Cool Tool | ABC-CLIO Solutions

CREDIT ABC-CLIOA comprehensive online textbook that integrates social studies, science and language arts instruction, ABC-CLIO Solutions comprise 15 online databases updated daily with vetted content that can be accessed at any time. With databases built from the Common Core and more than 1 million primary sources and images, the content guides students in inquiry and analysis. The textbook also includes scholarly perspectives to expose students to intellectual argument, persuasive writing and primary source analysis. The digital textbook facilitates flipped and blended learning modules with multimedia and online content, and differentiated instruction with its customizable instructional activities. For teacher support, ABC-CLIO Solutions features an Educator Support Center complete with standards-aligned lesson plans, customizable activities, tutors and wizards. Check it out.

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Cool Tool | CrowdSchool

CREDIT CrowdSchool imageCrowdSchool, a startup founded by teachers, today launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to #ReImagineSchool.  The startup is among the world’s first online platforms for crowdsourcing project-based learning for K-12 classrooms. CrowdSchool emerged from its founding team’s nearly 20 years experience as teachers. Seeing students bored with traditional lectures, worksheets, and quizzes, they introduced project-based learning and saw student motivation rise dramatically. By building a platform and marketplace of project-based Challenges, CrowdSchool seeks to make it easier for teachers to bring creative learning into class. The team began testing CrowdSchool prototypes with co-founder Tim Monreal’s middle school classroom.  They were a smash hit.  Students used iPads to make animations, musical instruments, and PSAs. “The traditional model of school was designed in the 19th Century to train obedient factory workers,” says Monreal, now CrowdSchool’s Chief Learning Officer. “CrowdSchool resonates with students because they want to be creators and problem solvers, not factory automatons that memorize facts and instructions.” In July, the founders quit their day jobs to develop CrowdSchool full time. After success in LA classrooms, their crowdfunding campaign will enable them to hire a team to make CrowdSchool available to teachers everywhere. Check it out.

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Trends | Learning HTML with Song

This guy has charisma! Here’s a little pick-me-up for a Friday afternoon that has everything to do with the current trend of making coding accessible for students of all ages everywhere. From LearnHTMLwithSong.com, one can simply listen and learn about the HTML image tag while tapping your toes. Try to forget this HTML tag after listening to Oakland-based LaeCharles Lawrence Jr.; bet you can’t do it. Sure, it’s a little crazy, but I just can’t stop replaying it! The site takes a new approach to learning code. The site is founded by Diane Presler, a San Francisco coder with fifteen years of experience as an HTML teacher. Learn HTML With Song is for beginning coders of all stripes, from designers to business people to grade schoolers. “We produce catchy music videos (seven in the can already) to get the rules of HTML stuck in your head,” she says. “The tone of the tutorials is conversational and every lesson is sprinkled with cute and funny images.” This is classy and talented applied to learning, and what a combination. You might have to stand up and dance. Have fun!

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Cool Tool | Tynker

CREDIT TynkerProgramming is the new literacy, the people behind this company believe, and the ability to program is what separates those who simply have an idea from those who make their ideas a reality. Tynker is a new online platform that easily and successfully teaches students introductory computer programming, so they can learn how to code through the activities they already love: games and stories. Tynker lessons not only make it easy for students to understand abstract programming concepts, but they learn how to apply concepts to different projects, games and scenarios that they enjoy. They can use their coding skills to easily create games and quizzes, and animations that explain math concepts, or complex science topics. With this curriculum, students learn the fundamentals of programming language without the frustrations of traditional syntax. These benefits also meet many of the criteria demanded by today’s rigorous standards, and kids are also learning fundamental concepts that put them on the path to a STEM career. Plus, as educators respond to the pressures to meet rigorous new standards in core academic areas, the schools that have adopted Tynker as a project-based learning tool to support math, science, social studies, literature and art, are finding that students are more naturally engaged in meeting the rising challenges of each of these academic areas. Check it out here: http://www.tynker.com/

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Conditions for Learning

Maintaining a safe and ethical school environment in a social media age.

GUEST COLUMN | by Michelle Vroom

CREDIT eSchoolViewTheir voices can be loud and their stares intimidating. Hatred is laced in their messages. And, in some cases, their impact can intensify because the attacks are made in a seemingly private space behind the glare of cell phone or tablet.

Bullies have been around longer than the one-room school house and always seem impervious to treating their peers with respect.

Bullying (and cyberbullying, more specifically in the edtech arena) prevention can come from a school or district that embraces technology and social tools then models positive, influential behavior. Teachers and principals can encourage students to use their smartphones and tablets as tools of engagement rather than weapons of attack.

Safe, nurturing environments produce engaged students who challenge themselves and others to excel. 

Safe, nurturing environments produce engaged students who challenge themselves and others to excel. Students are less apt to take risks and explore new ideas in settings where they feel threatened or alone.

Enter digital citizenship and the critical role leading-by-example plays. Integrating electronic devices and tools into a classroom setting opens a world of possibility for our students.

Technology is a major player in both the promotion of cultures of positive acceptance and abandoning isolation. Our job as educators is to establish proper rules of use and clearly defined consequences for misuse and abuse.

We have the opportunity to use technology to build open environments that foster constructive collaboration and learning. Grants and dollars allocated by state governments are helping more and more districts across the nation implement alert systems to send immediate messages to first responders and district personnel during emergencies and potential crises.

We truly can put technology to use to listen to the voices we haven’t heard — in more ways than contributions in the classroom. We can use the power of discovery to create a way for those hurting to tell us just how they need help.

Michelle Vroom is a communication strategist with eSchoolView. Tools like eSchoolView’s Instant Connect (a Cool Tool Finalist) assist students, teachers, administrators and parents in stomping out instances of bullying in and around schools and maintaining a constructive, collaborative learning environment.

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