Smore, make your newsletters engaging

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 3.46.03 PMEvery week in my sixth grade class, I would pry open the lid of my MacBook and open the text editor Pages.  This weekly ritual of writing my classroom newsletter was cumbersome and frankly seemed antiquated. I would type endless paragraphs about our school lunch schedule and what labs we took part in for the week. Sure my newsletter was colorful, but it wasn’t as engaging as it could have been.  There were times when I wished there was something I could send to parents, something with audio files of their students debating current events or videos of science lab that went awry.  If only there was a way for events to be added, an interactive poll would be nice….if only. Finally the biggest question of all “Did anyone actually read this incredibly crafted piece of literature,” I could never know for sure.

Well Dorthy, there is no need to click those ruby red slippers together and wish anymore. I would like to introduce you to Smore.  Smore lets you create  online newsletters that you can share with parents and students alike.  This tools not only allows you to embed videos and audio files, but gives you the option to allow for comments, add Wufoo forms for surveys, calendar events, and much more.  The best part is that they have templates created for  you,  just add your content and bam, Done! With the free edition (Educator Edition $59.00/year) after 30 visits you open analytics option, this gives you information about where your readers are located and how long they are spending on your newsletters.   I love this little tool and wish I had it for use in my classroom, I think it would have really added life to that newsletter that was always stuck at the bottom of student’s backpacks.  As always, I would love to hear what you think or how you are using this tool in your classroom.

Smore Tutorial from stacey schuh on Vimeo.

QR Code Generator

Over the past few weeks I have been working extensively with iPads. A lot of times I will be conducting a workshop and will put up a QR (quick response) Code for participants to scan. These QR codes may contain my contact information, links to websites, or allow participants to take a poll. There are tons of different ways to use QR Codes in the classroom. Here is a link to just a few of the ideas of how to use QR Codes in your classroom.

During my presentations, a number of participants ask me how I created my codes. Finding a code creator site is pretty easy, but there are a few that I use  regularly.

Google Shortner is a great tool for shortening long website urls and it produces a QR Code for those shortened links. Along with providing shortened urls and QR Codes, Google Shortner can give you information on the number of visitors you have had to your links and will keep a record of all your shortened codes.

The other code creator I use is called QR Stuff.  This creator allows me to not only create a QR Code for a website, but gives me many different options such as vcards for creating contact information and allows users to create calendar events.  I also love that this site allows you to create a QR Code in color.

I would love to hear how you are using QR Codes in your classroom.  Please feel free to add a comment in the comment section.

Behavior Management with Class DoJo

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I was introduced to Classroom DoJo by a friend of mine who uses it in his middle school classroom. At first I was skeptical, no kid is going to fall for this positive behavior trick, little multicolored monsters that earn points for being well behaved, c’mon. Well low and behold it worked. The kids loved it, the teacher loved it, even the parents loved it. So here is how it works…

With Clasroom DoJo you can keep track of students behavior by awarding students points for their positive behaviors. Once class is over you can email parents a report of what types of behaviors were exhibited in class. At the end of class you can display a behavior report card for the whole class, the class earns points, and positive behaviors are rewarded.