On Saturday, New Schools for Chicago and Chicago Public Schools presented the New Schools Expo 6.0 which gave parents and students a chance to talk with leaders from more then 100 great school options including charter schools and complete enrollment forms on the spot. New this year was the techNOW area which featured the latest tech tools, many at low-cost or free cost, that can help children learn more now both at home and in the classroom. I, Single Girl Summer, don't have any children but I was excited to go to the Expo because it I knew it would be a great networking opportunity. I’m an account executive at a radio station and the Expo was clearly a stadium full of potential clients. Plus it was at Soldier Field, which is just a cool building, with free admission and free parking.
The Expo was wonderful. It was well organized and fully staffed with polite and trained people and volunteers. Once I got there and saw all the great resources available, I knew I had to compile the information in a blog and make it available for all parents and children. In the main hall there were over 100 schools including military academies, college prep programs, international schools, language academies, virtual charter schools, arts programs, in more. The Expo provided a step-by-step guide which included tips on how to make the most of your time there, what to look for in a quality school, principal/school interview checklist, and school score cards & trackers for your notes. Here is a link to the list of the schools that participated. http://www.newschoolsnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/EXPO-Participant-School-List-as-of-11.9.pdf.
I was really impressed by the techNow are which featured the following educational resources and innovations for the home and classroom, many at low-cost or free cost:
Chicago Public Library: YOUmedia YOUmedia Is a digital learning Center in the Chicago Public Library where you can hang out and create digital media for FREE! Youth between the ages of 12-18 have access to digital media equipment, digital media workshops, and the chance to perform in showcase locally and nationally. YOUmedia is available at the following Chicago Public Library locations: Harold Washington Library Center (high school students), Rudy Lozano Branch (grades 6-8), Richard M. Daley Branch (grades 6-8), Thurgood Marshall Branch (grades 6-8). http://youmediachicago.org
Comcast Internet Essentials: If your child receives free or reduced price school lunches, you may qualify for Internet Essentials from Comcast allowing you to bring the Internet home for just $9.95 a month. You can get online today with affordable Internet and no price increases, activation fees, or equipment rental fees. http://internetessentials.com
Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing tools and curricula to teach students about becoming responsible digital citizens. The FREE Digital Literacy and Citizenship classroom curriculum consists of more than 60 lesson plans, student handouts, videos, interactive components, and parent-outreach resources that span grades K-12 and cover 3 topical areas: safety and security, digital citizenship, and research in information literacy. Because media profoundly affects our kids' social, emotional, and physical development, Common Sense Media rates media based on age appropriateness and learning potential and provides reviews of movies, games, apps, & more so parents can make informed decisions. http://www.commonsensemedia.org
eSpark learning: eSpark is a “Pandora for education” app. Innovative schools are buying iPads for personalized learning, yet they face various challenges like sorting through 103,262 educational apps to find the right apps for their students. eSpark develops a custom learning “playlist” of Common-Core aligned educational apps for students in grades K-7 based on their unique learning needs. http://esparklearning.com
Flipped Learning Network: Turning Learning on its Head! Together, with Schoolwires technology, the Flipped Learning Networks mission is to provide educators with the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully implement Flipped Learning. The goals of the FLN are to provide professional learning opportunities on Flipped Learning; to conduct, collaborate and disseminate relevant research on Flipped Learning; and to act as the clearinghouse for distributing best and promising practices for current and future “flipped” educators. http://flippedlearning.org
Gooru: A Search Engine for Learning. Teachers and students can use Gooru to search for rich collections of multimedia resources, digital textbooks, videos, games and quizzes created by educators in the Gooru community. Gooru is FREE (of cost and ads) and developed by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to honor the human right to education. http://www.goorulearning.org
PowerMyLearning: Your destination for the best in fun, free online educational activities. With PowerMyLearning, students and parents can discover fun and stimulating activities to reinforce classroom learning and spark new areas of interest. Teachers can take advantage of the free instructional resources and use this tool to help meet the specific learning needs of their students. http://powermylearning.com
Study Buddy: A FREE, online, revolutionary homework support system that connects students seeking help with volunteer high school honor students…instantly. Students work collaboratively ONLINE with volunteer honor students in a state of the art digital notebook containing whiteboard technology, writing/texting tools, instructional videos, and so much more. No hassles, just live, individualized support. Help is available 7 days a week from September through June from 3”30 till midnight Sunday through Thursday, til 9 PM Friday and Saturday afternoons. http://www.studybuddyhelp.org
Sylvan Learning: Your child's custom learning experience. Partner with Sylvan to give your child a leg up on schoolwork, a boost in confidence, and avoid the summer slide. Don’t hope for the best--get your child the help he or she needs today. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach with Sylvan. Successful learning requires a focus on the individual, to unlock each child's potential. At Sylvan, your child's program is custom-tailored to meet his or her academic goals and needs. http://tutoring.sylvanlearning.com/
Wowzers: By accommodating for different learning styles, speeds, and concentration levels, Wowzers allows educators to provide all students with the opportunity to learn the way that best fits their learning style. Learning should be fun and provide students with clear and challenging objectives along with the tools to achieve those goals. That’s really a fancy way of describing video games. A good video game keeps students engaged through multiple failures. Wowzers combines that same engagement element of a video game, but also weaves in pedagogy in a way where neither the game nor the learning suffer. http://www.wowzers.com
Deanna Burrell is the author of the explosive novel, Single Girl Summer.Described as “the healthy, bouncing baby that would be produced if Waiting to Exhale and Sex and the City procreated”, Single Girl Summer tells the story of three women navigating the ups and downs of life and love during one special summer in Chicago. Find out more at http://www.singlegirlsummer.com.