The Expo Hall showcased even more edtech tools that are changing and enhancing today’s learning. When you walk on to a vendor floor at a large national convention two things happen:
- You get overwhelmed with the magnitude and don’t know where to start.
- You could get swallowed up by the big name vendors with larger booth and tons of conference swag.
Sometimes the small booth with a small or no table can be the exact resource your classroom needs. Below are just some of the standout products from smaller or lesser-known companies, but get to know them because they will help your instruction, student learning, and growth.
Freckle is a tool that allows for differentiation in Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Science. Freckle’s power is that the tool takes the manual work out of differentiation so teachers can focus on the important work of helping students grow. The tool helps reaching every student at their own level. You can even get a free teacher account at www.freckle.com.
Flocabulary is an online learning tool for all grades that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement across the curriculum. Flocabulary uses standards-based videos, instructional activities and student creativity tools to supplement instruction and develop core literacy skills. Check it out at https://www.flocabulary.com.
Gab-on: Communication between family and children is decreasing and I saw a tool that is trying to support an increase in home communication. GAB-on! is the first platform I have seen that links a child's school day to a conversation starter at home. It's not a report from the teacher or school; it's a conversation between student and family. Students enter GABs about their day, in live time while they have meaning and relevance. GABs are hints/cues about what a student is doing that remind him/her what they did, later in the day. GABs also prompt families to ask more specific questions about their student’s day to increase conversational productivity, student voice and improve achievement. Check it out at https://gab-on.com.
Milestone C: I stopped at the booth and was impressed how this program brings internship-style experiences into the classroom by simulating technology career tracks. They have half-year courses, multi-year learning tracks, and supplemental modules to support schools and districts nationwide. Additionally impressive was the staff. They had engineers, scientists, aviators, and seasoned educators on the team to develop learning products designed for and aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Visit them at https://www.milestonec.com.
Empatico: I saw this great display about global communication and had to check it out. Empatico is a free tool for educators to connect their classrooms with others around the world through live video and activities designed to foster meaningful connections among students. I was impressed at how simple the virtual connections were to make to classrooms by combining everything needed in one platform. They connect classes with a partner classroom, live video, file sharing, and standards- and research-based activities. Empatico empowers educators and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy. Check them out at https://empatico.org.
Alive Studios: I walked by the Alive studio booth and was quickly drawn in by the interactive visuals and graphics. Once I was at the booth it wasn’t just “cool” graphics; they create supplemental resource kits that use Augmented Reality to enhance the learning experience for all types of learners. Each resource kit supports multiple learning styles by appealing to students through sight, sound, and interactivity. Alive Studios programs are aligned to the Common Core State Standards to root lessons and activities in standards lesson planning to match learning with a purpose. Visit them at https://alivestudiosco.com.
Writable: Writing is an essential element in learning and finding a digital tool to support that need is important. I learned by stopping at the Writable booth that this tool is a guided writing practice program that connects any style of instruction to a cycle of authentic feedback and revision. I learned that the tools can build more independent, reflective writers, and helps schools assess & monitor writing growth. Visit Writable at http://www.getwritable.com.
Sibme was not a learning tool but caught my attention. It is an online video coaching and collaboration platform designed to improve professional practice. Sibme enhances classroom observation, allowing teachers and instructional leaders to record classroom instruction for the purpose of reflection, conversation, and feedback. Check it out at https://sibme.com.
Podcasts from Experts: Ryan McHale, the host of Pondering Education, (@PonderEducation) recorded, posted, and tweeted interviews with many featured speakers. Check out all ASCD podcasts at http://ponderingeducation.com.
There is never a dearth of great ideas at national events like these and ASCD Empower19 did not disappoint. Read more of my ASCD takeaways @MatthewXJoseph and click here read how to turn ideas into actions from events like ASCD.