Schoology: EdTech in Action

SchoologyBefore school started this year, I wrote this blog post about one of my goals for this school year, which is to incorporate more educational social networks into my classroom.  I decided to give the free version of schoology a whirl this year and so far I have been LOVING it! Here are some of the things I’ve been loving so far:

Create class calendars to keep everyone informed:

  • Students and parents can see the calendar for their particular class.
  • Students who are absent due to illness, athletic participation, or other situation can easily stay on track.
  • Teachers can easily use the calendar from the website, app, printable version, or exported version to organize curriculum and turn in lesson plans.

Schoology 1

 Each Calendar Entry Can Expand to Show Daily Agenda and HW:

Schoology 2

Quickly Share Content with Students:

  • Organize content into folders
  • Create Online Class Discussions
  • Create Assignments
  • Create Quizzes/Formative Assessments
  • Everything can be graded easily and exported to your grade book!
  • See upcoming plans that are automatically synched with your calendar.
    Schoology 3
  • Easily keep up with Schoology Best Practices through Following the Offical Blog and Other Like Minded Educators:

    Schoology 4

  • Update Students Who Will Be Alerted Through Push Notifications on their Device:

  • Share links that your discuss in class
  • Take informal polls
  • Give students a safe place to ask questions and get help.

Schoology 5

So far, schoology has been a marked improvement in my class this year!  It is keeping us connected, reducing paper usage, and allowing for more balanced participation from all students.  What do you think?  Are you using schoology?  I’d love to hear your perspectives!

Tips for Facilitating Classroom Collaboration Without Disturbing Other Classes

QuietIt can be a constant battle to create dynamic, collaborative lessons that engage students without disturbing neighboring classrooms that may be in need of quiet for testing, writing, lecturing, or other, more subdued activity. I loathe nagging or yelling at students to quiet down, especially when they are loudly engaging in my class content!  Today I’m sharing a few tips, but we’d love to hear your strategies for striking that balance, so feel free to comment below!

1. Noise Down App: Noise Down is an app for iOS devices, available through the iTunes Store. It allows you to set a limit on the noise level in the room. An alarm goes off when the noise level is surpassed to signal to students to take it down a notch.

2. Lights Low: I’m not sure the exact reason this works, but extensive experience tells me that when the lights are low/off, students tend to stay quieter. The trick is keeping the lights low enough to have an effect, but high enough for students to see what they are doing.

3. Softly Spoken Instructions: When the teacher speaks quietly, students must be quiet to hear instructions.  It also unnerves them a bit, which helps maintain a lower noise level.

4. Online Collaboration: You can cut down on a lot of the noise of student discussion, by bringing the conversation online through collaborize classroom, google presentations, schoology, or other discussion platform. (Click on the links for more on each tech tool.)  Sometimes, I project the live feed of the discussion as a classroom tool so we can stop and chat at times and then take the conversation back online.

5. Change of Scenery: When I do certain collaborative projects or Socratic seminars, the lobby of our school gym or green spaces around campus (when the weather is right) can be perfect alternatives to my normal stuffy classroom.

5 Things Teachers Should Probably NOT Let Get Under Their Skin:

skinAs teachers, we fight so many important battles to help students become socially, academically, and emotionally ready for adulthood. Many times we act as educator, parent, social worker, and mediator.  As hard as we work to help every student succeed, there are a couple of things I think we need to let go of.  In my humble opinion, we shouldn’t waste our energy on small, annoying little bits that cloud our busy days with negativity.  Below are a list of things I think we need to NOT let get under our skin.  I’d love to hear your opinions or additions to this list in the comment section below.

1.  Electronics during non-instructional time: The local schools in my area have a very strict electronics ban at school. I could be wrong, but I think busting kids for texting between classes or checking instagram at lunch adds another impossible task to our already over burdened to-do list.  Students must learn to use electronics responsibly and attend class without distraction, but to me, it’s time to give a little electronic freedom back to students during non-instructional times.  We have a lot more credibility when we try to control only that which can be controlled.

2. Bad “reviews”. If you hear around campus that you are known as the uncool, hard teacher, take that as a compliment.  We should be kind and fair, but we are not called on to be easy or cool.  We are called on to teach.

3. Dress Code: There are some dress code violations that are very distracting and potentially unsafe (e.g. in a science lab).  Those issues should be addressed.  Minor dress code infractions should not take up space in our minds or minutes in our classrooms.  If anything, refer it to the proper administrator and keep teaching!

4. Minor Attendance Issues: Major attendance issues must be dealt with according to the situation, but we can’t drive ourselves crazy tracking down minor attendance problems.  Let the attendance office handle it and move on.

5. Change: Everything changes.  Whether it be curriculum, policies, hairstyles, language, or any other cultural or academic change, try not to get so caught up in the old way of doing things that you can’t adapt.

Do you agree? What would you add to this list?

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