This is kind of a collective haul of teacher related things that I am enjoying at the moment.
1. Idoceo iPad app ($7-$8)
This app is great, and I've barely scratched the surface. Its essentially a digital grade book. It allows you to enter and track personal, assessment and general data for students in multiple classes. I have set it up for myself to track assessments that I put in, as well as having a section for general comments such as behaviour issues as well as permission notes and checklists. Just doing those things I have removed the need for multiple class lists that I need to keep track of for all these things. I am very excited to be able to better monitor issues or improvements in behaviour easily as I have yet to find a system that works, however it is very fast and easy to add an entry to this app without needing to sit down at a computer and open files or write in by hand somewhere else. I also really appreciate the 'hide' function for these notes, so that I can have the tab open and see easily where I have notes for each student (at the moment I am using date columns, but might change to weekly if there aren't too many things to be recording) with a small triangle in the box next to their name, without it being there for every other student or parent to see if I am looking through my lists.
There are so many great uses, but another I am excited for is the email function. It means I can very easily photograph or record student's and their work and on the spot send an email from the app to their parents. I think it will be a great reward for students, to send a picture of the maths sum they found really tricky but finally figured out, or the awesome model they created straight to their parents at the time they did it. Other times such as at sports days, performance rehearsals or on camp we will also be able to share the fun with parents easily and improve positive communication.
I could go on and on with my plans for this app, but for now I highly recommend you get it if you have an iPad. I am currently using a school iPad, but will be purchasing my own later in the year if the school in unable to purchase more for teachers.
Available from the app store
Below is a first impressions review from another teacher that shows some of the great features of this app.
I'm sure lots of you are familiar with Dropbox or similar 'cloud' storage apps and programs. Basically it synchs up folders on your phone/tablet/computer or any other device that you connect to your account so that photos and videos are available without manually transferring them. What I am loving is that I have been able to connect the iPad I use at school to a network folder. This means that when I or the students take photos on the iPad it is available within a few minute on any computer in the school.
Now I can allow students to include more photos in their work with a lot less planning. No longer do they need to wait for someone who has taken photos to transfer them using a cord, they are transferring automatically while the next student is using it. It also means I do not need to take photos on my phone or camera and find time to transfer them for students to use.
Aside from easy and time efficient access to files, students are also aware that if they are filming or taking photos without direct supervision, we will see the files when they upload, so they will be less tempted to do anything they wouldn't want us to see. If you have any mobile device that is just for school use, I highly recommend you talk to your techie about setting up a network folder for Dropbox (or maybe you are smarter than me an can do it yourself!).
Dropbox- sign up here
3. Class Reading Challenge
I did essentially the same thing as this last year an it was a flop, but I'm going to try again this year and see if I can get it going a bit better. The aim is to fill the jar with the foam noodles but putting one in for every book finished by a student. I am thinking we will aim to fill it at least once per term or more, just going by sight. Last year I had them making little paper stars but they found it hard to make them and often forgot to do so. I will negotiate with the class what kind of reward we will have for filling the jar. Great for all ages of primary school, and very motivating for some students, it just takes a bit of training and promoting to make sure students remember and get involved.