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The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers


 The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers

Make recordkeeping easier by using online gradebooks! I’m sharing suggestions for the 6 best online gradebooks that teachers can use with every class. Here are the pros and cons of each one.

ThinkWave

Pros

  • The setup process is quick and easy, with a clean interface that makes it easy to navigate.

  • Customizable reports offer a multitude of reporting criteria and data display styles.

  • Online distribution and collection of assignments, collaboration tools and communication features.

Cons

    Although there are a variety of assessment and evaluation parameters, educators outside of the U.S. may find it difficult to adjust the options to their needs.
  • Students must be added to the database one at a time, you can’t just upload a .csv file.


Schoology

Pros

    The interface combines features of social media platforms, making it easy for students to navigate.
  • Distribute and collect assignments online, as well as keep track of attendance.

  • Materials for lesson planning can be uploaded from a variety of sources, or even linked to the web.Customizable learning expectations for the United States, Canada, and a number of other countries.
  • Students and parents can self-enroll in a Schoology class with an access code. 

Cons

  • Teachers have to wait for students to self-enroll before they can track their progress.


JumpRope

Pros

    You can organize courses into units and add standards, and the platform offers informative tutorials on creating these.
  • Nice layout, with a clear overview of evolving grades and good attendance tracking.

Cons

    The site runs on Adobe Flash, so it may be unsupported. However, there is an emerging 2.0 that promises to bring the latest technology and the latest best practices in the industry.
  • Allows no student/parent access and limited collaboration features.


Edmodo

Pros

  • An intuitive student interface reminiscent of social media platforms. 

  • There is an app store of free (and paid) apps that you can use to increase Edmodo’s functionality.

  • Teachers can connect and collaborate with other teachers using the software.

  • Easy sharing of worksheets or handouts with smart document storage and dedicated shareable folders, as well as web-based distribution and grading of assignments.Learning tools such as engaging quizzes and student exit slips (“one thing I learned today”) available.

Cons

    The gradebook can’t be accessed until students are enrolled. Similarly, learners have to self-enroll using a code before they can begin working on assignments.
  • Teachers outside of the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, and Australia cannot access the free apps.


Engrade

Pros

  • Options to keep track of mastery, leave teacher feedback, develop seating plans, and more.

  • It includes apps for making quizzes, wikis and flashcards for your students.

  • You can create accounts so students can monitor their progress, as well as retrieve and submit assignments.Engrade is a simple gradebook, so if you still have teachers on paper systems it makes the transition to digital extremely easy.

Cons

  • May not be supported on older browsers and operating systems.

  • This service does upload the information to a third-party server, so you have to get parental permission to do so.

LearnBoost

Pros

    It has a clean, simple interface makes it easy to use for all educators, regardless of technological skill.
  • Integrates with a number of online services including Google+, Facebook, WordPress and Twitter.

  • The teacher portfolio allows you to upload and reuse your lesson plans and materials.

  • In addition to the built-in lesson planner, there is also a seating plan generator and attendance tracker.

Cons

    Only U.S. standards/expectations are available, so teachers from other countries may struggle to align it to their needs.
  • It has a graphics-based dashboard that is not equipped with labels to help with navigation.

The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers


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Elementary STEM Con Virtual Conference


 Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

Teaching is tough, heart-centered work and it’s so important to not only continue our own learning, but to reconnect with what inspires us to teach in the first place. 

Some PD just really hits the mark of being practical and inspiring. It’s rare when training restores your energy and passion for the incredibly important work we do. 


That’s what STEM CON was about last year, and that’s what it’s about this year … but you’ll notice we’re adding on to the awesomeness!

 

Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!


We’re going “beyond” what we started last year. This year’s session list includes more STEAM, secondary content, SPED, and more!

  • Integrating STEM with literature and content standards in multiple content areas

  • Authentic STEAM 

  • Culturally responsive STEM/STEAM

  • Social-emotional learning & STEM/STEAM

  • Makerspaces & Builder Clubs

  • Special education & STEM/STEAM

  • Augmented Reality apps

  • Robotics

  • Distance learning approaches & modifications

  • Green screen

  • The EDP, helping kids deal with failure, questioning methods, and many more!


I'm presenting 2 sessions this time (last year I did 1):

  • Using Virtual Manipulatives for STEM Challenges
  • Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!
    Using a Flipped Classroom Model for STEM Instruction
    Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

In addition to my sessions, this is what you can look forward to:

πŸ’œ 45+ sessions, panels, and interviews from 25+ passionate educators

πŸ’œ 25+ hours of video sessions on a wide range of STEM topics

πŸ’œ Daily freebies, raffles, & giveaways

πŸ’œ Private, pop-up conference Facebook group to interact with presenters and teachers around the world

πŸ’œ Bonus Bundle of 13 teaching resources for all attendees

πŸ’œ Opportunities to earn PD credits (see site FAQ for details)


➡️ You can see the full session list and descriptions here.


⭐️ Be sure to grab the downloadable conference guide while you’re there -- it’s so helpful for helping you figure out which sessions are the perfect fit for your grade level.


I really hope to "see" you there! Pin this post to get back to later, but don't wait too long or you'll miss the early bird registration rates.

Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!



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23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite


23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite

Here are a few tips or features that you may not know are available for Google Suite (Drive, Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides, etc.). 

Drive

  • You can download a Google Drive sync tool that will add a folder on your computer called Google Drive that will look like any other folder (My Documents for example). This means that when you make a document on your computer, you can save it straight into your Google Drive just like you would in your documents. This is a good tool to utilize if you are struggling to get colleagues swapped to Google Suite.


Docs

  • When collaborating on a doc things can get messy.  Rather than sifting through a myriad of edits of a doc to find the original draft, teach everyone to stay organized by naming specific versions of a doc. Go to version history and click on the three dots on the right of the version you want to name. From here, you can also make a copy of that version, which is helpful for sharing the "before" and "after" of work. You can even create notifications to be alerted when changes are made.

  • You can use the collaborative features of G Suite to edit, comment, and collaborate on Microsoft Office files using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides without converting file types.

  • With Research Pane (Select Tools > Explore from the top menu), you can open up Google Search directly from a Google Doc. You can even drag and drop to add a link or embed an image directly from the pane.  For those still learning about citations, Research Pane lets you simply highlight the appropriate text, and it will automatically link to the results shown in the pane.

Slides

  • Trying to design a worksheet, handout or infographic?  In Slides you can change the page size from a presentation to a regular 8.5x11 page by clicking File > Page Setup and then choosing “Custom.”  You’ll find it a very flexible and competent workspace, not to mention cloud-based and ideal for collaboration!


Forms

  • Flubaroo quickly grades multiple-choice or fill-in-blank assignments created in Forms.


Sheets

  • Heatmaps are a great way to draw attention to important data in your sheet. You can highlight particular values or outliers using conditional formatting to apply a color scale, quickly pointing out lower and higher values in your student data.

  • If lots of people are working on a sheet, you can lock down some of the data to prevent mistakes. Lock sheets and even individual cells, or if you don’t want to completely lock down cells just use the option to show a warning before they’re edited.

  • You can easily add sparklines to your sheets in order to quickly see trends in your student data.  Check out this guide.

  • Make QR Codes to create quick links to relevant websites, or showcase student work hosted online.  This example will pull in the data from the A1 cell to create a QR code: =IMAGE("https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=200x200&cht=qr&chl="&A1&"")


Classroom

  • Schedule posts (assignments, announcements, questions) to be released at specific times. To schedule ahead, set up your post the way you want it, then click the drop down menu next to the Assign button and choose Schedule. You can select the date and time you want your post to appear in the stream.

  • When creating a post, click the Add Topic button. You can create topics of your choice. Once created, they can be reused. Now you can organize posts by Chapter, Units, Themes, Topics, or Assignment Type.

  • Do you have an aid, or work in a cohort? Add a Co-Teacher to your course. Just go to the About menu, and click Invite Teachers.  The recipient will see an invitation the next time they login to Google Classroom.  Co-Teachers can do anything the teacher can do, except delete a class. If you need to remove a Co-Teacher, just click the menu in their profile box and click Remove.

  • Reuse any post from any class – current or archived – at any time.  Open the class you want to post in.  Click on the + in the bottom right corner of the screen.  Choose "reuse post."  


Calendar

  • For quick, abbreviated lesson planning simply create calendar events that begin at each of your class times, then have Calendar email an event reminder to you.  In the event notes include any links or files you’ll need for the lesson, page numbers students will need in the text or workbook, your lesson objective, a resource for early finishers, etc.  Everything you need to know for each class appears in your inbox right when you want it.

  • G Suite has added improved scheduling to Calendar that automatically suggests meeting times and available rooms based on your preferences to help you save time. Learn more in this Google blog post


Mail

  • With keyboard shortcuts you can search through, view, read and reply to an email without having to touch the mouse.  Although this may not sound like much, you would be surprised how much time it will save when you are having to look through and reply to lots of emails.  To enable the shortcuts, you have to go to the Advanced tab within Settings in google mail, then click on the new Keyboard Shortcuts option within the Addons tab to customize it.

  • Set up filters to organize your incoming mail before you’ve even viewed it. For example, if you have worksheet subscription emails coming in, you can set it up so that rather than going into your inbox along with emails that need immediate attention from parents and admin, they go straight into their own label called “subscriptions”. It still shows the red “1” like when a new email comes in beside the label so you can see when you have something, but it makes your Gmail much tidier without having to manually organize it. 

  • The G Suite offers several ways to email groups of people other than typing email addresses individually.  You can enter a saved list of recipients with Contact Groups, or send an email to a Google Group email address that forwards the email to all group members.


Hangouts

  • Hangouts offers an instant messenger service when you just need to send a quick message where you are looking for a quick reply. You can also integrate this within google mail, so that it pops up at the bottom of your mailbox.


Add-Ons & Features

  • Google Add-Ons can be installed from the G Suite Marketplace to expand the functionality of Google Suite and access apps like Pear Deck, Flubaroo, Doctopus, ClassReporter, Edulastic, and CoRubrics directly from Gmail, Docs, Slides, Forms or Sheets.

  • The Explore feature found in the Tools menu of Docs, Sheets and Slides not only helps you research, it can also assist as you analyze data and design graphics.

  • Google Tasks integrates with Gmail and Calendar.  You can have a to-do list that allows functionality such as Tasks created from an email displaying a "related email" link below the task.

23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite


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Virtual Valentines for Distance Learning


In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them.

In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them. 

Virtual Valentine Options

1. Valentine's Day Scene Digital Glyph. This is a pretty traditional activity turned digital. Students design a virtual valentine in Google Slides. It is great copy and paste practice plus the end results are great for sharing. You could have students make multiple versions to share.

2. Special Person's Day Digital Card. This one is a similar process but the finished result includes both clip art and text. Consider having students make one for each member of their class. 

3. Consider joining the official Virtual Valentine's 2021, which connects students around the world. 

Sharing Finished Virtual Valentines

Once students have created their Valentines, it is time to publish or share them. 
1. Padlet. Use a class Padlet to have students share their finished Valentines. Feel free to use mine or make your own using this example. Decide if you want students to be able to comment on the posts.


2. Have students upload into your learning management system (Seesaw, Google Classroom, etc).


3. Create a Jamboard and have students upload their finished Valentines.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for how to do Virtual Valentines this year. 

In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them.


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10 Classroom Management Apps for Tech-Savvy Teachers


 

10 Classroom Management Apps for Tech-Savvy Teachers

Here are some classroom management apps teachers can use to make running their class easier!

Behavioral Management Apps:

Classcraft (Apple, Android, Web)

Pros

  • This is a fantastic, gamified behavioral and learning management system designed for use in the classroom.  The system lets you award student-created avatars for desirable behavior and provide discouragement for undesirable behavior using a rich game-inspired interface that allows the avatars to maintain health, gold, experience and magical power.  
  • The platform comes with detailed presets so you can hit the ground running, but is also highly customizable if you want to make it just right for your classroom.
  • The Quest feature allows you to turn your lessons into gamified journeys to further engage and reward your students through their avatars.

Cons

  • It is a complex system with multiple layers, for both teachers and students, and therefore requires tackling a steep learning curve on everybody's part to be utilized to its full potential.  

Class Dojo (Apple, Android, Web)


Pros

·         This system also lets you award student-created avatars with points for desirable behavior and take away points for undesirable behavior, but with more of a silly and cutsie feel geared towards lower and mid elementary.  

·         Also comes with presets that can later be customized.

Cons

·         There is significantly less functionality compared to its robust counterpart Classcraft, but the simpler platform is better suited for use by both younger students and less technologically inclined teachers. 


Note: Both Classcraft and Class Dojo also let you connect parent accounts so they can see exactly how their students are acting when in school and allow for private messaging between the teacher and individual parents.  You can also use class-wide parent announcements to keep parents in the loop and upload attachments with your messages, such as handouts, worksheets, or permission slips.


Too Noisy (Apple)

Noise Detector (Android)

Bouncy Balls (Web)

Pros

·         Helps both you and the class objectively ascertain and visualize whether or not they are working quietly.  


Cons

  • High noise levels aren’t necessarily a symptom of inattention, so overuse of this method can be frustrating for everyone.


Stop Go (Apple)

Traffic Light (Android)

Pros

·         If you like the traffic light behavioral management system for your classroom, these provide ways to implement it digitally.  This system lets you clearly show your students if the class is meeting your behavioral expectations.

·         If you are 1:1, these apps can also be used by students to quietly indicate if they need further guidance (red/yellow) or are already comfortable (green) working on their current project.

Cons

·         Neither app is specifically designed for classroom management, so the functionality is a bit limited.

Engagement Tools:

Engaged students are usually well-behaved students! 

Nearpod (Apple, Android, Web)

Plickers (Apple, Android, Web)

Kahoot (Apple, Android, Web)

Socrative (Apple, Android, Web)

Pros

  • These apps provide engaging ways to review with and assess your students in real time.  

  • They also record and store assessment data to help inform your teaching.

Cons

  • Your students have to be 1:1 to use these apps.

  • Students who don’t respond well to timed assessments may struggle.

  • The more casual nature of these types of assessments may produce less accurate results.

Here are some classroom management apps teachers can use to make running their class easier!


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