Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3 Free Apps to Use Now

Are you looking for some easy to use free apps to add to your tech toolbox? Here's a quick rundown of 3 apps you can begin using right away in your classroom!
Class Monster Lite uses an adorable monster to help your classroom monitor their own noise level. Simply set your noise sensitivity preferences and let the app do the rest.
A low noise level results in a happy monster.

As noise levels increase, the monster becomes upset.

Too much noise makes the monster cry. 
There is a pro version with extra features, but I find the lite version to work fine in my classroom.

One of my favorite apps of all time is so simple yet effective. Tap Roulette will instantly settle any disagreement! Have students place one finger on the iPad screen and watch the magic happen. When you press pick finger the screen will light up before randomly picking someone. The lucky winner will have a red circle appear where their finger is.

Shake 'Em Dice is a new to me app a friend told me about this summer. The basic red dice are free. Other dice pairs are $0.99 each. 

You can add as many or as few dice pairs that you need. This app might also work well as a cool down activity for students. 
Do you have any favorite apps that are easy to use? Share them in the comments below!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Parent-Teacher Communication

Happy Labor Day friends! I hope you're enjoying at least a few hours of rest today. Some of us have already been back to school for weeks, while others will be starting this week. Here's a quick rundown of how you can increase or switch up your parent-teacher communication this year.
This year for my school's annual parent-teacher meeting, I decided to make a "snapshot" sheet for parents.This sheet will serve as a quick reference guide for parents during the school year.
 This year I created two Google forms for parents in my class. One is for parents to share contact information with other parents in the classroom to help make organizing parties or play dates easier. In the past I've had parents ask me to give the phone number or email of another parent, which I am never comfortable doing because of privacy. The other Google form is for us to share and upload class pictures during the year.
Next up is VolunteerSpot. This website helps you organize volunteers, snack time, and anything in 
between. It's free to sign up and begin scheduling with the option of paying for some extra features.
I like using this website to schedule parent volunteers on Friday afternoon. Your dashboard will tell you how many of your spots have been filled, and you can even use settings to email parents a reminder before their selected date/time.
If you're still using paper forms to schedule your conferences save yourself a headache with Doodle. This is another free (don't teachers just love that word) website to make scheduling easy peasy. You choose dates and times for parents to select from. 
Doodle allows you to add as many times to one date as you'd like and you select how many options parents can choose from. 

I have a full blog post on how I use schedule parent-teacher conferences here.
This year I'm excited to add Remind to my communication toolbox. Ever been home when you remember an important email or announcement you forgot to send to parents? Me too! 
Remind is a free app and website that allows you to send text messages to your parents. 
It's really that easy! In addition to plain text, you can send attachments or record your voice. Even if you or your parents don't have access to email, chances are you've got a cell phone and can receive texts. 
I hope you've found a new tip or two for your parent-teacher communication. What are some of your favorite apps or websites to share information? Enjoy the rest of your week!