Tune into Technology Linky: Tech Management and Organization

I can’t believe it’s our second-to-last Tune into Technology linkup!  I’ve learned so much from all the amazing bloggers who have linked up with us this summer, so keep the great ideas coming!:)  This week we are sharing technology management and organization tips.  You can link up any tips you have at the bottom of this post or over at Learning to the Core.

Every teacher understands how crucial those first weeks of school are for teaching classroom expectations and routines.  It truly sets the tone for the entire school year.  Well, I believe the same goes for technology.  I have learned from my many mistakes and make it a huge priority to take my time at the beginning of the year setting the tone for technology use.  Here are some pieces of advice based off of what I’ve learned over the years.

1.) Have your classroom website or blog organized and ready to go that first week.  I use my classroom website to not only share practice links and videos, but also for students to download and turn assignments in.  Therefore, I try to keep everything consistent so that my students get comfortable navigating the site and turning work in.  If you’re looking for inspiration, check out last week’s linky, which has some great ideas for utilizing classroom websites. 

2.) Speaking of websites, keeping track of all those usernames and passwords for 25+ kids can be a daunting task.  This year, my students filed this Keeping Track of My Sites page in their binders and kept a running log of every username and password they signed up for throughout the year.  Since they took their binders home every night, they had access to this list when they would practice at home.  You can grab this file for free as well as another option for putting individual cards on a ring.  (Graphics From the Pond.)

3.) Post Mac or PC commands your students will frequently use, such as copy/paste and save, along with a keyboard so you can point out where to find certain keys.  Feel free to grab mine by clicking the image below.

4.) Since technical difficulties are inevitable, I teach my students ways to trouble-shoot in various situations (i.e. their computer freezes, the internet goes out, or the site they’re on isn’t responding).  With 28 students using laptops at the same time, there’s no way I can rush to their side every time something goes wrong, so this is a crucial skill for me to teach.  My kids know the steps they are to take in certain situations, and sometimes that may mean working with a partner or taking out a book until I’m done working with a small group and can help them.  I also have "Tech Support" as one of my classroom jobs, so there are always a couple of "go-to" students that can help out with tech issues.

5.) This one is probably my most important piece of advice.  Before students even touch a piece of technology, model appropriate use and care as well as consequences for any misuse.  Internet safety is a very important concept to teach at the beginning of the year.  Here's a link to to how I taught it last year.  It’s a good idea to post signs around your room about the expectations, like the ones below.  You may even want the students and their parents to sign an agreement stating that they will follow all of the technology expectations.  Click HERE or on the picture below to check them out.

Tune into Technology Linky: Classroom Websites

Welcome to another edition of Tune into Technology!  This week we are discussing our classroom websites.  You can link up any ideas, tips, or other resources for starting or managing a classroom website at the bottom of this post or over at Learning to the Core.

My district utilizes eChalk, which not only supports our classroom websites, but is also our main communication platform with parents.  When parents go to my school’s main webpage, they can find their child’s classroom page and even log in to see all the information and updates that have been posted. 

Here are some of the main ways I utilize my classroom website:
-To post important upcoming events and announcements
-To share and collect assignments from students
-To keep updated practice links for the various skills we’re working on
-To post our classroom newsletter
-To display pictures and student work

Throughout the year, I am constantly adding and taking down various links that my students use to practice skills at school and at home, which can be rather time-consuming.  However, after reading this post by Amanda, I decided I’m going to use Draggo to keep all of our practice websites organized in one place.  This way, I can add new links as I find them, but I don’t have to take the old ones down once we’ve moved onto another topic.  Here's a screen shot of what I have so far.  I plan on linking this page to my classroom website.

Another change I’m excited about is adding a link to our class’s Kidblog on my class website.  I’ve never used Kidblog, but my friend Holly has some wonderful ideas that you can read about here.  I think one of the major benefits of having a classroom website is to keep parents involved in the learning process and Kidblog is another great tool to do that.

Tune into Technology Linky: iPads

Welcome to Week 3 of our Tune into Technology linky!  This week we are sharing how we use iPads in our classrooms.  You can link up your ideas at the end of this post or over at Learning to the Core—it all goes to the same place.:)
The app we use the most in my classroom is i-nigma, which is a FREE QR code reader.  I will go into more detail about QR codes in August since it's one of our weekly themes.
We use the Raz-Kids app for the iPad every day during guided reading.  You can see an example of one of my guided reading lessons using Raz here.
Sushi Monster is a new(ish) FREE app by Scholastic for practicing addition and multiplication.  You can watch a quick video below to see how it works.

Stack the States is one that the kiddos really enjoy, and it gives them some much-needed geography practice.  It currently costs $0.99.

Bluster is a great app for various literacy skills—rhyming words, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, homophones, adjectives, etc.  It can be played individually or against a partner, and it’s FREE.

Show Me is an extremely user-friendly app that lets you record whiteboard-style tutorials.  It’s easy for the kids to use as well to explain their work.  I’m sure I’ll get a lot more use of it this year as I attempt to flip my classroom in math. 

Tried it Tuesday: Livebinders and Photo Apps

I’m linking up today with my friend Holly to share a couple new things I’ve tried this summer.  First up is Livebinders, which I’ve been using to organize and store all of my Common Core resources in one place.  This post by Kate on Technology Tailgate helped me get started.  (There's a great video tutorial on there.)  Here’s a screen shot of my math Common Core binder.

As you can see, I organized it by domain, and I also have a tab for general Common Core resources and a tab for interactive math notebook resources.  Within each tab, I have subtabs of various blog posts/URLs, PDFs, and images of anchor charts and activities.  I’m hoping this will make my lesson planning more efficient this year.  

For my other “tried-it,” I wanted to share a couple of fun photo apps that are free right now.  I like using them for Instagram, but I think they could also be a great tool in the classroom.  Instaframe allows you to make photo collages with fun borders.  Here’s a collage I made of our day at the lake on the 4th.

Here are a couple pictures I took this morning using PIP Camera.  My little model is always happy to pose for a treat.  I think this would be a really fun one to use in the classroom.

I’m off to go check out everyone else’s “tried-its.”  Be sure to come link up with us on Thursday for our third week of Tune into Technology.  This one is all about iPads so I’m sure it’ll be a good one.:)