Ever wanted to take a class to see artifacts and documents from the past without ever leaving the classroom? Smithsonian’s Learning Lab can bring the exhibits to you and your students with online digital resources to enhance a variety of lessons. With more than a million Smithsonian items available, the pages are age- and grade-rated with hot spots that reveal more information if you hover over them. Because it’s a Web site, the Learning Lab works on just about any connected computer and there are always special exhibits that bring together elements of the institution’s collections. Best of all, you can forget about those worn out worksheets, because the site has a wealth of discussion questions and quizzes. It’s free, but you will need to sign up to go to the digital museum.
The end of July and beginning of August represent a good update and the end of a valuable freebee. To start, on July 29th Microsoft’s free (and sometimes involuntary) upgrade to Windows 10 will end. It’s good because, presumably the pop-ups and come-ons just might be over. It’s bad because unless the offer is extended, the software will probably soon cost $120 for a fresh version of Home and $200 for the Pro version. That's not much solace for a school still using Windows XP.
On the other hand, next week represents the OS’s first birthday and with it comes a large (and needed) Windows 10 upgrade. There will be no wrapping paper, bows or cake with candles. The new software includes a more integrated way to take notes on a touchscreen as well as security enhancements and refinements to the Edge Web browser.
Boxlight has put together a nice primer on how to equip a school with the technology needed to teach called “Launch Tech in Your Schools Successfully.” With input from some of the brightest strategists in Ed Tech, the free 30-page booklet explores everything from forming a tech committee and setting goals to getting input and piloting new technology. There’s even a section on the five most common challenges to incorporating new educational technology. It’s free, all you have to do is register.
We keep hearing about a shortage in programmers to invent the future of software, but few companies, except for Apple, are doing anything about it. The company’s Everyone Can Code (ECC) program hopes to get kids away from game and social media screens by putting them in front of screens for creating apps. ECC starts with an overview of how vital, creative and interesting writing programs for computers can be and moves on to the Swift Playground and programming language, which uses everyday common words as action items. It provides a base to build ever-more sophisticated apps and can connect with physical items, like sensors, cameras and things like Sphero robots. It’s as easy as it looks and the free service and software will be available as a preview in July, but will formally debut in a few months. This way of teaching coding should be part of every school’s curriculum.
Attempting to do for education what it did for retail sales, Amazon is starting what it calls Inspire. The online K-12 educational marketplace is still undergoing beta testing but the idea is to provide a single place for free classroom resources, from lesson plans to software and ebooks. There’s an effective search engine that can be parsed by grade, subject as well as type of resource and, just like buying a toaster, there will be teacher and student ratings and reviews. It’ll start with a slew of lesson plans, but you’ll need to register to use it. See it in action at Booth 1941.
The latest update to Accelerate Learning’s STEMscopes NGSS takes the Next-Gen Science Standards to new teaching heights with scientific and engineering journeys of discovery. The science curriculum now includes Science Today, a series of news items from the Associated Press about current events that have a scientific angle to them and the Linking Literacy portion lets teachers create interdisciplinary projects that expand a student’s understanding.
It can cost hundreds of dollars to outfit each baseball player with the equipment they need to be safe and succeed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether it’s a catcher’s mitt, shoes or bats, Pitch In For Baseball donates new and gently used baseball gear to school and amateur teams from its Philadelphia warehouse.
You’ll never know unless you ask and a school wide survey is the best way to do it. Stopbullying.gov has the tools to see if bullying is isolated or a systemic problem at your institution by estimating the rate and figuring out if there are school hot spots. It also sets up a baseline for comparing assessments over time. The site not only has tips for uncovering a bullying problem but advice on how to set up your own survey as well as sample assessments.
If you’re overwhelmed by the plethora educational and administrative apps that schools have to choose from, GetApp can help. The Gartner company runs this curated site that lists every major piece of software for schools for tasks from scheduling and attendance to calendars and archiving records. You can filter those that require a one-time payment, subscriptions or are free as well as break out those supported by Android, iPad and Web based services.