With the new school year rapidly approaching, there are many critical topics that educators should be discussing discussing. At Nasco's annual Teacher Celebration event last week, they hosted a wide array of professional development sessions, many of which were pertinent for the upcoming school year. Here are some of the important topics they covered.

  1. Virtual reality in elementary classrooms

    Education is all about expanding your horizons, and field trips are a great way to do this. However, field trips can be incredibly expensive. With virtual reality, students can expand their horizons and explore like never before – all without having to leave the classroom. A much more cost effective alternative than field trips, virtual reality is a hot button topic in education. This session discussed VR in elementary classrooms, and how to use Google Expeditions to engage elementary students in lessons. With Google Expeditions, students can explore coral reefs, the surface of Mars, the International Space Station, and many more exciting settings. With so many places to explore, teachers can select the expedition that aligns with the curriculum.

    Interested in learning more about virtual reality and Google Expeditions before you head back to school? Check out these great articles from Edutopia and Shake Up Learning.

  2. meeperBOT in the classroom

    Along with VR, makerspaces seem to be the topic of discussion amongst educators. In a makerspace, students create by building an inventing. Makerspace tools continue to emerge, and the meeperBOT is one example of dynamic product that is perfect for a makerspace. The meeperBOT allows you to power your brick (Lego, Mega Bloks, and other construction block toys) creations, and make them move. It is powered by two motors, and is controlled by the meeperBOT Controller App on a smart device. This session discussed how the meeperBOT can enhance STEM learning.

    Check out our makerspace blog and some great articles from EdSurge for more information on how to create your makerspace for the new school year.

  3. Can we play a game in math today?

    Planning a curriculum for the new year can be challenging work, but playing games in the classroom is one activity that should be implemented. We have previously discussed game-based learning and its many benefits in our earlier blogs. According to Psychology Today, “just as with video games played for pleasure and not linked to specific school skill practice, the progressive challenge and feedback works with the brain’s intrinsic reward system to motivate perseverance and memory”. Games can help students retain information without resorting to rote memorization. However, many of the games that teachers use in their classes don’t work in math classes. This session discussed different games that can be used to teach, practice, and review concepts.

    Are you a math teacher looking to bring games into your classroom this fall? This math-based application article from Edutopia and Mincreaft math article from eSchoolNews are great places to start! Check out our list of free educational websites for even more math-focused games!