Tech & - Best of 2020 - Picks for the best in EdTech - December/January 2021

Page 1






Rather than Back to ‘Normal,’ Let’s Get Back to Something Better By Annie Galvin Teich


What Research Shows About Screen Time for Students By Dr. Kecia Ray

10 How to Implement Long-Term Remote Learning in a Rural Area By Ray Bendici

14 Top 30 Education Sites and Apps of 2020 By David Kapuler

16 Grants Guide 2021 By Gwen Solomon

28 Do’s and Don’ts with One-Time Funds By Dr. Kecia Ray, Lisa Gonzales, Devin Vodicka

30 Tech & Learning’s Best of 2020 & Best of Show at ISTE

Goodbye 2020 — and don’t let

the door hit you on the way out!

I think most of us will not be sorry to say farewell and good riddance to 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic turned our global economy upside-down, politicized a piece of cloth wrapped ear-to-ear, launched the new concept of “Zoom fatigue,” separated families, and killed more than 1.6 million people as of December 16, 2020. Education was especially hard hit by the pandemic, with schools abruptly thrown into remote learning with little to no teacher, parent, or student training. Schools continue to shift abruptly between remote to blended to hybrid to face-to-face teaching. Supporting the emotional wellness of our school communities has never been more challenging. Tech & Learning has worked hard to support our school community with articles and events focused on sharing the best practices of educators and administrators who have taken this moment to transform pedagogy so that every learner has a chance to succeed. We launched a “Lunch ‘n Learn” webinar series with Dr. Kecia Ray that showcases innovative districts and offers practical advice on everything from cybersecurity to SEL. We hosted new virtual conferences that have drawn thousands of attendees hungry for continued professional development. We revamped our website with a “how to” section that covers topics from how to set up a webcam to how to prevent cheating on Google quizzes. Throughout the year, Tech & Learning reported on the best of the best in 2020, and we highlight many of those tools and solutions that have supported new teaching and learning environments in this issue (pp 30). Tech & Learning was also given the distinction of being a standout resource in 2020 when we were selected as “Best Website of the Year” by our parent company Future PLC, a global multi-platform media company that connects 400 million people every month around the globe. It’s an incredible honor to be awarded this recognition in the company of so many outstanding Future websites, including popular titles like PCGamer, TechRadar, Live Science, and Tom’s Guide. It’s now time to look ahead. “The normal we left behind was a normal that left far too many kids at the margins,” said Brooklyn-based educator Cornelius Minor at the recent virtual 2020 NYC DOE Beyond Access Forum.“We can use the power of our imagination and the power of our active labor in classrooms and in community to craft something that is radically better than that which we left behind.” Will education use the lessons learned this year to continue to drive innovation and make the needed changes to ensure true equity? I remain confident that 2021 will be the beginning of a new era in education.

48 Resources Group Publisher

Group Publisher Christine Weiser CONTENT Managing Editor Ray Bendici

Production Manager Heather Tatrow Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban

Senior Design Directors Lisa McIntosh & Will Shum

ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager Allison Knapp, VISIT US


MANAGEMENT Senior Vice President, B2B Rick Stamberger Chief Revenue Officer Mike Peralta Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Head of Design Rodney Dive

All contents © 2021 Future US, Inc. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein.

FUTURE US, INC. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036

If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.


| DE C E MB E R 202 0 / JA N UA RY 2 02 1 |


Rather than Back to ‘Normal,’

Let’s Get Back to Something

BETTER By Annie Galvin Teich

Passionate educator Cornelius Minor challenges his New York City colleagues to create a more inclusive and engaged learning environment As we grapple with pandemic fatigue, we hear a lot about “getting back to normal” and longing for the “before times.” However, Cornelius Minor does not feel nostalgia for life pre-March 2020. “The normal we left behind was a normal that left far too many kids at the margins,” said the Brooklyn-based educator while sharing his philosophies and teaching strategies with fellow New York City educators at the recent virtual 2020 NYC DOE Beyond Access Forum. Though educators have long been aware of the equity gap that persists in U.S. schools, the scope of the problem has been better exposed to the public as a result of the schools shifting to remote learning. “Remote and hybrid learning has revealed to many what educators representing historically marginalized groups have been articulating for years, and that is the reality that there are profound inequities in schooling,” said Minor.


| D EC E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

“We are working through the greatest period of professional uncertainty in the last decade, and what we are attempting to do right now has never been done before,” he continued, affirming support for educators. He suggested that there is more than one way forward, and that educators have to increase their systemic awareness and understanding of the multiple challenges and systems of oppression that exist outside of school, and how those things make their way into classrooms. “We have to grow our capacity to actually build the change,” Minor said. “We don’t have to continue doing as we’ve always done. Embracing discomfort is necessary. Justice matters.”

WHAT TO PRESERVE IN REMOTE, HYBRID, SOCIALLY DISTANCED LEARNING Much of classroom practice has been upended by the pandemic, but Minor believes there are essential relationships from the classroom that need to be encouraged and preserved in remote learning. For example, it is twice as likely that students learn from peers than the teacher. So, educators

SOMETHING BETTER need to find ways to foster and maintain the authentic connections students have with one another. Minor also advocates that skill acquisition is more important right now than content acquisition—that skills can transfer from one academic context to another. “It’s not our job to keep students busy,” said Minor. “It’s our job to keep them curious as we figure out what it means to move forward.”

HOW TO CREATE A NEW KIND OF SCHOOL Minor is adamant that students will opt into learning if they are curious, and is working to keep them engaged with activities that are creative. He posed a self-reflection question to the attendees: “Think about the values that guide your work as an educator. In these last seven months, what have you discovered about yourself, your students, your school, your community, the country and the world?” Challenging educators to think about education in new ways, Minor suggested that schools would: • Allow students to learn in ways that work for them • Affirm students as learners and people • Grow students powerfully by providing access to rich opportunities in class and beyond • Keep students intellectually, emotionally, and physically safe “What gets in the way when not every kid has access to those things?” Minor asked. He believes that too often, we value compliance over learning; assignments over learning outcomes. “Access is a bridge,” he said. “We know that learning outcomes, especially right now, matter more than assignments.” Sharing his own self-examination, Minor said, “If I want the kind of access we all profess to value for all children, then I’ve got to be ready and


| D EC E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

willing to look at my own classroom, in my own department, in my own school, and ask myself some really tough questions. I want to dig beneath the surface to see what our kids are left out of, and once I name that thing, I get to reimagine that thing in order to give people more access,” he said. “But the key here is to fix the injustice, not the kids.” His conclusion? “I had to reimagine what it means to engage in remote learning. And, so I created different options for engagement,” he said. Students are not naturally disengaged, Minor said, taking up the challenge to develop ways to pull in students for learning. He acknowledged that access is a problem for other reasons than lack of technology. For example, some students are taking care of younger siblings while their parents work outside the home. Minor shared some of his expanded options for student engagement: • Allow students to attend a live class OR watch on video • Let students send in a photo of themselves working independently or with a friend • Work directly with individual students to reach learning outcomes • Create an online space so kids can talk to each other about a nonschool topic, such as the NBA finals, hip-hop, rock, or reggae • Host an online support group for students taking care of younger siblings • Hold regular story times for younger students Minor closed his presentation with his belief that returning to “normal” was not an option--it left far too many students behind. “We can use the power of our imagination and the power of our active labor in classrooms and in community to craft something that is radically better than that which we left behind,” Minor said. More on Cornelius Minor’s work can be found here.

By Dr. Kecia Ray Moderation in screen time for students and prioritizing active screen time versus passive screen time can make all the difference As we are entering the last phase of this tumultuous year of 2020 there are few topics more pressing in the mind of parents and teachers than screen time. In July, Pew Research released a report on Parenting Children in the Age of Screens, and it showed that 71% of parents of children 12 and under are concerned about the effects of screen time. Other reports and studies have been recently published through the fields of medicine and sociology in an effort to answer trending questions related to screen time, raising four key questions.

QUESTION ONE: WHAT IS THE ASSOCIATION OF VARIOUS TYPES OF SCREEN TIME AND DEPRESSION IN ADOLESCENCE? In a 2019 study published by the Journal of American Medicine Association, pediatricians observing a cohort of 3,826 adolescents found that symptoms of depression may be enhanced by the ‘use of social media and television.’

QUESTION TWO: ARE ADHD CHILDREN AFFECTED DIFFERENTLY BY SCREEN TIME? A literature review and case study published in 2018 in the Environmental Research journal revealed that there are physical health effects to excessive screen time including poor sleep and health risks related to blood pressure and obesity. The case study showed that ADHD related behavior was linked to sleep problems associated with overall screen time and violent fast-paced content.

QUESTION THREE: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PASSIVE AND ACTIVE SCREEN TIME? A study published in 2020 observed 2,320 adolescents living in Ontario who reported having two to four or more hours of passive screen time. Children with greater than four hours were three times more likely to experience


a major depressive episode, social phobia, and general anxiety. Active screen time had a considerably less effect.

QUESTION FOUR: DOES THE TYPE OF SCREEN TIME MATTER? A study published in 2019 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity analyzed the interaction of 4,013 students aged 10 - 11 with screens over a four-year period. The study’s participants recorded their use of screen time in diaries, categorizing screen time as social, passive, interactive, educational, and other. Passive screen time was found to have the most negative outcomes while educational screen time had the most positive outcomes and no negative impact on other outcomes. The same result was evident with interactive screen time. These studies echo recent major works, analyses, and literature reviews. The common findings center on increased depression associated with passive screen time while more interactive and educational engagement with screens shows less effect on students’ overall health and wellness. Also noted was excessive screen time may cause children to present with ADHD behaviors when in fact they do not have ADHD. The major conclusion is related to moderation and the type of screen time. In 2019, the World Health Organization released guidelines for screen time that were endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control. These guidelines note that screen time for children under 18 months should be restricted to video calls with loved ones, while children between the ages of 18 and 24 months should have limited screen time that is mostly educational television. Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 can have up to an hour per day but it should be a healthy balance between the different types of screened devices. School-aged children can have 1.5 hours per day but should balance that with physical activity, and finally, high schoolers gain half an hour for a recommended 2 full hours per day. Maintaining moderation in screen time access and prioritizing active screen time versus passive screen time can make all the difference in a child’s health and social well being.

| D EC E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

TIPS FOR TEACHERS: BALANCE SCREEN TIME DURING INSTRUCTION • Utilize a blended learning instructional model • Interval lessons with on-screen digital content (video, text reading, software application) 20 minutes • Prioritize videoconferencing • Utilize flipped learning strategies • Take advantage of other media platforms if appropriate (paper is still a good technology to rely on) • Prioritize activities where students use technology tools for creation versus consumption (see TIMS matrix)

TIPS FOR PARENTS • Dinner/family times are no screen time, conversation is a better tool for building literacy than most literacy software • No screens in bedrooms, limit access to screens to maximize sleep and healthy habits • Establish routines for outside play or family walks • Establish parameters for gaming • Review and approve all social media access and posts for children under 14 • Model these practices for your children Dr. Kecia Ray is a strategic thinker and a proven leader in K12 transformation. She serves as Tech & Learning’s Brand Ambassador and is the founder of the consulting service, K20Connect.


What Research Shows About Screen Time for Students


HOW TO IMPLEMENT LONG-TERM REMOTE LEARNING IN A RURAL AREA By Ray Bendici With a high at-risk population, education leaders at Gila River Indian Community have implemented a long-term approach to remote learning education despite pandemic uncertainty. When the pandemic hit last February, the leaders at Casa Blanca Community School in the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona did what very few districts did: Adopt a long-term approach in the face of uncertainty. Located about 30 minutes south of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Gila River Indian Community is a rural, agricultural community and home to the Keli Akimel O’odham or “River People,” also known as the Pima and the Maricopa or Piipaash. Many of the families in the community face significant socio-economic challenges, and students often live in multigenerational homes. And with Native American populations having some of the highest infection and mortality rates for COVID, it was critical to make an early commitment to sustained virtual learning. “From the start, our school board, my staff, and I were able to sit down and have an honest discussion that said, ‘Look, this thing isn’t going away,’”


| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

says Kim Franklin, principal of Casa Blanca Community School. “From the very beginning our board said we’re going to be thinking of this in semester blocks, we’re not going to be talking days or weeks, we’re going to be looking at this long term. And so, what’s that going to mean?” Most families in the community did not have any internet connectivity at all, and if they did, it was only a cell phone. WiFi and computers were scarce. Getting virtual classes up and running was going to be a huge challenge. “The first thing was connectivity,” says Franklin. “We made a blanket decision for equity sake. Every family was going to get a hotspot, and unlimited WiFi. That was No. 1.” In addition to working with tribal governor Stephen Lewis and local businesses to improve connectivity, the district received CARES Act funding and a Creating Learning Connections grant, a result of an initiative from First Book, CDW-G, Intel Corporation, LEGO Education, and the LEGO Foundation. Thanks to the funding, every student was provided with a hotspot and a device. “That changed everything,” says Franklin. “We rolled out a full curriculum, the actual one that they’d be getting if they were sitting here,

LONG-TERM REMOTE LEARNING with both synchronous and asynchronous learning. We take real attendance, and are engaging in different ways.”

CONSISTENCY IS KEY One of the primary focuses has been consistency within the program so that there would be true distance learning. “We didn’t want to throw whatever against the wall and make it stick like it was last February, we wanted this to be real school,” says Franklin. “We made the commitment to provide the staff with the professional development to be able to actually teach what they normally would be teaching, but in a virtual environment.” The entire education staff received PD for remote learning, including counselors, arts teachers, and even an agricultural teacher who teaches remote gardening classes. “If you’ve never seen kindergarteners with their little scoop and shovel and a little paper cup online with their teacher, it’s just adorable,” says Franklin. PD has also included basic tech support for all staff, including the school secretary. “We have a very large number of grandparents raising their grandchildren, people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies who’ve never touched a computer in their life,” says Franklin “At first we were walking them through the most basic things­—they’d be on the phone and say the screen is black. ‘Well, did you turn on the computer?’ ‘Well how do I turn on the computer?’ ‘Push the button.’ ‘Okay, well now, now it’s making a sound …’ And you’d have the grandkids saying to grandma, ‘It’s the green button, push the green button!’”


| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

To that extent, students have also had an opportunity to be the teachers and demonstrate their learning by having to explain technology to their grandparents.

SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK The silver lining of the pandemic, if there is one, has been providing a real opportunity for an education paradigm shift. Franklin acknowledges that many of the changes in the past year would not have happened any time soon­—if at all—under normal circumstances, including increased parent engagement. “We have always said, ‘Oh, if only parents knew what went on in our schools,’” says Franklin. “Well, our parents are sitting right next to those kids, and the conversations I’m having with parents about what they are seeing, what’s going on with their child and their child’s learning, have completely changed and it’s amazing.” Ultimately, Franklin credits the community’s success to the school board making the decision early and then going all-in on remote learning. “I reflect every day on what this would have looked like if we were just trying to cobble this together,” Franklin says. “I like to think we would have survived but getting the funding was a real godsend. I just can’t overemphasize that because it provided that one last step, especially for our special needs learners. Having that solid-state computer has made such a difference.” Franklin participated in the recent T&L webinar “Ensuring Consistent Equitable Student Connectivity.” The on-demand version is available here.”



By David Kapuler


TOP 30

Education expert David Kapuler shares his top 30 education sites from 2020

It’s that time of year of year for my annual top sites and apps. Over the past few years there have been lots of tools for flipping a classroom or lesson. However, this time around you will see a wider variety of tools, especially ones that can be used for remote/distance learning due to the worldwide pandemic. EssayPop - EssayPop is an innovative cloud-based writing platform that makes it easy for students to create essays. Best of all are the vast amount of features to help students become the best writers they can be, such as guided learning, sentences starters, and framed-writing system. - A fantastic new interac-

tive whiteboard that allows educators to create student accounts and have them sign-up via a URL. It also allows educators to assess student learning and differentiate instruction in real time. Escape Classroom - Uses game-based

learning in an “escape” environment to help student’s learn. Also, Escape Classroom will customize a classroom’s learning experience and has games for remote learning. CurrikiStudio - A wonderful suite of

free tools that educators can use to create unique learning experiences, including authoring software with mobile-first activities plus interactive multimedia, images, games, virtual tours, and simulations. Vocab Victor - Features game-based learning to teach vocabulary and is also ideal for working with ESL students. - Supports engagement by allowing users to create quizzes that can be automatically graded. Gimkit - Uses game-based learning to

help teachers differentiate instruction and support students with self-paced learning. Doozy - A fantastic new site for

educators to create online quizzes or games. TeachVid - An amazing online tool

that uses flipped learning and lessons


to teach foreign languages and ESL students. Cloud Stop Motion - Create stop-

solving techniques and offers tips on how to better solve and improve their skills.

motion videos that can be used for digital storytelling and project-based learning.

WittyWe - A wonderful site for finding

Wooclap - An excellent tool for distance learning in which teachers can create a poll or quiz and have students respond in real-time.

Mural - A digital collaboration platform

GameChangineer - One of my favorite

animated lessons on a wide range of subjects grades K-12. with an educational portal for creating any type of graphic organizer, including a mind map, diagram, brainstorm, and more.

sites for integrating STEM into the classroom through learning how to program and code by easily creating a game.

Teacher Made - A free site that con-

Naiku - Ideal for remote learning as this comprehensive assessment platform lets teachers easily evaluate student learning and differentiate instruction.

Insert Learning - A terrific Chrome

Binumi - A nice site for creating beautiful presentations and videos so that a finished project can be embedded into a site or blog.

Circly - An easy-to-use drag-and-drop tool for creating beautiful diagrams and graphic organizers.

Storillo - An innovative new platform

storytelling in various subjects that can also be translated into five different languages.

for group writing projects that tracks individual contributions.

verts old resources (such as PDFs, worksheets, documents, etc.) into interactive online activities. extension that allows users to turn any webpage into a learning moment opportunity by inserting questions, notes, and instructional content.

HeadUP - An excellent site for digital

Monsters vs Fractions - A very fun site that uses game-based learning to “solve” a mystery and teach fractions.

Unsplash for Education - Hosts free,

Charttt - Create a wide variety of

SpeakyReads - An innovative speak-

online graphs, including pie charts, diagrams, and bar graphs, that can be embedded in documents, presentations, and other sites.

ing, listening, and spelling tool for ESL students looking for help with reading and comprehension.

Wordstool - One of my favorite sites

for creating flashcards. It also offers an educational portal to help teachers track and monitor students. Hypatia - An interesting new site

that acts as a “spell check” for math. Hypatia checks a user’s problem-

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

license-free education images that anyone can use. - Offers more than 140 virtual field trips, ideal for remote learning. Coggle - An interesting new collaborative site for creating brainstorms, mind maps, and more. Bibcitation - A free resource for citing

a wide range of sources, including websites, documents, and videos.

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 By Gwen Solomon

Across the country, the budget story is similar: Money is always tight, and sometimes because of shortfalls in state and local revenues, districts have to cut programs. That means technology ideas can fall by the wayside. Finding money for new programs is often a distant dream. Yet, there’s hope. If you’ve got a great idea for a project for your classroom, school, or district, but not the funding to make it happen, a grant may be the answer. Whether it’s a few thousand dollars for a classroom program or several hundred thousand to design and implement a district-wide plan, competitive federal, state, local, and corporate grants are available for education. But be warned. Grant funders get lots of proposals and the competition is often fierce. You have to know where to look for the right grant and how to write a winning proposal. This guide will help you. Trust the Process Applying for a grant is a process. The first step is to state the idea you want to fund clearly. Then you can search for grants that fit your situation and narrow down your list to the one that is the best match. After you’ve identified the grant offering you want, the real work begins. You’ll need a team, buy-in from stakeholders, an understanding of what the grant requires, and good grant writing skills. One thing to buoy your spirits through the hard work ahead is knowing that just applying for a grant is a winning proposition. The planning, research, and writing you put into the effort can serve to solidify your vision and long-term plan. It can benefit technology goals and inspire change, community building, and school improvement. And even though you may not actually win the grant, you’re way ahead when you try for the next one.

Finding the Right Funding Questions to Ask Before Searching for a Grant Opportunity 1.

Do you have a compelling idea?


Do you truly need the funding and can you explain why?


Do you have the organization skills to write the proposal?


Does the staff have the skills and willingness to carry out the project?


Do you have stakeholder buy-in?


Do you have the ability to write in clear, simple, convincing terms?


Do you have an elevator pitch: Can you express your basic idea in one sentence?

Start with a Good Idea In many schools and districts, the needs have multiplied exponentially and everyone has ideas for how to address the issues. Yet there’s a difference between funding equipment needs and funding ideas that will make a difference in learning. Grants fund ideas, not stuff, so proposals should address pressing educational issues and problems. Grant writers have to show how your creative idea will address these issues. Begin the process by developing a solid idea and then gather enough supporting details to back up the concept. Explain the needs, how your plan addresses them, and how you will reach the goals. Be specific; vague intentions are not good enough. Know your school or district and how well you can carry out the plan if you win the grant. The best proposals build on something you’ve already accomplished. Success breeds success.


| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

One of the hardest parts of getting grants is searching for the right one. You have to know what types of funding are out there and which you’re likely to be successful in winning. Even more, you have to learn where to start looking. Some sources offer grants for specific reasons and others offer grants with general guidelines and you specify the reason you are applying.

TYPES OF FUNDING Federal Grants In general, the federal government offers substantial amounts of money for large programs. Formula Grants: One major type of federal grant for K-12 schools is a formula grant, which means that a certain amount of money has been set aside through legislation to give to districts through their state education agencies. An example is Title I funding. Program Grants: Another type of federal grant is awarded competitively. The agency determines a purpose or program for this type of grant and districts can apply. Applicants must meet all of the guidelines. Many of these federal project grants involve a long application period and a lot of support material. Some of the projects run for as much as three years.

State Grants Each state determines its own way to allocate general funds and award extra funds as grants. With block grants, for example, the state requires districts to apply for funding, and districts must make a case for why they should receive the funds. Special funding is allocated for targeted programs such as special education, technology, gifted and at risk populations. The Education Commission of the States has information on programs by state here. Foundation Grants Nonprofit grants are available from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or a charitable trust, whose specific purpose is to make funds available to organizations or individuals for specific purposes including education, science, or community benefit. Some districts have created nonprofit educational associations that can apply for specific grants.

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 Community Grants These grants are often offered by local nonprofit organizations that award grants to individuals and organizations for projects that are based in and primarily benefit the community. Corporate Grants There are different types of corporate grants. One comes from a corporate foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of a for-profit corporation and allows the corporation to fund efforts of particular interest. For example, a tech company might offer STEM grants to high school and college students in order to spur interest in technology careers. Another type of corporate grant is more product related and offers grant funds to purchase the corporation’s products to achieve a goal. Many of these grants are listed by deadline in Tech & Learning’s Grant Calendar.

The Foundation Center and Grants Watch require subscriptions, so check if your district or a library has one. Narrowing the Possibilities Once you’ve found a few programs that might work for you, read the grant guidelines again very carefully. Decide if a grant program is the right one for your needs and ideas. Make sure you are not bending either your ideas or what the grant is asking for to make it fit. The better you know what you want to accomplish and how you will do it, the easier it will be to pick the right one to apply for. Consider outlining the basics of your plan in clear, simple terms so you can judge how well each grant offering matches what you want to do and what you need to do it. It is time well spent because you will be able to get to work writing the proposal with your outline to guide you.

INFORMAL FUNDING If formal applications seem too complicated for your organization or if your idea doesn’t need major funding, informal sources may be just the thing for you. There are crowdfunding options, equipment giveaways, fundraising and other resources to consider. Read the disclosure information on these sites carefully; sometimes there’s a fee or percentage the site keeps. And while some of them were designed specifically for education, others are general sites where anyone can raise money. Crowdsourcing Funds Crowdsourcing grants that are focused on providing support for individual classrooms began to appear approximately ten years ago. These organizations accept donations from individuals to support classrooms, teachers, or schools. Examples are Donors Choose and Adopt-a-Classroom. Donors Choose allows teachers to post requests for funding and Adopt-a-Classroom donors can target a specific school or the organization will match the donor with a classroom. In both organizations, reports are sent to the donor detailing exactly what the money was used for. Others include Digital Wish, Funding Factory, and Computers for Learning. Tech & Learning’s more complete list of fundraising and donation sites is here.

How to Look For a Grant Grant Search Sites It can be confusing to search for grants and funding, but there are organizations that can help you target the specific type of program you need. Examples include: - lists federal grants by keyword or by category. The Foundation Center - search for funders in a particular area. Grant Gopher - a searchable database of funding opportunities. Grants Watch - posts federal, state, city, local, and foundation grants categorized by type.


| DE C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

The Basics Mission: State in clear, simple, and convincing terms what your goal is and what your plan will achieve. Needs: Know the demographics, test results, and anecdotal evidence that prove your district, school, or class needs what you are asking for. Goals and Objectives: Goals are general guidelines that explain what you want to achieve. Objectives are the strategies or steps you will take to reach the goals. Be sure your goals and objectives are specific and measurable. Timeline: Develop a tentative but logical timeline for each stage of your project. Assessment: You should know how you will measure success. Know how and when the assessment will be done. Materials: Have a summary of the supplies and staff you will need. Cost: Have a fairly comprehensive and complete budget.

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 grant is a positive experience. The parts of a grant proposal are:

Before You Write

Once you’ve found the perfect grant offering to match your plan, and have the details of your idea and the information the grant requires, get ready to write. Be as organized as possible because the competition is stiff. We’ve stressed that you should have a solid idea and supporting details. Remember that honorable but vague intentions are not enough. Review the grant guidelines once more to be certain that this is the right fit to meet your needs; you don’t want to adjust your idea or misinterpret what the grant is asking for. Remember to build commitment among stakeholders along the way. Those involved should meet, discuss, plan, and agree to contribute to the grant-writing process if needed and agree to carry out the plan if successful. Enthusiasm of participants, administrators, school board members, and other community members is important as you’ll need their support. Create a timeline and set deadlines for your team to write their sections, and for you to complete the work, get signatures, and make the copies you need to send so you’ll be ahead of schedule. Build in a buffer in case things take longer than expected. Now get ready. It’s time to write.

Writing it Right


Questions to Ask Before You Write the Proposal 1.

Why do you want this grant?


What needs will your project address?


What are your short and long-term goals?


Do your goals address the mission of the funder?


What do you need to reach these goals?


What are you looking to accomplish?


Who will be involved in the project?


Are you and others committed to writing the proposal?

You’ll need an overview statement that briefly describes your proposal. Write this page last but you’ll include it at the beginning. Use short, clear sentences and pull excerpts from every section of your proposal.

NEEDS In this section, you will detail the compelling needs of your school, district, or community; tell why your organization should get funded to run this project and state the economic situation of your district and student body. Be sure to say how the idea will impact teaching and learning. This section should be so compelling that no one could resist funding the proposal. Don’t harp on the financial needs; the overarching educational idea is what will get it funded.

GOALS Explain the important results you expect the project will accomplish. The goals show that the plan is clear, important to achieve, and will have a major impact.

OBJECTIVES Tell what specific methods you will use to reach each goal. Be sure the needs, goals, and objectives are clearly aligned.

The first part of writing a proposal is to 9. Are you and others make sure you assemble exactly what the grant committed to carrying offering requires of you – both information NARRATIVE out the program? and explanations. Most grants require similar This is the plan of action that leads to success: 10. Do other key people components and have a similar format so the what you’ll do; how you’ll do it; where you’ll do support the project? technique you’ll need is similar, too. it; and who’s going to do what. Be sure to include You’ll include a title page, table of contents, specific details and examples. Make your idea look 11. How much money will personnel and signature pages, and more, plus like a sure winner. The clarity of this section and you need? appendices with related information. All of it is compelling detail persuades the grant reader that 12. What resources will important, but spend most of your time and focus on this is an important idea to fund. be required? the pages that contain the real substance: what you The narrative has four main parts. The first want to do; why you want to do it; how you’ll get the should describe the organization: the size and 13. Do you fully job done; and what you need to make it happen. You type of student body, educational philosophy, understand the will communicate that information in the Executive current programs and achievements. Then grant’s guidelines? Summary, Needs/Goals/Objectives, Narrative, and you’ll explain the needs, including the problem Budget pages. that you want to solve. What is missing and Remember that you have to state in advance how how did you discover it? Provide any data that you will know that your project is a success. Will demonstrates your point. Next, describe your grades go up? Will students produce something? Who program–the goals and objectives, timeline, who will judge your success? is involved, what will the result be, and how you will be able to sustain Whether or not you actually win a grant, remember that the process the program beyond the life of the grant. Last, explain how you will itself is important. The planning, research and writing needed often solidify evaluate your success. What data will you collect and how will you your vision and long-term plan – not only for technology but also for analyze it? What are the criteria you will use to measure success? change, community building, and school improvement. So applying for a Where does this program lead?


| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 BUDGET Outline what funds you need for everything you want to do by completing the budget form. Use the budget narrative to explain clearly all the items listed to show that every cent is required to guarantee success. Itemize the expenses in an easy-to-read format and explain how you will

track expenditures. If you expect other sources of funding, explain how they will be used together with the grant.

PERSONNEL Include a personnel page to show which staff members will be part of the program and what each will do. Cite each person’s qualifications to make the program a success. Make sure that these people can take on the work. If other staff has to replace their usual jobs, build in their salaries so the district can replace them.


Questions to Ask as You Write the Proposal 1. Summary/Abstract: Are you including excerpts from each section? 2. Needs: Do you detail the compelling needs of your school, district, or group and why your organization should get funded to run this project? 3. Objectives: Do you explain specific objectives and the methods you will use to reach each goal? Are the needs, goals, and objectives clearly aligned? 4. Narrative: Do you describe your action plan with specifics on how it leads to success­—what you’ll do; how you’ll do it; where you’ll do it; and who’s going to do what? 5. Budget: Do you itemize every budget item and explain clearly how each is required to guarantee success? 6. Personnel: Do you show which staff members will be part of the program, how each person’s qualifications contribute to make the program a success, and what each will do? 7. Evaluation: Do you explain what you will measure, how you will measure it, and the benchmarks you will use so it is clear how the project will prove that it achieved its targets?


| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Tell what you will measure and how you will measure it so it is clear how the project will demonstrate that it achieved its targets. Include clear benchmarks that will be used to evaluate success. Hiring outside evaluators can show how serious you are about determining if your plan worked.

WRITING SKILLS When you get to the narrative and budget explanation portions of your proposals, you want to be convincing. How you write is as important as what you write. In a nutshell, use clear, concise language; provide relevant details and examples; and make sure your grammar is perfect. Write in active rather than passive voice. For example, say, “The Program Director will file a report.” Don’t say, “A report will be filed by the Program Director.” Answer the questions that journalists use: who, what, when, where, why and how. Bullets, lists, outlines, diagrams, and tables can help clarify your ideas. Using action verbs will stress the positive and show you have specific, measurable goals. Choose from words such as accomplish, achieve, conduct, demonstrate, expand, generate, launch, motivate, revamp, and streamline. Employ phrases such as “Students will demonstrate…” • Avoid flowery writing and pretentious words when simple ones will do. For example, don’t write “in view of ” when you mean “because” or “in the event that” when you mean “if.” • Avoid acronyms. Use an organization’s full name so there’s no question what you’re discussing. Try to minimize jargon; if a term isn’t clear to anyone who isn’t in your field, avoid it. • Organize your writing. Decide what purpose each section will serve and stick to it. If you need to write a long or complex explanation, you can use headings that match the criteria in the RFP to clarify the issues. • It’s not always so easy to write a compelling proposal, but if you say exactly what you mean, you’ll have a clear and convincing argument. • Consider highlighting your expertise by building on a current program that is successful. In your budget section, use a spreadsheet with clear, well-organized section heads that are directly tied to specific sections of your written proposal. Remember that money matters. Watch the bottom line so that every dollar will be well spent. You can also show your seriousness by leveraging other funds. For example, find a local organization that will give you additional money, time, equipment, or extra funding if you get the grant.

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 Double Check Your Work You have to submit the best proposal that you can write. Make sure that you’ve said what you mean and mean what you’ve said – and given enough evidence to prove it. Go over your proposal using the checklists below to make sure you’ve covered everything. Also review that you’ve addressed the grant’s specific guidelines and criteria. The closer your proposal aligns with the RFP’s goals, the better your chance for success. After you’ve finished writing your proposal, mark it Draft 1 and set it aside for a day. Go back with a little perspective a day or two later to review and edit what you’ve written. Ask someone to be a critical reader to be sure that you are clear about what the project will do, how it will do it, and why it matters. Rewrite whatever isn’t clear or that doesn’t read well.

Checklists for Success

General Criteria Checklist ❑ Is your idea for the grant significant, compelling, and actionable? ❑ Does your funding proposal contain a sense of urgency? ❑ Do you clearly understand the mission of the funder? ❑ Is this the best organizational match for your funding request? ❑ Does your application include a clear summary that articulates your vision for the project and need for the money? ❑ Are there specific, measurable goals and objectives? ❑ Is there alignment of your needs, goals, and objectives? ❑ Does the proposal tie into the school’s overall plan? ❑ Does your proposal reflect best practices for instruction and learning?

Technology Specific Criteria ❑ Have you defined the technology required for each part of the proposal? ❑ How will the technology assist in implementing the grant goals? ❑ Will the technology be used to develop effective strategies for authentic learning? ❑ How will the technology be used to improve student achievement or staff development? ❑ Have you tied the technology expenses to the proposed budget?


❑ Have you included research data or statistics to support your project? ❑ Have you defined success and how you will measure the effectiveness of the project throughout the duration of the grant? ❑ Do you have stakeholder buy-in? ❑ Have you conveyed what the impact will be on your school or district if you are successful? ❑ Have you matched your answers to the grant’s selection criteria? ❑ Have you allocated staff time to manage the project? ❑ Is there a detailed budget for your proposal? ❑ Have you outlined the contributions of the people associated with the application and how their expertise is critical to the project’s success? ❑ Has the timeline been cross checked against the budget? ❑ Do you have a plan in place to submit progress reports as required by the grant? ❑ What about sustainability after the funds are spent? ❑ How will the needs of the community be met moving forward?

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

GRANTS GUIDE 2021 Even after others have reviewed it, ask yourself the following questions. There’s no knowing exactly what grant readers are looking for but if you’ve checked that you included everything they asked for, your proposal should be in the running. Grant readers generally use a scoring rubric to determine how well you addressed the issues. Some parts carry more weight than others. The one below gives you a general idea of how this works.

Grant Review Rubric Section

Points (out of 100)

Information about the organization........................ 5 Statement of need....................................................... 20 Program description...................................................40 Evaluation....................................................................... 20 Financial information....................................................15

TAKE A DEEP BREATH Questions to Ask Before You Submit the Application

When you’re certain that you’ve included everything, take a deep breath, and send it. Congratulate yourself on a job well done because whatever the result, you’ve learned a lot and created a great plan.

Does the proposal:



Eventually you will hear from the grant giver. If you win, have your plans in place and be ready to hit the ground running. Make sure that everyone involved understands the project thoroughly and knows exactly what his/her role is in it. Then do what you’ve said you want to do. Spend on budget items exactly. Measure what you’ve said you’ll test. Send reports on time. Maintain enthusiasm for the project throughout its life. Evaluate the outcomes, thank everyone and keep people motivated. If you don’t get the grant, contact the funder and ask to read the reviewers’ comments about your proposal so you’ll know how close you were to winning and what you might want to change for next time. Read the summaries of projects that did win and analyze why they won. If you think your plan has merit, find another grant offering and propose it again. Maybe the proposal just needs tweaking to succeed or is easily adapted to fit another grant. Don’t give up! If the idea is important and the staff is committed, begin whatever parts you can without the outside funding. Maybe the groups that said they’d contribute funds will help you anyway. Whether you are starting a project or thinking about the next one, always remember that seeking funds is a journey. Once you embark, there’s no return. You’ll always think about great ideas of how to improve education. And you’ll also have your grant seeking hat on and want to know what is possible.

Demonstrate a compelling need for the grant?

2. Include specific, measurable goals and objectives? 3. Match your answers to the grant’s selection criteria? 4. Explain the expertise of the staff? 5. Describe the commitment to making it work? 6. Make it clear that the grant funds are essential? 7. Show what you mean by success and how you will measure it?


8. Steer clear of jargon?


| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

DO’S AND DON’TS WITH ONE-TIME FUNDS Strategic use of one-time education funds can go a long way in a school district By Dr. Kecia Ray, Lisa Gonzales, Devin Vodicka These are truly unprecedented times. The challenges of COVID-19 continue to compel creativity, innovation, and a relentless focus on serving our students, families, and communities. In addition to the pressing health and safety challenges that we experience every day, we are also undergoing dramatic shifts in funding as a result of rising unemployment, reduced tax collections, and migration and mobility like we have never seen before. Now that we are approaching the end of 2020, we are seeing that large states projecting notable infusions of one-time dollars for 2021-22. For example, California’s anticipated revenues were reduced for the 2020-21 fiscal year when unemployment rates soared beyond 15%, but a rebound of the three major revenue sources (sales tax, personal income tax, and corporate tax) has resulted in a prediction of a large influx in 2021-22. However, that leads to a potential “financial cliff ” in 2022-23. In addition, any potential federal stimulus package, with earmarks for school districts, will provide more one-time funds in the coming months.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING Investing in your team is always a good use of resources and particularly wise utilization of one-time funds. Given the reality that we are navigating through a global pandemic, there is also no shortage of potential focus areas for professional learning. We suggest a review of your strategic framework, including the vision, mission, values, and goals to ensure that professional learning plans are aligned with the aspirations of the organization. In addition, we strongly advise you to design and implement professional learning experiences that are ongoing, collaborative, and relevant, and that create opportunities for reflection and sharing. One-time funds are also often a way to expand professional learning opportunities for groups of employees who may not traditionally have as much access. For example, in California, many teachers have dedicated time in their contracts for professional development, yet it is scarce to find the same provisions in classified employee agreements. Devoting one-time resources to provide meaningful learning options for instructional aides, for example, is very likely to yield immediate results for students and also have an enduring impact. Depending on the flexibility of the funding source, finding ways to involve office staff, custodians, facilities and maintenance, food services, library, purchasing, finance, payroll, human resources, and


| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

other constituencies in the professional learning community also builds collaborative relationships, generates social capital, and improves team connectedness.

TECH INFRASTRUCTURE AND HARDWARE Technology has become the go-to source for keeping schools open and students connected to not only content but also to one another. The priorities in spending for technologies are dependent on the infrastructure in place within the district. A recent report written by each of the former Education Technology Directors of the U.S. Department of Education highlighted ten ways to make online learning work and at the top of the list was connecting all learners. Infrastructure and device deployment can be a capital expense, but getting the ball rolling could be a good use of one-time funds, provided you have the capital or local funds to keep up the momentum. Beyond devices, digital content, professional learning, assessment solutions, and learning platforms are each beneficial and necessary aspects of any successful digital-rich learning plan. One-time funds are great kickstarters to long-term technology plans. One thing to pay attention to when procuring technology with one-time funds is the recurring costs associated with licenses or other fees. Be sure to note in procurement which funds will be used for recurring costs versus one-time expenses. For example, purchasing a device is a one-time cost but adding technical support or loss prevention software is a recurring expense. These can be itemized and delineated in a budget sheet so that your spending is from two

different sources. This also applies to learning platforms and digital content licenses. You can use the one-time spend to pay for professional learning or server/cloud setup fees but the license fees should be a line item within your local budget.

SAFETY & FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS School buildings across the nation were in trouble even before COVID-19 with many aging facilities needing repairs and safety support, especially in low-income communities. Leaky roofs, mold and mildew, rusty plumbing, and outdated heating and cooling systems have further compounded the challenges in a pandemic era during which safety is the No. 1 priority of staff and families. We suggest looking carefully at one-time funds to address longer-term safety and facility improvements. Really think through current challenges and investments you might be making -- hundreds of thousands of face shields for students and staff will not be needed when the pandemic is over, so are there similar items that could be purchased that would address a long-term need? Reviewing your facility master plans and deferred maintenance lists is a good starting point that can help to prioritize strategic one-time expenses for building improvements. In addition, investing in solar or other forms of energy efficiency may result in long-term utility savings to provide additional spending flexibility in the future.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION As with any one-time funds, there are certain pressures that district leaders will face from bargaining and special interest groups who want

additional positions, new programs, or raises for current staff. While the outcome may ease relationships, a key fiscal rule should be at the forefront: Don’t spend one-time dollars on items that eat and breathe. The intent of the federal relief dollars was just that, as the U.S. Treasury Department has noted. The funds should be used to relieve the impacts of the pandemic, including the resulting fiscal crisis from states and locales where the cost of living adjustments was reduced, programs eliminated, and budgets impacted by the loss of student enrollment. Prudent use of the funds can help mitigate deficits, declining enrollment, and the safety and security costs of keeping staff and students safe during the pandemic. With carefully designed spending plans, the impacts can be far-reaching. Bottom line, plan so that any one-time funds can stimulate a longterm spend already included in your local or capital budget. If you currently have money in the local or capital budget for computer refresh, then use these one-time funds to relieve that expense but don’t delete it from the budget. If you already have money in your Title II budget for professional learning, then use these funds to offer professional development not currently included in your course offerings. In general, think of grant or stimulus money as an accelerator and not a sustainer of programs or initiatives. Lisa Gonzales is the Chief Business Officer in Mt Diablo Unified School District. Kecia Ray is the President of K20Connect, LLC and Transformation Coach for the South Carolina Department of Education. Devin Vodicka is the Chief Impact Officer at Altitude Learning, author of Learner-Centered Leadership, and former superintendent of Vista Unified School District.

Keep Students Engaged From the classroom to remote and everything in between

MimioConnect blended learning platform is designed to keep students actively engaged in learning. Deliver lessons without interruption using this all-in-one teaching solution. No matter what happens throughout the school year, you can rely on one solution to consistently deliver content to your students – while measuring understanding and participation.

Learn More


| DE C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JA N UA RY 2 02 1 |


ISTE offered its first virtual conference in November that consisted of a full week of workshops, sessions, and expert advice. While we missed seeing all of our friends in person, our judges were still able to check out the latest technology on display in the virtual exhibit hall to evaluate those products that were nominated for Tech & Learning’s annual Best of Show at ISTE. The judges rated their impressions of individual products on a sliding scale, evaluating areas such as value, uniqueness in the market, and the product’s ability to solve specific problems for educators and administrators. They also applied these same criteria to a new category for this program, “The Best of 2020.” “It was inspiring to see so many innovative products on display at ISTE20 Live,” says Tech & Learning’s Content Director Christine Weiser. “One thing this challenging year has taught us is that education continues to be one of the most resilient and passionate industries around. The winners of the Best of Show at ISTE and The Best of 2020 are examples of how innovation will continue to transform teaching and learning through this pandemic and beyond.”


newest models include 15.6-inch or 17.3inch 144Hz or 240Hz FHD IPS displays with 3ms response times, the latest NVIDIA GTX or RTX GPUs (overclockable for increased performance) and 10th Gen Intel Core H series processors. Of particular note are two key features that resonate with gamers the most­—the high performance graphics card options and fast displays. Our judges said: “To pack that much power and acceleration into a laptop form factor for gaming is remarkable and is exactly what esports gamers need. I want one of these machines!”

AVer USA AVer M11-8M Document Camera

Acer Helios 300 Acer’s Predator Helios 300 gaming notebooks are ideal for students looking to hone their esports skills, offering powerful yet affordable devices that keep gamers highly competitive and able to play today’s latest AAA titles. The


The AVer M11-8M is the sleek and affordable document camera designed to meet the needs of changing learning environments. With HDMI and plug-and-play USB power and connectivity, the M11-8M is ready to share in the classroom or through many popular video conferencing platforms

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

for distance learning. The M11-8M has a sleek vertical design with a mechanical arm that collapses to less than 12 inches by 5 inches to maximize space in the classroom or on a home desk. The smart swivel head provides 180-degree image rotation to capture objects from many angles. “For today’s remote learning classrooms, the M11-8M has become an essential tool,” said our judges.

AVer TR530 Auto Tracking Distance Learning Camera The AVer TR530 creates a true in-class experience for remote students, providing real-time engagement with three auto-tracking modes for hands-free operation and a second panoramic camera that displays a static 120° field of view to effectively track a teacher throughout a room without a camera operator. Stage Tracking accommodates for extremely challenging conditions, such as low lighting or a camera that had to be installed far from the presenter area. Segment Tracking allows for particular areas or stations to automatically be set, such as an IFP, dry erase board, or document camera station. Our judges said, “This PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera brings an amazing tool into the hybrid classroom of today through its tracking capability, offering educators and students a full and complete picture of classroom events.”

WINNERS classroom will need,” said our judges. “And with cloud printing, you can set up the printer to be connected to wifi and you can send to the printer from anywhere in the school.”

AVID Products, Inc. AE36 Headset AVID’s AE-36 universally designed headset proves its success as an essential device by enhancing connections between students and educators at a valued price. Innovative design elements include lightweight and comfort for longer sessions, soft earpads to reduce passive noise and improve student concentration, omnidirectional boom microphone for clear recording of voice for testing results, chew resistant nylon cord and Velcro tie for storage, superior sound quality, easy to clean, durable, and Prop 65 and CE-certified for safety. “The Avid headsets are reliable and dependable while remaining comfortable,” said our judges. “We particularly like the flexibility of the hardware itself in being able to withstand whatever students put them through.”

Boxlight MimioConnect MimioConnect® combines innovative lesson building and instructional tools to create an active learning environment. Teachers and students can connect from anywhere making this a perfect solution for distance, flipped, or blended learning environments. Create a connected and collaborative experience by allowing students to share their work, and use instant polling to quickly assess student understanding and adjust instruction as needed. Materials can be made available before and self-paced assignments can be delivered directly following group instruction to reinforce skills and concepts. “Once a district has the compatible software, students will receive an interactive and engaging lesson every time,” our judges said.

Boxlight Learning Beyond Classroom – PD for Educators Boxlight-EOS Education has led the way for thousands of teachers with customized professional development services to integrate technology tools essential for teaching and learning. The Learning Beyond the Classroom course was developed to help teachers be equipped with all the skills, both practical and pedagogical, to effectively design learning that leverages G Suite for Education and 1:1 Chromebooks. Applying principles of blended learning in all levels of planning prepares teachers and students to engage in various learning environments as needed, with confidence and with as little interruption to the learning process as possible. Our judges simply said, “This has a lot to offer.”

AVID AE55 Headset AVID’s AE-55 was developed for quality, value, and comfort and specifically the educational setting. Innovative design elements include lightweight and comfort for longer sessions, soft earpads to reduce passive noise and improve student concentration, noise-canceling 270° boom microphone for clear voice recording and testing results, chew resistant nylon cord and Velcro tie for storage, superior sound quality, easy to clean, durable, and Prop 65 and CE-certified for safety. “The Avid AE55 Headset has been reimagined and reengineered for the needs of 2020,” said our judges. “They come with a headphone jack model or a USB model for different uses according to the device they are connected to.”


Boxlight MyStemKits and Robo 3D MyStemKits is a K-12 standards-driven 3D printable curriculum with more than 300 lessons and 35 3D modeling design challenges, and fully integrates with Robo 3D printers as well as 75 other 3D printer brands. One-click printing makes it easy for educators without 3D printing knowledge or experience, and strengthens understanding of core math and science concepts by creating fun, interactive, and engaging kits. For example, using 3D-printed catapults integrates learning vital math concepts such as measurement and data analysis while enhancing the learning experience. “At this price point, the Robo E3 is all the printer a

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

CatchOn CatchOn With CatchOn’s comprehensive data analytics, education leaders can use student-level data to track, measure, and analyze digital engagement and personalize learning by seeing individual student profiles that identify what applications and tools each uses, how long they do so, and when. They can also ensure student data privacy compliance by

WINNERS categorizing applications as district-approved or not approved, and monitor the use of unknown applications. The platform helps to promote fiscal accountability by using software utilization data, and can inform PD by analyzing usage trends to identify training gaps and opportunities. “A tool very valuable for tech directors looking at ROI and engagement for digital tools,” said our judges.

display has a touch-free dispenser that delivers up to 2.6 ml sanitizer doses. The ambient lighting on the front automatically turns from green to red to indicate when the sanitizer is low. Pair it with the Clear Digital Sho Content Player to remotely check sanitizer levels and usage of your Gel displays. Utilize the premade template packs or customize your own to push out to your devices anywhere in the world. “The combination of digital signage with a sanitizer station is a unique product just in time for today’s unprecedented times,” said our judges.

ClassLink ClassLink ClassLink helps districts move seamlessly between on-site and remote learning models. School leaders can rest assured everyone has consistent access to digital learning resources, so learning can continue from anywhere. Students can jump straight into learning with single sign-on access to a portal that contains all their digital resources, which reduces confusion. Using ClassLink Analytics, teachers and leaders can measure and track student engagement. Tech teams can even continue rostering and provisioning remotely, ensuring everyone in the district has access to critical learning tools. Our judges said, “With data privacy an ongoing challenge for district leaders, having a SSO product as robust as ClassLink has created protections for our students.”

Clear Digital Gel Digital Signage Sanitizer Station with Sho Software Clear Digital’s Gel Digital Signage Sanitizer Station is the new breakthrough messaging system that is equally concerned with cleanliness as it is message delivery. This vivid 21.5-inch


has a large 14-inch 1920x1080p Full High Definition 10-point multitouch screen. It also features an Intel Pentium N5030 Processor, a water-resistant keyboard, and anti-peel keys. The IP-rated, drop-resistant design and non-slip texture is built to last, and with 12 hours of battery life, an HD camera, HDMI ports, and USB-C quick charge, users can stay connected and productive all day. “A rugged chromebook that is an asset in any location,” said our judges.

Clear Touch 7043XE Interactive Panel with Mini Convertible Stand The Clear Touch® 7043XE panel features an elegantly smooth, capacitive touch screen with Android 8, and is easily paired with the Clear Touch® mini convertible stand. The panel can be easily adjusted from presentation mode to tabletop mode with anti-collision function so students stay safe, perfect for early learners. When paired with NUITEQ’s Snowflake software, the screen can be split into four different zones, ideal for multiple students to collaborate. Multiple media can easily be added and the display can be used for storytime to annotate over key vocabulary. “This product goes beyond an interactive smartboard or smart projector with its android interaction and pc options,” said our judges. “The convertible stand is enticing as it can be used horizontally or vertically for interactive activities.”

CTL CTL Chromebook NL81T Whether working from home, the classroom, or workplace, the CTL NL81T Chromebook gives students consistent, high-quality graphics for streaming media and helps them to work smarter, not harder. Designed with the modern workforce in mind, the NL81T

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

CTL Logitech Small Room Solution for Google Meet Easily transform classrooms into video collaboration spaces. The Logitech Small Room Solution for Google Meet includes everything teachers need to provide engaging distance learning from a classroom or their home. Featuring all-in-one video and audio, including Ultra-HD imaging, three integrated beam-forming microphones, and echocancelling speakers, MeetUp delivers crisp, clear video and unmatched audio clarity. Packed with 32GB RAM and 128GB SSD, the CTL Meet Compute Chromebox includes an Intel Core i7 Processor for dependable streaming. Our judges said, “This will increase connections and focus on content, not waste time on technology.”

Curriculum Associates i-Ready i-Ready makes the promise of differentiated instruction a practical reality for K-12 by combining powerful assessments and rich insights with effective and engaging instruction in reading and mathematics. The


Diagnostic provides actionable criterionreferenced and normative data to facilitate delivery of impactful, equitable learning experiences. Teachers administer it at the beginning of the school year to help chart instruction and to set personalized instruction paths. Mid-year and end-of-year diagnostics help students and teachers have data chats to set goals and track growth. “With all the data-driven decisions, this tool gives actual real-time solutions and information,” said our judges. “An all-in-one data platform.”

Forward Edge Edge•U Badges Edge•U is an instructionfocused professional learning system that adapts to the needs of educators. Teacher capacity is built by offering concise, just-in-time learning to support educators with the challenges they face every day, particularly in utilizing necessary tools for learning. Edge•U received the ISTE Seal of Alignment for the Educator Standards in February 2020. The solution has shown to consciously, purposefully, and meaningfully support best practices for digital age teaching and learning. “An amazing platform for educators to become trained on a variety of technologies and tools,” said one judge. “Having created a platform for similar uses in my own district, I greatly appreciate the attention to detail.”

Gale, A Cengage Company Gale In Context: For Educators Learning Center Gale In Context: For Educators is a lesson planning tool that enables all educators to find and personalize digital learning content, plan learning activities that work well for remote or in-person environments, and provide equity for all students. Its new Learning Center is a professional learning hub that’s the base of operations for finding, organizing, and


HoverCam eGlass

Click the link above to watch the Gale In Context: For Educators Video ( featuring the new Learning Center)

learning how to teach (virtually or in-person). Teachers can access how-tos, such as a step-bystep “Build and Teach a Lesson” walk-through, sample content sets, and watch on-demand content videos. “Solving one of the challenges that school districts face in the new learning environments, this product provides the professional learning solutions that educators are looking for,” said our judges.

HoverCam’s eGlass is a fully integrated illuminated writing glass, developed in partnership with Learning Glass. The innovative, all-in-one, transparent writing surface features a built-in camera and adjustable lighting, ideal for remote, hybrid, and traditional classrooms. The camera captures the instructor and whatever they write on the surface of the glass simultaneously, and eGlass automatically flips the writing for students to read. Available in 35-inch and 50-inch models, its intuitive software is compatible with popular remote conferencing programs. Teachers can also drag PNG images, documents, and videos onto the screen and annotate them for dynamic presentations. One of our judges said, “The built-in software tools and lighting are amazing—I want one of these systems now! This is probably the best educational tool to come out of Covid-19 times.”

HoverCam Solo 8 Plus The portable, compact HoverCam Solo 8Plus is an intuitive document camera for blended learning. Compatible with Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, it gives students a front row seat to learning. Simply plug the USB into a PC, Chromebook, or Mac—no power adapter is required. The embedded Flex 11 software delivers immersive and dynamic lessons with picture-in-picture, annotation, digital whiteboard, lesson recording, and more. “This product has taken document cameras into the virtual learning world,” said our judges. “With its interaction with web conferencing platforms, teachers can seamlessly share resources, demonstrate lessons and conduct experiments. It is a mobile product for today’s learning environments.”

| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Incident IQ Incident IQ Incident IQ is a technology support platform built exclusively to help K-12 IT teams effectively manage educational technology. Features include help ticketing and asset management tools, asset tracking tools to get devices quickly assigned and managed, and a step-by-step Ticket Wizard for easy submission of help requests. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Incident IQ has added tools for distance learning support, including Remote Support Ticketing—a public-facing help desk that’s available to everyone in a district community. “Incident IQ has thought of everything when it comes to customer support and IT asset management,” said our judges. “We especially liked the ease of instant remote desktop assistance right from the help-ticket.”

WINNERS LearnPlatform IMPACT LearnPlatform’s IMPACT™ equips educators to conduct practical, on-demand, evidence-based edtech evaluations, providing critical insight to improve implementation, guide professional development, increase purchasing power, inform budgets, and drive better outcomes for all students. With IMPACT, district administrators can analyze depth of usage and outcomes across districtdefined student groups, such as school site, grade level, race/ ethnicity, and free/reduced lunch to surface equity gaps. Based on results, they can inform and implement changes, and then monitor their effectiveness over time. Our judges were impressed by IMPACT’s ability to drill down and collect data based on various conditions and demographics to make important decisions.

support instruction and promote student success. Targeted resources are suggested for ELA, math, and science, both at the elementary and secondary levels. Support videos feature in-house educators who teach how to deliver effective instruction, promote standards mastery, and enhance critical thinking. This tool also features printable graphic organizers, our judges noted.

MAXCases Extreme Shell-S Custom-Fit Case for Chromebooks and Laptops Featuring a one-piece design that wraps securely around the device, the Extreme Shell-S case delivers substantial, 360-degree protective coverage. The unique MAXGrip™360 spine is textured to provide a firm grip while safeguarding the device hinge area. Additional protection includes rigid top and bottom panels made of compound polycarbonate, thermoplastic, and polyurethane that protect against scratches, dirt, and impact damage. A full-surround TPU bumper with enhanced corners that extend over the bottom of the case when closed protects the areas most vulnerable to drops – the device corners. The IT-friendly design offers easy, one-piece installation and clear panels for asset tag visibility. “A sturdy cover that will support the life of digital tools,” said our judges.

Mackin MackinVIA MackinVIA is a free digital content management system that provides schools, students, and educators with easy access to their collections of ebooks, read-alongs, audiobooks, databases, and videos. With one login, users can view and manage all of the school’s digital resources through any desktop, laptop, or mobile device, anywhere, any time. MackinVIA also provides access to nearly 3 million vetted digital resources, including interactive ebooks that integrate video, audio, animation, and activities. Mackin Read-Alongs™ are enhanced with embedded audio and highlighted words, and are synched for auto page-turning. Our judges appreciated that students and teachers can access their curriculum whether in person or virtually.


Promethean ActivPanel ActivPanel Element Series, the latest generation from Promethean, is a flexible, comprehensive solution used in hybrid learning environments. It continues the company’s tradition of having the most innovative technologies designed for teachers, by teachers, to support schools as they go through this adjustment period. The all-in-one solution enables educators to deliver engaging, collaborative lessons using Promethean’s education software, while ActivPanel helps ensure the same high-quality educational experiences for students. “Promethean is a leader in the interactive panel world,” our judges said. “It continues to evolve to meet the needs for schools as they migrate to new learning environments.”

Reading Plus Reading Plus

Mentoring Minds Resource Library The Mentoring Minds Resource Library features more than $2,000 worth of content from award-winning educator resources— priced at just $2.99/mo or $29.99/yr. The app, divided into eight modules (such as critical thinking, vocabulary, and social-emotional learning), provides educators with convenient access to best practices and strategies that

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Reading Plus is a Overcome the Hidden research-proven Hurdle personalized Adaptive Literacy Solution for Grades 3-12 intervention and instruction program 3 2.5 60 2.5 YEARS that improves 60 HOURS 2 2.0 40 comprehension, 1 1.0 20 vocabulary, motivation, and reading efficiency—it is the only adaptive intervention that addresses inefficient reading. Reading Plus begins with an online assessment that provides baseline data to provide a clear in

Level Gains

Level Gains


Level Gain for College and Career Readiness




Well Below Grade Level

Reading Plus produces of growth in just

Below Grade Level


At Grade Level

R E A D I N G P LU S .CO M | 8 0 0 - R E A D - P LU S : 8 0 0 -7 3 2-3 7 5 8

of personalized instruction

WINNERS picture of every student as a reader. Students are placed on personalized learning paths, working in the reading, writing, vocabulary and visual skills components. The program uses formative data from each student to continually adapt instruction, and provide teachers with actionable reports and resources for additional instruction. Our judges were particularly impressed with how this reading intervention program identifies, addresses, and provides interventions for struggling inefficient readers.

Renaissance myON myON is a digital reading platform that provides students with 24/7 access to thousands of fiction and nonfiction books and news articles—in English, Spanish, and additional languages. A multimedia reading experience with colorful illustrations, professionally recorded audio, and annotation tools makes each text engaging and unique. Built-in close reading tools, customizable literacy projects, and a large collection of nonfiction titles support lesson plans centered on reading and writing skills. Daily news articles enrich content-area classes and bring more opportunities for reading into the school day. Our judges really appreciated the solid search feature that helps kids choose books they like.

An article collection provides additional opportunities for daily nonfiction reading, while in-depth reporting supports teacherstudent conversations about reading time, comprehension, and growth. “Most of our students enjoy using Accelerated Reader, and it definitely helps with their reading progress and comprehension,” said our judges.

risk. Our judges were impressed by how this product analyzes student activity over time as opposed to single incidents, which can lead to early interventions.

Renaissance Star Assessments

Sourcewell Technology Spring Math

Star Assessments are a suite of valid, reliable assessments for reading, math, and early literacy, in both English and Spanish. Trusted by more than 30,000 schools and highly rated by the National Center on Intensive Intervention, Star Assessments enable educators to quickly gain accurate insights into student learning, growth, and achievement so they can help all learners reach their full potential. The full suite includes the computeradaptive Star Reading (K-12), Star Math (112), and Star Early Literacy (K-3) assessments, along with a formative assessment tool, Star Custom (K-12). Our judges said, “The power of the tool is in the reports and then the suggested lessons from the results.”

Spring Math is a complete MTSS system for math. In addition to assessments, it provides a proven supplement to any curriculum in the form of class-wide interventions that are teacher-led and follow a peer-tutoring format. It can be implemented face-to-face or virtually using any app. The data-driven instructional and coaching system also identifies students needing additional instruction and provides individual interventions at their specific level of need. Assessments are dynamically generated, and intervention materials are provided for individual, small group, and whole group work. Educators can review weekly mastery level progress and access a coaching dashboard with metrics on progress and implementation. “This program is a great solution for educators, math coaches and interventions as they support math learners,” said our judges.

Securly At-Risk Renaissance Accelerated Reader Accelerated Reader is an independent reading practice program that helps K-12 students to become confident, lifelong readers. Supporting more than 200,000 fiction and nonfiction books and articles at a wide range of levels, Accelerated Reader gives students extensive choice in what they read—and keeps them engaged in independent reading practice as they work toward their own goals.


By studying a student’s online footprint, AtRisk finds enough credible evidence to raise an alert. It follows the same three-tiered format of the RtI/MTSS intervention model, based on academic achievement, behavior, or both, and places students into three color-coded categories based on history and online activity. If the dashboard shows students moving between tiers, it can indicate declines in overall happiness, social connections, or self-worth. This insight allows schools to provide support at the right time to bring students back to low

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Turnitin Turnitin Draft Coach Turnitin Draft Coach is a Google Docs™ add-on that helps students improve on the mechanics of their academic writing and research, as well as their citation skills before they turn their final paper into their instructor. Draft Coach gives supportive formative feedback to students while they write. Students can run similarity checks

WINNERS and make corrections to how they have cited sources and quoted other content before they submit their final version to their instructor. Draft Coach is also a resource for teachers, giving them deeper insight into student learning and while encouraging and supporting more independent, confident writers. “We can see where this helps students improve their academic writing and research skills while providing instructors with additional insight into student learning,” said our judges.

nylon with multiple high-density layers for protection. The outside pocket bolsters a modular elastic band for neatly storing essential accessories and includes a mesh pocket for power adapters. The Sidekick Carrier is a successful academic solution for teachers and students alike. Our judges said, “It offers a plethora of protection points for Chromebooks and the accessory pockets make it the best choice for protecting a fleet of chromebooks for transporting your chromebooks to and from school.”

Customer Central • 360 view of all interaction between your organization and Vivacity Tech

reading difficulties, including dyslexia. The judges were impressed by the blended learning system that focuses on modeling best practices.

Customer Central is our Proprietary Customer Information Delivery Tool

• Quote & Invoice history of the parent organization and member sites • Real-time order status and tracking information • Products deployed across the organization, down to the site level • Request technical support and RMA’s • Manage users and permissions • Quick access to your dedicated account manager’s contact information • How to videos and walk throughs

Vivacity Tech Customer Central Vernier Software & Technology Vernier Graphical Analysis™ Pro Vernier Graphical Analysis™ Pro meets the needs of today’s science educators. The enhanced app lets users easily insert, view, and sync a video to sensor data for analysis, and features the ability to perform live experiments and share data over the internet in real time. Students can experience real experiments, analyze and graph data, helping them connect abstract concepts to real-world applications. It includes videos with sample experiments synced with data and complete instructions that cover common topics in biology, chemistry, and physics. The app is compatible with most devices used in schools, including Chromebooks. “The versatility of this science program brings learning to a new level,” said our judges.

Vivacity Tech Sidekick Carrier Vivacity Tech Sidekick Carrier case safeguards Chromebooks with the perfect balance of protection and size, combining non-rip, water-resistant ballistic


Customer Central is the first free asset management system of its kind, allowing districts to manage IT assets, submit device repair requests, help operate a studentled repair center for 1:1 deployments, and train repair technicians. It is complete with budget allocation reporting and shipment tracking, and provides visibility into the repair process every step of the way. With Customer Central, school districts can manage their IT assets from anywhere. “The Vivacity Customer Central solution is an amazing asset management system that is cloud-based and makes it easy for both the administrators of the system as well as the end-users to keep track of their support needs,” said our judges.

Voyager Sopris Learning LETRS LETRS is a blended PD course that provides educators with the background, depth of knowledge, and tools to teach language and literacy skills to every student. Created by Dr. Louisa Moats, it features videos, allowing teachers to easily apply their learning to the classroom, and addresses the structures of English, the cognitive processes of learning to read, and the teaching practices proven to be effective in preventing and remediating

| DE C E M B E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

Voyager Sopris Learning Reading Rangers Reading Rangers is meaningful online reading practice, filled with engaging experiences that help build foundational skills and improve reading fluency and comprehension. Designed for K-5, it can be used in any learning environment — remote, in-person and hybrid learning environments. Engaging experiences provide students with valuable practice while improving reading fluency, comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary. For teachers, Reading Rangers offers data that provides insight to assess how students are performing. Our judges said, “This product provides a fun, gamified approach for students to engage in learning ELA.”


ViewSonic Corp ELITE XG270 Gaming Monitor The ViewSonic ELITE™ XG270 is a 27inch IPS gaming monitor that delivers performance and functionality for school esports and gaming environments. It features an ultra-fast 1ms (GtG) response time and a 240Hz refresh rate for smooth screen transitions and accurate color reproduction, as well as native 1080p resolution and 99 percent sRGB color coverage to ensure stunning image quality. The monitor is certified G-SYNC compatible that reduces tearing, while VESA Adaptive Sync technology provides interoperability of variable refresh rate capabilities. Dynamic RGB lighting offers illumination and can sync with other RGB peripherals for a complete gaming ecosystem. “This gaming monitor shines above others of this size thanks to it’s 240Hz refresh rate, which is one of the first to offer that rate in this size and for this price,” said our judges.

ViewSonic Corp TD1655 Portable Touchscreen Monitor The ViewSonic® TD1655 is a 15.6-inch portable touchscreen monitor that can be paired with laptops and tablets as a secondary screen in a classroom. With a 10-point projective capacitive touchscreen, it offers a smooth and natural writing/drawing experience with fingers or stylus. The bezelless design ensures screen space for content sharing and can be used to set up multimonitor-based stations. It comes with two USB Type-C ports for quick and easy transmission of video, audio, and data, and is less than an inch thick and weighs less than two pounds. A built-in stand allows the screen to be oriented in various modes, and a Blue Light Filter helps eliminate eye strain. “Not only is it priced right, but it offers a wonderful functionality to laptops or desktop computers by bringing the power of touch and additional viewing real estate,” said our judges.

WeVideo WeVideo for Schools WeVideo provides an easy-to-use and flexible multimedia creation solution for all classroom-use cases, and is designed to scale from a single classroom to a full district. WeVideo’s multimedia creation tools work on any device; the streamlined video editor offers real-time collaborative editing, and is easy to use. The mobile apps, combined with the safe and secure browser app, helps schools offer equal access to educational technology for all students. Our judges said, “It’s easy and safe to use, and empowers interaction and collaboration between students and teachers.”

The Best Tools for Remote & Blended Teaching & Learning ENTER NOW


| DE C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JA N UA RY 2 02 1 |


WINNERS Apex Learning Courses

Edmentum Exact Path

Teachers can count on having robust content and delivery with Apex Learning Courses so they can focus on teaching and building relationships with students and spend less time trying to figure out technology. Apex Learning Courses provide districts with a way to hold students accountable for their learning, whether in-person or learning from home. Students can access Apex whenever and however it’s most convenient, and parents can see the instructional portal to track their student’s program in addition to assessments, enabling families to become more involved in the process. “This is a comprehensive online curriculum for high school students,” our judges said.

Exact Path supports continuity of learning in fully virtual, hybrid, or brick-and-mortar environments. Specifically, it personalizes learning by combining adaptive diagnostic assessments with individualized learning paths for K-12 students in math, reading, and language arts. The program supports targeted intervention within a district’s or state’s mandated program, and allows educators to diagnose needs with a valid adaptive assessment. Educators can target unique learner needs and plan intervention with digital assignments, and analyze growth, progress, and usage via data visualizations and reports. Our judges were impressed by the vast array of tools this program offers, particularly for struggling students.

Discovery Education Discovery Education Experience Discovery Education Experience is a flexible K-12 learning platform that connects educators to high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and professional learning resources. These resources, sourced from trusted partners, are aligned to state and national standards, and help educators bring the outside world into teaching and learning every day. It is designed to work within school systems’ existing infrastructure and workflows, and thanks to multiple partnerships, can be easily integrated into existing IT architecture. “This product offers seamless opportunities for learning,” said our judges. “Discovery Education continues to provide current and relevant content for classroom teachers.”

Edmentum Edmentum Courseware Edmentum Courseware provides more than 400 state and national standards-aligned online courses for grades 6-12 in core subjects as well as electives, CTE, and world languages. Courseware’s flexibility and quality make it compatible with in-person, blended, and virtual instruction, allowing schools and districts to move from one modality to another. It offers a sleek platform, intuitive data dashboards, courses that can be modified, PD options, and reports to make it easy for educators to manage classes and track performance and progress. Our judges said, “Whether based on mastery of skills, learning interests or access to advanced course offering, this product is a one-stop shop for school districts.”


| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

IXL Learning IXL Learning IXL is a personalized learning platform proven to enhance learning outcomes for grades pre-K through 12. With a comprehensive curriculum of more than 8,500 skills covering five subjects and fully aligned to all state standards with 40 popular textbook series, it can support nearly any lesson. The adaptive assessment tool, the Real-Time Diagnostic, evaluates students across every concept, providing an accurate portrait of students’ knowledge levels in math and language arts, and helps to shape a personalized action plan for every learner. In addition, easy-to-use reports give real-time insight into student progress. “IXL continues to be a leading standard for standards-based curriculum and assessments,” said our judges

Lightspeed Systems Lightspeed Analytics Lightspeed Analytics allows school administrators to track and measure student engagement by identifying how, when, and how frequently applications are being used. Customizable dashboards allow users to see specific student activity by week or day, so they can get real-time, actionable insights into a districts’ online learning plan. By identifying redundant or unused licenses, district leaders can drive ROI and budget optimization, and customize a learning plan that works. “Data usage can drive innovation, long-term planning and purchases,” our judges said. “It is evident that this product can provide critical information for district leaders.”

WINNERS OrCam Technologies OrCam Read OrCam Read is a new, AI-driven assistive reading technology designed for students with language processing disorders, including dyslexia. It captures complete pages or screens, reading the full, long-form text – in real time – to support reading fluency and long-term literacy development. A pen-sized precision laser guides the reader’s tiny smart camera to capture text, convert it to audio, and read aloud from any print or digital surface. The interactive “Smart Reading” feature allows students to target specific text by using voice commands, such as “read headlines” or “find” a specific word within a text. One judge said, “I really like the blue-tooth use for broadcasting the readaloud feature to headphones or other devices.”

Pixton Comics Pixton EDU Pixton EDU is a webapp that gives teachers and students a unique way to create stories, demonstrate learning, and enhance writing assignments – in any subject – through digital comics. Users can explore any other subject and choose images from popular content, ranging from The Hunger Games to the solar system to black history, all Common Core aligned. No drawing skills are required, with hundreds of preset characters, backgrounds, outfits, poses, and even emotions available. “The PixtonEDU app is a wonderfully, creative way for students to demonstrate their comprehension and understanding of their reading,” said one judge. “I really wish this option was around when I was kid in place of the traditional book report!”

PowerSchool PowerSchool Performance Matters PowerSchool Performance Matters gives a complete view of what’s happening academically within every classroom and school, allowing educators to identify trends and take meaningful actions to improve success. Users can easily generate local assessment data (from pre-made items and assessments or by creating their own), collect SEL survey data, import state assessment data, and more. The Assessment tool provides access to student data while Analytics offers real-time Performance Matters data to support educator and student improvements in school districts. “This is a valuable tool for supporting the whole child,” said our judges. @powerschool



| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M

PowerSchool Schoology, a PowerSchool Unified Classroom Product


Unified ClassroomTM

Schoology Learning


Schoology Learning allows educators to deliver engaging, personalized learning experiences to their students. The platform can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and combines everything needed for teaching and learning into “ one place – a one-stop-shop for students, ” parents, teachers and administrators. It is a scalable district-wide solution that tracks student mastery of learning objectives aligned to curriculum, promotes staff collaboration through configurable groups, allows for organization-wide communication to the home, and ensures customizable user roles and permissions. Our judges were impressed with the seamless interoperability between all the systems.

For over a decade, Schoology Learning has supported any teaching and learning environment, including 100% online courses. As part of PowerSchool Unified ClassroomTM solution, Schoology continues to ensure that all students have access to the same quality of teaching and learning, regardless of their socio-economic status, special education needs, or any other circumstances. Enhanced Communication and Collaboration

Provide Enriched Learning Experiences

Use Schoology Conferences, Announcements, Messages, Discussions, Zoom, and/or Microsoft Teams for continuing asynchronous and synchronous communication with students online.

Create engaging learning materials and assignments incorporating media, videos, and more. Align to learning objectives to track student progress towards mastery of key objectives and outcomes.

Gain Full Visibility into Learning Patterns

Schoology provides that platform that allows children and faculty members to engage in that next level of instruction. Our students are excited about the opportunity to collaborate on a digital plane.

Track student usage through robust reports and analytics, which provide teachers and administrators with information regarding logins, time spent on materials, and more.


Superintendent, White Plains School District, NY

PowerSchool PowerSchool Unified Talent

Unified Talent



Give students the best opportunities with the right staff. Find quality staff and ensure they have the right support to impact student achievement with PowerSchool Unified TalentTM (TalentEd), a unified talent management solution with best-in-class products that spans the complete employee lifecycle.

PowerSchool Unified Talent is a virtual talent management solution that enables HR administrators to operate more efficiently and educators to “ be trained and supported. If offers the end-to-end tools HR needs to run smoothly so educators can best ” support student success, including a full suite of recruiting and hiring tools, such as candidate assessment, which includes a pre-hiring assessment built with predictive success indicators. Onboarding and other processes can be run fully online and completed with e-signatures. It also offers tools for training, evaluations, surveys, and a library of ready-made PD. “The onboarding tools are valuable for both time-saving and efficiency,” said our judges. Quickly Find and Retain High-Quality Educators

Get More Transparency into Staff Operations

Use the nation’s most popular K-12 job board, research-based candidate assessments, and an easy-to-use applicant tracking system to quickly find and hire great teachers.

Increase visibility and ensure compliance in staff performance and personnel management by centralizing HR operations with one, unified solution that brings it all together. Easily connect with PowerSchool’s ERP solution, Unified AdministrationTM, to improve decision-making and streamline processes across the entire district central office.

Increase Educator Effectiveness Identify teacher strengths and weaknesses to provide meaningful, actionable feedback and direction. Provide personalized professional learning informed by powerful student performance data to support teacher retention and directly target student achievement.

Time Back to Focus on What Matters

Minimize inefficient HR paper processes in employee recruitment, onboarding, contracts, evaluations, absence management and beyond. Embrace streamlined, automated workflows so your staff can focus on impacting student success.

Build a Positive School Culture

Champion continuous learning through systems that promote evaluation, feedback, and growth—so collaboration flourishes and learning cascades to improve student outcomes.

It’s about developing an atmosphere of performance. And ultimately, it’s about seeing better measurements from the students, as well. It takes time to evolve, but that’s what we’re moving to. And we see PowerSchool as part of that strategic partnership to help us move in that direction because we have more tools at our fingertips. JOSEPH PETTIFORD

Chief Human Resources Officer, Jefferson County Schools, West Virginia

PresenceLearning Teletherapy Essentials Teletherapy Essentials allows districts to train and support school-based teams in serving students with special needs remotely. The proprietary, award-winning FERPA and HIPPA compliant platform, includes online self-guided modules, live training sessions, and ongoing live online workshops. School-based clinicians can stay connected with, and provide services to, their students at home without interruption. Our judges said, “In response to special needs students needing to maintain their much needed services, Teletherapy Essentials fills the gaps that this pandemic has created and allows both students and parents access to the mandatory services provided by their school systems.”

WINNERS Rosetta Stone Rosetta Stone English

Super Duper Publications Super Duper Digital Library

Rosetta Stone® English for grades K-6 is an adaptive blended learning program that supports students’ English language development through academic conversations. Combining the language and literacy expertise of Rosetta Stone and Lexia Learning, the program blends language learning with subject knowledge to support academic achievement. With embedded alignment with multiple state and national language proficiency standards, Rosetta Stone English focuses on three key areas — speaking, listening, and grammar. Assessment Without Testing® technology gathers and analyzes actionable, real-time progress monitoring data. Our judges especially liked how students can learn at their own pace in culturally responsive environments.

The Super Duper Digital Library provides online access to hundreds of standards-based learning resources with tens of thousands of activities for students in grades PreK-5, and in particular autistic children and those with special needs. It supports multiple skills dealing with language acquisition, memory, literacy, reading, and social-emotional learning. The Library provides access to Super Duper’s popular print materials and seasonal games, such as “Hispanic Heritage,” “Black History Month,” and “Spring into Speech and Language.” The games can be used in concert with hundreds of card decks targeting specific skills. “We really like the way they have adapted their materials for distance learning and web-based, interactive versatility, which is especially important for these types of students they serve,” said our judges.

Savvas Learning Company Experience Chemistry Experience Chemistry™ is a phenomenabased high school program that gets students to investigate real, compelling observances in the natural world through the science of doing. This brand-new curriculum focuses on the student experience and takes a new approach to teaching chemistry, in the classroom or remotely. It gives teachers the flexibility to teach chemistry from anywhere, with stateof-the-art lab experiments for classroom use and virtual labs for online. Engaging, interactives include a Student Experience Notebook eText, animations, and Virtual Reality 360º Lab Simulations. Our judges appreciated how this product provides opportunities for virtual labs, collaboration and studentcentered activities.

SMART Technologies SMART Learning Suite SMART Learning Suite is web-based software that allows users to create lessons for students to interact with through their devices, in class, remotely, or on their own time. It’s a flexible tool that supports active learning and collaboration, and allows users to import their own lessons and enhance them with engaging, customizable components, such as games, activities, and collaborative workspaces. “Big jump for SMART,” said one judge. “I see how it enriches student-led learning, project-based learning, and flipped classroom experiences.”

Tools for Schools Book Creator Book Creator is a simple tool for creating digital books to infuse creativity throughout a curriculum, motivating students to become published authors and helping them develop future-ready skills. Teachers can even create their own resources, and more than 2 million books are made each month. The intuitive interface allows students as young as 4 to add text, images, drawings, video, maps, or even record their voice, and it is versatile enough to be used in any subject to demonstrate understanding, promote collaboration, and prioritize creativity over consumption. “As a curriculum director I absolutely love Book Creator,” said one judge. “Our students are so engaged with their learning when they are working with it and their work always astounds me at what they’re capable of doing.”


| DE C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JA N UA RY 2 02 1 |




The first Britannica Kids’ Encyclopedia to be published in a generation, this stunningly illustrated compendium of knowledge will satisfy the most curious minds. Its 424 pages cover space, animals, history, technology and more, and every page has been checked by one of 100 expert consultants, who feature in interviews at the end of each chapter. Packed with amazing facts you can trust, this is a must-have for every school, library, and family.

At MakerBot, we’re more than just a 3D printer -- we’re an ecosystem designed to provide educators and students with the tools and knowledge to thrive both in and outside of the classroom with 3D printing and design thinking. MakerBot Education provides solutions that are fit for any educator or student. Whether you’re new or advanced with 3D printing, MakerBot has the solution for you. Watch this video to see how far 3D printing with MakerBot can go.



Don Johnston’s Human Learning Tools give students with learning challenges (dyslexia, dysgraphia, executive functioning, etc.) the accommodations necessary to read, write, and access the curriculum. Their top tools include Co:Writer and Snap&Read which work directly with Google, Microsoft Edge, iOS, Schoology, Seesaw, and Canvas. Free educator licenses are available at educatorsfree.

OverDrive Education is the leading global digital reading platform for K-12, offering the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks and streaming video. As a 100% digital company serving more than 30,000 schools worldwide, OverDrive combines the technology you need with the content you want to support reading and learning in the classroom, library and home.


As the flagship education product of Tobii Dynavox, Boardmaker provides a spectrum of solutions and tools that advance communication, access and literacy, giving your students the power to achieve. Explore our robust Boardmaker software, powered by our globally recognized Picture Communication Symbols® and free curriculum. Discover Boardmaker at

eChalk is your partner for beautiful, accessible school websites. Our high-impact designs and easy CMS are part of the most accessible school website platform available. Built-in platform accessibility features and eChalk GUIDE, our content accessibility checker, make it easy to maintain accessibility for the long run. And with our ADA Transition Package and ongoing support, you don’t have to do it alone. See how easy accessibility can be.


For 20 years, Edlio has been providing K-12 educators easy, robust communication and payment solutions. By making your district adaptable and supportive, Edlio helps schools grow and keep their communities connected with trust. Edlio websites, messaging, and online payment services are trusted by 16,000 schools and districts across the country--discover why by visiting

Turnitin is a global company dedicated to ensuring the integrity of education and research and supporting the development of original thinking skills. NEW FOR 2021: Turnitin Draft Coach™, an add-on for Google Docs, helps students improve their academic writing and research skills while providing instructors with additional insight into student learning in the environment where they write. Draft Coach is available for all current Turnitin Feedback Studio customers. Learn More About Draft Coach.



Educators trust Follett in the mission to build confident, independent and well-rounded students. Follett-powered technology helps administrators maximize resources. We equip educators with the tools and resources they need to support every student, from library collections and digital learning platforms, to classroom libraries, book fairs and beyond.

Sign up to Wix Education and get everything you need to give your students the skills to be future creators of the web. With a free, all-inclusive curriculum, interactive learning activities and online class management tools, Wix Education is the go-to platform for teaching web creation in the classroom for students ages 13+. Sign up now to get early access to our courses: Intro to Wix and the Web, Web Creation 101, and Web Design.


LEARNING ALLY Learning Ally transforms the lives of early and struggling learners, through proven solutions and accomodations, to help you drive student outcomes and help your students reach their potential. Our solutions span early literacy, audiobooks and professional learning to support the full spectrum of literacy needs PreK- high school. Whether they are learning-to-read or reading-tolearn, your students can be developed into engaged and active learners.



| D E C E MB E R 2 02 0 / JANUARY 2021 | W W W . T E C H L E A R N I N G . C O M


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.