After making it through my first year as a high school math teacher, I have a much better understanding of why people always say this. There are so many challenges: adapting to a new environment, staying organized, learning curriculum, making professional connections, and most importantly, teaching students. However, using the right tools can help the first year run much smoother. Here is my top ten list of the most valuable teacher resources I discovered and used during my first year of teaching.
PlanBoard is set up like a traditional notebook planner with “blocks” for each day. You can customize Planboard with templates or you can write your lesson plans from scratch each day. What I ended up doing most often was creating a list of what I had planned for the day with links and attachments to resources that I planned to use in the lesson.
2. Google Docs
Google Docs allowed me organize all of my resources without having to worry about keeping up with a flash drive all day. With the search capacity on Google Docs, I could quickly find the resource that I was looking for, organize files in a way that made sense to me, and easily share whole folders or individual documents with other teachers.
3. Curriculum Pathways
Curriculum Pathways is a wonderful resource for teachers in many subjects. Resources and lessons in Curriculum Pathways can be used as teacher-lead presentations, small group discovery activities, or individual student assignments. Curriculum Pathways is also a great resource to use as a re-teaching resource for students who need extra help.
On kahoot.it, teachers can create sets of multiple choice questions for projection and students can answer the questions using their cell phones. Each question is timed and students earn points for answering correctly and quickly. After each question, the leaders are shown on the board. I loved Kahoot because I could search topic and use Kahoots that were already made by other teachers. My students loved Kahoot because of the game-like aspect and the fun background music.
Remind is a tool that allows teachers to send mass texts to students and parents without giving out personal phone numbers. This is wonderful for sending out quick messages that apply to whole classes. Messages like “Don’t forget to take your online quiz by midnight” or “Remember to study for your test tomorrow.”
6. Google Voice
While Remind helped me with mass communication, I used Google Voice as a tool to reach out to parents one at a time. Through Google Voice, I could call parents from my cell phone without giving out my personal phone number. Parents could leave me voicemails through my Google Voice number and Google would send a transcript of these voicemails to my school email. Each call is recorded in a log, so I would add notes about what I talked about with the parent and what actions should be taken after the phone call.
7. Individual Teacher Website
I created my own teacher website as a way to reach out to parents. At my school, teachers upload their lesson notes and schedules to Blackboard, but I was finding that parents did not know the best ways to keep up with what was going on in my classroom. My website has information on how to get in touch with me, how to sign up for Remind notifications, how to help student enroll in my Blackboard class, and when I am available for tutorials.
If you haven’t joined the Twitter bandwagon, it is time to do so. Twitter is the best way to stay up to date with what is going on in education. From creative lessons to legislative updates, it puts the world of professional educators at your fingertips.
Instagram can also be used much like twitter. There are several of my favorite twitter users that also have Instagram accounts that are worth following. A few of my favorites are Education Week and EdTech Baton.
GradeCam is awesome for getting valuable data quickly. Since my school does not currently pay for Gradecam, I used the free version. Using any ten question multiple choice assessment, students filled in their answers on a bubble sheet that is printed from the website. Then through the app, I scanned the answers and got immediate feedback for the student as well as classroom data per question and for the assessment as a whole. The data is easier to read and much easier to keep up with than scantrons.|
What tech resources do you use - or recommend for new teachers?