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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. 

 

Tech Tuesday: Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Why learn to code?

The number of schools implementing coding programs into their teaching process may seem unusual to some. The decision to teach with coding programs is part of the STEAM education trend. We communicate through reading and writing. Similarly, the process of coding uses a language to communicate with computers. A section of written code tells the computer how a program should operate and respond. It can also be used to create customizable visuals and web designs.

The ability to code has become very influential in the computer science industry and could prove helpful to students wishing to enter this field. Coding presents far more opportunities than a career working with computers and software. Teaching students about code is important. Coding can be beneficial in understanding different languages and ways of communicating. As students work towards coding solutions, they will practice critical thinking among other key skills.

The Positives of Coding

A 2018 survey by Stackoverflow found that about 87% of developers agreed that they have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course. These developers like many others are self-taught and practice the ability to learn on their own.

Learning code can help students work more independently. They will be more equipped to solve problems on their own because many coding solutions are found through self education. In addition, when students works through problems on their own, they will be better able to handle future challenges in both their life and career. Teaching students the basics of coding at a young age can establish the framework necessary for adding to key skills they will learn throughout their education.

Coding in the Classroom

The Technology

There are various EdTech companies that have developed kid friendly coding programs to help teachers incorporate code into the classroom. The products vary from games, to robotics, to basic coding programs. If you are concerned about finding the right product for your school, there are plenty of product available tdo meet the needs of students among varying ages and interests.

Below are a few creative coding products that could be right for your school:

Bloxels

A product using coding concepts that allows students to build a game terrain by editing the layout in varying depths of details. Bloxels uses colored blocks to represent different types of elements found in a simple game layout. At the most basic level the students can design navigation through the game. At each increasing level of complexity, the student can edit a character’s physical appearance. Although the product is based around video games, it supports the core fundamentals of coding in which you create a layout, design and style for every element.

Ozobot

It’s a small robot that allows students to code the robot’s actions. The product is an interactive way for students to understand the capabilities of coding as they watch their code come to life. Students can learn to code the bot online with their coding program. They can also use preset color codes drawn on paper. The bot responds rapidly to color codes drawn into a track on a piece of paper. Students can use the code to control the direction, speed and maneuvers of the bot as it follows the drawn out commands. Through Ozobot, students are able to learn varying methods for constructing a code, while also understanding its core concepts. 

Tynker

A company creating code based programs and games for students at varying levels of their education. The programs range from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced. To start, young students play games and learn the basic methodology by solving coding problems and sequencing events. At the intermediate level, students develop more complex code and explore games with greater challenges. Finally, the advanced level begins coding by using Javascript and Python to create games. Students working at the advanced level also begin to apply their knowledge by coding real world solutions and web pages.

By Megan

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Motivation Monday: 15 of Our Favorite Quotes on Teaching

Quote on future

1. “To teach is to learn twice over.” – Joseph Joubert

2. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~ Henry Brooks Adams

3. “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ~ Goethe

4. “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ―Malala Yousafzai

5. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

6. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

7. “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B King

8. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

9. “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

10. “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and love of bringing the first two loves together.” – Scott Hayden

11. “A teacher has two jobs, fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.” – Mr. Holland’s Opus

12. “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita F. Pierson

13. “If we are truly effective teachers, then we are creating autonomous, independent, and self-directed learners, not just successful test takers”. – Robert John Meehan

14. “If you really want to know about the future, don’t ask a technologist, a scientist, a physicist. No! Don’t ask somebody who’s writing code. No, if you want to know what society’s going to be like in 20 years, ask a kindergarten teacher.” – Clifford Stoll

15. “There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools.” – Ken Robinson

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5 Ways an App Can Inspire Your School

An app Can Inspire Your School

Keep parents and students informed

An app platform allows teachers and faculty to send immediate alerts and updates. It ensures that parents and students are aware of any changes or important deadlines. A study by the Michigan Department of Education found that children of involved parents are more likely to do better in school. Most parents must be informed of how and why they ought to become involved. The app is a simple and easy way for schools to reach out to parents and keep them continually involved in their child’s education and aware of what they can do.

Reduce paper usage

Using a mobile app would allow schools to provide parents and students with paper-free updates. This could potentially allow schools to completely eliminate their use of paper flyers. The app notifications can also reduce the risk of information not reaching parents.

Schools making the change to a paperless system have reported saving about $418,000 in less than a year by cutting out almost 17 million sheets of paper!

stack of white paper

Access information easily

Simple information such as deadlines and notifications would become readily available to parents and students in an instant. The more accessible the information can be, the less time administrators must spend answering simple questions. School apps can provide parents with a sense of security because they are able to stay well involved within the school.

Personalized notifications and updates

Notifications can be sent to any group! Whether you have a district-wide or class-only reminder, it will reach the correct audience. 

Notifications and alerts can be released to parents and students based on the information that would be relevant to them. Alerts sent to the right group would create relevant news updates and eliminate junk mail and wasted resources.

Eliminate SMS text alert costs

Decrease the cost of using alert services by converting to a mobile app! Many schools are using SMS text message alert systems to keep faculty, parents and students informed. The cost of these services can add up quickly, especially for larger schools sending various types of notifications. A mobile app would allow a school to send out a notification through the app using data or the internet rather than paying a phone company per text message. It may be extremely helpful for schools to convert either fully or partially to an in-app notification system depending on the needs of the parents and students. Either way, the cost of an app can reduce the costs acquired from sending SMS alerts and notifications.

iClass CMS provides a fully integrated website and mobile app solution for schools all over the world. Learn about how we can help your school here. 

by Megan

Get Connected! Technology Every Teacher Should Know

It can be challenging to sift through the immense amount of tech resources that are available to teachers! Here are a few of our favorites, selected based on ease of implementation, usefulness, and student engagement.

Mindmeister

This is the website for those who have too many thoughts. Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that is perfect for brainstorming and organizing. The tool can also be used for note taking, as well.

Preparing a lesson for your class? Mindmeister offers both a function for brainstorming and planning – both essential for creating a lesson plan.

Create your first mind map here.

post it notes on a wall

 

Prezi

Created in 2009, Prezi has quickly become a leading presentation software for both the business and education sector. The design of Prezi has helped its rise in popularity. Unlike PowerPoint slides, Prezi offers an interactive way to present, complete with a zoomable canvas and premade templates.

There is no shortage to the type of presentations that can be created with Prezi. Topics range from analyses of books to a sales pitch in a business meeting. More importantly, because of the design of Prezi, they are much less boring to watch, therefore keeping an audience entertained and fully engaged.

The best part? It’s free. You can learn more or sign up to make your first Prezi here.

 

Kahoot

Like Prezi, Kahoot can be used in both the business and education sector. It is a primarily a mobile app, used to take quizzes of all types. Kahoot helps to keep everyone connected through a fun and interactive quiz format.

In the business world, Kahoot can be used to make any type of training or presentation more fun and engaging. Kahoot is used for team building exercises, making group trainings much more fun. In the education world, Kahoot can be used to either quiz students, or it can also be used as a study tool when there is a test.

Learn more about Kahoot here.

students are excited and looking at a computer screen

Penzu

Penzu is a site created for those people who love to write, but don’t like pen and paper. It’s an online journal and diary platform that can be used for anything from wedding planning to daily thoughts.

In the education sector, Penzu can be used as a tool for daily writing assignments or for spicing up homework. The awesome thing about Penzu is its accessibility. Anybody can write from anywhere, as the website also has a mobile app, allowing anyone to write from wherever they are, at their own convenience.

If you’re ready to start writing, click here.

 

 

Study Blue

Sponsored by Chegg, Study Blue is an online study library. Equipped with over 400 million notecards and study guides, students should have no problems studying for that upcoming test. Because of the app, students are able to study wherever they go. Study Blue also offers the option to create quizzes, giving students the opportunity to see what they already know.

Try it out here.

a person takes notes while looking at a computer

 

Knewton

No one learns the same way. Knewton knows that, so they’ve created a platform for every single type of learner. The company has provided 28 million adaptive learning courses since its founding in 2008.

The company integrated a new system known as Alta. Alta allows students to learn through completely personalized instruction and the program provides the student with an assessment of their mastery of the subject. Even better, the technology is easy-to-use and automatically provides feedback to the instructors.

You can learn more about Knewton here.

 

iClass CMS

iClass provides websites for schools that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st-century school. Teachers have the ability to communicate with parents instantly and at no cost. Students are able to work remotely and access information via their smartphone or laptop. Learn more here.

 

By Taylor
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Tech Tuesday: Makerspaces

3d print of a dinosaur

What are they?

The popularity of the maker movement has created a large push for students to learn about the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in their early education. Schools among all levels of the education system are implementing an area for students to explore the STEM field. The areas are known as makerspaces, which include different forms of technology for students to develop their own idea. The space promotes creative ways of thinking as well as collaboration with their peers. The spaces can be located in one designated area or spread throughout the school as an integrated system.

a person draws with a sharpie on a blank page

 

The Technology

Makerspace technology will typically include computer stations, multimedia editing software, 3D printers, video game creation software, laser cutters and similar systems. While the technology in a makerspace is typically quite complex, it does not need to be. The space can include simple creative stations with basic building tools such as wood carving, sewing machines, and even legos. A makerspace will be successful as long as the technology, regardless of the complexity, allows students to think independently and transform their ideas into realities.

3d print of a dinosaur

 

The Response

Educators supporting the maker movement have seen the positive impact it has on their students in terms of personal and educational growth. Most resistance towards the movement is from skeptics believing it wastes money and distracts from education. However, when implemented effectively in a school’s education system, makerspaces will foster learning rather than inhibit it. Educator and blogger John Spencer has witnessed the successes of the maker movement and urged individuals to promote it in their own classroom. In “Why Every Classroom Should Be a Makerspace”, Spencer writes “these aren’t “soft skills.” Rather, they are vital for success in life. These are the critical skills they need for the creative economy. But it’s more than that. They are a deep part of the human experience. When kids embrace a maker mindset, they experience the sheer joy of creative work.”

paintbrushes in jars

 

The Benefits

Makerspaces are conducive to establishing a basic understanding of STEM in a student’s early education. It is with this basic understanding that they can build upon their knowledge of the field to discover new interests and potential career paths.

Additionally, makerspaces mentally prepare our students to creatively solve new problems and adjust to challenges in their own way. As problem solvers, students will gain a greater understanding of themselves and what makes them unique. Educators who implement some level of the maker movement in the classroom will see their students grow as an individual and team member. In the makerspace, students will gain valuable collaboration experience as they work with others and learn to embrace teamwork. The ability to work well with others is a life skill that can be utilized to help themselves and others achieve their goals.

a neon rubik's cube

 

How to start?

The definition of a makerspace is nearly limitless. There is no one correct way to create a makerspace. If you find yourself wanting to start a makerspace at your school, there are some ways you can start the movement within your own classroom. A makerspace does not require large amounts of funding, instead, you can start just by promoting a maker mentality. This can consist of small projects or activities in the classroom that encourage your students to think outside the box to solve problems. But if you are looking to seek funding to create a completed makerspace for your school, start small and build the program as your school witnesses how it is beneficial to the students. A makerspace used effectively will foster its own growth through the students that represent the success of the investment.

 

By Megan

Getting Smart With Community Engagement

People

Schools can’t do it alone! The people and businesses in the surrounding community can be a valuable (but often overlooked) resource to help students succeed.

According to this report, schools with the highest number of community and parent volunteers have the highest test scores. Community involvement with a school promotes real-world learning and a broader perspective for students.

How can you make community members key partners in student achievement?

Share your Success

A newsletter is a great vehicle to share school stories and successes with the community. Even community members who don’t have children enrolled in the school will enjoy reading about what’s going on in the neighborhood. It’s also a great way to inform community members about upcoming events, service projects, and volunteer opportunities. Check out our tips on how to create a newsletter that is both interesting and informative here.

Be Visible

When your school participates in community events, people will notice! Seek out opportunities for students to volunteer around town or host service projects to benefit local charities. A great way to do this is to create or partner with a service club on your campus.

Share enrichment opportunities with students. Many museums or performing arts organizations will offer student discounts. Students can enrich their day to day learning experience while getting out in the community and having fun.

Make the Most of Your School Site

Your website is a powerful tool for community engagement. An integrated and intuitive website will encourage everyone to keep up to date with happenings at school. With iClass’ website solution, schools can even make community members partners in content creation. An integrated mobile app will keep functionality at parents’ fingertips!

 

5 Ways Classrooms Have Changed in the 21st Century

Classroom with rolling chairs

Lifestyles have changed dramatically since the beginning of the new millennium. Similar changes have occurred in our classrooms. As the first generation to grow up with smartphones, social media, and more, today’s students have different expectations and needs when it comes to education.

 

Graphic via Open Colleges

Collaboration

Pupils expect fewer lectures and more interaction with classmates. Teachers act as facilitators of learning rather than distributors of information.

 

Tech in the Classroom

Instead of competing with phones, tablets, and laptops, try incorporating them into your teaching! There are many advantages to using devices for school activities including engagement, instant feedback, and enhanced cooperation.

 

Project-Based Learning

Put simply, Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a method of inquiry where students identify a problem, then synthesize information to solve it. PBL engages students and allows them to learn about more than one topic at a time.

What is Project-Based Learning?

 

Organic Layout

Visit any school today and you’ll notice that classrooms that were once laid out in orderly rows are now full of tables, bean bags, and rolling chairs! Classrooms should be designed in a way that reflects learning goals – facilitating collaboration and meaningful discussion as well as independent learning and problem solving.

 

Classroom with rolling chairsImage via Smith System

 

Remote Access

Students have resources available on their cell phones constantly. The standard of constantly available information impacts education – learners want to be able to access homework, grades, and reminders on the go. Make sure that class website is adaptable so it can be seen on a phone and provide a channel for instant communication with teachers

 

iClass CMS provides websites that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st century school. Learn more here.

Introducing Our Partner: Educators of America

kid looks at a computer

iClass CMS has partnered with Educators of America to support their mission of connecting educators with technology to increase student achievement. 

 

Educators of America works with schools around the world – from New York to New Delhi – to provide teachers with technology and tools for success. In addition to supplying schools with the latest digital technology, Educators of America also hosts professional development and enrichment seminars for teachers. Classroom technology is constantly evolving, and it is important for teachers to stay up to date with the latest innovations.

 

kid looks at a computer

 

Edtech is a powerful resource for increasing student success. Studies show that the use of digital tools in the classroom increases student engagement, collaboration, and problem-solving. We are proud to support Educators of America in making a positive impact in schools in the US and around the world.

 

The USA seen from space at night

 

iClass provides attractive and easy-to-use websites to schools that increase enrollment, improve communication, and meet accessibility standards. Learn more about our partnership here.