This post is sponsored by zSpace.

Student engagement continues to rank as one of the primary issues facing teachers today, according to a recent poll by SmartBrief Education. Fifty-seven percent of educators participating in the poll reported that engaging and motivating students are the biggest challenges in their classroom.

So what are schools doing to boost engagement? According to our poll respondents, 37% are facilitating collaborative projects and 30% implement student-led or student-directed learning. Nearly half — 49% — use hands-on learning activities.


Hands-on learning has been effective for science students at the Bradwell Institute, part of the Liberty County School System in Georgia. The district has a STEM lab, outfitted with zSpace virtual-reality systems. The systems come with activities designed to let students interact and get hands-on experience with concepts.

When students are involved in a hands-on learning, “all of a sudden, the concepts come alive,” explains Pamela Donald, an anatomy and science teacher at the school. (read more…)

Spanish teacher Caroline Murray shows how language teachers can use Showbie to assess conversational proficiency.

Language teachers finally have an answer to the question of how to effectively and efficiently assess conversational proficiency in an organized, one-stop-shop way. For me, it’s Showbie.

Showbie is a free app for iOS devices that allows teachers to assign, collect and review student work electronically. The app accepts almost any type of upload and lets you hand write on images and PDFs (using digital ink). This has made it ideal for me when assessing conversations.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Upload an audio prompt, such as a voice recording or downloaded audio file. You can upload different audio files for each student, copy/paste files from one student to another, or upload one per class.
  2. Upload a PDF of the rubric.
  3. Listen to the audio files, then record your response directly into the app.
  4. Assess the student’s work in Showbie by writing directly on the rubric, typing in comments or recording feedback.
  5. (read more…)

children-183007_1280--589From virtual dissections to 3D printing, an update on the latest ed-tech product and service offerings.

 Cengage’s new science modules let high-school and college students perform virtual dissections, explore chemical elements and reactions and conduct virtual research, among other activities.

Dremel released the Dremel Idea Builder 3D40 and a free app that lets users print, monitor jobs and download designs, using their mobile Android or iOS device. A video showing students using the printer is available online.

Parchment debuted an infographic that shows evolution of education, from traditional to digital environments, with a glance at what lies ahead in the future.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will keynote NEXT2016, Schoology’s user conference, taking place July 11-13, in Miami Beach, Fla.

Proximity Learning’s online special-education program includes features for tailored instruction and student management. The program, available on from desktop and mobile computers, may be used for small groups and individual students. (read more…)


Teacher leader considers how whole-child initiatives serve students who may be left behind.

While finishing some grading, an email notification pops up from one of my many education subscriptions. “What is it today?” I ask myself. Data driven instruction? Blended learning? I chew down the last bits of my bland sandwich. Today’s topic? An invitation to attend a professional development session on “The Whole Child.”

According to ASCD, “A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success.”

I roam to their website, interested in learning more about the “whole child approach,” where students enter school from “healthy” lifestyles and continue to practice those styles at school, creating a great sense of “safety” where everyone feels included. With everyone’s emotional needs being met, children become highly “engaged” in their learning, enveloped in “support” enabling them to thrive in a “challenging” and fulfilling experience, where they prepare for college (and career) readiness. (read more…)

Science, technology, engineering and math play a critical role in our economic prosperity. Educators, associations and other stakeholders are working to inspire and engage the next generation of STEM professionals.

Help shape the STEM education conversation during SmartBrief Education’s 3rd annual STEM Pathways event. During this think-tank style event, you will collaborate with other STEM leaders to create blueprints for STEM success.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from a panel of experts and share your professional insights with others on topics such as STEM vs. STEAM, creating multiple pathways to STEM and student motivation. Read more and register.

Interested in speaking or presenting? Contact Melissa Greenwood, Director of Content, Education. (read more…)