Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teacher's Back to School Supply List

Before you sigh the BIG sigh....I know....it seems school just ended and many of us are already facing Back to School. The local sales papers are quickly filling with school supplies and clothing. I wanted to share with you a few items teachers should have on their personal back to school list. The first is DROP BOX! If you are constantly downloading files to a jump drive and carrying it between school and home, then DROP BOX is a great solution to issues associated with leaving the jump drive at school, or spilling coffee on it, or pulling your hair out because you can't find the jump drive ANYWHERE! DROP BOX is a FREE online storage site. You can store everything from files, to PowerPoint presentations, photos videos ...anything that you can put on a jump drive, you can store at DROP BOX.  You place your files in your DROP BOX at home....make your way to school and the files are there. Open the files at school, edit, print, save and when you get home, the file will be waiting there with all the new revisions in tact. Your files are available from any device that has an Internet connection. Beyond you having access to your files, you can share files with friends and colleagues. You can share ONE file or an entire folder of files. Your friends can only see the files you share, the rest of your files are private. Click here to open your own DROP BOX and set the jump drive aside! ;-)
Drop Box
Another item to add to your list is REMIND 101. How would you like to be able to send a TEXT message to remind your students/parents about important information or events in your class?
I know, you may worry about students/parents returning text messages or calling your personal cell phone. Well, with REMIND 101, you never have to be concerned about exposing your number. Once you open an account at REMIND 101 you'll be given instructions for setting up a class (or up to 10 classes). REMIND 101 generates a specific sign up code that you pass along to your students/parents. They will use their cell phone/email to sign up to receive your messages. You don't see their cell number/email address and they don't see yours. The messages are one way...parents can't respond/reply....they can only receive messages.
When you have a message to send, simply login (via the Internet or the Remind 101 app). Select the class you want to receive your reminders, press send and the message goes out immediately, or you can schedule it to go out on the day/time you specify.
I LOVED using this with my students/parents. I used this app to remind parents about Picture Day, Library Day, Gym Day.....Snow Day....and many other classroom related reminders. It's a FREE service that you'll turn to over and over again! Click on the phone image to open your account today. I plan to hand out this info to parents at our Curriculum Night.
Remind 101
One more item for your list is an app to help you level and keep track of the books in your classroom. BOOK RETRIEVER is available in iTunes and costs .99! You get sooooo much for your money....
This is the Classroom Library Company's app for managing book borrowing between teachers, parents and students. It allows you to scan, level and inventory your entire classroom library, giving you leveling data such as Guided Reading Levels, Lexile, Accelerated Reader, Reading Counts, DRA and Reading Recovery. There is a label printing function that allows your to print the leveling data wirelessly and easily attach the labels to your books! Over 178,000 titles are loaded and they're adding more every day. You can enter student's names into the app. When a student borrows a book from your classroom library, scan it and the app keeps track of who has which book. When the student returns the book scan it again and the app checks the book back into your library. You can search the app for titles in your library. There's even a book within the app called The Classroom Library Book: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Building, Organizing, and Using a Classroom Library!
OK....so what are you waiting for? Click on the photo-link below to purchase and download the app to your device.

Book Retriever 

I hope these items help make your school year go a little smoother! I'll keep searching for more items for your list...so check back soon!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Digital Card Readers

 Are you one of those people that takes plenty of photos with your digital camera, smartphone or tablet? Do you struggle to figure out how to get the photos OUT of the camera and into your computer?  Do you have the camera cord in drawer or box, but it has now intertwined itself in a tight-knit-never-to-be-untangled-without-you-screaming-a-few-CHOICE-words type of ball with all the other cords from previous devices?
Feeling like you need a degree in "Digital Forensics" to match the proper cord with the proper device?

Enter the world of Digital Card Readers! No, this isn't something that's spankin' brand new. They've been around for several years. But I meet folks all the time who have never heard of this little device and wondered how they got left holding the ball of cords and missed out on this great little secret.

Well, let me tell you, the Digital Card Reader has saved me time and headaches. You can pick them up just about anywhere. I found the best price to be at WalMart or Target. The office supply stores carry them, but at a premium price (in my opinion). For less than $10 you can say goodbye to trying to find the right cord, hook everything up and finally transfer the pictures. With a card reader, you simply remove the card from the device, insert it into the reader and put the reader into the USB port of your computer. No cords, no tangles, no mess. I love that I can keep it in my purse and carry it back and forth between home and school. Or because the price is right, leave one at school and have one at home. If you don't own one already add it to your Back To School shopping list! You won't be sorry you did.
A few shopping tips....
If you have multiple devices with different sized memory cards; there are readers that can hold more than one type/size of card.
If your USB ports sit right next to each other on your computer AND you are using one port on a regular basis (in my case I've run out of space on my hard drive and am storing everything else on an external hard drive that uses one of my ports)...Then be sure to look for a "slimline" type of USB connection. The readers come in all sizes...and I'm sure a few fun colors too. Google it! or Bing it! either way you're sure to find one (or two) to fit your needs!
Oh, one more tip...should you go shopping and ask for them....the clerks at the store are not always GEEKS...sometimes they don't know they even sell them. The Digital Card Readers are often shelved near the digital memory cards. I know....but you'd be surprised at how many store clerks sent me in the wrong direction.

 I hope this helps! If you have any questions about Digital Card Readers, I'm happy to help you out. Or if you already have one, I would love to hear from you. I'm sure others would find it helpful to hear your experiences too.
OK....so I checked online before posting this and as of RIGHT NOW...TODAY....Walmart is selling various card readers for as little as $3.82!!! I KNOW!!! (They were higher than that in the store!)
And get this....order online and PICK IT UP AT THE WALMART NEAR YOU!! How much easier can it get? ;-) Quick....before the prices change....click on the image below to go the the Walmart site.
(Come back and let me know what you got!) ;-)
Click on image to get to the Walmsrt site

It's Been Quite A While....

It's seems like it's been forever since I came here to blog. I'm not really sure why... perhaps because it was an extremely busy school year, coupled with a serious and very scary eye surgery...toss in a bit of Common Core,  and scoop of RtI and it all adds up to having to set some things aside for a while.
Take some time to regroup!
I was content to wait until school started up again before returning to blogging....but I recently met up with my BBB (Best Blog Buddy) Fran  of Kindergarten Crayons . She was in Chicago over the weekend for a convention and I wasn't about to pass on the opportunity to meet her face to face! It's always interesting when something like that happens... the person is shorter or taller than you imagined, or the voice is different.... I'm sure I'm MUCH taller than she expected...but the connection was just PERFECT! ;-)
 We had a lovely dinner and HOURS of FANTASTIC conversation! (Our poor waitress must have thought we were NEVER going to leave.LOL!!)
 We traded lots of stories about kids, teachers, principals, families and more. We talked about developing children, Common Core, and blogging! Fran gave me a GREAT pep talk! It was JUST what I needed to be (re)motivated to get up and start blogging again. Fran is even nicer, more knowledgeable and fun that I imagined she would be. Thanks again Fran....I really needed that!

Having shared all that, be sure to check back here later for some great ideas to get you going in the coming school year!