Friday, September 12, 2014

Photobooks in the Classroom

Shutterfly launched some exciting news this summer offering an education app for students to create photobooks in the classroom. Now that we are in the swing of things in the classroom I am finding endless possibilities to connect this to CCSS curriculum and projects.

The app is free and books are just $10 per student with volume discounts available. This is a great option to have as an app because in years past these were web 2.0 tools online that seemed to get quite pricey. Whether they started charging for membership onto their site or charging for the book they seemed to price themselves out of the market.When students completed their book the printing fees were ranging in the $20-30 range per book. This is just too much to ask parents in addition to supplies and field trip fees in one year. Many teachers continued to use the online sites but when completed it became only a digital product. I'm glad that Shutterfly saw an opportunity that will enable teachers to integrate their book making products with meaningful learning.

The first application that sticks out for me would be to use this as a culminating portfolio for students taking pictures and screenshots of projects throughout the year. For $10 at the end of the year parents could have an attractive portfolio of their child's work that was painless to assemble!

To read more from eSchoolNews click here

How could you integrate Shutterfly books into your classroom this year? Would love to hear comments and thoughts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Upcoming Presentation

This fall I will be presenting at:

Teachers Learn Tech Bootcamp located at General Assembly in Boston on Saturday, October 4th from 9:00-3:00
I will be presenting on Chromebooks and Google Apps in the classroom:

Google Apps, Chromebooks, and Docs in the Classroom
Google Apps have become an essential element in managing assignments, and Chromebooks are the cornerstone of many 1-to-1 classrooms. In this interactive session, Grade 5 teacher and MassCUE speaker Amy Gregory shares her own experiences in a 1-to-1 classroom with strategies you can use to implement effective 1-to-1 programs using Chromebooks and Google Apps.

Click here to learn more or sign up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Makes a Great Teacher Website?

As the new school year is right around the corner my virtual school year has already begun. Once teacher letters go out to students I naturally see a spike in visitors to my classroom website. This is expected each year, students are curious to find out anything they can about myself and how my classroom runs. What does the room look like? What will we be learning this year? They investigate like scientists looking for pictures of former students. Do they look like they are having fun? Does it look hard? Parents may scan for an insight to ease their nerves of a new year ahead and the demands a new grade may make on their child.

My class site has gone through drastic changes over the years, it is like looking back at a bad wardrobe choice. Gone of the days of html coding with a free site through Family Education Network. With so many platform choices and embedding options we as teachers have endless options of what we want our sites to be. The question is: Do we really have the time? and Where is the balance? I would rather spend my time focusing on evaluating students and their needs rather than on my website.

So I ask: Is a classroom webpage for parents, students, school or a teacher's image?

Years ago it may have been for the parents to see how progressive schools and teachers were with technology and "keeping up with the times" by having a somewhat static webpage that got updated with info and pictures similar to a newsletter each week. Now it is not about having an address on the web, but about what you do with it. Heck, many students animals have their own blog! What are you going to do with your web presence to make it an integral and effective tool in your teaching toolbox? I've been evaluating this, examining what other teachers are doing online and come to some conclusions:

-Use your site for a significant purpose for students first and foremost. We all know the challenges the web provides to students with its vast information. Streamline that for students by creating a portal of useful information and links for them. Make it similar to an internal intranet that is filled with essential information for them to be successful in your classroom.

-Offer parents a peek into your world. I would like my students and daily interactions to speak to my teaching but we all know that the web can be the next best thing. Not all parents have time to volunteer and not all students are going to share. Upload some pictures and project samples from time to time to give parents an idea of what is going on in your classroom.

-Don't make it about you, go ahead and start a teacher blog if you want to do that, please don't confuse the two. You will just confuse parents. There are plant of Educator PLN sites, Twitter, pinterest, teaching blog sites to connect with other educators online.