When it comes to using technology in the classroom, teachers “have to be open-minded” and willing to take risks, said Moananui Blankenfeld, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Hawai’i during a conversation I had with her and her peers at their tabletop session at ISTE 2015.

“Get out of your comfort zone,” advised Blankenfeld. “Do something you haven’t done before.”

She was not alone in her thinking. I spoke with several other student presenters at the conference to get their take on the issue and see what advice they have for tech-wary educators. Their insight and advice was honest, practical and (surprisingly) fair. Here’s what they had to say:

Turn to your students. Today’s students were “born in the digital age,” and technology is “second nature” to them, said Keakealani Pacheco, a senior at Kamehameha. Take advantage of this, she recommended. They offer a wealth of knowledge and experience. “Don’t be afraid to ask,” Pacheco emphasized. (read more…)

Technology is mainstream in education today. Students have a number of devices and applications available to them, at their fingertips, and engagement is up.

But what about the work they’re doing? One way to boost engagement and make learning more relevant is to bring in an authentic audience for your students. Give them opportunity to share their work beyond their classroom walls.

The Web is a great place to start. Help your students to create Web pages for their work. Weebly and Wix offer great platforms for students, plus they’re free and easy to use. Students can build pages, post their work and then share it with family, friends and – with parent permission – others around the world.

Authentic audiences instill motivation in students to do their best work. When planning your next assignment, think about ways you can share your students’ work beyond your classroom walls.

Brandi Leggett teaches fifth grade for the School District of Philadelphia. (read more…)

professional development

This month, SmartBlog on Education is exploring classroom design and management — just in time for the new school year. In this blog post, educator Cheryl Mizerny shares strategies used by master teachers to help engage and motivate students.

William Glasser said, “Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is.” I tend to agree with him. How else can we explain the sheer volume of books, websites, blogs, courses and consulting firms expressly devoted to the art and science of teaching? In fact, one of the things I am most proud of about my chosen profession is that teachers, as a whole, are already doing a pretty great job, yet most of us explore how to do even better.

One of the ways in which many teachers would like to improve is in their ability to reach and motivate all of their students. While it’s true that there are those who seem to be natural-born teachers, it is possible to learn some of their secrets to keep every student in your classroom engaged and invested in their learning. (read more…)

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:

June winners:

Welcome to SmartBrief Education’s original content series about the unique stories of teacherpreneurs. These are the innovative individuals confronting challenges, creating solutions and challenging the traditional definition of “educator.”

For teachers, the politics surrounding public education sometimes makes it feel more like 1773 than 2015. We can feel marginalized by a system that seems to subject our profession to “test”-ation without adequate representation. And while educators might dream about dumping standardized tests and NCLB paperwork into the Boston harbor, there are far better ways we can advocate for change, like getting involved in productive, meaningful conversations with policymakers.

As teacherpreneurs with the Center for Teaching Quality, both of us sought opportunities to meet with state leaders and initiate conversations about education policy. While our roles gave us structured time for this work, the five “trade secrets” we share here can be adapted and used by any teacher who wants to advocate for the profession. (read more…)