10 Must-Attend EdTech Conferences in 2016

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What are your professional development plans for 2016? This year promises to be an exciting one, with some of our favorite annual edtech conferences and summits coming back bigger and better than ever. And you won’t have to travel far. There are events happening all across the country.

Not only do education conferences provide great networking opportunities, they’re also among the best places to learn about new classroom innovations and best practices you can apply in your own school or district.

This year, conference-goers will have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of edtech vendors to compare education products and services; gain new skills at fun, interactive learning sessions; hear inspiring testimonies from the industry’s leading figures; and so much more!

While I’d love to share details about all of this year’s events, there isn’t enough room to list them all here, so be sure to download a copy of our 2016 EdConference Guide. You can also see our ten most anticipated edtech conferences below!

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Top New Books for Educators

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The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School
Ed Boland

In a fit of idealism, Ed Boland left a twenty-year career as a non-profit executive to teach in a tough New York City public high school. But his hopes quickly collided headlong with the appalling reality of his students’ lives and a hobbled education system unable to help them: Freddy runs a drug ring for his incarcerated brother; Nee-cole is homeschooled on the subway by her brilliant homeless mother; and Byron’s Ivy League dream is dashed because he is undocumented.

In the end, Boland isn’t hoisted on his students’ shoulders and no one passes AP anything. This is no urban fairy tale of at-risk kids saved by a Hollywood hero, but a searing indictment of schools that claim to be progressive but still fail their students. Told with compassion, humor, and a keen eye, Boland’s story is sure to ignite debate about the future of American education and attempts to reform it.

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Flipped Learning for Elementary Instruction
Jonathan Bergmann, Aaron Sams

Building on their best-selling book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, flipped education innovators Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams return with a book series that supports flipped learning in the four topic areas of science, math, English and social studies as well as the elementary classroom.

In this new book, the authors discuss how educators can successfully apply the flipped classroom model in elementary classrooms. Each chapter offers practical guidance, including how to approach lesson planning, what to do with class time and how to employ project-based learning techniques.

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How to Make Data Work: A Guide for Educational Leaders
Jenny Grant Rankin

Educators are increasingly responsible for using data to improve teaching and learning in their schools. This helpful guide provides leaders with simple steps for facilitating accurate analysis and interpretation of data, while avoiding common errors and pitfalls. How to Make Data Work provides clear strategies for getting data into workable shape and creating an environment that supports understanding, analysis, and successful use of data, no matter what data system or educational technology tools are in place in your district.

This accessible resource makes data easy to understand and use so that educators can better evaluate and maximize their systems to help their staff, students, and school succeed. With this tried-and-true guidance, you’ll be prepared to advocate for tools that adhere to data reporting standards, avoid misinterpretation of data, and improve the data use climate in your school.

Lit-Up

Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-four Books That Can Change Lives.
David Denby

It’s no secret that millions of American teenagers, caught up in social media, television, movies, and games, don’t read seriously. They associate sustained reading with duty or work, not with pleasure. This indifference has become a grievous loss to our standing as a great nation—and a personal loss, too, for millions of teenagers who may turn into adults with limited understanding of themselves and the world.

Can teenagers be turned on to serious reading? What kind of teachers can do it, and what books? To find out, Denby sat in on a tenth-grade English class in a demanding New York public school for an entire academic year and made frequent visits to a troubled inner-city public school in New Haven and to a respected public school in Westchester County. He read all the stories, poems, plays, and novels that the kids were reading, and creates an impassioned portrait of charismatic teachers at work, classroom dramas large and small, and fresh and inspiring encounters with the books themselves, including The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, Notes From Underground, Long Way Gone and many more. Lit Up is a dramatic narrative that traces awkward and baffled beginnings but also exciting breakthroughs and the emergence of pleasure in reading. In a sea of bad news about education and the fate of the book, Denby reaffirms the power of great teachers and the importance and inspiration of great books.

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Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities
Billy Krakower, Sharon LePage Plante   

The Corwin Connected Educators series is your key to unlocking the greatest resource available to all educators: other educators. This book shows you how to harness the power of today’s technology to improve learning and engagement for students with learning disabilities. Uncover and highlight their strengths by implementing:

  • New ideas for using assistive technology to teach core subjects and study skills
  • Positive opportunities for students to show what they know
  • Tools that provide better content accessibility

Being a Connected Educator is more than a set of actions: it’s a belief in the potential of technology to fuel lifelong learning. To explore the other books in this series, visit the Corwin Connected Educators website at http://www.corwin.com/connectededucators.

Summer School: Time for Playing in the Sand(box)

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As the winter months drag on toward spring, you may already be daydreaming of sand in the summer. But instead of fantasizing about sand on a tropical beach, imagine a sandbox; that is, how your summer school program can serve as a testing ground for new ideas and programs.

Now is the perfect time to start the initial stages of planning summer school, and this year you can maximize the potential of this time by collecting data and feedback on the great new tools, curriculum, programs, and other solutions you’ve been dying to try out but haven’t had time or resources to implement during the school year. Here are some important ideas to keep in mind as you begin planning your summer school sandbox programming:

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Are Students Really Failing?

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“What? Why would I watch iCarly or Wizards of Waverly Place? Oh, no! I’m on my son’s Netflix portal, not mine!” Has this ever happened to you? It’s called personalizing, and it happens almost everywhere today.

We live in a world where technology enables deep levels of personalization. Even the coupons at the grocery stores are targeted toward our shopping patterns. If you don’t believe me, check out this article from Forbes about how Target identified that a teen shopper was pregnant before her dad knew.

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The problem is that while personalization happens all around us, it is least likely to happen in our schools. I believe that this lack of personalization is a contributing factor to many of the sad statistics that are posted about schools.

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How Schools Can Expand Summer School Options without Spending More

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summer-school-icon2Even though snow is still falling in many parts of the country, administrators everywhere are giving careful consideration to how they will leverage summer school to help students recover credits or avoid summer learning gaps. And while the benefits of summer school are undeniable, the cost is often a huge barrier to offering a robust suite of courses for students to choose from. But virtual instruction could change all that by providing schools with a more economical alternative. Read More