eSchool News

eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
Updated: 38 min 6 sec ago

5 must-have tools to hire and develop effective teachers

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 01:00

David Schuler, superintendent of High School District 214, shares five must-have tools to hire and develop effective teachers

I have had the privilege of working in public school administration for a number of years as a former teacher, coach, and currently as a superintendent.

I also serve as past president of the Suburban School Superintendents Association and as president-elect of the American Association of School Administrators, where I am honored and privileged to serve superintendent colleagues across the country and Canada.

A common goal among educational leaders is to increase student achievement. A critical piece of attaining that goal is to recruit, retain, and cultivate an excellent teaching staff. The tools described here are uniquely designed to find, hire, and develop effective teachers—giving students the best opportunity to learn and succeed in this ever-changing global economy.

TeacherMatch Educators Professional Inventory (EPI)

It can be challenging to identify teacher candidates who will positively impact student achievement, especially early in the hiring process. TeacherMatch’s EPI offers predictive data to support and improve hiring decisions. Backed by substantial research and powerful organizations in education research like the Northwest Evaluation Association, TeacherMatch has created a hiring tool that assesses teacher candidates in four main areas: teaching skills, qualifications, cognitive ability, and attitudinal factors. The platform is easy to use, and it integrates with most HR platforms. We have found the EPI assessment to be incredibly insightful and essential in making informed decisions as part of our hiring process.

(Next page: Four more tech tools for hiring and developing effective teachers)

Top predictions for tomorrow’s classrooms

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 02:00

Classrooms are changing–how might tech shape the classroom of the future?

Given the fast past with which technology evolves, it’s not entirely a huge stretch to say that a new learning tool could transform classrooms within a year.

In 1984, only 8 percent of U.S. households owned a computer. But today, that has jumped to 79 percent. Fifty-eight percent of people in the U.S. own a smartphone.

Only 18 percent of households had internet access in 1997, compared to 75 percent today. Efforts are underway to expand technology and broadband access to the 25 percent of Americans without home internet access.

(Next page: What the classroom of the future might look like)

8 simple tools for creating engaging infographics

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 01:00

Kelly Maher, a mathematics and technology teacher and technology coordinator, shares several infographics generators to help illustrate complex information

Information graphics, also known as infographics, provide a way to express complex data, ideas, or other information graphically.

Human beings are visual and adept at identifying patterns and trends quickly. Therefore, infographics often aid our understanding of otherwise dense, multifaceted, or complicated material.

Anyone can use infographics to further their understanding of a topic, and you can also create your own for use in teaching or presentations. Here are some infographics generators to consider the next time you need to teach a difficult concept or illustrate intricate information.

Infogr.am is extremely quick and easy to use, making it almost impossible to make an unattractive product. However, control is limited.

Easel.ly is very versatile, and the user has a great deal of autonomy. However, it is somewhat more time consuming, and the user is responsible for making sure that elements are designed and laid out well.

(Next page: More infographics tools—including Kelly’s favorite)

PiktoChart is my new favorite infographics generator. It’s simple and allows any user to create a beautiful product.

Canva allows users to design infographics as well as a plethora of other print and digital content. What sets this tool apart from the others is the Design Tutorials section.

These tools are also worth checking out, if you are willing to pay for their use:

Creatly
Visual.ly
InfoActive
ManyEyes

You also might want to explore the following resources for inspiration (or just to learn something):

Infographic Pins
Cool Infographics
Get More Out of Google

Kelly Maher is a mathematics and technology teacher and technology coordinator at Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, near New Orleans, La. She earned her B.S. in Business Administration at the University of Florida and a M.Ed. with an emphasis in educational technology from Northwestern State University. Kelly is passionate about innovative, creative, and engaging education.

New technologies aim to help personalize instruction

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 01:00

Here are several new ed-tech products that can help educators personalize learning for their students

As more school leaders recognize technology’s potential to help personalize instruction, ed-tech providers are developing products that can quickly zero in on a student’s unique learning needs and deliver lessons to address these needs. Here are several new products with this goal in mind.

New Compass Learning products: Pathblazer, Hybridge, Gradbound

Compass Learning has completely revamped its product line to focus on what its customers say are their biggest pain points: blended learning, intervention and credit recovery, and personalized learning.

The company has announced three new products to address these needs: Pathblazer, a reading and math intervention program that helps quickly identify struggling learners in grades 3-8 and puts them on a path to success with a personal “acceleration plan”; Hybridge, a blended learning product that offers individual pacing for elementary and middle school students; and Gradbound, a credit recovery system for high school students.

Pathblazer and Hybridge are available now; Gradbound will be released in spring 2015.

LearnBop/Fuel Education

Online and blended learning provider Fuel Education has partnered with LearnBop, which offers an automated math tutoring and assessment product for students in grades 5-9, to give schools more options for personalizing math instruction during the critical years for building a solid math foundation.

Using adaptive technology, LearnBop simulates a one-to-one tutoring experience by guiding students through problems step-by-step so they can learn fundamental math concepts at their own pace. As students complete problems, teachers can use dashboards to analyze learning behavior by concept and by student. Teachers are able to address common learning gaps with the class, group students by need, or create personalized playlists to help individual students progress.

Launched just a year ago, LearnBop is part of math instruction in 350 schools in 17 states, where students reportedly are seeing remarkable gains. After one year, 96 percent of students who used LearnBop on a weekly basis at School No. 385 in Brooklyn passed the state math exam—up from just 25 percent who passed the prior year.

This fall, Fuel Education will offer LearnBop to customers through its personalized learning platform, PEAK, an open technology platform that provides a single, unified view of online and blended learning activities across multiple solutions and providers.

(Next page: More new ed-tech tools to personalize instruction)

School eMail, websites hit by eRate changes

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 01:00

New rules would eliminate eRate discounts on eMail, voice mail, and website hosting beginning next year

While free options for school eMail and website hosting exist, there are limitations to what these services include.

[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]

Beginning with the 2015 funding year, eMail, voice mail, and website hosting no longer will be eligible for eRate support. What will this change mean for schools—and what services exist to help schools reduce these costs?

The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connectivity to eligible schools and libraries. Now indexed to inflation, the program will supply more than $2.4 billion in discounts this year.

To transform the program into a vehicle that supports broadband, the FCC this summer issued new eRate rules that set aside $5 billion in funding over the next five years for the internal connections needed to extend broadband access within schools and libraries.

To make this money available for internal broadband connections, however, the FCC has made significant changes to the other kinds of services that are eligible for eRate support.

For instance, voice mail, paging services, and directory assistance no longer will be eligible for eRate discounts beginning next year. This change could have a dramatic effect on school district budgets—and it could force school leaders to reexamine their options for these services.

In its ruling, the FCC noted that many free or low-cost options exist for school eMail and website hosting.

(Next page: Features—and limitations—of some free services)