#MyFavFriday: Technology as a time saver

I am obvious about my love of technology; I am one of the go to people at my school with tech questions & issues; I have a Master’s in Technology in Education because I can’t get enough of it; I have more than enough gadgets and my mom ALWAYS asks me questions (if that’s not proof, I don’t know what is). 🙂 This isn’t a post about how to correctly imbed technology into the curriculum, but instead it is a post about the tech tools that make my job just a little easier & more fun.

#1 – Excel – Years back I use to purchase the teacher gradebook from the $1 section at Target and type up my student’s names and tape them in.  One day I realized that I could probably recreate the gradebook in excel, so I could customize it as I wanted & type in names and self populate dates. Yes, I do keep a paper gradebook in addition to the district’s online gradebook. I have had my fair share of grades disappearing and issues, so now it’s a habit to do it both ways.  Here is my excel gradebook: (hopefully formatting will hold). I use the same one and change the dates per quarter.

#2 – Excel (again) – Of course I couldn’t just leave well enough alone and decided that I wanted to create my own planbook as well. I like color coding and fun fonts.The planbook is set up for my schedule, but can easily be adapted.  I think across, so my days go across.  It’s amazing how many teachers think down when they plan. I tried a planbook like that once and felt disorganized the whole year.  Must be my math brain?
Here is my excel planbook: (again I hope the formatting holds). I also use the same one and change the dates per quarter. The dates should self populate the entire document when you enter the date of the very first Monday of week 1.

#3 – External Portable Hard Drive – I just purchased a Western Digital My Passport last weekend for $60 that has 465GB of space. Funny for all of my technology love, I was so use to using all my different 4GB & 8GB flash drives and wasn’t in a place where I wanted it all in one spot.  With the implementation of CCSS this year, I had files everywhere.  I lost it last week when I had three drives plugged in and still couldn’t find where I put whatever file I was looking for.  I have placed ALL of my files included textbook files, videos, grade level files and this thing still doesn’t look like a bite has been taken out.  I LOVE it! Plus organizing it has been fun…ha.  Not quite, it’s a bit of a disaster right now, but it’s a good reason to go through and toss files I haven’t touched in a while. Having all of my files and any other necessary/helpful files in one spot is such a time saver.

#4 – Fonts – My love for fun & free fonts is a small addiction.  I scrapbook, so I use that as my excuse to have so many different fonts. I have almost 600 different fonts (that includes the ones the computer came with).  Fonts make my life and my files more fun! It’s not quite a time saver (more like time waster), but it allows me the ability to create my own posters, signs, etc. (this will be another post) and items I want/need with fun and unique fonts.  My favorite font sites are:

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/fonts/
http://misstiina.com/fonts/go/freefonts/
http://www.dafont.com/

#5 – Remind101 – I love this site/app! My district does not allow texting to individual students, but this is awesome in that it is completely anonymous.  You DO NOT need a smart phone to use it.  You can send messages through their website. You can only send messages, students/parents can not respond (best feature!). There is no limit to the number of students/parents that can join each class.  I set up separate classes for each of my periods, rather than by course.  I sent an email to the students/parents and shared sign-up info at the start of the year.  I included that students/parents can sign up to receive my messages via email instead of (or in addition to) text.  This way it doesn’t leave out the few students I have who don’t have phones or don’t have texting. I do not use it to send the homework assignment out; I’ve used it as general reminders (bring such and such tomorrow), kudos about a great class that day, note that I will be out the next day, something interesting on news or tv to check out, etc. I also have a class set up for the sport I coach, so I can send them reminders about changes or things as well.  I  Kids love it and will ask, “Can you send a reminder via text tonight?”.  LOVE IT!

That’s enough for this post. My goal is to do some blogging catch up this weekend. It was a long October and I just lost the time and energy somewhere along the way.

Shiny new iPad!

Yippee!!! I have decided that I am getting a shiny new iPad tomorrow, I have most of the money saved up, but I decided that I want to start the year off using it and learning how to use it in the classroom (especially since we now have to take attendance electronically every period – I teach middle school.) Rather than get it in another month or two from now when the entire first quarter is over with, it just makes more sense to get it now. 🙂 I might be up early enough to be at the store when they open.  I know crazy, but I’ve been contemplating it for a while now (and saving for it) and decided to just take the leap.

I posted on twitter asking what apps are out there that are really helpful to teachers and necessary to help the organizing and everything that we do, then I realized that since I am so new in the mathtwitterblogosphere no one knows me and I don’t have that many people following my twitter to even get my tweet. (But I do have some awesome followers, yeah!!!) I thought posting here would help too…but it’s also so I can post the apps that I find while doing internet searches late late into the evening tonight, so maybe they will help someone else in the same situation.

To be updated with apps as I find them…