Getting Smart’s Top Stories of 2015

2015 was HUGE for We launched a podcast, went mobile responsive, released 18 publications, hosted two successful crowdsourced thought leadership campaigns in GenDIY and Smart Parents and published a record-breaking 1,127 blogs on the Getting Smart blog, The Huffington Post, Medium and Education Week. Here is a recap of our top stories to catch up on before the ball drops.

As you ready the party poppers, make sure to sign up for the weekly Smart Update so you don’t miss out in the new year. Okay, now our top five most viewed blogs:

Hands down the most viewed blog in 2015 by a long shot. This one features the scoop on 13 of the largest gatherings on digital learning, three not to miss regional conferences, and for good measure, six worth checking out. With all the standout conferences which is the one that should really make your calendar for 2016? In my opinion that would be the iNACOL SymposiumHere is our photoblog from this year’s symposium.

Coming in hot as the second most viewed blog is this collection of podcasts your should subscribe to today. Undoubtedly, one of the most read topics in 2015 was on podcasts. Google search “education podcasts” and one of the first results you’ll find is our 50 Educational Podcasts You Should Check Out blog. Ask our team, “What’s new?” and you’ll hear about how we’re learning on the go with podcasts. Ask our teacher bloggers about new practices they’re trying in their classrooms and you’ll hear how their encouraging reflective learning with podcasts. And for kicks and gigs, here is the most listened to Getting Smart Podcast of 2015:

Our annual showcase of districts worth paying a visit to was the third most viewed blog in 2015. They are big and small, urban and rural, east and west-representative of the American education challenge. These 30 districts are changing their community trajectory by working on blended, personalized and competency-based learning. Most are making career preparation-including communications, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration-a priority.

Fourth place goes to this dual Smart Parents – GenDIY blog. It’s an honest reflection from a dad who pulled his daughter from her traditional school to attend a code school. “These last 12 months have been a strange adventure for myself, my wife, and our 16 year old daughter Katya,” Joe says in the beginning of the piece. Joe and Katya’s journey to Dev Mountain and Katya’s newfound success in programming is a quintessential story of a Smart Parent and a GenDIY student charting a course to a career.

At number five is this gem. If you’ve followed our weekly EdTech 10 news series, it’s no surprise that we love Twitter. Not only is it a powerful way to engage with a large audience, but it is also a super efficient way to gain and share knowledge. Looking for new education leaders to follow in the new year? This blog is for you.

Teacher voice is the backbone to our blog. From comments and tweets from teachers who provide often the most insightful feedback, to our network of teacher bloggers like Amber Chandler, Moss Pike and Alesha Bishop, teacher engagement is the lifeblood of Are you an educator with a killer blog topic worth sharing? Email [email protected] with the subject line “Teacher blogger” for more information on guest blogging opportunities.

2015 saw the rise of maker everything. This infographic from LittleBits shows how the “Maker Movement” has developed into “Maker Ed” and provides additional resources for joining the “Maker Ed” movement.

Now that you’ve seen the movie (or even if you haven’t), this blog shares 12 ways teachers and parents can help kids extend and apply what they saw in the movie to use as a springboard to teach about the brain, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and life in general.

The blockbuster film for education this year was Ted Dintersmith’s Most Likely to Succeed. The star of the film is High Tech High in San Diego (featured here), a place where teachers have the freedom to shape projects that culminate in public exhibitions. This story of students at High Tech High preparing for conducting their term-end Presentation of Learning is an inspiring picture of what many of us hope for millions of American students.

School visits are a great way to learn and are key to developing an innovation mindset. Based on a couple thousand school visits and with help from colleagues and readers, we’ve compiled a list of 66 U.S. secondary schools worth visiting.

2015 was finally the year of mobile. Push-based web, where information is delivered to us, appears on the verge of replacing the search-dominant web we’re most familiar with. This blog describes how educators will soon have much more sophisticated ways to know learners and connect them with powerful learning experiences.

In 2015, many of our popular blogs were about design thinking. Stanford d.School has teamed up with the folks at IDEO to marry professional learning with design thinking. What if simple hacks could transform a school culture? IDEO’s Sally Madsen explains in this blog that was part of our popular Deeper Learning blog series and Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning paper.

We wrote a lot about student-centered learning in 2015. This handy checklist provides important information for parents to know what to look for when touring a potential school with their children, whether it’s your neighborhood, district, public, private, or charter school. A student-centered classroom and school helps create deeper levels of engagement through a more personalized learning environment and allows for learners to thrive- by putting them in the driver’s seat. This blog was part of our popular Smart Parents series and book, Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning.

We’ve had many blogs this year about the rise in project-based learning, including this one by Lucy Kosturko, which features great project ideas for a PBL classroom. We appreciate the actionable tips and resources in this one, which was also featured in our publication, Getting Smart on Tomorrow’s Classroom: Free Innovative Tools, Resources and Apps.

2015 brought a new focus on the power storytelling for the Getting Smart Team as tool for inspiring action. This blog asks how do we teach and rally students around positive core beliefs? And, how do we come together to mobilize schools, districts and organizations to step out and create the learning experiences we all hope to see and experience? Part of the answer is storytelling, and this blog shares five reasons why educators should start creating storytelling opportunities for students.

For more blogs in our mini #YearInReview series, check out:

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