Sat.Aug 08, 2015 - Fri.Aug 14, 2015

7 Assessment Tips and Tools to Know What Your Students Are Really Learning

The CoolCatTeacher

An Every Classroom Matters Episode with Garnet Hillman. How do we know our students have really mastered the standards we are supposed to teach? Assessment coach Garnett Hillman helps us understand how our assessments need to change. (We

Tech Ed Resources–Organize Your Class

Ask a Tech Teacher

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do.

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Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM

User Generated Education

Working as a productive and sensitive member of a team is looked upon by STEM-based companies as being a requirement to being an effective and contributing employee: As technology takes over more of the fact-based, rules-based, left-brain skills—knowledge-worker skills—employees who excel at human relationships are emerging as the new “it” men and women. More and more major employers are recognizing that they need workers who are good at team building, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity, according to global forecasting firm Oxford Economics. Other research shows that the most effective teams are not those whose members boast the highest IQs, but rather those whose members are most sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. ( [link]. In academia, the majority of research in STEM fields is conducted through collaborations and working groups, where a diversity of ideas need to be proposed and analyzed to determine the best strategy(ies) for solving a problem. In the technology sector, product development is done as a team, with specific roles for each individual but its success is predicated on each member of the team providing a different skill set / perspective. Thus, students who are interested in both academia and industry will benefit from learning how to successfully work in a diverse team. ( What follows are some team building activities that use collaboration to explore and solve STEM-related challenges. Great Egg Drop. To begin, assemble groups of 4 or 5 and give each group various materials for building (e.g. 5-20 straws, a roll of masking tape, one fresh egg, newspaper, etc.) Instruct the participants and give them a set amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes) to complete building a structure, with the egg inside in which the structures are dropped from at least 10 feet in elevation and then inspected to see if the eggs survived. The winners are the groups that were successful in protecting the egg. ( [link] and [link] ). Marshmallow Tower. Give teams of 4 to 6 learners 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Given a time frame of about 20 minutes, the groups must build the tallest free-standing structure out of The marshmallow needs to be on top. ( [link]. Marble Run. The challenge is to create a marble track using the given materials and have the marble land in an 8” square and remain there. Give groups of 4 to 6 students: 1 piece of cardstock, 3 straws, 1 piece of string, 3 sheets of paper, 5 mailing labels, 4 paper clips, 3 rubber bands, and 2 pencils to complete this this task. ( [link] ). Drop the Golf Ball. Give each group of 4 to 6 learners 12 straws, 18 inches of masking tape and a golf ball. The goal is to build a container that will catch a golf ball dropped from about ten feet. Each group selects a “ball dropper” who stands on a chair and hold the golf ball at eye level. Each team places its container on the floor under where they think the ball will land. Each group gets three attempts and the group that gets a ball to go into their container and stay wins. ( [link] ). Straw Bridge. The challenge is for groups (3-5 members each) to design and construct a model of a single-span bridge using plastic drinking straws and masking tape as the building materials. The bridge is to span a distance of 40 cm, with no supporting pillars to the ground in between the ends of the span, and be approximately 10 cm wide. It needs to be strong enough to support a suitable load. This might be a book, a can of food, or other object of suitable weight placed on the middle of the completed structure. See Straw Bridge Challenge Worksheet: [link]. Toy Hacking Team Challenge. This is based on Toy Take Apart. In the Toy Hacking Team Challenge, each group of 3 to 4 members is given three or four battery-operated toys. Their task is to take all their toys apart and then using at least a few parts of each toy create a new toy or invention. Construct a Chair. This activity asks groups of 3 to 5 members to design and build a full-sized chair from corrugated cardboard (and a mat knife) that could support the weight of a person up to 150 lbs. for up to 5 minutes. The person seated will be in a “comfortable” position with his/her back leaning against the back of the chair. ( [link] ). DIY Instrumentals. Learners make instruments from recycled or natural materials. See [link] recycled materials for ideas. Separate learners in small groups of 4 to 6 members in each group. Inform them that they will be performing a musical piece using all of their DIY instruments for the rest of the group. After a practice time, bring groups back together for the performances. Sneak a Peek. Build a small sculpture or design with some of the building material and hide it from the group. Divide the group into small teams of two to eight members each. Give each team enough building material so that they could duplicate what you have already created. Place the original sculpture in a place that is hidden but at an equal distance from all the groups. Ask one member form each team to come at the same time to look at the sculpture for five seconds in order to try to memorize it as much as possible before returning to his/her team. After they run back to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams how to build the structure so that it looks like the one that has been hidden. After the twenty-five seconds, ask each team to send up another member of their group who gets a chance to “sneak a peek” before returning to their team. Continue in this pattern until one of the teams successfully duplicates the original sculpture. ( [link] ). Education Maker Education maker education STEAM STEM team building

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The School Design “Oops!”

Battelle for Kids

August 10, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 9, Number 4. Driving Question: How can school leaders design truly transformative models of teaching and learning? Transformative learning doesn't have to be a function of fortune. Schools can be designed to transform lives." (1)

5 Costly Inventory Management Mistakes Schools Should Avoid

If your school is like most, inventory and/or asset management plays a critical role in daily operations.

Can Crowdfunding Pay for Teacher Professional Development?

Ed Tech from the Ground Up

A Philadelphia principal tries to use crowdfunding to pay for teacher professional development that the district budget won't cover. Will it work? Click the headline to read the full post. Questions? Email crowdfunding funding


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Today’s Education Should Be About Giving Learners Voice and Choice

User Generated Education

Some of the recurring themes of my conference presentations and blog posts include: Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0. We are living in an age of information abundanc. It is important to facilitate learner agency.

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Goal: Share Your Edtech Success Story

Teacher Reboot Camp

Welcome to Cycle 6 of The 30 Goals Challenge: Inspire Forward ! . “We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.”-David ”-David Warlick.

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Finland offers lessons for building student, teacher agency

The Christensen Institute

Rhonda Broussard is the founder and president of St. Louis Language Immersion Schools , a charter management organization. In 2014, she traveled to and explored the education systems of Finland and New Zealand as an Eisenhower Fellow (full disclosure: I was also a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow).

An Evolution in Mobile

A Principal's Reflections

As some of you may recall, I was part of the Board of Advisors of a start-up named Beeonics. The company was a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) app building company, where schools, like the one I used to be Principal of at New Milford High School in NJ, could build their very own app.

Teachers’ Guide to Plagiarism

This article provides teachers with a step-by-step guide on how to handle plagiarism in the classroom: it examines the definition of the term "plagiarism" and its types with examples, describes common reasons students plagiarize, and provides tips for teachers to detect and prevent plagiarism among students.

8 lessons ANY educator can learn from the science classroom

Ditch That Textbook

Today’s guest post is written by Matt Johnson, a third grade teacher at Boiling Springs Elementary School in Boiling Springs, S.C. Follow him on Twitter at @MattJohnson10 and at his website,

Goal: Introduce Us to Your School

Teacher Reboot Camp

Welcome to Cycle 6 of The 30 Goals Challenge: Inspire Forward ! . “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” ” – Scott Hayden. Our newest goal for 2015 is from Hayfa Majdoub from Tunisia !

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Embracing the Maker Movement

Battelle for Kids

August 11, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 9, Number 5. Driving Question: How does 'making" inspire student engagement and interest? As a child growing up in the 70s, I spent my free tiem outside building forts, fairy houses and sandcastles. When the weather forced me inside, my friends and I entertained ourselves by making things: doll clothes, furniture, and a multitude of crafts. My own children, as well as the students at my school, have had very different childhood experiences.

Tech Tip #110: Can’t Get Sound to Work?

Ask a Tech Teacher

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy! Q: Headphones are so difficult. There’s always someone who can’t get theirs to work. I’ve tried the usual solutions, and still, we have problems. I know the sound works. What else can I do?

Custom eLearning: What to Consider as an L&D Manager

A custom eLearning project is an exciting opportunity, but any L&D Manager will also tell you it can be challenging. Inno-versity shares 5 points to consider before kicking off your project. These concepts are critical to addressing the most common pain points which, IF addressed, will ensure success.

5 digital sources of thought-provoking art for classrooms

Ditch That Textbook

Today’s guest post is written by Alisa Gross. She has been the editor of two education blogs, The C4E College Teaching and Learning Blog, and the Acclaim Blog. She holds advanced degrees in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, London, and Johns Hopkins University.

Goal: Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Teacher Reboot Camp

Welcome to Cycle 6 of The 30 Goals Challenge: Inspire Forward ! . “Instead of saying, ‘I have a lot of problems that I am dealing with,’ you should say, ‘I am a very courageous person, and I always find ways to triumph in all my circumstances in life.’

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An Introduction to Screencasting in the Classroom | Featuring @TechsmithEDU


Jeff sits down with Jason Valade from Techsmith Education to discuss how easy it is for teachers to be Screencasting in the Classroom for their students. In this video, Jason shows several great reasons for creating screencasts for the classroom.

8 Tech Tools to Get to Know Your Students for Back to School

Ask a Tech Teacher

The first day of class can be daunting. Students are curious about the new faces around them, intimidated–even frightened by the prospect of so many people they know nothing about. As a teacher, you might feel the same way.

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Key Elements for Successful eLearning Projects

Discover how this rapid development process creates engaging, custom learning solutions on a timeline that works for you, why a strong learning culture is important, and how to showcase your Return on Learning (ROL) using data to tell the story.

Building a blended-learning leadership pipeline

The Christensen Institute

By definition, blended learning incorporates the human touch. In an effective blended-learning environment, students benefit not only from the flexibility and individualization that educational software can offer, but also from new and varied interactions with adults in the classroom. As more and more schools consider going blended, are we paying sufficient attention to the human side of the blended equation?

Now Take Notes on Drive Videos with – From Beth Holland


This post first appeared on Free Technology for Teachers. allows students to take notes while watching videos. This tool is fantastic in a flipped, blended, or online classroom as students can have their typed notes automatically time-stamped to the video. Because

How can we infuse Coding into our Science Classes? | @Hopscotch #csk8


I have talked with some teachers recently about using programming to model systems. This is great and super duper common core thinking as a way to demonstrate understanding. Using Scratch or the Ipad programming app, Hopscotch students can create presentations, animations, and interactive games.

6 Things to Consider at the Start of the Writing Process

Brilliant or Insane

Brilliant or Insane. It’s 5:15 am on a Tuesday morning, and my day is beginning in its usual fashion–quietly. Everyone else is still asleep. I relish this part of my day.

The Ultimate 12 Step Guide For Choosing The Perfect Learning Management System

Picking the wrong LMS can cost you. Don’t settle for a disconnected, hard-to-use, expensive system that doesn’t meet your needs. Follow these 12 steps crafted by Lambda Solutions' LMS experts, and find your perfect eLearning solution!

Experience and Education: “To Zoo or Not to Zoo”

Battelle for Kids

August 13, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 9, Number 6. Driving Question: How Can Teachers Learn to Teach PBL in a Nutshell? To say learning only happens within the schoolhouse walls would be like saying people are only hungry when they are in the kitchen.

EdTechX: A MOOC about Integrating Education Technology from Justin Reich


This post originally appeared on Justin’s EdWeek blog, EdTech Researcher. Last week MIT kicked off a free new massive open online course called 11.133: Implementation and Evaluation of Education Technology.

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Principles for school districts’ social media policies

Dangerously Irrelevant

My newest article is out. This one is about some general guidelines and principles for school districts to consider as they formulate their social media policies. A segment is below. You can read the full article online or in AASA’s School Administrator magazine. Consider your tone. Districts everywhere are doing everything they can to put digital tools into the hands of students and staff because of the powerful learning opportunities that they enable.

14 Things Teachers Should Never Do on the First Day of School

Brilliant or Insane

Brilliant or Insane. It’s the first day of school. Your only chance to make a first impression. Your students will be intrigued, energized, and excited about you and your class. Or they’ll dread coming back. Rarely, is there anything in between.

Leveraging Learner Variability to Elevate Equity in EdTech

Speaker: Vic Vuchic, Chief Innovation Officer & Executive Director, Learner Variability Project

In this webinar, Vic Vuchic, Chief Innovation Officer of Digital Promise, will share his insights into the modern boom in neuroscience and learning sciences research. You'll discover how much more we know now about how students learn - and how we can use that knowledge to create EdTech-enabled classrooms that can meet the diverse needs of all students.