Thursday, 16 October 2014

October 17, 2014 – A 'Remind'er To Connect With Parents

Happy Friday everyone!

This week I’d like to highlight a tool, which can assist you in keeping in contact with your student’s family without giving up your privacy and still maintaining a professional relationship.  The app Remind ( formerly Remind 101) allows the parents of your students, or students themselves if you teach more senior grades, to sign up to receive text messages from you without them seeing your personal cell phone number. 

As a teacher, you simply go to the website and sign up for a free account then begin by creating a name for your class (i.e. My Grade 4s or Language period 2).  When you click create, you will be given a phone number and text message to have parents/students connect with your ‘classroom’.  Send this code and phone number home with students and ask parents to text the message to the number indicated.  To make it even easier, when you log into your classroom, there is a blue ‘Download Instructions’ box on the right hand side and when you click it, you receive a printable page with all of the information you can send home to the families.  If parents are not able to accept text messages, they can receive the same messages via email.  These instructions are available on the handout, which is sent home to parents too.

Messages can be sent from your computer via the website, or on your mobile device by downloading the free Remind app.  Simply type the message into the indicated text box on the website or app and the message will be sent to all subscribers.  Messages can also be pre-loaded and sent at scheduled times.  There is no option for replying to texts; so all inquiries will need to go through your school email or voicemail.  Finally, you are also able to send photos, files and voice clips through the application, and if students transfer out of your class or when the year is complete, they can unsubscribe to your messages by simply messaging unsubscribe and the class code to the text number (instructions on the downloaded handout).

Personally, I feel this is a great way to keep parents and students up to date with all the events occurring in the class.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, 9 October 2014

October 10, 2014 – Thanks for Giving

Happy Thanksgiving Friday everyone!!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who encourage me to continue writing the Tech Tidbits.  Although I sometimes find myself struggling to come up with new and useful tech to be used in the classroom, speaking with the many teachers and administrators who are reading, and using them J, makes the whole process worthwhile.  So, this week I’m giving thanks to you…

On that note, thanks to Karen Hayhurst for sharing with me how she is using Google Classroom in her grade 6 class.  By creating multiple Google Classrooms for her students, she can differentiate her assignments for all of her students.  Just as you would have a variety of guided reading groups based upon their reading and fluency levels, so too can you create levelled classrooms for your students and delegate assignments to them, which are at their academic level.  This way modified students will participate in all of the same classroom activities while receiving assignments, which are at their skill and grade level.  What a great way to differentiate for your students without centering anyone out!

Also, a big thank you to my little buddy Kristian, for sharing this tip with me.  When students are working with online websites they can still utilize Google Read & Write by clicking on the green Read&Write icon in the web address bar.  This will open the Read & Write tool bar and you can continue to highlight text and have it read aloud to you.  

Additionally, if you have a student who is distracted by unimportant ads and images on the screen you can click on the ‘Simplify Page icon’ (see arrow above) and it will re-open the website in another tab in a more streamlined version.  From here you can choose to click on the + or – sign at the top of the page to further reduce or enhance the information on the page.  A super easy way to restructure the webpage to make information students need much more easy to find.

Finally a BIG thank you to everyone for continuing to follow my blog and weekly tips. If you have an idea for a future blog topic or would like some assistance with a particular piece of equipment, please feel free to pass it along to me.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!


Friday, 3 October 2014

October 3rd, 2014 – Taking Your Classroom Virtual

Happy Friday Everyone!

You may have noticed that our UGCloud homepage has a new icon – Google Classroom.  This is a quick and very user-friendly way to take your class into the cloud.  Here you can assign projects and share documents, and your students can receive, complete and hand-in assignments, paper free and without fear of losing any of their materials.  Instructors who teach more than one class can easily organize assignments by class and maintain a portfolio of individual student’s work.  I encourage teachers to give it a try with their students.

From the UGCLoud homepage ( sign on to your account and click the icon for Google Classroom.  From here you can click on the + sign in the upper right hand corner, next to your UGCloud email address and then drop down to ‘Create Class’.  A new window will pop-up asking for details regarding your new class.  Enter an identifier for the class such as ‘Mrs. Smith’s Class’ or ENG 402.  There is an option to include the section of the class however this is not required to be filled in, then click ‘Create”. 

Next, you will be taken to your new class’s home page.  From here you can begin to invite students to your class via email or with the class code.   To individually invite students click on ‘students’ in the center bar and then ‘Invite’, and type the student’s name in the search bar and enter.  When the correct student’s name is listed, click on it and they will receive an invitation to join your classroom. 
Alternatively, you can view a ‘class code’ on the left hand side, which students can use to access the classroom and join themselves.  When students log into the cloud they can click on the Classroom icon and then the + in the upper right hand corner then select ‘join classroom’.  They will be asked to enter the class code and will then be directed to the correct classroom.

From your classroom homepage you can send out announcements regarding the course, or distribute assignments to students. 

Announcements – simply type your message into the ‘Share with your class box’ and click ‘post’ and it will appear in your class news stream.

Assignments – click on the ‘assignment’ box and begin filling in information about the upcoming assignment.  Don’t forget to update the due date.  If you wish to include a document for students to full out or complete you can select if from your Google Drive as part of the assignment.  When a document has been selected to be a part of your assignment, you will se another drop down menu to the right of the document, which allows you to let ‘students view the file’, ‘edit the file’ or ‘make a copy for each student’.  By making a copy for each student there is no risk of one student changing the words or look of the assignment and altering it for the whole class.  Students receive the documents and can complete, edit, revise and turn it in, all online.
When assignments are turned in, you will receive the completed documents in your Google Drive in a folder titled Classroom and a sub-folder with that class’s name (Mrs. Smith’s Grade 4s).  Additionally, the student’s name and assignment name are the title of the document, so there is no struggling to see who has handed in the project and who still needs to complete it.
Google classroom is an easy way to make your class paperless while tracking student’s work and progress.  The format is very user friendly and all of the documents are quickly organized for you in your Google Drive.

Please don’t be afraid to give the Classroom a try and if there are any questions please feel free to ask!
Thanks and have a great weekend!