As a Computer Technology Instructor and Teacher for third and fourth grades at Beatrice Gilmore Elementary in New Jersey, Billy Krakower integrates a variety of technologies into his instruction. “It makes my life easier and ultimately helps my students learn better, which is what really counts,” he says. His latest favorite is Edmodo Snapshot. “Snapshot gives me a complete picture into how my students are performing against Common Core State Standards. And a major perk — it’s free!” He uses Snapshot as both a pre- and post-assessment tool. For example, to quiz his students on Fractions NF.1 for fourth grade, all he has to do is select the standard and Snapshot automatically generates a quiz with Common Core-aligned questions that he sends to his students. Once completed, he gets a visual report showing which students understand the material and which students need more assistance. “I was even able to view which specific quiz questions each student struggled with, so I could address learning gaps more effectively,” he says. “What’s more is that the tool houses content recommendations that I can assign to each student following a Snapshot quiz to help them master the subject matter. All in all, it’s a Common Core life saver,” he says. Check it out.
Empower your interests through technology and online learning.
GUEST COLUMN | by Chris Waldron
The inherent nature of school curriculums encourage teachers to instruct their students by adhering to strict lessons plans in order to achieve milestones and success on standardized tests. Though necessary, the restrictions this imposes on teachers often limits their abilities to both encourage their students to think outside of the box, and pursue personal interests.
Fortunately, technology and online learning has enabled teachers and students alike to follow their passions outside of classroom, revving the creative engine of both instructors and students alike.
Many children find fascination in subjects that aren’t taught in the classroom.
Pursue: Many pursue teaching because of a fervent interest in a particular subject– whether it be math, science, or the arts. More often than not, however, teachers are not able to actually instruct students on the topics that they are most passionate about. Through online resources, teachers can find students who need instruction on their topics of passion. This relatively new teaching opportunity allows instructors to stay connected to their favorite subjects, leading students to success both inside and outside of the classroom.
Grow: All professionals risk falling into a routine, doing the same thing day in and day out because it’s easier than stepping outside the box. Defaulting to the same lesson plan year after year may save time, but it won’t challenge instructors to improve their skills. Through alternative experiences made possible by technology, teachers can expand their teaching abilities by connecting with students who are a world away. Educating students from different backgrounds can help teachers to gain new perspective on different and creative ways to teach a topic, generating new ideas for formal school courses.
Enlighten: Just as teachers have a responsibility to challenge themselves, they are equally responsible for continuing to challenge their students. Whether a student needs help in catching up to the class, or is accelerating faster than his or her peers, it’s an instructor’s job to point them towards the right resources. Online learning platforms are an excellent solution for both the remedial learner and the bright, bored student– both can connect to an outside instructor to fit their exact needs, allowing instructors stay on track with their syllabus while also ensuring that all students’ needs are being met.
Find A Niche: Technology has created near limitless possibilities for children to find and explore their passions, and many children find fascination in subjects that aren’t taught in the classroom. Encouraging a student’s abilities in an area of their choosing helps to tap into academic curiosity, which ultimately leads to more success in traditional subjects. Exposing children to a wide variety of activities, books, and online learning sites will help them to identify their interests early on.
Build Confidence: At one point or another, every child and young adult faces challenges when it comes to confidence. By finding and pursuing a passion they can deem as their own, children begin to come into their own skin. This not only bodes well for them on a personal level, but also directly translates into classroom success. Without success outside of the classroom, students may question their broader abilities. With confidence gained by finding their niche, students know they can be successful in what they set their mind to and this empowers them in the classroom.
Chris Waldron is the Co-Founder of TakeLessons, a trusted online marketplace for finding highly qualified and well-vetted instructors. Students can follow their dreams and fuel personal growth by connecting with the perfect instructor in areas ranging from music, dance and acting to foreign languages, math and photography, professional skills and athletics. Serving K-12 with offerings for lifelong learners of all ages, the platform allows students and teachers to schedule lessons, manage accounts and invoices, as well as process payments across desktop and mobile devices.
A 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.
CrowdSchool, 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.
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!