classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ July 5, 2015

Here’s another tip for our friends who are using, or plan to incorporate social media in their classrooms.
We have shared “TweetDeck” in our workshops, and how its use can simplify managing information.

What is TweetDeck?

According to Wikipedia:

TweetDeck is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts. Like other Twitter applications, it interfaces with the Twitter API to allow users to send and receive tweets and view profiles. It was the most popular Twitter application with a 23% market share as of June 2009, following only the official Twitter website with 45.7% share for posting new status updates. It can be used as a web app, a Chrome app, or a desktop app. TweetDeck’s interface consists of a series of customisable columns, which can be set up to display your Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, hashtags, or all tweets by or to a single user. The client uses Twitter’s own automatic and invisible URL shortening whereby a link of any length will only use 23 characters of a Tweet’s 140-character limit. All columns can be filtered to include or exclude words or tweets from users. Tweets can be sent immediately or scheduled for later delivery. Users can monitor and tweet from multiple accounts simultaneously. For added account security, users signing in with their Twitter username and password can use Twitter’s own two-step verification, known to Twitter users as Login Verification.”

I use the web version of TweetDeck and I quickly access it through its own “tile” on my Symbaloo Home Page.
(More on Symbaloo with a link to a past post.)

With TweetDeck, you can manage your Twitter feed with columns that can be personalized containing live feed of your “Mentions”, “Notifications”, “Favorites”, and specific searches for hashtags, lists, and trending topics.


You can order the columns and add or delete them to meet your needs.
Ordering your columns is accomplished by simply clicking on the arrows to move them vertically.

tweetdeck4Finally, make sure you go down to the settings in the lower left hand corner to explore all of your options.
There you can see where multiple accounts can be added, as well as multiple users on each TweetDeck account.


TweetDeck. Helping you to keep it simple.

[Tweet “Organize and manage your Twitter stream as a resource for yourself and your students with TweetDeck.”]

Google Bookmarks

Google Bookmarks

classroom management Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ May 24, 2015

Your 2014-2015 Planbook is either on, or near its last page. It’s time to create and organize your “Year-End Check-off List”. In terms of technology, we cannot stress enough one word.


I vividly remember sitting in an administration office working on a school website on the first day of summer break. In the next room, the district IT administrator was moving files and cleaning out network drives. I also remember the reaction when the entire junior high network drive was accidentally deleted. Although I understood the magnitude of what had just happened, I also felt confident that all of my files were safe. The last thing I had done was a full backup.

Once your files are secure, your next task might be to clean out, delete, and organize your bookmarks. If you are logged into Chrome, these can be accessed from any computer. In addition to Chrome bookmarks, Google has its own bookmarking online service that can be accessed from any browser. By adding a “Google Bookmarklet” to your web browser, you can easily bookmark webpages and label them to organize them. Make sure you have enabled your “Bookmarks Bar” to view the bookmarklet where it will be “dragged”.

These bookmarks are private, and currently you are not able to sync them with Chrome bookmarks. We are hoping this will be a feature that will be added as Google continues to expand its features. For now, you can share individual bookmarked links via your “Google+ Share” tab.


The main advantage of your Google Bookmarks page is the ability to store your bookmarks and to access them from any browser on any computer.

You will need to go to and log into your Google account. You may discover that you already have some bookmarks. You can sort them by title, date, or label.


You can add a bookmark from the toolbar on the side, or you can use the “Google Bookmarklet” to add bookmarks as you clean out and update your Chrome bookmarks.


It seems as though there are endless ways to manage bookmarks, but we are doing our best to keep it simple for you.

Recess TEC extends our best wishes for this Memorial Day weekend as you spend the time with your family and friends and pause to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military.

[Tweet “Let Recess TEC show you how to compile and organize your bookmarks so that you can access them from any computer and any web browser.”]

Substitute Feedback Form

Substitute Feedback Form

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 19, 2015

As teachers, we all know the huge amount of time it takes to get ready for a substitute teacher. I had my “3-ring substitute teacher notebook” and my “required” sub-folder next to my desk “just in case”. I seldom had to use them. Preparing for a “sub” required far more work than it took to be there. Unless I had a family emergency, or I seriously couldn’t physically teach, I was there. Personal days were used for Recess TEC workshops.

And then there was the “Feedback Form” that was waiting for me on my desk when I returned.

As a substitute teacher, I appreciate the time that is dedicated to getting ready for me. I try to follow the plans as much as I can and to leave comments about my day. There is often a paper feedback form to fill out with a pen/pencil, but more often, when there is none, I open up a Word document and type observations, feedback, comments and messages as the day moves forward.

As I sat Friday afternoon filling out a “Sub Feedback Form”, I thought about Google Forms. As a substitute teacher, it would be much easier to fill out an online form designed for that purpose. As a teacher, it would be nice to have all of the feedback collected in one spreadsheet that I could access from home where I could plan to address any issues when I returned. (That’s what you want, right? To get good news about how your students did exactly what they should have been doing!) It couldn’t replace the plans and general instructions for the substitute, but it would be a nice alternative to the usual feedback form.

If you choose this type of feedback form, I would make sure of the following:
1.    The option for a “digital feedback form” is at the top of the list of instructions for the substitute teacher so he/she could begin using it from the beginning of the day in each class.
2.    The link to the form is clearly labeled and visible on your computer desktop in a folder marked “Substitute Teacher”.
3.    Make sure the substitute teacher has access to your computer desktop.

I’ve put together an example to use as a start for your own. I tried to make it appropriate for both departmentalized and self-contained classrooms. You can view below or here.

If you have any ideas/comments/suggestions as to ways this form could work better in your classroom, please share in the comments. We’re all in this together!

[Tweet “Get the “good news at home with a “digital” option for substitute teacher feedback forms using Google.”]

Quicker QR Codes

Quicker QR Codes

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 22, 2015

We are finding more and more of our teachers are adopting the use of QR codes to direct their students to resources and activities. If you are using Mozilla Firefox as your browser, there is a little add-on that can speed up generating your QR codes. By enabling the add-on, “QR Code Image Generator” by webdevmedia, you only have to right-click and scroll down to find your generator. This add-on will allow you to make QR codes of the current URL, selected text, or “free text”.

Quicker QR Codes
It also works offline.
If you prefer shortcut keys, just press CTRL-SHIFT-Q. 

Quiicker QR CodesQuiicker QR Codes

You no longer have to search for QR code generators or go to your bookmarks.

I took a substituting job last week, and the teacher had developed an activity for a math center. After students completed a worksheet on fractions, they used their iPods to check their answers using the QR codes next to each problem. Who doesn’t love to see the “fist pumps” and to hear whispered, “Yeses!” when our students scan the codes that lead them to a correct answer?
Just another way technology can motivate students to learn.

Oh, and I looked up the spelling of the plural form of “yes” and learned from several sites that either “yeses” or “yesses” are acceptable.
And the plural form of “no”? That would be”noes”.

Have a great week!

[Tweet “With this Mozilla Firefox add-on, generate QR codes quickly within your browser and while working offline.”]

YouTube Safety Mode

YouTube Safety Mode

Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 1-18-2015

At our last workshop, our teachers asked about YouTube and how they could make the viewing experience safer for their students. We offered several suggestions, such as In the past, we enabled the Chrome Extension for, but that extension no longer exists. The easiest and quickest “fix” to remove comments is to enable the YouTube Safety mode. Make sure you are logged into your YouTube account so the Safety Mode will be locked, regardless of the browser you are using.

The video below explains best how to set your YouTube viewing preferences to safety mode.

YouTube Safety Mode

(Note: We generally use the Chrome browser since it works best with Google and YouTube.)

We hope this helps ease your minds and gives you a little more control, while giving your students a little more freedom.

[Tweet “YouTube safety mode can be set in your viewing preferences allowing safe access without comments/suggested videos.”]

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-2-2014

This is a tip about tips.
A lot of tips.

“Hey, guys. Mr. Smith here…”

Dustin Smith is a first grade teacher at Woodrow Cummins Elementary School in Conway, Arkansas with over ten years of teaching experience.
He comes from a family of teachers,
but started out working towards a degree in telecommunications.
Teaching wasn’t the original plan.
We know how that goes.

But what we don’t know is how “Mr. Smith” has escaped us all these years,
We promise there is something here for everyone.
We are the latest fans of his YouTube channel,

We know.
He teaches First Grade.
And you might be thinking, “How is this going to help me, the high school calculus teacher?”

Again, we promise you, there is something here for everyone.
You will find tips that will add, not only fun, but some practical and motivating management tools to your classroom.
Don’t skip the comments.
His fans often share their own ideas and tips.
One of  the best comments on one such video was, “Are you married?”
Yes, he is married to Miss Suzy, as you will learn in “Fruit for You”.

And the “technology” part?
Mr. Smith’s videos are great examples of what you can do to enhance your curriculum, share your lessons, and hopefully motivate you and your students to produce your own instructional videos.

He has a website with even more tips,
and if you scroll down to the bottom of his home page, you’ll see that he has developed several apps.
There is a Teacher Tipster Pinterest Page,
and you can follow and Mr. Smith on Twitter,

If nothing else, just watch Mr. Smith’s videos for pure entertainment.
His love of kids and teaching is contagious.
And it doesn’t hurt to catch some of that love before you head back to your classroom on Monday morning.
He is a teacher few kids could ever forget…

[Tweet “We are the latest fans of the YouTube channel,”]


William Tell

William Tell

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-14-2014

When my kids were little,
I was their “Countdown Timer”.
When it was time to pick up toys, we would work together in a race while I “sang” (sort of) the William Tell Overture. Several times a day, this worked for years.
It wasn’t necessarily something I could use with my students.
(Although I won’t deny resorting to that every now and then.)

Now we have “digital tools”.
If you need a quick online “Countdown Timer”, try this one.
You can simply highlight the time and type in your personal preference.
On the lower right side is the option to toggle it to “full-screen”.
The best feature is found with the “gear” on the lower left side.
Click on that, and you will find an embed code.
You simply “copy and paste” it to permanently add this timer to one of your classroom website pages.
We have embedded an example below.

Another fun feature is the option to add an assortment of music as your timer counts down.
Try it when your class has five minutes to line up for recess, or seven minutes to unpack their book-bags and turn in their homework.

(Excuse the “ads”, but, again, “Free.)

And if you would just rather play Rossini’s William Tell Overture,
we can oblige you with that, too.

Have a great Sunday!
Get outside!
Have a great week!
And even if the weather isn’t perfect,
we hope you find the time to “visit fresh air” with your students, too.

Time’s Up!

Time’s Up!

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-7-2014

If you are like me, I never have enough time with my students in the computer lab.
It seems that when I look up at the clock, it is time to stop.
As in NOW.
Here are a few tips to add minutes to production time.
You can work longer AND still leave the lab ready for the next class.

Teach your students these basic keyboard shortcuts:

1.    CTRL + S = Save
Have your students do this when they first begin their project, and it will default to a “Save As…”.
At the end of the class, this keystroke will quickly do a “final save”.

2.    ALT + Spacebar (together) and then “C”.
This will close all open windows.

3.    Windows Key + L = Lock Screen
This is the final keystroke so students can log off and their computer is ready for the next student.

Windows-D4.    Windows Key + D = Minimize all windows showing desktop.
I use this when I want to speak to all students without their working windows open.
They know what “Windows-D” means.

We hope this give you a few extra minutes at the end of your “lab time” and saves you a few extra steps with your personal computer use.

Have a great Sunday.
It looks like “early heat dismissals” are finally coming to an end.
Make the most of that extra time with your students!

FREE Online Grading

classroom management tips

Monday Morning Message ~ 9-19-2011

We have just been introduced to a new website that offers a multitude of classroom management options!

The best part of it is the word “FREE”!


could very well be exactly what you have been looking for.

It offers free gradebook accounts to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in one place by keeping track of student grades and attendance, maintaining schedules, importing Google calendars, creating and managing lesson plans and curriculum, tagging standards to assignments and lesson plans, and much more.

Learn Boost offers a safe and secure platform where you can also share student progress with both your students and their parents.

Once again, it is FREE!

In the past we have struggled with grading programs that were installed on your computer at school and all of the work had to be completed at school.

We all know how much work is done at home, and now you can have an online program that can be accessed from any computer with just a login.

If you want to save time with parent/teacher conferences, communication, and grade reporting, this might be a perfect FREE solution.

It’s not too late to enter those grades for the first mid-term reports.

If you are interested, and would like to learn more about Learn Boost,
visit their “Tour Page” where you can view a short video.
We would love to hear how this works if you choose to sample it, and what your opinions are.

Have a great week,
and remember to spend some time outside with your students as we begin to move into the fall season.

Is Anyone Listening? (Part 4 of 4)

classroom management email tips writing

Monday Morning Message ~ 2-28-2011

Your Distribution List is made, and you are ready to send out your first note.

Remember, you promised your parents that you would keep their email addresses confidential!

It’s easy and the secret is…

Bcc (or “Blind Carbon Copy”).

The benefits of sending emails to recipients using the Bcc Option is that it

   1. keeps addresses confidential;

   2. protects recipients from receiving spam; and

   3. protects recipients from receiving a reply when
someone accidentally selects “Reply All”.

When writing your note, address it to yourself using your school address.
Next, choose the Bcc Option, and use the Distribution List contact name as the recipient.

Another benefit of using this option is that you will also receive a copy of your note, in addition to the one that is in your “Sent Folder”.

One more reminder:

You might want to use the day/date as your Subject.
This also helps parents keep track of notes/reminders.
If your note contains important information or deadline reminders, you might want to use that as your subject to get their attention.

You are now on the road to being heard, and more important, they are listening!

Have a great week!