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email
Technology
May 2, 2016

To Email or Not to Email… That is the Question

"I delete your emails," said a friend.  "They're too long."  They were.  These days, I'm embarrassed.  My old emails would've been perfect--if I were writing a research paper or Ph.D thesis.  They're way too long and deserved to be filed under #nobodycares. I apologize to everyone who ever received one of my "before" emails and thank all the people outside of education who said, "SHORT!  MAKE THEM SHORT!" The first time I used a sentence fragment in an education email I felt completely liberated.  Trust me, there will be more. Email skills are important since more and more schools are getting email…
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students with phones
ClassroomTechnology
May 1, 2016

“I Want to Smash Their Phones”

"I want to smash their phones." This is the number one complaint I hear about middle and high school students with phones.   It often gets directed to me. "I know you wanted students to have phones, but..." I'm a big fan of BYOD*--Bring Your Own Device--for a number of reasons. Who doesn't like their own phone, computer or tablet?  Studies show people are more productive when given a device they favor. I don't have access to computers in my classroom--I have a few student stations but not enough for a class of 25 or 30.  Enter--phones.  Between student phones and my five computers,…
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productivity
Technology
April 30, 2016

Get Organized: Use Calendars & Project Management Tools

"When's it due?" students ask. "When did I say it was due?"  I answer. "I don't know."  It's either that or "I forgot."  That's how it goes. Not anymore! No kid with a computer, tablet, or smartphone gets to say "I forgot" anymore.   Set them up with calendars and project management software, and they'll be well on their way to success. Organize students with calendars and project management tools. Calendars My first experience with Google Calendar was as an adult working in tech.  "Aaron would like to speak with you."  Aaron was my boss, the head of marketing. "Great.  I'm free any…
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pinterest
ClassroomTechnology
April 30, 2016

Pinterest in the Classroom

Do you use Pinterest in the classroom?  If not, you should. Pinterest used to be a place for dumping pictures of all the cool things you wanted to buy and projects you never got around to finishing.  Not anymore--Pinterest is the place to be for research, collaboration, and learning. If you're in the habit of putting things under "Recipes" or "Home Remodeling," and leaving them to rot on your pinboards, stop right there and repeat after me, "Pinterest is God's gift to schools." Why do you need Pinterest? Today, Pinterest is nothing less than an amazingly robust database of everything under the sun, categorized, grouped…
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evernote
Technology
April 24, 2016

Evernote Saves Lives

Evernote could have saved this student's life. "My brother peed on my science notebook."  The student was frantic.  Science is serious, and they have a serious notebook full of labs, tables of contents, and lots of things.  She had a little brother with autism who destroyed the work. "You should digitize it," I said.  "Then, it'll be safe for all eternity." I love Evernote. I never understood Evernote's power until one day when it seemed like God himself came down from the heavens and tried to organize me.   Since then, it's saved my world many times over.  I use it…
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twitter
ClassroomTechnology
April 10, 2016

You Need to Get Connected! Twitter 101 for Teachers

Are you on Twitter yet?  If you're a teacher, you should be. "No man is an island."  Someone really great said that. Teaching often feels like one.   I have a saying, "If you're more than two rooms past me, or farther than the bathroom, I won't see you till June."  That's not the way teaching should be, but it often is.  I once introduced myself to a woman at a conference--turns out we'd worked together for two years.  She was on the other side of the school. That's terrible--but the fact is, teachers often get isolated. Sometimes we're put…
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ClassroomTechnology
March 10, 2016

Your Handouts Are Ugly. How to Make Them Shine

No one wants to read your handouts.  They're ugly and boring...or worse yet, copied from an old workbook. Are you still giving old-school worksheets to Generation Snapchat? I was. "What do I have to do?" kids would say. "Read the directions!... You didn't read it yet." I'd point, I'd show them where the passage asked them to do something.  I'd explain till I was blue in the face.  I'd even read it to them. Finally, I realized something. My handouts were awful.  They were boring...and ugly to boot, walls of text in old-style font and very little white space.  Students were skipping key information because…
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ClassroomTechnology
March 8, 2016

How to Make Your Classroom Website without Bleeding Cash

You can run an all-out technology-based classroom as a broke teacher... even if you don't have computers or Chromebooks. All you need is a classroom website. Why a website? Websites are where our kids are used to getting information.  That's where we go to first.  There's not much I'll buy, look for, or do without checking out a website--that's the culture kids were born into. You should have a classroom website. "But I don't know much about tech." "But I'm broke!" There are many reasons to put this off--none of them are good. You'd never accept excuses from students.   The…
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Technology
March 5, 2016

WordSwag Makes Your Quotes Look Inspired

What's does this Broke Teacher love about WordSwag? Not all teachers are graphic designers.  That's okay now with WordSwag, an inexpensive typography generator for your phone. There's a reason designers mix and match font--for the price of a graphic design degree you can learn this too.  Of course, if your goal is to post some graphically pleasing quotes on Instagram or create some inspiring pins, then WordSwag is amazing.  I'm using it for many of the graphics on this BrokeTeacher site. The program is really easy.  You can take a photo to use as a background, use one of your favorites…
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