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

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.

Winter Break Rejuvenation Ideas for Teachers

"Daydreaming is a serious problem in my classroom. I can't stop thinking about retirement, summer vacation, winter break, snow days..." ~...and SUMMER BREAK!

Happy holidays teachers!

The leaves have fallen, the air is chilly, and merriment surrounds us as winter break approaches (or, for luckiest of teachers, may have already begun!). Give yourself a pat on the back for getting through the first half of the school year. You’ve worked relentlessly to develop engaging lessons, manage your classroom, and inspire your students. And as much as you love your job, even the best teachers can use a much-needed break. Now is the time to remove yourself from the construction paper-lined walls and piercing sounds of school bells. Put down that dry-erase marker and put on your fuzzy holiday socks because during winter break, you are on a first-name-basis road to self pampering!

Below we offer some tips and suggestions for how to rejuvenate during the holiday recess. Of course, as the technology lovers that we are, we also incorporated some tech-based tools to enhance your time away from the classroom.

1. Find time for yourself.

As an educator, you spend most of your day taking care of others. You are tasked with making sure your students are happy, comfortable, and learning to their full potential. Winter break is a great time to focus on yourself. Relax with a hot bath or get a massage at the spa. How about some meditation to help you wind down? Check out the free Smiling Mind app that provides audio instructions for meditational practices. If you enjoy your experience, you can use the app to help students destress as well. The app was created by a team of psychologists and can be used by students as young as seven years old.

Another way to take care of yourself is to get out there and be active. Take advantage of your gym pass or go on a hike. Don’t have the time? Download the Workout Trainer app for free exercise tutorials that you can do right from home! P.E. teachers can also take advantage of this app in the classroom.

workout

Perhaps your favorite pastime is just to watch some TV (who can blame you!). There are free ways to enjoy yourself with shows and movies. In addition to the obvious sources for on-screen entertainment such as Netflix and Hulu, take a look at http://www.crackle.com/. Crackle offers 100% free TV shows and movies without any subscriptions. You may even find a movie or show that can complement one of your lessons!

2. Break out of your routine.

Save the repetitive routines for when school is in session. Winter break affords you the opportunity to venture out of your comfort zone and explore and discover new hobbies. Does the sound of this give you a bit of anxiety? That’s okay! Start small. Turn off the alarm and allow yourself to sleep in. When you’re ready to get out of bed, make Pinterest your new best friend. As an educator, you’ve likely taken full advantage of Pinterest for educational ideas but it’s time to hit backspace on search terms such as “differentiated instruction” and replace them with terms like “DIY wall art” and “homemade soap recipes.” Who knows, that new wall art tip can even come in handy when decorating your classroom for the new year.

pinterest

So you have some homemade Scrabble coasters and are feeling accomplished with the raspberry hibiscus soap bar you just made, now what? How about a yoga or drawing lesson? Thumbtack (http://www.thumbtack.com/) is the go-to place for accomplishing any personal project. On thumbtack, you can hire a personal karate instructor or piano teacher in your area. Your students will be excited to hear all the new skills you acquired over winter break!

This last tip for breaking your routine will be the biggest leap. If you haven’t heard of Meetup, go to http://www.meetup.com/ now. Meetup is the gateway to meeting locals who have similar interests as you. There is a category specifically for Education & Learning where you can find groups of people who love learning about everything from finance to archaeology. What a great way to continue your journey as a lifelong learner!

3. Spend time with loved ones.

Have you been MIA with certain friends and family members during the school year? Now is the time to get back in touch with those you love. Release your inner Yamaguchi at a local ice skating rink, or take a gander at some snazzy Christmas lights with the kids. Looking for some fresh and unique ideas for family activities? Head over to http://redtri.com/. Red Tricycle offers busy parents awesome ideas for things to do with their kids; some of which can likely double as great ideas for young students.

redtri

Got lots of family and friends but very little time? Have them come to you by planning your own holiday party! Download the Ribbon app on your phone and create an event. Then, invite everyone you want to catch up with this holiday season. Ribbon is great for finding creative things to do and planning the event itself. It can also be used to plan school-related events with students and their parents.

4. Play catch up.

So maybe being a productive busy bee is more of your thing than indulging in r&r. No surprise there..you are a teacher after all! Winter recess is an excellent time for you to get caught up on errands, various projects, or some professional development courses (hopefully from PDI!) that you’ve been neglecting recently. How do you plan to organize the many many things on your to-do list? Productivity apps are abundant but one of the best at the moment is the Errands To-Do List app. The app offers a streamlined method for organizing your tasks with folders and allows you to set due dates, priority levels, and alerts. Likely you know some students in your classroom who could also use the app to get organized with their school work.

Errands and projects aside, winter break is also an opportune time to catch up on some reading and the news. Google Play is home to a tapestry of e-books, including many free e-books that can be found by clicking here. If audiobooks are more of your forte, try Librivox (https://librivox.org/) for a library of free audiobooks. For a quality news aggregator, Google News can’t be beat. Tailor your news feed to your specific preferences, or create a custom news section and share it with others. Click here to learn more about creating a custom section in Google News. As a teacher, surely you can appreciate the educational value of these sites.

librivox

One of the best things you can do for your students is to take care of yourself. What student doesn’t want a healthy, happy, and positive teacher? Not to mention one with tons of great stories to share when it comes time to return to school! Treat yourself and you will find that it will also carry over into your classroom.

We hope these tips help you in making the best of your holiday break. Keep warm out there and take care.

Happy teaching and happy holidays!

The PDI Team

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 Technology to Teach Thanksgiving

Happy short-school-week teachers!

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is worth a thousand lessons. It commemorates a prominent point in U.S. history that all students should learn about. From the historical perspectives of the Native Americans to the perspectives of the Pilgrims, there is a story to tell and a lesson to learn. This is a time to be thankful and an opportunity to engage students in higher order thinking as they explore the 1621 feast in Plymouth, MA.

Below we provide some excellent tech-based resources for teaching and celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Scholastic: Scholastic offers virtual field trips back in time to the Plimoth Plantation where students can learn about the Mayflower, Pilgrim Village, Wampanoag nation, and the first Thanksgiving.
  • History.com: What better way to learn about Thanksgiving than to explore the Native American culture? History.com dedicates a section of its site to articles, videos, pictures, and speeches on Native American cultures.
  • Plimoth.org: Let your students take the role of historian with this Thanksgiving activity! In this interactive activity, students investigate what really happened during the famous 1921 celebration.
  • Education World: In this video roundup, Thanksgiving videos along with their descriptions are listed targeting grade levels from primary to middle school.
  • PrimaryGames: Fun, interactive games for primary grades tailored to the Thanksgiving theme. Students can learn to count by twos with turkeys or solve the Mayflower puzzle.

Have a festive week and happy teaching (gobble gobble),

The PDI Team