Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Back To School: Tech Tuesday

What is up with all of these back to school posts?! I know we hate to see out summers shrivel away, but the truth is, I am already back in the classroom. This week is just orientations and meetings, but my summer is pretty much gone.

This post is about some of the technological bits and ends that I use in my class. It isn't about everything (I don't want to bore you to death). I stray away from obvious things like my laptop, and try to focus on smaller more random tech tidbits.

Disclaimer: The factory pictures of the product  below (not the ones of the products in my class) will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase them. They are affiliate links, so I do make a small percentage off your purchase. I am sure there are other amazing versions of the products I mention, and if you know of one you like better feel free to leave a comment. I was also lucky enough to receive some of these products for free or at a discounted price to evaluate. However, I would NOT include them in my blog if I didn't think they were awesome products)

1. Bluetooth Speaker
I got the blue speaker to match my school colors, but it barely matters because this thing is so small it is really not a distraction.

I have a reward where students can create their own YouTube playlist and I'll play it the next class. I call it "DJ for a day."  They love it! I used to have it playing from my computer (which hooks up to the class speakers) but I moved it to my iPad for convenience. I can still get a powerful sound out of it with this speaker. Awesome.

2. PowerPoint Remote

My students LOVE PowerPoint, as for more, it isn't my favorite presentation platform, but it can still add some great visuals to student presentations. The problem? Moving from slide to slide. Students who try to navigate the PowerPoint themselves end up stick on the computer, and those who try to get a friend to click through slide spend most of the time saying, "The other slide, no before... I wasn't done!" UGH! Then I discovered the PowerPoint remote! Ridiculously easy to use. There is no software and less than five buttons on the whole thing! It even comes with batteries. You attach the USB to the computer being used, switch the remote on and that's IT! This lets students focus on their presentation and allows the technology to help rather than hurt them. Plus, it has a laser pointer. Despite all of the advances in technology, students are still amused with a laser pointer.

3.Kitchen Timer

Sometimes lo-tech is the best tech!

I do use an online stopwatch most of the time, but this is great for small groups, individual work, or just a change of pace for the whole class.

My favorite part about this timer is that it is magnetic. My classroom has magnetic whiteboards, window frames, and doors. I have lots of places to stick this fella without worrying about him going away.

 4. Multi USB charging station.
Do you Kahoot? Students use their cell phones during break, and (for educational purposes) during class! The batteries can drain rather quickly. My students will have their own laptops next year, but our desks are so tiny that I just know I'll have this conversation
Me: Put your cell phone away please.
Student: Its just charging
Me: Well...put it.... more away!
To avoid this I got a five port charging station I set up on my desk. Students are welcome to use it to get their battery where it belongs, their cell phone stays where I can see it and out of sight out of mind their cell phone proves less of a temptation.

5. Humidifier / Air Freshener

 I teach high school. During lunch (and sometimes at break) the boys play soccer. After lunch they have my class. Do you get where I am going with this? I teach sweaty high school boys. I've already added a welcome mat to help them de-grass their shoes, but I quickly went out and bought an air freshener.

I like the plug in ones because I can boost the scent right before they come in and turn it off over the weekends and at night. Being able to adjust how strong I want it really makes it last longer AND be more effective against my soccer players.

Plus, I like teaching them about studying with associations. Since my class smells like lavender, they should study at home with something that smells like lavender. Then, when they come back to my class the scent will trigger their memories. Cool, right?

If you, or your students, are particularly sensitive to scents, you may want to consider a humidifier.

BONUS Cord Organizers!

While not strictly technical, these make my technological life more organized. With all of the laptops, tablets, and other random devices I have in my class, cords can get a bit cluttered. These cord organizers are awesome. I can stick them anywhere to make my cords easily accessible. I use the black ones for my desk, and the colored ones for the students' station.

So there we are! My favorite (random) technology in my class. What about you? What's the tech item you use the most? Or the one you're surprised you love? Going the other way, what technology disappointed you?

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