Electronics might not seem like a likely class in high school, but the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, has 400 online eLearning classes on a variety of STEM subjects. Each has been peer reviewed and is self-paced. They have glossaries, tests and many of the course are available in three levels. For now, five of them are available for free: Cloud Based Solutions for Big Data; Cloud Computing Enabling Technologies; 4G Broadband LTE; Transportation Electrification: Applications of Electric Drive Trains;Smart Grid: From Concept to Reality.
Getting students to read and edit their work critically has gotten a lot easier with SAS’s Writing Navigator. The free writing and editing tool works within an HTML 5 Web app that can work with everything from a PC and Mac to Android, iOS and Chromebooks. It starts with creating writing plan, continues through drafting the essay and helps students to revise, proofread and share the work with the class.
A cool new lesson plan, complete with multimedia material from the National Park Service goes over the history of the Bureau of Reclamation's Minidoka Irrigation Project. Built during the 1920s, the dam on the Snake River not only irrigated 120,000 acres of desert land, but produced power for the area as well. The curriculum includes everything from the geography and overall context to building of the first dam (there are now seven) and the laying of the pipes and power lines. There are photos, videos and activities.
In this age where teachers and students often need to show up with their own computers, the flexibility to be able to work with anything and everything is essential. Education.com’s online curriculum not only can keep a classroom filled with lesson plans, activities and games, but works with just about any computer you can throw at it.
Because it runs in a Web browser window, Education.com can work on anything from a traditional school PC, Mac or Linux machine to an iOS, Android or Chromebook system. This opens a world of mixed machines at schools, regardless of whether students and teachers bring their own or are supplied with whatever is on hand.
I used Education.com nearly every day for several weeks with whatever computer I had handy, including iPads, Androids, PCs, Macs and Chromebooks. The beauty of this scheme is that not only will the service work on a variety of classroom devices, but kids can use it at home for assignments or enrichment. On the downside, the screens can look slightly different in different browsers and the browser framework can be clunky compared to dedicated apps that use the entire screen.
It takes just a minute to log in and the site’s response is quick and reliable. Education.com is well-organized and visually-oriented. There's a prominent green bar at the top that has links for Games, Worksheets, Workbooks, Activities, Lesson Plans, Science Fair and a catch-all for everything else in More. Once you get to the content overview pages, there’s a search bar, grade and subject categories as well as preview images of every item.
Education.com does a great job of supplying teachers with ideas and materials for primary students, but some of the categories get sparse for older children. For instance, Education.com’s Brainzy games stop at 1st graders and there are no lesson plans beyond the fifth grade level
Brainzy forms the core of Education.com’s offerings. While the games often run on half the screen, they are effective teaching tools with hints, lots of animation and sounds and a sequenced approach that builds on prior usage.
While many of the activities have built in quizzes, there’s no comprehensive assessment section. Plus, the teacher’s dashboard for tracking student progress only covers the Brainzy games and not the rest of the site. Parents can’t log in to see how their children are doing and teachers will need to transfer the results manually from Education.com to their grade books.
Teachers have access to a wide variety of resources and content, most of which include Common Core links. In addition to a slew of games, the site has read-along stories, songs and no shortage of games and activities. One of my favorites is the Science Fair section, which contains grade- and category organized practical classroom math and science ideas. There’s everything from what’s inside power tools to the golden ratio.
The newest section is a deep selection of lesson plans. Created by actual teachers, there are six subject areas for pre-school through fifth graders. The plans are generally complete, but might need some customization to cover specific state requirements.
Happily, each lesson plan has a suggested time limit and often individual activity timing; most are calibrated for 90 or 100-minutes. There are hundreds of plans with more being added all the time. They have a standard format and are dominated by bullet points for the main ideas, so are easy to follow.
A big bonus is that the lesson plans generally have a variety of worksheets, and this is where Education.com excels. The site has 15,000 worksheets available in an extensive library that covers topics like the different parts of the body, mixed math problems and an excellent set of a dozen planning sheets for arranging the main idea and supporting facts for writing an essay.
On the downside, there’s no place for teachers to share ideas, lesson plans or even just chat about what works and what doesn’t. The company is working on something it calls Teacher Tips for this sort of interaction.
Nothing there for your exact lesson? Go ahead and make your own with Education.com's worksheet generator. There are sections for reading and math, but nothing for science or language topics. There is even a way to make a maze, Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
Education.com has a free version as well as annual Plus ($48) and Pro ($72) accounts that cover 3- and 35-students; Pro subscribers also get extra teaching tools. The real worth of Education.com comes when an entire school or district uses it. The price per student can drop significantly with bulk orders. Plus, the site now has a store for buying physical books, flash cards and science kits.
Able to bridge the software gap among iPads, Windows, Androids, Macs and Chromebooks, Education.com is off to a good first-year start with lots of materials teachers will use every day. Like the children it aims to teach, the site needs to grow, fill-out and mature to be able to handle the range and complexity of subjects that teachers face every day.
$72 per teacher per year (limited to 35 students); discounts available on bulk orders
+ Works on PCs, Macs, iOS, Androids and Chromebooks
+ Lots of activities and games
+ Excellent worksheets
+ Pre-made lesson plans
+ Pre-K through High School
- Limited number of students covered with paid accounts
- Short on assessment integration
The latest in teaching science with tablets is Science Flix from Scholastic, the corporate parent of Tech Tools. It not has Grolier’s Online content, but its 30 teaching units provide a comprehensive look at the sciences from earth and space to health, technology and the life sciences. In addition to videos and articles (available in three reading levels), the program has hands-on labs and thousands of online links that have been checked out for content and appropriateness. There are full lesson plans.
The latest from John Wiley and Sons is PCG “Paths to College and Career English Language Arts Curriculum,” which can help get them ready for college-level English. Aimed at grades for grades 6-through-12, Paths is a mixture of paper and digital instruction that is based on Common Core standards and focuses on close reading, analytic dissection of passages and writing cogent essays. Each grade level comes with a curriculum map that should save lots of time integrating it into your school.
What’s missing from your expensive new interactive whiteboard? The missing element for teaching with new technology is often software that can turn it from a piece of hardware into a teaching machine. Gynzy has a wide assortment of common-core aligned lesson plans and activities for both classroom work as well as for professional development. As you’d expect, everything can be marked up with a stylus and there are a slew of images and widgets available to help any class run smoother. It’s free to try it out and the service costs $100 per teacher or $1,000 per school to license the service.
Assessing English skills of those who aren’t native speakers is never easy, but Pearson’s Test of English Language Learning (TELL) can do it reliably and efficiently. Administered via a tablet, TELL assesses a student’s ability to listen, speak, read and write by exposing them to videos, pictures and words and then asking them questions out loud. With the power to identify, assess and monitor students, all of TELL’s grading is automatic with scores available in minutes.
Due to the size of their teaching and student bodies, small schools often can’t offer the variety of courses that large ones can, but eDynamic Learning can help with an online offering that any big middle or high school can be proud of. With more than 50 digital classes available, the curriculum spans the gamut from “Art in World Cultures” to “Veterinary Sciences.” It’s all browser-based and the classes work with many popular Learning Management Systems and include teacher guides with detailed lesson plans.
What’s missing from your expensive new interactive whiteboard? The missing element for teaching with new technology is often software that can turn it from a piece of hardware into a teaching machine. Gynzy can take care of it with hundreds of common-core aligned lesson plans and activities for both classroom work as well as for professional development. As you’d expect, everything can be marked up with a stylus and there are a slew of images and widgets available to help any class run smoother. It’s free to try it out and the service costs $100 per teacher or $1,000 per school to license the service.