8 Tools, Tips, and Ideas to Start Your School Year

After a bit if a hiatus, I am trying to get back in to regular posting on my blog. Since I share tips with my colleagues in and out of my school, I will double-dip so to speak, and at least have a post a week that is accounted for!

  1. Innovations and Conversations is a live Google Hangout that will feature education giants and Twitter stars Steven Anderson and Tom Whitby. This event is free and will take place on September 15th from 5-6PM. This particular conversation will focus on their book, The Relevant Educator, and why connected educators are important to teaching. It should be a great, thought-provoking conversation.
  2. Gathering and using images is often a big part of student projects. Finding and using images that are labeled for reuse (Google images—search tools— labeled for reuse), or are copyright free, or that are made specifically for students and teachers to use can be another story (though there are several sites and ways to do this which I have shared in the past). If you and your students are used to doing this, it’s not a big deal, but if they are not, then they need to know which sites to go to. This past July, millions of historical book images were uploaded to Flickr and are now ready to be used freely by you and your students. Take a look— they are pretty cool.
  3. Many of you are doing some form of Writer’s Workshop or are having your students do different forms of writing in your class. Here are 15 ways to get your students to stop groaning that they have nothing to write and inspire them to pick up their writing instrument and go. For a fun, possibly motivating class writing activity, your K-4 class could participate in Mrs. P’s Annual Writing Contest between now and November 15th.
  4. Continuing along the lines of images, digital storytelling is a great way to share what your students learned about a topic in history, a character in a book, a class trip, and much more. Animoto for Education allows you and your students to easily create beautiful music videos in minutes. It’s as easy as uploading your images and/or videos, adding music from their huge library or your own, putting in some (optional) text and then asking Animoto to process it. It’s just as easy to then share these videos on a blog, via email, youtube, or download. Your free educator account gets you 6 months and then you can renew for another 6.
  5. A picture is work a thousand words and this is true when it comes to your presentations. HaikuDeck is another beautiful way to share what you and your students know using your own or their vast library of images. Here are 10 new additions and improvements that HaikuDeck has made to their already great tool. #s 2, 4 and 10 are pretty great.
  6. Many of you like to offer alternative project ideas to your students to celebrate the completion of a unit or a book. Here are 10 fun art project ideas that you might want to try.
  7. I know there are a few teachers who are thinking about using Twitter in their classroom- Yippeeeeeee— I think this is an excellent idea because it is a GREAT way to 1- keep your class parents in the loop; 2- connect with other classrooms; 3— have students share what they are learning at that moment; 4- see what others are learning; and 5- teach students how to get to the point in 140 characters or less. Here is a video to help get you started. You can view it within the paper.li, but this link is directly to the video on youtube. There are additional ones in the suggested video-sidebar that might also be helpful. Ready to get started? Check out this Using Twitter in the Classroom wiki for 35 ways to use it, how to use it, and more, and THEN ask 4WJedis how their class used it.
  8. Last, this video from Seth Godin, “Stop Stealing Dreams” which was also an education manifesto, is one that I have watched many times, read, and blogged about. It is that provocative and will cause you to think about education in a way you might not have before.
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