Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three Tools for Coordinating Contributions to School Events

In my previous post I suggested some tools for choosing meeting and event times. Once you've chosen a date for a school/ classroom event, you might need to organize volunteers who are helping with the event. This could mean organizing volunteer roles or organizing contributions so that you don't end up with 100 paper cups and no paper plates at your classroom party. The following three tools will help you coordinate contributions to your school or classroom event.

GroupTing is a service that makes it easy to organize group events. The purpose of GroupTing is to enable you and your event attendees to keep track of who is attending your event and what they are bringing to it. For example, if I'm planning a classroom party and I need parents to contribute cups, beverages, snacks, plates and napkins, when I send out my invitations I can request that people bring one or more of those items. GroupTing allows me to specify how many of each item is needed and who has volunteered to bring the requested items.

Choice Eliminator is a Google Forms Add-on that removes response choices from your form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

Volunteer Spot is a free scheduling service that teachers, coaches, and others and use to coordinate volunteers. Volunteer Spot gives you the ability to post calendars and sign-up sheets online. When potential volunteers visitor your calendar they can see the days and times at which volunteers are needed. You can also use Volunteer Spot to coordinate sign-ups for contributions to an event. For example, you can use Volunteer Spot to have people sign-up to bring specific items from a list of needed items. When the quota for volunteers for a particular time, day, or item is reached, Volunteer Spot won't allow any more sign-ups.

Three Good Online Tools for Scheduling Meetings

Whether you're scheduling a meeting with one person or five people, picking a meeting time that works for everyone can become a tedious exchange of emails. Fortunately, there are some good online tools that can help you streamline the process of setting meeting times.

YouCanBook.Me is a meeting scheduling tool that integrates with your Google Calendar and is easier to use than the appointment slots feature in Google Apps for Education calendars. YouCanBook.Me allows people to book fixed blocks of time in your calendar. You identify the times in your calendar that you are available to meet. Then when someone needs to schedule a meeting with you, you send him or her a link to your booking calendar. Visitors to your calendar click a block and enter their email addresses to reserve a block of your time. When a block of time is reserved you receive an email alert and the other person receives a confirmation email.

Doodle is a nice tool for scheduling group meetings based on the input from all group members. Doodle is essentially a polling platform. To use Doodle you create a meeting title, select a series of dates and times for a possible meeting, then invite people to choose the dates and times that work best for them. As the administrator of a scheduling poll you can set the final meeting time based on the most commonly selected date and time.

Calendly is another scheduling tool that integrates with your Google Calendar and can also integrate with Office 365.  Calendly makes it easy to create appointment slots with just a click or two. More importantly, people who want to schedule an appointment with you just have to click a time on your calendar and enter their names in order to reserve an appointment. Visitors who make appointments with you through Calendly can sync their appointments to their own Google Calendars, iCal, or Outlook calendars.

Connected Educator Month - Interviews and Events #ce15

October is Connected Educator Month. This year MindRocket Media Group is the exclusive global media partner for Connected Educator Month. MindRocket Media Group will be producing original video, audio, and written interviews with connected leaders in education. Some of those interviews are already available on the Connected Educators blog.

Connected Educator Month is more than just consuming ideas, it's about sharing ideas. Throughout the month there are many opportunities for educators to connect and learn from each other. Take a look at the Connected Educator Month schedule of events to find an opportunity for you to get involved in the sharing and learning.  If the events schedule doesn't work for you, just use #ce15 on social media to get involved and connect with other educators.

Monday, October 5, 2015

ClassDojo Makes Translation Available to All Class Story Users

Six weeks ago when ClassDojo launched their Class Story feature some users noticed that there was a translation option available to them. This feature has now been enabled for all users of Class Story. The translation feature allows parents to select the language in which they want to read Class Story updates. The translation feature is available when viewing Class Story in your web browser. The feature will be available in the ClassDojo mobile apps soon.

Applications for Education
The new translation option in Class Story could help teachers keep more of their students' parents informed about things happening in their classrooms. Class Story itself provides a good middle ground between being a full-fledged blog and a simple SMS update delivery system.

Good Tools for Student Writers

StoryToolz offers a good collection of free tools for student writers. Writers who are struggling to come up with ideas for fiction stories will like the story starters featured on StoryToolz. StoryToolz has three tools that you can use to get story ideas; Random Conflicts, Half Title Generator, and Story Idea Generator. In addition to the writing prompts tools StoryToolz offers a few tools to help you edit your work. The Cliché Buster analyzes your work to find clichés that you have used in your writing. The Readability tool analyzes your text to estimate a reading level on several scales.

Applications for Education
StoryToolz offers tools that are useful to almost every student. Students in creative writing courses could benefit from the story idea generators. Likewise, teachers can use the tools to find prompts to give to students. The writing analysis tools could be used by students to help them edit their writing before giving it to you or a peer for editing.

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