March 2015: Welcoming Spring!

Kites: More than a Fun Activity

Spring is here!

March 20, 2015, is the first day of Spring! The warmer weather brings many of us outdoors to enjoy the changing season after a long winter of snow and cold temperatures. For many, these activities include flying kites.

Kites are not only a fun activity to do outside but they can also provide a theme to learn and apply math, language arts, science, and social studies skills. This month we will explore several resources that teach students about different types of kites, why they fly, and how they have been used in history.

Elementary – Build, Listen and Learn

Interactive Resource: "The Insect Kite"
Interactive Resource: The Insect Kite
  • Make a Giant Insect Kite – This interactive resource gives step-by-step instructions on building a kite using the items many classrooms already have.
  • Days with Frog and Toad: The Kite – One of the “Frog and Toad” children’s stories written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. In this story, Frog and his friend Toad spend the day together flying their kite and having lots of fun.
  • TeachEngineering: Will It Fly?– Your students can explore what makes a kite fly through this lesson plan. They will learn about the four forces that affect flight and variables involved in the engineering design of airplane models as they build their own balsa glider.

Middle – Physics and Electricity

PBS Teachers - Kite
Video: PBS Teachers – Kites
  • PBS Teachers: Kites – Danielle and Jasmin love to fly kites. Through this video, students will learn that kites come in all kinds of shapes and designs. They will enjoy watching Danielle and Jasmin prepare for a kite flying contest as they test a variety of kite styles to see how each will perform.

High – Math and History

Franklin's Electricity
Franklin’s Electricity
  • CK-12 Foundation: Geometry: Kites – Using geometry skills, students can explore why a kite is a quadrilateral, along with other properties of kites and how to apply them.
  • Engines of Our Ingenuity: Franklin’s Electricity – Some research puts Franklin’s electrical work in the scientific and political context of his day. An interesting point of view, one not usually found in comments of Franklin and electrostatics.

Find these resources and more in netTrekker with the keyword search: March Newsletter.

February 2015: Celebrate Presidents’ Day with Your Students

Presidents’ Day Resources

President's Day - netTrekker

The President of the United States has one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Has it always been that way? Did Washington and Lincoln experience difficult challenges during their time in office also?

There are many opportunities to use netTrekker’s resources to help your students understand the reasons why we honor Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on President’s Day each February. Students can also use netTrekker’s resources to learn important information about the Office of the President and the many duties of the men who have served in this role.

Elementary – Explore the Life of the President


Scholastic Magazine - What does the President Do?
Listen and Read: What Does the President Do?
  • Young Abraham Lincoln – Have your students discover what Abraham Lincoln’s early life was like in a resource from the National Park Service. Students learn about young Lincoln growing up, including how much he loved animals and the “blab school” that he attended.
  • What Does the President Do? – Do your students understand what the president does? Young students can listen and read as they learn what is involved in the job of the President of the United States. They can follow the president as he signs laws, meets with foreign leaders, and leads the armed forces.
  • Young George Washington’s Adventures – Students can experience the travels of 21-year-old George Washington as he delivers an important message to the French in 1753. Students choose the supplies and the people he takes on the journey, and travel with Washington as he encounters Native Americans, meets the French, and makes his dangerous journey home.

Middle – Historical Fiction, Interactive Timelines and Engaging Games

Discover George Washington
Discover George Washington
  • Historical Fiction: His First Dollar – This one-page historical fiction piece about Abraham Lincoln is a reading passage entitled “His First Dollar” and is used to develop comprehensive reading skills. The reading includes constructed-response questions that students should answer with text-based evidence.
  • Discover George Washington – Encourage your students to discover the real George Washington by viewing this interactive timeline. Highlights include animated videos about his life, battle maps, and memories from his wife, Martha.
  • President for a Day – Do you or your students have what it takes to be president? With this fun interactive game, students can become president for a day and learn about the various daily activities of past presidents as they fill in their own day planner.

 

High – Bring the Presidents to Life with Primary Sources

A word fitly spokenInteractive Timeline: A Word Fitly Spoken
  • A Word Fitly Spoken – Through the resource titled A Word Fitly Spoken, students experience an interactive timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches on the Union, including his First Inaugural Address, Second Inaugural Address, and Gettysburg Address.
  • A letter from George Washington Students will encounter an actual letter from George Washington in this Smithsonian resource. The letter reveals Washington’s active involvement in shaping the nation during the period after the Revolutionary War.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads – Detailed information about Lincoln’s life and political career is included in this interactive game from the National Constitution Center. Students learn about decisions Lincoln had to make by playing the game titled Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads.
  • Executive Office of the President -Students can explore the site of the Executive Office of the President, discover the links to the many departments and people that are part of this Office, and who serve to advise the president, to enact his directives, and to communicate his message to the American public.

Find these resources and more in netTrekker with the keyword search: February Newsletter.

January 2015: Welcome to an Exciting New Season…of Test Preparation!

Targeted Resources and Support Tools to Help EVERY Student Succeed

Welcome to January! With the excitement of a new calendar year comes carefully planned preparation for the 2015 testing season. Many of us at Knovation are former educators, and we understand the challenges of implementing test preparation strategies based on your students’ individual needs within your daily lessons. To save time and ease your lesson planning frustration, use netTrekker’s refine search options and built-in literacy support tools to easily target resources to the areas where your students need the most help—reducing the stress of test preparation for everyone!

Use these tips to find the right resources to meet each student’s learning needs!

Use Refine Search to Target Resources

netTrekker provides a refine search button at the top of any Search Result page. This takes you to a menu of choices which make it possible for you to narrow your results by choosing any of the available options. Do you need learning games to give your students extra practice with fractions? What about a video in Spanish to help your ELL student understand the concepts?

The Refine Search menus make it easy to find the exact resources you need to meet the wide range of learning needs in your classroom.

Provide Literacy Support Tools

Support all students in increasing comprehension and building vocabulary with netTrekker’s TextHelp functions. Students can access resources at their reading level or be challenged by higher complexity levels–an especially important feature for struggling readers, English language learners and students in need of intervention.
  • Read Aloud – Provides text-to-speech functions for all information on netTrekker pages, for text on web resources accessed from any Search Result, and for definitions accessed by using the Dictionary/Translation key. Simply highlight a passage of text using a mouse to hear the text read aloud through their computer speakers.
  • Dictionary/Translation – Simply click on a word on any web resource to read the definition or translate the word into other languages.

Save Resources in My Portfolio for Specific Groups of Students

Do you have individual students or groups of students who need extra practice in particular areas as they are preparing for upcoming tests? You can easily create folders in My Portfolio where you can save and organize extra practice resources for those students to use at school or home.

As test time approaches, help your students feel extra-prepared and confident with help from the hundreds of resources netTrekker offers on test preparation. Try a simple keyword search for test preparation.

District Administration Top 100 Products

DA picture

Every year, District Administration magazine releases a list of district leaders’ Top 100 K-12 favorite products. The nation’s top K-12 leaders submit hundreds of enthusiastic testimonials throughout the year, and the magazine’s editorial board carefully narrows down the list based on the quantity and quality of these testimonies. In 2014, DA received more than 2,400 unique nominations – a record-breaking number!

The use of technology in school districts has experienced tremendous growth in all areas – from access control to audio-visual tools, from learning management and assessment platforms to instructional solutions. In addition, the number of players within each one of these categories has grown significantly through the years.

Knovation’s flagship solution, netTrekker, is on DA’s Top 100 list –a big accomplishment, given the number of solutions present in the K-12 market, but an even bigger achievement considering that netTrekker has been serving K-12 teachers and students for over 15 years. It almost sounds like an oxymoron that an “old” solution would still be so relevant and meaningful in an industry where new, shiny solutions are launched every week.

Long before Open Educational Resources (OER) were a popular concept in K-12, Knovation had already realized the importance of curating and contextualizing high-quality digital resources so teachers could personalize instruction in an effective and efficient way. Early on, we understood that learning could be taken to deeper levels by providing teachers and students with quick and easy access to resources in different formats, in different levels, supporting different learning goals and needs.

Year after year, netTrekker has delivered those curated, contextualized, standards-aligned resources to help districts impact teaching and learning in ways that have continued to evolve and still meet today’s classroom needs.

netTrekker delivers the industry-leading library of Open Educational Resources (OER), including more than 360,000 digital resources that are curated, contextualized, tagged and standards-aligned to support personalized learning. Being part of the DA Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products Award further demonstrates that the benefits delivered by netTrekker remain current and relevant, as recognized and highly valued by administrators and educators.

We look forward to being part of DA’s Top 100 Product list again next year!

December 2014: Resources to Bring the Wonders of Winter into Your Lessons

Winter’s Wonders

What kinds of memories do you have of last year’s winter season? Do you live in an area that experienced so many Snow Days that you had to make days up to fulfill your state’s requirements? Or do you live in the West where you spent the winter wondering if it would ever rain again? Last year brought extreme conditions across the country, but this year might be just the kind of winter you are hoping for (whatever that may be). No matter what the next three months bring, though, it’s a sure bet that winter will slip into your classroom one way or another.

In netTrekker, you can find engaging resources to bring the wonders of winter into your lessons.

Early Elementary – Exploring Jan Brett’s The Mitten

The Mitten, by Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s delightful interpretation of the Ukrainian folk tale, The Mitten, offers a wide range of opportunities to explore the role of literature in transmitting both culture and universal themes, as well as the relationship between illustrations and text.

Elementary – Learn about Snow Crystals from the Snowflake Man

Snowflake Man Video

Have you and your students read Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin? Then you’ll enjoy sharing these sites about his work:

Middle – Understanding Extreme Weather

Blizzards & Winter Weather

Severe weather is always big news, whether it involves hurricanes, floods, blizzards, or drought. What will this winter bring your area? More importantly, what causes these severe weather events? Can your students learn to predict the weather by learning these causes?

  • Begin with an overall view of extreme weather conditions and what causes them with this National Geographic site about Extreme Weather On Our Planet.
  • Use the Drought Monitor to track where the lack of rain is hitting our country the hardest this winter.
  • Learn about an extreme opposite of drought with Blizzards and Winter Weather. Then use the link at the bottom of the page to Predict the Weather so students can practice using what they have learned.

High – The Science of Winter Sports

Slapshot Physics

Even though it is not a Winter Olympics year, students in cold climates still participate in cold weather activities and competitions. Combine the science of physics with their love of sports by using some of the National Science Foundation videos on the Science of the Winter Olympics:

  • Slapshot Physics, about ice hockey
  • Science of Snowboarding, about (what else?) snowboarding
  • Science Friction, about curling
  • To see additional videos in this series, use the Browse tab on the netTrekker Home Page, and drill down through Science to Physics > Newtonian > Science of Sports.

Find these winter resources and more in netTrekker with the keyword search: December Newsletter.

Curation Networks: Collaborating Across Regional Education Agencies

It is an unprecedented time in education for collaboration.  Teachers’ desire to leverage knowledge, resources and tools across larger groups can be seen every time a regional conference is held. Teachers swarm together to learn from each other and share their experiences. I often hear the cry, “How can we sustain this learning?  How can we stay connected and keep collaborating?”

I often see regional or area education agencies stepping in to sponsor conferences, sessions, learning opportunities and even providing some connectivity to the group through their services. How can regional organizations help connect educators within their specific regions and facilitate collaboration around learning resources and opportunities?  Mississippi Bend AEA 9 in Iowa, one of our netTrekker clients, even states within their mission statement that they recognize that their “ultimate purpose is to improve the educational opportunities of the school children of Mississippi Bend.  We attempt to accomplish this by making connections between and among educators, school districts, schools… ”  From hosting curriculum director collaboration meetings and conference events to housing resource centers for the benefit of all their member districts, these agencies seek to return value to their members by enabling collaboration and connections.

In terms of resources, ideas, lessons and tools, regional organizations are uniquely positioned to provide a place and purpose for these types of collaborations.  What are some pieces to think about as you determine how best to support educators in your regions?

1. Find a set of common goals to provide structure to the system.

Pic 1

Because districts in regions are often similar in nature and focus, these regional systems have the ability to structure their support efforts according to common district goals. Mississippi Bend AEA 9 used the My Portfolio area in netTrekker to provide a structure for sharing learning resources across their region.

They organized the resource structure  around initiatives that each district they serve is working on, such as literacy, numeracy or student engagement.  This way, their schools and districts can immediately find resources for their current initiatives.  Additionally, it becomes both a nice structure for educators across the region to easily save/add resources to AND a way to see where more resources might be needed to fill the gaps.

2. Develop a way to communicate with each school in each district.

Keeping an open line of communication about the availability of regionally purchased resources is critical to ensuring that teachers and students realize the benefits of those resources. Using or creating templates for communicating the details about access and the information about how the region has structured and organized shared resources is a great place to start.  Utilizing the shared area inside netTrekker’s My Portfolio, regional organizations could also provide users with centralized access to help videos, support resources, detailed guides for access and collaboration tips.

3. Leverage district and school level rock stars.

Pic 2

There is one in every school, and many at each district….those folks who always seem to find the coolest resources and the best new ways to teach concepts.  The trick is to leverage those rock stars and make their “picks” part of the regional work so they can be shared with other educators, too.

One teacher at my professional learning session in Mississippi Bend AEA 9 found a resource while browsing netTrekker’s Middle School Science content area.  The excitement and buzz that happened after he started sharing it informally around the room was palpable – other teachers couldn’t wait to see it and think about how they could use it in their classrooms.    When Robert shared the resource The Scale of the Universe, it was not 30 seconds before he was showing other people the cool features of this resource. Immediately the other educators wanted to know how he found it….

Pic 3

He showed them the path that he navigated to get there, but then we made the resource even more easily available by putting in the regional shared area under the folder for Student Engagement.  Some teachers even copied the resource down to their school level shared area under other folders. All those educators are going to be checking back to those regional folders to see what new things Robert has found that they can leverage in their classrooms, and they are telling others how and where they found those resources.

4. Don’t assume that if you build it, they will come.

Of course, collaboration is a two way street.  But just because the regional specialists design this great structure and are filling the areas with amazing resources and ideas they have curated doesn’t mean that the rest of the region is benefitting from the shared knowledge or contributing to the whole collective.  It sounds a bit like the Borg from Star Trek, but I know that many times we come up with amazing ideas and build systems and are very impatient to get the people to come to the party.  While you have to give it time to build capacity and get buy in from those stakeholders as they experience the benefits, you don’t have to sit around and expect them to stumble on it and immediately get it.  Have the conversations about the benefits of collaboration, show the great stuff to anyone who will watch, make flyers, add links to pages, get the word out! The best day will be when a new teacher comes into your group, can easily see what is available and says, “Wow, we have that? I want to use that!”

Educators all know the importance of staying connected and collaborating with their colleagues, it happens every day in schools.  The benefits of regional level connectedness and collaboration have yet to be tapped though, especially when it comes to learning resources and sharing transformative learning opportunities.  Start big:  establish a regional curation network to create a shared learning community that connects educators across your organizations.

 

November 2014: Introducing New Science Simulations from Our Partner CK-12

New Resources from CK-12

Are you in need of a visual teaching strategy to teach the Doppler Effect? Maybe you need an applicable illustration demonstrating sound waves? Our friends at CK-12 have introduced 71 new interactive simulations, which aim to explain core concepts of physics to middle and high school students through daily real world experiences of the world around them.

These new resources are now available through netTrekker, adding to the collection of more than 3,000+ math and science resources from CK-12 already accessible through netTrekker.

What is CK-12?

CK-12 resources approach science and math concepts with multiple modalities for all learning types. These modalities include text, videos, images, reading, simulations, real world applications, activities, flashcards, study guides, assessments and more.

One of our subscribers shared these thoughts after using the new CK-12 simulations:

“[The CK-12 simulations are] engaging, interactive activities where students can carry out virtual experiments and collect data in the area of physical science. Each simulation is easy to reset and repeat, so crucial in the data-gathering process for students.”

How Can You Use the CK-12 Resources in Teaching and Learning?

Providing real-life examples, the simulations can be used in many cross-curricular experiences. Here are two easy ways to locate the simulations and all the CK-12 resources in netTrekker:

Keyword search for CK-12. Then drill down by subject. Keyword search for the topic of your choice, then use the Refine Search option and select CK-12 under the Featured Content

* Note that a simple sign in is required to access the CK-12 resources.

Cross-Curricular Examples

The Physics of Swimming
The Physics of Swimming

This example features an illustration of the actual physics behind the swimming stroke, the butterfly. This simulation can be used in a science setting and also in a physical education classroom. Providing the science behind a physical activity will offer the student the relevance of executing the stroke correctly. Click here to see the resource.

Sound Waves
Sound Waves

The study of sound waves is not only for the science classroom. The instrumental music classroom can act as a scientific lab also. Providing the science behind producing sound waves can provide a technical, and visual, application to assist young performers to produce a rich tone. This simulation will actually slow down the sound wave vibrations so the student can observe music in motion. Click here to see the resource.

2014 Digital Learning Awards Winners Announced

Congratulations to the Top 100 Districts

2014 Digital Learning Awards

Today we announced the recipients of the 2014 Digital Learning Awards, which honors the top 100 school districts using digital resources to enhance their classroom experience. The program honors districts across the country using netTrekker to deliver educator-vetted, standards-aligned digital resources to every student and teacher in their district.

Knovation congratulates these 100 school districts for their outstanding commitment! The list was broken out by small-, medium-, and large-sized districts. View the Full List

The top three school districts in each enrollment category include:

Large-Size Districts (more than 25,000 student enrollment)
  1. Forsyth County Schools, Cumming, Georgia
  2. Fort Bend Independent School District, Sugar Land, Texas
  3. Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Maryland
Mid-Size Districts (5,000-24,999 student enrollment)
  1. Fort Smith Public Schools, Fort Smith, Arkansas
  2. Akron Public Schools, Akron, Ohio
  3. Naperville Community Unit School District 203, Naperville, Illinois
Small-Size Districts (less than 5,000 student enrollment)
  1. La Grange Elementary School District 102, LaGrange Park, Illinois
  2. Canton Public Schools, Canton, Connecticut
  3. City Schools of Decatur, Decatur, Georgia

For more information, please read the full press release.

Achieving Student Goals with netTrekker

In times where the focus on college- and career-readiness is stronger than ever, there is added value placed on solutions that enhance students’ ability to take ownership of their learning. Digital natives are naturally inclined to use technology for everything in their lives, including learning. In this context, digital content can make a huge difference by allowing students to learn in ways that best fit their learning preferences and styles, increasing motivation and engagement. But, at times, the abundance of digital content all over the web can distract and mislead students instead of engaging and guiding them.

netTrekker provides students with easy access to accurate and reliable information in different formats and at different learning levels, coupled with learning support tools available from every resource. Teachers reported that netTrekker’s hundreds of thousands of high-quality digital resources, organized and tagged in an intuitive way, helped students achieve key accomplishments.

A very high 98% of educators surveyed said using netTrekker has helped their students accomplish educational goals and objectives!

 

Top 5 Student Goals & Objectives Accomplished with netTrekker

 

Impact Study Image

1. Research a topic

2. Learn independently

3. Be more engaged

4. Learn in a different way

5. Explore personal learning interests

 

To learn more, please download the full executive summary.

 

netTrekker Impact Study – Results Are In and Educators Are Extremely Satisfied!

Since 2012, Knovation has commissioned an annual survey to understand how well its flagship solution, netTrekker, is meeting customers’ expectations in achieving their goals and objectives as they shift to effective and engaging digital content to replace or supplement textbooks.

In this 2014 netTrekker Impact Study, we surveyed a total of 215 educators and administrators who use netTrekker across the country at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Their responses revealed the importance placed on attributes such as content curation, content tagging and alignment, and ongoing content maintenance, as well as their extremely high satisfaction with netTrekker’s ability to deliver on these attributes—a high 92% of educators who use netTrekker revealed they are extremely satisfied with netTrekker helping them achieve their goals and objectives! 

Key Findings

Impact Study Image

Other findings reported in the 2014 netTrekker Impact Study include:

•  The top 5 goals and objectives educators achieve with netTrekker
•  The top 5 student goals and objectives accomplished with netTrekker
•  netTrekker’s unique advantages compared to other available solutions

Please download the executive summary for the full results.