classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 7-28-2013

“Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.”
~Jeff Bezos

TEACHERS pay TEACHERS is “an open marketplace for educators where teachers buy, sell and share original teaching resources.”

Here you can find lessons across all curricula for all grade levels for all learning levels that are created by teachers.

It includes several sorting options that cover all of these groupings, including a page that allows you to browse through FREE downloads.

Membership as a buyer and a seller is free and it does not require a school email to sign up.

One of the free offers is from Morgan Walker in Lebanon, Indiana. From Morgan is a free Word document that lists and describes “Technology in the Common Core Standards (grades 1-8)”.

We suggest you visit TEACHERS pay TEACHERS, check out the talented teachers that contribute, and take a look at their lessons. We are sure you will find a wealth of resources, and who wouldn’t want to buy direct from a teacher and bypass the publishers.

To view the categories offered by TEACHERS pay TEACHERS,
just click on the image below to enlarge it.

TeachersPayTeachers.com - An Open Marketplace for Original Lesson Plans and Othe (2)Hopefully your day will be filled with sunshine much like our forecast.
Take time to fill the rest of the day with things that make you happy…

Wuala = Voilà

Wuala = Voilà

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-28-2013

“When it comes to organizing a work-space,
relaxation and comfort aren’t the primary goals.
Work is about efficiency and productivity. …
The more neat and logically organized your work-space is,
the better you will be at your job.”

— Peter Walsh

Shannon and I have used Dropbox to store and share online contents for years.
One of the things we love about it is how seamlessly it works on the iPad.

Dropbox, however, is blocked in some school districts.
If that is the case in your district,
you might consider another online storage site which is touted for its “bank-level” security.

On Wuala, (pronounced “Voilà”) your files are all encrypted, and nobody has access to your files or your password, not even their employees.

Like Dropbox, you receive 5GB of storage free, you can share your files, and you can synchronize your stored files between your computer and your online account.

Wuala app

For more information, visit their FAQ Page. 

Oh, and yes!
There’s an app for that.
And, of course, it is free!

Stay dry, have a restful Sunday, and a great week.
We are on the homestretch to warmer weather and the end to another school year!

Symbaloo Simple

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-14-2013

“Make everything as simple as possible,
but not simpler.

  ~~Albert Einstein

Last July I wrote about Google’s announcement to discontinue iGoogle on November 1, 2013. In that post, I described the “Chrome” alternative to bookmarks and web apps. I still love the “Chrome” features, but Chrome is not the only web browser I use.

SymbalooMy “go-to” home page is my Symbaloo page.
I have been using Symbaloo since shortly after it was introduced.
I was watching a YouTube video made by an Australian high school student describing how she used web tools in her Science projects. Over and over again she returned to a page filled with “tiles” as she used that page to link to her favorite web tools.

So, I “googled” it,
and I discovered Symbaloo.

It is free.
Of course.
You need only to register for an account, and once you have logged on, you can begin building your personal “webmix” with tiles that link to your favorite websites. You can customize your own tiles, or you can choose from hundreds (and probably thousands) of pre-made tiles that are already available.

Every morning, I can instantly click on my three web email tiles to check my email,
my “Fitness Pal” tile,
Facebook and Twitter,
the weather,
Pandora, if I am ready to work with music,
and browse through my favorite blogs.
The best feature of Symbaloo is that it is web-based and my preferences are all stored “in the cloud”. I can find my page on any computer after logging into www.symbaloo.com

Symbaloo has just updated its site with a sidebar that makes browsing your “tile sets”, or “webmixes”, much easier. It is also a “social” site, and you can share your webmix, or search and add other webmixes to your collection.

As a teacher, a second Symbaloo account could be created with a webmix that includes those sites and tools that you use in your classroom. As the homepage, students could easily find links maximizing efficiency and time.

Symbaloo has added a second site just for teachers.
www.symbalooedu.com offers training videos and additional resources for teachers. Some of the features are not free, but the videos are helpful.

So before you say “Goodbye” to iGoogle, get a jump on next year.

We encourage you to log on to Symbaloo and begin building your own personal webmix. As you find webmix sets, and new tiles, it is simple to add them. Soon you’ll have your own page, and we guarantee that you won’t want to wait until November to use it to replace iGoogle.

Enjoy your Sunday.
We will officially begin the summer season of softball this afternoon with the first game. It looks like the weather will make it a perfect day for the first pitch.

Last Minute…

classroom management News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 12-16-2012


I admit it.

I enjoy a trip to Staples and OfficeMax more than Macy’s.


Since retirement, I have been sifting through boxes, drawers, cupboards, shelves, and closets.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

My main goal is to keep only the essentials, 

and there has been a great deal of donating, shredding, and throwing away.

Those things that I keep, though, need to find a place in a house built in the 1880’s and,
quite frankly,
it is very short on storage space.

A set of empty shelves now needs some containers to store some photography equipment, and a rainy day shopping excursion online found me “in the Container Store”.


So, since this weekly tip needs to deal with technology somehow,

Cord Control in the Office

Stocking Stuffers for eReaders

One more thing:

There is a discount program available for the “Organized Teacher”.

But hurry!

The program ends on December 31, 2012.

Collaborating with Stixy

classroom management tips writing

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 10-21-2012

We’ve talked about “Wall Wisher” and “Linoit”,

and now we’re here to present yet another “wall” that is very useful for collaborating and sharing.

Stixy.com has even more options than what we’ve described in the other “walls”,

and we love the ease that it allows in sharing.

To quickly sum up your “Stixy Experience”,
I’ll just quote from the “Welcome Email” I received after making a free account.


From Stixy:

“Here are a few examples on how you may choose to use Stixy.


  • Keep track of your family’s schedule.
  • Collaborate and share in projects at work.
  • Gather online research; images, links, screenshots etc.
  • Organize an upcoming holiday with your friends.
  • Share photos from your last bike trip.

But it is really up to you as to how you want to use Stixy.”

Only you, your needs and imagination, set the limits.”

Once again, “FREE”.
We love “free”.

Visit our "wall" and let us know what you think!

I’ve created a “Stixy Wall” this morning,
and we invite you to visit it and leave us a “note” in the form of a photo, a short “to-do list” of what you want to accomplish today, or even a note suggesting how you might use “Stixy” in your life.

Get Organized!

classroom management News tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-16-2012

I know.

It’s a little late.
School has started and organization feels like it has slipped through your fingers.

If you are anything like me,
I knew where everything was,
but it was often  buried under a stack of papers/things on my desk.

Progress reports should be going out soon.
Some of you have “Open House” behind you.

Maybe with a chance to catch your breath,
you might find one or two things in this article that will help you feel a little more “together”.

Dana Truby and Megan Kaesshaefer have contributed a post titled:
100 Classroom Organizing Tips” for Scholastic.com.

Some of them are “techie”, so I invite you to search through all 100.

Good ideas submitted by real teachers with “real good” ideas!

After your morning coffee or tea, make sure to take some time for you and your family.
We hope that includes time outside and some good, fresh air!


Take the Shortcut

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 8-26-2012

While helping as a “Tech Volunteer” in one of our local school districts,
the teachers sign up for a time slot, and I show up.

Their requests vary from SMARTBoard support to loading CD games onto their computers.

The biggest surprise was how many teachers wanted a desktop shortcut for a site, such as their district web-mail.
Sometimes we just don’t know what our teachers don’t know.

It occurred to me that this should be a tip,
and a way for many to save time and steps.
They have many of their management sites linked from their school website,
but a shortcut icon saves them time that they would have to spend going through links or their “favorites” to get to those sites.

So, below is a video to help you with that process.

We hope your year has begun on a positive note, and that your weekend has given you some time to stop, look, listen, and if you have any time at all, 

the “shortcut” you find today looks like this… 


Not Just Another Sticky Note

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 7-15-2012

While researching another “Web Tool”,
I stumbled upon “Linoit”.

We’ve used other online “Sticky Note” sites,
such as “Wallwisher”,
but I was impressed with some of the features this site provides.

It is free, and after setting up an account,
you can log in and begin making your “boards”.

And yes, there’s an app for that.


Beth Breiner has put together four videos that outline the features of Linoit,
and uploaded them to YouTube.
She does an excellent job of describing the features,
and how this tool can be used in your classroom.

Take a look at the features and uses of Linoit,
and this might launch some ideas and ways you might want to collaborate in your classroom.

Next week I’ll talk about “Wallwisher”,
its features, and how it differs from Linoit.

Have a great Sunday and a great week,
and be sure to make some memories.


classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 6-10-2012

As I tweak and change the iPad presentations, I’m also thinking about the teachers we’ll be training this week in Palatine, Illinois.

We will be working in a school district where twenty different languages are spoken within the large ESL student population.

Going through the list of apps that we will be introducing to them, I found an app that wasn’t on my device, and one that was new to me.

SayHi will be their “go-to” translator app.

$.99 cents later, and I had an app that I love, love, love!

I wasn’t sure how accurate it was, since it defaults to Spanish, so I changed the settings to German, which is my mother’s language and the language I heard and spoke often when I was young.

Every single phrase I spoke was translated “dead on”!

Then I took the same German phrase and spoke into the device for translation back into English and it scored 100% again.

I wish I knew about this app two months ago when our new student from Mexico enrolled into our school unable to speak any English at all!

Visit their website, and download this app now!
Don’t wait until you need it!

Some of the features are:

  • 33 languages and dialects.
  • Copy to insert into other writing apps.
  • Choose female/male voice.
  • Slow down the playback for clarification.
  • “Favorite” different phrases you might find yourself needing often.
  • The ability to edit your translations with a keyboard.

If you aren’t convinced by all of the features and the low price of $.99,
then surely this Customer Review will “seal-the-deal”:

“I just got married to a Mexican and trying to have conversations was really hard. This app helps tremendously! If you need to learn or have something translate for you. This app is awesome!”

How can you not <3 an app that supports wedded bliss…?!


classroom management Conferences email tips writing

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 4-1-2012

As many of you know,

I’m back in the classroom.

My “anchor” was thrown over the side of my little “retirement boat” when I agreed to finish the year for a very special friend who discovered that she was expecting her first baby.

Teaching the last five weeks of the school year in what was my own classroom, 

in my own school,

teaching the same curriculum,

(Well, sort of…)

seemed very doable.

Until the doctors decided that bed-rest was required for the expectant mother.

The five weeks turned into eleven, as in a full quarter, of what is the most beautiful spring I can ever remember.

The hardest part of this teaching assignment has been working without the technology that I had in place,

and the connections that I had built with parents that were used to support and enable student achievement.

Last Thursday, my dear friend was scheduled to deliver her new baby boy.

All day we checked our text messages, Facebook updates, and emails.

Finally on Friday, we received pictures and a text announcing the arrival of a beautiful red-haired 8 pounds 5 ounces baby boy. His mother had to have an emergency C-section, but good news prevailed with Lucas Kyle’s arrival and the news that everyone was healthy and happy.

It was checking my texts that made me think about a student that I had last year.

His mother would not answer phone calls from “unlisted” numbers, which is how our school number appeared to the Caller ID.

One day, Alex suggested that I “text” her.

“That is the only way my dad can get her.”

As reluctant as I was to text a parent from my personal cell, I felt it was worth it.

I can honestly say that the impact texting Alex’s mother had on his success in my classroom was amazing.

So, finally, I present this “tip” for my morning “Sunday Sit, Sip, and Sync” post.

Kikutext is one site that would be on the top of my list for implementation in my classroom.

For years I had emailed parents daily, and it was one way that enabled communication and connection that helped foster student achievement and growth.

Email, however, is no longer the only option, nor is it the best use of technology in terms of communicating.

Both Shannon and I check our email on our phones,

and a text will be answered much sooner than an email or a “call-back” from a message left on our voice-mails.

Just this Friday an important note went home from the nurse’s office,

and if I had Kikutext set up and running, I could have sent a text to parents notifying them to expect the note before their students got on the bus.

Students, in turn, would know and expect that they would be responsible for delivering the note, and expectations for student accountability would be raised and reached.

Kikutext is

  • free,
  • and easy to use.
  • It is web-based, so teachers can type and send texts from their school computers.
  • Parent contact information remains private and cannot be seen by anyone but the teacher.

The little video will explain a bit more,

and after watching it,

I encourage you to check out Kikutext and give it a try.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

I’m planning on a bike ride and a visit to my favorite garden center.

Whatever your plans are, I hope it includes unplugging and enjoying the day so you can return tomorrow fresh and motivated for your kiddos.