The Best Holiday 'Card' That You'll Get This Year -- Really

In place of a traditional holiday card, we’ve written twelve insightful articles. This is our 3rd annual 12 Days of Learning, and each year we keep making it better and better. Feel free to share this resource out with your teachers and staff. These quick reads cover a variety of topics and are perfect for personal professional development!

To view the articles by clicking the image below or visit: http://www2.atomiclearning.com/12-days-of-learning.

12 Ways to Energize Learning [Infographic]

Student engagement is always on the minds of educators, and, while it can feel overwhelming with all the moving parts—student retention, test scores, and more—you must start somewhere!

To help, we’ve pulled together a list of twelve ways you can shake up and energize learning with tried and true instructional strategies.

Ready to dive deeper into one (or all!) of these topics? Atomic Learning is here to help with professional online courses on each:

11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities


This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed course being developed for Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that general education teachers can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for all educators.  Schools must provide academic opportunities for these students that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help teachers support students with disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for lessons that are accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
     
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
     
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
     
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar and dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible.

Executive Functioning

A few characteristics of students who struggle with executive functioning would be poor time management and planning skills. They may also struggle with paying attention and staying focused. Here are a few strategies to help overcome these barriers:

  1. Help students develop effective schedules that allow them to monitor task completion.  Avoiding procrastination is key.

10 Ideas to Get Started with Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Jumping into the world of Virtual Reality (VR) begins with a basic understanding of what it is. To start, imagine swimming around the ocean, admiring colorful fish, only to turn around to find yourself face-to-face with a shark…

Now imagine students having this same experience while standing in your classroom.

Virtual reality provides teachers the ability to provide an immersive experience where learners can feel as if they are living the content that you are teaching.  THAT is student engagement.

While it’s important to understanding that the difference between reality and virtual reality can be a fine line, particularly for younger students to understand, it is a powerful tool to bring intense learning experiences into the classroom.

To help you get started with simple ways to use virtual reality with students, we’ve gathered a list of ten popular virtual reality tools, apps, and resources together in one place.

Ready to see what’s possible? Read on!

Nearpod     

Nearpod is a mobile learning platform that allows teachers to create and sharing engaging, interactive lessons with their class and collect real time feedback from students. With Nearpod, 360 photos can easily be added into lessons with the click of a button—allowing students to be immersed into the learning content.

A few of our favorite locations to explore within Nearpod include the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Anemone Reef, Flaming Crown at Dusk in Melbourne Australia, and Santorini Greece. Interested in trying it yourself? Check out this sample lesson for a firsthand look.

Related resource: Nearpod Training

 

YouTube™    

Watching videos will never be the same! YouTube™ now offers a variety of virtual reality experiences using 360 videos—see that directional arrow in the upper right corner of the above screen capture? It can be used to change the viewers’ perspective, and, in the sample shown, walk with a Titanosaur dinosaur.

With as many as 360 videos uploaded daily, it can be difficult to sort which are appropriate for classrooms.  For a few of our favorites, check out this playlist of 50+ videos to bring an immersive learning experience into your lessons. Included are swimming with sharks, flying in a fighter jet, and, of course, walking with dinosaurs.

Related resource: YouTube™ for Educators

9 Ways to Foster Collaboration through Cooperative Learning

This article is part of the 12 Days of Learning. Click now to see all articles.

Has the thought of working with a group ever made you cringe? Or have you ever been in a group with someone who just didn’t seem to be interested in contributing OR one person who seemed to take over?

We’ve all been there.

However, being able to collaborate and work effectively in groups is critical to success not only in school, but also in college and the workforce. Luckily there are a variety of cooperative learning strategies that can be applied to foster students’ collaboration skills.

What is Cooperative Learning?
Cooperative Learning is students working in groups or with partners to put together pieces of a puzzle, achieve a common goal, and learn from one another. It’s a powerful strategy to help students learn, get them out of the box, and get them discussing a topic at another level.

Research has shown that students who work in cooperative groups often perform better on tests, and are better critical thinkers. And, if that alone isn’t enough, it’s also said to improve students’ social skills, enhance oral communications, and even heighten self-esteem.

With cooperative learning, it’s also harder for students to fade to the background, and when their contributions are accepted and acknowledged, they are more engaged in the learning experience.

Putting it Into Practice
While there are a wide variety of approaches for cooperative learning, we’ve gathered together a list of nine popular options that you can quickly introduce in your classroom.

  1. Think-Pair-Share
    One of the most commonly used cooperative learning strategies in education today. First the teacher poses a question to the class, and then gives students time to think about their responses individually before having them pair up with a partner to discuss their response. Based on individuals’ responses and perspectives they could learn something new or be challenged with something they’d not previously considered, and have an opportunity to discuss it with their partner before the teacher calls the class back together for pairs to share what they’ve discussed.

    Think-Pair-Share is very easy to use and can be a powerful tool for learning. If you're interested in trying it yourself, you can learn more in Atomic Learning’s Think-Pair-Share course.
     
  2. Prairie Fire
    The Prairie Fire approach is designed to get your students talking in groups about more high-level questions. To start, gather students in groups of 3-5 before posing a question, then give the groups time to discuss and formulate a single group response to share. Next each group quickly shares their answer and learns the correct response before being instructed to continue their group discussion on what was shared, what they may have gotten wrong, and why.

    This approach is a great way to help students practice the group processing component of cooperative learning, including incorporating feedback from other groups.
     
  3. Four Corners
    Start by dividing students into larger groups – say where they stand on an issue, for example, and ultimately directing them to one of the four corners in the room to join a team with similar values, opinions, philosophies, etc.. Then pose a question to answer or assign a task for these groups of like-minded individuals to complete. After allowing time for discussion, have groups share out to the class.  

8 Technologies to Watch

It’s no secret that technologies come and go. In fact, the ever-changing technological landscape makes it incredibly difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest tech trends, let alone plan how new tools can be used to enhance instruction.

The recent 2016 Teaching with Technology Survey, asked participants at educational institutions across the country to predict which new technologies they saw having the greatest impact on education in the next decade.

Interested in which tools made the cut? Here’s a few of their top choices:

  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
    Topping the list were augmented and virtual reality, one of the fastest growing trends in educational technology today. Beyond the cool factor, much of the appeal for education is the ability to go farther and dive deeper into a topic by not just telling students about it, but letting them experience it.

    One of the questions that comes up for those new to virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is the difference between the two. The short answer is that VR allows you to completely immerse yourself as if you were magically teleported to an alternate location. AR, on the other hand, adds a layer on top of real life—for example viewing a 3D beating heart layered over an Anatomy textbook.

Related Resources:
10 Ideas to Get Started with Virtual Reality
Go Anywhere with Virtual Reality 
Getting Started with Augmented Reality

  • 3D Printing
    Possibly fueled by the already popular Maker Movement, 3D printing ranked as one of the top trends to watch. The option of 3D printing also is being fueled by the demand for STEM focused education, as it allows students the opportunity to apply mathematical processes and engineering concepts while developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create something tangible. (And its pretty darn cool, that probably helps.)

Related Resources:
SketchUp for 3D Printing using Google SketchUp
Students as Digital Creators 

7 Learning Styles: Which One Are You?

Whether they recognize it or not, most people have a preferred way of learning. While some learn best by listening (think of those lecture classes in college), others may have to see a concept in action to learn the material (this is where lab work comes in), and the list goes on.

The trick is figuring out your individual learning style and then utilizing your strengths while being aware of your weaker areas.  To help, we’ve worked with Dan Kuemmel, a specialist in learning technology, data visualization, and pedagogy, on an in-depth course on Learning Styles. As a preview, we’ve provided a quick peek at each of the seven types of learners below:

  1. Visual Learners
    These learners turn words into pictures to retain information, and tend to excel with writing assignments and textbook readings. However, they can struggle with information that is only audio-based, such as a lectures or audio-recordings.
     
  2. Logical Learners
    Logical learners thrive on processes, statistics, and making connections between ideas. Puzzles, riddles, and word games engage them, as well as charts and diagrams.
     
  3. Aural/Auditory Learners
    These learners have great recall when hearing information be it a lecture, podcast, spoken directions, or even music.
     
  4. Verbal Learners
    Verbal learners are most easily identified as those that need to ‘talk through’ a problem, either through verbal or written communication. They excel at writing essays and class discussions or debates, but can struggle with math and science concepts.

6 Things College-Bound Students Need to Do NOW

Busy High School Juniors and Seniors can get tied up in the fun spring activities—prom planning, graduation pictures, sports—and procrastinate on a few very important items that they should do sooner rather than later, if they’re planning to attend college after graduation.

To help guide them on the right path, here’s just a few quick points to touch on with your college-bound student(s):

  • Visit a College Campus (or Several)
    Picking a college is a big step. One way to help determine if a school is right for you is to visit—virtually or in-person. Online tours are great if expense or distance is an issue, but keep in mind that video tours are edited to show the campus at its best. If visiting in-person, it’s often recommended to do so during the school year to get an accurate idea of what the campus would be like as a student.

    Related resource: What Should I Look for on a Campus Visit?
     
  • Put Thought Into Your College Major
    With the rising cost of college, it’s not very cost-effective to go in without a focused area of study. And, with a future career-path in mind, students can look into whether or not a college offers the desired course of study. While transferring to another college later is always an option, it’s important to note that not all courses transfer and such an option could delay completion of a degree and increase costs.

    Related resource: How Do I Choose a Major?
     
  • Apply to College(s) of Choice
    While application deadlines vary quite a bit, most seem to expect completed applications for new students in before February. If students have a specific school, or even a short list of schools, in mind, they need to consider any upcoming deadlines. (Coming in late isn’t a good way to get your college career off on the right foot.) Even if a school’s deadline is later than most, applying early may create a buffer to apply at an alternative school if a first choice doesn’t work out.

    Related resource: How Do I Pick the Right College?

5 Tough Questions to Ask When Implementing 1:1 or BYOD

Has your school gone 1:1? Or are headed that way? Often, with technology comes a great deal of change, a fair amount of resistance, and an abundance of questions. However, when done right, a 1:1 is well worth the effort.

To help ensure your school or district is set up for success from the start, we’ve compiled a few quick tips to set expectations and minimize potential pitfalls.

  1. What’s the Goal of the Initiative?
    We’re big fans of educational technology, but the addition of technology as a standalone isn’t enough. It’s important to set a goal for your devices that is focused on learning. In the words of Andrew Marcinek, a school CIO and former Director of Technology, in a recent Edutopia article:

    “A 1:1 environment should be the goal of every learning institution; however, this is not about devices, it's about access. I imagine every school superintendent, principal, and teacher would agree that it is in their best interest to provide their students with the best access to the most current, scholarly information available.”

    Without a focus on learning, a 1:1 initiative has the potential to be underutilized as well as fail to ultimately impact student success. If you haven’t already set such a goal, take a hard look at the technology in your district, 1:1 initiative or not, and see where changes can be made.

  2. How Will You Ensure Devices are Used?
    As with any initiative or project, there is a learning curve. Keep this in mind, and support your teachers’ success with professional development opportunities and time to integrate new tools into their lessons. It’s also important to not demand that the devices be used at all times, while still encouraging use when appropriate.

    Setting up expectations, supporting teachers with needed training, and checking in with them on how it’s going and any further professional development needs can make all the difference.

    Related Resource: How Do We Plan with Purpose? A Look at Effective PD
     
  3. What is the Devices’ Role in the Classroom?
    A device is no replacement for a quality teacher, and it shouldn’t be treated as one. A device is a tool, just like an old chalkboard, not-quite-as-old whiteboard, or a calculator. Work with teachers to make them feel comfortable with the device, understand the benefits the available technology provides, and provide practical ideas that show how the device can be successfully used in the classroom.

    Related resource: Evaluating Technology Resources

4 Hesitations Teachers Have About Tech Integration

Change is hard. And for many, it can also be scary, whether it involves technology or not. People, as a rule, tend to be creatures of habit, and even those that consider themselves to be forward-thinkers may be among those most hesitant to adopt change.

When it comes to teachers, they’ve invested considerable time in their lessons and projects, have established rubrics, and gathered concrete evidence that lessons have successfully communicated a topic to students. Because of this, they may be more resistant to change than other individuals.

To help overcome this resistance, it’s important to take the time to understand their hesitations. To help, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the most common phrases heard from teachers who are questioning if technology integration is right for their classroom:

  1. Why should I?
    While this question may be delivered in a variety of ways, it’s often fueled out of fear. Sharing the logic behind the need for technology integration, as well as supporting teachers with any necessary professional development, can provide hesitant teachers the nudge they need to take the first steps.

    An easy way to start the conversation on the need for technology integration is by focusing on the importance of ensuring students are college- and career-ready, of which technology plays a critical role. Digital technologies have become commonplace in both college and in the workplace.

3 Simple Ways to Personalize Professional Development

While schools and districts offer formal professional development, all too often such opportunities are focused on a topic that doesn’t quite fit individual teachers’ needs, or is too basic or advanced to be effective.

And, while teachers themselves also have the opportunity to learn on their own, some struggle to find the time in their busy schedules to participate in self-driven learning.

One option that you hear more about every day is personalized professional development, a term for taking charge of your own professional growth by seeking out anytime, anywhere learning experiences that meet YOUR individual professional needs.

For those looking for a place to start, we’ve gathered together three quick tips to get you started personalizing your personal development right away:

  1. Watch and/or Participate in a Twitter Chat
    Twitter chats can be great learning opportunities that provide up-to-date (even up-to-the-minute) information from fellow educators experiencing the same things you are. There’s a chat for nearly every education topic you can think of, you can participate from your couch, a soccer game or anywhere you have internet access, AND IT’S FREE.

    You can check out this education twitter chat calendar, and we’d also like to suggest @JaimeDonally’s chat on Wednesdays at 8pm CST focused on augmented and virtual reality—check it out at #ARVRinEDU.
     
  2. Join or Start a PLC (Professional Learning Community)
    PLC’s are an excellent opportunity for creating your own professional development, hone skills, and improve student outcomes through action research. There’s a ton of great information in this PLC-focused course on Atomic Learning to find out more.

    Looking for ideas on what others are doing? The educators at one of Oklahoma City Public Schools collaborated as a group to take their recent 1:1 initiative even further. They utilized the school's existing PLC page on Facebook to openly collaborate and easily share tips and resources they found interesting—including Atomic Learning’s courses on Classroom Management in 1:1 Classrooms, Supporting Gifted and Talented Learners, and others.

2 Insights for Leaders on Connecting with the School Community

This blog post is based off on an upcoming online course called “Connecting Through Vulnerability” by Dr. Matthew Arau, that will soon be available on Atomic Learning. Dr. Arau is an Assistant Professor at Lawrence University and has a background in student leadership. (More about Dr. Arau)

Have you had a teacher or college professor in the past that was a wealth of knowledge, but seemed unable to connect to the students? Because of that lack of connection, the students in that course were most likely disengaged or mentally checked out. On the flip side, there are also those instructors that are able to truly connect what they know with their students and engage in the learning process.

We all have had those teachers or instructors from the past that fit both scenarios. But, what’s the difference? That is what Dr. Matthew Arau calls “the missing link”, and he believes it is often connection and vulnerability.


Why Connecting?

In his online course, Dr. Arau tells a story of when he was teaching high school several years ago. Specifically, how he was able to easily develop friendships with his students, and had no problems having great conversations with them. However, the moment he took the podium, that connection seems to dissipate.

It wasn’t until a colleague mentioned how differently he carried himself when he was up in front of the class that he realized he was trying to be someone he wasn’t and it was negatively effecting his connection with the students.

The solution: He simply needed to be himself and be authentic.

That realization helped him understand the importance of connection.  When we connect, we can both increase learning and enjoyment of learning.

Dr. Arau’s story could also be true of school administrators, fellow teachers, and staff members. By being authentic and yourself, you can help create connections that will build and strengthen the greater school community.
 

Why Vulnerability?

Have you ever noticed that when you share a personal story–maybe even something slightly embarrassing– it opens a connection with the person you were speaking with? By sharing, you open the door for others to feel welcome to share something a little vulnerable about themselves.

The more vulnerable you are, the more connected you can feel with your audience. Sharing personal stories of struggles and real life can have a profound effect. When we as humans see somebody being vulnerable and speaking about their fears, hopes, or frustrations, we see them as being courageous.  

The more vulnerable you are with your intended audience, the greater the connection.
 

Some Strategies to Try:

While these things may sound overly simple, or perhaps even silly, they can have a big impact on first impressions and connections. Whether you are connecting with teachers, students, parents, or other stakeholders, be aware of the following:

  • When someone walks into your office or classroom, greet them at the door and learn their name as fast as possible. Everyone wants to be acknowledged by name.

1 Word Can Change Everything: “Yet”

Every educator can tell you the importance of feedback. And, while it’s easy enough to offer praise for a job well done, what can be done to encourage quick learners to reach higher while simultaneously encouraging those students who haven’t quite gotten it yet?

Recently, Dr. Matthew Arau, a college professor and student leadership expert, created an online course for Atomic Learning focused on Unlocking Potential: The Impact of Mindset of Success. In the course, Dr Arau cites the work of Dr. Carol Dweck—a well-known researcher in the field of motivation and a Psychology Professor at Stanford who certainly knows her stuff.

In her TEDx Talk on the topic, Dr. Dweck states that teachers must “praise wisely.” Instead of simply praising the right answer, teachers need to praise students’ effort, the use of strategies, and documented improvement to ultimately foster a growth mindset.

FIXED MINDSET
Many people have what is referred to as a fixed mindset. As Dr. Arau explains: “Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence, talent, and ability are fixed or static. If you are talented, things come easily to you; if you have to put effort into an endeavor, you must not be talented.”

ICYMI: Ring in the New Year with 12 Days of Learning

11 Insights to Shifting School Culture

School Culture. It’s one of those things that everyone seems to be talking about, but struggle to define let alone demonstrate.

George Couros, principal, author, and recognized speaker, has been a leading voice on the topic, so when we came across his article on 11 Ideas for Fostering an Innovative Culture, we had to share. (We’ve abbreviated a bit, but feel free to explore the complete article.)

  1. Embrace an Open Culture
    “…Heard of Gangnam Style“?  Me too.  In the world that we live in, ideas can spread rapidly through networks, but they have to first be visible. Using software such as “SharePoint” does not necessarily help this notion (or I haven’t yet seen examples of a viral idea being shared through “SharePoint”), but if we go to networks that are open and participatory such as YouTube and Twitter, great ideas have the opportunity to spread.  If these great ideas spread, we are more likely to create a positive culture in schools than if we kept them to ourselves…”
     
  2. Ensure Learning is the Focus
    “Too often when we have “edtech” positions, many educators believe that it is time to put away their math lesson and focus on using technology. This is not going to push learning ahead.  As a school division, we explicitly focus on creating positions that focus on learning first, so that innovation can come from all classes, not simply technology courses.  The focus on learning for many educators helps them to see the relevant use of technology in their classrooms and how it can transform the classroom experience.”

    Related resource: Planning with Purpose: A Look at Effective PD

10-80-10: A Model for Leading Change

The 10/80/10 model (or rule) is a theory of leadership that addresses group dynamics, and, though the theory originated in the corporate world, it is highly relevant in education as well. In the model, all the people in an institution fall into three distinct areas, with the vast majority (80%) falling into a central neutral zone, with the remaining 20% splitting equally between those that will readily embrace a change and those that protest any deviation from the norm.

Anytime that leadership must guide and transition individuals through change, such as adoption of a new technology or a shift toward learner-centered environments, these groups quickly come into focus. To better explain this, let’s look at each segment individually.


Negative 10%
This group is often identified as the “squeaky wheel”, and are highly resistant to change. While some may (eventually) transition to change with focused guidance, extra instruction, and extensive support, others simply have no desire to change current practices and behaviors.


Neutral 80%

The middle section represent the masses. Typically, those in this segment are those that don’t receive much attention because they just are. They come to work and do their job without complaint, question, or suggestion.

9 Things Tech-Savvy Teachers Do on a Regular Basis [Infographic]

A large part of being a tech-savvy teacher is being ready, willing, and even eager to try out and implement new technology tools, especially those that positively impact student learning.

A challenge of being such a teacher is the speed of technological change, which begs the question: How does one STAY tech-savvy?

8 Insights to Help Students Be Successful in College

To help prepare students to succeed in college, an article from The Washington Post listed out a variety of things that students should be aware of—or at the very least start think through—when gearing up for college.

Here are eight quick tips to share with your students:

  1. Carefully plan your first-semester schedule.
    Planning out your schedule for the year can be overwhelming.  Things to consider: If you are not a morning person, signing up for a bunch of 8 AM classes, is just not practical.  Also, try not to overload yourself. The article suggested to “take a moderate load of courses totaling no more than 12 to 18 credit hours.” Check out Atomic Learning’s How Do I Prepare for a College Workload? course to better prepare.
     
  2. Take your roommate agreement seriously.
    No one ever said having a roommate would be easy. Especially when living quarters or dorm rooms can be cramped. Everyone has preferences regarding study time, overnight quests, food, furniture and more. The article went on to say, “Being upfront about your expectations from the beginning can help avoid problems later.” This course on What Concerns Should I Have About a Roommate? may also help.
     
  3. Get involved.
    The article explains “The best way to find your niche on campus is to get involved with clubs, service work or intramural sports.” Find what you like, and it will help introduce you to others on campus interested in the same things. Careful though, try not to overcommit yourself. Watch a course on How Involved Should I Be in Campus Life? for more insights.
     

7 Tips to Take Ownership of Your Professional Development

While schools and districts offer formal professional development, teachers themselves also have the opportunity to learn on their own. Yet with such busy schedules, some teachers struggle to find the time or drive to participate in self-driven learning.

So why should teachers find the time? One article stated it best:

“What makes a professional stand apart from others in his or her field? Of course, she has the educational chops and the hands-on experience that makes her well-rounded and widely respected in her field. But true professionals don’t stop there. In fact, they never stop – especially when it comes to learning.”

For those looking for a place to start, we’ve gathered together seven tips to begin implementing right away:

6 Ideas to Increase Parent Engagement [Infographic]

Parents and teachers have a shared interest in the success of individual students, yet there are often challenges to maintaining open communications by both parties. The infographic below, by National PTA, outlines six insightful ideas on how teachers can encourage and support parent and family engagement.

One of the basic tips outlined above that stands out focuses on communication—specifically about communicating “in a way that not only reaches them—but also generates a response.” This only reinforces the importance of two-way communication between teachers and parents.

For additional insights on fostering stronger communications, be sure to check out Atomic Learning’s online course, Improving Communications Between Teachers & Parents. The course explores best practices for communicating with students' families and tools that can make that communication easier, including apps for texting families from your computer, creating and sharing calendars, and more.

Don’t have access to Atomic Learning? Request information on how you and your entire school can access this course and hundreds of others focused on effective professional development, shifting instructional approaches, and other highly-relevant topics..

5 Simple Ways to Develop Students’ Digital Literacy

While there are a variety of ways to help build and encourage your students’ digital literacy, we’ve gathered five of our personal favorites below that you can implement yet this year—complete with links to related resources to get you off on the right foot!

  1. Build an Understanding of Digital Literacy
    It sounds redundant, but helping students build an understanding of digital literacy is a fundamental way to develop digital literacy skills. Knowledge is power, and helping students to understand that digital literacy is about so much more than simply using technology creates a foundation to build on.

    Related resource: Literacy Reimagined (with Angela Maiers)
     

4 Soft Skills Every Student Needs Before College

While many occupations have specialized skillsets, there are underlying, often career-agnostic skills that individuals need to utilize on a daily basis. These skills, commonly referred to as career or soft skills, are a hot topic not only for many schools, districts, colleges, and universities, but also among companies seeking qualified job applicants.

A multitude of studies, surveys, education-related articles have published various takes on the importance of soft skills, yet often overlook what can be done to build these skills. In this post, we’ll examine four of the most discussed skills—and provide some of our own ideas and resources focused on building each individual skill.

  1. Collaboration
    One of the most sought-after soft skills is collaboration. It only makes sense, since so many professionals today work together on functional teams to achieve a common goal. As anyone who’s worked on a group project knows, collaboration is closely tied to other skills and behaviors, such as communicating, offering and accepting criticism, delegation, and a host of others.

    Students participating in extracurricular activities, such as a sports team or club, are already working on these skills.  Teachers can also support students’ skill building in the classroom with group projects. Outside of school-related activities, students can practice collaboration through volunteer opportunities or after-school employment. (If it seems like a lot to balance, be sure to check out skill number four: Time Management.)

    Looking for a place to start?
    Here are just a few Atomic Learning courses around this topic:
    Integrating the 4 C’s in Your Classroom

    Strategies for Working with a
    Group
    Evernote in Instruction
     

Forming a Resolution You Can Keep

We’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This, however, is a myth, according to an article in Forbes Magazine. When it comes down to it, it takes sacrifice and commitment to reach success with forming habits, which can not happen in a matter of days. This theory can also apply to your New Year’s resolution.

New Tech Toys? There's Training for That!

Find yourself gifted with a new device this holiday season? You're not alone. According to the consumer electronics experts at Cnet, consumers were anticipated to spend at least 50% of their holiday shopping budgets on electronics! The infographic below breaks down the 'toys' that many were looking to give (and receive) this holiday season.

CNET Holiday 2014 Survey infographic

If you received a new device this season, Atomic Learning can help you along the learning curve with training on many of the most popular tech gifts, including:

Don't have access to Atomic Learning? Request more information on how to access these online training courses and hundreds of others at www.AtomicLearning.com/more.

 

 

ICYMI: 12 Days of Learning to Ring in the New Year

11 Online Resources for Mastering Adobe

Adobe software can be a key tool for graphic designers, video editors, web developers, photographers, and everything in-between.  Whether you are a frequent user of Adobe Photoshop, or you read the list below and thought ‘What’s Muse?’ there is always room to learn something new. Make sure to get the most out of your software investment, by mastering some or all of the programs listed below:

  1. Acrobat
    Experience the full power of PDF
  2. After Effects
    Cinematic visual effects and motion graphics
  3. Audition
    Sound your best
  4. Dreamweaver
    Website and mobile app design
  5. Edge Animate
    Create interactive and animated web content
  6. Flash
    Interactive experiences, game design, and mobile device packaging

10 Easy Ways to Integrate Classroom Training

Want to try out new technologies in your classroom, but you're not sure where to start? Look no further!

Atomic Learning offers a go-to online series for classroom integration ideas that provides ten simple ideas on how to use different types of technology in the classroom. The programs highlighted are easy-to-use, and will help you introduce some new, engaging elements to your students, so go ahead and give them a try!

  1. Jing
    Record concept demonstrations for student reference.
  2. Webquest
    Explore new topics (for free).
  3. Edublog
    Support collaboration with a simple online classroom blog.
  4. Animal cams
    See animals in action… without leaving the classroom.

9 Social Media Rules for Educators

Preparing to dip your foot into the social media pool? Anne Barretta, adjunct professor at William Paterson University and Ramapo College specializing in communications, recently shared 9 Rules of Etiquette for Academic Twitter Use that we found worth sharing.

(Looking into trying a different social media site? You'll find that the majority of rules still apply.)

Check these out, and, when you're ready to get down to the nitty-gritty, be sure to check out Atomic Learning's online training courses designed to help educators dive into some of the many popular social sites, including Twitter for Educators, Facebook for Educators, and YouTube for Educators.

The four Cs

  1. Credibility.
    Always try to include a link to an authoritative source (trade publication, newspaper, blog) to validate your tweet. Don’t preach or tweet like a know-it-all. Your opinion alone is OK—but not all of the time.
     
  2. Consistency.
    If you’re going to use Twitter professionally, tweet often and responsibly. Don’t just tweet for the sake of tweeting—be sure you have something relevant to say (check the Rs below).
     
  3. Correctness.
    Accuracy applies to social media and, like it or not, you will be judged by your words. Be sure to spell them correctly and use them appropriately.
     
  4. Creativity.
    Don’t just tweet the same thing everyone else is tweeting. Approach your subject from a different angle or perspective. Apply your unique knowledge and experience to your tweets. Be dynamic and original.

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