On Wednesday, Nov. 19, 110 of the nation’s top superintendents, U.S. Department of Education officials and representatives from a myriad of organizations, convened at the White House for the Superintendents’ Summit, declared “ConnectED to the Future,” by President Obama. The event was an an extension of the ConnectED Initiative launched earlier this year.

Obama kicked off Future Ready, a bold new effort to maximize digital-learning opportunities and help school districts move quickly toward preparing students for success in college, a career and citizenship. In his speech, he said that it’s time to “yank our schools into the 21st century when it comes to technology, and provide the training and tools our teachers need” and that “every child deserves a shot at a world class education.”

In his concluding remarks, the Obama led all 110 superintendents in a digital pledge signing ceremony, where they joined over 1,100 additional superintendents, from all 50 states in a promise to transform their districts into ones that better prepare students for their future. (read more…)

Four dynamic speakers recently took the stage for the Power Talks keynote at ACTE’s Career Tech Vision 2014 in Nashville, Tenn. Real-world, inspired learning as a change agent in education was a common thread throughout the talks.

Here are four takeaway lessons on the power of CTE from the keynote speakers:

Find your “zone of awesomeness.”

Career and technical educator and national faculty member for the Buck Institute for Education Brian Schoch encouraged attendees to find their “zone of awesomeness.” Finding the zone has helped Schoch design project-based learning that inspires students, and ultimately, helped keep him in the classroom when he considered leaving after his first semester of teaching. Student-led work equals student excitement and engagement, he said. That’s a message some educators may have heard before, but Schoch took his advice one step further, challenging educators to choose projects that also inspire and excite them. When four elements — authentic work, content-rich assignments, teacher excitement and student excitement — come together, “something magical happens,” he said. (read more…)

ISTE 2014 broke records this year, with more than 16,000 people registering for the event, and nearly a half million tweets using the #iste2014 hashtag floating around the Twittersphere during the four-day conference recently held in Atlanta, Ga.

Imagine the expo hall with thousands of educators — and others — visiting booths, learning about new products and trends. Imagine also the constant stream of attendees navigating four floors of escalators leading to sessions, playgrounds and more.

The SmartBrief education team was among those attendees looking to uncover what’s on the horizon for educational technology. Here are some of our takeaways from the event, based on conversations with attendees, vendors and others.

1. Recognize struggling students and intervene. Ashley Judd’s opening keynote session was an emotional journey. She shared her personal struggles with abandonment during adolescence, calling on educators to recognize struggling students and intervene. “If the only thing you ever do as an educator is believe a child who comes to you, you will have done enough,” she said. (read more…)

SmartBrief Education has been on the ground at #ISTE2014 in Atlanta. Here’s a look — via Storify — at some of our real-time insights from the event. (read more…)

maker educationIn a high-school art room, I watched a student working at an easel. When I asked about her progress, she explained that she was attempting to paint sunflowers in the style of Monet, her favorite artist. She told me she liked how the flowers were looking but said the vase was giving her trouble. She planned to keep reworking it, applying layers of acrylic until she got the play of light just the way she wanted. Then she laughed and said, “You should see what’s underneath! I bet there are three or four versions beneath this one.”

Not only was the student producing a lovely painting — which would one day grace her family’s living room — but she was paying close attention to her learning process. At the end of each class, she added a short reflection to her project journal, which she was keeping on a Google Doc shared with her teacher. (read more…)