The Best of Big Deal Media: Our Top Ed Tech Resources of 2016

By Taylor Kremer

It’s that time of year again where we reflect on our accomplishments and our growth. We can see exactly how far we’ve come since this time last year. Big Deal Media editors researched diligently to bring you the latest and greatest ed tech resources. As we say goodbye to 2016, our editors wanted to share with you the top resources from 2016 selected by readers:
Digital Learning • Learning Support
1. Mathigon
Mathigon uses interactive ebooks, games, animations, and videos to present advanced mathematical ideas in new and innovative ways. Topics range from prime numbers to hyperbolic geometry, networks, origami, or quantum mechanics.
2. JuxtaposeJS
Using JuxtaposJS, a free and simple open-source tool, students can create a digital cross-fade between old photographs and new photographs, resulting in a remarkable artifact of before-and-after images. The images can be used for engaging students in historical inquiry and place-based exploration.
3. StoryBots Classroom
StoryBots Classroom, a free resource for educators from JibJab Bros. Studios, includes hundreds of videos, books, and activities for use on interactive whiteboards, tablets, and laptops in the classroom. StoryBots leverages personalization technology to allow children to see themselves dancing and singing onscreen along with their favorite StoryBots characters. In addition to the classroom-ready activities, StoryBots offers Teacher Tools including Class Roster, Lesson Planner, and Group Builder.
Mobile Learning
1. Georama
Georama is a real-time virtual tour platform that lets anyone travel anywhere in the world instantly. Georama’s technology provides live, guided tours in high definition from a smartphone, wearable camera, or 360-degree camera to people around the world. K-12 teachers can plan virtual field trips that fit into their curriculum.
2. ScratchJr App
Young children, aged 5-7, can use ScratchJr, an introductory programming language, to create their own interactive stories and games. Children can modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves-and then use the graphical programming blocks to make their characters come to life. ScratchJr is available as a free app on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Chrome Web Store.
3. SAS Writing Navigator
Free from the SAS Institute, the SAS Writing Navigator suite of tools guides and supports students throughout the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. The Writing Navigator is also available on iTunes and the Chrome Web Store.
Professional Growth
1. Fab Labs and Makerspaces Discussion Group
The Fab Labs and Makerspaces discussion group on Google brings together K-12 educators to share best practices, tips, and challenges of managing and running digital fabrication labs, makerspaces, and innovation labs. The virtual community is intended to be a forum for all things about digital fabrication in K-12 education: equipment reviews, conference/workshop announcements, rumors about new gadgets, troubleshooting problems, advice about vendors, cool resources for projects, and more.
2. Ensuring Success for All Webinar
In the “Ensuring Success for All: Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Students in Poverty, and Students Who Struggle with Language and Learning” webinar, Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, shares her experiences in Title I middle and high schools, as well as her work with refugee students, English learners, and students in intervention classes. The webinar delivers both practical strategies and inspiration to educators and administrators working toward success for all of their students. sponsored the webinar and the recording is available on Big Deal Media’s Amazing Resources for Educators community on
3. Mindset Kit
The Stanford University lab, through its Mindset Kit, is offering free online training modules for teachers, creating a diagnostic tool to determine if their classroom practices are supported by growth mindset research, and assessing their professional development needs around the subject.
1. Novel Engineering
Novel Engineering plucks engineering challenges from the plots of books. The goal of Novel Engineering is to bolster reading comprehension through hands-on projects while teaching students the engineering process and linking it to the human problems it helps to solve.
2. STEM Gauge
STEM Gauge, a formative assessment resource from Measured Progress, provides students with opportunities to demonstrate understanding of the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Performance Expectations (PEs) as instruction occurs. For a limited time, Measured Progress is offering a free NGSS STEM Gauge middle school topic-based item set for teachers to try in their classroom, plus a Teacher’s Guide and Formative Support Tools.
3. Made with Code
The Made with Code website provides activities in which participants use Blockly, linking together graphical blocks that generate code. Also available on the website are the Made with Code party kit, videos of mentors and makers, and a search tool to find coding projects and programs across the country.
Social Media
1. Reading Without Walls Challenge
The Reading Without Walls Challenge is designed to help readers find books they might otherwise never choose on their own. Readers of all ages will be able to complete the challenge in one of three ways: by reading a book about a diverse character, or about an unfamiliar topic, or in a new format, such as a graphic novel or an audiobook instead of a printed book. They can then share the challenge on social media by taking a photograph of the book and posting it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls.
2. Do Now
Every Friday on its Do Now website, KQED Education posts a weekly activity for students to engage in and respond to current issues using social media tools, such as Twitter. The activity includes a brief introduction to the topic, a media resource, and a question for student response.
3. Social Media Rubrics
University of Wisconsin-Stout has organized a collection of free rubrics for assessing social media projects on wiki, Twitter, and blogs.
We hope you enjoy our top resources of 2016. To get new resources for digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, STEM, and more delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters. We look forward to bringing you the latest in technology integration for your school and classroom in 2017.
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