My tech essentials: A superintendent’s guide to instructional coaching

Teacher effectiveness is the number one school-related factor that impacts student achievement. The question then becomes: How do I as a superintendent support my teachers and ensure they are getting the regular, constructive feedback they need to be as effective as possible? I believe the answer lies within effective instructional coaching.

Like athletes, teachers should routinely receive feedback and coaching to help them grow. At Maine Township High School District 207 in Park Ridge, Ill., every one of our teachers receives coaching on a regular basis. In fact, this year’s seniors are the first class to go through the district where each teacher was coached every year. This may sound like a costly and time-consuming undertaking, but we’ve discovered an ingenious system to make it work:

Use teachers as coaches.…Read More

“My Tech Essentials” for students with dyslexia

Reading is essential in today’s world, from reading instructions on a test or a job application, to reading legal documents and safety information. Dyslexia can make reading even the simplest document incredibly frustrating for students. Without proper interventions, these students may struggle to read their whole lives, making it more likely they will end up in poverty or the criminal justice system.

My son was diagnosed with dyslexia in fourth grade. I homeschool him, and I understand first-hand how hard it is to watch your child struggle day after day. I also tutor several other students with dyslexia.

These are my tech essentials for teaching dyslexic students:…Read More

Language Arts teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials” for high schoolers

Being well-versed in literature means to be able to use the power of imagination to support and describe the essence of the subject. This is where the task can get tricky. Oftentimes the learners fail to understand the vocabulary of the book that sets the obstacles for the reading comprehension, or fail to discuss the topic because they lack active vocabulary.

In order to make students discuss the learned material in the class, it is important to provide them with encouragement and help that gives a good stimulus to learn and discover more.

The classroom can be a perfect ground for discussions, imagination training, and language improving activities. These app essentials will help keep high school students engaged while learning language arts, and teach them how to form the arguments and enhance learning comprehension.…Read More

Media specialist: These are “My Tech Essentials” to make students’ voices heard globally

Educators today are trying harder than ever to diversify their teaching practices, using a variety of tools and materials, incorporating different learning styles, and also allowing students to have a voice in their learning. At the David C. Barrow Elementary School, we have a project which takes all these things into account.

As the media specialist, I created the annual “Barrow Peace Prize” project in collaboration with the 2nd grade classroom teachers and art teacher, where students from across all the second-grade sections pick six nominees from civil rights history and decide what attributes the winner must embody. I give research instruction utilizing many educational tech tools that the students incorporate into the project to develop a nominee that may win the Barrow Peace Prize. This recognition not only reaches the David C. Barrow student body, but the entries are voted on by people from all over the world, and the nominee with the most votes (and the students who researched them) is awarded the Barrow Peace Prize.

Here are three tools we use to make the Barrow Peace Prize project a reality.…Read More

Math Teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials” for formative assessments

Part of preparing students for the real world is teaching them to collaborate and problem-solve while working with others in small groups.

My classroom model includes a lot of group work where students complete tasks with a partner or in groups of four to six. It can sometimes be challenging for educators to gauge student understanding through formative assessments while in this small-group setting.

After 17 years in the classroom, I’ve found a few tricks of the trade that allow me to assess student understanding in the moment and adjust my lessons on the fly. Here are my tech essentials for formatively assessing students while in small groups:…Read More

Teacher specializing in differentiated learning: These are “My Tech Essentials”

At Long Elementary in Harlingen, TX, where I teach 4th grade, more than 72 percent of our students are considered economically disadvantaged, while nearly 10 percent are English language learners, and 11 percent are special ed. When you have this mix of students, the flexibility afforded by technology to differentiate lessons based on student needs is invaluable. It also helps that many of these tools are visual, which can not only help students with additional needs, but will also help other students grasp concepts more thoroughly, as well.

These are the tools that I use in my classroom to ensure every student’s needs are being met:

1. Bloomz is a free mobile app that includes every feature teachers need to effectively communicate with parents, including conference and volunteer sign-ups, direct messaging, and a translation feature for non-English speaking parents. Teachers can also send home photos and videos from the school day, as well as reminders about upcoming events and additional resources to help with homework assignments.…Read More

Fourth-Grade teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials”

As I prepare to start my ninth year of teaching, I find myself reflecting on the tools and resources I value most. What new techniques will I try this semester, which ones served me best in years prior? At the Maury County School District in Columbia, Tennessee, I teach fourth-graders, a group who are always excited to learn and anxious to interact with the lesson at hand.

My passion is creating innovative lessons that engage students’ attention. I enjoy learning, searching, collaborating, and sharing ideas that prepare kids for their future. Sometimes that means bringing in new technology. Tech tools are essential to today’s classrooms. They allow kids to create, communicate, and think for themselves.

Here are a few tech tools that I prefer to use with my students, to help empower their learning and get them thinking outside the box.…Read More

STEAM teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials”

I am a third grade teacher in an urban school district in Kansas City, Missouri. I teach in a 1:1 environment that focuses on STEAM education and Project Based Learning. Currently, the building I teach in is transitioning to a trans-disciplinary approach to instruction that will utilize  a variety of technologies to enhance teaching and learning across the grade levels. Technology is integrated throughout my day and curriculum, and here is my list of five Tech Essentials:

Discovery Education Streaming and Science Techbook

Discovery Education provides so much more than videos. I utilize Discovery Education services across all my content areas with the help of their Spotlight on Strategies feature. Both Streaming and Science Techbook help me better engage my students with interactives, reading passages, exciting lessons and more. Science Techbook walks my students through the 5E model that allows them to dive deeper into concepts. The virtual labs, hands-on labs, interactive tools, and much more have changed the culture of my classroom when we focus on science. All of the resources within Streaming and Techbook are easy to use and comprehensive.…Read More

Kindergarten teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials”

At Saratoga Elementary in Morris, Illinois, we believe that incorporating tech tools into our daily lessons is a great way to connect our small school with the world around us. This is especially true when it comes to my kindergarteners.

Kindergarten is where the fun is! I love teaching it, because every day brings a new and exciting experience. I’m lucky enough to teach in the same school as my wife, and we get the amazing opportunity to watch our two kids grow in education as they attend our school as well! Besides teaching my students, I also teach teachers through my YouTube channel, Teachers Learn Too.

I started this video channel as a way to provide fun, free professional development for teachers year-round, so I’ve grown familiar with sharing the methods and technology that I find most useful. The tech tools we provide our students offer an enhanced, differentiated learning style, with devices and software that many of our students don’t have at home. Here are four of my “must-have” tech tools that I use on a daily basis in my classroom.…Read More

Technology teacher: These are “My Tech Essentials”

At Gordon J. Lau Elementary, of our 690 plus students, 68 percent are English language learners (ELLs). Many of our ELL students have come to the United States only a few months ago, some even a few days ago. For these students, their ability to successfully use the tech tools we supply them, regardless of their language, reading, or comprehension level, is crucial.

By using tech tools, teachers actively create, customize and enhance educational approaches to meet the new and growing challenges of the 21st century. The tech tools offer a practical introduction to and a reinforcement of requisite skill-sets for our students, who are English learners and native speakers alike. In this complex and increasingly “multi-plex” digital age, the tech tools ground instruction and learning in prodigious and “joyful learning.” This is done in a manner. which infuses a unique methodology that no other non-tech tool can imitate.

An Instructional Technology Resource Teacher’s Tech Essentials…Read More