New themed-based K-6 collections—and a contest!

With the Common Core State Standards requiring students to dive deep into rigorous texts and focus on nonfiction to build knowledge, educators have been telling us they need theme-based collections of books built around the topics they most commonly teach. Voila! Text Setscollections of nonfiction books for grades K-6 built around science- and social studies-based themes.

Each Text Sets collection exposes students to six different nonfiction titles built around the same theme – from plants to geography to ancient civilization and more. Text Sets helps students build critical domain-specific knowledge needed to tackle complex, grade-level reading.

Although the program is already being used across the country, from New York to Hawaii, we thought it would be fun to give a Text Sets collection to one lucky reader. We also want to get more feedback from you: What sorts of themes would you like to see in future text sets?

For a chance to win, add a new comment below with your feedback and ideas for future sets!

Will ‘wearable tech’ be useful in education?

Will Google Glass be a game-changer in education?

I had the opportunity to be part of a conversation with science teacher (and Google Glass Explorer) Andrew Vanden Heuvel during yesterday’s Hack Education event before the start of ISTE. Vanden Heuvel, one of the winners of Google’s #ifIhadglass contest, has been the lucky owner of a Google Glass (the much-hyped device that almost nobody has seen in the wild) for a couple of months and has already built some interesting things. Check out his cool new STEMbite videos recorded from Glass.

Yes, it was cool to see the device up close and personal, but it was also interesting to think and talk about what uses it might have for learning and for education and what privacy concerns might arise.

Think of Google Glass as a smartphone that you wear like a pair of glasses. It has a small screen that sits just above and to the right of your right eye, has a camera, responds to voice command, and, in theory, could do almost anything a smartphone can do but without the need to use your hands.

Would Glass be useful to a teacher? Or if every student in a classroom had one?

You could envision students working on a project or building something while wearing Glass, then flipping on the video camera on the device to record the process. Then submitting that to the teacher for feedback. Or jumping into a Google Hangout with classmates and a teacher to collaborate and share ideas. Couldn’t that give a teacher even more insight into how each individual student works and thinks through a problem?

Imagine an educator visiting Gettysburg and giving a live, interactive tour to his social studies students back in the classroom. Or a student working on a chemistry experiment, and consulting notes or online instructions through Glass. All of this you can do to some extent with a smartphone or tablet, but it might be easier with a wearable device. Right?

There are also privacy concerns being raised about Glass, with officials from several countries worried about the possibility of “ubiquitous surveillance,” and asking for more information about what will happen to data gathered from the devices. Google has said it won’t allow facial recognition onto the device, for one thing. There is a lot to think about and consider.

Wearable tech is coming. Will it be a game-changer?

Getting ready to make the most of ISTE 2013

I'll be attending my third ISTE next week and, like every year, I know there won't be enough time in the day to take advantage of everything the massive ed tech convention offers. There are hundreds of incredible sessions, and so much to see on the exhibit floor.

To get ready, the first thing I do is consult the experts.

If you're heading down to San Antonio this weekend, here is a sampling of advice around the web:

  1. Elana Leoni at Edutopia offers five tips to make the ISTE experience work for you. I like this one: "I always try to read a book by one of keynote speakers on the flight over."
  2. Here is some advice from the great Steven Anderson. Take time to reflect, he says. "Blog, write, record, do something so you don’t forget anything and so you can make meaning of what you’ve learned."
  3. Don't forget about ISTE "Unplugged" events. It's where a lot of the great conversations happen and friendships are made. The flagship unplugged event will by Hack Education on Saturday before the conference officially starts. I'll be there!
  4. Here's a fun event scheduled for Sunday morning that I just saw linked up on the #ISTE13 Twitter feed: The ISTE ADE Photo Safari will be a massive photo walk through downtown San Antonio. Looking for something to do Sunday morning? This could be it. Don't forget to sign up.

The Scholastic team will be there in full force, so we hope you'll come and say hello. We'd love to give you a tour of what we've building over the last year. (We're in booth #12194) And if you want to connect, send me a tweet! As always, I'm at @tylerbreed.

Pencil, no computer mouse down

Common Core implementation is under various stages throughout the country with a common thread, the assessments are coming.  While some states are already working with new tests, the two consortia preparing the next generation assessments are starting to provide us with more and more information. Smarter Balanced has recently made sample questions available here.  

In my ed-nerd ways, I actually took sample tests including the math test for 3rd grade.  These tests are far more engaging than any standardized test I took back in the day.  Keep in mind though, they are meant to be computer-based only.  So I did leave the experience in awe of the computer-savvy our young students will need. 

Even while we are certainly on the road to digital and technological access in schools, and we are absolutely teaching digital natives, will we see a gap in ability to administer and take these exams?  How will that gap be filled and can it be done quickly enough? Go and take a few sample questions and see what you think. 

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