Category Archives: News



How EdTech Will Benefit Low Income Students


December 28, 2011 – by Tom Vander Ark


Digital learning will benefit all students—particularly students from low income families where education leaders are proactive. In light of the ‘OER exacerbates the gap’ flap this week launched by Justin Reich’s blog and Audrey Watter’s response, I thought it would be worth expanding on the ways in which EdTech, blended learning, and open education resources (OER) will benefit low income kids. Following is a list of 10 ways that digital learning will benefit low income students:


1. Good teachers. States that authorize multiple providers and allow part time enrollment (like Florida, Idaho, and Utah) give every student access to great teachers in every subject.


Public Impact is building on the Innosight Institute report, The Rise of Blended Learning, and identifying strategies—most using technology—that extend the reach of great teachers. The net benefit is that five years from now more students will benefit from great teachers.


2. Good content. During the next five years most states and districts will shift to predominantly digital content—it will be more to date, more engaging, and provide more expansive learning resources than print. The shift will disproportionately benefit low income students that have had less access to quality content.


3. Diagnostics. Adaptive assessments and improved diagnostics are beginning to pinpoint learning levels and gaps that must be addressed. These tools—like NWEA MAP, Wireless MClass—are of particular benefit to students whose learning has not be well supported.


4. Special services. We’re beginning to see the deployment of online services for students with language and learning difficulties. Available on demand, they often work better and are less expensive than traditional approaches.


5. More options. Personal digital learning is enabling a wide variety of school options—some that blend online and onsite, and some that are purely virtual. Where states allow it, families have a wider variety of options to meet specific needs.


6. Advanced courses. Soon, most states will give every student access to every advanced math, science, course as well as Advanced Placement and college credit courses. With scaled providers it is logistically simple and very affordable to provide cost effective access to consistent quality. This relatively new capability unquestionable benefits low income students.


7. Time. As the high performing elementary Rocketship network is demonstrating, school models that blend digital learning with classroom instruction can extend the learning day for students that need an 8 hour school day to overcome an early childhood vocabulary deficit.


8. 24/7 access. Over the next five years, most schools will provide take home technology (at least for secondary students) that will extend access to learning resources around the clock. States, cities, and school districts will continue to make progress on extending access to broadband. The combination of devices and broadband will narrow the digital divide.


9. Free. There has been an explosion of free and open educational resources. With Khan Academy, every family has access to at least one great math teacher. Teachers can use social learning platform Edmodo, video sharing service SchoolTube, and math games from MangaHigh all for free (Learn Capital portfolio companies). Free content is helping schools make the shift to personal digital learning—that’s good for all kids but particularly for low income students.


10. Culture. Good schools have a powerful culture of high expectations and strong support. As education shifts from a place to a service, social learning groups will extend a culture of learning beyond traditional classrooms. Teacher social networks are connecting subject area teachers across the country. Reducing the isolation of teachers and students and promoting a college/career ready culture will disproportionately benefit low income students.


Digital learning won’t necessarily close the achievement gap between income groups, but it will lift the floor. More students will be more academically successful. Five years from now, a higher percentage of students will soon graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Most will have benefited from Common Core expectations. Some will have benefited from Race to the Top funded programs. Many will have benefited from these 10 reasons that digital learning will benefit low income students

Getting Smart


Good News! Teachers Say Technology Is Helping Students Learn


Figuring out how to incorporate technology into classroom lessons takes some time, but according to the results of the eighth annual survey by PBS and Grunwald Associates, almost all K-12 teachers are using it these days. In fact, given the large numbers of resources being used by teachers, it’s pretty clear that the media and technology revolution is already here. Educators indicate that technology and digital media are helping them do their jobs better.

The survey found that more teachers than ever are incorporating interactive games, activities, lesson plans, and simulations into the classroom. Sixty-two percent of teachers say they use digital media twice a week or more and 24 percent say they use it every day to help them teach. The numbers of teachers using TV and video content in the classroom is even higher. Over 80 percent of teachers say they use TV or video to teach a lesson at least once a month and 76 percent are streaming it from the web.

However, modern educators are also strategic about how they’re using media to teach a concept. The survey found that teachers are much more likely to use a short video clip—which means no more students snoozing during a 30-minute film about the Crusades. In fact, the teachers surveyed say the resources help “stimulate student discussions, increase student motivation, and help students and teachers be more creative.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve. Teachers need professional development on how to use the resources, too many teachers experience technical difficulties because of internet bandwith problems on campus, and budgets are being cut so the money to buy hardware—like iPads, laptops or projectors—is drying up. That said, what’s happening in schools is encouraging.


If a TWO YEAR OLD can do this, why not our students??? Here is proof of a DIGITAL NATIVE


Here’s another video of a child two-year old Digital Native with an iPad. Understand that Nolan is not at all a unique case. Next time you’re on YouTube try searching any combination of the words “iPhone”, “iPad”, “baby”, “toddler”, “one-year old”, “two-year old”, etc., and you’ll see what I mean.

In many schools, “educational technology” is viewed as tools we put in the hands of teachers. Teaching technology is important and certainly belongs in the 21st century classroom, but we shouldn’t confuse it with learning technology. 21st century learning requires that technology be placed in the hands of students. We will not be able to convince children like Nolan that “disconnected” learning has any relevance to the world as he sees it.

It speaks volumes about today’s learners.




Thinking of a Web Quest????

What is a WebQuest? Search for the word “WebQuest” in any search engine, and you soon discover thousands of online lessons created by teachers around the world. What is a WebQuest? A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented online tool for learning, says workshop expert Bernie Dodge 1. This means it is a classroom-based lesson in which most or all of the information that students explore and evaluate comes from the World Wide Web. Beyond that, WebQuests:

  • can be as short as a single class period or as long as a month-long unit;  
  • usually (though not always) involve group work, with division of labor among students who take on specific roles or perspectives;  
  • are built around resources that are preselected by the teacher. Students spend their time USING information, not LOOKING for it.

Welcome to WebQuests. Start here in the “Explanation” section, which is all about the CONCEPT. Then go on to “Demonstration” and the following sections, where we move from CONCEPT TO CLASSROOM!

What is a WebQuest?
What are the benefits of WebQuests?
How did WebQuests start, and how have they developed since they became popular?
What are the essential parts of a WebQuest?
What kinds of topics lend themselves to WebQuests?
What do I need to create a WebQuest?
What are some critical perspectives?
How can I use WebQuests in conjunction with other educational techniques?

Ok, for those of your who are interested in a Web Quest resource….


Directories of Web Quests

WebQuests use resources from the World Wide Web for inquiry-based instructional activities.  Bernie Dodge, a Web Quest pioneer, describes a  WebQuest as “an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web.  WebQuests are designed to use learners’ time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.”

bullet This page contains links to outside sources.  The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is not responsible for any content housed/published on those sites.

Directories of WebQuests  

Arizona State University Directory Created by education students of Dr. Alice Christie, ASU professor  (K-12)
Best Web Authored by Tom March; Web Quests categorized and evaluated  (K-12)
eduscape K-3 Topical listing of selected Web Quests for (K-3)
eduscape 3-6 Topical listing of selected Web Quests for (3-6)
eduscape Middle School/ High School Links to Web Quest examples for middle school and high school  (7-12)
Literature Based Web Quests Literature Web Quests from Annette Lamb  (K-12)
Literature Web Quests Nice collection of titles (9-12)
Longwood Central School District Directory covering many content areas (K-12)
Middle School Web Quests A collection of middle school appropriate Web Quests categorized by subject area  (7-8)
Missouri Web Quests Matrix of Web Quests by grade level and topic; correlated to the Missouri Show Me Standards; eMINTS  (K-12)
Nellie’s Web Quest List
Junior High
High School
Very comprehensive listings of  Web Quests  (K-12)
National Portrait Gallery Web Quests Web Quests from 9 national museums and galleries  (K-12)
San Diego City Schools Valencia Park Elementary  (K-6)
Springfield Public Schools A large collection of High School, Middle School, and Elementary Web Quests    (K-12)
“Survivor” Body Challenge Workings of all the body systems  (3-6)
Tech Trekers Collection of Web Quests for all grade levels  (K-12)
TrackStar Simply collect web sites, enter them into TrackStar, add annotations for your students, and you have an interactive, online lesson called a Track  (K-12)
Web Quest Academy Curriculum based internet activities created by Warrensburg teachers  (K-12)

Web Quest Page

Complete guide to Web Quests:  creation, evaluation, examples. This site is created by Bernie Dodge, San Diego State University  (K-12)
Web Quests Across the Curriculum A listing of Web Quests by content area and grade level  (K-12)
Web Quests Web Quest directory by Univ. of Texas San Antonio  (2-8)
Yorkville Community School District #115 Web Quests for all grade levels and subject areas  (K-12)


Creating a  Web Quest: It’s Easier Than you Think! What are Web Quests? What accounts for their popularity? How can you use and create?
Internet Expeditions Creating Web Quest Learning Environments
Quest Garden Easy to use tool created by Dr. Bernie Dodge for creating and storing Web Quests that requires no knowledge of web design or web hosting – free registration required
Zunal Web-based software for creating WebQuests including a large directory

One Stop Shopping–GAME RESOURCES


Game Resources

Classroom games can be informative and motivational.   Teachers can generate the games themselves or students might create them.  The table below contains links to web pages which feature templates for a variety of games such as Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and, the ever popular, Jeopardy.

bullet This page contains links to outside sources.  The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is not responsible for any content housed/published on those sites.


Fun and Games Two web pages of pre-made PowerPoint games
Game Templates Nice collection of Word, Excel, and Power Point game templates
Hangman Create hangman worksheets
Jeopardy Labs Allows you to create a customized jeopardy template without PowerPoint
Jeopardy Templates and Other Games Links to templates and  ready-to-use games 
Microsoft Word Gameboards Word templates ready to use
Millionaire Templates
Directions for downloading
Version One
Version Two
Version Three
Version Four
Terri Street’s templates; changes have been made to make the editing process easier and make multiple templates with different correct answer links available

Do not delete the textbox.  Only select text and overtype in the textbox! Deleting will erase the hyperlinks, but overtyping will change the text while keeping the hyperlinks intact.

Parade of Games Huge collection of PowerPoint games
PowerPoint Activities Templates and pre-made games
SMILES Replaces Game-O-Matic; create web-based activities such as Drag and Drop, Timed Matching, and Sentence Scramble for language learning and practice; free registration
Super Teacher Tools A variety of review games, classroom management software, and other miscellaneous tools for educators
TeAch-nology Generate bingo cards
Terri Street’s Master Trainer Templates for Millionaire, Pyramid, and Jeopardy; includes a PowerPoint on Create-a-Game explaining “how to”

Pre Made Games 

PowerPoint Games Several games ready to play
PowerPoint Game Templates Several examples of games made with PowerPoint



ALTEC, the umbrella organization for the 4teacher tools, manages the Technology Rich Classroom (TRC),Title II-D initiative in Kansas. Take a look at the powerful 21st Century learning taking place in these classrooms!

Teach with Technology works to help you integratetechnology into your classroom by offering online tools and resources. This site helps teachers locate and create ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars. There are also tools for student use. Discover valuable professional development resources addressing issues such as equity, ELL, technology planning, and at-risk or special-needs students.
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4 Teachers


Full Committee Hearing – The Promise of Accessible Technology: Challenges and Opportunities


A recent event.

UDL mentioned at Senate HELP Committee Hearing

During a February 7, 2012 hearing of the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on “The Promise of Accessible Technology,” Chairman Senator Harkin and the Superintendent of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana, Dr. Quick, praised UDL’s impact on school outcomes. Listen to the hearing to learn more or read this article about the hearing.