Saturday, August 3, 2013

Inspired by Marcy's post on Searching for Teacher Balance I decided to join up with 2 linky parties with this post and share about 5 back-to-school Tech Tips.

Five Back-to-School Tech Tips  These are a bunch of ideas for taking care of all of the usual back-to-school parent communication without all of the paper!

1.  Post a parent welcome letter on your class website.   I usually send out both an e-mail and a paper letter invitation at the beginning of the year so to make sure that they know how to get there.  I let them know that newsletters will be published on our class website and that lots of general information they may be curious about can also be found there.

2.  Post a welcome letter to students on the class website.   I used to send welcome postcards to students, but now I post a letter to them on our class website.  Last year I also recorded a message with VOKI so that students can watch and listen to a cartoon version of their teacher welcoming them to school.  I also post pictures of the classroom, so that they get a chance to get familiar with and feel less anxiety about their new school.

3.  Put curriculum night information on the class website and use that night to show parents how to navigate the website.  I like this idea better than printing out all of the documents, which both requires a lot of paper and which many parents will often lose and ask me about later.  If it's on the website, they can access the information any time they want.  This requires a good working class projector, however, which I hope to have by the time school starts!!!

4. Use Googledocs for Conference and Volunteer Sign Ups.  I used to always print out paper versions of sign ups for both parent-teacher conferences and volunteering in the classroom.  Last year I tried sign-up genius, which is a good online option, but requires lots of time to enter all the e-mail addresses and such.  Google docs seems to be a more simple solution.  I'm even thinking of having google docs sign ups open on the classroom computer on curriculum night and then keeping a link to them on the class website for parents who need to sign up later.  Here are some screen shots...though the bottom part is cut off...

5.  Use Survey Monkey at the beginning of the year to ask questions of parents and find out more information before the first day of school!  It's a good alternative to the paper versions that I used to pass out on Curriculum Night.  I usually ask about hopes/dreams, strengths, concerns, transportation information, nicknames, allergy information, etc...  It's nice to have a chance to hear back from families before the first day of school!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I heart washi tape!

I heart washi tape!  There's a Washi Tape Wednesday post on Kindergarten Crayons that inspired me to share ideas for using washi tape in the classroom.  Because it's sticky and removable, there are so many great uses for it and now that more stores are carrying it, it's so much easier to find.

List of ways that I have used washi tape in the classroom:

  • Students used washi tape to tape their body shape stencils to the inside of their science journals, so that every time we learned about a new body system, they could trace the shape of a human body and draw what they learned.  
  • Students taped their "foot" cut out for measuring to the inside of their math journals, so they wouldn't get lost.
  • I created a laminated class book that lists the class rules on each page and I taped photos of current students following those rules in the book.  I can remove the photos and reuse the book with new photos next year.  
  • One of our calendar activities was to add a penny to the board each day (and trade them for a dime after 10 days and a dollar bill after 100 days.)  I used the washi tape on the white board to divide up the 1s, 10s, 100s place both for the money and for the spot where students wrote the numbers.
  • I'm using washi tape for my word wall this year to divide up spaces on the white board.
  • You can use it to mark where the students should stand in line.  I've used painter's tape for this for years, but washi tape comes in so many more fun colors!
  • You can tape things to the white board if you run out of magnets and you can remove it and reuse it easily.
  • I used it to tape checklist into notebooks.  For example, I have a notebook that I use for keeping conferring notes during writer's workshop that I use throughout the year.  I change up the checklist each month though so that I can keep track of who I visited and it removes nicely when taped in with washi tape.  Much better than gluing and ripping!
Now that washi tape is becoming easier to find, I'm excited to see how other people are using it!!!!