Oser Communications Group

FETC 2014 EdTech Show Daily Jan 31

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E d Te c h S h o w D a i l y 2 9 Fri d a y, J a n u a r y 3 1 , 2 0 1 4 able resources, I began creating my own. I developed about one educational game a week, and ended up with about 20 by the end of the school year. A year or so later, I was searching on Google for a new keyboarding activity and ABCya.com was the first result in the list! That was the moment I knew that the resource I created for my own classroom had the potential to reach students out- side of my school. ESD: To what do you attribute your com- pany's success? AT: I learned to value a feedback loop very early on, and many of the most suc- cessful decisions I've made were rooted in suggestions received from visitors. My very first feedback email was a criticism, and yet I felt it was a gift to have some- one else help me to improve the website. As a small business or startup, crowd- sourcing is a very powerful asset. ESD: Explain the name 'ABCya'? AT: I am often asked how I came up with the name, and how to say it cor- rectly. In 2004, I needed a domain name to direct my young students to the site. Having taught kindergarten for a while, I knew that a typing in a long URL could take half the class period, and so I tried to get something really simple like "ABC.com" or "123.com." Everything ABCya.com ( Cont'd. from p. 1) I tried was already taken, and the web- site automatically generated sugges- tions; one was 'ABCYA.COM'. I thought it was easy enough to remem- ber, and so I took it! I've always pro- nounced it 'AB See-ya,' but you can pronounce it however you like. ESD: Tell our readers about your trade show objectives. AT: Ironically, I'm at the show more for feedback than I am to promote the brand. I like to meet and talk with teachers, IT people, administrators, students, parents and anyone else who has visited the website or downloaded my apps. I'm interested in what they have to say and how I can improve my products for them. ESD: What has been the highlight of your business so far? AT: Fortunately, there have been many highlights over the past few years. One that sticks out was when my five-year- old daughter and I were at the Apple retail store this past holiday season. She picked up one of the demo iPads and yelled out, 'Daddy, this is your game!' To my surprise, one of my apps, Math BINGO, was installed on all of the iPads in the store. That was pretty cool. Visit ABCya.com at booth 838. For more information, visit www.abcya.com or email info@abcya.com. first start working with tech? MP: I started my career as a mechanical engineer with Disney Imagineering. However, even at a place like Imagineering, I noticed a lack of females and members of the younger generation entering the fields of engineering. I real- ized that similar experiences for children could excite and incent them to enter the technology fields. This drove me to even- tually launch iCreate. ESD: Did you experience any personal or systemic setbacks at any point of your academic or professional career? MP: I grew up in a rural Montana town and didn't have access to a lot of the aca- demic opportunities offered in more pop- ulated areas. This made it tough as I entered college, where many of the intro to math and science classes were new to me. Luckily, my tenacity kicked in, I worked extremely hard, and out-per- formed most of my peers. ESD: Whom do you look to as mentors and/or sources of inspiration? MP: Successful entrepreneurs that build strong revenue-generated businesses from innovative product offerings inspire me. I seek mentors who challenge my thinking. I've met these mentors through a local business incubator, former jobs and networking. I am inspired by those who seek to go far beyond the creation of a website and product. ESD: Tell us about iCreate. MP: iCreate was born out of my pas- sion to engage kids in problem-solving and creative thinking. I was fortunate to have access to many different types iCreate ( Cont'd. from p. 1) of technology and curricula while at Tufts University, and discovered a proj- ect that had both inspirational and com- mercial potential. Through this project and the launch of iCreate, the prototype was built into a viable product for K–12 integration. Since launching mid- 2010, we have focused on providing simple tools that put students at the center of learning through creation. Our goal is that every child, at home or school, has an opportunity to drive their own learning. ESD: Why is getting women and young girls involved with technology and com- puter sciences important to you? MP: During both my studies in mechanical engineering and experi- ence working for a defense contractor and roller-coaster design company, I found myself to be one of only a few women. We need women in the field to balance the perspective. Women's thought processes bring a rich dynam- ic to any design table. Giving girls early opportunities to understand that design, aesthetics, finances, etc. can be integrated with technology is a first step. Our software and app at iCreate do a great job of this. ESD: Anything to add that you haven't had a chance to mention? MP: One of the best things I did was launch iCreate. While entrepreneur- ship is tough, finding one's true pas- sion and working towards its fulfill- ment has rewards that go far beyond any formal education, training or posi- tion. Determining one's passion rarely happens overnight. My patience paid off; every day I am thankful that I started iCreate. For more information, visit booth 310. do we keep an increasingly digital native student population engaged? How will emerging standards (Common Core or otherwise) change the tools needed in the classroom and what is the path to implementation? These are just a few of the chal- lenging decisions facing educators today. As Lance Matus, a veteran Elementary school teacher said, "These are the types of questions that we have been grappling with in the classroom for years, but continue to struggle with in terms of making the best decisions for our students and what the future classroom will look like." Similar to individual student learning paths, each educator requires a different, individu- alized transition plan for getting them from where they've been historically in their everyday activities to where they need to go. There are many solutions on the market that provide great resources for when we live in a fully wired, high-tech environment. Very few are helping edu- cators and school systems with the digital transition. To be successful in meeting the transition goals of educators, a sup- port system of collaborators to help them Scantron ( Cont'd. from p. 1) with their journey is critical. "If a district is not yet technologi- cally ready, it is important they have a partner who can help assess the tech- nological needs of that district and plan for the changes that come along with the digital transition to get them to the point where they want to be," said Dr. Caryn Ward, Education Consultant at Scantron. Scantron prides itself on being a col- laborator with its customers on these types of journeys. The company has been a leader and innovator in K-12 assessment solutions for more than 40 years. Its focus is to provide the most reliable, simple and effective solutions that inform decision making, improve educational outcomes and support long- term success. Scantron's experience with both paper-based and online assessments distinctively qualifies the company to help educators in schools early in their technology journey, in the middle of their digital transition or those that are technologically advanced. Scantron meets you where you are. Visit Scantron at booth 401. For more information, visit www.scantron.com, call 800-SCANTRON or email events@scantron.com. costs a few dollars per student. When you add that kind of affordability to our quality, we're filling a big need. ESD: What products do you see as being hottest this year? BH: For us, reading will always be fun- damental. Our Reading Solution, which includes Reading A-Z and Raz-Kids, combines leveled resources for instruc- tion and practice. This year, we're con- tinuing to add more Common Core-spe- cific content and tools to address the growing need for informational text, close reading, academic vocabulary and other key topics. We're also seeing grow- ing interest in our ScienceA-Z.com web- site. STEM and Next Generation Science Standards are really taking off, and ScienceA-Z.com gives teachers what they need to combine literacy and sci- ence, all for less than $3 per student. ESD: Tell us more about ScienceA- Z.com. BH: We know that many elementary teachers are less comfortable teaching science. We also know that teachers are looking for ways to save time and help students make connections by combining reading and science. ScienceA-Z.com's 60-plus units include nonfiction books written to three reading levels, meaning students can learn the science content, Learning A-Z ( Cont'd. from p. 1) while teachers can differentiate their reading instruction. In addition, the website has a wealth of worksheets, experiments, science fair project resources, multimedia content and other engaging materials. We contin- ue to add resources addressing Next Generation Science Standards, including disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting con- cepts and scientific and engineering prac- tices. We've started winning some big awards, including BESSIE and EDDIE Awards in 2013, so the momentum is cer- tainly picking up. ESD: How would you describe Learning A-Z's mission? BH: Many of us, including me, are for- mer teachers, so we know teaching isn't easy. Teachers today are being asked to do more than ever before. That's where we come in—we deliver resources that help teachers do more. In particular: we save teachers time, giving them all the resources they need, all online, all acces- sible at the click of a mouse or swipe of a tablet; save teachers money, delivering thousands of resources for a fraction of the cost of print and other online providers; and support student achieve- ment through differentiated instruction, ensuring the just-right resources for every unique student. Visit Learning A-Z at booth 942. Learn more or start your free 14-day trial at www.LearningA-Z.com.

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