Target is rolling out those giant red bins of school supplies, which can only mean one thing…school is coming! I’ll be honest, as much as I love summer vacation, and cling to every last minute of relaxation and freedom, once August hits I start to get excited for the fantastic potential of the new school year.
As I’m heading into my 11th year in the classroom, I’m grateful for the techniques, routines, and rituals that I’ve managed to acquire over the years. From classroom set-up, to opening day activities, I’ve honed down what works best for me and for my students–and figured out ways to do them in a timelier fashion. Saving time is a big deal–teaching is a demanding enough job as it is, any tool or routine you implement should help to reduce or even remove some of those responsibilities. I’m excited to share some of the technology tools that help me to take back some of my time.
TES Blendspace is an online tool in which you can set up “lessons” to connect students with resources you’d like them to be able to access, including: videos, documents, websites, infographics, etc. Your lessons can then be shared with students via a link (I usually put mine right on my Google Classroom page). I create one of these for each unit in my AP Psychology class, students can use these to prepare for the unit test. They can also flip back through all the lessons done throughout the year, which is a huge help come review time. One of my favorite things about TES Blendspace? You can reuse the same lessons each year! Huge timesaver!
Twitter certainly isn’t new, but is sometimes underutilized by teachers. Twitter is much more than a social media site; in fact, Twitter can serve many purposes for the classroom teacher:
- Networking with other teachers (especially for those of us who are the only ones in our building teaching our content)
- Professional Development
- Finding and sharing resources
- Connecting with students, both current and former
- Sharing information with students (like when you need to change the test date due to an unexpected snow day)
- Sharing what you do in your classroom
This last one is my favorite. For the most part parents, administrators, and other teachers don’t get to be a part of what I do in my classroom but by sharing pictures and videos of class activities, student interactions, lab experiments and projects I can pull them in and help them to see what a day in our class is like. Depending on the teacher evaluation program your district uses, these posts could even help serve as “evidence” to help support your overall evaluation.
One final time-saving technology tool is Planboard, an online planner which allows you to create and store detailed lessons, as well as weekly and monthly classroom plans. There are other online planning sites available, but this one happens to be free for teachers, a major win in my book. In your daily lesson plans you can include links to documents, videos, and other resources associated with your topic. While this may take some time to frontload, having everything you need organized together can be a huge help when it comes to teaching your lesson. Additionally, you can attach standards to each lesson, and track your progress on those standards throughout the length of your course. My favorite feature is that these lessons can be saved and reused the next time you teach that topic. I’d much rather spend my time tweaking or improving a lesson than having to start from scratch each time I teach that section. Another benefit to online planning sites, like Planboard, is that you can digitally collaborate with your colleagues on them. This allows you a great opportunity to work together to develop and share plans with other teachers teaching the same course, without having to set up a curriculum meeting, or rush to discuss an idea with them during your lunch or planning period.
I hope these tools have given you some inspiration to try something new this year to help you take back your time! Best of luck to you in your upcoming school year!