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…)

textbooksLast year at this time I penned an article entitled “The 4 R’s of Summer School.” In it, I presented four strategies to help teachers make the most of their summer vacation.

While school administrators are typically not “off” from school to the same extent as teachers, there is still plenty of planning, ordering, interviewing and the like that occurs over the summer months. The relaxed days of June, July and August present school leaders with a special opportunity that is unique to this time of year. I like to think of them as a principal’s own set of summertime “R’s.”

  1. Rest and relax. Without question, the school year can be very demanding. Stressors abound, in the form of instructional oversight, disciplinary matters and staffing and budgetary shortfalls, just to name a few. Principals burn their candles at both ends in order to make it to the finish line.
  2. (read more…)

Devices and applications are critical to improving student outcomes, according to a recent poll of SmartBrief on EdTech readers. And yet technology integration continues to lag at many schools and districts. Only 28% of readers classified their school’s tech integration efforts as “very effective.” Educators often cite budget as a reason but admit it’s not the sole, or even primary, culprit. So what is the hold up? We asked SmartBrief on EdTech readers to give us their thoughts on the issue.

Educators need more technology training, according to nearly half (49%) of the poll respondents. Putting devices into teachers’ hands is only half the battle—they need frequent training on using these tools properly. Sixty-six percent stated that more professional development for tools and teaching strategies would improve integration efforts at their school or district.

Take a look at the findings:

Do you think the use of devices and applications is important to driving student outcomes? (read more…)

Introverts are students who are bright and capable of communicating, but class discussions feel unnatural or uncomfortable for them. Sharing via technology is more comfortable, and it can benefit all students since everyone is heard. Here are a few ideas for using tech tools to draw out these learners:

Backchannel. There are a few platforms, like TodaysMeet and Backchannel Chat that allow your classes to backchannel, or have an online discussion while watching a video or presentation in the classroom. Participation is as easy as typing and hitting “send” so it feels less threatening and unnatural to an introvert. The transcript of the chat can also be saved as collaborative class notes. Here is an example from a 9th grade class that watched a YouTube video on the Whiskey Rebellion recently.

Games and Formative Tools. I often use Socrative, a student response tool, to pose questions to my classes. With Socrative, they can submit their answers anonymously and then, as a class, vote on the best one. (read more…)

Nearly 16,000 educators from around the world gathered in Philadelphia earlier this month for ISTE 2015. Attendees crowded the exhibit hall floor to test drive the latest gadgets and tools for learning and instruction. SmartBrief Education editors were on the ground, covering it all. We showcased several of these products in this month’s SmartBrief on EdTech Product Showcase. Take a look at what caught readers’ attention:

Educade from GameDesk. Educade is an online library of free K-12 instructional resources, including lesson plans, apps, games and hands-on activities. Teachers can search for resources by grade level, subject matter and technology type. Users must register in order to access the library.

OpenEd. Teachers looking for new instructional tools can find them at OpenEd, an online resource library with lesson plans, videos, games and assessments designed for K-12. Most content on the site is free but users may purchase a subscription to access premium content from education publishers. (read more…)