TCEA 2013: Teacher development and school improvement

Users of Pearson’s Schoolnet program now will have access to School Improvement Network’s video segments showing best teaching practices from classrooms across the country.

At the 2013 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference, a number of ed-tech companies introduced new products aimed at fostering teacher development and school improvement. Here’s a look at some of those solutions.

Atomic Learning demonstrated its iPad app at TCEA: Using the app, educators can watch ed-tech training videos on an iPad from wherever they are. The company also discussed its Mobilize solution, which offers help in deploying mobile learning. Atomic Mobilize includes resources, examples, and stories from fellow educators that illustrate how educators can use mobile devices to create personalized learning experiences for students.

What’s more, Atomic Learning is offering an online class on transforming classroom lessons to meet Common Core standards. Two sessions are available: One runs from March 6 to April 10, and the other runs from April 4 to May 9. Educators can register at

Follett said it’s launching a new user community, called New Leaf in Learning, where educators can collaborate, ask questions, download content, and learn from their peers. The site is currently in beta testing, and Follett is looking for educators to participate at

Follett also has opened the voting for its Follett Challenge, which showcases how schools are integrating 21st-century skills into instruction. More than 100 educators took the company’s challenge to create and submit a video showing how they incorporate 21st-century skills such as critical thinking into the curriculum, and now the company is asking the public to vote for their favorite entries. The voting closes March 18, and six winning entries will be announced in May.

Besides helping Follett chose the winners, visitors to the Follett Challenge website can discover models they might want to incorporate into their own instruction. The grand-prize winner will receive $60,000 in Follett services, and the six winners will share $200,000 in prizes altogether.

Observe4success revealed enhancements to its classroom observation and walkthrough software, such as the ability to upload supporting documentation—pictures, audio/video recordings, Excel files, and other files—and attach these materials to a relevant observation.

Other enhancements include better communication features within the software, as well as more data analysis options for administrators. For instance, users can sort data by department in addition to a single teacher, grade level, or entire school. The department reporting feature allows department heads to identify trends within their team and better direct professional development efforts, the company says.

School Improvement Network announced a partnership with Pearson that will give users of Pearson’s Schoolnet program access to School Improvement Network’s PD 360, a collection of resources that includes more than 2,000 video segments showing best practices in education from classrooms across the country.

The inclusion of the PD 360 library within the Schoolnet instructional improvement system will enable schools to aggregate all of their professional learning activities in a single catalog, the companies said. Teachers and school leaders will be able to browse, search for, and share relevant training content tied directly to their personal goals, teaching standards, and evaluation results.

“This partnership brings together two proven strategies to positively impact student achievement,” said Chet Linton, CEO and president of School Improvement Network. “As the pressure for compliance with teacher evaluations grows, it’s more vital than ever that administrators have a way to connect evaluations and observations to tools for … ongoing improvement. Schoolnet paired with PD 360 will give administrators a way to focus on systemic improvement by putting research-proven … resources at teachers’ fingertips.”

Teachscape discussed its Teacher Effectiveness Platform, which ties together the company’s various services under a single login. These services include Focus, an observation training and assessment system that helps teachers and observers develop a shared understanding of how Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching is applied in evaluations; Reflect, a complete system for managing classroom observations and teacher evaluations; Learn, a comprehensive system for managing professional learning; and Advance, a talent management system that helps districts track leadership growth and capacity.

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