Can New Computer Software Improve Writing Skills?

Girl WritingFor years, employers have complained about the need to spend millions of dollars in remedial writing classes in order to bring employees with poor writing skills up to an acceptable level of proficiency. More recently, the heavy use of word processing programs appears to have eroded weak writing skills even more as people rely on the software to correct unclear structure, incomplete sentences as well as errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Now a software manufacturer claims to have created a program that will improve writing skills across the grade spectrum. This begs the question:  Can the technology that contributes to the problem solve the problem? The makers of infographic claim yes.  Read a review of this product, prepared by Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor of eSchool News in their October 2nd issue by clicking here.

Brain Injuries: Compelling Programming & Resources

imagesThis Tuesday, October 8, at 9pm, WGBY airs League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.  In a special investigation, FRONTLINE joins prize-winning journalists Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada to reveal the hidden story of brain injuries and the NFL, which is under assault as thousands of former players and a host of scientists claim the league has covered up how football inflicted long-term brain injuries on many players.

The FRONTLINE investigation details how, for years, the league denied and worked to refute scientific evidence that the violent collisions at the heart of the game are linked to an alarming incidence of early onset dementia, catastrophic brain damage, death, and other devastating consequences for some of football’s all-time greats.  Watch a preview.

Here are a few examples from pages of classroom resources about the brain at PBS LearningMedia:

Brain Safety Design Challenge (Grades 5-12)  In this Teaching Channel video, Channa Comer introduces her 6th graders to the design process through an engineering challenge to design a football helmet to prevent injury, using an egg as a model head. (Includes background essay, audio description and discussion questions)
The Teenage Brain (Grades 6-8)  Why do teenagers act the way they do? This video segment and discussion questions from FRONTLINE: “Inside the Teenage Brain” explores the work scientists are doing to explain some of the mysteries of teenage behavior.
Journey Into the Brain (Grades 9-12)  In this lesson plan that uses segments from the PBS program The Human Spark, students learn about the human brain, including information about brain regions, brain activity and technologies used to explore brain activity.

Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night App: For Morning and Nighttime Routines

Daniel 2Everyone’s favorite tiger is back with an all-new app. Based on PBS KIDS’ hit show DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch helps kids learn basic morning and nighttime routines from Daniel Tiger as he gets ready for school in the morning and ready for bed at night.

Designed for children ages 2-4, the app’s songs and games encourage kids to tap into their imaginations as they make believe with Daniel. Kids can set the breakfast table, tie their shoes, and listen to a bedtime story – all with Daniel Tiger!

Additional features include:

  • 8 games about morning and nighttime routines
  • Good Morning and Good Night strategy songs
  • A timer for parents to help with routines

We hope you’ll share Daniel Tiger’s Day & Night app with parents, family, and friends.

7 Ways Teachers Use Social Media in the Classroom

SHACLASSUsing social media more over the summer, possibly even thinking about its application in the classroom?  This article by staff writers from wire reports, eSchool News, on August 18, 2019, shares examples of social media in the classroom that can be meaningful and engaging.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y,  live and breathe on social media, so teachers are learning how to incorporate the medium into the classroom successfully, reports a recent Mashable study. In doing so, teachers not only encourage students to engage actively in the material, but they also provide online communities for students that might not exist for them in real life. But how are teachers infusing social media into their everyday lessons? We’ve highlighted several different examples and offered our own ideas on how to best engage students. . . .

Read the full story by clicking here.

From TED Talks: An Innovative Model for Online Learning

TEDtalksSkeptical about whether online learning can really offer a quality education?  On TED TALKS EDUCATION, a program WGBY aired this past May, you saw the quality of TED talks:  Ideas Worth Spreading — ideas that we want to continue to help spread here.

A TED Talk that may well transform your view of online learning is one by Stanford professor Daphne Koller:  What We’re Learning from Online Education.  Growing up among several generations of PhD’s, she was expected to go to college and has become a passionate educator.   Through her startup, Coursera, co-founded with Andrew Ng, she has made college available to anyone with online classes from 16 top colleges.  In her TED Talk, Professor Koller says, “In many of our [online] courses, the median response time for a question on the question and answer forum was 22 minutes — which is not a level of service I have ever offered to my Stanford students.”  Be prepared to learn more about the success and promise of online learning in her 20 minute talk.

NOVA Launches New Cloud Lab Website

Cloud Lab imageWe hope you’re already familiar with NOVA and NOVA educator resources. Now this longest running television science program is excited to announce the launch of the Cloud Lab at, the third Lab in a growing collection of research offerings on the NOVA Labs site. In this NASA-funded site users can learn how to track the development of storms and better predict their impacts by conducting their own investigations about developing storms.

The Cloud Lab also includes a cloud gallery with 260 beautiful images of a range of 10 cloud types, from cirrus to cumulus to altostratus. Users are challenged to analyze the cloud images and classify each cloud type they observe in the image — collecting favorites along the way.

If you want to learn more about the Cloud Lab, you’re invited to join NOVA for an online presentation about this free digital resource this fall —

13 Inexpensive, User-Friendly Writing Tools & Apps

typing2-150x150Since writing allows students to practice critical-thinking in virtually all subjects, we thought you might want to look at this article by a contributor at eSchool News on  July 26, 2013  “Being able to write clearly is an essential skill for all students. With these simple online writing tools and apps, students get to practice writing informally in settings that won’t be too daunting.”

“This information comes from Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service, a free collection of teacher-written reviews of websites, apps, and digital games for the classroom. Thirteen products are reviewed here with a description of the program and its pros and cons. The various products reviewed cover K through grade 12.  Web addresses are included with each review if more information is desired. . . .”

Read the complete article by clicking here.

Free PBS LearningMedia Webinar: Read, Watch, Interact! Literacy Resources for Grades 5-8

Do you use the power of digital media in your classroom? July 29, 2013 could be the perfect time this summer to join us for a deep-dive into PBS LearningMedia, the digital content library with over 30,000 free resources designed to inspire, educate, and motivate PreK-12 students.  While we regularly share PBS LearningMedia resources with you here, this free webinar – co-hosted by PBS LearningMedia and AMLE (Association for Middle Level Education) – will zero in on adolescent literacy strategies and showcase Common Core-aligned resources from the “Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.”

If you’ve yet to participate in a webinar, which can be hard to arrange as a classroom teacher, it’s easy to register here:  You’ll receive a confirmation and clear directions about how to join the webinar on the 29th at 3:00pm.

545251_382171751806478_1877474159_nTo search PBS LearningMedia’s trove of free digital resources, visit  and, if you’ve yet to do so, register today to explore and  use this vast resource regularly.

Green Design and Technologies

columbusexpositionUse these resources from PBS LearningMedia to enhance lesson plans on innovative tech, sustainable building design, smart cars, and renewable energies. Remember to create a user account for free, full access to PBS LearningMedia’s content library, and let us know what you think about any of these digital resources.

Plug in Hybrids Grades 4-12 | Video | Transportation Technologies
Show students how plug-in electric hybrid technology works and challenge them to compare conventional vehicles with their eco-friendly counterparts.

Green Technology: Sustaining the Earth
 Grades 6-12 | Interactive | Renwable Energy
Use this interactive activity to offer students an overview of innovation in green technology and insight into various areas of research within the field.

The Art and Science of Renzo Piano
 Grades 9-12 | Video | Innovative Building Design
Discover how architect Renzo Piano combined sustainable design features with a sense of fun and exploration in the creation of the greenest museum in the world.

Architecture 2030
 Grades 9-12 | Video | Green Design
Learn about this architect’s efforts to protect the environment by changing the way buildings are planned, designed, and constructed.

Affordable Green Housing
 Grades 9-12 | Video | Green Design
Invite students to consider the role that habitat plays in fostering diverse, vibrant social structures in well-designed, integrated communities by integrating this video resource into your next class discussion.

Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City
 Grades 9-12 | Video | Transportation Technologies
Explore the innovations in urban planning, development, and transportation that transformed Bogotá, Colombia from a chaotic city to a shining example of sustainable improvement.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Revolutionizing K-12 Classrooms?

MOOCk12resizedBy staf writers, eSchool News, June 24, 2013  —  According to one of the most popular International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2013 conference speakers, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are on the verge of revolutionizing K-12 education.

MOOCs — often free and non-credited online courses taught by educators — are currently transforming higher education.  But soon, MOOCs will begin to change the way high school courses are taught as well, said Dr. Scott Garrigan, professor of practice for instructional design and technology and teacher education at Lehigh University’s College of Education, during an ISTE highlighted session, “How will the MOOC explosion affect K-12 schools and students?”  According to Garrigan, last summer (2012) high school teens completed more than 15,000 courses from Udacity, a MOOC platform.

Read the entire article by clicking here.