder Workshop, and Kiki Prottsman, curriculum development manager at Code.org®, presented on how to continue coding in the classroom after holding an Hour of Code.

Throughout the webinar, they addressed issues often encountered by schools including:

  • why coding should be taught in schools and what students learn through coding
  • struggles teachers face after completing an Hour of Code
  • how to fit coding into a typical school day
  • resources and funding available for schools to continue to teach coding

“In the year 2020 we’ll have 1.4 million jobs that will be available in the area of coding and computer science…yet only .4 million students are actually being prepared for that,” said Miller, stating a statistic from Code.org. Thankfully, said Miller, it is now easier than ever to integrate coding into the classroom with curricula like those on Code.org, and learning tools like Wonder Workshop’s robots Dot and Dash.

(Next page: First steps and resources for after the Hour of Code)


7 things Gen Z students say about educational technology

Student-teacher interaction is one of the most important things when creating a positive and effective classroom environment–in fact, it ranked higher than educational technology use, according to both teachers and students in a new survey.

The survey from online learning service provider Quizlet seeks to outline how teachers and students, including Generation Z students (those born in 2001 or later), feel about technology in their classrooms.

Eighty-seven percent of surveyed teachers said interaction with students is an important part of their teaching environment.

Apps in the Classroom

Teachers are significantly more likely to view educational technology apps as a good use of classroom time than students are, according to the survey.

Eighty percent of teachers said using apps in the classroom makes learning more fun, compared to 51 percent of students.

Ninety-seven percent of teachers said they encourage their students to use learning apps and websites on their own time to help with learning, homework or test prep. They cited building good study habits (57 percent), being fun (66 percent), and increasing engagement (76 percent) as benefits.

Of the teachers who said they do not encourage students to use technology on their own, 40 percent they prefer students to study with more traditional materials, and 32 percent said they don’t believe the tools help students build good study habits.

(Next page: Discover Gen Z students’ feelings about educational technology use)


First MakerBot Innovation Center at a high school opens

MakerBot Innovation Center is a popular, large-scale option for universities that want to offer students wider access to 3D printing to teach ideation, problem solving, and iteration. On a K-12 level, however, most schools have traditionally purchased individual 3D printers to explore what’s possible and teach real-world problem-solving. As more and more schools across the U.S. embrace 3D printing and its benefits, administrators and teachers must find an effective way to make the technology accessible to more students. Mount Olive High School (MOHS) in New Jersey first received a MakerBot Replicator 2X as a donation from the Josh and Judy Weston Family Foundation in 2013. Megan Boyd and David Bodmer, two teachers at MOHS, started incorporating 3D printing into their curriculum. After numerous classroom projects and strong demand from their students, they decided in the spring of 2016 with the support of the school district to massively elevate 3D printing by installing a MakerBot Innovation Center, making MOHS the first secondary school worldwide with such an offering.

“Our goal with the MakerBot Innovation Center is to provide students a learning environment that replicates what industry is like,” said Megan Boyd. “We’ve been talking to many leaders at the college and industry level to better understand what skills students will need to succeed. We heard over and over again that in our rapidly evolving economy, skills like problem-solving and collaboration will be much more important for students than purely technical skills. The MakerBot Innovation Center will help us teach these skills as it offers a very different, more hands-on learning environment that gives students more freedom to experiment, learn from failure and progress their thinking.”

The MakerBot Innovation Center at MOHS is part of the Marauder Innovation Learning Lab (MiLL), a STEAM-focused (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) learning space. The MiLL houses a ThinkerSpace and a Workshop area, the first being a place where students can meet and discuss projects, while the second houses workbenches and tools to take prototypes to the next level. Overall, the MiLL aims to bring together different faculties so students can learn how to approach problems in a holistic way.  The two main courses currently offered are engineering and industrial design.

3D printing is an important medium for students to test their ideas and the MakerBot Innovation Center allows them to experiment more and feel more confident in taking risks. “With access to 33 MakerBot 3D Printers, we can print entire class loads at once without having to individually load prints onto a flash drive and cue them for printing,” said Boyd. This faster output makes a profound difference in how students are able to work on their projects. They can now get feedback on their designs within hours as opposed to several weeks with traditional prototyping methods or at least a day with individual printers. “When you can quickly make changes and evolve your idea, it’s easier to take criticism from others,” said David Bodmer. “We consider that part of the core skill set that students need to succeed.  Students need to learn to be flexible in their thinking and be receptive to feedback to refine and develop their ideas. We don’t know what these students will end up doing when they enter the job market but these are the type of skills that will benefit them in any career path.”

Over the last three months, students have already printed over 700 objects in the MakerBot Innovation Center at MOHS. Students usually start with learning the basics of print preparation and 3D printing by downloading objects from MakerBot Thingiverse, which is the largest 3D printing community in the world.

“It’s been awesome to bring the two faculties together and see how students can benefit from different viewpoints,” said Bodmer. “While our engineering courses are focused on the more technical aspects of prototyping, such as assembly design, our industrial design classes very much focus on product design, aesthetics, and user experience. Combining the arts with more traditional STEM learning is really where the magic happens.”  In a recent course, for example, students had to study the different historical industrial design movements and then design and print a chess set inspired by a particular style.

Boyd and Bodmer have big plans for the MiLL and the MakerBot Innovation Center.  They are already working on a STEAM Capstone course for 2017 that will allow students to apply their newly learned skills in real-world settings. The plan is to partner with different local companies and nonprofit organizations that can involve groups of students in different projects and evaluate their work. “That’s where we ultimately want to be,” explained Boyd. “Students first learn basic skills that then enable them to pursue areas or projects they are passionate about.  We will give them as much freedom as we can. It’s very well possible that some of them will even start their own Kickstarter campaigns in the future.”

The MakerBot Innovation Center at MOHS has been financed with help from the Department of Defense and the local Board of Education. MakerBot both helped set up the MakerBot Innovation Center and train school staff. “We’re excited to see the first MakerBot Innovation Center at a high school open in Mount Olive,” said Lauren Goglick, General Manager, North America at MakerBot. “The work Megan Boyd and David Bodmer are doing there is truly inspiring and we can’t wait to see the student-projects that will come out of the MiLL.”

At the core of the MakerBot Innovation Center is the MakerBot Innovation Center Management Platform, a proprietary 3D printing software platform that links the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers together, streamlines productivity and staffing, and enables remote access, print queuing, and mass production of 3D prints. For more information on MakerBot Innovation Centers, email innovation@makerbot.com, visit makerbot.com/innovation-center or call toll-free 855-347-4780.

Material from a press release was used in this report.