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.
Using tablets, apps and YouTube videos, students at a Minnesota elementary school have added new virtual elements to paintings and other artwork, so their masterpieces include videos that not only get them engaged, but also help them better understand ideas behind the art itself.
One elementary school in Minnesota riffed on the wildly popular Pokémon Go app to create its own virtual reality game that helps incoming students feel more comfortable with beginning the school year in an unfamiliar building.
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.
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.
Integration and simplification top wish lists when it comes to website management tools. Administrators want tools to connect easily and effectively with parents and students as the variety of programs, platforms and devices grows.
Teachers learn how to use multimedia in the classroom through networking: both in person and on social networks.
Twitter is a solid resource, says Matt Miller, a teacher and author of Ditch That Textbook. “There are some really robust, engaged communities on Twitter through certain hashtags, where teachers are sharing ideas and asking and answering questions all the time,” Miller says. “That’s been my single best source of professional learning.”
Teachers at Southwest High School in Jacksonville, North Carolina, allowed students to bring their smartphones to class to watch short math videos. The ‘a-ha’ moment came when the students used the phones to record each other solving math problems, and then created a repository of problem-solving videos.
Educators constantly face new challenges that often require resources that may be in short supply. But this round’s Districts of Distinction honorees show a surplus of exemplary creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills that are increasing student achievement and graduation rates and, most importantly, facilitating education.
Superintendent, Brookings School District, South Dakota
Topic: Testing & assessment
Trend: Student achievement is measured by more than a single assessment score. The trend of moving toward multiple measures, not just a test score, to determine the quality of a teacher, a school, and district will continue to resound with the voting public. People are joining a new TEA Party - Tested Enough Already.