Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fourteen Technology Time Savers for Teachers

Easy (takes 5-15 minutes)

1.  Declutter your inblox using  Read more about this simple tool here.

2.  Put technology to work for you using IFTTT.  Read about this tool here and sign up.  What are you waiting for?

3.  Use Remind (formerly Remind 101) to send important reminders to your families via text or emails.

4.  Do you use Google calendar?  Download Boomerang Calendar to schedule group meetings with other busy professionals in one click.

5.  Bookmark all of your favorite websites using Diigo.  This simple tool works similar to Pinterest or even your favorites button on your computer but you can access it anywhere.

6.  Are you overwhelmed with keeping track of all of your passwords?  Use a password keeper app for your smart phone.  I like PassCaddy but there's so many available out there.  Be sure to do your research because you want to make sure you choose a secure site.

Medium (takes 15-30 minutes)

7. Google Apps.  If your district offers Google, use it for you and for your students.  If not, get your own account.  You can save everything here and access it anywhere, have your students turn in their work for digital feedback, and So. Much. More.  Read about simple Google tools for educators and twenty helpful tips for using Google in the classroom here.

8. Do you have an iPad?  Put it to work for you to help manage your classroom.  Read about some of my favorite apps here.

Hard (these could take 30+ minutes, but it's worth it!)

9. Create your classroom newletters or project resources using Smore.  The nice part is that you can add helpful links and save hours of time making copies when everything is loaded in one place.  Next year-- just make the necessary changes.  I used this for a summer reading and math challenge and the kids loved it!

10. Organize your Google Docs, share, and create student documents using Doctopus.  I am still learning this tool, but it is definitely worth checking out.

11. Use Flubaroo to make simple multiple choice or fill-in-the blank assignments and...wait for it....grades them too.

12. As a future administrator, I love Formmule.  There are so many direct uses in the classroom too.  Basically it allows you to automatically send an email with the results.  Think about taking notes during classroom conferences or making notes during a classroom observation and sharing your feedback immediately.  Pretty awesome.

13. Find a classroom management system that you love tand use it o organize your entire class in one place.  Some popular ones are Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle, and I am loving Google classroom which will be available in September 2014.

14. Choose an online lesson book.  One of the most popular resources is Planbook but you can also use Google Calendar for free.  Save a few minutes by planning a lesson when you're hanging out in a waiting room.  

Check out these links for more ideas on incorporating 21st century instruction, technology for back to school, and how to save time with classroom management and organization.  What is your best tip for saving time?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


One of my personal goals this summer is to put technology to work for me.  As teachers, there are so many tools available to us, it's overwhelming!   As a teacher-trainer, let me share one of my new favorites...

IFTTT stands for if that, then this. The basic premise is that if you do one thing web-based, then another thing automatically happens. You start by adding channels. Things like your phone number, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. are called channels. Then you link the channels to a recipe and just like that you have made life easier. This one is my favorites (I am signing the hubs up with this one tonight!) IFTTT Recipe: Text my wife when I leave work connects android-location to android-sms

Here are some of my other favorite recipes, but be sure to check out the site. There are so many! IFTTT Recipe: Unmute my phone when I get home connects android-location to android-device IFTTT Recipe: Mute my ringer at bedtime connects date-time to android-device IFTTT Recipe: Mute my device during meetings connects google-calendar to android-device IFTTT Recipe: If you post a link on Facebook this Recipe will also tweet it automatically connects facebook to twitter IFTTT Recipe: Add a link on Facebook when you add to your Blog connects blogger to facebook
What recipe would you use?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This is Life Changing!

If you have not been to yet...what are you waiting for?!  It will improve your life RIGHT NOW! It takes about 5 minutes and you can unclutter your inbox for life.  Seriously, check this out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Passion Projects

Advanced learners need more...not more worksheets, not more work.  They need more from us as teachers.  So often, these students get forgotten in classrooms because teachers have a million other concerns on their plates.  Today's post is dedicated to fostering the passion of all learners, but specifically GT students and advanced learners.

I began with this motivating video.  This student shows that adults can and should learn from kids.  Wow...she's an amazing speaker too. 

Using the idea from the video below (I didn't show this to kids though.) I gave each student an area around the room to show their passions. I asked questions and had them add each thought to a post-it note.

1. What are you passionate about?
2. How can you change the world?
3. What are your strengths?
4. How do you like to present? Technology? Speech?

Here's an image of their brainstorms...

I can't wait to see what they come up with! My next steps with the students is to have them complete a project proposal so they can begin their plans. Follow my blog to see their final projects next month!

How do you encourage indiviualzed learning for your students?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pre-Assessments Made Meaningful!

Okay, I will be the first to admit this sheet looks boring.  I mean how much data can you get from this basic worksheet anyway?  First, let's discuss.  What are preassessments for?  To guide instruction right?  To show growth?  So often, we give preassessments and then never do anything with them.  What's the point?  We are all too busy to do anything that isn't valuable.  This is where this technique comes into place.

Step One- Give the preassessment.  The nice thing about this sheet is that it can be used for anything.  Students write the main topic in the center and then you offer them four specific questions for them to repond to in the boxes.  Here are some ideas...but I am sure you will come up with better ones!

Topic- polygons
Box one- what are examples of polygons?
Box two- what are examples of shapes that are not polygons?
Box three- what are rules for polygons?
Box four- what are examples of regular polygons?

Topic- non-fiction
Box one- what are examples of non-fiction books?
Box two- what are examples of books that are not non-fiction?
Box three- how would you define non-fiction?
Box four- what genres fall under the non-fiction category?

You get the idea.

Now here's the hard part.  Students need to write in colored pencil and they need to write relatively small. 

Step two- Use the assessment.  Look for trends for whole group lessons, ways you can group students into small groups, possibly even topics you can skip entirely because your whole class are already experts (not that happens frequently, but you never know).  No need to grade them, just take notes to help you teach.


Step three- In a few weeks, after some instruction, give the assessment back to the student.  Have them add to it, cross things out, etc. in a different colored pencil.  This is the best evidence that your instruction matters.  Students will see how much more they know, you can use it to guide your instruction again, parents and administrators will love to see the growth.  And the best part?  Almost no planning. 

What great ways do you use pre-assessments?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

So. Many. Freebies.

Well it's back to school time so this means this post has to be short and sweet and full of great things for my amazing friends and followers.  Many sellers from teacherspayteachers have worked hard this summer on back to school ebooks to help teachers work with the Common Core for math and literacy in new and unique ways.  The ebooks are out now and each page includes one teaching tip and at least one freebie.  It's amazing!  Enjoy :)

Click on the image of my page above and go straight to my freebie to help set up your writing workshop center.  Hope your year is going great!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Deals and Steals

I was so happy to connect with some of my favorite Colorado sellers.  We decided to share some of our favorite products right before the big sale.  Remember almost every sale is participating and you can save up to 28% off items for back to school.  It’s time to stock up!

Here are some of the best products from the best sellers in Colorado.  Please check them out and have fun shopping for back to school!  Remember to enter BTS13 when you check out to get the full discount. 

Jean Martin’s favorite product is her novel study for Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is is wonderful book and teaches kids of all ages about tolerance and acceptance for kids who are different. It also promotes the understanding that who we are on the inside is what really counts.

Kristy Morris has these awesome homework writing journals.  She says, "I love them and have found them to be great over the years to add more for writing.  I have a kindergarten one and second grade.  I'm working on intermediate next!" Be sure to follow her store for updates on when the intermediate will be ready to go.
Cecilia Magro from I Love First Grade's favorite product is her FirstGrade ELA and Math Common Core Morning Work.  It is so easy to use and assures teachers that students will be working on SO many Common Core Standards for math and language arts. Purchase the entire bundle and save even more because she is offering even a larger discount on this product making it 38% off!
Naomi O’Brien from Read Like a Rock Star is offering her Main Idea Mega Bundle which combines all 7 of her engaging and helpful main idea packs! Buying this pack will save you over 25% and provide you with 7 different themed main idea packs that will keep your students interested and motivated to read and find the main idea all year long! Themes included are: Science, Valentine's Day, February Holidays, Winter Holidays, Fall/Halloween, Pirates, and her original Main Idea and detail packet.

Kristin Holmquist’s favorite product is her "FindSomeone Who" Math Bundle.  It's a great way to review math concepts at the end of the unit, or as a "refresher" anytime throughout the year. The best part is kids are up and out of their seats, working together, and learning from each other. This product is most appropriate for 2nd-4th grades.

Pam Kranz has an exciting Math Games Galore Bundle. It's a collection of her favorite math computation, order of operations and place value games. She says, "I love these games because they're easily differentiated, work well in a variety of learning situations (centers, solitaire, team challenges, whole class, homework), and are easy to leave for a substitute once the class knows how to play." They're appropriate for grades 4-8.

Ashlyn Ellsworth’s  favorite product  is her  states of matter pack. Ashlyn says, "I love this product because first off I use it with my first graders and made this because there wasn't much out there to meet my science needs! The pack is easy to use and the kids love it. The science experiments are great. Especially the ice cream making!!"

I hope you all enjoy this short preview of some local sellers and especially the great deals coming your way starting at midnight tonight and running through Monday night.  Happy shopping :)