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Time Saving Technology Hacks

Technology Hacks

Technology can be very easy to use. It can also be difficult. For those who did not grow up with technology, it can be a really challenging and frustrating experience.

For those who do not fully understand technology, it is a grueling and tortuous experience. In the world we live in today, technology is not going anywhere, and in certain job fields, technology is now commonplace.

In the education sector today it would be considered abnormal for a classroom to not have some type of technology. Whether that technology be a computer, an iPad, or even just a projector. Many classrooms do not solely have a blackboard in the middle of the room. The ways of learning are constantly upgrading, so the methods of teaching should be as well.

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”

– Nancy Kassebaum

Again, technology can be very easy, or it can be difficult. But there is good news. TED Talk speaker David Pogue has created a list of ten tech hacks that will save you some time. It will also provide you with some simple tips to use to help in the classroom. 

Watch the full video here

By Taylor

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Don’t Be Invisible: Hacks to Boost your School’s SEO

Boost School SEO

Boost School SEO

In the era of 21st century learning, it’s important for schools to maintain a strong online presence. Having a strong SEO (search engine optimization) can help your school appear first in an online search. The first step is to create a top of the line website to engage students and parents, but it doesn’t stop there. Optimizing your site’s appearance in search engines will ensure that prospective families can find you. Here are 4 easy things you can do to make sure your school gets seen online!

  1. Content

    1. Make sure content includes keywords
    2. If you’re working in html, put page titles in heading 1 format that includes keywords
  1. Caption action

    1. Do you have videos on your site? Provide a transcript, as this will increase the number of keywords that the website contains. This can also be done with images. Make sure you post a caption with each picture. Search engines can’t interpret visual content (yet!) but they can certainly read text.

 

Boost School SEO

  1. Promote low-engagement content

    1. If a page or article is not getting as many clicks, post on soc
      ial media about it. This is a free way to harness your community to drive traffic to your site, improving its SEO.
  1. Make it mobile.

    1. Make sure your website is responsive to different screen sizes and can be accessible by smartphone.

With the implementation of these strategies, your school’s search engine ranking will improve! Still sound overwhelming? iClass provides a fully integrated website and mobile app solution with SEO included. 

 

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Introducing STEAM: A New Learning Approach

Adult art artist

Introducing STEAM Title ImageWhat is STEAM?

Introducing STEAM! STEAM is derived from STEM, which is essentially a more specific curriculum of education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In order to understand STEAM, we first need to understand a little bit about STEM.

STEM was introduced in the early 2000s because it was noticed there was a decline in proficiency of the subjects in the STEM field. With the introduction of this new field, many more teachers are now being prepared and trained to teach these specific fields. STEM includes learning about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in completely scientific concepts.

This is where STEAM and STEM differ. STEAM, like STEM, teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEAM differs in that STEAM includes the arts as well. Included in the teaching of the arts is drama, dance, music, media and visual arts, among others. While this curriculum also includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the teaching of STEAM is different in that it looks at the subjects in a more creative and inquiring type of way.

Introducing STEAM

Why is STEAM Important?

The humanities give us the context of our world. They teach us how to think critically. They are purposely unstructured, while the sciences are purposely structured. They teach us to persuade, they give us our language, which we use to convert our emotions to thought and action. And they need to be on equal footing with the sciences”.

– Eric Berridge

One of the main reasons why introducing STEAM is important relates to the fact that there is much emphasis on preparing students for the STEM field. While this is not bad, it also means that schools are pushing the scientific fields, and shifting the humanities to the side, which does not serve students well. As Eric Berridge said, the humanities (arts) need to be equal to the sciences. By pushing the STEM curriculum, we are unintentionally sending these students a message that the sciences are the best career path after school.

Teaching the arts allows for students to think in a more creative way, because of the fact that teaching with a STEAM curriculum allows for questions. It allows for students to think more freely and because the curriculum is not specifically scientific, there can be many different answers, and it opens the classroom for a more varied, in-depth discussion.

 

The takeaway: STEM is important, but only teaching a STEM curriculum is hindering the chances of students fully learning what they’re truly passionate about. By teaching STEAM, not only is the STEM curriculum included, but the inclusion of the (A)rts provides a less structured way to discuss topics, and it may just inspire students to participate more.

 

Teaching tip:

Makerspaces are one cool way to introduce STEAM curriculum in your classroom. Learn more about how to start a makerspace easily here.

By Taylor

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Creating Awesome Teacher Blog Posts

Mobile app design and development

Unsure of how to utilize your blog as a teacher? Here are some tips to create posts that engage your students, communicate your message, and inspire your class.

 

 

Create a clear and simple title

It is helpful to use a post title that accurately reflects the content being included in each individual blog post. This will allow students to navigate the class blog page easily and efficiently.

 

Keep longer posts well organized

Any extensive content should be well organized with clear subtitles and topic headers. The information should be delivered in paragraph, bullets and topic summaries. It can prove helpful to use text that is bold, underlined, Italicized and in different Font sizes to distinguish the most crucial information and headers.

 

Use hyperlinks to websites discussed

A post that discusses or reference specific websites should include a hyperlink that students can use to access the website in one click. This will ensure that students are able to access the website being discussed in a convenient and simple manner.

 

Helpful media to convey information

The use of media in a blog post can prove to be entertaining for students and convey the same information in a more memorable way. Media can vary from images to pdf documents and video files. Media used in the classroom can be relayed to students in this manner to make videos and graphics easily available for students. This can also allow students to continue their learning outside of the classroom if there is additional content that could not be discussed within the allotted class time.

 

Using informal language

Blog posts are a quick and simple manner for teachers to get information to students quickly and efficiently. Due to the speed and frequency of blog posts, teachers may find it helpful to use informal language (but still proper grammar!) to communicate well with their students. 

 

iClass CMS provides an intuitive and affordable content management solution for schools. Teachers, administrators, parents, and even students, can post blogs. One click moderation ensures that all tasks can be carried out in one minute or less. 

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Boring to Brilliant! Top Tips to Boost Your School’s Social Media Presence

Brilliant ideas to Boost Your School’s Social Media Presence

Teachers and schools alike can benefit from being active on social media. It’s a free networking tool, a place of inspiration, and a marketing resource. Teachers can find new ideas for their classroom, interface with fellow educators, and share top tips. Schools can connect with current families and recruit prospective students. It takes a small amount of effort to reap big rewards. Here are some tips to boost your social media presence.

 

 

  1. Hooray for Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to find what you’re looking for. Some we love are #edchat (learn about teaching trends from around the world) #edtech (keep up with the latest STEAM and tech news), and #educationforall (a movement started by unesco, powerful stories and tips). Hashtags can also be be used to promote your posts. Try searching for top education hashtags online and adding some to the end of your captions.

 

  1. Join the Conversation

Don’t be afraid to comment on other’s posts! Ask experts questions or congratulate people on their successes. The online community is vast and full of people to communicate with. Tap into the global network!

 

  1. Visuals

Did you know? Tweets and posts with visual media are more likely to be clicked on? This is an easy way to attract attention to your posts. Also, make sure your profile and header pictures are clean and easy to read. It’s a simple way to give your account instant cred! Use a free tool like Canva to create sleek graphics for your social media.

 

  1. Interact

Ask for feedback, retweets, or answers if something is important. This shows followers that their input matters to you, plus chatting makes it more fun for everyone. Interactions online are a great way to let your personality shine and show people that you care.

 

  1. Cultivate your feed

Curate your list of accounts you follow to develop a feed that is interesting and worth reposting! Search for accounts that inspire you as well as accounts that already have a big following amongst your audience.

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Analytics for Education: How Big Data is Changing Learning

How Big Data is Changing Learning

In recent years, the idea of big data analysis has taken the tech and business worlds by storm. Every action that we take online leaves a digital trail. There’s an increasing emphasis on software that can analyze this large volume of data at a high velocity to produce meaningful results. Because this analysis is so vast, it can reveal fascinating trends and patterns in consumer behavior.

 

Learning analytics is the synthesis of user (learner) created data to discover correlations and predict on future outcomes.

 

George Siemens presents a holistic model for learning analytics that incorporates not only student class performance data, but also elements from all areas of a student’s online life. Predictions based on analytics would lead to adaptation, personalization, and intervention in learning.

This process helps educators and administrators as well. Recorded student interactions in the VLE (virtual learning environment) can be used to help create more dynamic curriculum design. There is potential for the learning experience to be optimized for each student. The impact of any updates or changes can be easily tracked.

 

Learning analytics is scalable – teachers can implement the basic principles as a way for individual students to reflect on their growth and success. An example of this would be to create a table with all class assignments. For each assignment, students can record where they completed it, their level of understanding, the amount of time spent, any screens, etc. in addition to the grade they received on the assignment. Learners will be able to identify their optimal environment to complete assignments and predict how well they will do on an assignment based on various factors.

 

Learning analytics and educational data mining are powerful tools for improving learner performance, however, they come with some ethical debates. Can students’ privacy be preserved? Additionally, would a prediction of success or failure during a course help or hinder students learning?

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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#MondayMotivation: Lead Like A Pirate

Motivation to lead

With Back to School season around the corner, it’s time to start reflecting on classroom leadership. We have heard the phrase “Be A Leader.” It’s fairly common, actually. Most people would rather be considered a leader than a follower. In schools, it is imperative that the administrators and teachers are leaders. The creators of Lead Like A Pirate, Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, saw that effective leadership had many facets and introduced a new system of leadership training. They want you to lead…

 

Classroom leadership like a pirate: a pirate ship on the ocean with stormy skies above

 

…like a pirate.

So what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to Lead Like A Pirate?

The purpose of being a pirate leader is to make schools amazing with engaged students and empowered educators who know they are making a difference. The goal of being a pirate leader is to create a school environment where students are knocking down the doors to get in, rather than out. 

 

Do you have what it takes to be a Pirate Leader? 

Passion – both personal and professional

A willingness to Immerse yourself in your work

Good Rapport with your staff, students, and community

The courage to Ask and Analyze what is and isn’t working

The determination to seek positive Transformation

And the kind of Enthusiasm that gets others excited about education

A man in a suit makes a thumbs up.

To learn more about what it takes to Lead LAP, follow the conversation on Twitter (#LeadLAP), visit the website or read the book.

Innovative Ways to Lower School Operating Costs

School website design in Dublin

1. Market Online

Instead of paying for expensive ads, try boosting your school’s SEO to generate traffic for your site. Choose a website platform with integrated SEO optimization to save time and money!  Additionally, take advantage of social media! Facebook, twitter, and even Instagram are powerful tools to get the word out about your school.


2. Go Paperless

Sending home paper newsletters can cost schools thousands of dollars that could be spent on other resources. Try switching to email format instead. Parents and benefactors can access news on the go, and your school will save money. With our website solution, teachers can use this strategy, too, and keep parents updated via an intuitive website.


3. Sponsorships

When hosting school events, partner with community businesses to cover the costs. Your school will save money and create valuable relationships with community members. Learn more about creating a community school here.


4. Meeting Management

Unnecessary meetings can significantly lower employee morale and productivity. Make sure meetings are only held when necessary or focus on planning a productive agenda for each meeting. With a few tweaks, meetings can be a time that everyone looks forward to!

5. No More SMS Messaging

Communication with parents is critical, but SMS costs over the course of a school year can be astronomical! By switching to an integrated solution like iClass, schools can instantly message parents through app notifications rather than SMS. This can save your school thousands of dollars a year!

 

 

4 Cool Ideas for Teaching With Tech

Teaching with technology

Here are some of our favorite new ways to incorporate technology into your teaching.

 

Create a Virtual Field Trip in Google Earth

Engage students by showing them the places they are learning about in real life. With the internet and a little bit of preparation, it is possible to take your students on a “trip” anywhere in the world! The Teacher’s Prep writes about how to create a class trip via Google Earth here. Take it into VR with a Google Cardboard for less than $15!

Make Students Content Creators

Have a class website or blog? Let students contribute articles of their own! Younger students can write about simple topics such as their day or submit pictures, while older students can publish reflections on their learning or creative writing. iClass Content Management System provides the perfect platform for this. Students submit articles on their own and teachers can moderate with one click!

Use a Virtual Assistant

Many teachers are incorporating Amazon Echo or Echo Dot into their classrooms. Alexa can help teachers in many surprising ways, including spelling words, putting students in random groups, solving math problems, or playing ambient music. This saves valuable learning and prep time! Alexa can be set up to respond to only one voice – yours! Read more here.

Game-Based Learning
Students in 2018 have grown up playing video games. Game-based learning is a fun way to incorporate video game technology to engage your students and help them learn. Teachers can create their own games, access educational games online, or even use pre-existing video games as texts. Learn more here.

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Inspire and Engage Students with a Blog

Inspire and Engage Students with a Blog

Blogs are a free (and fun!) way to connect with students and parents outside of the classroom. It’s simple to get started – all you need is something to write about. Share new teaching ideas, classroom successes, or plans for the year. Here are 5 reasons to start blogging!

 

 

1. Connect with students outside of the classroom

Using a blog, teachers can engage with their students by publishing content that is convenient and relates directly to specific classes and topics. The ability to learn does not end when the class ends, and neither should the ability to teach. A blog post can be created and published quickly in order to reach the students in a moments notice. Whether it is a reminder about an assignment or more details on classroom topics; a post is convenient for both teachers and students.

 

2. Post relevant and helpful guides to students

Teachers are able to provide students with tips and tricks for specific assessments in a frequent and relevant manner. New project? Create a post outlining the assignment with extra advice and links to websites for research. Blog posts allow students to benefit from readily accessible information and feel well informed about topics discussed in class.

 

3. Keep parents informed

A blog can also keep parents informed about the topics their children are learning in class. Teachers posting information about specific projects, assignments, and tests can also be directed at parents. These posts will equip parents with the information and tools necessary to help their own children succeed.

Nearly 65% of Parents in a study completed by Public Agenda said that they wish they could be more involved in their child’s education.

Additionally, about 55% of Parents felt that parent involvement could be improved by “knowing more about what benchmarks and skills your child should be mastering at the end of every school year”. The more informed parents are about their child’s education the more helpful they can be for teachers.

 

4. Post additional information for students to use

With limited time in the classroom, teachers can post additional information for students related to specific topics and assignments. A blog can provide students will simple tasks, videos and articles to read after school. Homework need not be limited to mundane paper assignments but instead can incorporate different types of media and sources. Examples of media that could be incorporated as homework in a blog post include a Ted talk or podcast.

 

5. Freedom to customize the course or classroom

Blog posts can be simple and extremely easy for teachers to use. With a simple format, teachers do not need to spend extra time creating pamphlets or slide presentations. Teachers may post information in a manner that they think will be helpful for their students and classroom. Aside from students, teachers can ease communications with parents and determine how involved they want parents to become.

 

iClass CMS provides a content management platform for schools and teachers. Ease of use is key – all functions can be carried out in 1 minute or less. Students can publish, too, with one-click teacher moderation. Learn more here.