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  • February 02, 2023 10:57 AM | Heather (Administrator)

    Let’s Engage! Improving communications with families using ParentSquare

    We recently sat down to learn more about one of our district’s stories on the impact ParentSquare has had for them, and we met with Brooke Trahan. Brooke is a two-time teacher of the year and former Brenham ISD alumni with over ten years of experience in education. She has earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University, and her Master of Arts from Northwestern State University. Brooke most recently served as the Brenham High School Art Instructor and is a contributing member of campus, district, and community leadership committees. 

    Brenham Independent School District in Brenham, TX is a rural K-12 district of seven schools serving 5,000 students. School-home communications were inconsistent, unsecure and handled by various applications for which this rural district had little or no oversight. Teachers have a simplified, accountable way to communicate with parents, roughly 50% of whom take advantage of the platform’s translation capabilities, thus ensuring equitable access to communications.

    When Brooke came onboard as Brenham ISD’s communications coordinator in 2022, she immediately recognized the gaps in the district’s approach to school-home communications. Of biggest concern to this former teacher and parent was how she had to use School Messenger plus email, phone calls and social media—all of which had to be handled separately—to get important messages out to recipients. 

    Communications were inconsistent and the usability wasn’t friendly because everyone was coming to me to get everything up and running,” Brooke said. “I was moving from School Messenger to email to phones, and then having to open up a whole different tool to set up social media alerts.” She then had to move to an entirely different platform to set up website alerts.

    Brooke wasn’t in her new position very long when she started thinking about a better, more streamlined way to manage school-home communications. After meeting with the district’s webmaster about adding communication capabilities to Brenham ISD’s existing website, Brooke remembered that a Finalsite sales rep had previously suggested she check out the ParentSquare safe and secure school-home communications platform. “When our webmaster decided that he didn’t want to change the website software for this year, I met with 12 different communication platform providers,” Brooke explained. “ParentSquare was the platform of choice.” The district is now using the ParentSquare safe and secure school-home communications platform across seven different campuses.  

    ParentSquare Made the Most Sense

    According to Brooke, ParentSquare made the most sense for Brenham ISD for several reasons. It would help the district eliminate teachers’ use of Remind. “There’s no oversight in Remind. If the parent files a grievance or issue of any kind, we had no way to verify the validity,” Brooke said. “If you’re relying on someone’s personal screenshots with the digital applications in this world, that can all be easily manipulated.

    ParentSquare also gave the district auto-notifications for attendance, a way for teachers to track which parents did (and didn’t) open their messages, and a direct integration with an existing student information system (SIS).

    Working closely with Brenham ISD’s IT systems coordinator, Brooke got the new school-home platform up and running quickly. “Our systems coordinator told me this was one of the smoothest software implementations she’d ever handled,” she added.

    A Valuable Asset for Teachers

    When teachers place a note in a student’s backpack they never really know whether that note will make it home or not. “My child is a quintessential example of how they’ll grab their open backpacks and run out to the car,” Brooke said. ParentSquare closes this communication gap by tracking the delivery and opening and viewing the process—all of which can be tracked by the teacher. 

    If you want a quick check to make sure something’s going home, you can filter the messages by ‘declined,’ ‘bounced’ or some other criteria,” Brooke explained, who also likes how the school-to-home communications platform “talks” to Brenham ISD’s SIS. Once a student is added to the SIS, that information is reflected in ParentSquare within 24 hours or less.

    ParentSquare is also retroactive, which means all of the feed that’s on the activity prior to that student’s enrollment is visible to parents so they can quickly catch up on important topics and issues,” Brooke said. And while opening up lines of two-way communication is great, having the data and analytics behind the campus numbers is “huge,” she said, particularly when it comes to contactability (the percentage of messages and communications that make it through to the intended recipients).

    When I presented a ParentSquare update to our school board recently, I pulled up a screenshot of our current dashboard to show the aggregate views of contactability across the district,” she added. “It revealed that all of our campuses are now over 90% contactability and most of them are at 98%.

    Weathering the Storm

    School districts deal with numerous unexpected challenges and roadblocks on a daily basis. No exception to that rule, Brenham ISD recently found itself grappling with an electrical transformer that was put out of service by a major storm in the area. All of the lights went out at one of its elementary schools, leaving the campus with no Wi-Fi, phones or backup generator.

    Everything went down,” Brooke recalled . Because the school’s principal had the ParentSquare mobile app on her phone, she was able to quickly send out a mass alert to all staff members and parents. The message got out quickly and everyone was able to take the appropriate action—all while the school had no other contact points with the outside world. 

    ParentSquare also provides reports that can be downloaded, including those relating to attendance and illness. “For me as a parent, that is huge,” Brooke said. 

    My child was sick the other day and the platform was already populated with her legal name, student ID, campus and date that she was absent,” she continued, “All I had to write in was that she was home sick with a fever and that she would remain home for 24 hours, per school policy.

    A Huge Win for Equitable Communications

    ParentSquare has given Brenham ISD’s teachers a powerful tool for communicating with non-English speaking parents or those for whom English is not their first language. Teachers or administrators can write notes in their native language and then have the communications translated into the receiver’s native language.

    Our elementary school has a high number of  Spanish-speaking students; when a teacher hits ‘View Original’ it shows them what was translated,” Brooke explained. “Our county’s population is about 50% Hispanic, so our ability to consistently communicate to that community—which is the same size as our English-speaking population—has been a huge win for us.” 

    To learn more about ParentSquare, please reach out to:

    Amy Serrano: 4000 students and more
    Stacey White: 3999 students or less
  • January 25, 2023 2:14 PM | Heather (Administrator)

    It may seem strange that we’re incredibly excited about this Vivo blog post about, of all things, ergonomic furniture. But flexible seating has been gaining popularity and recognition for several years, but it’s not always carried out to its fullest capacity. Truly accessing the benefits of flexible seating means looking at the type of options you have available. For the best results, this means looking at ergonomic furniture specifically designed to comfortably accommodate movement. Specially designed ergonomic furniture will also allow access to classroom engagement for neurodivergent students that they may find difficult to achieve in a traditional setting. And that’s what Vivo shows us in this post!

    Support Anxious Students Without Distracting Your Classroom

    It's no secret that anxiety is high in students today. From shifting positions in a stationary chair, pencil tapping, to constant requests to get up and move, the signs of a fidgeter are obvious. And unfortunately, it often becomes a distraction for neighboring students. What if you had a quiet way for fidgety students to move throughout their day without causing loud distractions to others? What if there was a solution that would allow movement that actually increased a student’s ability to focus?

    There is. And it’s easier than you’d think. Allow me to introduce you to VIVO’s collection of rocking kneeling chairs. 

    Kneeling Chairs by VIVO

    Proudly located in the heart of Illinois, VIVO provides a flexible solution to classroom seating. Our kneeling chairs encourage use of alternative postures that engage otherwise unused muscle groups. 

    The chairs are angled at a comfortable 90 degrees, providing a seated position that mimics that of standing. The subtle rocking motion provides needed movement throughout the day and can improve focus overall. And best of all, the solid wood frames cause no squeaks or crackling noises, reducing classroom distractions. 

    These chairs are by far my favorite,” says Andrea Sandavol, first grade teacher at Midland Elementary. “Some of the other flexible seating options allowed for too much movement, and the students were distracted by it. These kneeling chairs are perfect as they allow different seating and some movement in a controlled manner.” Sandavol’s classroom in Lacon (IL) tested out four of VIVO’s rocking kneeling chairs to use as flexible seating options. “The students love using the chairs and I have noticed an improvement of focus from my more wiggly students!”

    Great in the Classroom

    Kneeling chairs can be great additions to a classroom when used in conjunction with existing chairs. This allows students options throughout their day to change up how they are sitting and can help more wiggly students get through the long day without missing vital classroom time. It can also satisfy the need to move while helping the students focus and stay on task. 

    Students pick the [kneeling chair] over the other flexible seating I have in the classroom,” shares Robin Shaffer of her kindergarten class at Germantown Hills Elementary (Germantown Hills, IL). “One student prefers to sit and rock as a way to calm down during the day…definitely benefits the students and myself.” 

    Ready to learn more? Or try one out for yourself? Check out our collection of kneeling chairs, alongside many other classroom related products, at or plan on attending our Wednesday Webinar on January 25th, 2023. There we’ll showcase our collection of classroom oriented products and answer any questions you have!

    Attending IDEACon 2023? Come visit us in booths 401 and 501, where we will have several chairs on display ready for testing, along with many other VIVO products. Stop by and say “Hello”, and enter for a chance to win one of 2 gift baskets. We would love to meet you! Haven’t registered yet? Register here

    At VIVO, we’re proud to offer a wide variety of kneeling chairs along with many other ergonomic solutions for the classroom. Located in Central Illinois between Bloomington and Peoria, we love working with educators throughout Illinois and beyond to help improve their day to day environment for their students. Alongside flexible seating options, we also offer height adjustable desks, mobile workstations, laptop carts, and monitor mounts to make your day a little easier. 

  • January 19, 2023 10:00 AM | Heather (Administrator)

    Yoga Infused Calm and Inclusive Spaces

    By Sarah Said

    I have spent 2022 healing... I don't think I am the only educator that has spent the past year on a journey learning more about themselves. One thing I had to work hard in doing was finding joy.. in my personal and professional life. This was a year that I also learned that I am neuro-divergent. This was a new reality to me.  In this journey, not only did I realized I had to rethink how I live, but I also had to rethink spaces for students. I am now in a position as an Alternative school ELL English teacher in Elgin U-46. I am seeing my classroom from a lens that I have never seen it before. The joy is back.

    Calm and Inclusive spaces are more than just classrooms with Himalayan Salt lamps and pastel decor (although they are a nice addition.) It is really how we think about the structure of our classroom. This past year, I became a Breathe For Change Graduate and not only did I become a certified yoga instructor, I learned how to infuse the philosophy of yoga into my classroom.

    So my advice to you...

    Have shared agreements in your classroom

    When you're creating a trauma invested community in your classroom, it's important to realize that students who have dealt with a lot of trauma do not respond well to commands. Allow students to create shared agreements and norms with you first week of class. Also, ask questions and give choices rather than tell students what the need to do. Boundaries with each other and technology are important. Read about that more in my Edutopia article here.

    Set Weekly Intentions with your Students

    I started to use inspirational word stones to help my students and I set intentions for the week. Students pull a stone out of the bag. I ask the class if this is a good word for us. We can pull out up to three words until we find the right one.  Then, we use that word throughout the week to motivate each other.

    Create Time in Your Structure for Breath work

    We use our weekly word for a breathing and meditation that we do daily in our structure. With older students, the meditation seems awkward at first. They may start giggling or even trying to take out devices.  When you set boundaries and structures while continuing to start your class in breathing and meditation many begin to appreciate and enjoy it. There are times in the hustle and bustle, my students remind me that we need to breathe before our starting our learning targets.

    Allow Time and Space for Movement

    Between activities, I may work with students prior to the transition to say "hey, let's do a quick standing sun salutation by our desks". Again, with older students they may giggle and it seems awkward at first, but eventually they learn to appreciate the stretch and the movement. Not only are we getting settled between activities, but they are also learning a new low or no tech solution to self-soothe. This is a skill they can take into adulthood.

    Now, this is a short blog. You can learn more at my session on Tuesday, February 14th at 9:30 am at IDEAcon. I will also be teaching three different complementary yoga offerings on Monday evening, Tuesday Evening, and Wednesday morning.

    Come breathe, learn and grow with me!

    Sarah Said is an educator who has served in various roles: Teacher, Assistant Principal, Dean, Curriculum Coordinator and Multilingual Coordinator. Sarah is an advocate for the students she serves and is a strong voice in education. She has a passion for supporting students with Mindfulness work as well as language learners. Most recently, Sarah graduated from the Breathe for Change SEL Facilitator program and also became a 200 Certified Yoga teacher. She is registered with the International Yoga Alliance. She has been published in various publications such as Learning for Justice, EdWeek Teacher, The Teaching Channel, Edutopia and Confianza.

    Sarah is also the Governing Board representative for the IDEA Kishwaukee Chapter.

  • January 09, 2023 12:00 PM | Heather (Administrator)

    IDEAcon 2023 - Victoria’s Top 5 “Know Before You Go” Tips

    by Victoria Thompson

    I attended my first IDEAcon in 2022 and was instantly hooked. I had a fantastic time presenting, connecting, and learning from people. This is a “must attend” conference for me: the attention to detail of the events, participant service, and session content is outstanding. In fact, I love it so much that my wife made me an annual pass (which I plan on bringing with me this year)!

    You may be wondering what to expect, what sessions to attend, or even what the environment is like. If you’ve never attended an IDEAcon before, this article is for you! Here are my top 5 “know before you go” tips for IDEAcon 2023.

    1. Check out the website beforehand to see if there’s any sessions that pique your interest. The IDEAcon 2023 website is super informative and gives a view of who is presenting and what they are presenting on, as well as several strands of knowledge. IDEAcon is a conference that has thousands of attendees with roles that range from IT specialists, educators, instructional coaches, school leadership, and more–you’re bound to find something that catches your eye! Previewing which sessions you’d like to attend may also help you plan your conference schedule better. There are also virtual/on demand sessions that you can view if you cannot attend IDEAcon in person. My in-person sessions this year focus on using data to drive positive school solutions, equity in instructional coaching, and teaching students to research in mathematics.

    2. Make time to connect with people outside of sessions and keynotes. I attend several conferences each year and I’m always blown away at the presence of community at IDEAcon. It seemed like at every avenue I was running into people I had met the day before, seeing people who I had met in sessions, and meeting new folks who were willing to introduce themselves and get to know more about them. Not only that, but we would make conscious efforts to find shared time to meet up and follow through with seeing each other again. Nearly every evening we would all be grabbing dinner together or meeting up in the lobby of the hotel to chat, and every morning we could reconvene and grab breakfast together. We have also stayed connected after the conference via texting, video calls, and seeing each other at other conferences. There is very much an emphasis on establishing connections at IDEAcon, which is something that doesn’t happen at every conference. These are now friends that I look forward to seeing every year.

    3. Don’t skip out on the Exhibit Hall. If you’ve never been to an expo hall at a conference before, it’s amazing–education companies and organizations are there to meet you, speak with you, tell you a little bit more about what they can offer, and often have swag bags and gifts. The IDEAcon Exhibit Hall is no different and gives you opportunities to connect with people from various education companies and organizations. There are also activities that you can participate in at the Exhibit Hall.

    4. The IDEA Illinois staff is friendly–introduce yourself to them! IDEA Illinois is known for their service and hospitality. If you see one of their staff or one of their volunteers, introduce yourself! They enjoy meeting people who are there and seeing who is part of the conference.

    5. Stay connected after the conference. IDEA Illinois has so many ways for you to stay connected after the conference, as well as throughout the year. For example, did you know that you can sign up to be a member of IDEA Illinois for free–even if you are not a citizen of the state of Illinois? I joined when I lived in Seattle and have retained my membership now that I am in Florida. They also have many events that you can participate in throughout the course of the year that range from wellness journeys to webinars to playgrounds and much more. And of course, stay connected with them on Twitter at @IDEAIllinois and on LinkedIn at Illinois Digital Educators Alliance.

    Haven't registered for IDEAcon 2023 yet? Make sure you don't miss out on learning with Victoria live in just one month by registering at And if you want to see more of Victoria right now, check out this video where she talks about why IDEAcon is a must and how to learn with her and connect at the conference.

    Victoria Thompson is an Education Industry Executive at Microsoft Education and an ISTE Community Leader. She began her journey teaching fifth and sixth grade math and science in Summerville, SC. After completing her masters degree in curriculum and instruction she moved to the Seattle, WA area in 2018, where her career has pivoted to focusing on digital transformation, STEM integration in schools, technology in instruction, and using technology to bridge equity gaps in education. She has presented at ISTE, FETC, TCEA, IDEAcon, ImpactEducation, CUE, and DigCitSummit on topics such as creating inclusive math classrooms, the intersectionality of literacy and STEM, culturally responsive STEM education, and equity in educational technology. Additionally, she was recently awarded the title of one of the top 30 K-12 IT influencers in 2021 by EdTech Magazine. She now lives in Winter Garden, FL with her wife, Kourtney, and her dog, Ren.

  • December 07, 2022 12:00 PM | Heather (Administrator)

    Sick Of It Day
    By Dr. Brigitte Garth-Young
    IDEA Governing Board Member

    Back in the early 1990's, there was a song entitled, "Funk Dat!" by Sagat. The song was from his LP "The World According to Sagat". Sagat was at capacity! He was frustrated about everything, no matter how big or small. And every time he got upset, he would say, "Funk Dat!” During this time, you couldn't say that on the radio, so they replaced Funk with Umph. Therefore, the phrase "umph dat!" is what we would say to express our frustration with family, siblings, school, church, friends, jobs, what we had for dinner, anything! Check out the video!

    Now, 28 years later, I can fully understand and feel what he's saying as I fight adultitis. What is adultitis? According to the Escape Adulthood website, adultitis is a common condition occurring in people between the ages of 21–121, marked by chronic dullness, mild depression, moderate to extremely high stress levels, a general fear of change, and, in some extreme cases, the inability to smile. People can appear aimless, discontent, and anxious about many things. Onset can be accelerated by an excess burden of bills, overwhelming responsibilities, or a boring work life. Generally, many of us suffer with this and didn't know there was a name for it. 

    The founders of Escape Adulthood, Jason and Kim Kotecki, have an entire website dedicated to adultitis and have a plethora of ideas on how to combat it. Jason had just sent a recent email to members about listening to your inner check engine light. He gave the analogy of having a car, and your engine light comes on. Oftentimes, we would ignore it by putting a piece of black electrical tape over the illuminating light. When you do this, there could be a serious underlying problem with the car that must be addressed. He compared the car with how we ignore physical symptoms when our "engine light" comes on.

    What I am recommending that you do if you are silently suffering are the following:

    • First, take the tape off the illuminating engine light and begin to analyze what you are feeling.
    • Sometimes, all you may need is a soothing bath, meditation, music, or a pig-out session of your favorite food (without the guilt).
    • Adopt a rescue animal for emotional support. (I have my pup SPYCE. He's a charm.)
    • Say, "Umph Dat!" to release some frustrations, so that things aren't pent-up.
    • If you know that the job is stressing you out, take a few sick-of-it-days! We also call these mental health days.
    • If you see a pattern with job related stress, you may want to consider a career change.
    • Ease up on calendar commitments, spend more time with the family, or treat yourself to the spa.
    • If none of the above is working, consider seeking medical attention from your physician or a therapist.

    Don't be afraid to peel back that black electrical tape on your "check engine light". See what it is trying to tell you and let it lead the way towards wellness. Say, "Umph Dat!" Allow yourself to be sick and tired of being sick and tired and get a break!

    Ponder this: What is your go to when you get "sick-of-it"? I'd love to hear about it. Please share your thoughts.

  • November 29, 2022 1:02 PM | Lindsay

    All the classroom resources needed to celebrate CSEdWeek 2022!

    Written by Claire Sindlinger

    How to Run a Hour of Code Webinars (For Teachers)

    Interested in learning about Hour of Code and how to run a workshop in your classroom this year? Register for a free 30 minute webinar to help you prepare and choose the right Hour of Code for your students.

    How to Run an Hour of Code with CodeHS

    These webinars will cover the variety of free middle/high school CodeHS Hour of Code tutorials available, how to pick the right tutorial for your class, tips on hosting a successful workshop, and other ways to engage your students during Computer Science Education Week.


    Tuesday, November 29th @ 4:30pm CT

    Registration Here

    Thursday, December 1st @ 2:30pm CT

    Registration Here

    How to Run an Elementary Hour of Code with CodeHS

    This webinar will be hosted by the CodeHS Elementary Curriculum Development Team. They will introduce free Elementary level CodeHS Hour of Code tutorials, how to pick the right tutorial for your class, tips on hosting a successful lesson, and other ways to engage your students during Computer Science Education Week.

    Date: Wednesday, November 30th @ 2:30pm CT

    Registration Here

    If you can't attend, these webinars will also be recorded and posted here.

    Live Hour of Code Workshops (For Classrooms/Students)

    An Hour of Code is a great opportunity to get your students excited about computer science. Our virtual workshops run for about an hour and fifteen minutes including a short introduction followed by guided support through a CodeHS lesson.

    Register your class for a virtual live workshop today! Please note that teachers should register their class(es) for these workshops. Students do not need to register individually. Also, we understand that your class periods may not align perfectly with these workshop times, feel free to jump in or out as needed.

    2022 Live Virtual Workshop Schedule


    Date & Time

    Grade Levels


    Generating Art with Code

    Monday, December 5th @ 2:30 - 3:45pm CT

    Middle & High School

    Register Here

    Coding in Music

    Tuesday, December 6th @ 10 - 11:15am CT

    Middle & High School

    Register Here

    Design a Drawing App with Scratch

    Tuesday, December 6th @ 12 - 1:15pm CT

    Upper Elementary

    Register Here

    Creating Virtual Worlds

    Wednesday, December 7th @ 12 - 1:15pm CT

    Middle & High School

    Register Here

    Turtle Graphics with Tracy the Turtle

    Thursday, December 8th @ 9:30 - 10:45am CT

    Middle & High School

    Register Here

    Program a Story in ScratchJr

    Thursday, December 8th @ 12:30 - 1:45pm CT

    Lower Elementary

    Register Here

    Pre-Recorded Workshops

    Can't attend the live workshops during CSEdWeek 2022? Watch these workshop recordings with your class instead! If you'd like to skip around the workshop recordings to certain parts, click the title of the workshop in the top to open the video in YouTube. Then to view the Key Moments / Chapters (different segments of the workshop), click "Show More" in the YouTube description below the video.

    2021 Hour of Code Workshop Recordings

    Turtle Graphics with Tracy

    Access the workshop slides here.

    Coding in Music

    Access the workshop slides here.

    Creating Virtual Worlds

    Access the workshop slides here.

    Generating Art with Code

    Access the workshop slides here. You can also read more about our guest speaker, Floor Drees, and her work at

    Coding for a Litter-Free Community

    Access the workshop slides here.

    Adaptations and Survival Camouflage (Lower Elementary)

    Access the workshop slides here.

    Create a Drawing App with Scratch (Upper Elementary)

    Access the workshop slides here.

    CodeHS Hour of Code Tutorials

    Access all the CodeHS Hour of Code tutorials for free at

    Need help choosing the right Hour of Code tutorial for your students?

    For middle and high school, reference the How to Choose the Right Tutorial Guide.

    table with recommended courses based on student grade level and experience

    For elementary school, reference this guide here.

    Additional Resources

    CSEdWeek Flyer - Download this flyer highlighting all of our CSEdWeek resources.

    After Hour of Code Flyer - Download this flyer to share with teachers, admins and parents after an Hour of Code.

    Visit our partner CodeHS's website for more Hour of Code ideas!

  • October 04, 2022 9:09 AM | Heather (Administrator)

    Supporting Language Learners with Book Creator

    By Ramona Towner

    I first started using Book Creator in the fall of 2013. The app had not been out very long at that point. It was appealing to have a digital book format for students to use to create their own stories. 

    The user interface was simple, clean and easy to use. Book Creator has used teacher and student feedback and continued to upgrade their app as any good ed tech company should.

    We are all language learners. That is how we approached writing the book Supporting Language Learners with Book Creator. The 14 strategies that we share in the book are good for your English Language learners, your IEPed students and all the diverse learners in your classroom. Simply, these strategies are good for all learners. Book Creator is an app that allows students to access all 4 language domains, reading, writing, speaking and listening to create, read, listen to, and publish content on their iPad or in their web browser. I like Book Creator because it is easy enough to use that any teacher or student can get started even if they’re not comfortable with using technology, but it has enough bells and whistles that a high school senior could really create some amazing content!

    I like Book Creator because users can:

    Here are a few examples from the book. Imagine what it would be like to start school in a new country where you don’t speak the language. New comers are able to use their own creativity to make a book. They can take pictures and/or video of their new school. They can then record their own voice in both their native language and their new language to describe their surroundings.

    Idea number 5 from the book, students can create a list of cognates, or a personal dictionary. Language learners can keep digital lists of new words or academic vocabulary, add pictures or videos for support, hear the correct pronunciation (Read to Me) and record their own voice and definition or description in a way that makes sense to them.

    Use Book Creator to store videos of lessons using TPR (total physical response). TPR is used to create meaning through motion. Comprehension is the first step to language acquisition, not word production. A student can record different TPR moves used in class by his teacher and classmates for both common phrases and academic vocabulary. These non-verbal movements allow the language learning student to participate in a non-threatening way while listening to new vocabulary being pronounced correctly. They will be learning meaning through a physical movement that activates retention.

    Math isn’t just numbers. The rest of the world uses the metric system. Newcomers need to learn the names of our customary units of measure and depending on the grade level can compare them to metric units of measure. They can do this by using pictures and recording their voice. Here is an example of a measurement book made by a 5th grade student. 

    Book Creator allows students to use their own creativity to create their own books. They are more engaged in creating a project that demonstrates their thinking and understanding of their new language. The multimedia components available in the app support all types of learners and hits multiple modalities of learning. 


    Ramona Towner has been a public school teacher in Berwyn South School District 100 for 32 years. She is currently an Instructional Coach that travels to 8 schools helping teacher implement best practices and technology integration. Ramona believes that devices give students the opportunity to demonstrate their thinking and understanding of a particular topic in a manner that suits their learning style. 

  • September 14, 2022 12:42 PM | Heather (Administrator)

    Welcome Back to Our Silver Partner, Book Creator! 

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back our newest Silver Partner, Book Creator

    Inspire your students. Empower your teachers. Get everyone in your schools creating great digital content. Book Creator makes it easy to become an author of digital books, interactive reports, colorful newsletters – just about anything you can imagine. It’s an intuitive content creation tool that builds confidence, drives engagement and achieves authentic learning right across the curriculum. 

    With two million books made every month and 98% of teachers saying it positively impacts their teaching, Book Creator is your secret to supercharging student engagement in your schools and giving a voice to your students. 

    A set of tools so simple, anyone can use them

    Pick your fonts

    Add images, video or music

    Record your own voice 

    Use the pen tool to draw or annotate

    AppSmash with other tools

    Choose from a range of templates

    Publish, share and feel empowered

    Do it all again

    Students love it. Teachers love it. Book Creator is the simplest, most inclusive way to create content in the classroom.

    Learn more about Book Creator here.
  • September 12, 2022 11:30 AM | Heather (Administrator)

    Welcome to Our Gold Partner, EdPuzzle! 

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome our newest Gold Partner, EdPuzzle

    EdPuzzle is a learning platform with powerful video editing tools, all in one place, that allow you to, “Make any lesson a video.” The power of video learning through EdPuzzle lies in it being visual, self-paced, flexible, and bite-sized. EdPuzzle empowers students to take an active role in their learning with interactive video lessons that spark creativity and curiosity. 

    EdPuzzle provides both a free version "Basic EdPuzzle" and a pro version "EdPuzzle Pro School/District". EdPuzzle can be used from PreK-12th grade within any subject. Because EdPuzzle allows staff to share content they save, edit, or create, there is equity provided across the school site and district. 

    Together we are creating a shared library of the highest quality interactive video lessons to benefit classrooms around the world.

    With EdPuzzle, every learner is a click away from an excellent education online.

    Learn more about EdPuzzle here.
  • September 06, 2022 12:00 PM | Heather (Administrator)

    The Promise of a Garden: From School Garden Interest to School-wide Initiative

    Dr. Jennifer Williams, Executive Director, Take Action Global, International Educator Community and Dr. Mary Meadows, Head of School, Andrews Academy, St. Louis, Missouri

    Over the past several months, our team at Take Action Global has had the opportunity to join in conversations with IDEA community members to discuss ways classrooms can take action for the planet through sustainability and environmental education. With classrooms exploring climate across the curriculum and across grade levels, we were excited to sit down with Dr. Mary Meadows, Head of School of Andrews Academy in St. Louis, to learn more about how her school has taken on the climate crisis and given back to their local and global community through a school-wide school garden initiative.  

    Jennifer: In our organization at Take Action Global, we have a mission of climate education for all. With many schools eager to take on a school-wide initiative, we’d love to learn from the process and steps you and your community have taken over the past few years. What prompted your early interest in climate action education? Did you face any barriers in the beginning? 

    Mary: Our interest in outdoor education, sustainability, and transitioning to student-centered teaching and learning led to the onset of a project-based learning initiative. Time constraints and lack of gardening experience initially presented challenges for our school community, however our understanding of the benefits of young children having access to the outdoors and its relevance to developing knowledge of and concern for the environment was undoubtedly foundational to our success. 

    Jennifer: In your role as Head of School, I know you have committed to guiding and supporting teachers and students throughout the process. Do you have any top tips for other school leaders interested in starting and sustaining a climate action project such as a school garden? 

    Mary: We prioritize our school garden as an essential initiative of our school’s mission. Here are a few key aspects of the program: 

    • Aim to keep a consistent schedule to allocate time for project initiatives
    • Assignment of all faculty members to specific grade level classes for the year-long initiative
    • Project selection guided by student interests related to the school garden and sustainability
    • Research efforts supported by community connections
    • Ongoing documentation, reflection, and sharing of the projects throughout the duration of the initiative with a year-end assembly and expo

      Jennifer: We are excited to welcome your school Andrews Academy as one of our Founding Climate Action Schools for 2022-2023. As you are three years into your own school initiative, what can schools new to taking on sustainability programs look forward to? 

      Mary: We recently completed our third school year of our school garden program, which involved the addition of a stewardship component, connecting each grade level’s initiative with a related community need. Emphasis on sustainability resulted in renaming our efforts to what is now known in the Andrews Academy school community as Sustainable Development and Stewardship (SDS). We look forward to a transformative year as a Climate Action Schools participant.

      Thanks to Dr. Mary Meadows for sharing about her school’s adventures in learning and action for the planet. To learn more about Andrews Academy, you can visit


      Ready to get moving on your own school-wide initiative around sustainability, climate action, and outdoor education? Check out the new IDEA Climate Action Schools program, a new program for Illinois PreK-12 schools from Take Action Global and IDEA:


      Dr. Jennifer Williams is the Co-Executive Director of Take Action Global. She has joined IDEA as a speaker for IDEACon, IDEAU, and IDEA Webinar Wednesday. Her ISTE book, Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good has been featured by IDEA and included in the IDEA Book Club. Connect with Jennifer and Take Action Global at and @TakeActionEdu on social media.

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