Posts

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Time Saving Technology Hacks

Technology Hacks

Technology can be very easy to use. It can also be difficult. For those who did not grow up with technology, it can be a really challenging and frustrating experience.

For those who do not fully understand technology, it is a grueling and tortuous experience. In the world we live in today, technology is not going anywhere, and in certain job fields, technology is now commonplace.

In the education sector today it would be considered abnormal for a classroom to not have some type of technology. Whether that technology be a computer, an iPad, or even just a projector. Many classrooms do not solely have a blackboard in the middle of the room. The ways of learning are constantly upgrading, so the methods of teaching should be as well.

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”

– Nancy Kassebaum

Again, technology can be very easy, or it can be difficult. But there is good news. TED Talk speaker David Pogue has created a list of ten tech hacks that will save you some time. It will also provide you with some simple tips to use to help in the classroom. 

Watch the full video here

By Taylor

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Analytics for Education

Education Analytics

Education Analytics

In recent years, the idea of big data analysis and analytics has taken the tech and business worlds by storm. Every action that we take online leaves a digital trail. There’s an increasing emphasis on software that can analyze this large volume of data. Because this analysis is so vast, it can reveal fascinating trends and patterns in consumer behavior.

Learning analytics is the synthesis of user (learner) created data to discover correlations and predict on future outcomes.

George Siemens presents a holistic model for learning analytics that incorporates not only student class performance data, but also elements from all areas of a student’s online life. Predictions based on analytics would lead to adaptation, personalization, and intervention in learning.

This process helps educators and administrators as well. Recorded student interactions in the VLE (virtual learning environment) can be used to help create more dynamic curriculum design. There is potential for the learning experience to be optimized for each student. The impact of any updates or changes can be easily tracked.

Education AnalyticsWhy Learn Analytics?

Learning analytics is scalable – teachers can implement the basic principles as a way for individual students to reflect on their growth and success. An example of this would be to create a table with all class assignments. For each assignment, students can record where they completed it as well as their level of understanding. This also would include the grade they received on the assignment. Learners will be able to identify their optimal environment to complete assignments and predict how well they will do on an assignment based on various factors.

Learning analytics and educational data mining are powerful tools for improving learner performance, but they come with some ethical debates. Can students’ privacy be preserved? Additionally, would a prediction of success or failure during a course help or hinder students learning?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Don’t Be Invisible: Hacks to Boost your School’s SEO

Boost School SEO

Boost School SEO

In the era of 21st century learning, it’s important for schools to maintain a strong online presence. Having a strong SEO (search engine optimization) can help your school appear first in an online search. The first step is to create a top of the line website to engage students and parents, but it doesn’t stop there. Optimizing your site’s appearance in search engines will ensure that prospective families can find you. Here are 4 easy things you can do to make sure your school gets seen online!

  1. Content

    1. Make sure content includes keywords
    2. If you’re working in html, put page titles in heading 1 format that includes keywords
  1. Caption action

    1. Do you have videos on your site? Provide a transcript, as this will increase the number of keywords that the website contains. This can also be done with images. Make sure you post a caption with each picture. Search engines can’t interpret visual content (yet!) but they can certainly read text.

 

Boost School SEO

  1. Promote low-engagement content

    1. If a page or article is not getting as many clicks, post on soc
      ial media about it. This is a free way to harness your community to drive traffic to your site, improving its SEO.
  1. Make it mobile.

    1. Make sure your website is responsive to different screen sizes and can be accessible by smartphone.

With the implementation of these strategies, your school’s search engine ranking will improve! Still sound overwhelming? iClass provides a fully integrated website and mobile app solution with SEO included. 

 

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Introducing STEAM: A New Learning Approach

Adult art artist

Introducing STEAM Title ImageWhat is STEAM?

Introducing STEAM! STEAM is derived from STEM, which is essentially a more specific curriculum of education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In order to understand STEAM, we first need to understand a little bit about STEM.

STEM was introduced in the early 2000s because it was noticed there was a decline in proficiency of the subjects in the STEM field. With the introduction of this new field, many more teachers are now being prepared and trained to teach these specific fields. STEM includes learning about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in completely scientific concepts.

This is where STEAM and STEM differ. STEAM, like STEM, teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEAM differs in that STEAM includes the arts as well. Included in the teaching of the arts is drama, dance, music, media and visual arts, among others. While this curriculum also includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the teaching of STEAM is different in that it looks at the subjects in a more creative and inquiring type of way.

Introducing STEAM

Why is STEAM Important?

The humanities give us the context of our world. They teach us how to think critically. They are purposely unstructured, while the sciences are purposely structured. They teach us to persuade, they give us our language, which we use to convert our emotions to thought and action. And they need to be on equal footing with the sciences”.

– Eric Berridge

One of the main reasons why introducing STEAM is important relates to the fact that there is much emphasis on preparing students for the STEM field. While this is not bad, it also means that schools are pushing the scientific fields, and shifting the humanities to the side, which does not serve students well. As Eric Berridge said, the humanities (arts) need to be equal to the sciences. By pushing the STEM curriculum, we are unintentionally sending these students a message that the sciences are the best career path after school.

Teaching the arts allows for students to think in a more creative way, because of the fact that teaching with a STEAM curriculum allows for questions. It allows for students to think more freely and because the curriculum is not specifically scientific, there can be many different answers, and it opens the classroom for a more varied, in-depth discussion.

 

The takeaway: STEM is important, but only teaching a STEM curriculum is hindering the chances of students fully learning what they’re truly passionate about. By teaching STEAM, not only is the STEM curriculum included, but the inclusion of the (A)rts provides a less structured way to discuss topics, and it may just inspire students to participate more.

 

Teaching tip:

Makerspaces are one cool way to introduce STEAM curriculum in your classroom. Learn more about how to start a makerspace easily here.

By Taylor

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Analytics for Education: How Big Data is Changing Learning

How Big Data is Changing Learning

In recent years, the idea of big data analysis has taken the tech and business worlds by storm. Every action that we take online leaves a digital trail. There’s an increasing emphasis on software that can analyze this large volume of data at a high velocity to produce meaningful results. Because this analysis is so vast, it can reveal fascinating trends and patterns in consumer behavior.

 

Learning analytics is the synthesis of user (learner) created data to discover correlations and predict on future outcomes.

 

George Siemens presents a holistic model for learning analytics that incorporates not only student class performance data, but also elements from all areas of a student’s online life. Predictions based on analytics would lead to adaptation, personalization, and intervention in learning.

This process helps educators and administrators as well. Recorded student interactions in the VLE (virtual learning environment) can be used to help create more dynamic curriculum design. There is potential for the learning experience to be optimized for each student. The impact of any updates or changes can be easily tracked.

 

Learning analytics is scalable – teachers can implement the basic principles as a way for individual students to reflect on their growth and success. An example of this would be to create a table with all class assignments. For each assignment, students can record where they completed it, their level of understanding, the amount of time spent, any screens, etc. in addition to the grade they received on the assignment. Learners will be able to identify their optimal environment to complete assignments and predict how well they will do on an assignment based on various factors.

 

Learning analytics and educational data mining are powerful tools for improving learner performance, however, they come with some ethical debates. Can students’ privacy be preserved? Additionally, would a prediction of success or failure during a course help or hinder students learning?

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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#MondayMotivation: Lead Like A Pirate

Motivation to lead

With Back to School season around the corner, it’s time to start reflecting on classroom leadership. We have heard the phrase “Be A Leader.” It’s fairly common, actually. Most people would rather be considered a leader than a follower. In schools, it is imperative that the administrators and teachers are leaders. The creators of Lead Like A Pirate, Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, saw that effective leadership had many facets and introduced a new system of leadership training. They want you to lead…

 

Classroom leadership like a pirate: a pirate ship on the ocean with stormy skies above

 

…like a pirate.

So what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to Lead Like A Pirate?

The purpose of being a pirate leader is to make schools amazing with engaged students and empowered educators who know they are making a difference. The goal of being a pirate leader is to create a school environment where students are knocking down the doors to get in, rather than out. 

 

Do you have what it takes to be a Pirate Leader? 

Passion – both personal and professional

A willingness to Immerse yourself in your work

Good Rapport with your staff, students, and community

The courage to Ask and Analyze what is and isn’t working

The determination to seek positive Transformation

And the kind of Enthusiasm that gets others excited about education

A man in a suit makes a thumbs up.

To learn more about what it takes to Lead LAP, follow the conversation on Twitter (#LeadLAP), visit the website or read the book.

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Tech Tuesday: Book Creator

Increase digital presence

What is it?

Book Creator is a way for students and teachers to express their creativity through the creation of books. The application can be used both on Google Chrome as well as on the iPad. Using Book Creator, students and teachers are able to include and combine text, images, audio, and video, giving them endless opportunities to create something memorable. One of the best parts about Book Creator is that there is no limit to who can use it. The age of students ranges from kindergarten to college, which shows that Book Creator is easy to use for any age group.

 

How it Works

The Book Creator process is simple. Once an account is created, users have free rein to choose what their book will be about. Some examples of books that have been or can be created include: “about me” books, poetry books, digital portfolios, interactive stories, or even a math or science lesson.

 

Once the book is finished, users have the opportunity to publish their book. The published book is then shared with both their classmates as well as others around the world. One class even published their books on the Apple iBookstore and six of the students’ books were featured in the top 150 downloads!

 

The Positives

Students can sometimes be reluctant to participate in class. Utilizing Book Creator in the classroom gives a voice to those students who are hesitant to speak up or participate in class discussions. The book creations from students also help to demonstrate their understanding of a lesson. Book Creator also offers an option for global collaboration, where classrooms from different parts of the world can work on a project simultaneously, without actually being in the same place.

 

What Teachers are Saying

This is authentic learning at its best. My students have a voice.”

–  Jane Ross, Digital Literacy Coach

 

“Book Creator has provided such a user-friendly platform. Students’ ability to create and share audio and visual content truly engages “student voice and choice” in math class!”

  • Cathy Yenca, Middle School Mathematics Teacher
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Motivation Monday: 15 of Our Favorite Quotes on Teaching

Quote on future

1. “To teach is to learn twice over.” – Joseph Joubert

2. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~ Henry Brooks Adams

3. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ~ Goethe

4. “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ―Malala Yousafzai

5. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

6. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

7. “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B King

8. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

9. “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

10. “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and love of bringing the first two loves together.” – Scott Hayden

11. “A teacher has two jobs, fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.” – Mr. Holland’s Opus

12. “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita F. Pierson

13. “If we are truly effective teachers, then we are creating autonomous, independent, and self-directed learners, not just successful test takers”. – Robert John Meehan

14. “If you really want to know about the future, don’t ask a technologist, a scientist, a physicist. No! Don’t ask somebody who’s writing code. No, if you want to know what society’s going to be like in 20 years, ask a kindergarten teacher.” – Clifford Stoll

15. “There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools.” – Ken Robinson

Get Connected! Technology Every Teacher Should Know

It can be challenging to sift through the immense amount of tech resources that are available to teachers! Here are a few of our favorites, selected based on ease of implementation, usefulness, and student engagement.

Mindmeister

This is the website for those who have too many thoughts. Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that is perfect for brainstorming and organizing. The tool can also be used for note taking, as well.

Preparing a lesson for your class? Mindmeister offers both a function for brainstorming and planning – both essential for creating a lesson plan.

Create your first mind map here.

post it notes on a wall

 

Prezi

Created in 2009, Prezi has quickly become a leading presentation software for both the business and education sector. The design of Prezi has helped its rise in popularity. Unlike PowerPoint slides, Prezi offers an interactive way to present, complete with a zoomable canvas and premade templates.

There is no shortage to the type of presentations that can be created with Prezi. Topics range from analyses of books to a sales pitch in a business meeting. More importantly, because of the design of Prezi, they are much less boring to watch, therefore keeping an audience entertained and fully engaged.

The best part? It’s free. You can learn more or sign up to make your first Prezi here.

 

Kahoot

Like Prezi, Kahoot can be used in both the business and education sector. It is a primarily a mobile app, used to take quizzes of all types. Kahoot helps to keep everyone connected through a fun and interactive quiz format.

In the business world, Kahoot can be used to make any type of training or presentation more fun and engaging. Kahoot is used for team building exercises, making group trainings much more fun. In the education world, Kahoot can be used to either quiz students, or it can also be used as a study tool when there is a test.

Learn more about Kahoot here.

students are excited and looking at a computer screen

Penzu

Penzu is a site created for those people who love to write, but don’t like pen and paper. It’s an online journal and diary platform that can be used for anything from wedding planning to daily thoughts.

In the education sector, Penzu can be used as a tool for daily writing assignments or for spicing up homework. The awesome thing about Penzu is its accessibility. Anybody can write from anywhere, as the website also has a mobile app, allowing anyone to write from wherever they are, at their own convenience.

If you’re ready to start writing, click here.

 

 

Study Blue

Sponsored by Chegg, Study Blue is an online study library. Equipped with over 400 million notecards and study guides, students should have no problems studying for that upcoming test. Because of the app, students are able to study wherever they go. Study Blue also offers the option to create quizzes, giving students the opportunity to see what they already know.

Try it out here.

a person takes notes while looking at a computer

 

Knewton

No one learns the same way. Knewton knows that, so they’ve created a platform for every single type of learner. The company has provided 28 million adaptive learning courses since its founding in 2008.

The company integrated a new system known as Alta. Alta allows students to learn through completely personalized instruction and the program provides the student with an assessment of their mastery of the subject. Even better, the technology is easy-to-use and automatically provides feedback to the instructors.

You can learn more about Knewton here.

 

iClass CMS

iClass provides websites for schools that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st-century school. Teachers have the ability to communicate with parents instantly and at no cost. Students are able to work remotely and access information via their smartphone or laptop. Learn more here.

 

By Taylor

5 Ways Classrooms Have Changed in the 21st Century

Classroom with rolling chairs

Lifestyles have changed dramatically since the beginning of the new millennium. Similar changes have occurred in our classrooms. As the first generation to grow up with smartphones, social media, and more, today’s students have different expectations and needs when it comes to education.

 

Graphic via Open Colleges

Collaboration

Pupils expect fewer lectures and more interaction with classmates. Teachers act as facilitators of learning rather than distributors of information.

 

Tech in the Classroom

Instead of competing with phones, tablets, and laptops, try incorporating them into your teaching! There are many advantages to using devices for school activities including engagement, instant feedback, and enhanced cooperation.

 

Project-Based Learning

Put simply, Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a method of inquiry where students identify a problem, then synthesize information to solve it. PBL engages students and allows them to learn about more than one topic at a time.

What is Project-Based Learning?

 

Organic Layout

Visit any school today and you’ll notice that classrooms that were once laid out in orderly rows are now full of tables, bean bags, and rolling chairs! Classrooms should be designed in a way that reflects learning goals – facilitating collaboration and meaningful discussion as well as independent learning and problem solving.

 

Classroom with rolling chairsImage via Smith System

 

Remote Access

Students have resources available on their cell phones constantly. The standard of constantly available information impacts education – learners want to be able to access homework, grades, and reminders on the go. Make sure that class website is adaptable so it can be seen on a phone and provide a channel for instant communication with teachers

 

iClass CMS provides websites that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st century school. Learn more here.