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Monday, August 3, 2015

SimplyCircle Helps You Organize Communication With Parents

Last year I featured a school-to-parent communication service called SchoolCircle. Over the summer SchoolCircle changed its name to SimplyCircle and added some helpful new features.

At its core SimplyCircle is a free service that is designed to help elementary school teachers organize communication to the parents of their students. SimplyCircle offers many of the features of Google+ Communities without the need for parents to join Google+.

Through SimplyCircle you can create an online community for parents of students in your classroom. You can use SimplyCircle to send messages, organize tasks for parent-volunteers, and post updates about things happening in your classroom and in your school. Parents don't have to sign into SimplyCircle daily because you can choose to send a daily digest of updates to their email addresses.

Just in time for the new school year SimplyCircle added some new features included an integrated calendar that teachers can use to plan and organize events for multiple groups in one place. SimplyCircle added a one-click volunteer sign-up function. The volunteer function includes the option to send reminders and details about volunteer responsibilities. And you can now send individual messages to parents instead of just group messages.

Learn more about SimplyCircle in the video embedded below.

How to Create a Random Name Picker in Google Sheets

Last Friday I shared Flippity's template for creating a random name picker in Google Sheets. Over the weekend I received quite a few requests for help in using that template. To, hopefully, answer those questions I created the video that you see embedded below.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed in July

Every month Google pushes out updates to the Google Apps suite. Some of those updates are significant to all users (and some are minor things that only the most hardcore Google Apps users will notice. I try to cover a lot of the updates here on FreeTech4Teachers.com but I don't mention all of them. Fortunately, Google provides a monthly summary of all updates in one convenient PDF.

Some Google Apps updates highlights from July include a Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office, creating maps in Google Drive, new Classroom notifications, and apps launcher customizations. Find the whole list of updates and explanations here.

Chemical Reactions in a Safe, Online Environment

BBC Brit's Biggest Bangs is a series of interactive videos that demonstrate how chemicals react with each other. The videos are YouTube videos that take advantage of YouTube's annotations feature.

BBC Brit's Biggest Bangs series starts with an introductory video in which you can choose one of eight chemicals to see how it reacts with another of the eight on the list. The chemicals featured are hydrogen, sodium, sulfur, nitrogen, chlorine, oxygen, iodine, and aluminum. After making chemical selections students are directed to a video that shows what happens when their chosen chemicals are combined. After each reaction video students have the option to return to the start and choose different chemicals.



Applications for Education
While not nearly as engaging as making these reactions in a school lab, BBC Brit's Biggest Bangs is a heck of a lot safer and cheaper way for students to see how chemicals interact with each other. For more virtual chemistry lessons, take a look at these free apps and sites.

H/T to Danny Nicholson for sharing this last week.