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Tech Showcase: Safety device tops reader picks

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Physical security remains a top-of-mind priority for educators, according to the results of this month’s Tech Showcase picks. ACT, a safety device designed to help secure classrooms during lockdowns, was the top product pick among readers of SmartBrief on EdTech. Also featured in November are an online tutoring platform, an e-book for evaluating student online work and a webinar on how to use data to inform instruction.

Here’s the full Tech Showcase lineup for November:

Device aims to boost safety in event of lockdown
A door-barricading device aims to provide schools with an extra layer of safety in the event of lockdown. The Active Crisis Tool, designed to withstand high-velocity impact, is installed at the bottom of a door, inside the classroom, and activated with a foot stomp. Videos of the device in use are available for viewing on the company’s web site.

Online tutoring platform differentiates learning
Learning Bird is a Web-based tutoring program designed to match students with the curriculum best suited to their academic needs and learning style. The differentiated-learning platform features content developed by teachers, a student progress tracker and lesson search tool. Teachers who contribute content can earn money when students rate their lessons as helpful.

E-book outlines strategies for evaluating online student work
A new e-book from Blackbaud outlines 14 practices for effective evaluations, including designing assessment, strategies for authentication, and automating feedback. Also included are recommendations for classroom tools. Users must register to download the free e-book.

Webinar: How to use data to improve teaching, learning
This webinar, led by Nancy Sindelar, will show educators how to use analyzed classroom test data as a way to inform instruction, track student progress and motivate students.

School Messenger debuts free single sign-on solution
SchoolMessenger Passport is a free single sign-on solution designed to give users a simple way to access learning materials and school management and administration software programs. The standard version of the platform is available at no charge and is supported by the SchoolMessenger team.

Interactive whiteboard courses help foster student participation
Educators using Learning Upgrade can now access a new set of courses designed to foster whole-class participation. Called Teacher Upgrade, the lessons are delivered to an interactive whiteboard and students work through problems by pressing a button or using a pen or finger. Teachers can launch the new lessons from the “Students” or “Courses” tab on their dashboard.

E-learning science program uses rainforest to teach life science
Rainforest Journey, from EdTechLens, uses a trip through the rainforest to teach students in grades K-5 about life science. The Web-based program comes with 34 lessons and features hands-on learning activities, interviews with science experts and a Rainforest Trip Journal created by a mother-son team.

Rice U. offers free prep course for AP Physics exam
Rice University is offering a free Web course for high-school students preparing for the Advanced Placement Physics 1 Exam. The four-part course includes videos, inquiry labs and access to the College Physics for AP Courses textbook.

iOS puzzle game lets students explore continental drift
Pangean, a didactic puzzle game, lets students explore and learn about continental drift. Players travel the universe in a scouting ship, using different tools and evidence to move and connect continents. The goal is to return modern-day Earth back to its Pangea state. The game is available for download from the iTunes store.

Assessment system measures school leadership practices
Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning, or CALL, is an assessment and feedback system designed to evaluate leadership practices in K-12 schools. The system surveys all educators in a school – administrators, teachers and support staff – then delivers data and feedback to help inform improvement plans.

Schools invited to apply for free “E-rate Survival Kit”
E-rate coordinators can request a free “E-rate Survival” kit from Funds for Learning. The kit, valued at under $20, comes with a travel toiletry bag, sleep mask, ear plugs, coffee mug and snacks.

Newsela offers news articles in Spanish
Newsela publishes news articles in five levels of complexity for students in grades 3-12. The platform now includes articles in Spanish.

Free test-prep platform offers social learning, access to experts
A free social learning platform lets students preparing for the SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT to study with and get help from a global network of peers and subject experts. LEAP offers live social learning events, study groups, progress monitoring and a library of articles, videos, notes and tips.

ASCD Web portal provides content resources for teachers
ASCD has launched myTeachSource, a website with instructional helps for teachers. Included on the site are topic packs with articles, videos, checklists, rubrics and links to additional resources. New content is added monthly.

Webinar aims to help simplify assessment management
Apperson will demonstrate its assessment management system Evo during a free webcast. Among the topics scheduled for discussion are interactive item analysis, live results, report collection and gradebook exports.

Website offers content, resources for school superintendents
The School Superintendents Association has launched a web site for its members that offers content, education policy resources, events calendar and member blogs. It also includes a community portal where members can connect and engage with each other.

As we head into 2016, what’s on your product wish list? Let us know! Drop us a line and tell us your tech priorities for the new year.