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September 20, 2016

Table of Contents

Free Resources: PBS LearningMedia's ELECTION CENTRAL, an Online Destination Providing Educators With Curated Content to Teach Students About the Political Process
Free Resources: Generation Global's Safe Online Environment for Students to Explore Cultural Differences Through Dialogue
Ideaphora Classroom Empowers Students to Construct Lasting Knowledge from Digital Content
Lightsail Partners With Antares Reading to Build Student Literacy
Discovery Education Adds Inquiry-based Projects, Virtual Reality Experiences, and More to Its Digital Services
Free Resources: Letters to the Next President 2.0 Gives Voice to Teens' Opinions in Election
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access Debuts the Smithsonian Learning Lab
Free Resources: Guide from Boxlight to Help Educators Select and Launch 'Best-Fit' Technology Tools

Free Resources: PBS LearningMedia's ELECTION CENTRAL, an Online Destination Providing Educators With Curated Content to Teach Students About the Political Process

As part of the overarching PBS Election 2016 initiative, PBS has made available ELECTION CENTRAL, an online destination of election-related resources and content with age-appropriate, thoughtfully curated information to teach K-12 students about the political process. Created in partnership between PBS LearningMedia, the free media-on-demand service from PBS that offers more than 100,000 digital resources for classroom use, and PBS NEWSHOUR, the ELECTION CENTRAL hub is available at

Among the main features of ELECTION CENTRAL is an interactive map of the United States, providing educators with opportunities to engage students in various aspects of the political process. The map also displays important historical facts about the candidates, laws and process.

Content in ELECTION CENTRAL is refreshed on a weekly basis and/or when timely events occur, for example, after debates or after primary elections. Features include:

• Tracking the campaign trail of candidates, including current and previous candidates
• Fun facts – general and state-specific
• The history behind the vote
• An explanation of the nominating process
• Candidate views on key issues
• Election-specific news stories curated from PBS NEWSHOUR
• Build your ideal presidential candidate interactive
• Access to hundreds of related resources through PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia offers more than 100,000 digital resources aligned to national and Common Core State Standards.

Source: PBS LearningMedia,

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Free Resources: Generation Global's Safe Online Environment for Students to Explore Cultural Differences Through Dialogue

Generation Global, an education non-profit created for students ages 12–17, has announced its relaunch into the U.S. as Generation Global, an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Generation Global provides practical, support for educators to guide the next generation of young people in becoming global citizens by peacefully navigating cultural and religious differences through meaningful dialogue.

All over the world, destructive ideologies based on cultural, religious, and ideological stereotypes are hampering development, dialogue, and understanding of the world around us. Generation Global believes that education is one of the most effective instruments in countering these ideologies.

With Generation Global’s complimentary platform and curriculum, American students learn alongside students from around the world. Learning from (and teaching) their peers from different cultures allows students to develop the skills they need to navigate diversity and have meaningful dialogue with people of different cultures.

Since 2008, Generation Global’s safe, secure, and monitored web-based platform has helped more than 200,000 students in 20 countries around the world engage in meaningful dialogue and connect with peers through online conversations and facilitated videoconferences. Connecting with students from different countries gives young people the skills of global citizenship, and encourages the next generation to be accepting and at ease with cultural differences.

Generation Global’s classroom resources can be integrated into any lesson but fit especially well into those focused on diverse cultures like history, geography, and social studies. Resource-filled toolkits not only educate students about the difficult issues facing our nation and the world today, but foster critical thinking, effective dialogue skills, and intercultural knowledge to help students better understand and respect one another.

Using the online learning community, teachers can group their students into structured conversations with other young people around the world, creating a safe and monitored environment that encourages open dialogue.

Teachers can take their class around the world in an afternoon through online videoconferences facilitated and arranged by the Generation Global team. Interacting directly with their peers, students are empowered to ask and answer questions about culture, identity, values, and beliefs.

Generation Global’s classroom resources prepare students before and after videoconferences by focusing on critical thinking skills and how to engage in meaningful discussion. This careful preparation guides students to learn the skills they need to express themselves in a respectful and open-minded way.

Generation Global offers additional support for teachers, including training with diversity experts, access to 24-hour help desks, and an intuitive toolset used to prepare and evaluate students on their performance.

Generation Global is accessible on any device, including mobile phones, iPads, and Chromebooks.

Source: Generation Global,

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Ideaphora Classroom Empowers Students to Construct Lasting Knowledge from Digital Content

Spending more than $3 billion on digital content, such as videos and ebooks, with plans to increase use of these materials, schools and districts need to ensure their investment yields improved learning outcomes. Ideaphora has launched its online concept mapping environment for classroom use, designed to help educators foster students’ higher order thinking skills with digital content.

According to the 2016 CoSN IT Leadership Survey, nearly 90 percent of district respondents expect their instructional materials to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years. However, digital content is only transformative in the classroom when it reaches higher-order teaching and learning.

Ideaphora Classroom empowers educators to seamlessly apply concept mapping to digital content to create deeper learning experiences for their students, instilling lasting knowledge and college and career readiness. Teachers can assign resources or allow students to identify their own to use in their maps for various learning activities across the school curriculum: note-taking, brainstorming, research, reinforcing a lesson, or introducing a new topic. As students interact with digital content, such as ebooks, videos and PDFs, they discover key concepts and build connections among them in a visual map, moving them up through the top levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. The platform effectively guides students through the concept mapping process all in one screen – from finding the right resources to connecting ideas to modifying their maps with new information or corrections in their reasoning to teacher submission.

Ideaphora Classroom offers schools and educators:

  • Simplified platform featuring content presented side-by-side the mapping area with easy-to-use tools to focus student thinking and learning

  • Drag-and-drop keywords and images to help students get started quickly and minimize distractions

  • Library of vetted open education resources and the ability to upload third-party materials to find and use one or more in a single map

  • Playback buttons and other features that aid student studying and review

  • Easy set up through an educators’ Google Classroom or Edmodo account or directly through Ideaphora

  • Privacy/safety controls for teachers to set according to their needs

  • Teacher-student workflow that captures student work for formative assessment and targeted feedback

  • Flexible platform to allow students to modify their maps as their learning progresses and to track their growth

Ideaphora Classroom is available for purchase through the Ideaphora website or by contacting Educators interested in evaluating the product with their students can enroll in the free Classroom Pilot Program. To learn more, visit

Source: Ideaphora,

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Lightsail Partners With Antares Reading to Build Student Literacy

To fulfill a global need for more high-quality digital non-fiction content for early readers, LightSail Education has announced it has partnered with Antares Reading to provide access to 850 original titles of digital books, in English and Spanish, for K-6 students.

LightSail engaged Antares to write and illustrate these digital books on topics that teachers say students want to know more about. Books with titles like “Lifecycle of a Frog” and “My Grandparents” cover issues as diverse as ecosystems, biological processes, American history, ancient cultures and more. The books reflect contemporary society, depicting a spectrum of races, ages and family structures.

The new content is available in LightSail’s adaptive digital literacy platform and includes its in-text, real-time assessment. Created in collaboration with school districts, lively text combines with quality, inclusive illustrations to engage students and extend learning opportunities. The available titles are appropriate for young readers’ abilities with Lexile levels ranging from 200-450.

Antares Reading’s selection is designed to help students exceed literacy goals and overcome the comprehension plateau often encountered among beginning readers. Antares Reading texts are written across multiple Lexile bands for continuous scaffolded growth with informational content to allow students to make connections between their everyday world and increasingly complex concepts. With Antares Reading, teachers have the curated resources they need, freeing them to dedicate more time to reading comprehension.

LightSail will have more than 850 original new titles available at year’s end and is on pace to release 1,000 new digital books in English and Spanish annually.

Source: LightSail,

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Discovery Education Adds Inquiry-based Projects, Virtual Reality Experiences, and More to Its Digital Services

Discovery Education has announced the addition of innovative inquiry-based projects, virtual reality experiences, and approximately 1,500 new digital assets to its award-winning digital services. This content from leading educational publishers further empowers K-12 educators using Discovery Education Streaming Plus and Discovery Education Techbooks to create compelling cross-curricular lessons.

Ten collaborative projects will be added to all Techbooks and Discovery Education Streaming and Streaming Plus. Powered by GlobalLab’s web-based platform, these projects help students explore data with their peers, learn content, and build skills like data analysis, reasoning, and teamwork. In addition, these new resources support educators’ efforts to integrate authentic investigations into classroom instruction. Among the new GlobalLab projects available beginning today through Discovery Education’s services are:

  • Make Your Mark – Created in honor of International Dot Day, this project helps students design and create their own “dot” by selecting an area of service and identifying a project they can lead to impact their community on a local, national, or global level. This project also connects students worldwide as they identify positive role models they look up to and learn who other students around the world admire.

  • What’s For Lunch? – In this collaborative project, students share with a global audience the contents of their lunch, look for similarities and differences of their lunch to their global peers, and examine the distribution of the main food groups needed to create a well-balanced meal.

  • Plant Population: By participating in this collaborative project, students will observe one type of plant in or near their school and record non-living (abiotic) and living (biotic) factors that might impact its development. Using these data, they will make comparisons to other classrooms around the world.

Discovery Education is also now offering educators using the Science, Math and Social Studies Techbooks the opportunity to further grow student engagement through an advanced level of immersive learning experiences. With lessons powered by Discovery Education’s exclusive new virtual reality (VR) content, students can explore topics such as how potential energy is transferred into to kinetic energy as they ride along with a pro skateboarder; they can travel to Africa to experience how a growing middle class changes the local economy; and they can visit the early 1900s to see firsthand some of the technological, social, and cultural impacts of the Industrial Revolution. With this absorbing new virtual reality content, educators and students alike will visit places, meet people, and experience events in an unparalleled, 360-degree experience.

Additional cross-curricular content now available through Discovery Education’s digital services include

  • 10 new video field trips hosted by Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton: These new video field trips, added to Streaming Plus and Social Studies Techbook and appropriate for grades K-5, take students behind-the-scenes of unique places they might not otherwise be able to experience, such as Ellis Island, Cirque de Soleil, and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

  • 500 new titles from Next Animation Studio: These engaging, standards-aligned animated videos covering social studies, science and math concepts are now available in Discovery Education’s Streaming Plus, Social Studies Techbook and Science Techbook services. The animated videos cover a range of topics, from the presidential primary elections in the United States, to the technologies scientists are developing to tackle climate change. The animations help K-12 educators to capture and hold the interests of students.

  • 50 new titles from Visual Learning Systems. Available in both English and Spanish through Streaming Plus and Science Techbook, this content allows K-12 educators and students to explore a variety of core science topics such as photosynthesis, stars and galaxies, the scientific method, the nervous system, and more.

  • 104 new titles from The Fixies. This animated series, appropriate for elementary students grades K-5, features a child character, Tom Thomas, who works with his Fixie friends to solve science-related problems. Students will explore the inside of objects such as batteries, a cell phone, and an alarm clock, and learn the science behind how and why these items work.

  • 15 new titles from Ancient Lights. Available in Discovery Education’s Streaming Plus and Social Studies Techbook, this series teaches students about the geography, cultures, political and cultural history of various countries including Greece, Russia, Turkey, and Israel.

  • 25 new programs from EV Productions. This career-focused series, available in Discovery Education Streaming Plus, illustrates the characteristics and responsibilities of numerous jobs in film, television, theater, website development, veterinary medicine, and health care.

  • 84 new titles from First American Media Group: The “Famous People of the World” series, which is also available in Discovery Education Streaming Plus and appropriate for grades 9-12, explores the life and legacy of famous artists, composers, writers, philosophers, politicians, scientists, kings, queens, and more.

  • 300 new reading passages from Jelly Bean Scoop: Available in Discovery Education Streaming Plus, these cross-curricular reading passages, appropriate for grades K-8, cover a variety of topics including science, social studies, health and math.

Containing thousands of standards-aligned resources, Discovery Education Streaming and Streaming Plus helps build students’ mastery in interpreting, understanding, and evaluating information across all subject areas. Teacher resources include lesson plans, instructional strategies, and content collections organized around themes. Students can access images, primary source documents, podcasts, oral interviews, books on tape, articles, and videos, and more.

Discovery Education’s Techbooks are breakthrough digital textbooks that are aligned to rigorous standards, support a comprehensive curriculum, and are updated regularly at no cost. The series encourages all learners through interactive features that change the reading level of text and enable text to be read aloud. The Techbook series saves teachers’ time with a comprehensive design that places model lessons, student activities and assessments at their fingertips. Techbooks are platform neutral and can be used in 1:1 or 1-to-many configurations and in any instructional environment.

Source: Discovery Education,

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Free Resources: Letters to the Next President 2.0 Gives Voice to Teens' Opinions in Election

Teens may not yet be able to vote, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say about election issues. As students head back to school amidst a particularly intense fall election season, educators across the nation have come together to launch the online publishing site Letters to the Next President 2.0 (L2P 2.0).

An initiative that empowers young people (13 – 18) to research, write and make media letters, L2P 2.0 gives voice to the opinions on issues that matter to youth in the coming election. Jointly hosted by PBS member station KQED and the National Writing Project, L2P 2.0 is a massive publishing project that will eventually publish thousands of letters. With the opening of the school year, teens’ submissions have already begun to appear online at

Each letter appears alongside thousands of others from youth around the United States, highlighting a remarkable diversity of ideas and perspectives. From immigration policy to the environment, education to health care, young people have a space to share their perspectives with peers and a global community of interested followers. Educators or adult mentors create accounts on the L2P 2.0 website and then invite their students to register and begin crafting letters in written or multimedia formats.

This publishing website will stay open for student submissions through November 8, and all published letters are available to the public now through the new president’s first 100 days in office in early 2017.

Originally created as Letters to the Next President by the National Writing Project with support from Google Docs during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, L2P 2.0 is hosted by the National Writing Project and KQED, and supported by a growing list of public media and other partners including Teaching Channel, Afterschool Alliance, Bay Area Video Coalition, Educator Innovator,, The LAMP, Literacy Design Collaborative, Mikva Challenge, National Speech & Debate Association/National Forensic League, The Learning Network of The New York Times, PBS Education, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, Student Voice, Youth Radio, Youth Voices, Mozilla, We the Voters and Fusion. To follow news about L2P 2.0, follow @2nextprez on Twitter or sign up for updates at

Source: KQED,; The National Writing Project,

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access Debuts the Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access has debuted the Smithsonian Learning Lab, an engaging online toolkit that enables everyone to find, customize and share digital museum resources with others. The Learning Lab offers free digital access to more than a million diverse resources from across the Smithsonian along with simple-to-use tools to organize, augment and personalize these assets.

Many of the site’s features are designed to support the learning needs of teachers and students in K-12 classrooms, higher education and other blended learning environments. As users build and publish the resource collections and activities they have created, the Learning Lab becomes an ever-richer source of knowledge and ideas and a more collaborative community.

The launch follows months of beta testing and classroom pilots. Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which serves 42 suburban school districts in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Public Schools, piloted the Learning Lab with social studies teachers.

“The site not only allows teachers to customize resources but also enables students to make them their own,” said Tom Gray, an educator from Shaler Middle School in Glenshaw, Pa. “Typically, noisy classrooms are a sign of distracted or misbehaving students, but we had good noise in our classrooms because students were so engaged in the learning activities and discussions fostered by their discoveries in the Learning Lab. Our at-risk students were some of the most engaged, and it truly deepened their understanding of the lesson.”

The Learning Lab empowers teachers to develop immersive, deeper learning experiences for every student. They can easily find something of interest across disciplines through a visual exploration of artworks, artifacts and specimens, audio and video recordings, thousands of standards-aligned teaching materials and hundreds of exemplary learning collections created by Smithsonian museum educators and teachers from across the country. The website’s tools allows educators to organize the resources they find and those they upload from their own materials or third-party sites into collections. Then, they can customize and augment the resources with additional notes and tags, “hotspot” annotations, quizzes, assignments and other interactive learning activities. Educators and learners can keep their work private or share their creations with a colleague—or everyone—to use or adapt.

To learn more, visit

Source: Smithsonian Institution,

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Free Resources: Guide from Boxlight to Help Educators Select and Launch 'Best-Fit' Technology Tools

According to market research company Technavio, spending on educational technology is expected to reach $55B by 2019. But to earn a full return on this investment, educators need clear goals, a solid plan, and an efficient process for purchasing and effectively launching the right technology tools. To help schools and districts make technology initiatives a success, Boxlight has published a new guide, Launch Tech in Your Schools Successfully, which can be downloaded at no charge from

The 30-page PDF covers the following topics:

· How to set technology goals and make purchasing decisions

· How to set up a tech committee to evaluate needs and resources

· How input from inside and outside sources can aid purchasing decisions

· How to run a successful pilot program

· How educators make their educational technology vendor their partner

· The five most common challenges of launching new technology

· How to make sure the technology gets used

As readers progress through the PDF, they will find embedded links to resources that can help them achieve the goals described. For example, a recommendation to provide staff with a technology needs assessment contains a link to a National Center for Technology Planning survey questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to capture personnel’s perceptions of technology needs, with respect to their specific responsibilities and working situations.

Four contributors wrote Launch Tech in Your Schools Successfully:

· Lynn Reedy, 2006 Mississippi Technology Educator of the Year and currently an educational technology specialist for Stafford Public Schools in Connecticut.

· Kevin Ryan, the director of educational technology and 21st century learning at Kildeer Countryside School District 96 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

· Christopher Leonardo, the director of research and development at Boxlight.

· Travis Rink, an assistant high school principal who also manages Boxlight’s global training as the educator advocacy leader.

 Source: Boxlight,

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