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Top 11 Apps and Websites for Student Portfolios

Portfolios are a time-tested and teacher-trusted method for assessing student learning. But what happens when students ditch notebooks and folders for laptops and tablets? Luckily, there are a bunch of great apps and websites out there -- from virtual binders and cloud storage platforms to easy build-your-own websites. These tools also give teachers the ability to create assignments, easily browse student work, add comments, and remotely assess from their mobile device or desktop. Apps like WeLearnedIt and Seesaw allow students to give and receive peer feedback as well as get feedback from teachers in a variety of formats like video, audio, and text. For clas....read more


How Librarians Are Rockin' the Makerspace Movement

Turn your library into a creative workshop with tips from six media specialists.

Shhh! You’re in the library! As the great-granddaughter of a librarian, I was brought up to know that the quiet of the library was sacred space. Fast-forward 30 years. In the media centers of the Cherokee County, Georgia schools, where I train as an instructional technology specialist, quiet is no longer the chief value. Instead, makerspaces are bringing books to life, and the new mantra is, "Innovate, create, collaborate." Many media specialists still struggle with this transformation from silent reading space to innovative makerspace; with that in mind, I interviewed six women who seamlessly flow from rockin’ librarians to Creative Directors of Making in the same day to ask how they do it. Overcoming Limitati....read more


EdTech Hot List: April 2015

Top-rated tools for the month of April, 2015.

Out of all the classroom tools our editorial staff reviewed in April 2015, these scored highly and stood out from the pack. They span subjects, grades, and platforms, and each offers innovative experiences that challenge learners to think in new ways.       A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy Online: "Explore detailed images with powerful, customizable anatomy curriculum" Grades: 9-12; Platforms: Web; Price: Free-to-Try, Contact for Pricing   Brainzy: "Handy, engaging early reading and math topics in fun, inviting package" Grades: PreK-1; Platforms: Web; Price: Limited Free Version, $5.99/Month Pro Version   CodeMonkey: &....read more


Host a Community Dinner with the Family Dinner Project and Common Sense Education

Parents, educators, and students met for a meal and conversations about kids' media use.

On February 20, 2015, The Family Dinner Project partnered with Common Sense Education for a Community Dinner at the Waring School in Beverly, Mass. The dinner was a time for parents, educators, and students to come together for a shared meal and meaningful conversations about social media usage, Internet habits, and practicing good digital citizenship. We asked participants in the event to share some of their thoughts with us, and were struck by the overwhelming positivity we received in the comments. Many attendees reported that they have been continuing the conversations that were begun at the dinner in their own homes, while others say that the opportunity to experience a family dinner event has inspired them to tr....read more


Top EdTech for Promoting Scientific Inquiry

Encourage students to ask questions, gather data, and uncover answers.

There's no one way to do science. These tools offer students the techniques to design their own "scientific method" through inquiry-based learning: making observations, asking questions, gathering data, uncovering answers, revising their thinking, and asking new questions. These apps, games, and websites can help you harness students’ natural curiosity, and inspire them to think critically and creatively as they make sense of the world around them. Sid's Science Fair introduces young students to foundational skills such as classifying objects, identifying patterns, and sequencing. With Curiosity Machine and Science Buddies, kids a bit older can participate in experiment....read more


5 Ways to Keep the Love of Learning Alive

Step back from the daily goal, and let student curiosity take over.

I had just finished teaching my class of fifth-graders a math lesson, and it started to rain -- not just rain, downpour. The kids were working quietly and really trying to concentrate, which was difficult since the rain was hitting the roof and window with gusto. I could tell it was hard for them to look at their papers and not out the window. What would it hurt if we took a little break to watch this wonder of nature? Could it actually help my students? Any teacher can tell you that there's a definite difference between a kindergartner’s excitement about school and a fifth-grader’s. Somewhere between the very first days of school and those last months of elementary school, many kids lose their love of school. How ca....read more


Teacher's Top Five: August Deshais' Favorite Kindergarten Apps

Five teacher-approved apps for building foundational skills.

I spoke with August Deshais, a Graphite Certified Educator and all around superstar teacher, about his pedagogical style and his five favorite classroom tools. Here's what he had to say! How would you describe your teaching philosophy? As a kindergarten teacher, one of my main goals is to help students acquire the foundational skills necessary for successful lifelong learning. A love of reading, expressive writing, and sound math reasoning begin early, and remain important throughout our lives.  What do you look for when trying out new tools in your classroom? When selecting a new tech tool for my students, the first things I consider are developmental appropriateness and sound pedagogical approach. If I can&r....read more


3 Tips on Teaching Media Literacy Using the Miss Representation Curriculum

Recently, I spoke to a group of parents after they viewed Miss Representation, the Representation Project's documentary film about how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America. One father said his 7-year-old daughter was getting teased by boys who thought she was fat. He said, "Just so you know, my daughter isn't fat." It's unfortunate that he felt a sense of insecurity about his daughter's weight. I reassured him, and other parents in the room, that it's important for us to have tools and resources for talking to our children about body image and the ways in which media informs their everyday lives.   American youth consume upwar....read more


Meet the Cast of Digital Compass

Eight quirky animated characters encourage students to make wise decisions online.

Say hello to the newest members of the Common Sense family. Our new educational interactive for middle schoolers, Digital Compass, has a slew of fun and quirky animated characters that will make exploring the digital literacy and citizenship world ... well, a little more entertaining for students. Each humanoid character must navigate a unique digital dilemma reflecting real-world issues and events that shape how our students move through the digital landscape.   Grade 10 | Wallflower Digital Dilemma: Cyberbullying and Digital Drama   Rhoda is known for keeping a low profile with her petals in the books, but she's quickly thrown onto a roller coaster of digital drama when he....read more


Celebrate Earth Day with These 13 Ecology Apps, Games, and Websites

Help students learn about the environment and how to take care of it.

Along with blooming flowers and warmer temperatures, April also brings us Earth Day -- tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22. It's a great time to teach about the environment and the importance of taking care of it. And though mobile devices and computers contribute to pollution and energy consumption in their own ways, they also act as important information hubs to raise awareness about environmental issues. There are a lot of great tools out there, especially for kids, so this week we're shining a light on our perennial favorites. Apps like Plum’s Photo Hunt and Project Noah (both are also websites) take kids on photo missions and scavenger hunts to identify, document, and share the cool stuff they find in nature. Games....read more


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