This website solved two problems for me.

First, as a teacher, I love to look for new and innovative ideas on the Internet.  At one time, I had over 150 favorites on my school computer.  They were carefully (not) categorized for easy access.  Unfortunately, there is no such thing as easy access when using Bookmarks/Favorites.  Most sites were bookmarked and then never seen again.

There is a free website called Symbaloo.com that solves this problem.  This is the home page.  You can see there is a grid and each square is the button that will take the user directly to the linked website.  The user can  organize their bookmarks by creating specific grids for each category.  For example, mine include Educational Review Games and My Favorite Blogs.  In about 20 minutes, my 150 bookmarks were converted to easily scanned links/buttons/tiles organized by category.

symbaloo

Second, I love to use technology in the classroom, but getting the whole class to the same webpage at the same time is difficult at any grade, but really a challenge in the second grade.  Using Symbaloo, I can create a “webmix” that has the sites that we use, link it to my blog page, and all the students can access every site that we use by logging into our classroom blog.

Here is an example of one I created for my blog.  There is a share option that I used to put a link on my blog, so that my students could review at home.

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Symbaloo is very simple to use.  Once you have registered (free), select a website you would like to save and capture its URL.  Go to your Symbaloo and click on a blank tile.

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Click on Create a Tile.

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Where it says add the address of the http://, paste in the url of your website.

Type in a title, but often the title of the webpage will automatically be entered.  Be sure and check “show text.”

Next, either use the icon that is sometimes uploaded with the text, or select and icon or color from the choices in Symbaloo.

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Symbaloo 6

Hit save and the link will be inserted into the grid.

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There are many other useful tools available on the Symbaloo site and a premium option that comes with training and more extensive tools, but that is another post for another day.  Using Symbaloo has been game changing for me as a teacher.  I use it every day, whether I am saving the link to an interesting blog that I don’t have time to read, or saving a link to use in a lesson the next day.  It really is one of those sites, I consider indispensable.

 

 

 

I found this amazing flash card maker, Free Printable Flash Card Maker It is simple and easy to use.  I can create as many flashcards as I need in as little as five minutes.

flash card pic

The website opens to two simple columns of boxes.  The first column is for one side of the flash card and the other column is for the other side. After typing in my information, I hit PDF.  This takes me to the next page where I can choose my settings.  I always choose 6 per page.  I also choose a font size.  (Otherwise, the program changes the font size depending on how much information is on the card.  Some will have really big font, such as a short vocabulary word.  Another will have smaller font, such as the definition.)

flash card pic

Now I can view the PDF and print my cards, download the cards to my computer, and/or store the flashcards on the site for up to 30 days.

The flashcards print with one set of information on the left and the corresponding answer, or information on the right–just like the template.  There is a dotted line between the columns.  The student can fold the paper in half to self-quiz, or they can fold it and then cut a horizontal strip which becomes the flash card.

Sometimes I print two copies and glue them back to back.  When I run them through the copy machine on the 2 sided to 2 sided setting, I end up with 2 sets of front to back traditional flashcards.

I really appreciate the fact that this site has very few graphics, no front page, and no frills.  This means that I don’t have to click around to find the template, each page loads quickly, so there is little wait time.

This is a free website that does not require a download.

Engrade.com is a gradebook program that has many sophisticated tools that are easy to use.  The program allows my students and their parents to view their assignments online, download missing worksheets, as well as, text me questions and comments from home..  It is easy to set up individual classes, and the  grades are simple to enter.  When the teacher enters an assignment, or clicks on the assignment, the gradebook displays the students’ names in a horizontal list with a box by each name for the assignment grade.  I really like this feature because I do not like to have to find each student’s name and then trace it along the screen until I find the square below the assignment.  However, grades can be entered in the traditional grid also.

Another advantage to Engrade is the calendar.  Assignments can be automatically entered into the calendar when they are added to the gradebook.  When the teacher types the assignment in the grade book, he or she can check a box that records the assignment on the calendar. He will then receive a prompt that allows the teacher to upload a file that contains the assignment, worksheet, etc.

Each student is given a separate log in.  The student can view his or her grades, check the calendar for assignments, download any papers that he needs, and text the teacher if he or she has any concerns or questions.  When the teacher logs in the next morning, any emails sent the night before pop-up, so he can answer the students or parents.

The gradebooks are stored online in the teacher’s account.  My account still has gradebooks from four years ago.  As I sometimes teach credit recovery classes, I like to keep these scores until the student graduates, in case there is a clerical error and the replacement credits are not recorded.

Teachers can created online quizzes that are automatically graded.  A teacher can even build online class Wikis with students and colleagues.  There is also an attendance component.  When an entire school uses the program, there is an administrative component that allows the administrator to view current grades and attendance data for a given student.

The best part is that it is truly and permanently free.

Teaching poetry to students who are anxious about writing in general sometimes seems impossible.  Either they take free verse to heart and write very incongruous lines about seemingly unrelated items, or they want to write roses are red, etc.

Once they grasp the concept of a poem and gain confidence, they often write very meaningful and expressive poetry.  Holding their attention long enough to get to that epiphany is usually very difficult.

One of my bad work habits is that I like to explore new educational websites when I am actually suppose to be grading papers or doing paperwork.  Sometimes, however, it pays off.  I found this very thorough and effective poetry website that allows students to add their words to common poetry templates.  Some of them are based on poetry formats commonly used in English classrooms, such as “If Emotion Were a…” or the “Noun+Adjective+Phrase”.  Others use the format of popular published poems.  After the student supplies most of the crucial words, he or she clicks “Create My Poem” creating their poem by combining the template and the words he or she has supplied.

Now my students enjoy writing poems whenever we can book the computer room.  After using the website several times, most students begin to create their own poems without the templates.  Now my biggest problem is that they all want their poems posted on the wall.

The name of the website is Educational Technology Training Center (ETTC) Instant Poetry Forms.  You can follow the link below or use ETTC in a search engine.

http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/newpoem.htm     This is a free website that does not require a download.

For students who have difficulties with spelling, reading, writing, and sentence structure, this website gives them the framework they need.

I am currently teaching classes for students who have some learning challenges.  One of my goals is to help teachers translate their information and assignments into formats that are easier for my students to access.  For example, one of the social studies teachers creates a weekly worksheet that has approximately 20 short answer questions.  The students research the questions and then formulate an answer.  My students just throw them in the garbage.  Using the FREE test maker found at EasyTestMaker.com, I am able to convert the unstructured questions into “fill-in-the-blank” questions.  I find the sentences that contain the answers and then retype them leaving out key phrases.  This helps the student find the answer and shortens the writing task.

This website is impressive.  A teacher can switch from multiple choice to true/false, fill-in-the-blank, matching, or short answer questions with a simple click.  It is so versatile.  I can redo an entire worksheet of 22 questions and vocabulary in 30 minutes and that includes looking up the answers.  You may print out the test from the website or cut and paste the test/worksheet into word.  It is also saved on the website.  I have worksheets in my account that I made three years ago.

Although it is free, two upgrades are available.  For $19.95 a year, you can print the same test with the questions in different order, and print answer keys.  For $39.99, you can put the tests online.  The students take the tests online, and they are graded by the program; however, the teacher can override the program when needed.

I still use the free version, but I feel like I should pay.  This website has saved me so much time.  If only we had had programs like this when I was teaching classes of 35 and 40.  This is a free program that doesn’t require a download.