Headed to Austin for SXSWedu

sxswlogoThe thing I love most about conferences is the opportunity to think. I am able to break out of the box a bit, collaborate with folks from around the world, listen to some great ideas, and generate a few of my own. SXSWedu fosters these opportunities. It is one of the hottest #edtech conferences you'll find: innovation in learning abounds, and the latest startups share their new ventures. The only problem is finding a way to take in as much as you can.

This year is the first we'll be jumping from attendee to participant – a new and exciting change. Our colleague from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, Liani Yirka will be speaking about the result of the collaboration between the museum and SAS. You can catch her talk on Monday, March 9, at 5:10 p.m. in Austin Convention Center Room 15. For those of you not able to join us in Austin you can read more about the app we developed.

Additionally, I'll be participating in the inaugural SXSWedu 2015 Mentors program. This is a great opportunity to meet 1:1, hopefully with folks that I otherwise may not run into at the conference. My mentoring session is Tuesday, March 10, at 12 p.m. in Austin Convention Center Room 11AB. If you will be in Austin, you can sign up to chat here. For those not attending SXSWedu this year, look for an upcoming post following the event.

Finally, this year, in addition to talking about SAS Curriculum Pathways, edtech, innovation in education, and more, we are excited to share our new book being released just ahead of SXSWedu. Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners launches March 2. You can learn more about it in this post.

If you'll be at SXSWedu, drop by one of our sessions and say hello. And you can always find us on Twitter: @SASEducator, @ScottMcQuiggan, and @LucyKosturko.

Most of all, enjoy the conference. As for that pesky #SXSWeduProblem, we'll be tweeting our notes with the #SXSWedu hashtag and session video and audio have been available following past conferences. So there is always a chance to catch the best sessions post-conference, anytime, anywhere!

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Mobile, Mobile Everywhere: Learning Anytime

CP_deviceMobile devices are arriving in classrooms around the world in soaring numbers. Chromebooks and iPads are everywhere – from 1:1 programs to BYOD to carts classes can share.  Why is that important? Because these devices have the power to change the classroom, provided teachers have the right integration strategies and lesson plans to differentiate instruction – and the right apps.

While we continue to build web-based resources in HTML5 to support browsers on any device, we are also developing native apps that integrate seamlessly with features of mobile devices. As with all of our resources, you'll find them available at no cost in their respective app store.

Let’s take a look at a few of our mobile highlights through the lens of math, reading, and writing.


SAS Math Stretch for the iPad provides a suite of activities to develop elementary math skills and number sense. These activities can be customized to meet students' knowledge and challenge them throughout K-5. Teachers tell us they love using it in middle school as warm-up exercises. We’ve recently added decimals and fractions throughout the activities.

SAS Math Stretch

SAS Math Stretch QL #8004

  • Exercises target counting, number relations and operations, and telling and manipulating time.
  • Settings allow students, parents, and teachers to control the level of difficulty for each activity.
  • Practice sessions and completed quizzes can be shared with parents and teachers.


We have two apps designed to support student reading development. First, SAS Read Aloud helps students develop a love for reading through shared reading experiences. Teachers, parents, and students can record themselves reading any of the over 40 free books and still get that great word-by-word highlighting that helps students as they develop reading skills such as print knowledge.

SAS Read Aloud

SAS Read Aloud QL #8003

Also available for free on the web, in the App Store and the Chrome Web Store, SAS Reading Records is a flexible tool designed to support many methods for conducting running records. Running records of students’ reading are a valuable source of data for reading instruction, but also a significant time sink; they can also be tricky to administer. Reading Records is an anytime, anywhere solution that promises to yield the same valuable data without compromising class time (and also providing several enhancements to the old paper-and-pencil method).



SAS Writing Navigator, available on the web, iPad and Chromebook, is a suite of four tools, one for each step in the writing process – planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. Each tool offers numerous instructional features that help students create an effective plan, draft well-constructed sentences and paragraphs, revise their work in thoughtful ways, and prepare their written work for sharing with an audience.


And More...

With SAS Flash Cards, students can create desks easily, learn efficiently, and share their work with others on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Students can also download and play decks in any subject and in various question formats. Decks have been created on virtually every subject from sight words and animal identification to nursing terminology and diagrams of atoms. This is a great one for students of any age!

SAS Read Aloud

SAS Flash Cards QL #8002

SAS Data Notebook lets students take control of their learning and monitor their progress. Built-in templates for mission statements, goals, checklists, plus/deltas, spelling lists, and histograms are included. Data Notebook even includes a scratch paper template where students can load pictures, create drawings, and more. A new text page enables students to take notes, keep a journal, or perform any other writing tasks organized in their notebook. Students can also add sections in order to set, monitor, and reflect on individual goals by subject. Notebooks can now be emailed to teachers, parents, or friends.

SAS Read Aloud

SAS Data Notebook QL #8002


We've added a helpful search filter for finding mobile friendly resources. As you begin your search at sascurriculumpathways.com, use the No Plug-in Needed filter to zero in on those mobile-ready resources.

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Black History Month: Honoring Science Pioneers



Following up our Black History Month look at mathematicians, let's take a look at  African Americans who have made their mark in science. 

Dr. Mae Jemison (b. 1956) is an American physician and astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel to space in 1992 when she went into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. In addition to being the first real astronaut to appear on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Jemison is an avid dancer and holds 9 honorary doctorates. She is a professor-at-large at Cornell University, and currently serves as a principal of the 100 Year Starship organization, a joint endeavor by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to create a business plan that fosters research for interstellar travel.

Dr. Jane Cooke Wright (1919-2013) was born in Manhattan to a public school teacher and one of the first African American graduates of Harvard Medical School. A graduate of New York Medical College, Dr. Wright spent much of her medical career advancing chemotherapy research – a largely experimental topic at the time. In 1955 she became an associate professor of surgical research at New York University and director of cancer chemotherapy research at New York University Medical Center. In 1964, President Johnson appointed Dr. Wright to his Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke. In 1967 she was named professor of surgery, head of the Cancer Chemotherapy Department, and associate dean at her alma mater, New York Medical College.  At the time, Dr. Wright was the highest ranked African American woman at a nationally recognized medical institution. In 1971, she became the first woman president of the New York Cancer Society.


Dr. Charles Drew

Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) completed his MD from McGill University in 1933 as well as a master of surgery degree. He also completed his Doctor of Medical Science from Columbia University, the first African American to do so. Having graduated in 1940, just before the United States entered World War II, Dr. Drew was recruited to help establish and run a pilot program for blood storage and preservation. Called the Blood for Britain project, the program gave U.S. blood to Great Britain for use by British soldiers. Leveraging his work, the American Red Cross subsequently established their network of blood banks.

Dr. Roger Arliner Young (1889-1964) was a zoologist, biologist, and marine biologist born in Clifton Forge, Virginia. After attending Howard University, Young completed her master’s work at the University of Chicago where she became the first African American woman to research and professionally publish in her field. After several years working with her mentor from Howard, Ernest Everett Just, Young returned to Chicago to start her PhD in zoology but failed her qualifying exams. After several years of struggle and a falling out with Just, Young went to the University of Pennsylvania where she completed her PhD in 1940. She was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate degree in zoology.

Dr. J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. (1923-2011) entered the University of Chicago at 13 making him the youngest student ever at the University. Wilkins completed his PhD in mathematics by 19 and later received both bachelor's and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from New York University. In his career as a nuclear scientist, mechanical engineer, and mathematician, Dr. Wilkins worked on the Manhattan Project, researched the extraction of fissionable nuclear materials for use in the atomic bomb, discovered numerous phenomena in physics, and developed nuclear reactors for generating electrical power.


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Celebrating the Rich Heritage of African Cultures and Civilizations


Black History Month provides educators with the opportunity to explore the rich heritage of African civilizations in greater depth. SAS Curriculum Pathways has extensive resources that cover the breadth of African history, culture, and geography.

The West African kingdoms of Ghana and Mali are celebrated for their wealth and prominence in the 11th-14th centuries. Sundiata Keita established the kingdom of Mali after the fall of Ghana in the late 1200s. The famous king Mansa Musa brought Islam to Mali in the early 1300s and reportedly shared African gold throughout the Muslim world.


Ghana established a famous gold-salt trade in the 11th century.

Mali’s reputation for riches and its unique blend of African and Islamic traditions attracted the attention Ibn Battuta, a medieval traveler who visited the modern equivalent of 44 countries. Much of what we know about the Kingdom of Mali comes from Battuta’s travelogue, the Rihla.


Ibn Battuta's travels covered much of the 14th century world.

Using the interactive tool, African Kingdoms: Kingdom of Mali, students explore the remarkable history, geography, and culture of Mali. Analyzing primary source excerpts from the Rihla, students decide which aspects of Ibn Battuta’s impressions of Mali’s food, religious traditions, and hospitality to believe and which ones to take “with a grain of salt.”

Looking for more African resources? Here is just a sample of the extensive African history and geography resources in SAS Curriculum Pathways:

Imperialism: Scramble for Africa
African Kingdoms: Timbuktu
Nile Kingdoms: Kush and Axum
Apartheid in South Africa
Mapping the Sahara Desert
African Kingdoms: The Dilemma Tale
African Kingdoms: Nok, Benin, and Yoruba Art
Age of Exploration: Transatlantic Slave Trade

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Black History Month: Honoring Math Pioneers

In honor of Black History Month, let’s showcase a few African American mathematicians who have made their mark in the teaching profession. 

Elbert Frank Cox (1895-1969) was the first black person in the world to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics. In 1917, Cox earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Indiana, where he majored in mathematics. After serving overseas in World War I, he pursued a career in teaching. He taught in several public schools and then at Shaw University. In 1922, Dr. Cox enrolled in the graduate mathematics program at Cornell University. Encouraged by his thesis advisor, Dr. Cox would earn his Ph.D. in 1925 from Cornell University. He went on to have a distinguished career, teaching at West Virginia State College and later at Howard University, where he became head of the mathematics department.

Martha Haynes

Dr. Martha Haynes

Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890-1980) was the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics. Dr. Haynes earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1914 from Smith College and her master’s degree in education in 1930 from the University of Chicago. In 1943 she earned her doctorate from The Catholic University of America. Her dissertation was titled "The Determination of Sets of Independent Conditions Characterizing Certain Special Cases of Symmetric Correspondences." Dr. Haynes taught at the elementary, high school, and collegiate levels in Washington, D.C. for 47 years. In 1966, Dr. Haynes became the first women chair of the D.C. School Board. Upon her death in 1980, she left $700,000 to the Catholic University School of Education.

David Harold Blackwell (1919-2010) was the first African American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Born in Centralia, Illinois, he earned his B.A and M.A. in mathematics from the University of Illinois. In 1941 at the young age of 22, he became only the seventh African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, also from the University of Illinois. Unable to gain a teaching position at a white university, he taught at Southern University, Clark College, and eventually Howard University, where he remained until 1954. In 1954, Dr. Blackwell was hired as a visiting teacher at the University of California, Berkeley and became the school’s first tenured African American professor  the following year. At Berkeley he also wrote mathematics textbooks, with a particular focus on game theory. Dr. Blackwell also  served as president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. 

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller (1863-1939) was the first African-American graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. After earning an undergraduate degree from Howard University and working as a clerk in the U.S. Pension Office for two years, Miller was admitted to the graduate program at Johns Hopkins where he studied mathematics and physics. Unfortunately, Miller left the university after two years due to an increase in tuition; he then taught at a high school in Washington D.C. He later returned to Howard University where he earned an M.A. in mathematics (1901) and an LL.B from Howard University Law School (1903), in addition to becoming a professor of mathematics and sociology. A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, he advocated higher education for blacks, rather than industrial education as promoted by Washington. In 1897, Miller helped establish the American Negro Academy, the first organization in the U.S. devoted to African-American scholarship.

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Writing Navigator: Auto-Save to the Rescue

Perhaps you’ve had this nightmare. You’ve spent hours planning and drafting an essay for an assignment that’s due the next day. All of a sudden, your computer freezes or shuts down, and you can’t save your work. All that effort, all that time—wasted. And your deadline still looms.

Well, there’s good news. All four products in the Writing Navigator series now feature auto-save, available automatically when using individual student and teacher accounts.

Auto-save works as you type or edit your document. It saves not only your essay but also the purpose and audience statements and all research information. So this essay-vanishing nightmare will never haunt you again.

Student portfolio showing both saved and auto-saved documents.

Student portfolio showing both saved and auto-saved documents.

With auto-save, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Check an indicator in the upper right of the page showing auto-save status. You will know when changes are pending, work is currently saving, or work is already saved.
  • Auto-save even when starting from scratch. These file names will appear as Auto-save, Auto-save (2), etc., in your portfolio.
  • View (in the load saved-work screen) both your auto-saved version and the last version you manually saved.
  • Close your browser window with confidence. If a save is pending, we’ll warn you before letting you close it.

So relax. No need to worry about power outages or closing a browser by mistake. With the new auto-save feature, you’ll always meet that deadline.


The auto-save indicator changes to reveal the document’s current status.



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Teaching Students to Love the Value of Math

Mathematics, what a beautiful subject. It requires inquisitiveness, perseverance, and critical thinking. It promotes discourse, challenges the mind, and creates problem-solvers. Unfortunately, it also scares many students and adults. Why is that? How can one subject cause so much joy and at the same time so much discomfort?

As a high school mathematics teacher for 13 years, I was always nervous on the first day of school. My number-one concern was this: how was I going to help my students appreciate the math concepts I had to offer? I knew that at least one student was going to walk into class and proclaim that he or she disliked math. My mission? Change that student's mind.

Math is everywhere. As teachers, we  must show students how useful math is. Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Increase the use of data in the classroom. Our Data Depot provides 30+ data sets covering topics such as population, disease, transportation, and food. Presented in a spreadsheet format, this resource lets SAS Curriculum Pathways students examine, analyze, explore, and compare data.


Data Depot provides a wide variety engaging data in multiple spreadsheet formats.

2. Increase the use of technology. Transformations is a concept that is best understood when students can “see” the changes. In SAS Curriculum Pathways, Exploring Transformations makes that possible. Teachers can present the concepts of translating, reflecting, rotating, and dilating segments and figures. With the click of the mouse, teachers can choose to show or not show the image, thus giving students an opportunity to envision the result of the transformation and then quickly see the change.


With Exploring Transformations students can investigate translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations on a coordinate plane.

3. Increase cooperative learning opportunities. Using activities that require students to discuss content within a group not only promotes communication skills, but also lets anxious students showcase their knowledge (or lack thereof). Using a lesson such as Mean and Median: Are They Stable? as a cooperative learning activity allows students to discover how values in a data set affect its mean and median.

Be sure to check out our 300+ math resources, including these:

Exploring Graphs of Linear Equations
Exploring Systems of Linear Inequalities
Using Data to Make Good Decisions
Fibo-Nature Numbers

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The February Dilemma

As a high school English teacher, I faced a dilemma every February. Throughout the year, I assigned texts by African American writers, including Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neal Hurston. After all, their voices were central to any discussion of American literature.

For Black History Month, however, I wanted to pay special tribute to the writers and orators whose voices had been instrumental in the struggle for citizenship and equality. My problem was finding a resource or lesson special enough for that February tribute.

Of course, Wheatley, Douglass, and the other writers offer fascinating and valuable stories and insights based on their own experiences. I wanted a resource that combines texts, audio recordings, and images to present multiple perspectives and give students a broader understanding of the African American experience. As it turns out, what I was looking for was Discovering African American Writers.

This SAS Curriculum Pathways interactive tool helps students understand the challenges African Americans face in remembering their past as they build their future. The tool is organized into three sections: Focus, Explore, and Respond.

Focus: Students look at images about important moments in African American history and respond to questions that prepare them for reading. Topics include the Emancipation Proclamation, the Underground Railroad, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Birmingham protest marches.


Students can enter a response to a focus question for each image.

Explore: Students read literary passages and analyze themes important to African American writers. They use audio, vocabulary, and interpretive aids to enhance reading comprehension. The passages are by Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Jaki Shelton Green.


Interpretive comments are available for each passage.

As a final assignment, students apply what they’ve learned, synthesizing their earlier responses in Focus and Explore to answer a key question.


Students respond to a focus question about the African American experience.

There’s no doubt that reading the poems of Langston Hughes or Countee Cullen can be a rewarding experience. But when you can add powerful images, audio recordings, and instructional aides, you just might have the perfect solution to the February dilemma.

Check out more SAS Curriculum Pathways resources to help celebrate Black History Month:

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Booker T and W.E.B: Adding Women's Voices

Black History Month provides educators with the opportunity to explore the contributions of prominent African American leaders and thinkers in greater depth.

The post-Reconstruction period provided significant challenges for African Americans struggling to improve their lives in segregated and hostile environments. At the turn of the 20th century, two thinkers stood out as leaders within African American communities. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois agreed on the goal of increasing equality of opportunities in this country, but each outlined a distinct vision for the path blacks needed to take to achieve greater equality.

African American educator Mary Church Terrell

African American educator Mary Church Terrell

In Booker T. Washington and Equality, students explore the plight of African Americans in the late 1800s and analyze primary-source excerpts from the writings of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois to compare their different perspectives on the best way to attain greater equality. 

The Document Analyzer section also includes excerpts from two great African American women who may be less well-known than Washington and Du Bois. The excerpt from journalist Ida B. Wells’ book Self Help calls for greater African American activism, speaking out against the murderous practice of lynching. The final excerpt from educator Mary Church Terrell highlights the achievements of African American women in the post-Civil War period.

Take advantage of Black History Month and invite your students to delve more deeply into African American voices and experiences.

Looking for more African American resources? Check these out!

African Americans and the New Deal
Reconstruction Era Sharecropping
The Great Migration: Who, What, When, Where, and Why
Civil Rights: Desegregating the Military
The Civil War: The Emancipation Proclamation
The Harlem Renaissance


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Black History Month: Why February?

Historian Carter G. Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African-American history. In 1915 he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), to promote the scientific study of black life and history. Eager to promote black history and achievement outside of his immediate community, and with the support of fellow scholars, Woodson announced the first Negro History Week in February 1926.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Woodson’s choice of month was strategic. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, had been a day of commemoration since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, and starting in the 1890s, black communities had taken to celebrating Frederick Douglass’ birthday, February 14. Upon its inauguration, Negro History Week was a great success. Schools readily incorporated it into classrooms with instruction materials issued by the ASALH. Black history clubs formed in progressive communities, and as black populations grew, cities began issuing proclamations of Negro History Week. Through the 1930s, riding the success of Negro History Week, the ASALH formed branches across the country to better serve historians eager to help re-educate the nation.

It’s worth noting, however, that despite Negro History Week’s success, Woodson’s intent was not for black history to become a week-long affair. Instead, he argued for the integration of black history throughout the year, hoping for a time when an annual celebration was no longer a necessity. Woodson believed, like many today, that black history was too important to American and the world to be limited to one week.

In the 1940s efforts within the black community to expand the study of black history in schools and public celebrations began to catalyze. Southern black teachers began incorporating black history as a supplement to United States history, and through the civil rights movement, Freedom Schools used black history in curricula to advance social change. The shift from Negro History Week to Black History Month was incremental. By the late 1960s, with increasing pressure from black intellectuals, Black History Month began replacing Negro History Week. In 1976, the ASALH pushed to cement permanent shifts from Negro History Week to Black History Month across the country. Since then, every American president has issued proclamations endorsing the annual theme set by the ASALH.


SAS Curriculum Pathways resources--such as this primary-source document analysis of New Deal policies during the Great Depression--examine the history and literature of the African African experience.


Scott, Daryl Michael. "Origins of Black History Month." Founders of Black History Month. 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://asalh100.org/origins-of-black-history-month/>.

"About Us." About Us. Woodson Museum. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.woodsonmuseum.org/about-us>.

Foner, Eric, John Arthur Garraty, and Historians Society of American. The Reader’s Companion to American History. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1991. eBook Collection (EBCSOhost). Web. 29 Jan. 2015.



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