#6: 12 augmented reality apps students can use today

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on February 10th of this year, was our #6 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2017 countdown!]

Augmented reality–a technology that uses a trigger image to superimpose digital content over a user’s view of the real world–is growing in popularity and accessibility, and it holds a wealth of potential for education.

Often described as “QR codes on steroids,” the technology offers new and exciting ways for students to interact with lessons, said Jeff Peterson, an instructional technologist in the Lamar Consolidated ISD in Texas. Peterson presented a TCEA 2017 session on augmented reality’s application in classrooms.…Read More

Interesting: Rural schools are outpacing others on in-school tech access

Although schools in rural areas traditionally hit roadblocks when it comes to securing technology tools and high-speed internet access in classrooms and student homes, a new study suggests students in those schools actually outperform their urban and suburban peers in access at school.

The data comes from data management and learning analytics firm BrightBytes, which analyzed more than 180 million data points collected via a national survey gauging educational technology access, use and effectiveness across 8,558 U.S. schools.

The study compares characteristics of the top 5 percent and bottom 5 percent of schools and looks at factors that impact technology access and use. And according to that data, rural schools outpace urban and suburban schools when it comes to providing technology to students and teachers.…Read More

3 apps that lead to improved executive functioning skills

According to LD Online, the formal definition of executive functioning is “a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.”

The skills that comprise executive functioning are not definitively agreed upon by educators and researchers. Psychologists Gerard A. Gioia, Peter K. Isquith, Steven C. Guy, and Lauren Kenworthy have identified, through their own research, a proposed list of executive functioning skills.

These skills include inhibition (the ability to self-regulate when presented with distractions such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.), shift (ability to be mentally flexible in unpredictable situations), emotional control, initiation (getting started and not procrastinating), working memory, planning/organization, organization of materials, and self-monitoring (similar to self-awareness).…Read More

8 top YouTube channels to boost classroom lessons

Video can be a powerful tool for classroom learning, and it’s safe to say that teachers have never had more videos at their fingertips than they do today.

But with so many videos on YouTube, how do you find the good stuff? You know, those perfect, one-of-a-kind, just-right-for-your-lesson videos–the ones that make you think, “Oh, my students have to see this!”

The best YouTube videos for the classroom are the ones that teach or, better yet, show something you can’t otherwise do in your classroom. Videos that are more than flashy attempts to spice up a chapter from a textbook. Videos that go beyond zany talking heads doling out CliffsNotes for the digital age. Classroom-worthy videos on YouTube shouldn’t be replacements for your lessons; they should be additions to the awesome lessons you already teach.…Read More

App of the Week: Digital scavenger hunts for learning

Ed. noteApp 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? 

GooseChase EDU is a web-based platform that creates scavenger hunts for mobile (iOS and Android) devices. First, teachers go to the website to create a new game with a basic description. Teachers then add missions to their game. Each mission is a scavenger hunt clue, which comes in three types: photo/video, text, or location. Photo and video questions are the most popular, where students submit a picture or video (limited in length to 15 seconds). Text missions are completed by typing information. Location questions are interesting but less frequently used: The teacher can set it so that mobile devices fulfill a clue by being in a certain area, down to a 50-meter radius (though they recommend 100 meters).…Read More

3 ways to reimagine learning spaces

As schools depart from traditional instructional methods and environments, some education leaders are discovering how a combination of blended learning and reimagined physical learning spaces can lead to better student engagement and achievement.

Redesigning physical learning spaces can lead to brain-friendly learning and encourage students to become more engaged.

And when learning spaces are flexible, they provide more modern learning experiences and meet various needs, such as small-group collaboration, large-group instruction, and individual study or review.…Read More

11 TED-Ed talks students can relate to

Educators know that engaging digital media is a surefire way to grab students’ attention. And using everyday topics students encounter in their personal lives is an even better way to engage them in learning.

With a wealth of resources online, educators can find content that meets students where they’re comfortable learning, with interactive and engaging presentation. TED-Ed lessons are among the resources that help students learn while engaging them in the subject matter.

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.…Read More

How to introduce kindergarteners to computers

I work with roughly 500 kindergarten through 5th-grade students. As part of their curriculum, students receive 40 minutes each week of technology class. During the first quarter, we focus on the keyboard.

Today’s students are expected to have some typing proficiency as early as kindergarten. For example, our students must be able to, at minimum, type their first and last name in order to access their devices and accounts. Our 2nd– through 5th-graders take computer-based assessments which require them to type constructed responses to questions. Learning to type is not an option for our students; it’s an essential skill.

Many of our young learners barely know their letters, let alone are ready to master touch-typing. Most sites that teach typing are timed, or require kids to type line after line of text. The games on these sites often require a mastery of the home row before kids can be successful. These games move so fast that they’re “over” before our little guys can even find the first letter on the keyboard.…Read More

Video of the Week: 5 essential media literacy questions for kids

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied 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 watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: All media comes with an author, and an agenda. Whether in the classroom or at home, help kids think critically about any media they view with critical questions that dig below the surface. Use these five essential questions as a springboard, and help kids dig deeper with even more critical questions of their own. For more media literacy resources, visit Common Sense Education’s News and Media Literacy Toolkit.

Video:…Read More

App of the Week: Create apps without coding

Ed. noteApp 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? 

With BloxMob, students and teachers can create apps and share them with others who have downloaded the BloxMob app. There’s a whole community, with user profiles and discussion forums for support and idea sharing. Users can download the app to access apps others have made, but the real fun is in creating original apps using BloxMob’s website. Students can choose to start from scratch or work with a template. They then select the features they want to include in the app, customize the look with images and colors, and share it, either privately or publicly. Features range from map-based tools, such as restaurant reviews, to sale and trade postings and polling and voting tools.…Read More

Stunning: Research shows intense spike in children’s media use

New research has unearthed a dramatic increase in the number of young children who have their own tablet device–42 percent compared to 1 percent in 2011.

The research from Common Sense, which examines media use by kids ages 0-8 and is the third installment in an ongoing series that tracks media and technology use, also uncovered an increase in the amount of time children spend with mobile devices–48 minutes, up from just five minutes in 2011.

The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight is based on a large, nationally representative sample of respondents and replicates methods from 2011 and 2013 to gauge how media environments and behaviors have changed over the years.…Read More