Free Things Teachers Would Love

So… as a teacher, I know that budgets are thin at schools and for districts.  However, there are still *some* free things out there in this world.  Here are two of my latest favorites…

PermissionClick.com: This website offers permission slips for FREE!  They’ll even collect your money (but I think there’s a charge for that service).  My district won’t allow PermissionClick for field trips (yet), but I use this for when I go present places.  This way, I can get parent permission to show their kids’ work and their names (as I often present on Google Apps for Education) and although I have samples for the adults, I still like to share the actual work of the kiddos so the attendees can see what “real” kid work looks like.

KidBlog.org: So, to be honest, I tried this website a long while ago.  It was cumbersome and I had issues with how it worked.  However, I tried the site again this past week and I really like the evolution the site has gone through to be more user friendly and much more manageable.  There is a free version (with paid options to upgrade – of course) and that is what I signed up to use this next fall.  I will be using my online PLNs to promote the kid work and seek responses to what they’re doing.  I am starting with everything private and branching out once I’m convinced they can “handle” the public process.

I can’t wait to *really* put these to work next school year!

Cheers!

Google Apps in the Classroom

About seven years ago, my district started to incorporate Google Apps for Education within out middle schools and high schools.  When I discovered what this Google Education thingy was, I wanted in on it.  I emailed our new Director of Technology (a friend of mine) and shared with him that it might be nice to have an elementary classroom be a part of this pilot they were running with some teachers and classes.  He let me in.  I’ve been “in” ever since.

My kids were amazing and we did amazing things!  We had script writing going on, where students were writing (together, yet separately) the Friday morning announcements.  We had an A/B Anchor crew and a 1/2 Anchor crew.  They alternated weeks and had two weeks to plan their script, interviews, and practice.  At that time, that about more than I could handle as that was outside my literacy time and managing the Anchor crews (which changed EVERY WEEK) was a daunting task.  However, with the live editing and sharing of documents, I was able to manage the crews and everything went well.

Well, this morning, at our staff retreat planning meeting, I offered up to do this again.  What was I thinking??  Oh yeah, make the students accountable.  Give them the power.  This time around, I’m also going to train a tech crew and we will go “live” with announcements on Friday mornings!  I will be planning rehearsals, script writing sessions, and tech training.  All so I can turn the control over to the kids.

Using Google Slides, Spreadsheets, and Docs has made teaching so much easier.  I don’t have to worry about printing.  Kids don’t have to worry about their dog eating their assignment (I did have this happen once).  Parents don’t have to make a special trip to school to drop off their kid’s project.

As I use these learning tools throughout the year, I will try to remember to share some of the spectacular outcomes.  If nothing gets posted, I guess that means nothing worked well.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Here’s to using more Google Apps in the Classroom!

Cheers!