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Teacher Organization Technology Tools to Drown Out Distractions

Teacher Organization Technology Tools to Drown Out Distractions


Let's get organized! I've found 3 awesome Chrome Extensions and 3 awesome iPad Apps to share with you today. Do you have others that you love that you think teachers should know about? Leave them in the comments for us!
*Disclaimer- the links to the iTunes apps are affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, if you click through and download the app I receive a small commission. The opinions are not paid though, they are my own :-)
chrome-extensions-and-ipad-apps-helping-teachers-get-and-stay-organized-graphic-1

Chrome Extensions to Help you Get, and Stay, Organized

  1. Stay Focused- if you're crunched for time but easily distracted by email and social media then this is the extension for you. With Stay Focused you can temporarily block your own access to websites. This is serious though, you cannot get to them no matter what while the time is ticking down. Even if you really need that picture of you off of Facebook in order to finish your project- you can't get it until the time is up! This extension works perfectly as designed but is super frustrating, for good reason.
stay-focused-chrome-extension-organize-teachers
 2. Todoist- I am a big fan of paper planners, but they do make it so easy to just draw an arrow from one unfinished task onto the next day. Todoist is a task list manager for the Chrome browser. What I like so much about it is that it emails you every day letting you know what you didn't accomplish. It is a quick, but effective, reminder to wake up with. Adding events and to dos is really simple. Definitely check this one out. todoist-teacher-organization-chrome-extension
 3. Live Start Page- Ahhhhh my favorite Chrome extension of all time. The Live Start Page takes over a new tab when you open one and has some great motivational stuff to help get you through your day. I chose a paradise beach scene for myself, but there were zillions to choose between. The things that are displayed are very customizable. Now every time I open a new tab I stop and watch it for a moment before going to my next task. I know this post is about liming distractions, but this one is purposeful. Without the right mindset, that task you were doing would not be nearly as enjoyable :-)
  live-start-page-chrome-extension-organize-teachers

iTunes Apps to Help you Get, and Stay, Organized

ipad-apps-for-organized-teachers
 1. Pocket- I am obsessed with this iPad app. Store all of the essentials. Links to websites you want to access again, articles, videos, etc. are so easy to save and get back to when you're ready. You can save them directly from the apps you're in, too! My favorite part is that things you save on one device are there and waiting on every device. No more sending links to yourself through iMessage or email. 400x400bb1
 2. Seesaw- If you're not using Seesaw yet, you will definitely want to check this out. This is the description on the app; "Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school and share it with their teachers, parents, classmates, and even the world." This is a really fancy way of saying that is stores all of your students files so that you can access them to review later. It is awesomesauce. 400x400bb2  
 3. Toodledo- I know that the iPad comes with a built in task manager, but this one is so much better. Toodledo tracks your habits and helps you out by making outlines and lists. It even works with Apple Watch if you have it.
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 So there you have it. 6 productivity and organization tools to help you be your best teacher self possible! Did I leave anything out?
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Brittany Washburn
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Technology Tools for Fun and Easy ELA Test Prep

Technology Tools for Fun and Easy ELA Test Prep



Preparing students for their standardized state tests doesn't have to be terribly boring and use a whole tree worth of paper. Over the years helping 5th grade students prepare for their science state test in North Carolina, I have come across some amazing online resources for ELA that I want to share with you. I chose the best 3 because I know your time is limited and you need to work on other test taking skills and subjects with your classes.
  1. Prepdog has common core quizzes for grades K-8. You can have students take a test in a specific standard for ELA, or let them choose what they practice. One of my favorite things about using Prepdog is that it requires students to choose their answer by selecting it from a drop down menu. This is an important skill to practice if your students have to take their standardized tests on the computer. prepdog test prep
  2. Pearsonlongman is another great technology tool for test prep. The reading tests have passages for students to read and then multiple choice comprehension questions to answer. This site has students click on a radio button to select their answer. The reading passages and questions are separated so students also have to navigate the page to find which questions and passages go together. Great practice!
  3. Lumos Learning is my third recommendation. There is a sample question for each of the common core standards and topics. So, for 5th grade there are 41 sample questions! Students select an answer choice and then check to see whether or not it is correct. There is even an answer explanation if they were wrong.
Bonus resource if you need to practice with bubble sheets but want the questions to be online. Testprepreview has you covered. While I shared these resources for 5th graders, each of these sites has options for the other elementary grades, too. What are some of your favorite websites for test prep? -Brittany
  technology tools for ELA test prep pin
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Brittany Washburn
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Technology Tools for Foolproof Sub Plans

Technology Tools for Foolproof Sub Plans


Sub plans are all about the routines in the classroom

If you want your students to have a "normal" day then the goal is to give the substitute teacher everything he/she needs to maintain the classroom routines.

Provide the sub with a quick video tutorial of the tech in your classroom

When I taught technology, this meant giving a tutorial for all of the technology tools in my classroom. It really helps when you can use the same sub every time, but having a tutorial in place will save you time when someone new comes in to sub. My tutorial wasn't anything fancy, just a video recording I made of how to turn on the projector, document camera, laptop, and student computers as well as where things were stored if needed. I put this on a flash drive that I left in the sub folder along with a card that had a substitute teacher computer login. I wish I could share the video with you but it had very school-specific details. By the way I just recorded the video with my iPhone and then transferred it to my laptop with the dropbox app. You could also use the google drive app if you have it.

Create a screencast for student directions

This is my favorite tip. Even though it takes time to make a screencast of the assignment directions, they are incredibly helpful to students. You can find an example screencast that I made for my student's typing unit here. Having a video really holds students accountable for completing the assignment. They can watch it as many times as needed. Absent students can watch it when they come back without you having to take the time to work with them one on one. Videos are also amazing for students with special needs because they can watch the video with the resource teacher or with their parents at home while working through an assignment. I use the software Screencast-o-matic and love it, but there are several options out there. I don't usually even edit my videos. If I mess up, I just correct myself and keep going.

Keep the classroom routines the same

If your students are accustomed to doing a certain thing when they enter the classroom (mine do 10 minutes of typing) then don't change that just because there is a substitute teacher. Your students need the consistency and your sub will appreciate that your students know how to get started on their own. That goes for the early finishers, too. In my tech lab the procedures are always the same. 10 minutes of typing, the lesson itself, and early finisher activities. As long as I tell my students which lesson to find on our class website, they can basically work without me. I'm just facilitating their learning and there in case they have any questions. Working this way changed my whole way of teaching.

Give the sub a feedback form so you can adjust if needed

I'm a huge fan of feedback because it makes me better. The stuff I shared with you in this post only came to be because of helpful feedback I received from substitute teachers. I let them know in my notes that I want to know what would have been helpful and ask if they feel like they had a successful day.

Plan A and plan B

For last minute subs (or a TA pulled from a classroom) I always provide a non-tech option. I love a good read aloud book and built a classroom library of tech themed books for early finishers or days when the wifi wasn't working. The sub can decide to read to the class or just have the students pair up and read together. What do you do for sub plans that include technology? I would love to hear other perspectives. Please share this post with your teacher friends so that they can try some new technology tools, too! If you loved this post, be sure to subscribe by email so that our blog posts are delivered directly to your inbox.
  technology tools for foolproof sub plans pin
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Brittany Washburn
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10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech

10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech


10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech

10 Attention Grabbers

When our students are using devices it can be really challenging to get their attention. Sometimes they have headphones on, sometimes they are just really engaged in the lesson. These 10 attention grabbers are something to try with your students. Some will stick with your group and you can add them to your regular rotation of classroom management strategies. These attention grabbers are split up into 2 categories

Call and Response

The teacher says a phrase and the children respond to it with a specific response (usually also requires a physical response from students like putting their hands up, etc.)
  1. Hands Up - Buttercup (students raise their hands from their devices and look at the teacher)
  2. Mac - Cheese, Children - Freeze (this one is two parts to give students a moment to prepare to stop)
  3. Hands on Top - That means stop (hands on head)
  4. Floppy - Disk (fun tech themed one)
  5. Light Show - Time to go (teacher flashes lights and then says the phrase. This one is great for when they are wearing headphones)10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech

Teacher Phrases

This set of attention grabbers doesn't require a verbal student response, but rather a physical one. 6. Clap it and Lap it (to get your students to remove their hands from the keyboard) 7. Flip the Flap (for use with iPad covers, "Close the lid" would work well for laptops) 8. T-Rex Arms (again, to get your students to remove their hands from the keyboard) 9. Horn signal 10. Chime or music with specific patterns or songs for different effects 10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech
 Give these a try and let me know how they go for you. Do you have another suggestion? Leave it in the comments so we can all learn from each other. This list was compiled by dozens of Tech Teachers and Media Specialists in the Facebook Group Technology Teacher Tribe.  Request to join today!
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Brittany Washburn
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Easy Parent Communication with the Technology Tool Edmodo

Easy Parent Communication with the Technology Tool Edmodo


It can be really challenging to engage parents in their child's classroom activities. Blended learning adds to this challenge when students aren't bringing home as many papers. Edmodo is a technology tool that helps to solve this problem.
  Easy parent communication with the technology tool Edmodo FB

What is Edmodo?

If you haven't come across Edmodo yet, it is a learning management system. That means teachers load content into the system to share with students through assignments. Students access their assignments, work on them, and then turn them in through the system. Teachers then grade the assignments and give students feedback. It is all done digitally, paperless.

How do Parents fit into Edmodo?

A teacher invites students into their Edmodo "class" through a Class Code. Teachers can also make a Parent Code but it is a little different than a Class Code. With the Parent Code, a parent uses the code to make their account and then can add all of their children under their account. They only need one code and then they are in (but students need a Class Code for each class they join).

How can Teachers communicate with Parents through Edmodo?

Once parents have their accounts, there are several ways to communicate. I'm going to highlight three.
  1. Weekly Newsletter to Parents. Parents, don't read this next sentence. Teachers, the parents can't send you messages (yay), but you can send a note out directed to them! You can post a note with an attached newsletter for parents and students to see. A weekly message that included updates and achievements is a great way to help Parents feel like they are informed.
  2. Direct communication. You can send a note with only one student chosen, which means their parents will be able to access it. This can also be great if the student has a tutor or someone else they work on homework with. Consider giving this other person a Parent Code too.
  3. Calendar. You can add events, key dates, activities, and assignment due dates to the calendar so that parents can see what is planned for the month. Note to parents
What other parent communication tools have you tried or heard of that are digital? Thanks for reading! -Brittany
  Easy parent communication with the technology tool Edmodo
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Brittany Washburn
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[name=Brittany] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Vk7QrALFyQ8/WIAomFYEmsI/AAAAAAAASHQ/6m9I7A4xpFwuWgn80KWNkkL-z_dESOdHwCLcB/s1600/authorbio.jpg] [description=Hi, I'm Brittany. I'm an educator obsessed with teaching with technology. I love creating and sharing teaching resources for technology teachers, media specialists, and technology facilitators. Take a minute to enroll in my Free 5 part email course for technology teachers. Click on the link at the top of this site.]

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