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:

February winners:

Education technology today is froth with new trends. Blended learning. Self-pacing. Flipped classrooms. Project-based learning. There’s a lot to choose from on this menu and schools and teachers are looking for just the right option for their students.

But should you limit yourself – or your students – to just one innovative practice? Maybe not. Maybe it’s time to branch out and test the waters with a few ideas.

That’s what we did at Taylor County School District. We decided to get creative and let teachers determine how they want to teach and students determine how they want to learn. Our strategy is based on a six-spoke wheel of innovative learning, consisting of a traditional spoke, self-paced spoke, peer/cooperative spoke, virtual spoke, project-based spoke, and Cardinal Academy spoke. (Cardinal Academy is an independent learning program that includes an internship.) Students and teachers decide where their strengths lie on the wheel and make their decisions accordingly. (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.

Spring is upon us and, with it, the launch of several new classroom products and solutions. Here’s what SmartBrief on EdTech readers liked this month in Product Showcase:

Permission Click. Teachers now have new way to create and send digital permission slips, thanks to Permission Click, a free online platform for schools. Parents can submit approvals, make payments and receive receipts through the system. The platform comes with form templates, digital archiving and payment history.

Backyard Engineers. Students design catapults for water balloon fights with neighbors in Backyard Engineers. Gamers can tailor their device’s mechanical elements to control movement, accuracy and range. The game can be played on Google Android and iOS devices as well as through a Web browser for $5.99. (read more…)

classroomA couple of years ago, we commissioned an external review of our human resources functions in the Syracuse City School District. I noticed that our district needed to take a more proactive approach in seeking out the highest quality teacher candidates.

Our superintendent and the board of education based one of the primary goals of our 5-year strategic plan, Great Expectations, on the results of that review. This plan continues to serve as a road map for us, defining the reform-based goals that will guide education transformation in our city.

Great Expectations specifically called for us to develop and implement teacher recruitment and selection processes that would make it possible for Syracuse to compete for the most talented educators around. We realized that we needed to implement new, forward-thinking processes and technology to attract, identify and hire the highest quality candidates.

Here’s how our district strategically used data-driven technology like predictive analytics, a new microsite with Google Analytics and social media to improve our hiring processes and achieve meaningful results. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Curriculum Associates

A key objective of the Common Core State Standards is for students to cultivate close reading skills—the ability to read literature and complex texts and interpret their meaning. D. Ray Reutzel, education professor at Utah State University, outlines the key principles of close reading and offers ideas to help teachers and administrators guide students to success.

What is close reading? What are the key principles and essential steps?

Close reading is making a comeback with national adoption of the Common Core and other college and career readiness standards in English Language Arts. Educators have been doing this type of reading with students for decades under other names. Close reading is deep, effortful and sustained reading versus casual, surface, or quick reading of text. It requires students to peel back multiple layers of meaning embedded in text to derive an interpretation of text meaning that is not explicitly stated. (read more…)