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WHO KNOWS THE ANSWER?—A teacher at Immaculata-La Salle High School in Miami reviews an analysis report with her students to discover concepts they are struggling with to better inform instruction for the rest of the class.

Two decades ago, most student response systems were simple clickers that could only record and display answers to multiple-choice or yes-no questions. But now, many systems let students enter free-form responses to questions. Teachers can see those responses as they are entered, and can provide immediate feedback.

As teaching has evolved with the increase of educational technology, so has the classroom space itself. Many schools are creating more comfortable, coffee shop-like collaborative environments with a new breed of desks, chairs and work tables.

While robotics is two to three years away from mainstream adoption in K12 education, potential uses are gaining traction for hands-on learning. Many classes and clubs incorporate robotics and programs to help develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

Robots Rev Up Classes: Advances in technology bring the use of more robots, like the one at the right, to K12 classrooms—to help students with everyday core subjects, or to cater to homebound students.

McKenna Smith, a high school student in Missouri’s Nixa Public Schools, had been unable to attend classes since elementary school because of chemotherapy treatment. But she didn’t miss as much interaction with teachers and classmates as she could have because she connected with them remotely—via robot.

Model students: Students at Cupertino High School in California learn the basics of math modeling during an AoCMM workshop.

High school math classes focus traditionally on solving equations. The world of mathematical modeling emphasizes creating equations.

The nonprofit Association of Computational and Mathematical Modeling is developing a free mathematical modeling curriculum that it plans to share with teachers by early 2017. It will show students how to construct equations that solve complex real-world engineering, science and computing problems.

Educational publishers say they understand the draw of free or one-off materials for purchase online. But they caution administrators: Just because you can build a car from parts and tutorial videos from the internet, it doesn’t mean it makes sense.

Many publishers employ experts who have doctorates in instructional and curriculum design—which they say is a different skill set from classroom teaching.

SIS vendors are working to develop technologies that work across all platforms and are cloud-based. Particular effort is being devoted to the design of user interfaces to create easy and intuitive functionality so that accessing an SIS is as simple as navigating a social media program on a phone.

A middle school student at Tustin USD in California uses an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The devices have been used in a pilot project at an elementary school and tested at a high school.

As smartwatches, wristbands, headsets and other wearable products become more sophisticated, expect to see classroom networks of these “ultramobile” devices interacting with each other and enabling students and teachers to share digital information as never before.

Measuring movement: The Polar GoFit Ecosystem includes a wristband or chest-based heart rate monitor and fitness assessment software to measure a student’s physical intensity and exertion.

Digitizing education content and learning processes has changed the way students learn and interact during classroom sessions, according to Technavio’s report, “Classroom Wearables Technology Market in the U.S. 2016-2020.”

So classrooms emphasize collaborative learning and visual learning, says Technavio analyst Jhansi Mary J.

Using wearable technology will significantly increase student engagement levels and improve content absorption abilities, says Jhansi Mary J.

Although traditional projectors remain popular, many school districts now opt for ultra short-throw, interactive devicesall-in-one solutions that replace the costs and technological support once needed for whiteboards, flat screen monitors and other display technologies.

Ultra short-throw projectors—which can be mounted above a blank surface or a whiteboard—provide bright, shadowless images and can be connected to any number of display sources, including laptops and tablets.

Many districts teach formal keyboarding instruction as early as second grade—a shift that requires new approaches to a skill that was once taught only in high school. Today's software feature gamification, captivating graphics and extensive reporting components.

Teachers at Morris School District in Illinois can call students to the SMART Notebook interactive display. Above, third-graders work on a problem in their accelerated math class.

Advances in interactive display technology expand the ability for teachers and students to collaborate in the classroom as evermore powerful mobile devices are used to share content.

Schools nationwide are under pressure from new state standards to increase students’ writing proficiency. Here's a look at some of the strategies and tools innovative districts have deployed.

More relevant library: Students from Vista USD in southern California work on a project in their school makerspace.

Future Ready Librarians expands concepts of literacy—from books to tech to STEM. The initiative also drives the nationwide transformation of libraries, as librarians take the lead in creating makerspaces in their districts.

More assessment data is available to district leaders than ever before, providing insights into student learning throughout the school year and at the individual student, classroom, school and district levels. However, all of this data will not have a positive impact unless district leaders have a clear strategy to use the insights gained from assessments to inform crucial decisions.