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Supplement Summer with These STEAM Apps, Games, and Websites

Energize kids to take ownership of their learning to become self-driven thinkers, makers, and problem solvers.

As we dive into June, many teachers, parents, and students have summer on the mind. And for many, summer vacation means summer camp. But not the kind that produced macaroni art, bug bites, and Kumbaya sing-alongs. Today, camps focus on developing skills like creativity, coding, and problem solving -- integral to STEAM learning and 21st-century careers. At the center of these camps are tech tools that not only teach these skills, but energize kids to take ownership of their learning to become self-driven thinkers, makers, and problem solvers. This week, we're highlighting the best apps, games, and websites for STEAM-focused camps and summer activities. We've pulled out four lists that cover acti....read more


5 Fun Ways to Keep Kids Learning over Summer Break

Share these great tools and ideas with parents.

An ever-present worry for teachers through the summer months is that students will relax a little TOO much over the break. While it can be tempting to try to micromanage students’ summer learning with packets and reading lists, there are tons of resources available online that can keep your students’ brains active and their enthusiasm high. Take a step back and let students drive their own learning this summer. Here are five ways you can help students' excitement, motivation, and passion for engaging activities fuel their learning through the summer months. 1. Jump into the sandbox. Sandbox worlds are open-ended platforms that allow students to build objects, games, and more, and share their creation....read more


Coming Soon! New Topics for Digital Bytes

Eight new "bytes" help teens reflect on media portrayals of gender, news literacy, and more.

Digital Bytes teaches teens digital citizenship through student-directed, media-rich activities that tackle real-world dilemmas. Since Digital Bytes launched, we've been eager to expand our menu of topics, or "Bytes," to add depth and breadth to this valuable learning resource for teens. Great news! We've got eight new Bytes coming later this summer, just in time for back-to-school! Here's a sneak peek at the new topics: Digital Balance Teens are pulled in lots of directions every day, and it's often hard to reflect on balancing all those demands -- especially when it comes to digital media. This Byte promotes reflection on digital addiction and encourages teens to explore what we might be giving up to be c....read more


Propel Project-Based Learning with These 12 Apps and Websites

Help students design and engage in projects focused on real-world problems and challenges.

Project-based learning, or PBL, is a student-driven teaching method that calls for students to design and engage in projects focused on real-world problems and challenges. But while PBL is a trusted strategy for increasing student engagement, it's not always easy to orchestrate. The apps and websites we're highlighting this week help both teachers and students keep track of, complete, and assess projects in PBL classrooms.  For teachers new to this strategy and extra short on time, Educurious offers many quality lessons, as well as a community of experts for guidance and support. Math teachers interested in PBL will love Mathalicious, which showcases lesso....read more


Posthaven Vs. Class Locker: What Teachers, Parents, and Students Think

Weighing the pros and cons of two portfolio tools.

Not long after my second-grade students started using iPads, it became apparent that I needed a way to share their digital work with parents. I didn’t want to resort to printing everything, so I researched eportfolio options. I found Posterous in 2011, and that blog platform worked well … until they closed in 2013. Luckily a couple of the founders quickly created Posthaven, which my colleagues and I have been using since. However, I’m always on the hunt for something that might work just a little bit better, and back in August I connected with Class Locker. Here’s a brief comparison of these two platforms. What does the workflow look like? With Posthaven each student has a private folder under my teac....read more


Webinar Spotlight: Helping Students Make Good Digital Decisions with Digital Compass

Students practice decision-making and perspective-taking through animated, choose-your-own-adventure stories.

How can you help students learn how to make good decisions in the digital world? In April, I co-hosted a webinar with Brisa Ayub, M.S., co-creator of Digital Compass, Common Sense’s newest interactive resource for middle school students. Digital Compass helps students practice decision-making and perspective-taking through animated, choose-your-own-adventure stories. We walked through the features of Digital Compass, background research, and implementation ideas for educators. We’re excited about our new resource, and hope you are too!  Digital Compass is available online or as an app (App Store, Google Play, and Edmodo). Webinar Highlights: 17:40 -- "With this character, we were trying to focus on t....read more


Engage Teens in Project-Based Learning with Digital Bytes

Discover, analyze, and explore what it means to be a digital citizen in today's tech- and media-rich landscape.

"Show what you know!" is a common battle cry in classrooms. And an exciting way for kids to demonstrate their learning is through project-based learning. PBL, sometimes referred to as "problem-based learning," speaks to kids in so many ways. This active learning process gives kids the responsibility for their own learning, approaches problem-solving through collaboration and creativity, and applies their learning to the real world. But as teachers know, this type of authentic assessment can be a bit daunting as it's a shift in our pedagogical approach/instructional practices. To help ease students and teachers over this threshold, we've created Digital Bytes, a new site that teaches teens digital citizenship thro....read more


10 Terrific Apps and Websites for Making and DIY

Check out our list of the best tools to get kids thinking and tinkering.

Even with so much technology at our fingertips, the instinct to build stuff with our hands hasn't disappeared. Instead, it's taken on a new form. Enter the "Maker" movement. Blending old-school physical building with modern digital creation, making and DIY have made a splash in the 21st-century classroom. This week, we're highlighting the best apps and websites that harness the power of technology to get kids learning through making. For project ideas, tutorials, and peer feedback, head to Make: Online and DIY websites to get inspired. STEM- and STEAM-focused makers should check out Science Buddies, especially for science fair ideas, and use MoMA Art Lab to....read more


Make Learning Transparent with Badges

Students find value and motivation in mastering the steps toward a goal.

Let be honest: We all -- students, parents, and teachers -- know that grades and report card comments don’t tell the full story of a student's achievements and hard work. Digital badging is a new practice worth examining that can make students' discrete learning goals and accomplishments more transparent and concrete. Badges can be a helpful way to motivate and assess students. It's also a valuable tool for keeping parents informed about what kids are learning. Instead of focusing solely on the final product or assessment, badging encourages kids to find value and motivation in mastering the steps toward a goal. Badging values the learning process, not just the final produ....read more


Teacher's Top Five: Rachelle Wooten's Versatile Tools for BYOD and the 4 Cs

Great multi-platform tools that will drive communication and creation.

I spoke with Rachelle Wooten, a Graphite certified educator and digital learning specialist at Fort Settlement Middle School in Texas. She's an expert in connecting teachers to the best technology for their needs, and has tons of practical experience locating easy-to-implement and versatile tools great for teachers and students. See her tips and favorites below! What's your teaching philosophy? As a digital learning specialist, I am passionate about helping teachers find just the right tool to help them reach and teach each of their students. Sometimes that involves technology, and other times it doesn't. My focus is on finding the best tool to meet the needs of the task. What questions do you ask yo....read more


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