Friday, October 9, 2015

FREE is my Favorite Number

It's crazy that the first month of school is over and October is officially here! This means I can finally wear my scarves, boots, and vests without being judged TOO harshly! Not too mention... use candy corn in as many lessons as possible!

This week on my Periscope stream, I decided to bring you the TOP 5 FREE WEBSITES I USE IN MY CLASSROOM!

Yes... you read that correctly! All of these websites are completely and entirely FREE! I don't know about you but free is my favorite number!

If you click each image, it will take you directly to that website so you can create your FREE account right away!

You are probably already familiar with Class Dojo as more and more teachers have started using it! Class Dojo is a behavior management system that students LOVE! Not only do students love it, but parents too! After you create an account and add a class, Class Dojo automatically creates parent invitations for you! All you have to do is print and send them home! Parents will follow the directions provided and enter a unique code to create an account. Parents are able to view their child's progress online and receive weekly e-mail updates if they wish! 

The best part is... students are able to create their own account separate from their parents! Students can customize their Class Dojo monster and track their points from home!

Here's how it works: you are able to customize the positive and negative behaviors you choose to use along with the point values for each. Students will earn points for positive behaviors and lose points for negative behaviors (if you choose to have students lose points - some teachers don't!) Then, you can have students "spend" their points any way you like!
You can message parents directly through Class Dojo... much faster than e-mail! You can also send out class announcements through Class Dojo that will be sent to each parent. With Class Dojo, it's super simple to remind parents of upcoming events such as tests, field trips, and picture day!

Class Dojo has recently expanded and started implementing "Class Story". Class Story is similar to an Instagram... but for your classroom! As the teacher, you are able to post pictures to keep parents updated with what students are learning.

Here is a recent Class Story post of mine! My parents love being able to see actual pictures of what is going on in the classroom!

I personally use Class Dojo in conjunction with a clip chart.  I found it was too hectic to try to give students points throughout the day so I decided to pair Class Dojo with a clip chart! I have my students move their clip throughout the day and then I award points at the end of the day depending on which level they made it to!

Super Student - 4 points
Awesome Behavior - 3 points
Good Choices - 2 points
Ready to Learn - 1 point
Think About it - -1 point
Teacher's Choice - -2 points
Parent Contact - -3 points

Students are then able to "cash" in their points for various prizes such as stinky feet (take off their shoes in the classroom for the day), lunch bunch, and even be teacher for the day!

EPIC is by far one of the most amazing websites a teacher could find! There are hundreds and hundreds of FREE books at all different levels! You can access these by visiting the website OR downloading the app! The website is super user-friendly so students of all ages can enjoy this website/app!

Teacher accounts are absolutely FREE and you are able to make profiles for each of your students! You will create a 4 digit code for each student to access their profile. You are then able to see what books your students are reading, how long they are reading them for, and more!

The best part is... this website has fiction books, nonfiction books, math books, science books, social studies books, and MORE! You can use this for literally every subject! You are also able to "favorite" books so you can find them more easily.

I personally use EPIC to display books that I want to read with my class but may not personally own. It is so much easier than taking a trip to the library and trying to locate the book! It displays the text and pictures big enough for all students to see!

As an incentive, I love to bring my personal i-Pad into the classroom (especially on Fridays!) and pick students who are doing an excellent job reading to self during our DAILY 5 time to use the EPIC app! I personally believe it is super important for students to have opportunities to read digital text... especially when they will need to do so for standardized testing in 3rd grade in my state!

You will never see my class as happy as when I announce they are going to use Kahoot!

Kahoot is an amazing website where you are able to create and play your own fun learning games! Here's how it works:
Sign up and make a FREE account
Create a Kahoot (either a quiz, discussion, or survey)
When you're ready to use it with your class, click "play"and select your preferences
Click "launch" and a game pin will appear on the screen
To join the quiz, students will enter the game pin on their device ( on a web browser or use the app on a phone or tablet)
Students will enter their name and join
Then students are ready to start answering the questions!

The best part of Kahoot? If you don't feel like creating your own quiz or survey, you can search through hundreds of remade Kahoots that other teachers have already created!

I personally use Kahoot to review math concepts, reading stories, language topics, or science or social studies topics. You can use it for literally ANYTHING!

I tend to use Kahoot in groups. I have access to 5 mini laptops in my classroom so I use one per group. Students will rotate the laptop around the group so each person gets a chance to answer a question. If I want smaller groups, I sometimes am even brave enough to let students use my phone as another device!

Plickers is such an easy way to formally assess your class and the students won't even realize they are being quizzed! 

All you need is your computer, a projector, a phone, and a Plickers card for each student! It's THAT simple!
After you make an account, you can create your roster. I recommend entering student names alphabetically. They will each be assigned to a numbered card. Print the Plickers cards on cardstock and laminate for durability.

You are able to create as many questions in advance as you want and add them to your queue when you are ready to use them!

Then, when you are ready to quiz your class, give each student his/her Plickers card. Every student's card will be different! This way, students won't be able to see what other students are answering! Students will hold their card different ways depending on which answer they want to choose.
For example, if they want to choose A, they will hold their card so the A side is on the top.

Start the quiz on your computer that is projected on the board. Students will be able to see the questions and answers as you go. When students hold up their card to answer, you will use the Plickers app on your phone to scan the room. The app will quickly read the students cards (like a QR code) and store their answer. You can then reveal the correct answer and move on to the next question!

Front Row is the ultimate website for differentiation! Teachers are able to make a FREE account and then add student names to create individual accounts. Students are able to access their account using their first and last name and their class code (which the website will create for you). 

Students are able to access math and reading lessons that are perfectly adapted to their ability level. As students' performance increases, the lessons will increase in difficulty. Or, if students need more help with a particular topic, the lessons will adapt and become easier.

ALL the lessons are aligned to Common Core!

Students earn "coins" for correct answers, which they love!

This is a great website to give to parents who want to challenge their kids at home! They can work on the lessons at their own pace and it will always be the perfect difficulty level!

Those are the top 5 free websites I use in my classroom! I hope you will find these websites helpful in your teaching!

If you are not already following me on Periscope, please do!
Just download the Periscope app and search for me @pocketfulofprimary!