Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Two Things You Can Do To Increase Communication With Parents

1. Blog consistently. Every year I help teachers create new blogs and every year by the time winter holidays roll around some of those blogs have withered and died on the vine. That happens because teachers get discouraged when their blogs aren't an instant hit with students and parents. Even if they already read other blogs, checking your blog for updates is a new habit for your students and their parents. Give them time to get in the habit. You also have to give them a reason to keep coming back. Post important content consistently and with time you'll have students and their parents checking your blog consistently.

2. Text message. Give students and parents the option to reach you via text messaging. If your students are anything like the under 30 crowd mentioned in this USA Today article, they prefer text messages to email. Give them the opportunity to communicate with you via text through a service like Google Voice (read about how I've used Google Voice) or a service like Remind 101. Both of those services allow you to text from your computer without revealing your personal cell phone number.

Put a Scientific Calculator on Your Classroom Blog

Web2.0calc is a free online scientific calculator. While it won't replace the most expensive scientific calcualtors, it can do what your average high school student needs it to do. The best part is, you don't have to use it on the Web2.0calc site because they offer three widgets that you can use to embed the calculator into your own blog or website.

Applications for Education
One of the problems the mathematics department in my school faces every year is "disappearing" scientific calculators. Web2.0calc could solve that problem by being placed into teachers' websites where students can use them anytime they like without having to sign-out a calculator for use outside of the classroom.

Four Settings Every Blogger User Should Know

Blogger is a popular choice of blog platform for teachers because it is very easy to use. If you're using Blogger or thinking about using Blogger, here are four settings that you should know how to use.

Click on the images below to view them in full size and see the details contained within them. 

How to schedule posts:
I will occasionally write posts that I don't want to appear online until a later date. I've often used this setting when planning out a week of assignments for my classes.

How to insert an RSS feed footer message:
If you read this blog in RSS you may have noticed that I recently started publishing this line at the bottom of every post, This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers. I started doing that because my RSS feed is often picked up and republished by other blogs (some well-meaning and some not so much). Posting that line provides a link back to me and provides attribution in the cases in which people don't give any attribution to me.

How to moderate comments:
Especially if you're using Blogger in your classroom you want to turn on comment moderation in order to prevent inappropriate comments from appearing on your blog.

How to add authors to your blog:
If you would like to have multiple authors on your blog, this is how to do it.

How to back-up your Blogger blog.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Duckie Deck - 125 Educational Games for Toddlers

Duckie Deck is a nice educational games site that Rushton Hurley mentioned in a recent Next Vista newsletter. Each of the games is ad-free and is designed to help children learn something new or practice a skill. You'll find games for learning about potty training, kitchen appliances, and brushing your teeth. You'll also find games for practicing counting and games for learning the alphabet. Duckie Deck offers 125 games in all.

Applications for Education
I've looked at a lot of games sites over the years. Duckie Deck is better than most because it is ad-free and the games are clear and easy to follow. If you're looking for some games to help toddlers learn some early skills, browse through Duckie Deck.

Vatican City Explained

The recent selection of a new Pope probably made some of your students wonder how a Pope is chosen and why Vatican City is a country. CGP Grey explained the first item in February. Today, he released a new video explaining Vatican City. As usual the video is fast-paced so you'll probably need to watch it a couple of times to catch everything in it.