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.

This month’s winners inspired us by shining a light on creative ways to tap into student engagement and motivation:

Meet this month’s winners:

August winners:

An emphasis on preparing students for college and the workforce has put a spotlight on skills in computer science and programming as well as other topics in science, technology engineering and mathematics. For some schools or districts, these skills are integrated into the traditional curriculum, while others are teaching them through electives or extracurricular programs and courses. SmartBrief on EdTech recently polled readers to gain some insight on how such topics are being addressed in today’s schools and school districts.

According to our poll, 20% of respondents said STEM skills are an important focus in their school or district, while a solid majority — nearly 67% — said STEM skills are somewhat important. Another 13.33% said STEM skills are not an important focus for their schools.

Slightly more than 11% of respondents reported that courses in computer science and/or programming are now being required for students in their schools or districts, while nearly 42% of respondents reported that such courses are offered as electives. (read more…)

textbooksI recently had the pleasure of going fishing with three of my children on Lake Michigan. We chartered a fishing vessel and set sail from the dock with a captain and first mate at 5 a.m. for a five hour trip. This was our first such fishing charter and it turned out to be a great experience all around.

As an educator and educational coach, I am always looking for insights to bring back to my colleagues and the classroom. The following represents a partial list of lessons I gleaned from our time out on the water, a trip that we are sure to remember for quite some time.

  1. Adjust your paradigm. As I noted above, we left early that morning. To get to the dock on time, I had to awaken at just after 3 a.m. Two of my boys were already up, making it easier, but the abrupt change in my nocturnal habits made for some tough sledding at first.
  2. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by the Council for Economic Education.

Financial literacy isn’t just teaching kids about money, according to Nan Morrison, president and chief executive officer at the Council for Economic Education. Children need to learn how to make smart decisions in addition to understanding money. SmartBrief talked with Morrison about her organization’s plans and resources for shaping the way kids learn.

Question: You’ve said that the “language and tools of economics give our kids the ability to recognize and understand the nature of choice in their lives.” What do you mean by this?

Answer: Economics teaches decision making. When you take away the charts and graphs and complicated math and numerical analysis that you see in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, learning economics is basically understanding that you have choices, understanding that choices involve trade-offs, opportunity costs and risks.

A good example is a second grade teacher that we work with who lets her students earn money called “Dragon Dollars” by setting goals and achieving them such as doing their homework, helping with tasks in the classroom and so forth. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Funds for Learning.

In July, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a number of changes to E-Rate, the connectivity program for education. The goal of the new guidelines, which earmark $5 billion in funding over the next five years, is to expand access to high-speed Internet services in schools and libraries.

But E-Rate isn’t just about faster broadband, says FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. It’s about providing schools and libraries with an infrastructure that supports true 21st century learning. SmartBrief talked with Commissioner Rosenworcel about the new E-Rate guidelines and why we need to be bold as we prepare students for the competitive global economy.

How will E-Rate funding help close the digital gap?

The FCC’s E-Rate program is the nation’s largest education technology program. Thanks to support from E-Rate, we have connected more than 95 percent of school classrooms to the Internet. That might sound like the job is done — but nothing could be further from the truth. (read more…)