February 2020 Guide: Stem, Steam & Makerspaces

We are excited to bring you the fourth in a series of eSchool News Guides, which are full of resources, tips, trends, and insight from industry experts on a variety of topics that are essential to the classroom, school, and district.


5 ways to address trauma in the classroom

There’s often a story behind students with problematic behavior—and learning how to help students who have experienced trauma can make or break their school experience

I remember my frustration with this student. He was always absent. His work was not turned in. He was disengaged.

He was also bright and brimming with potential. I would work with him at lunch. I would prod him to get his work in, come to class, be the student he could be.

Finally, we learned the truth of this young man’s home life. He missed so much school because he was afraid to leave his mom unprotected with her boyfriend. That’s when it really sank in.

Related content: How our school is fighting back against trauma

This student wasn’t lazy; he was taking on responsibilities not meant for an 8th grader to carry. This student wasn’t disengaged with my class; he was overly engaged in the act of survival.

Research proves this is true for many students enrolled in public schools across America. The brain cannot focus on learning when it is alert for danger.


Getting whole community buy-in for 1:1 initiatives

1:1 initiatives are spreading through classrooms and districts, but the most successful ones have community support--here's how to get it

Everyone has been to school and has their own image of what a classroom should look like. And depending on their background and experience, not everyone is supportive of tech-infused learning. But 1:1 initiatives, BYOD, and tech-supported education are today’s reality.

During the edWebinar “Leading Digital Learning: Successful Strategies for 1:1 Implementations,” the presenters focused on how to get buy-in from within the school and across the community to improve chances for success and sustainability with 1:1 initiatives.

Related content: 12 digital and mobile learning resources

First, of course, superintendents and school leaders need to be clear on the “why.” When everyone in the school and community can explain it, they are more likely to support it. They are also more likely to back 1:1 initiatives when the focus is on the learning and how to leverage tech to support it, rather than just on what device to get.

The “why,” explained the presenters, should always be about impacting students’ education. Another benefit of everyone understanding the “why” of 1:1 initiatives is realized when considering potential hurdles. No matter how well-planned the initiative, there are bound to be slip-ups and errors. Schools need a supportive team of educators (and students and parents) who will keep their attention on the end goal and not use the problems as an excuse to ditch the plan.


FETC 2020: STEM, safety, and students

If you didn't have a chance to attend FETC 2020, don't fret--this recap gives you a great idea of what went down

Student engagement and empowerment were evident at FETC 2020 in Miami, FL. Topics ran the gamut from the latest tech tools and personalized learning strategies to funding, supporting, and sustaining district technology initiatives.

FETC 2020 offered sessions and workshops, interactive spaces, an extensive expo hall, and purposefully-chosen dynamic, energizing, and inspiring keynote presentations. More than 20,000 attendees from around the world experienced unlimited opportunities to network, learn effective teaching strategies, share resources, and be inspired. Even though the Miami sunshine was enticing, attendees moved excitedly from session to session, eager to soak up all that the conference had to offer.


In the early years of STEM and STEAM adoption, hands-on experiences for students were limited to isolated classroom activities and computer labs. This stand-alone model did not engage the entire school community, nor was it transferrable to content areas instruction.

Related content: 5 reasons to integrate STEM into online learning

With sessions at FETC 2020 such as “Coding, Robotics, Project-Based Learning and Mathematics” and “Cross-Curricular STEAM Integration for Every Classroom,” attendees learned how innovative educators are integrating STEM and STEAM projects to connect students to real-world situations.


5 best practices for implementing MTSS

Using multi-tiered systems of support, or MTSS, can help administrators and teachers better support student success

Every administrator and teacher wants to find the secret recipe that helps every student succeed. Though there’s not one right way to get there, there are proven strategies to support learners.

As a practicing educator for 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to implement and oversee support systems. I was responsible for coordinating my district’s multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) and Response to intervention (RtI) implementation, and am familiar with the challenges that can come with the process of beginning an MTSS and/or RtI initiative.

Related content: How intentional leadership can help PBIS

Using the RTI Action Network’s Tiered Instruction/Intervention models as a guide, here are five best practices for implementing a MTSS to support student growth.

1. Think broader.

It can be easy to become overly focused on the student interventions that are more intensive, but it’s equally important to monitor student progress on a broader scale. If Tier I instruction, assessment, and support practices aren’t effective, issues are likely to arise later on. When every student is visible and monitored, it’s easier to intervene early and provide support at critical points in their academic journeys.


15 can’t-miss sessions at TCEA 2020

TCEA 2020 offers countless opportunities for educators to focus on STEM, digital leadership, and more--check out some of our favorite sessions

Conferences give educators a chance to meet peers in different districts and states, learning about new instructional practices and innovative trends. At TCEA 2020, educators will share a vision for the future of education.

While you’re at TCEA 2020, check out some of the sessions that caught our eye. They focus on 21st-century skills, STEAM, digital learning, students’ digital footprints, tech leadership, and more.

There are so many awesome sessions at TCEA 2020, so these are just examples of the inspiring and innovative content you’ll find in the sessions.

We’d love to hear your feedback and reactions to the sessions and exhibit hall. Tweet us @eschoolnews during the show!

15 TCEA 2020 sessions worth attending

From Consumers to Producers: Moving Our Students Towards Creation
Students have opportunities to consume through technology everyday, but the power lies in their ability to create. Discover tools and strategies you can implement in your classroom to give students a voice and create ownership of their learning.

The Tools of a 21st Century Scientist
In order for students to demonstrate their understanding of science, they must communicate, collaborate, think critically, and create. We will explore a variety of tech applications that provide students with the opportunity to practice these skills.


These 10 things will either hinder or support innovation in 2020

Based on forthcoming reports, CoSN offers a sneak peek at what experts predict will be barriers to--or accelerators of--innovation in 2020

Digital equity remains a top hurdle to teaching and learning innovation in schools, while personalization and SEL will help accelerate innovation, according to a glimpse of CoSN’s next Driving K-12 Innovation report.

CoSN’s Driving K-12 Innovation initiative is an ongoing effort to keep school IT leaders up-to-date on how new technologies impact different education stakeholders. The report and key findings will be available here in the coming months.

Related content: 3 things I learned by accident at CoSN 2019

Hurdles hinder innovation in schools, while accelerators support and buoy edtech innovation in teaching and learning.

The top hurdles for 2020 are:
1. Scaling and sustaining innovation
2. Data privacy and ownership
3. Evolution of teaching and learning
4. Pedagogy vs. technology gap
5. Digital equity


My journey as a high school entrepreneur

Finals are nothing in comparison to filing taxes as a 17-year-old

It was 2017 when I first heard that a business incubator program was starting at my high school, Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, TX. I was curious as to what this class could offer me. I decided I would give it a try. Little did I know, I was about to embark on a journey that would forever change me and the way I see my future unfolding.

Grades aren’t everything, they said

Every high school student knows that to be considered for admission into a good college, you must balance not only a full course load, but extracurriculars and community service as well.

Related content: How to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in your district

I was already heavily involved in the robotics team, taking multiple Advanced Placement courses, and working part-time. I thought INCubatoredu would be interesting, but my real motivation was to use the course as one more addition to my college admissions portfolio.

Not your everyday high school classroom

The shift in mindset started the minute I entered the classroom. The physical layout and working environment were unlike any I’d ever experienced. We were told the classroom was designed to model the real working world. Instead of desks, there were tables for us to collaborate and individual working spaces very similar to an office with cubicles and larger conference rooms.


Keyboarding is key to well-rounded digital natives

Keyboarding skills are crucial, but they might be overlooked when educating digital natives

Interacting with technology is second nature to children these days. But, even though these digital natives are tech-savvy, they might not have the keyboarding and digital citizenship skills to make them stronger and more adept learners.

In a recent edWebinar, “Keys to Success for Digital Natives,” experts explained that digital natives still need to strengthen their technological know-how in this context, and offered strategies teachers can use to build these much-needed skills.

Eyes on keyboarding skills

Today’s children engage with screens regularly. But, explained Paula Heinricher, MS, OTR/L, keyboarding has taken a backseat to the interactive ways they access and respond to digital content.

Related content: 4 tech skills every middle schooler needs

Yet, children who can negotiate the keyboard develop critical psycho-motor and academic skills. This requires a well-designed curriculum with scaffolded, age-appropriate lessons and instruction within a developmental framework. Heinricher urged selecting programs with grade-level licenses that meet the keyboarding needs of typically developing students in any given grade.


5 tools to help with project-based learning

Tools for project-based learning can augment impactful lessons that help students develop key life skills

Educators know project-based learning (PBL) isn’t simply another teaching strategy. Project-based learning gives students deeper learning experiences, and as they apply their knowledge, they develop soft skills such as critical thinking and team work–skills they’ll carry through to college and the workforce.

But it’s often a great undertaking to locate and vet resources and tools for project-based learning, and educators don’t have an abundance of time.

Related content: Defining high-quality project-based learning

Below, we’ve gathered a handful of “add-on” tools for project-based learning. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope these resources help as you search for PBL examples and strategies.

1. Educurious: In each Educurious course, students are challenged with problems to solve that pique their curiosity. Students are learning detectives, working independently or collaboratively with their peers. Teachers provide scaffolding and guidance as students investigate the problem and propose solutions.