Archive for August, 2012

10 States That Spend More on Prisons Than Education

Aug. 31st 2012

Education spending is vital to the livelihood and well-being of every state, and so is prison spending. But in some states, prisons seem to be more important, taking up more funding in state budgets than K-12 and college education spending. Often, the money for both comes out of the same general fund, so money spent on prisons is money that’s taken from education, trading prisoner comfort for student education. Experts point out that this is a dangerous situation, as failing to effectively educate students may very well have those same students turning to crime later in life, putting further financial burden on the budget of state prisons, and impairing their lives. Which states are in the highly dangerous situation of spending more on prisons than education? Read on to find out.

  1. California:

    California is often cited as the worst offender when it comes to spending more on corrections than education, and it’s no wonder why: the state spent $9.6 billion on prisons in 2011, but just $5.7 billion on higher education. Overall, the state spends $8,667 for each student, but about $50,000 per inmate, per year. And in the last 30 years, California has built one new college campus, but 20 new prisons. In the high-crime neighborhoods of LA, things are especially bad. More than a billion dollars are spent each year to keep residents from high-crime neighborhoods in LA, but the LA Unified School District had a deficit of $640 million in the 2010 to 2011 school year, resulting in layoffs and larger class sizes.

  2. Vermont:

    Vermont has been called out for spending more on prisons than education, to the tune of $1.37 per inmate for every $1 spent on students in the state. In 2011, the state spent roughly $92 million on education, overshadowed by the $111.3 million spent on prisons. In Vermont, each inmate costs nearly $50,000 annually. The state’s prison population has doubled in size over the past decade and is expected to increase three times as fast as the general resident population over the next decade.

  3. Pennsylvania:

    In 2009, the School District of Philadelphia fell $147 million short of its budget after losing $160 million in state funding, but at the same time, Philly taxpayers spent almost $290 million on prisons for residents from 11 of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. The balance of money for prisons vs. education is bad in Philadelphia, but it’s not great in the rest of the state, either. Prisons in Pennsylvania edged out education by a million dollars, with $2.1 billion going to corrections and $2 billion for education. It costs more than $42,000 per year to keep a Pennsylvanian inmate in prison.

  4. Delaware:

    For such a small state, Delaware spends quite a bit of money on its inmates: $32,967 per year, per inmate. So much so, that the expense not only matches, but exceeds what the state spends on education. In 2011, Delaware spent $212.5 in state monies for education, and $215.2 million on prisons. However, if you take away the $3.5 million spent on inmate education and training that could have been used for schoolkids and higher education, they’re just about even.

  5. Rhode Island:

    Another tiny state with a huge prison budget, Rhode Island spent $172.1 million on prisons in 2010. That’s over $10 million more than the state contributed to education, with $161.9 billion of Rhode Island’s education budget coming from the state. The small state spends more than $49,000 for each inmate every year.

  6. New York:

    In New York State, it seems that inmates have it pretty good. The state spends a whopping average of $56,000 per year, per inmate. But students don’t enjoy the same luxuries, with $40,000 less per person as their education is funded with just $16,000 per year from the state. New York has the honor of being the state that spends the least on education. On average, states spend 36% of their budget on education, but New York spends just 28%.

  7. Michigan:

    Michigan keeps inmate costs lower than other states, with $28,570 spent on each prisoner per year. But at the same time, students aren’t getting much financial help from the state, either, with just $9,575 per year in average spending for each student. In fact, prisoners are able to take advantage of amenities like free health care, cable TV, access to a library, free sports programs, and even funding to earn a degree. Yes, you read that right: Michigan won’t dish out enough money to help regular students, but they’ll help foot the bill for inmates to get a college education.

  8. Georgia:

    Amid talks of education funding cuts, Georgia’s students are already suffering financially compared to the funding that inmates get. Georgia has the fourth largest prison system in the US, and inmate spending far outstrips that of student spending. The state spends $18,000 per year to house just one inmate, but only $3,800 for K-12 students. College students are allotted $6,300, but that’s still just over a third of what the state has to spend for each Georgia inmate.

  9. Arizona:

    In Arizona, prisons are a higher priority than education. In fact, they’re a 40% higher priority. About 10 years ago, the state spent 40% more on universities than on prisons, but these days, the tables have turned: Arizona now spends 40% more on prisons than universities. How did this happen? Prison funding has gone up by 75% in the last 10 years, while university funding has declined 11%. Experts say that this spending imbalance is largely related to who’s in prison, and how long they stay. All non-violent offenders in Arizona are required to serve at least 85% of their sentence. They’re the only state in the country to do so, and it’s a major factor in driving up prison costs.

  10. Washington:

    Washington State spends a pretty generous amount on public school students, with a $1.5 billion budget and a per-student expenditure of about $6,500. But compared to what the state spends on inmates, it’s just a drop in the bucket. The state spends $34,500 per year, per inmate, five times as much money on prisons than schools. Experts in the state (and nationwide) are concerned that there’s a “schools to prison pipeline,” with an emerging trend of lower rates of graduation and higher rates of incarceration.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education | No Comments »

50 Great Ways Schools Can Use G+ Hangouts

Aug. 28th 2012

At its core, Google+ Hangouts is simply a souped-up version of video chat. But when it comes to education, it’s so much more than that. It becomes a vehicle for learning, sharing, collaboration, and ideas. Whether you’re an educator in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, discussing learning practices, or a first-grade classroom speaking with an astronaut, Hangouts have seemingly endless possibilities. These are our 50 favorite ways for schools to use Google Plus Hangouts. How do you plan to use this cool tool?

Teaching & Administration

Professional learning, meetings, even college recruitment are all possible with Hangouts.

  1. Campus previews: Using Hangouts, admissions counselors can chat with students and discuss what it’s like to attend their college or university.
  2. Professional discussion: Through Google Hangouts, personal learning networks can come together on a regular basis for discussions.
  3. Team meetings: Teachers spend enough time at school. With Hangouts, teachers can conduct team meetings away from the classroom.
  4. Board meetings: University board members may be stretched far and wide. With Hangouts, members can meet virtually while still enjoying face-to-face interaction.
  5. Recruitment chats: Google+ Hangouts can be a virtual college fair table, offering Q&A sessions for the admissions process and even highlighting important people on campus like department chairs.
  6. Policy discussion: Join the debate by taking part in The Power of Ten Hangout, hosted every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST to discuss education’s future.
  7. Peer review: Education professionals can create a Hangout to ask colleagues for a review and brainstorming session for interesting classroom ideas, journal articles, and more.
  8. PR chats: Instead of press conferences, small announcements can be made with Hangouts, as university leadership open up a chat for news outlets, alumni, and other interested parties.
  9. Staff professional development: Instead of traditional professional development days, these sessions can be taken care of through Google Hangouts.

Teacher-Student Communication

Connect with students even when you’re not in the classroom, thanks to Google+ Hangouts.

  1. Virtual office hours: It can be difficult to schedule face to face time on campus, but with Hangouts, teachers can set a time to meet with students wherever they are.
  2. Homework help sessions: Teachers can set up regular homework help sessions to assist students who may need a little support as they complete their assignments in the evening.
  3. Review sessions: Before big exams hit, professors can host Hangouts where they share hints and essential information with students.
  4. Tutorials: For students who want a little extra help, tutorial sessions on G+ Hangouts can be a great way to get small group assistance.
  5. Peer to peer helpline: Classrooms can establish a peer-to-peer helpline co-op, where students can log on to a G+Hangout to help out their fellow students with homework and tutorials.
  6. Mentor groups: Small mentoring groups can get together through Hangouts, updating both mentors and mentees on new developments.

Teaching with Hangouts

Hangouts make it easy to bring students, teachers and classrooms together, with these ideas and more.

  1. Distance learning: There are so many ways that students can enjoy distance learning. One example is cooking schools that are using Hangouts to share lessons and cooking tips.
  2. Extended discussions: After classroom discussions are over, students or teachers can open up a Hangout to facilitate further discussion.
  3. Talks around the world: Zookeepers at Zoo Atlanta use Google Plus Hangouts to host keeper talks, making it easy for students of all ages around the world to learn about animals.
  4. Foreign language Hangouts: Foreign language students can participate in video conversations using Google Translation to better understand each other.
  5. Mobile learning: Hangouts are available not just on computers, but mobile phones as well, making it possible for students and teachers to log into the chat anywhere they are.
  6. Public teaching: Using the Hangouts on Air feature, educators can open their session up to all Google+ users worldwide, allowing for broadcasting, online conferences, and massive study sessions.
  7. Remote participation: Students who are sick or traveling can still attend class virtually even when they can’t physically be there.
  8. Scheduled discussions: Professors, especially those with online courses, can set up scheduled discussion Hangouts to get students together and talking.
  9. Remote lessons: Music teacher Thomas J. West has been using Google Hangouts to share his lessons with students anywhere and everywhere.
  10. Review video lectures: If you post your lectures to YouTube, you can integrate them into a Hangout. Simply rewatch your lecture in the Hangout, pausing for re-teaching and offering a director’s cut with further discussion.
  11. Video archives: All Google+ Hangouts can be saved and archived, making it easy for instructors to share class sessions with students who didn’t make it.
  12. Teaching off-campus: Professors can share their knowledge with the world by teaching off-campus lectures through Hangouts.
  13. Book club: This idea is especially helpful for sister classrooms as they come together to discuss the same book. Using Hangouts, classrooms from around the world can host a book club together.
  14. Show and tell: Video conferences used to be a little hard to follow, with lots of small windows for each participant. But with Hangouts, the person who is speaking takes the big screen, allowing for a virtual show and tell.
  15. Sketching parties: Art students can come together on Google Hangouts to host and participate in sketching parties.
  16. Go behind the scenes: Students can join G+ Hangouts to get behind the scenes access for everything from broadcasting to running a zoo.
  17. Broadcast student performances
    : Open up student presentations and performances beyond your classroom by sharing them in a Hangout.
  18. Creating a story: Together, classmates or classes can take turns building a basic story that they’ve written together, entering and sharing their work in the Hangout’s Google Doc.
  19. Career spotlights: Teachers can poll students to find out what their parents do for a living, then ask parents to host a weekly career spotlight explaining what they do.
  20. Bringing in an expert: It might be cost-prohibitive for small schools to bring in experts for in-person lectures, but just about anyone can ask to connect with an expert over Hangouts, bringing a valuable resource into the classroom.
  21. Panel discussions: Forget hosting just one expert, bring several in at a time to participate in a classroom panel discussion.
  22. Reader’s theater: Several students can take on different parts in a play, acting it all out on a Hangout chat.

Student Connection

School is social, and Hangouts can make it even easier to connect. Try out these ideas at your school.

  1. Get to know you sessions: Through new student Hangouts, colleges can make it easier for new students to meet each other before they even step foot on campus.
  2. Connecting students abroad: Students who are studying abroad may feel a little disconnected from the campus. Setting up Hangouts, where they can talk to potential study abroad students, can help them feel a little more grounded.
  3. Staying in touch: Connections can drop off over the summer, but with Google Hangouts, students can stay connected and keep relationships solid for back to school.
  4. Student-alumni mentoring: Recent grads can connect with current students through Hangouts, offering personal chats on what life is like after graduation.


Group projects, brainstorming sessions, and more are all great ways to use Hangouts for collaboration in schools.

  1. Document editing: Google now allows users to add and create docs in Google Hangouts, making it easy to collaboratively edit documents through the service.
  2. Study groups: Students who want to study together, but can’t actually be together can take advantage of the Hangouts service to get connected virtually.
  3. Project feedback: Through Hangouts, students can get critiques on their work before they ever bring it to the classroom, getting a chance to fine-tune it beforehand.

Education +

Take education to the next level with these Hangout ideas.

  1. Connecting with fans: College athletics programs have begun hosting Hangouts sessions, allowing fans to question coaches and athletic directors for their favorite teams.
  2. Club meetings: Just like study sessions and group projects, Hangouts offer a great option for school club meetings.
  3. Engaging with alumni: Alumni Hangout sessions are a fun way to keep former students connected with the school and each other.
  4. Career connections: Colleges can set up meetings between employers and students simply by creating small Hangout groups.
  5. Remote helpdesk: With a screen-sharing option, Google Hangouts are great for school IT departments, allowing for a higher level of support.
  6. Host a cheap concert: Avoid having to pay for flights, hotels, and insane requests by simply hosting a Hangout concert.
Posted by Staff Writers | in Resources, Technology | No Comments »

How Big Data is Changing the College Experience

Aug. 23rd 2012

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Posted by Staff Writers | in Education | No Comments »

50 Creative Ways to Use Skype in Your Classroom

Aug. 22nd 2012

Skype, the free, ubiquitous VOIP downloadable, offers some unique opportunities for tech-savvy teachers to get their students learning in exciting new ways. It might prove a buggy affair depending on the version, but all the same the service still makes for a phenomenal classroom tool. Read on to find out how you can put this cool tool to work in your classroom regardless of where you are – Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, anywhere!


  1. Meet with other classrooms:One of the most common projects educators utilize Skype for is setting up exchanges with classrooms around the world, usually for cultural exchange purposes or working together on a common assignment. The program’s official site provides some great opportunities to meet up with like-minded teachers and students sharing the same goals.
  2. Practice a foreign language:Connect with individual learners or classrooms hailing from a different native tongue can use a Skype collaboration to sharpen grammar and pronunciation skills through conversation.
  3. Peace One Day:Far beyond classroom collaborations, the Peace One Day initiative teamed up with Skype itself and educators across the globe to teach kids about the importance of ending violence, war, and other social ills.
  4. Around the World with 80 Schools:This challenge asks participating schools to hook up with 80 worldwide and report back what all they’ve learned about other cultures and languages.
  5. Talk about the weather:One popular Skype project sees participants from different regions make note of the weather patterns for a specified period of time, with students comparing and contrasting the results.
  6. Collaborative poetry:In this assignment, connected classrooms pen poetic pieces together and share them via video conferencing.
  7. Practice interviews:The education system frequently receives criticism for its failure to prepare students for the real world, but using Skype to help them run through mock-up interviews with each other, teachers, counselors, or professionals will help grant them an advantage.
  8. Gaming:Merge the educational power of gaming with the connectivity of Skype for interactive (maybe even international!) role-playing and other competitive delights that educate and engage in equal measure.
  9. Hold a contest:Challenge other classrooms to a competition circling around any subject or skill imaginable, and work out a suitable prize ahead of time.
  10. Hold a debate:Similarly, Skype can also be used as a great forum for hosting formal and informal debates to help students with their critical thinking and research skills.
  11. Make beautiful music together:Build a band comprised of musicians worldwide, who play and practice together over video — maybe even hold digital performances, too!
  12. Who are the people in your neighborhood?:All the press about classrooms meeting with one another tend to veer towards the international, but some schools like to stay local. These two Tampa Bay-area kindergartens met regularly via Skype, sharing their current assignments with new friends only 10 miles away.
  13. Highlight time differences:But there is something to be said about global exchanges, too, as it provides some insight into the differences between time zones — great for geography classes!
  14. Combine with augmented reality:Both at home and in school, Skype provides a communication tool for collaborative augmented reality projects using the PSP and other devices.
  15. Mystery call:Link up to a classroom in another region and have them offer up hints as to their true location, challenging students to guess where in the world their new friends live.
  16. Each student works a specific job during calls:Divvy up responsibilities during Skype calls so every student feels engaged with the conversation, not just passive participants watching talks pan out. Assign bloggers, recorders, mappers, and any other tasks relevant to the meeting and project.
  17. Play Battleship:The classic board game Battleship offers up lessons in basic X and Y axes; plus it’s also a lot of fun. Compete against other classrooms for an educational good time.


  1. Parent-teacher conferences:Save gas, time, and energy by holding meetings with moms and dads via video chat instead of the usual arrangement.
  2. Meet with librarians:Teachers and students alike who need some assistance with research or ask some questions about a specific book might want to consider hooking up a Skype link with the school library.
  3. Meet with advisors:Similarly, the VOIP program also connects college kids with their advisors whenever they need to ask questions about degree plans or scheduling classes for next semester.
  4. Record a podcast:Download or purchase an add-on that allows for recording audio via Skype and use it in conjunction with GarageBand (or similar program) when looking to set up an educational podcast for or with students.
  5. Record video:Numerous plugins allow Skype users to record video of their chats, lectures, and presentations for later use, and students who miss class might very much appreciate having what they missed available for viewing.
  6. Provide tutoring and office hours:If students need some supplementary help with their assignments — or simply something they can’t get past in the lessons — videoconferencing allows their teachers to offer up tutoring and opportunities for extra help. Special education classrooms might find this strategy particularly valuable.
  7. Teach digital literacy:Because social media (comparatively) recently started creeping into most facets of daily life, it’s exceptionally important to illustrate online safety to the Digital Age kiddos. Skype requires the same sort of care and attention as Facebook and Twitter, and serves as a useful lesson in keeping one’s identity protected.
  8. Make Skype the classroom:The growth in online classes means Skype itself works as a platform to conduct lessons, share presentations, provide tutoring and support, and more.
  9. Reduce absences:Set up Skype streams to help students from falling too far behind in the event of a sickness, suspension, caretaking or similar scenario that causes them to leave the classroom for an extended period of time.
  10. Presentation tool:Rather than sending students off on a virtual field trip, let them present their research and findings to institutions or eager parents wanting to know what their kids are learning about right now.
  11. Meet special education needs:Skype allows the special education classroom to incorporate students of all ages and abilities into the conversation, and it works equally well as both a remote and a local tool.
  12. Study groups:Instead of staking out precious library or coffee shop space, holding study groups via Skype provides a cheaper, more time-manageable alternative.
  13. Meet exchange students early:Before shipping off to live with a host family or bringing in an exchange student, arrange meetings ahead of time and get to know one another’s unique needs, wants, and expectations.


  1. Art crits:Schedule time with professional artists and receive thorough crits about how to improve a piece. Because Skype allows for screen sharing, anyone working in digital media will appreciate the convenience!
  2. Interviews:Rather than a lecture, try hosting a Skype interview with professionals and – if the money’s right — game-changes happy to answer student questions.
  3. Tour a museum:Many distinguished museums around the world, such as the York Archaeological Trust, digitally open up their collections so students browse and learn no matter where their classroom may sit.
  4. Guest lecturers:Many plugged-in professionals these days will gladly offer up special lectures and lessons to classrooms via Skype, and sometimes charge a much lower fee than if they were to travel!
  5. Simulcast performances:Inevitably, some students’ parents, grandparents, and other loved ones can’t attend a play, concert, or other performance. Streaming it over Skype gives them an opportunity to tune in and show some support.
  6. Book club:Whether part of a classroom project or organized as an extracurricular, book clubs meeting over the ubiquitous video conferencing tool make for a great project.
  7. Music lessons:Thanks to Skype, tech-loving music teachers now reach a much broader audience of eager pupils willing to perfect their skills on almost any instrument imaginable.
  8. Professional development:Skype benefits more than just students, as educators themselves can use it to plug in and keep their career skills sharpened and broadened.
  9. Attend or throw a poetry reading:Many poets hold readings via Skype, but some educators might want to take things a step further and organize their own.
  10. Storytime:A perfect idea for plugged-in libraries and pre-K and kindergarten classrooms: offer remote storytime for kids around the world or ones stuck at home sick.
  11. Participate in town hall meetings:Search for town hall meetings the world over and see which ones allow civic-minded classrooms and students to plug in and participate via Skype and other VOIP-enablers.

And here’s the tools to help you do it!

  1. Skype in the Classroom:Run by the video chat client itself, this social network allows teachers and students alike to find collaborative projects meeting their educational goals.
  2. ePals Global Community:Any and all VOIP-enabled classrooms seeking others for shared assignments or a quick meeting might want to turn toward this incredibly popular social media site to discover like-minded students and teachers.
  3. IDroo:This virtual whiteboard makes online presentations a breeze and works especially well during collaborative classroom sessions or with any special guests who pop online.
  4. Skype Office Toolbar:Skype-savvy educators use this plugin to make sharing Microsoft Office files that much quicker and easier.
  5. Google suite:Collaborative classrooms often take advantage of Google Docs, Maps, and Translate for various projects as easy, free resources to keep collaborations organized and understood.
  6. Skyremote:Add on Skyremote for desktop sharing and the ability to control other computers remotely — a great tool in the collaborative classroom!
  7. Vodburner:Make use of this video recorder to tape digital lectures, field trips, special events, streams, simulcasts, and more for later viewing by students, parents, and other teachers who might benefit from the information at hand.
  8. Hot Recorder:When it comes to whipping together podcasts or other audio, Hot Recorder is considered one of the best companion programs to Skype.
  9. telyHD:Wheel in the giant TV and attach a Skype-ready telyHD camera for a much bigger viewing screen, which students in larger classrooms will appreciate!
Posted by Staff Writers | in Education, Resources, Technology | No Comments »

50 Indispensable EdTech Tools for 2012

Aug. 20th 2012

Technology and education are pretty intertwined these days and nearly every teacher has a few favorite tech tools that make doing his or her job and connecting with students a little bit easier and more fun for all involved. Yet as with anything related to technology, new tools are hitting the market constantly and older ones rising to prominence, broadening their scope, or just adding new features that make them better matches for education, which can make it hard to keep up with the newest and most useful tools even for the most tech-savvy teachers. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the tech tools, including some that are becoming increasingly popular and widely used, that should be part of any teacher’s tech tool arsenal this year, whether for their own personal use or as educational aids in the classroom. And what’s great about these tools is that they can be used anywhere, regardless of whether you are in Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas, or Florida.

Social Learning

These tools use the power of social media to help students learn and teachers connect.

  1. Edmodo: Teachers and students can take advantage of this great tech tool, as it offers a Facebook-like environment where classes can connect online.
  2. Grockit: Get your students connected with each other in study sessions that take place on this great social site.
  3. EduBlogs: EduBlogs offers a safe and secure place to set up blogs for yourself or your classroom.
  4. Skype: Skype can be a great tool for keeping in touch with other educators or even attending meetings online. Even cooler, it can help teachers to connect with other classrooms, whether you’re from Hawaii, or Alaska, or even those in other countries.
  5. Wikispaces: Share lessons, media, and other materials online with your students, or let them collaborate to build their own educational wiki on Wikispaces.
  6. Pinterest: You can pin just about any image you find interesting on this site, but many teachers are using it as a place to collect great lesson plans, projects, and inspirational materials.
  7. Schoology: Through this social site, teachers can manage lessons, engage students, share content, and connect with other educators.
  8. Quora: While Quora is used for a wide range of purposes, it can be a great tool for educators. It can be used to connect with other professionals or to engage students in discussion after class.
  9. Ning: Ning allows anyone to create a personalized social network, which can be great for both teachers and students alike.
  10. OpenStudy:Encourage your students to work together to learn class material by using a social study site like OpenStudy.
  11. ePals: One of the coolest benefits of the Web is being able to connect with anyone, anywhere. ePals does just that, but focuses on students, helping them to learn languages and understand cultures different from their own.


These educational tools can help you to make lessons fun, interesting, and more effective.

  1. Khan Academy: Many teachers use this excellent collection of math, science, and finance lectures and quizzes to supplement their classroom materials.
  2. MangaHigh: MangaHigh offers teachers a wealth of resources for game-based learning in mathematics.
  3. FunBrain: If you’re looking for a great collection of educational games, look no further than FunBrain. On it, teachers can take advantage of fun tools for math and reading.
  4. Educreations: Educreations is an amazing online tool for the iPad that lets teachers (or students) create videos that teach a given topic. Perfect for studying or getting students to show off their knowledge.
  5. Animoto: Animoto makes it simple to create video-based lessons or presentations for the classroom and to share them with students or anyone else.
  6. Socrative: Available for computers, mobile devices, and tablets, this student response system engages students through games and exercises on any device they have on hand. Even better, teachers can easily assess student progress and track grades.
  7. Knewton: Adaptive learning has been a hot topic in recent months, and with Knewton it’s something that any teacher can access and use. The site personalizes online learning content for each student according to his or her needs.
  8. Kerpoof: On Kerpoof, students can get creative with their learning with games, interactive activities, drawing tools, and more that are both fun and educational.
  9. StudySync: With a digital library, weekly writing practice, online writing and peer reviews, Common Core assignments, and multimedia lessons available, this site is a fully-featured tool for teaching and learning that can be a big help in the classroom.
  10. CarrotSticks: On this site, teachers can take advantage of a wide range of math learning games, giving students practice while they have fun.

Lesson Planning and Tools

Use these tech tools to pull together great lessons and design amazing and memorable student projects.

  1. Teachers Pay Teachers: Have great lessons to share? Looking for something to add to your classes? On this site you can do both, selling your own class materials and buying high-quality resources from other teachers.
  2. Planboard: Make sure your lessons are organized and that your day runs smoothly with the help of this amazing online tool designed just for teachers.
  3. Timetoast: Timetoast is a pretty cool for student projects, allowing them to build sleek, interactive timelines in minutes.
  4. Capzles: There are so many different ways that Capzles can be used in the classroom, there’s bound to be an application that fits your needs. What does it do? Capzles makes it simple to gather media like photos, videos, documents, and even blog posts into one place, making it perfect for teaching, learning, or online projects.
  5. Prezi: Want to build presentations that will wow your students? Make use of this online tool that makes it simple to do all kinds of cool things with your lessons, even allowing collaboration between teachers.
  6. Wordle: Create stunning word clouds using Wordle, a great complement to language lessons of any kind.
  7. QR Codes: QR codes (or quick response codes) are showing up with greater frequency in education. If you’d like to get in on the trend, you’ll need a tool to create and manage the codes like Delivr and one to read codes, like any of those listed on this site.
  8. Quizlet: Quizlet makes it easy for teachers to create study tools for students, especially flashcards that can make memorizing important information a snap.
  9. MasteryConnect: How are your students performing with regard to state and common core standards? MasterConnect makes it simple to track and analyze both, as well as other elements of student performance.
  10. Google Docs: Through Google Docs, teachers can create and share documents, presentations, or spreadsheets with students and colleagues as well as give feedback on student-created projects.
  11. YouTube: Not all schools allow YouTube, but they are missing out as the site contains a wealth of great learning materials for the classroom. There’s even a special education-focused channel just for teachers and students.
  12. TED-Ed: TED isn’t just a great place to find inspiration anymore, the site also contains numerous videos that are organized by subject and can help you to teach everything from how pain relievers work to Shakespearean insults.
  13. Glogster:Glogster is a social site that lets users mash up music, photos, videos, and pretty much anything else you’d like. It’s a great way to create learning materials and a handy tool for creative student projects.
  14. Creaza: Want to bring your student projects into the 21st century? Creaza can make that possible, offering tools to brainstorm, create cartoons, and edit audio and video.
  15. Mentor Mob: On Mentor Mob, you or your students can create a learning playlist, which is essentially a collection of high-quality materials that can be used to study a specific concept.

Useful Tools

These tools can help you to stay connected, organized, and increase the ease of building multimedia lessons and learning tools.

  1. Evernote: Capture great ideas, photos, recordings, or just about anything else on your Evernote account, access it anywhere, and keep it organized. A must-have tool for lesson planning.
  2. Twitter: There are so many ways Twitter can be used in education. Teachers can connect with other educators, take part in chats, share their ideas, or even use it in the classroom to reach out to students.
  3. Google Education: Google offers a number of great edtech resources for teachers, including email and collaborative apps, videos, lesson plan search, professional development, and even educational grants.
  4. Dropbox: Easily store, share, and access any kind of data from anywhere with the easy-to-use and free Dropbox service.
  5. Diigo: Diigo lets you treat the web like paper-based reading material, making it simple to highlight, bookmark, take notes, or even add sticky notes.
  6. Apple iPad: One of the most widely used, though expensive, tech tools being used in today’s classroom is the Apple iPad. With a host of educational apps being developed for the device, it’s become a favorite of teachers and students alike across the nation.
  7. Aviary: Aviary is a suite of tools that make it easy to edit images, effects, swatches, music, and audio or to create and modify screen captures.
  8. Jing: If you’re teaching kids about tech or just about anything else, a great screenshot program is essential. Jing is one great option that allows teachers to take screenshots as images, record up to five minutes or videos then edit and share the results.
  9. Popplet: You and your students can use Popplet to brainstorm ideas, create mindmaps, share, and collaborate.
  10. Google Earth: From geography projects to learning about geological processes, Google Earth can be an amazing and fast way to show students anywhere in the world.
  11. DonorsChoose: Need funding for a classroom project? You can get it through this site that hooks up needy teachers with willing donors.
  12. SlideShare: With SlideShare, you can upload your presentations, documents, and videos and share them with students and colleagues. Even better, you can take advantage of materials that other have uploaded as well.
  13. LiveBinders: Like a real-life three ring binder, this tech tool allows you to collect and organize resources. Much better than a binder, however, the site also comes with tools to connect and collaborate and a virtual whiteboard.
  14. AudioBoo: Through this tool, you can record and share audio for your students or anyone else.
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The Good Grade Pill

Aug. 15th 2012

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The Importance of Recess

Aug. 13th 2012

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10 Countries Outsourcing College Education

Aug. 8th 2012

As our world becomes increasingly connected through technology, the economy, and shared culture, it should come as no surprise that many aspects of college education have gone global. Students and schools are reaching out to other nations, with many sending record numbers of students abroad or even outsourcing grading and teaching through online programs. We’ve collected just a few countries here that rely heavily on other nations for higher education support, making them among the top outsourcers of college education in the world.

  1. China:

    While Chinese colleges are attracting more international students than ever before, the country is still the leader in sending students abroad. Between 1978 and 2010, more than 1.9 million Chinese students left their home country to attend college. 2010 was a record year for Chinese students studying in the U.S., with a 30% increase from prior years, though the U.S. is certainly not the only country where Chinese students choose to matriculate. While studying abroad isn’t generally a bad thing, for China it hasn’t been all good news. Of the almost 2 million students it has sent overseas for education, just 632,000 have returned home after graduation to work in China, prompting the nation to create incentives to keep students at home and to improve college education in order to counter this large brain drain.

  2. The United States:

    During the 2010-2011 school year, more than 270,000 American students studied abroad, and while study abroad programs have grown, less than 1% of American students will get some part of their education in another country. So why is the U.S. making this list? Because colleges in the U.S. are keeping American students right where they are but outsourcing many aspects of the higher education experience overseas. Foreign companies now build online courses, do grading, and even teach a number of college programs at online and traditional schools around the nation, something that’s raised the ire of a number of students and educators. Regardless, it’s a tide that doesn’t look to be stemming anytime soon, as outsourced programs and educational resources are generally cheaper and have not, as of yet, proven to lower the quality of the education students receive.

  3. India:

    Over the past few decades, India has become an amazingly powerful economic force and has built a few outstanding universities, especially those focusing on STEM topics and business. The opportunities offered by India’s colleges and economy haven’t stopped students from going abroad for their college in droves, however. There are more than 103,000 Indian students studying in the U.S. alone, with tens of thousands of others choosing countries like the U.K. and Australia. Education experts say that this outsourcing of higher education isn’t likely to slow anytime soon. A growing affluent class in India (despite the crippling poverty that affects most) has made overseas education more attainable, and top-quality colleges and universities in India are still scarce, making study abroad a desirable aspiration for many bright students.

  4. South Korea:

    Last school year, South Korea sent more than 73,000 students to the U.S. for study and 32,000 more to other nations around the world, making it one of the largest senders of study abroad students in the world. (If elementary and high school students are included, it far outpaces even China, which has a population 27 times larger than that of South Korea.) While South Korea boasts some incredibly high-tech and high-quality universities, many students head to international destinations to brush up on their English or to pursue job opportunities abroad, but the vast majority do it for the prestige, and it’s almost expected for many top students in this education-obsessed nation. Yet South Korea isn’t sitting idly by and letting students walk out the door: it wants to become a major player in international education and a major destination for international students. They are making progress by developing a number of high-quality distance learning options for students, and the dropping value of the Won has made study abroad more financially difficult for students. But it is likely that study abroad will remain the top choice of many students for years to come.

  5. Japan:

    The number of Japanese students studying abroad has declined a bit in recent years but still holds among the top 10 in the world. While the U.S. and other English-speaking countries are still big draws for Japanese students, more and more are turning to their Asian neighbors for study abroad opportunities. In recent years, China has become a popular destination, due to its close proximity to the island nation and the economic ties the two share. Today, almost equal numbers of Japanese students choose China and the U.S. for foreign study, looking to improve their Mandarin while working on a degree. While Japanese students may be keen to study abroad, it may not help them in the job market once they return home. Many young, internationally educated Japanese grads are finding it hard to get jobs with Japanese companies, which seem reluctant to tap into the experiences and expertise of these globally minded students. Some suggest that this may be holding back companies in the banking, electronics, and automotive industries, as they are missing out on some of the best international talent.

  6. Taiwan:

    This small island nation doesn’t have any reservations about sending students abroad. The government has pledged $5 million dollars to send 116 students to the world’s top universities and research facilities between 2013 and 2016. The move was spawned by government concerns that not enough Taiwanese students were matriculating at top educational institutions in the U.S. and Europe. The program is an addition to a current scholarship program sponsored by the government that encourages overseas study, which may be a big part of the reason that there are currently more than 28,000 Taiwanese students in the U.S. alone, many pursuing post-baccalaureate education.

  7. Saudi Arabia:

    The number of students from Saudi Arabia in the U.S. has increased 28% from prior years to 12,661, largely due to scholarships and incentives from the Saudi government, and has also grown in the U.K. and Canada. Yet English-speaking nations aren’t the only destinations this Middle Eastern nation has set its sights on. It has recently announced plans to send more students to China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea for post-graduate studies in science and technology fields with the goal of filling growing gaps in the Saudi job market. Currently, about half of Saudi students studying abroad receive government assistance covering the cost of their foreign degree programs, and the new Asian-focused program will offer an additional 25,000 more scholarships to students in STEM fields.

  8. Vietnam:

    Since 2000, the Vietnamese government has been funding study abroad for top students, sending more than 2,598 people to foreign universities tuition-free during that time. While the program has been put on hold for the time being due to budgetary concerns, the number of Vietnamese students studying abroad hasn’t slowed. In fact, in the U.S. alone it has increased by 46%, with 12,823 students currently pursuing a degree at an American educational institution. Part of the drive to send students abroad is to help staff the nation’s hospitals, universities, and industries with highly trained professionals, something that is a bit of a challenge for a nation that has few top-notch higher educational facilities domestically. In 2010, the government announced plans to send 1,000 students abroad for Ph.D. training in France, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., China, Thailand, and Japan. Studying abroad is a growing trend from Vietnamese families, who see it as the optimal choice for higher education, and with numbers increasing every year, it could soon rank among the top nations for sending students overseas for college.

  9. Brazil:

    South America, even economically booming Brazil, has traditionally sent few students overseas for study, but the past few years have demonstrated that there could be some major changes in this trend. In 2011, the Brazilian government announced plans to offer 75,000 scholarships for local students to study abroad through 2014, with the private sector sponsoring another 25,000. The move is one of necessity, as the nation simply can’t find enough skilled researchers, engineers, and highly-skilled workers to maintain its current rate of growth. An educational exchange program, announced by President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2011, is also helping to motivate both American and Brazilian students to choose study abroad. Currently, only about 8,700 Brazilian students study in the U.S., but these plans will likely boost those numbers.

  10. Germany:

    Germany is both one of the most popular destinations for foreign students and one of the biggest senders of students abroad. The country is home to some of Europe’s premier educational institutions, but that doesn’t mean that students don’t want to seek out an education somewhere else. Each year, around 102,000 of Germany’s students pursue their education outside of their home country, a number that makes it the fourth largest exporter of students in the world. Study abroad for German students isn’t the result of a lack of educational opportunities at home, however; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Germany offers students the same financial support whether they choose to study at home or at any university in the European Union’s 27 member states, which means many students choose universities that are close by but which still offer cultural and linguistic differences that can be an asset in the competitive job market.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Degrees, Education | No Comments »

15 Conflict Resolution Tricks Every Educator Should Know

Aug. 2nd 2012

Teachers wear many hats: counselor, coach, referee, probation officer. With the pent-up energy and (later on) the raging hormones wreaking havoc on students’ sanity, conflict is bound to occur in classrooms and on school playgrounds, meaning teachers have to be ready to put on their “mediator” hat at a moment’s notice. If you’re a young educator and want to have some conflict resolution tricks up your sleeve before you’re thrown into the ring, or you’re an experienced educator looking for some new ideas, we’ve lined up 15 techniques to help you win the fight.

  1. Like your students:

    Isn’t it true that we treat people we like differently than people we can’t stand? We’re probably more patient, more understanding, and slower to become angry with them. While you don’t have to love problem kids, finding something likeable in each of your students can help you soften your attitude toward them, which in turn should help kids’ behavior and decrease the number of classroom incidences.

  2. Teach kids to use “I” statements:This is a well-known tip that works for everyone from kids to newlyweds. Teaching children to use “I” statements (“I feel angry when you cut in line”) helps keep situations from escalating and also helps students become more attuned to their emotions. It gives them a constructive avenue for creating dialogue about an issue and gives the offending party more motivation to change his or her behavior than simple arguing.
  3. Just hear them out:Often, trouble-making kids simply want attention that they aren’t getting at home. If a kid is continually causing problems, you don’t have to immediately tell him why he’s wrong and close the book. It may take a little prodding, but when given a chance to speak his mind he might just begin to improve his behavior.
  4. Use active listening:Employing the techniques of active listening proves to kids that you are really hearing them. Restating back to kids what you hear them saying to you will show them you hear them, and won’t seem as much like a “trick” as it might to adults. Listening also gives kids time to work through their problems and practice their own conflict resolution techniques.
  5. Know your conflict resolution style:

    Especially with older students, kids can tell if you’re trying to bluff your way through mediating a problem. If you are a shy and reserved person, your attempts to be brusque and forceful in trying to settle a dispute are going to appear hollow and convince kids you aren’t worth acquiescing to. Take advantage of a conflict resolution style assessment test to learn what your strengths are.

  6. Set up a “calm spot”:Maintaining an area that students can go to appropriately reduce their anger level can be a great way to reduce conflict. Depending on their age group, you could put writing or coloring materials, magazines, or stress balls there to help students calm down. Having such an area also conveys to students that anger is an acceptable emotion that simply needs to be handled in the right way.
  7. Head them off at the pass:Being on the lookout for potentially problematic situations gives you time to broach the subject with the kids and prepare them for dealing with it ahead of time. For example, if every time it rains the playground gets flooded where only one swing is accessible, warn the kids ahead of time that they will have to share time on that swing. These conversations are much easier to have beforehand than after the fact.
  8. Count to 10:This wisdom goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, but it’s still as applicable today as it was then, and seasoned teachers will tell you they’ve employed this trick many times. If an altercation makes you angry, stopping to take a few deep breaths (and maybe pray, if that’s your thing) can prevent you from yanking a student by the arm or engaging in some other physical contact that could threaten your job.
  9. Say it with a smile:Apparently there’s an old bit of bad teaching advice that teachers should not smile until Christmas or risk the students not taking them seriously. That’s just creepy. Besides, a smiling teacher creates an atmosphere of happiness that students pick up on. Frown all the time and you can be sure you’ll be constantly putting out fires.
  10. Create a peaceful environment:

    Another trick for reducing instances of conflict before they happen is to turn off those awful fluorescent lights. Nobody likes to work under those things. Buy some cheap lamps at a resale shop and watch your students’ stress levels come down.

  11. Let them come to the answer on their own:In the same way telling a crying person “Everything will get better” can feel hollow, in a conflict it’s more effective to guide a student toward the lesson you want him to learn and let him realize it for himself, rather than tell him flat-out, “Here’s how you’re misbehaving.” Gently ask him questions to help steer him toward that realization.
  12. Take it outside:Charles Kruger of Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles recommends the “hallway conference” technique for dealing with a student causing problems in the classroom. Slowly walk to the door (so all the kids can see you) and call the student out into the hallway. There, tell him he seems headed toward trouble today, and ask how you can help him avoid that. When you both return, smile broadly and loudly thank the student.
  13. Be consistent:It’s not really a trick, but being consistent in the way you settle disagreements is the only way to maintain the respect students have for you. Kids have an amazing ability to remember exactly who got what in the shakeout following a dispute, and if you try to do something different next time, you’ll just be creating another problem.
  14. Install a “Tattle-Tale Day”:If the conflict resolution style being employed most frequently by your students is tattling and it’s getting out of hand, limit them to one day a week in which to tattle. Any other day they try to snitch on another student for some little infraction, tell them they have to wait until the appropriate day. Of course major problems should be reported any time, but with this system, the minor ones should be forgotten by the time Tattle-Tale Day rolls around.
  15. Recognize successful conflict resolution:

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking students shouldn’t have conflicts at all, so they don’t deserve praise when they solve conflicts. Especially if you’re actively teaching students conflict resolution techniques, when they use them to resolve a problem you should make a big deal out of it, sharing with the class what the problem was and how the parties went about solving it.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education, Resources | No Comments »