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3 Ways to Use Technology to Build Relationships with Your Students

4249170516_b7c72a309a_nIf someone were to ask you, what would you say is the number one thing that makes you an effective teacher?

One word makes all the difference. Relationship.

Oh, I know, I need to be tough in the first half of the year so I will have control of my class, right? Wrong! I am not teaching robots. I am teaching children. They do not look the same, act the same, or have the same likes and dislikes. Some like pizza with pineapple, while others spit it out. There’s the class clown, the shy one who will never ask a question, and the one who constantly trips over his own feet. I love them all. It is not my job to control them so they will learn. It’s my job to watch each of them, get to know them and find out what makes them tick. With each, I need to develop the kind of relationship that builds a bridge of trust between us. They need to know I am here for them and I am always on their side. Then, they can take risks in my classroom. Then, they can learn.

“Wait a minute,” you say . “I thought this post was about technology. What does technology have to do with relationship?”
Stay tuned. In today’s world we need to use every available tool to inspire our students. Here are three tech tools that I love because they help me know my students better and communicate with them more effectively even outside to the classroom.

1. Email: even though I teach elementary school, writing emails back and forth with my students, not only teaches them a valuable technology skill. It also allows them to ask me questions they might be afraid to tell me in class. It gives them a voice to tell me about things that are troubling them. Perhaps they are getting bullied or are nervous about their grades. I’ve had students share these kinds of things with me via email and it provides me great insight so I can help them deal with the problem. The one-on-one nature of email lends itself to some privacy in conversation which allows students to feel they can share.

2. Evernote: As you can tell by my previous posts, I’m a bit of an Evernote FREAK! I love the way I can set up student notebooks and collect assessments to build a profile for their learning. In addition to assessment, Evernote also allows me to collect tidbits of information that I think will interest my students. For example, if I know that one of my students is interested in horses, I can easily capture and keep articles, photos, web games, etc. That I think will interest that child. Then I can show them quickly and easily. I can also share the notes by email with the student and their parents. Just another beam supporting the bridge of trust.Evernotestudentinterest

3. Kidblog: I love Kidblog! Kidblog gives kids a reason to write. Beyond class writing assignments, students can research and share their interests, just like real bloggers do! Kidblog allows you, the teacher, to have your kids give and receive feedback in a safe environment. You control who can and cannot comments as well as the privacy of the posts. Best of all, you can access their posts anywhere so you can interact with their posts at home on your laptop. I have learned so much about my students by reading their Kidblog posts. We’ve also had the chance to connect with other classes around the world, which provides even greater reason for Kids to write! I can’t say enough about the benefits of getting your class on Kidblog.kidblogpage

There you have it, three ways to connect with kids on a personal level, beyond the classroom. Of course with each of these tools there is the added benefit of teaching them about safe on-line practices and etiquette.
If you want to know more about any of these, I’m here and I’d love to help! Shoot me a message via Facebook, Twitter, email or in the comments below. Do you have any favourite tech tools that help you build stronger relationships with students? I’d love to hear about them.
Best,
Sharon

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photo credit: A teacher looks at a student’s work via photopin (license)

Technology for Teachers: Using Evernote for Unit Planning

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about using the Evernote in my classroom.  This is the fourth in a series of posts so if you haven’t had a chance to read the previous posts on how to set up your class in Evernote, then you might want to take a moment to do that before reading this one. Today I’m going to highlight how to use Evernote for unit planning. Evernote is fabulous for gathering and organizing your resources for unit planning.  This short tutorial will show you how to add documents from your computer and from the web, in a flash.

1) Unit Planning: Evernote is fabulous for unit planning! Be sure that you have installed the Evernote clipper onto your PC or MAC, then set up a notebook for your unit plan. For example, if I wanted to plan a unit about Rocks and Minerals, this is what I would do:

A.  First make a notebook for the unit in Evernote. I make a stack labeled SCIENCE, and then make a notebook for each science topic.  Take a look at this short video clip to see how:

B.  The next step is to put everything (documents, websites, videos, etc.) into each notebook.

Here’s how to add documents from your computer:

Here’s how to clip information from a website or YouTube. Using the web clipper makes it easy to clip any web resource in just about any format. Here’s how to clip:

Once you’re done with the fun of clipping and adding your resources, it’s time to take a look at your resources in Evernote.  See how beautiful everything is organized? The SCIENCE STACK holds the NOTEBOOK called WASTE IN OUR WORLD, and inside that notebook are all the documents: pdfs, jpegs, websites (saved as articles, bookmarks or screenshots), and videos.  Neat and tidy in one place!

I hope that this tutorial has helped you see how easy it would be to set up your own organizational system in Evernote. Next week I’ll share how you can use the “presenter” mode to bring those resources to life in your lessons. Presenting lessons to the students in fun new ways will excite and engage young learners and that’s why we teach!

Until next time,

Work smarter, not harder… and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Best,

Sharon

Technology to Save Teachers Time: Part 3

evernoteiconWelcome to the third, in a series of posts, in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” time. Today we’re going to take a look at EVERNOTE.

One of our primary challenges as teachers is to provide feedback to our students in a timely, consistent manner. We know that keeping up with marking assignments and then giving the students the feedback they need to grow as learners, is paramount to their success. In fact, in John Haddie’s (http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/) research on how classroom practices are related to student achievement, he ranks formative evaluation and student feedback as very effective means to increase student learning. The problem, however, is that the mountains of marking quickly add up. How do we keep up, keep our sanity, and get some sleep, too? Have no fear, Evernote can help.

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Technology Tools To Help Teachers Work Smarter

As promised, this is the second in a series of posts in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” you time. Today we’re going to take a look at setting up notebooks and tags in EVERNOTE.evernoteicon
First of all, if you haven’t done so, yet, download the Evernote app to your desktop and all your devices. It’s free for the first 60 MB of notes. You can find the various links here: Evernote. Note – I’m using a Mac, so it might look slightly different on a Windows PC, but the same features are in both versions.
Once you have Evernote, it’s time to set it up for your classroom.

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