Webinar Spotlight: Tools for Kids with Developmental and Learning Differences

How can you use technology with kids who have developmental and learning differences? In January, we welcomed Tamara Kaldor, M.S., founder of Chicago PLAY Pro and Chicago program manager for Common Sense Education, to present the webinar "Tools to Help Kids with Developmental and Learning Differences." The webinar had a record 404 attendees and won "top webinar of the week" at edWeb. Tamara shared strategies for using technology to support kids affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD), sensory processing disorders (SPD), communication disorders, learning disabilities, and other developmental differences. She explained how technology can be used as a successful intervention strategy to improve more

17 Apps and Websites to Make Test Day a Little Easier

Most students cringe at the thought of taking a high-stakes tests like the SAT, ACT, GED, or AP exams. But with all the technology out there -- the same tech students already use constantly -- test prep doesn't have be synonymous with stress and anxiety. So many readily accessible tools integrate easily into students' devices of choice. And thanks to technology, test prep is now interactive, multimedia-focused, game-like, and maybe even a little fun (just maybe). This week, we've picked out 17 of the best tools. If math is a struggle, Mathalicious and NRICH offer a host of practice problems to suit any skill level on any math topic. If ELA is more of a priority, StudySync and more

Organize Texts for Test Prep with LiveBinders

This easy-to-use tool is a great platform for helping students analyze multiple texts.

Those of us who teach in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards know that one aspect of the anchor standards for reading addresses the “integration of knowledge and ideas.” These standards ask that students know how to look at information from varied sources, explore arguments and claims, and analyze multiple texts with similar themes. As online testing becomes a reality for many schools and districts this spring, teachers who want students to feel comfortable with this cognitive task need to provide opportunities for students to interact with multiple information sources, synthesize the information, and respond to a prompt. There are many tools that can assist teachers in presenting multiple sources in more

How Common Sense Is Helping NYC Welcome Cell Phones into Schools

Devices in the Classroom, Part 1

Today’s students are hyper-connected multitaskers who operate in the state of now. But opportunities for connected learning aren't always available at school, where students are often asked to disconnect and power down. As a result, students can feel the world of school isn't relevant to their outside lives. Fortunately, an increasing number of districts across the country recognize that for student success, we must allow them to learn with the tools they love. The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) is one of them. On March 2, 2015, they are lifting their cell phone ban and empowering schools to make instructional decisions regarding the use of personal devices for learning. Lifting the cell phone ban means more

5 Classroom Strategies That Help Introverts and Extroverts Do Their Best Work

Thanks in no small part to Susan Cain's bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, people have never been more aware of extroverted and introverted personality types -- that is, people who gain energy from social interaction and people who gain energy from alone time. Cain argues that contemporary Western culture, fueled by corporate structures and values, has overemphasized extroverted traits and norms: quick decision-making, outspokenness, and social confidence among others. Given education's close connection with the corporate world, schools are no exception. Often it's the students who eagerly raise their hands, dominate small groups, and think on their feet that draw more

Zoom In on These 12 Fun Photography Tools

Photography is both art and science. As an art, it's an excellent tool for creative self-expression. A photograph can open a person's mind or even change it, and is invaluable for documenting moments in history. Photography communicates. It's also a sophisticated technical tool -- teaching lessons in science (light, motion), math (calculating the relationships between focal length, aperture, shutter speed), and tech skills (photo editing, online sharing). A great beginner's tool is Pixlr Express, an intuitive photo editor that also teaches basic art techniques. More advanced young photographers will enjoy PicsArt - Photo Studio, an more

Tech Integration Works in the Arts

Practical ways arts teachers use 1-to-1

My job as a technology integration specialist for a PreK-12 public school district became a whole lot more interesting this year as the schools I support implemented a 1-to-1 iPad program in grades K-12. It’s been especially exciting to see the creative things the teachers and students are doing in the arts. Vocal Music Arts teachers Vicki Angell and Elysia McGill have their vocal students record themselves singing. The immediate feedback kids get by listening to themselves leads to greater improvement. Angell, who teaches at Sabetha Middle and High Schools, has her students record close to their own mouths while singing parts in a group since she feels that is a true measure of what they do in a choral group. The more

5 Teacher-Approved Apps for Arts Integration

Arts integration is a great way to engage students in academic content. Arts integration can also bring content to life through the infusion of instructional technologies. Here are five great apps that will engage students in digital literacy, creation, and problem-solving activities. Skitch -- Skitch is an awesome app that has multi-platform capabilities. It's an Evernote product available for download on iOS, Android, and desktop computers. Use Skitch when discussing fractional parts of the whole and relating benchmark fractions to food, building and construction, and rhythmic notation. Other uses: Have students take pictures of a piece of art, then have them label elements present in the work like use of line, texture, more

Jazz Things Up with These 12 Music Tools

Music is a valuable teaching tool in any subject area. It makes complex concepts more accessible and engaging -- sustaining kids' attention and adding some fun to everyday learning. This week, we've highlighted 12 music-centric apps, games, and websites that really strike a chord. For a solid introduction to music, Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten teaches about individual instruments and how they combine to make music. Video games, too, can be a great gateway. In Sound Shapes and Audiosurf, kids intuitively learn principles of rhythm, pitch, and tempo. Supplement existing music curriculum with tools like iTooch Music, a comprehensive, middle more

Teaching and Learning in a Media Literacy Class

Create a safe space for students to have open conversations about meaningful topics.

I have the privilege of teaching a media literacy class, which looks at how media impacts both our society as a whole and ourselves as individuals. It teaches students critical-thinking skills and helps them become more aware of the impact media has on their thoughts and actions. Students in my class watch movies and TV shows, read articles, listen to news, and peruse the Internet. They come to class every day to write, watch, discuss, and debate. Though all students would be well served to have an entire media literacy course, it’s hard to sell to other teachers and school boards because of its nature. The class is about watching media and talking about it, which means a lot of time spent viewing screens. The truth is, many more