This post is sponsored by the Consortium for School Networking

Almost five years ago, a small rural school corporation located just west of Indianapolis, Indiana, started on a journey that would change the way they delivered education. The district, rated one of the top ten in Indiana in testing, knew they had to do something to change the way they educated students.

Following the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Framework of Essential Skills, the director of technology challenged all stakeholders with a Given the Opportunity initiative. It was simple. To teachers: Given the opportunity, how would you change the way you teach? To students: Given the opportunity, how would you change the way you learn? To Leaders: Given the opportunity, how would you change the way you lead?

Because of the economic landscape of the community, the school district could not afford to pay for the devices needed to do a one-to-one initiative. Everyone knew, however, that the students needed to be prepared for the world they would face on the same level playing field as the bigger schools with more funding to provide these devices. The option quickly became evident to everyone. A Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program was the only way to accomplish a one-to-one initiative goal. While surveying, meeting and talking with all stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, administrators), the journey began. (read more…)

Timelines are useful tools for helping students conceptualize how individual events fit into a given time period. My favorite timeline app is TimelineJS, an open-source tool from Northwestern University’s Knight Lab that lets you build timelines from Google Sheets.

Here is one I built about the Japanese-American internment.

There are only four steps to creating a timeline. The app’s page outlines them, and includes links to templates, but here’s a quick overview:

  1. Open the Google Sheet template, remove the sample items and add your own content (dates, photos, Tweets, Google Maps, text and media links). The spreadsheet template includes a column for providing media credits. You can leave columns blank, but do not delete or change the column headers. Each row is for a new date and headline on your timeline.
  2. When you have finished adding your content, head to File > Publish to the web. Remember to click on the “Automatically republish when changes are made” option.
  3. (read more…)

SmartBlog on Education this month is covering topics related to educating the whole child. Join us for original content highlighting tools, trends and best practices.

I felt sorry for the second-grade teacher who was desperately trying to get two of her students to return to their seats. These two boys were totally oblivious to her directions, warnings and ultimatums. What made their uncooperative behavior more exasperating was the sheer fun they seemed to have running around the room and doing whatever they wanted. As she was about to push the call button to the main office to summon the principal for help, I decided to step out of my coaching role and ask if I could escort the boys to a small room down the hall. With a great look of relief in her eyes, she whispered “thanks” and told them that they could go with me. They were about to ignore that direction when I got the idea to show them my iPad and quickly said, “C’mon guys, I want to show you what I have on this.” That was enough to get them out the room, but I had no idea of what I was actually going to do once we got to the room. (read more…)

SmartBrief recently published an interactive, in-depth digital magazine about building inclusive pathways to STEM careers. The report featured the following article highlighting how makerspaces can help level the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Access SmartReport on STEM for more tips from students, educators and other experts.

Innovation has driven our country’s economic prosperity. Advancements in science and technology — such as the mastery of flight, the refinement of the assembly line, the disruptive forces of computers and software platforms — have been an economic growth engine. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has fueled this engine and will continue to propel our nation forward.

Students, parents, educators and allies in business and technology industries recognize the importance of a technologically literate workforce that can create and collaborate. In the past few years, the education community has begun to target underserved students — including girls, people of color and those from lower socioeconomic status — through initiatives such as private grants, nonprofit groups and government policies. (read more…)

Are you using add-ons for Google Apps? These wonderful tools — available for Documents, Sheets and Forms — make Google Apps even better.

One of my favorite add-ons is Doctopus. This tool lets teachers create, manage, organize and evaluate student projects in Google Drive. Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by creating your roster in Google Sheets. You will only create this once. It will be your dashboard for the assignment you want to distribute.
  2. Doctopus will make a set of folders for you to use as often as you like:
    1. Teacher: Store your files here, such as document templates and spreadsheets for each new item you distribute.
    2. Students: contains the individual shared folders of all the students on your roster
    3. Class Edit: Want everyone to be able to edit a single document? Put it in Class Edit.
    4. Class View: Want everyone to be able to read but not makes changes to a document?
  3. (read more…)