8 Awesome Tech Tools for Classroom Management

The challenges of classroom management has been widely recognized in the teaching community for some time. The tapestry of tasks, skills and strategies required to ensure lessons run smoothly can be tremendously difficult to juggle. Novice teachers feel the pressure most intensely as they step into their first classroom, and faced with students of diverse backgrounds and varying ability levels. Even the most experienced teachers have days when classroom disruptions and disorganization is the norm.

Over the years, educators have developed a reservoir of tips, tricks and procedures to manage their classrooms. As the Internet began connecting people far and wide, those methods were shared, improved and built upon in the online community. Now many teachers and experts in the field have developed practical technology-based tools to help fellow educators successfully manage their classrooms.

Below we offer a list of eight excellent tech tools for classroom management. You may have heard of some while others will be brand new. In any case, be sure to share this list with others in the teaching community to continue the positive cycle of teachers helping teachers! (*Note: the list is in no particular order)

  1. Class Dojo: A first-rate tool for managing student behavior. Class Dojo allows you to reinforce positive behavior by awarding students points for specific behaviors. Students love the fun avatars that are assigned to them and Class Dojo makes it easy for you to track and monitor student behavior. You can even generate reports to share with parents!
  2. Stick Pick: An app that allows you to randomly select a student by simply shaking your device. You are then given suggestions for question starters tailored to students at varying ability levels. You can also record students’ participation during discussions directly in the Stick Pick app.
  3. Socrative: An intuitive student response system that gives you the opportunity to collect student feedback and quiz answers instantly. You can set up questions as part of a quiz or poll student opinions. Students can use their device to respond in real time and the responses are delivered to you immediately.
  4. Bouncy Balls: A fun way to track the noise level in your class with the use of a microphone and virtual bouncing balls. Challenge students to keep the noise level down by keeping the balls from bouncing.
  5. Engrade: An all-in-one platform that can be used to manage gradebooks, attendance charts, seating charts, student behavior, calendars, and more. Using Engrade, you can also develop Common Core-aligned tests and track student progress. It is a great way to connect to educational resources as well as your students.
  6. Collaborize Classroom: A platform for creating online learning communities for teachers and students. In this learning community, students are encouraged to collaborate with one another while teachers are made accessible both in and out of the classroom.
  7. Schoolbinder: In a Schoolbinder class page, you have the power to add, edit and organize assignments. It provides an online “dropbox” where students can submit assignments, ask questions and receive instant feedback. Events and deadlines can also be viewed in the Schoolbinder calendar.
  8. Remind: A safe, secure and easy way to connect to students and parents via text message. It is a quick way to send out reminders instantly or set reminders to be sent out in advance.

While technology is never an adequate replacement for teachers who employ methods proven through years of teaching experience, technology can certainly support your efforts in managing a classroom. Your experience, knowledge and expertise are essential in constructing lessons that maximize on your specific classroom’s needs. The resources above simply equip you with the proper tools for streamlining success in the classroom.

Teachers, do you have any tips, tricks or tech tools you use for classroom management? We want to hear from you! Share your ideas with us and help us contribute to the teaching community.

Until next time..

Happy teaching,

The PDI Team

*screenshot from Class Dojo (https://www.classdojo.com/) iPad app

Teacher Tip Video – Creating a Classroom Website with Weebly (Part 2)

Happy Friday teachers!

This week, we are continuing where we left off last week. Last week, we published part 1 of 2 teacher tip videos on how to create a classroom website using the site builder Weebly. We created an account, a new site, and added content to the Home and About page on the site. Now we’ll learn how to manage pages on the site, format text, add videos, and an assignment form. Check out the second video below!

If you missed the part 1 video from last week, you can find it here: http://wp.me/p52XYO-1L.

If you have any suggestions for future videos, leave them in the reply box below or email julee@webteaching.com

PDI also offers online courses for teachers that can be found here: http://www.webteaching.com/. Including many courses on integrating technology into the classroom.

Or, click here to like us on Facebook!

Also, don’t forget to join our email list (Follow button on the left) to make sure you never miss a video!

Happy teaching,

The PDI Team

Teacher Tip Video – Creating a Classroom Website with Weebly (Part 1)

Hello teachers!

At this day and age, a classroom website is always a good idea. Not only to integrate technology into the classroom and empower students to acquire tech skills, but also to make learning more accessible for everyone! Classroom websites are gateways to connecting with students, parents and colleagues. They offer an easy and quick method for communicating information (announcements, deadlines, school events, etc.), as well as collecting information (parent forms, student polls, electronic assignment submissions, etc.).

Site builders such as Google Sites, Squarespace, and Wix have made it increasingly easier to create a classroom website. Our favorite? Weebly–for its seamless interface, useful tools and beautiful themes! If you have yet to try Weebly, follow along with us this week and next week as we guide you through a two-part video series on how to create a classroom website with Weebly. Oh, and did we mention it’s absolutely free? Let’s get started!

This is part one of a two-part video series so stay tuned for the second half of this teacher tip next week!

If you have any suggestions for future videos, leave them in the reply box below or email julee@webteaching.com

PDI also offers online courses for teachers that can be found here: http://www.webteaching.com/. Including many courses on integrating technology into the classroom.

Or, click here to like us on Facebook!

Also, don’t forget to join our email list (Follow button on the left) to make sure you never miss a video!

Happy teaching,

The PDI Team

PDI Teacher Tip Video – Creating an Interactive PowerPoint Presentation

Hello teachers!

Last week, we discussed the importance of integrating interactive features into a presentation; and as promised, this week we show you how to create an interactive PowerPoint presentation. With just a few buttons and links, you can create an engaging presentation that allows for students to easily and flexibly explore content independently from home! Check out this week’s teacher tip video below.

If you have any suggestions for future videos, leave them in the reply box below or email julee@webteaching.com

PDI also offers online courses for teachers that can be found here: http://www.webteaching.com/. Including a course titled Using Microsoft PowerPoint in the Classroom.

Or, click here to like us on Facebook!

Also, don’t forget to join our email list (Follow button on the left) to make sure you never miss a video!

Have a great weekend and happy teaching,

The PDI Team

Defining The Teacherpreneur: New Year, New Role

Teacherpreneur (noun): “Classroom experts who teach while also serving as teacher educators, policy researchers, community organizers and trustees of their profession.” (Berry, 2011)

Several years back, the advent of the term “teacherpreneur” encouraged many teachers to take the reins on leadership roles in education. The call for teacherpreneurs stemmed from a long-time problem identified by teachers regarding education reform. Understandably so, teachers voiced their frustrations about the extent to which policymakers are disconnected from the classroom. They felt that those who set the standards did not sufficiently understand the demands of the classroom and the needs of students.

In came the idea of the teacherpreneur, which posited the benefits that could come from entrepreneurally-minded leaders who want to contribute to education reform solutions. Teacherpreneurs are passionate classroom teachers who are deeply knowledgeable about how to achieve success at the classroom level, school level, and beyond. These educators have a clear vision of the strategies necessary to reach educational excellence and possess the skills and commitment required to reach those goals. While on the leadership path, teacherpreneurs continue to keep one foot in the classroom.

Teacherpreneurs make the education landscape more promising for the teaching community as a whole. In this integrated approach, teachers remain in the classroom while playing an active role in important projects at their school, district, and other organizations. The end result are leaders who have the classroom knowledge to properly and drastically transform education reform.

So why are we talking about teacherpreneurs on a blog about integrating technology into the classroom? Because a key area in which all teacherpreneurs should be well-versed is educational technology. As more educators rise up to the opportunity to be leaders in the field, educational technology will continue to increase in sophistication, relevance, and importance. As a teacherpreneur, you will not only be leading in engaging your students and education reform, but also in edtech. Many of the most innovative tech-based learning and teaching tools have been developed by classroom teachers such as yourself. It is now more important than ever to embrace technology as you foster the skills you need to help your students, school, district, and yourself succeed.

There are many tools available to help you on the track to teacherpreneurship as 2015 rolls around. The first step is to educate yourself on what “teacherpreneur” really means, and what it takes to become a leader. Sharpen your tech skills and become a thought leader in the edtech scene. Lastly, take action by taking on important new roles and responsibilities that contribute to the teaching community. Below we offer a few resources for accomplishing the aforementioned points.

Online EdTech Courses

*The courses below are part of PDI’s Educational Technology Award of Completion Program offered in association with UC San Diego Extension

Educational Technology 101 PDI Course

Multimedia Project Design and Development PDI Course

Effectively Using iPads to Transform Your Classroom PDI Course

Google as a Classroom Tool for Learning PDI Course

Integrating Interactive Whiteboards into the Curriculum PDI Course

Making the Most of the Internet in the Classroom PDI Course

Articles

Stories from Other Teacherpreneurs

2015-2020 The Rise Of The Teacherpreneur

So You Want to Be a Teacherpreneur?

Teacherpreneur Communities

References

Videos are produced, published, and owned by the Center for Teaching Quality

Berry, B., (2011). Teaching 2030. New York, NY: Teacher College Press.

Using VoiceThread for Collaboration – Teacher Tip

Happy Friday teachers!

This week’s teacher tip video guides you through the steps for creating a VoiceThread. For those of you who aren’t familiar with VoiceThread, it’s an awesome web-based tool that allows you to use media (e.g., images, videos, documents, etc.) to create a presentation. What makes VoiceThread unique is the way it fosters collaboration through the use of text, voice, and video comments.

For example, suppose you created a slideshow presentation using various photos and shared the presentation with your students. Your students can then create an account/identity and comment on a specific slide in the presentation using text, their own voice, or a video recorded from their webcam. Students can also respond to their classmates’ comments, which creates an ongoing dialogue that can be done entirely from their home (or school) computer!

Check out our new 4 minute teacher tip video on how to use VoiceThread below.

If you have any suggestions for future videos, leave them in the reply box below or email julee@webteaching.com

PDI also offers online courses for teachers that can be found here: http://www.webteaching.com/. Including many courses that teach you how to integrate web-based tools such as VoiceThread into the classroom.

Or, click here to like us on Facebook!

Also, don’t forget to join our email list (Follow button on the left) to make sure you never miss a video!

Have a great weekend and happy teaching,

The PDI Team

Using Twitter in the Classroom

Hello teachers!

Today we’re going to discuss how social media, Twitter in particular, can help you connect with students, parents, and colleagues, as well as, provide instruction.

Many of us have, at one point of another, opened a social media account. Whether it was way back in the MySpace days or recently via Facebook or Twitter, social media can be difficult to avoid. While some teachers prefer to keep social media separate from the classroom, it can be a very powerful and beneficial way to connect with others on an academic level.

For example, in addition to the many professional athletes and celebrities that can be followed on Twitter, there are also many journalists, scientists, historians, and political analysts who pride themselves on posting only the most up-to-date and trustworthy information. Considering this fact, Twitter can be used as a medium to have valuable information delivered directly to you and your students.

If you’re new to Twitter, familiarize yourself with the Twitter lingo below before tackling this social platform.

  • Tweets: Messages or Twitter posts that accept a maximum of 140 characters. Tweets can come in the form of text or links to webpages, images, or videos. They can be about anything including thoughts, ideas, quotes, etc.
  • Follow: To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their Tweets. The Tweets from those you follow are displayed on your home page. Others can follow you as well.
  • Hashtag (#): Hashtag symbols are used before keywords or phrases to categorize them within the Twitter community. Using hashtags helps users easily locate Tweets about a specific topic. For example, someone may post a link to an article about the Common Core State Standards and use the hashtag: #commoncore or #ccss. You click on or search for a hashtag to access the most recent Tweets from Twitter users who referenced the hashtag in their Tweets.
  • Mention (@): Using the @ symbol allows you to tag another Twitter user in your message. Perhaps the message you’re typing is relevant to another user or you think what you’re posting may be interesting to a colleague. In these cases, you can simply put the @ symbol before their Twitter username to mention them in the Tweet. They will then get notification of your Tweet.

Consider the idea of hashtags. They are used to categorize Tweets. However, you are not limited to using hashtags that already exist, you can create your own customized hashtags. For the following example, imagine you are Mrs. Jane Smith who teaches 7th grade at Garden Grove Middle School. Perhaps you want to create a general hashtag for the students in your classroom such as #smith7ggms or create different hashtags for specific lessons such as #sciproject-smith7ggms. You can create as many as you’d like!

Once you’ve chosen a hashtag, have students Tweet from their account and use the hashtag in their posts. Then, when you search for the unique hashtag in Twitter, you will see all of your students’ contributions. You and your students can then comment on one another’s Tweets.

A few things to note before you get started–First, get the OK from your administrator before using Twitter for any educational purposes. Second, keep in mind that though it is unlikely for someone to search for a unique hashtag such as #smith7ggms, Tweets are technically public. Take precautions as necessary. For example, you may wish to have students create separate accounts in which they do not include their full names (e.g., Robert E). Third, you will need to do a search for the hashtag you’re planning on having your students use. This is to ensure the hashtag is not already being used for a different purpose. If you search for the hashtag and no results appear, you are all set to use it with your students. Below are some examples of how you can use hashtags in your classroom.

  • Use hashtags for students and parents to post questions about school or classroom-related events and activities. You can create a general hashtag for questions such as #questions-smith7ggms or hashtags for specific events such as #openhouse-smith7ggms.
  • Create a hashtag to post announcements and reminders of due dates for assignments (#reminders-smith7ggms).
  • Create a hashtag for a question of the day that students need to access as a homework assignment each night, research the answer, and come prepared the following day for a class discussion (#qoftheday-smith7ggms).
  • Ask students to summarize news articles, textbook content, etc. under 140 characters (#summary-smith7ggms).
  • Using weekly vocabulary words, have students post a sentence a day on one of the words (#vocab-smith7ggms).

Have you ever used Twitter or any other social media in your classroom? Share your ideas with us in the comment section below! If not, hopefully this post will inspire you to maximize on the potential of social media with your students.

Happy teaching,

The #PDI Team