The Teacher’s Toolbox

Welcome to the Teacher Toolbox!  I will be updating this periodically with tools that I use in my classrooms as well as interesting tools I read about that may not help me as much, but might be a huge help to you and your educational disciplines.  Some cost money, and some don’t…I personally prefere the ones that are FREE!  After all, I am a teacher…thus…not much extra money each month (i.e. FREE IS GOOD).

*Check Back Frequently For Updates!

I encourage you to let me know if there is an awesome tool that you use that you think might help other educators.  We’re all in this together (cue High School Musical Scene), so any and all helpful ideas are welcome.  If you have a tool you’d like to share with our teaching family, simple email me at mitch@mitchfairchild.com

Keep Up The Good Work Ladies & And Gentlemen!  Y’all Rock!!!

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ZipGrade: (Grade Level: 3-12) Y’all…this app is AWESOME!!!  If you haven’t already, you gotta check it out.  ZipGrade allows you to create scannable answer documents that your students can use on their tests.  Not only will this prepare them for State Assessments (in that it teaches them “bubble” skills), but it gives you the ability to give instant feedback. The second they turn in their test…BOOM…you can see how they did, and have a brief discussion about their results.  BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE…your ZipGrade app account is linked to an online database that allows you to upload your classes and then see the data from your quizzes and tests.  If you are a data junkie…this is the app for you.

Cost: The Individual version is free…but only gives you 100 scans (you will use that up quickly). If you want to continue using the app, you’ll need to pay $6.99/year.  BUT…if you can convince your district to purchase the app, the district version is a one time fee of $12.99…BOOM!!!

Website: http://www.zipgrade.com

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Aurasma: (Grade Level: 5-12) OK Everybody…This One Will Blow Your Mind!  Aurasma is a free app that allows you to bring any picture to life.  BOOM!!!  Told Ya.  Pictures, Artwork, and even written word will come to life.  You create the animation, but there are also existing Aurasmas all over the place…throughout the world we live in, and the internet we surf everyday.  This app is great for getting students involved in learning via scavenger hunt, gallery walks, or whatever strategy your mind creates.

Cost: FREE…BOOM!

Website: http://www.aurasma.com

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Remind: (Grade Level:1-12) If you haven’t used (or heard of) Remind, you really need to check it out. This app should be a requirement for every “Parent Night” and “Open House” at every school.  This app allows teachers to send messages, via text, to all of the students in the classroom, as well as (and more importantly) their parents…SWEET!  In an instant you can send a push notification to your students and/or their parents reminding them about an upcoming test, field trip, class party, or parent meeting.  How Cool is That?  Research shows that parents around the country are dissatisfied with the amount of communication they get between themselves and their student’s teacher.  This app totally Annihilates that argument.

Cost: FREE…BOOM!

Website: http://www.remind.com

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Flashcards Maker Pro: (Grade Level: 3-12) No matter what grade you teach, flashcards are an old fashioned teaching tactic that has been proven time and again to aid in knowledge acquisition.  Flashcards Maker Pro is an app that allows teachers to create custom flashcards that can be shared with students of all ages.  If they own a smartphone or tablet, then they can play…Oh…I mean study, from anywhere…any time.  You can add vocabulary, AND you can add pictures. What’s more…you can create verbal flash cards where you ask the question(s) and the students have to answer…AWESOME!

Cost: Basic App is FREE…BOOM!  The full version is $1.99.

Website: http://www.flashcardmakerpro.com 

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LibreStock: (Grades K-12) Alright people!  This has become my favorite website as of late.  I love making presentations, printable, and online forms/emails for my students (and co-workers…and parents) so I am constantly scouring the interweb’s free image sites.  Going from one site to another can be time consuming…not any longer.  ENTER LIBRESTOCK!  LibreStock is a free online search tool that actually goes to each of these free image sites for you, curates there images of whatever you’re looking for, and then creates a list of images (from all of the free sites) for you to peruse through…in a matter of seconds.  I’m doing a happy dance as I write this y’all!  It is AWESOME!  Now I simply enter whatever image I need for my presentations/curriculum/newsletter/etc. and voila…I have a list of images (sometimes 6 or 7, sometimes 100…depends on what your’re looking for) in less than 2 seconds.  I click on the image I want, it takes me to the site that hosts the image, and I simply download it FOR FREE.  It’s a beautiful thang!  You Gotta Check It Out!

Cost: Free…BOOM!!!

Website: http://www.librestock.com

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Plickers: (Grades 1-12) Ummm…OK…maybe this one is my new favorite.  If you haven’t heard of Plickers…Oh My Goodness Y’all…It’s Awesome!  What is it?  It is software that lets students hold up a card with their response to a question (see the picture below) AND then lets the teacher scan the room with their phone and BAM…the students answers are then formulated onto your computer (and the projector screen if you have it hooked up). I was actually introduced to this software this morning…and I’ve used it three times already today. Once was for a survey in my yearbook class (an “do you like A or B?), and twice as a concept review to see if students in my Graphic Design and Web Business classes understood the content we covered these past 2 weeks.  It is a fun way to check to see if students are grasping concepts OR if you need to reteach certain content.  It was awesome!  You Have To Try This!  I suggest experimenting with your own kids (that is to say the ones you and your husband/wife produced) if you have some…they too will love it and that’s a great way to practice before you actually introduce it in your learning environment.  

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Cost: FREE…BAM!!!

Website: http://www.plickers.com

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Kahoot: (Grades 3-12) Kahoot has been a “go to tool” of mine for years.  I fist experienced Kahoot at a tech-educator meet-up where the speaker prompted all of us to get out phones, download the app, and answer a few questions using the color coded “A-B-C-D” process.  I quickly fell in love.  If you are not familiar with Kahoot, it is web based software that allows the teacher to do Q & A’s with their students in a competitive manner that has students using thier classroom computers (or personal devices…the app version is cool) to answer the questions correctly as fast as they can.  Students get points for getting the correct answer, and they also get points for answering correctly the fastest.  In other words, if you answer the question correctly in 2 seconds, you will recieve more points than someone who answers correctly in 3 or 4 seconds.  Educators can also set Kahoot up to award bonus points for consecutive correct answers.  This helps to keep the “I’m not fast enough” students on board.

What is great about  Kahoot is the fact that teachers can either give a Q & A style game to the students (which reinforces their knowledge transfer) OR teachers can perform a survey.  I find that survey mode helps me to better determine what I need to cover going forward.  After covering the Supreme Court, I’ll ask students, “Where was Thurgood Marshall from?”  They’ll have the choices, Maryland, Texas, Florida, Georgia.  If the majority chose “Maryland” then I know I taught the content effectively.  IF my students answered in a way that I can tell the majority is not sure…then I know I need to go back over that content.

Cost: FREE…YeeeeeHaaaaw!

Website: http://www.getkahoot.com

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For more ways to spruce up your learning environment, and to be ready WHEN those classroom observations do take place, click the link below to subscribe to our education tribe.  And as a bonus, we’ll throw in 26 free Thinking Outside The Box Drills.  

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