Aug 22 2012

10 Must-Reads for a New School Year

A primer of the best and most popular ed-tech posts from the previous three months.

I was sitting on the couch last night watching the baseball game when my cell phone buzzed on the coffee table at my feet. It was a message from a teacher friend of my mine. She wrote, "Reality has set in."

As a new school year begins, educators everywhere are putting a bookend on another summer, readying classrooms and recharging their brains — and their batteries — ahead of students' return.

I don't know how you spent your summer vacation, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't in front a computer (tell me I'm right). To help you get back in the groove, our editors have assembled this primer, featuring some of the best and most interesting content found on the Ed-Tech Focus on K–12 web site over the last three months.

Looking for fresh ideas about how to use technology in the classroom? Check out our 10 Education Voices to Follow on Twitter, or click on any of the links below.

And don't forget to share these resources with your coworkers — unless, of course, you're trying to one up them in tomorrow's team meeting. Then, by all means, keep these to yourself — we totally understand.

Why Teachers Want Technology [Infographic]

Why Teachers Want Technology [Infographic]

This infographic from PBS Learning Media created all kinds of buzz when we first posted it to our site earlier this month. Everybody knows that students and parents want to see a stronger investment in technology. But what do teachers want? These intriguing statistics will give you all the ammunition you need to debate the topic with coworkers.


No Facebook or Twitter in Class? Try These Teaching Work-Arounds

No Facebook or Twitter in Class? No Problem: Try These Teaching Work-Arounds

Evidence that social media can be used effectively in classrooms is mounting. Still, many schools have draconian policies that prevent teachers from using tools such as Facebook and Twitter in the classroom. To get around these restrictions, instructional technologist Elaine Plybon offers these social media work-arounds. You don't want to miss this. 


21 Reasons Technology Works for Education

21 Reasons Technology Works for Education

Who doesn't love a list — especially when that list makes it impossible to ignore the impact technology is having in our schools? Want to make the case to administrators that your school should invest in educational technology? These 21 statistics are guaranteed to help you get your point across. 



7 Steps to Safer Social Media in the Classroom

7 Steps to Embracing Social Media in the Classroom

We've already covered the controversy surrounding the use of social media in schools. If we can agree the technology has a place in the classroom, we can probably also agree that keeping students safe online when using these tools is a primary concern. If you're already using social media with students or thinking about starting for the first time this school year, consider these seven steps to make your program safer. 


How to Start a BYOD Program 

How to Start a BYOD Program

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, which encourages students and teachers to connect their own personal mobile devices to school networks, has been lauded as a cost-effective way to get more technology into the hands of more students. But what's required to launch an effective BYOD program? In this article, Alex Inman, director of information services at the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, takes us step by step through the BYOD process, from philosophy to execution. Want to launch a BYOD program at your school? This article is a must-read. And don't miss Alex's tips for getting the most out of mobile devices. 

Teachers Bring Text Messaging to the Classroom

Teachers Bring Text Messaging to the Classroom

If you have a child with a cell phone, you probably know how popular text messaging is with students. In this article, Ed-Tech Focus on K–12 contributor Dan Tynan tells us how teachers can use text messaging as a tool to encourage even the shyest of students to speak up in class. 



Interactive Whiteboards Enliven Storytelling

Interactive Whiteboards Enliven the Storytelling Process for Students

Have access to an interactive whiteboard? This lesson plan from fifth-grade teacher Cari Orts provides a great example of how technology can help students better absorb content by helping them create their own books. Plus, storytelling! Need we say more?



How to Ready Stakeholders for "Learn Now, Lecture Later"

How to Ready Your Stakeholders for Learn Now, Lecture Later

As technology changes the way we teach, more educators are dropping traditional lectures in favor of turning their classrooms into working laboratories, where students learn by doing. In this article, ed-tech executive Julie Smith explains the emerging "Learn Now, Lecture Later" philosophy and offers evidence that it works. 



What Makes Education So Pinteresting?

What Makes Education So Pinteresting?

When educators discuss social media in the classroom, the conversation inevitably turns to the obvious: Facebook and Twitter. But those are just two of many social applications that can be used in teaching and learning. In this roundup, we take a look at how another popular tool, Pinterest, is being used in class.  



Help Students Learn from Their Peers in Other Schools and States with Skype

Help Students Learn from Their Peers in Other Schools and States with Skype

Want to take your students on a field trip to the local planetarium but lack the resources to bus them clear across town? This lesson plan, from educator Andrew Fenstermaker, shows how educators can harness the power of Skype to conduct field trips without leaving the classroom.