badgeSmartBlog on Education’s monthly content award recognizes content written by educators, for educators that inspires readers to engage, innovate and discuss.

SmartBrief Education editors and writers sift through thousands of sources each day, reading a variety of content, including blogs and commentaries written by you and your peers.

In an effort to recognize some of the innovative voices in the field, we’ve asked our team to nominate their favorite content each month from which we’ll choose two winners for the Editor’s Choice Content Award. These award winners are then in the running for our annual Educators’ Choice Award.

Meet this month’s winners:

January winners:

Career and technical education was swept to the side of K-12 education for a number of years. Now, though, renewed interest in training students to have practical skills has thrust it back into limelight. But are schools following suit? We asked SmartBrief on EdTech readers to tell us what’s going on with their schools’ CTE programs.

About a third (33%) of readers’ schools have placed high priority on CTE and offer courses in a number of fields. Another third have called it a priority but say they need better funding and resources in order for their programs to be effective. The final third has left CTE on the back burner and is focused on assessment and transitioning to Common Core.

Readers told us that money and resources were the two biggest obstacles their schools face in implementing CTE programs. Thirty-four percent of readers cited lack of funding while 24% blamed outdated technology, equipment and materials. (read more…)

P2WAs the national economy and workforce continues to evolve, we’ve seen a major resurgence in career and technical education. CTE has captured the attention of major education advocates, media organizations and our nation’s legislators by showing a growing understanding that our workforce is hungry for the next generation of highly-trained workers.

In addressing this trend and interest in career training, it’s the responsibility of our school districts and local governments to provide the best possible resources to help our students receive the training they need to succeed in their chosen program of study. It’s becoming a necessity for schools to modernize their curricula, classroom materials, technology and facilities to meet the demands of our workforce and train students.

Revamp the classroom

As CTE curricula evolve, administrators must implement modern technology and materials into the classroom if they want to see students and educators succeed. Plymouth School District, where I teach, once used VHS tapes to demonstrate real-world scenarios to students. (read more…)

Tech Tips is a content collaboration between SmartBrief Education and GreyED Solutions.

Instructional technology specialists/coaches play an important role in schools today. We ask a great deal of them. To be proficient they have to coach, model, collaborate and co-teach. They act as catalysts for change, leading, communicating and promoting best practices. They support teachers with professional development, resources and opportunities to grow their own professional learning networks; they nudge their colleagues past their comfort zones. They invest lots of time and effort in their own professional growth and learning. Instructional technology coaches can’t be content in simply knowing yesterday’s tools — they need to master today’s and be on the lookout for tomorrow’s.

But what do the best ones do? What makes them even more effective? They say YES. Even when what is proposed isn’t possible as requested, they say yes. I love this concept and I know a great way we can accomplish it, leading gently to a solution rather than to a wall. (read more…)

Every Monday, SmartBrief on EdTech features Product Showcase, a section highlighting new products and services designed to support teaching and learning. We’ve pulled all the solutions together into a product roundup, featured here on our Connected Teaching and Learning blog.

Ed-tech providers hit the ground running in February, launching a number of solutions for the classroom and campus. Here’s what readers liked this month:

SpaceChem. Students battle monsters and build factories that turn raw materials into chemical products in SpaceChem, the new educational puzzle game from Zachtronics. Students flex their logic and design muscles as they complete missions and battle enemies. The game, available at no charge to schools, is available on Mac, Windows, Linux and STEAM platforms.

ProjectNextTech. has released ProjectNextTech, a two-semester course on digital literacy. Using project-based instruction, the course teaches high-school students how to choose technology tools; search for and evaluate information properly; and find, assess and create media in a number of formats. (read more…)