Product Index
Teacher Needs
In Summit Reflections, educators review tools that they have seen at an EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit. Summit Reflections can only be completed onsite at the event; reviewers are incentivized to leave reviews.
Stacie, Teacher. School Type: High School, College Prep School, 1:1 Devices
Oct 24, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I use this product to offer opportunities to read text and/or watch videos on topics relevant to the themes and/or grammar we are covering in class (Spanish levels 1, 2, and 3).
Uploading text is easy, and the variety of question formats allows for a quick check or a more lengthy response which can be geared for any skill level.

Strengths: This product allows students to engage with text (in our case in a foreign language) in smaller chunks, and to focus in on specific learning or looking for details. It also allows me to choose texts for any level, and ask questions that target the grammar we are using/learning.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would add a student view (Oh, wait, they DID add that feature just recently! Yay!)
It isn't the most straightforward-intuitive format to maneuver through, but after clicking around, one does figure it out.
Perhaps, automatically logging a student out after a period of inactivity would help the accuracy of the "reading time" data. I cannot believe ANY student spent 7 hours ( or more) reading a three paragraph letter.
It would be nice to have a clear visual distinction between the library and my own workspace. I was really worried about accidentally editing the wrong text/documents/questions and messing up someone else's items.

Verdict: Often it is difficult to target students responses to a limited portion of the text, or you may want to get their predictions or understanding part way through a reading. Also, the grading format allows for less point oriented scores, and more proficiency related scoring. Additionally, being able to see how long a student spent on a task, or what words they looked up is helpful.
The 'reset answer' option is nice as a student may need another attempt at composing a more appropriate response.

Technology Teacher, School Type: Elementary School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population
Oct 25, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I am the technology teacher, so this would be fabulous to use with my older students to help them chunk up online text, and to get them to think about stopping and checking in for understanding. I've noticed, as I've watched them take online tests over the last 5 years, that this is extremely difficult for them. Even students that can do this independently in print have difficulty transferring the skill online, so I'm always looking for ways to build this ability.
I would also like to take this back to school and show the 3-5 grade teachers how they could use this in the classroom. I think it could be a really powerful tool, especially with the ability to add media.

Strengths: Being able to add news items or documents you type up in Google doc is helpful and allows you to have your students answer meaningful text you select. I like the ability to select to create questions, and the different ways to answer the questions, as well as the ability to just highlight a word and use it for vocabulary questions (what do you think this means? what are your clues/evidence from the text.) This is highly useful for a school like mine with a high ELL population.

Suggestions for Improvement: 1. More items at the lower Lexile levels. There is not much for the elementary grade bands, and this would be a wonderful tool for that. 2. The ability to add your own text to speech option 3. I would need to use this in the classroom first. Right now, it seems like a pretty useful product.

Verdict: The ability to take news items and other items found online, chunk them up with questions and video, and get feedback is wonderful. Individual student accounts and the ability to use it at home, if your student has access, is awesome.

Emeline, Rti Tutor. School Type: Elementary School
Jun 13, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I lovr the class discussion element. I would definitely use this as a way to open up a discussion on a certain topic. I could also see myself using this as a way to engage my ELL or my Ed plan students. It would be a great way to get my quieter students to participate.

Strengths: The biggest selling point for me is the discussion element. I love having classroom discussions especially regarding current events. I think this is so important to a real learning experience that the student will use long after leaving a classroom. I'm also impressed with the way the program monitors the student progress and that it makes sure the student is actually engaging in the text rather than just skimming through it.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would like to see a way for the parents to be actively involved in this. There actually may be a way, I just didn't think to ask about this. I would love there to be a way to guarantee that the students are participating in the discussion. Meaning, for my quieter students in class, the back and forth digital comments with their fellow students would be a great way to get them to actually engage and participate with their peers. What I'd like to see is a way to be sure or assign this as a task. Almost like the questions that you have to answer in order to move on, but in this case you'd have to leave a comment before being able to finish.

Verdict: I love the interactive feel. It's almost like a digital classroom. I also love that students can access this from home and engage independently. I could see really getting parents/guardians involved in the student's homework. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that the students can't advance in the readings if they haven't answered questions yet.

Music Teacher, School Type: Elementary School, High School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, Project Based School
Apr 15, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would definitely use this product in my general music class. I often look for real life articles for my students to read in order to bring our classroom out to the world and vice versa. This product would allow me to choose articles for my students to read from any source! In the past, I've tried to bring physical magazines into the classroom but have been told not to by the principal because other content within the same publication are not appropriate for the classroom. Actively Learn allows me to choose specific articles and crop them. I can embed video and questions which not only bring the article to life in a way in which my students will connect. The students also have to answer the questions before they can move on.

There is so much potential for a snowball effect both from me and my students!

Strengths: It solves the problem of inappropriate content in real life publications. It really allows teachers to choose specific, relevant articles, and then enhance the text with video or other content.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would possibly offer an idea bank for teachers and collaborative lesson plans with access to the feedback and content from other students. It would allow my students to know what students from districts across the country are thinking about and learning. It essentially begins the idea of a global classroom.

Verdict: I think it will take planning to find relevant, appropriate articles and videos to connect.

This product is free for teachers but fees begin if you want access to the data, which principals and school districts are very interested in. You would have to get permission from your school in order to access this area.

Teacher, School Type: Middle School, High School, Low Income Population, College Prep School
Sep 12, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this to teach classroom reading. When we are reading a class novel, I would use this tool so students are able to interact with technology as well as interact with their peers. I would use this tool to assess students learning through the data protocol and show students where they are mastering within the common core standards.

Strengths: This product tracks the students reading by time which I feel is very beneficial to the teacher, because this allows for the teacher to identify which students may need an extra push. Also, this program has a large variety of text that is pre-loaded which is awesome so the preparation of the lesson would be fairly easy. Furthermore, the program allows for students to give their peers feedback based off the questions students are asked to respond.

Suggestions for Improvement: 1. I would change how students are imported into the program. I do not believe their is a feature to add multiple classes, I believe you can only add one class.

2. I would change the way students are being assessed. Making sure students are able to respond through free writing.

Verdict: I would recommend this tool to our school on the basis that it allows for our school to track students comprehension skills through data. We currently do not have a system in place to track students comprehension skills. Furthermore, I would recommend this tool for the amount of text that is provided on the website, therefore teachers are able to access a wide variety of text to use in the classroom. In addition, teachers can upload text as well and all the features will transfer over to the uploaded text.

Teacher, School Type: Middle School, Low Income Population
May 7, 2016

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product during times in which I engage the students to read Concepts in science that I am introducing them to. I understand that students have a hard time understanding scientific terminology. Therefore using this application to ask questions and to engage students and to allow them to interact with the text together as a class will prove to be very helpful.

Strengths: I really like the fact that this product allows me to have real time observation of where my students are in their assigned reading I can look at their answers to the questions I posed in the text I can also respond to any difficulty they are having. I really enjoy the resources they have available in terms of the content I can use and also the fact that I can upload my own content for my students and edit that I really enjoy all so that I can add the text questions that I want the students to understand.

Suggestions for Improvement: Three things that come to mind are the ability to have the text read to the students a more visually appealing format that draws the student to desire to read the text and more concrete data provided to me after the students answer the questions.

Verdict: Reasons for recommending this product would include a new way to engage scientific text. Students have a very hard time understanding some Concepts and terms. Therefore they will quickly become bored and altogether uninterested when required to read a significant amount of content. The level of Engagement and interactivity between the students would definitely help to motivate them to engage with the text in a more proactive and intentional way.

Joseph, Teacher. School Type: High School
Sep 12, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I could probably use this to track independent reading and comprehension. This is probably a good tool for novels and extended reading assignments.

Strengths: Paperwork and bulkiness are the best things it saves. Having a program track the information for me saves me time that i could use elsewhere. Data management, structured reading, and accessibility are the key traits of this product, in my opinion.

Suggestions for Improvement: More texts would be the first thing. I think if they have all the core recommended texts then that'd be phenomenal.

I'd like the ability to group students together so they can work together. I think collaborative annotations would be a strong addition.

I don't know if this is possible, but having a teacher able to create the login for all of the students, or to upload a roster to make it easier to register would be helpful. I have a limited number of computers, so we need to be efficient in its use. If i could chunk sections of set up then I'd be more inclined to use the product.

Verdict: School saves money on paper and future supplies. Sustainability is probably key in this area. Then the school can say they are preparing for future jobs. The tracking makes the job easier and the teacher can get more done. Feedback is important and being able to give feedback effectively is priceless. The students would be more actively engaged in the text.

Teacher, School Type: Middle School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, 1:1 Devices
Sep 14, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product in a whole group reading or small groups. I currently teach ELD classes so I would use Grade 2-3 articles so my students can practice their reading. I like how the assessment part provides automatic feedback. I would have a sense of what types of problems my students are facing while they are reading.

Strengths: This product promotes literacy aligned with common core. It solves the issue of not being able to provide automatic feedback to students. It also helps teacher understand which students are not comprehending the articles. I like the way I could connect it with edmodo.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would like for this product to add in the free version the stand of understanding vocabulary struggles of each student. To be able to see class performance along common core for free also. I would like to diagnose why students lack skills with content and lexile dashboards. My school wouldn't pay for the pro version so I would like to assist my students the most I can by knowing these three components.

Verdict: I would recommend this program to an administrator because it allows students to read material at their lexile level. It also provides students an opportunity to answer questions based on the reading. It would also allow for me to upload web articles. I would be able to see all students work in the assignment.

Aubrey, English Teacher. School Type: Elementary School, High School, College Prep School, Blended Learning
Jul 12, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I use Actively Learn to supplement teaching various works of literature. I have used it to flip instruction. I have also used it to keep students engaged while I am absent.

I have also uploaded sample papers so that students can see examples of good student writing.

Strengths: Actively Learn is incredibly easy to use. Not only are there already pre-made materials that can also be edited, there is always a quick response from the Actively Learn team when you have questions. This is my favorite classroom tool!!

Suggestions for Improvement: Actively Learn is always providing great upgrades, and while the PRO account is getting a lot of attention, I would like to see more developments for the free account so that I can ultimately convince the administration or my English department to invest in the PRO account.

I would like to adjust settings per assignment, rather than just per class.

One other thing that would be helpful would be to override a grade that was made during a bulk grade.

Verdict: Aside from many free resources, teachers can upload any materials they want their students to read. Actively Learn offers students a chance to engage with the reading while also interacting with one another. Teachers can use Actively Learn to assess students's understanding, make media connections, and engage in discussions.

Jeff, 3rd Grade Teacher. School Type: Elementary School, Low Income Population
Feb 22, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: This product works like an e-reader for any text i can find or upload. I can add questions and notes to make sure my class understands what they are reading as they go. This will allow me to gauge understanding at a glance across reading groups or my whole class. It will also allow the students to add notes and bookmarks as they find things in the text that they want to highlight or be able to go back to easily.

Strengths: Adds organization and easy management to any lesson involving text (most lessons). Allows teachers to create notes/questions for each lesson and save them for the future/share them with colleagues.

Will keep the kids engaged using the computers.

Suggestions for Improvement: Add more texts to the library!

Verdict: Ease of use - we already have the setup for each student to have access to a laptop at times throughout the day, so there would be nothing to purchase. The tool is free also, until we want to add mass uploads of our specific texts and get better data management tools.

I think it will help with readers of all levels to be able to be on the same platform reading books. May cut down on embarrassment of kids who have shorter books - no one would know what they were reading except themselves. Also has text to talk functionality to help with students who are struggling readers.

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