Friday, August 23, 2019

Welcome back to school - resources for every teacher

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a great summer and was able to relax and recharge. Most schools around here start next week, with new teachers starting this week.

The beginning of the year is always a little crazy for all teachers. Getting your room setup, implementing new ideas into your lesson plans, getting to know your students, and just settling back in to the routine can be busy and stressful. Remember to not over do it and take time for yourself.

Image result for back to school craziness

One thing I've done in the past that helped me is using a check list of everything I have to do when school starts, including setting up my room (computer, bulletin boards, etc), things I want to post in my room, lesson ideas and more in Evernote. I modify it each year, adding new things for the following year.

Image result for back to school checklist for teachers

Here are some more tips, resources, and help to get your school year started on a positive note, and keep it that way.

Advice to New College Graduates about to enter the Teaching profession

Summary of new teacher tips, urban schools issues, technology resources

Google for Educators - Google has a huge number of free resources for teachers and students. Check them all out (they're all free).

Microsoft Education Resources - resources for admin, IT and teachers

Evernote for Education Resources - the ultimate note taking, web clipping, lesson planning resource

Create a Personal Learning Network - a PLN is an excellent resource for help, advice, and sharing ideas.

Overview of some free technology that can help you be more organized and efficient.


List of What Makes a Good Teacher - created by students

Great resources for New Teachers - advice, support, and training

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

eSpark - a fun and engaging way to differentiate reading and math instruction for students in preK-5th grade

eSpark is a fun and engaging way to differentiate reading and math instruction for students in preK-5th grade. It is completely web-based. They have just released a free, one-year trials of eSpark as well. Sign up free here:

eSpark automatically differentiates for PreK - 5 students based on their current needs with targeted instruction in reading and math. It includes games, videos and other resources to help students while they have fun. It is adaptive based on each student and helps students with self-paced pathways to assist them in mastering new standards and receive immediate feedback. 

eSpark also has great teacher tools including a dashboard to track progress and see where students are. Teachers can receive weekly, actionable emails that share suggestions to work with small groups and 1:1 interventions. Teachers can also use on-demand assignments to assign targeted skill practices to students.

eSpark has an engaging variety of resources to keep students engaged and on task, while automatically meeting each student at their own level. 

You can learn more with this walk through video and below.

Disclaimer - eSpark is a paid advertiser on ETG.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Future of STEM Education: 5 Innovative Ideas About to Break Through

The Future of STEM Education: 5 Innovative Ideas About to Break Through

by Kate Began

With our world becoming increasingly technology-driven, there is growing demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. To meet this demand, there has been ongoing discussion on how to best educate our kids for a STEM-focused future.

How can we best equip our kids with the necessary skills to face future challenges? While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to teaching STEM, researchers and educators are always searching for innovative ideas to help kids develop in-demand skills.

STEM education will only become more important moving forward. To best prepare our kids for a tech-driven future, here are five innovative ideas that educators are testing out:

Highly-Specialized Elementary Teachers
As it stands now, math and science teachers are forced to cover a wide breadth of topics geared towards preparing students for the future. The main problem is that many elementary teachers are woefully unprepared to cover in-depth topics that ignite their students’ passion for STEM.

To combat this problem, some schools are choosing to employ teachers who specialize in robotics, coding and other in-demand fields. With a greater depth of knowledge on a subject, teachers can help build confidence and STEM literacy in students.

Although the idea of specialized elementary teachers is far from becoming widespread, the groundwork for these teachers is currently in the works. Already, we’re seeing universities such as Arizona State University offer specialized STEM education programs to help teachers feel confident teaching STEM subject matter.

Game-Based Learning
Educators have long been using game-based learning strategies to boost student engagement. If your classroom was ever divided into two teams and pitted against each other for a trivia game, you’ve experienced game-based learning.

Today’s game-based learning is far more sophisticated. To prepare students for a future in STEM, some educators are bringing immersive technology into the classroom and utilizing it for game-based learning.

For example, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have the power to transform STEM education. With these technologies, students can take a virtual field trip to the International Space Station, hear our heart pump blood through our cardiovascular system or observe the innerworkings of advanced electronics housed inside stainless steel enclosures.

Encouraging Infant and Toddler Math Education
Amazingly, even infants and toddlers can learn from STEM-based activities. Exploring new colors, shapes and textures with your child are technically science and math-based activities that invite your child to explore new concepts. Asking your toddler open-ended questions (as opposed to “yes” and “no” questions) is another simple way to begin preparing them for the world of STEM.

Why bother encouraging STEM skills at such an early age? Early introduction to STEM concepts has repeatedly shown to benefit children in all areas of education.

According to the National Research Council, early math knowledge can boost a child’s math comprehension later in life, as well as their reading comprehension skills. By integrating STEM learning earlier, parents can give their child a head start for their future education.

Enhancing STEM Experiences Through Inclusive Learning Spaces

A learning environment which sparks creativity and innovation in kids is critical to our future success in STEM education. The biggest question facing educators is which learning environment is best for STEM education?

While researchers have all sorts of different ideas on what makes the ultimate STEM learning environment, most will agree that the classroom must be flexible, inclusive and technology-based. A classroom which is open to discussion and which embraces failure is key to a positive STEM experience in young kids.

Today, teachers are slowly becoming educated on teaching soft skills in STEM. These skills refer to non-technical skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and problem-solving.

Soft skills are growing ever more important in our technology-based world. No matter how sophisticated our automated systems become, humans are still valued for their creativity, flexibility and motivation.

Getting the necessary funding for these inclusive, high-tech spaces remains a significant challenge for school districts. However, a classroom which embraces hands-on learning and has connectivity is key to successful STEM education.

At-Home STEM Visits

Preparing our teachers and classrooms for STEM is only half the battle. As a child’s first teacher, parents play a critical role in facilitating a child’s learning and career opportunities in STEM.

To help parents integrate STEM learning into the home, some schools are partnering with organizations that conduct at-home visits. These visits are meant to ensure that kids have the tools and resources they need to succeed in a high-tech world.

The Puerto Rico-based Flamboyan Foundation between schools and parents. The private family foundation, which also has a facility in Washington D.C., work with the school’s principal to increase family engagement and empower students to learn STEM topics.

Although foundations such as Flamboyan aren’t uncommon, they are yet to become widespread. But with growing importance on STEM education, we will no doubt see more schools utilizing these types of services to encourage STEM learning at home.

The Future Begins Now

STEM is already a pervasive part of our lives. Each day, STEM-related skills are used to solve the complex challenges that society is currently facing.

Challenges related to climate change, health care delivery and sustainability are all issues that our kids will need to face in the future. If we are to successfully meet the demands of tomorrow, we must foster a passion for STEM-related concepts through early education.

Kate Began serves as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Polycase. Kate oversees the customer service representatives, assists with product development and leads the marketing efforts from the Avon, Ohio headquarters.


STEM Resources (lots)


FlexClip - new powerful video maker to develop quality videos for any purpose


FlexClip is a new powerful video maker to develop quality videos for any purpose and they have a specific education page at

FlexClip's education video maker will help you create a custom video or presentation in no time for its ease of use. Whether you want to produce a school marketing video to boost enrollment or use videos in the classroom to make teaching more appealing, FlexClip is what you need.

Some of its key features:

* Completely free.
* Choose from a wide range of high-resolution photos, video footages, and music.
* A clean storyboard allows everyone to trim video, insert text, add music, record voiceover with a few clicks.
* Export videos in different aspect ratios and resolutions including 1080p, 720p, and 480p.
* Online and works on any device. 

There is also an excellent support page with instructions and tutorials.

Check it out for your school video projects. 


Monday, July 8, 2019

Chromebook Getter - Free Replacement for Chromebook Inventory Tool

The Chromebook Inventory Tool is/was an extremely useful tool for G Suite Admins to make managing and updated their Chromebooks easier. However, it will not work after July 16th due to changes to Google's Sheets API.

I just learned about a free alternative, Chromebook Getter, that was developed for the education community as a replacement.

It performs the same basic operations as the CIT:

  • Extract Chromebook device info from Admin Console to Google Sheets (only for super admins and Chromebooks that are managed).
  • Modify data and sync back into Admin Console. 
  • Search device info easier and faster. 
  • Export your entire inventory, or just an OU of Chrome devices into a Google Sheet, including all of the following metadata: etag, Org Unit Path, Serial Number, Platform Version, Device Id, Status, Last Enrollment Time, Firmware Version, Last Sync, OS Version, Boot Mode, Annotated Location', Notes, and Annotated User
  • Device export options include the ability to filter by enrollment date (Past hour, Past day, Past week, or Between specific dates).
  • Make edits to "Annotated Location","Notes", and "Annotated User" and bulk update the devices in your Chrome console directly from this spreadsheet.

It is an Add-On for Google Sheets, easy to install and use. 

Take a look and try out Chromebook Getter.

More Google for Education Resources, tips, and information


Monday, July 1, 2019

Cyberpatriot - national youth cyber education program

CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future. ​At the core of the program is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, the nation's largest cyber defense competition that puts high school and middle school students in charge of securing virtual networks. Other programs include AFA CyberCamps, an elementary school cyber education initiative, a children’s literature series, and CyberGenerations –a cyber safety initiative geared toward keeping senior citizens safe online.

These are excellent, free resources and more for K-12 educators and students.

​The CyberPatriot Programs are:

At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which puts teams of high school and middle school students in ​the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Through a series of online competition ​rounds, teams are given a set of virtual operating systems and are tasked with finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services. The top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Maryland for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.​​

Held during the summer months, AFA CyberCamps emphasize fun, hands-on learning of cybersecurity principles that are relevant and applicable to everyday life. Though camps, students learn the importance of cyber safety and how to protect their personal devices and information from outside threats. Standard AFA CyberCamps teach beginner students the basics of cybersecurity, while Advanced AFA CyberCamps incorporate more complex concepts geared towards students who have previously participated in a camp or in the cyber defense competition.


The CyberPatriot Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative (ESCEI) is a set of three interactive learning modules aimed at increasing the awareness of online safety and cyber​security principles for K-6 students. The modules, which are available for download at no cost, can be presented in a classroom setting or at home. Supplemental activities are also available.

The Cyber Education Literature series was launched in December 2017 with the publishing of its first book, Sarah the Cyber Hero. The book is a pre-K reader for younger children that pioneers the topic of cybersecurity to a early elementary youth. Digital​ and hard-copies of the book are available for purchase on Amazon and

CYBERGENERATIONS​CyberPatriot's newest program, CyberGenerations, the Senior Citizen's Cyber Safety Initiative, is designed to teach older individuals about password hygiene, malware and ransomware, marketing and fraud scam, and social media awareness. More importantly, CyberGenerations offers resources to victims of cyber scams. The program can be done as a self-paced guide, or it can be presented as a workshop in a group setting.


Live Total Solar Eclipse Coverage from the Exploratorium on July 2

On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, from 12:23 to 2:46 p.m. PDT, the Exploratorium, in partnership with NASA, will broadcast a total solar eclipse from the NSF’s Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile. The broadcast will be available to downlinkonline, in the museum's award-winning eclipse app, and onsite at the Exploratorium. Visitors to the Exploratorium can enjoy programs in both English and Spanish, a data-driven sonification by composer Wayne Grim, lectures by Exploratorium staff educators, and other eclipse programming.

Exploratorium has a large variety of other resources for educators as well.

Photo of totality during a total solar eclipse—a black background and the black sphere of the moon passing in front of the sun, with a ring of light around it.

WHO:           The Exploratorium in partnership with NASA
WHAT:          Live coverage and explanation of the total solar eclipse
WHEN:         Tuesday, July 2, 2019, 12:23-2:46 p.m. PDT

Staff experts are available for interview before the eclipse.

Isabel Hawkins is an astronomer and educator with a PhD in astronomy from UCLA.  She spent 20 years as a researcher and science educator at the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory, before coming to the Exploratorium. Isabel has published more than 100 articles on a variety of astronomy and education topics, and in 2009 she received the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Klumpke-Roberts award for her work in astronomy education and public outreach. Available for interviews in Spanish.

Ron Hipschman has hosted eclipse coverage for the Exploratorium for over twenty years. He has worked as an exhibit developer, author, teacher, and webcast host since joining the Exploratorium in 1971. He currently works on the Exploratorium’s Environmental Initiatives.

Read this advisory on our website.



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