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6 Great Resources for (Digital) Organization in your Classroom

INTRODUCTION:

Recently, teachers have been reaching out to Gradeable with a specific problem: they are feeling overwhelmed with the sheer number of ideas and innovations that are suggested to them for use in their classrooms. With this sentiment in mind, I wanted to compile some resources for managing information by pointing you to some fellow teachers who have built similar systems for their own rooms. Here are six stellar tools to help you organize your ideas and beyond.

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1. Together Teacher

Together Teacher is a consultancy for schools and leadership teams on school organization and time management. While this consultancy might exceed your need, they also have a great blog on organization tools, and a wealth of resources for your classroom that are available to you if you sign up for their email list serve.

2. EdSurge Instruct

Staying curent with cutting edge educational innovations can often feel overwhelming, even if you are not a busy teacher on top of this. To keep myself up to date, I subscribe to EdSurge’s weekly newsletter Instruct, which compiles information for educators on education and technology use in the field (in a brief email). They also have a newsletter on entreprenurship in the field called Innovate that you can tack on with one additional click.

3. Dropbox and Mailbox

These two organizational tools help me organize, compile, and share files and email respectively. I love the ease of having access to my files from anywhere, and freedom from the sheer amount of paper that I would compile over the course of the year, especially in light of my transition to digital grading. The bonus? Having one account to access both tools (through DropBox).

4. The Organized Classroom

Charity Preston is a master blogger. Her blog is full of strategies for organizing your resources. I am an especially big fan of her Technology page on Pinterest, where she compiles digital organizational strategies around popular tech tools for instruction.

5. Edmodo

Edmodo is a great resource for educators, and if you are not using already, I would urge you to reconsider. Connect with fellow educators on any topic in the field, from technology integration, to math and ELA. In addition to subject content, you can also post questions to fellow educators for tips on professional development and organization.

6. Gradeable

Gradeable helps you grade faster by eliminating the time it takes to evaluate and record grades in paper, digital, or project-based grading. On top of this Gradeabe is also a great tool for managing student grades and compiling a strong record of your students’ succcesses and challenges, and communicating this information to parents and fellow educators.

Learn more about Gradeable’s digital product.

Get your FREE trial of Gradeable!

Keeping your room and information organized is no easy task. I hope that in reading this, you have gained a few important resources to manage your grades, tools, and digital files. Every educator can be an organized one with a few easy steps!

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Introducing Ellen Brandenberger: A New Teacher Voice at Gradeable

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In her time in the classroom, Ellen, or Ms. Ellen as she was known by her 5th grade students, experienced the challenge that grading presented to many teachers. After long days of actively engaging our students, fellow teachers still needed to spend hours grading student work in order to provide timely feedback and instructional adjustments for students. Now a graduate student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Ellen joined Gradeable committed to helping teachers like herself overcome this challenge and be another (and continuing!) teacher voice in Gradeable product development and design. Ellen will be blogging about her time at Harvard, thoughts on the field of education, stories of superstar teachers, and new information surrounding the Gradeable product.

My first two weeks at Gradeable have been an incredible joy. It is fantastic to be part of a working community that is so passionate about helping my fellow teachers streamline their workflow so that instruction can truly be the central focus of teachers’ time and efforts. As an educator, I am passionate about helping other teachers be the best they can be, as I believe that teachers are at the center of successful education for students everywhere, and undervalued for the incredible amount of work that they do for their students. In the classroom, I often felt that what we needed most as educators was not an increase in effort, but rather a need for stakeholders to remember that teachers efforts, every single one, should be directed towards improving instruction and student learning opportunities.

I also bring a strong passion for personal learning, and am constantly delighted to learn new things, and discover new opportunities. This passion brought me to Harvard, where I am pursuing a Masters of Education with a focus on technologies and innovation for education. I come to this program with a fair amount of skepticism, but full of optimism: in my time in the classroom, I saw the incredible impact that technologies had on my students’ learning, yet would hesitate to say that this was the best or only way that they achieved new knowledge and skills. Instead, I believe that technology informs new opportunities for us as educators to focus on what matters most: deep and constructive student learning.

My work at Gradeable will be directly informed by this background. My role will be to support teachers and their use of the Gradeable product. This will mean responding to teacher inquiries and problems, integrating teacher feedback into the product, and being a voice for teacher needs and opinion at Gradeable, both online through social media and in person. My hope is that my role will become a portal for you to interact with Gradeable, and the each and every one of you will be comfortable reaching out to me as both a resource and a fellow educator, who, like you, understands the struggles and challenges that go along with teaching and learning. All the best.

Ellen can be reached  directly by email at Ellen@gradeable.com. Please reach out with concerns, feedback, inquires, or of course, successes with the product.

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New York Times: No Child Left Untableted

While there are valid arguments and counterarguments for technology in the classroom, it’s the teacher, not the technology, that makes the difference. If teachers aren’t given the chance to implement it properly or if the students aren’t using it effectively, then the impact of that technology won’t be felt. Supplying an entire classroom with tablets when the teacher does not embrace it, nor sees the possibilities, would be like getting your dog a Tempurpedic, sleep number bed.

A story called No Child Left Untableted by Carlo Rotella, in The New York Times on Sept. 12, is  worth a look for anyone interested in technology’s role in the classrooms today. In essence, we’re talking about technology being a cure vs technology as a tool. The idea that you can download an app to get students to make a connection vs a machine that helps you evaluate the academic, social, and emotional growth of twenty students over the course of a year.

One thing that hooked me when joining the Gradeable team was their view of crunching all the numbers for more effective teaching. These days, Starbucks has more data about me than schools do on their students. Think about the power of that technology turned into the classroom. Just like Starbucks has data on what time of day people are buying Pumpkin Spice Lattes, teachers will be able to see right away how well the class is understanding fractions based on answers to question 3 on the quiz. Digested thoughtfully, technology offers a big helping hand on where to focus your attention.

Of course, these new tools will not work for the teacher who sticks his student in front of a computer screen for six hours and hope for the best. Similar to how throwing on a movie and turning the lights out means nap time for most kids. The success of these tools depends on how the teacher takes advantage of them.

The key to incorporating yet another device into our lives and classrooms is to keep an open mind and to find a balance. Don’t lose sight of a piece of technology as a tool. In the article, one teacher was told that she could use proximity to keep the class focused. Proximity isn’t an app on your tablet, she was reminded. It’s simply standing closer to the kids so they know you know what they’re doing. Remember, technology isn’t the solution to everything.

The 7-page article discussed three big counter-arguments for technology, a discussion for another post, and they are as follows:

  1. Educational technology opens new avenues for marketers to reach students in a school setting
  2. Links between screen time and childhood obesity raise public health concerns
  3. It can be easier to find money for cool new gadgets than for teachers (See LA school systems)
  4. Privacy issues can arise because school systems lack the experience to negotiate data agreements that anticipate all the ways technology companies could put student information to use

How do you feel about technology in the classroom? What ways are you using it in your classroom? What are your gripes? Comments, reaction to the article?

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Friday Bulletin Board

The Uncomfortable Truth About Technology in the Classroom

Robots in the classroom will CTRL-ALT-DELETE my job! Well did you know Socrates thought the invention books and the practice of writing would hinder the learning process because he thought students wouldn’t have to use their own memories? Or that people thought text books would render teachers obsolete? Technology is here to stay, so join the conversation for finding a balance of technology and traditional learning that’s right for your classroom.

#HashTagsEveryTeacherShouldKnow

#So #many #hashtags. And who could blame the Twitterverse? The world-wide, real-life conversation is right there at the swipe of a timeline. With this comprehensive dictionary of educational hashtags, find out what people are talking, about whether it’s homeschooling or human rights. For your techies out there, check out these five hashtags related to educational iPad apps to keep you iUpdated.

14 Google Tools You Never Knew Existed

Ever wonder how popular cocaine was back in Victorian times? Well with Google’s Ngram viewer, you can search how keywords have trended in books in the past 500 years. So go forth and Google how your topic has evolved through the years.

How to Use Instagram in the Classroom

Think of 2013’s beautifully filtered version of “I Spy.” Teaching shapes in geometry? Have students post pictures of trapezoids or parallel lines through their travels.

8 Tools for Creating a Website for Your Class

Gone will be the excuse of “Oh I lost my syllabus so I didn’t know that was due.” Don’t be nervous, these intuitive, user-friendly tools will help you become an online mogul before the bell rings.

Have a great weekend!