For the Teacher
This page is a resource for teachers to get ideas on how to create spaces in their classrooms that are ideal for learning and also ideal for efficiency and organization. The ideas written here are intended to be technology and environmentally friendly (saving paper and using, with purpose, the best of technology). Tools should only be a supplement and complement to teaching, not a replacement.Technology and other tools can enhance your teaching if used purposefully and strategically. It is not meant to replace your teaching because as the teacher, you know your students best and know how to manipulate different tools to best suit the needs of your students.
I highly suggest . . .
Making Your Own Website
Be in control and updated on the types of new technology / software out there. Keep parents, students, and families informed of what is happening in your classroom.
How to create your own website:
If you do not want your own domain name, please go to step three. All hosting services listed here are free.
1. Choose a domain name (e.g. your name--www.shielalee.com, etc.)
2. Go to www.godaddy.com and type in your domain name in the DOMAIN SEARCH
5. Begin editing your own website and publishing it!
In this digital age, there are so many website / blog sites that can help you communicate and express yourself more creatively. Why not reach out to students using what they know best? Computers. Now, go be innovative!
Creating A Digitized Classroom Library
For this suggestion and explanation, I thank Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Dunbar at MS 67 who gave a presentation on Classroom 2.0: Teachers Share Tips on Developing Electronic book Check-Outs, iPad Conferring, and PowerPoint in Mini-lessons at the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion, a free conference for educators in the area. Please contact me if you would like additional help in setting this up and I will direct you to Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Dunbar.
Step 1) Buy or ask someone to fund you to get a Barcode Scanner + Software
Usually, they cost about $100. It will save you so much money and time when you realize what you can do with creating a digital database of what books you have in you classroom and who has checked out what book from you. Mr. Dunbar and Mr. Sweeney suggested this barcode scanner + software: http://barcodereaders.com/Phoenix/default.html
Step 2) Plan how you will organize your library
Do you want to organize it by genre? Series? Title? Author? Difficulty? Book bins? Once you create several lists of how you want to organize your library, use the Quick Track Start software to begin creating your database.
Step 3) Scan Book Barcodes into your library! So simple and easy :)
To input books into your library, simply scan the barcodes into your computer. The software will automatically put in the Title, Author, Publisher, Year, etc. For duplicate books, create new barcodes for them using the software.
Step 4) Create Library cards for your students and begin checking out!
You can use the software to generate barcodes for your students. You can either create library cards forthem, or you can keep a class list of barcodes to quickly scan their name and what book they are checking out. For students to take library cards out of their wallets or pockets takes time and sometimes they lose them, which takes even more of your time.
Using Google Products (Free)
For Google Products, all you need is to create a username and password and you have access to all their products. If you have a gmail account, just use your gmail account to access these products.
Create your own library, especially once you have set up your own labeling, scanning, and categorization system (see above, scroll to the top). You can set up your own search able library for students to use. Click on "My Library"
Increasing Productivity, Efficiency, and Organization
Get a Label Maker
Get a label maker from Amazon.com so that you can quickly and easily label everything. Label stickers and felt pens also work. I like to encourage my students to know where everything is in the classroom so everything must be labeled. Students should know how to navigate the classroom to find their own materials.
Easily share files between colleagues on multiple computers. This saves your email from being burdened my tons of attachments and saves you time from attaching and sending files. Watch the video; it's good.
Helps with categorizing quickly and efficiently your student's work. Make folders online to store student's works. They have a free and pro version of the site.
Having a Variety of Resources for Curriculum Content to Draw Upon...
A math program based on step-by-step breakdown of problems is highlighted in these two New York Times articles (The data is pretty interesting):
A Better Way to Teach Math
When Math Makes Sense (To Everyone)
"The key to Jump is a balance between step-by-step guidance and encouraging inquiry and problem solving"
Math textbooks and workbooks from Singapore. I like using some of their workbooks as challenge packets for my students. See the NY Times Article on this type of math here.
For K-3, this program emphasizes sensory and sound stimulation. The Wilson Program teaches beginning and emergent readers phonemic awareness (the ability to blend sounds together to form spoken words and the ability to break spoken words into sounds) and phonological awareness (general term to describe awareness about sounds of language--rhyme, syllable, etc.)
The Saturday Reunions are great and they are free! They happen twice annually and I would definitely recommend going, even if your schools do not implement the TCRWP.
Integrating Multimedia Tools into Lessons (Software)
Record your student's voices as they narrate images you upload, either of their work or of other images you want to include their commentary on. This service is free. Kids can comment by phoning it in, recording their voice onto the computer, writing it on text, or uploading the pre-written text. Once all students have commented, you can share your class piece(s) with parents and families as a web link. Teachers have used this media source to compare archetypes, compare character development, and to allow students to comment on differences in perspectives of an image. Furthermore, juxtaposing different paintings of different perspectives can generate discussion about, for example, how Thanksgiving is presented. Student commenting gives the teacher an idea about what they know and moves away from a teacher led approach to something that taps into a student's funds of knowledge.
Obtaining Technology Hardware that is $$$, but worth the investment. . .
Get a Class Digital Camera
Get a class digital camera that you can use to snap pictures and then use Google Picasa (Free, scroll above) to help you edit. This will become very useful for learners who are primarily visual learners. It helps students to see themselves doing the action you want them to do (when you ask to snap a picture of them) and quickly make a poster out of it, or have it hanging in the classroom somewhere. There's no need to get a new digital camera; an old digital camera with at least 7 mega pixels will do. As teachers, we've got to scrimp and save.
I also think a digital camera is better for you to use for your classroom because older students can then learn how to snap their own pictures. It certainly is better than using your iPhone, Android, or other Smart Phone because it keeps your personal devices and files separate from work related uses. Also, for those who are interested, here's a good article on tech consolidation for your own personal use.
Example: This is what it looks like
These are super expensive, but so useful. I would highly recommend trying to get your school to purchase one for your classroom or for your grade / subject.
Chromebooks are more useful than iPads I've discovered for teaching students coding and for teaching them how to use the Google Suite of Docs, Spreadsheets, etc. They're inexpensive and if you write a DonorsChoose grant for them, you can have them in your classroom for many uses.