My Top 10 Exhibitors at ISTE 2015

| By Bryna Leider

Bryna Leider is Director of the Day School Collaboration Network at The Jewish Education Project. DJLN was happy to have Bryna join us at the ISTE Conference this year. Below you'll find Bryna's exhibit hall favorites from the conference!


Bryna LeiderThe following is my entirely unscientific and subjective list of what seemed most interesting and useful during my strolls through the Expo Hall.


1. MOSS from Modular Robotics
Modeled on connecting cubes, these next gen manipulatives connect through input/outputs and can be built into simple machines that move in the direction of a hand motion. Students gain all the benefits that they might acquire through circuitry, but in far more intuitive and scaffolded ways. All of the products come with curricula, but could easily be handed to students with the instruction to “work it out.” Add some five-minute programming lessons, and you have yourself an awesome engineering class!

2. Sumblox
I have no idea why this product was at ISTE, but I am grateful that it was.These are wooden blocks in the shape of numbers 1-9. Not convinced? The size of each number corresponds to its quantity, so when the numbers are added, they visually measure the same as the sum. The blocks can be used to learn simple addition, multiplication and fractions (the Teacher Kit includes flat wooden blocks to demonstrate “part” of a number). Genius!

3. Common Sense Media
This site aims to assist with some of the biggest challenges related to tech: making wise choices and internet safety. The Graphite tab provides clear and accurate ratings and rankings of tech products. Save money and time by using the digital citizenship curriculum and if you are looking for a way to connect parents and teenagers around relevant topics, the Connecting Families materials can help. Additionally, the parent site, Common Sense Media, offers families ratings of websites, apps and games (and books and movies), and answers to commonly asked questions related to internet use. It’s all FREE.

4. Global Oneness Project
This is an unusually excellent way to expose students to the lives of people around the world. Teachers can choose from a range of subjects and media types, including films, articles, and photo essays. I see this as being incredibly practical as homework. What kid wouldn’t be happy to watch a 12 minute film clip? Add an in-class or online discussion and/or written response and you are promoting critical thinking, ELA standards, empathy and social justice at once. Layer in a Jewish value and you’ve just about reached perfection.

5. Edulastic
I think everyone needs to lighten up on the infatuation with summative assessment and spend more time on formative assessment. Edulastic focuses entirely on formative assessment, so I’m a fan. Or maybe it was the mini lattes they were handing out. Whatever it was, it’s worth trying out their free introductory level.

6. ZipGrade
I just said that I’m not a huge fan of summative assessment, and this is an app that helps you grade multiple choice tests. However, you can easily use the app to create your own formative assessments. And if you are still in love with summative assessment (or your school requires it), you can get tests graded so quickly that you will have lots of time to focus on more important things. It costs a grand total of 6.99 a year.

7. Cogent Education
The site offers a series of interactive cases taken from science, and more specifically, from topics that students typically have the most difficulty with. Each case includes videos and information that helps the students solve the problem. In one case, students are tasked with saving a sick cow. They assess the data, form hypotheses and test them out. If they choose an incorrect injection, for example, someone walks into the video before the solution is administered and says, “Let’s go back and check the data.” At the moment, this is primarily useful for 9th grade bio, but they have plans to extend into other areas of science.     

8. Teachley
Teachley provides game apps to support math development. It was founded by former classroom teachers who met at a doctoral program for Cognitive Studies in Education at Teachers College. If anyone knows what kids need, it’s these women.

9. Chalkup
Choosing an LMS is complicated. I know that many of you like Haiku, but I am underwhelmed. I really don’t like the interface, and it annoys me that it doesn’t go farther in pushing classroom practice to the next level. Simply focusing on teacher efficiency feels like a missed opportunity. Conversely, Chalkup seems more attentive to students. It includes easy ways for students to have online discussions and extremely easy ways for teachers to use rubrics. (Alternatively, check out an entirely free newbie:

10. Steelcase Education
I mention Steelcase not because I think you should go out and buy their furniture tomorrow (although it’s worth considering the undercarpet power supply system), but because it’s essential to pay attention to space design. Steelcase sells tables that are best used for small group lessons, and lounge furniture with dividers for quiet and relaxed work spaces. In my opinion, the best classroom design algorithm is inspired by early childhood classrooms, first class airport lounges and modern co-working offices. So much Pinterest potential!


Want to learn more about the resources mentioned? See below!
Modular Robotics:
Common Sense Media:
Global Oneness Project:
Cogent Education:
Steelcase Education: