Archive for January, 2014


Tips to Safely Navigate Valentine’s Day in Your Classroom

It’s coming.

Valentine’s Day. The day full of sugar cookies, red, pink, and SPRINKLES. Sprinkles. Oh, and there’s some hearts in there somewhere, too. Plus, those nasty conversation hearts. Oh, and Reese’s cups shaped like hearts (Reese’s cups are always better in shaped form, right?

Ok – clearly I’m on a sugar rush. But that led to this post.

Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday that’s gotten worse. When I was in elementary school, we’d decorate paper lunch bags to hang off the end of our desks. My parents would buy me little notes that were attached to a bag of M&M’s. I had to write to every kid in the classroom – regardless of whether or not I liked them (hey – don’t judge. I was in elementary school!). We then walked around, dropping notes in each other’s bags. Then, it was feast time.

[Insert sugar rush here.]

My teachers were over their head. 20-25 kids who just ate M&M’s. Yep – pretty sure I don’t need to describe that. Maybe it’s one of the many reasons schools have banned candy and cards. Regardless, I will give you some tips to make it through America’s most lovable day in your classroom. (And maybe your students will learn something)

How to make it through Valentine’s Day:

1. Eliminate the candy run-around

From the link above, you’ll notice that many schools have simply banned the whole hand-out-candy thing. You can definitely do the same thing – or at least scale it back. The last thing your students need is more refined sugar and fat. Save the sweet treats for the cafeteria ladies and get them out of your classroom. (Note: I’m just trying to explain both sides of it. I fully advocate for Reese’s Cups).

2. Let the crush play out

Ok – a non-candy related tip. Many parents may tell their kids to let their crush know they like them. While this can be dangerous, let it play out and see what happens. Yes, the girl (or boy) might be grossed out that someone likes them, but hey, that’s part of life.

3. Bring in your own candy – but watch for allergies.

You’ve got to participate in the fun (if you’re having it). Make something homemade and bring it in to share with the class. It could be brownies, cookies, bars, etc. They’ll love that you thought of them (and you don’t have to eat an entire tray of brownies yourself. One note, though: make something that’s allergy free so everyone can enjoy it.

4. Teach your students the value of friendship

Friends are like glue. They stick together through anything. Teach your students the value of friendship – that’s way more important than any sugar-rush they’ll ever have.

5. Have students write about what their parents mean to them

This is just selfless. Have students grab a pen and paper and write a quick note about why they love their parents. Have them make envelopes from red construction paper with the note inside. Then, have them bring it home in their backpacks to give to their parents. It shows appreciation and will likely make their day.

6. Have students assemble care packages for the military or elderly

Yes, you have to love yourself, but you also have to love others. Let your students know that there are people who aren’t getting the true Valentine’s Day experience – troops overseas and some elderly for example. Instead of bringing in candy, have students bring in something for a large gift box to be sent to someone who truly needs to know they’re loved. The students will enjoy helping someone out and likely not even know they won’t be getting a lot of candy this year. OK, maybe that’s a stretch.

7.  Get crafty

Here’s an awesome list of the best crafts for Valentine’s Day to help keep your students occupied. From heart-shaped fans, to butterflies, and cootie-catchers (hahaha), there are tons of crafts to do. Crafts are great because they give your students focus, enrich their creativity, and it’s a quick break from learning real stuff.

8. Don’t let it affect your own Valentine’s Day

I know having 20 students run around a classroom with Popsicle sticks and Sweettarts isn’t your ideal Valentine’s Day. You would probably love a home-cooked meal and a glass of wine. If so, don’t let your student’s love-day celebration get to you. Take a deep breath. After 4pm, you’ve got your own more-grown-up-version waiting for you when you get home. Focus on that.

9. Make sure everyone included

Yes, this goes without saying, but you want to include all of your students in the activities. Why? Because it’s not fun to get nothing on Valentine’s Day. Everyone should like each other, right?

10. Have a Reese’s heart (seriously, just one)

You have to. It’ll put a smile on your face. Just do it.

Do you have any tips to make it through Valentine’s Day for our readers? Let me know in the comments below!


5 of the Best Attendance Apps for iPads

Bueler? Bueler?

That line from Ferris Bueler’s Day Off (one of my favorite movies, by the way) is a classic. And Ben Stein – the teacher – is just amazing. But, he highlights a problem that happens in every classroom, every morning:

Attendance is a pain in the butt.

Whether it’s a simple check mark next to names, a verbal attendance, or just looking around your classroom, it’s got to be done every day – and even every class period.

Luckily, with the invention of technology (what the heck would we do without it?), there are some stellar iPad apps to make attendance one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.

Here are 5 apps we recommend you check out:

1. TeacherKit

This app comes with a beautifully-simple pie chart that shows four attendance statuses: absent, late, sick, and present. I like that it shows students who were late and sick because it can’t count against them as “skipping” class. In addition to attendance, TeacherKit tracks grades and student behavior. Something tells me, they should do one thing really well and ditch the other application’s features to become more widely adapted – but, that’s just me.

2. Teacher Tool ($27.99)

For the price, I was hoping this application “walked on water”. And it kind of does (even though iPads dropped in water wouldn’t be a good thing…). One of the features touted by this app is their back-up. When you lose a notebook, it’s gone forever unless a kind soul returns it. When you lose data or enter incorrect information, Teacher Tool stores a back-up so you can go right back to it. It also “knows when you’re teaching” so it prepares the home-screen to the data you need the most. Just like TeacherKit above, you can keep grades on this app, too.

3. Attendance2

At first glance, I thought this was just another app – it doesn’t look very pretty, but, it works. And it took me a couple minutes to watch the video to see all that it does. From communicating individually with students who may have an attendance problem to being able to add new classes and students straight from Dropbox, it’s a nifty little app. Perfect for event attendance, too – not just in the classroom.

4. Kinderlime

Mainly aimed at daycare providers, but useful for pre-schoolers and kindergartners, this is one of the more-solid apps I came across. It’s got a neat feature where you can send pictures of students (say, finger painting) directly to the student’s parents using your phone – in addition to the standard attendance features via sign-in/sign-out with monthly reporting.

5. iRoster

iRoster is a lot more than simple attendance. Some of the features that stood out to me were the robust reporting of attendance, by class or student and the fact that it’s fully customizable, allowing you to add your school logo and custom fields if you need to. I also found a payment feature, which could be useful for field trips or holiday events to see who has paid and who hasn’t.  You can also print testing sheets and certificates. iRoster seems to have it all.

Attendance is the perfect application of an iPad. Manual data entry combined with you always being on-the-go means you need an app that’s easy to use and lets you quickly enter data – not get frustrated. Give one of these apps a try and let me know what you think. I’d like to hear your feedback.


5 Tips to Get Lessons Plans Done Faster

Standing up in-front of a classroom of students with no plan is terrifying. You have no idea who is paying attention (well, you do – just make sure no one is falling asleep :p), you have no structure to the period, and your nervousness can shine through without thinking about it.

That’s where lessons plans come in.

Lessons plans help you run your classroom, inform substitute teachers, and even keep your students focused. But, there’s one problem: they take hours to complete and even if you complete them, they just end up being deviated from.

Fear not, young teacher. QuizBean is here to help. Here’s 5 tips we’ve found to get your lesson plans done faster – regardless of the grade you teach:

1. Start with your outcome

When you start something, it’s often easier to get to the end when you think about what you want  accomplish. Do you want your students to know the importance of Abe Lincoln? What about how to do their multiplication tables or what Avogadro’s number is? Then, work backwards to figure out what your students need to learn to meet your goal. Do they need to watch a movie? Do a couple math problems? Whatever it is, the working-backwards exercise should pay off in spades for your lesson planning.

2. Use multiple learning styles

Lesson plans don’t have to be limited to just visual learners – or just auditory learners. When you incorporate different learning styles, it help you create a more dynamic lesson. And better yet? It helps students learn quickly because they’re able to grasp the concept in a way that makes sense to them. In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of the seven learning styles for a refresher course.

3. Find inspiration online

Isn’t it great when other teachers want to give back? Of course it is! And one of the ways teachers are giving back is their lesson plans. There are tons of online lesson plan resources. From teacher forums to teachers within your school, you can find inspiration everywhere. There are lesson plan templates and ready-to-go lesson plans – take your pick!

4. Use Planboard – a neat little app

If you think teaching one class is tough, try teaching 5 or 6. It can get out of control fast – from student management to curriculum. Planboard (an incredibly cool app), helps teachers organize their classroom, create lesson plan templates, and even attach documents to each lesson so students to follow. Give it a shot.

5. Think outside the box

Use guest speakers, have students teach a lesson (by creating their own lesson plan), or co-teach a lesson with another teacher. For example, if your students are learning about Egypt, work with the art teacher to do a project that teaches students how to make hieroglyphics. Or, partner up with the gym teacher to learn more about staying active when you’re young. These co-teaching opportunities are powerful and work to keep students engaged. Try one with a colleague at your school and let us know what you come up with.

See? Lesson plans aren’t that challenging, right? What do you do to create amazing lessons plans in a short amount of time? Let us know in the comments below.


QuizBean is a powerful tool to incorporate into your lesson plans into. You’ll find out in just minutes if students understand your content. Make your first six quizzes absolutely free. Get started with QuizBean.


5 Useful Ways Your Students Can Use an Online Quiz Maker

Get your students involved!

You hear it from your peers, your teacher inservice, and nationally-known speakers: You have to get your students doing. No more sitting in the classroom, looking at the chalkboard like a lifeless mass.

Get their brains active.

It helps them learn, review, and retain information. And one of the best tools to do all three of those is an online quiz maker, like QuizBean. But, before I get all self-promotional, hear me out.

Students need to get into the habit of building and creating.

Creating something every day, whether it’s a drawing, blog post, photo, meal, or popsicle stick house, creativity stimulates the mind. And that’s why making a quiz online can get you the same effect. But, with quiz-making, you’re not just left with a product. You’ve got a study tool.

Here are 5 ways your students can use an online quiz maker:

1. Build a foreign language quiz

It’s hard enough to learn English when you’re young. So, what about a foreign language? That can be hard, too. Especially with the accents, the verb tenses, and more. With QuizBean, all the funny characters, math symbols, and accents show up in QuizBean. Now, you’re able to make a quiz in any language. Pretty cool, huh?

2. Quiz their friends who need extra help

Quiz making doesn’t just have to benefit one student – have it benefit the whole class. For final exams, divide up the textbook into chapters and assign a chapter quiz for each student. That way, they review the chapter-specific material for themselves and have ready-built materials from their peers for the other chapters. It’s like creating tons of flash cards with the help of your peers.

3. Make a fun quiz to share online

Quizzes don’t always have to be serious. In fact, some of the most popular quizzes on QuizBean are incredibly random. Students can make a funny quiz like “boogers or farts” or “Is this true about my childhood?” quizzes. And let them share with the class or even the world. Their experience with the internet is shaped by how they use, but let them have some fun every once in a while!

4. Build a quiz to learn those confusing science terms

Science was always a tough subject to me. Why? Because it seemed like so much of the vocabulary I was using simply wasn’t going to be used every day – so it was hard to remember. And I’m sure it’s still the same way with students today. That’s why QuizBean is a fantastic tool to help sort all the vocabulary out. From mitosis to meiosis, centrifuge to atomic weight, have your students create a quiz to straighten all the terms out.

5. Use the quiz to learn differences between two subjects

What’s the difference between World War I and World War II? What about the difference between past and present tense? What about verbs and adjectives? Quizzes are a great way to compare two things. Get a list of facts and start making a quiz – this or that or multiple choice. Then,

Students are almost always at their computers. Whether they’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or hey, even QuizBean, there is a screen in front of their face. So why not make them productive?

Online quiz builders are a great way to get students interacting with the content you’re teaching them in class and connecting it to the outside world. Have you let your students lose with QuizBean? What have they been creating?


Why you need to start teaching abroad

There were plenty of study abroad programs when I was in school (only a few years ago). But, I never actually studied abroad. A handful of my friends studied abroad, however.

And they loved it.

It was the best experience of their life. They learned so much, met a ton of great friends, and would do it again in a heart beat. Well, if life didn’t get in the way, that is. You’ve got a teaching job (if you don’t, here’s a list of ways to find a teaching job). You probably have an apartment 15 minutes from school. And maybe you’re married.

That’s a lot going on, isn’t it?

You long for the beaches of coastal Spain, the winding roads of Austria, and the thriving city streets of Paris. Well, there’s an alternative. And I think it’s pretty awesome.

9 Reasons You Need to Start Teaching Abroad from quizbean

You can teach abroad!

Yep. I know, it’s not ground-breaking or anything. But, it does provide an outlet for you to get the travel bug back and make a difference in the lives of young people. As if that’s not enough, here are 9 more reasons you need to hop on a plane this summer and teach abroad:

1. The impact you’ll make

Teaching abroad means you have the chance to make the same impact you’re making stateside, abroad. The students may even be more excited – and appreciative – of the opportunity they have to learn from you. And what’s better than making a difference in your student’s life? Pretty sure nothing is.

2. The other countries you’ll see

Just because you’re teaching in Tanzania doesn’t mean you can’t explore Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, etc. You’re not chained to one country. Take the chance to see the world around you when you’re so much closer than normal. I have friends who explored 10-12 other countries while working in 1. Talk about travelling the world in just a few months!

3. The food you’ll enjoy

In addition to working on QuizBean, I’ll also enjoy some interesting food on my travels. And what better way to push your culinary limits than to teach abroad? You’ll get the local flavors of the region, the greasy spoons, and maybe even some fried delicacies. Sounds like an adventure to me.

4. The people you’ll meet (remember, it’s a small world)

I remember when I was in Paris on a bench and saw Carlos Valderrama, a famous Colombian soccer player, walk past me. In Paris! When you’re abroad, you never know who you’re going to meet. There are truly amazing people out there. It’s time to see which one of them you’re going to run into.

5. The lessons you’ll learn

Many time, trips away from your normal life, lead to the most profound lessons learned. I’m talking about dramatic shifts in your values and life strategy. Other countries do that to people. I have a friend who spent a year in Thailand. He’s a better person because of it, too. How are you going to change? Pick a country and find out!

6. The increased appreciation for friends & family

Remember those Skype phone calls? And the letters? Oh, and don’t forget the care packages. When you’re abroad, away from family and friends, you’ll gain a better appreciation for what you have at home, the relationships you’ve built up, and the small things that make home, home.

7. The chance to teach something different

It’s fun to always teach general science, but what if you got the opportunity to teach biology to culinary students? Or nano-technology to students in Beijing? There are amazing teaching opportunities to explore. Try something different for once!

8. The (most-of-the-time) decreased cost of living

In many countries, it’s cheap to live. Inexpensive rent, food, and nightlife, makes teaching abroad affordable. After all, you’ve got to see all those other countries, right?

9. The feeling of accomplishment

You did it! You started teaching abroad. It has always been on of your life goals to teach in the south of France. You can now cross it off your bucket list. This feeling of accomplishment does great things for you. It shows you you can do anything you put your mind to. It shows you you can take risks. Now, what’s your next move?

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience. While not everyone is presented with the opportunity, if you are, I’d take it. You only live once, so why not spend a year in Tanzania?


10 Ways to Discover the Teaching Job You’ve Always Wanted

Teaching is one of America’s most prized careers. After all, teachers shape our nation’s youth. They prepare students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the real-world. And they’re darn good at it.

Have you studied to become a teacher?

Thousands of young people have made it their life’s passion to teach. Whether it’s music, social studies, pottery, or wood shop, teachers are in short supply. If you’ve studied to become a teacher and sat for your teaching license, congrats. It’s not an easy feat.

But once you’ve graduated and passed your boards, you’ve got the ever-challenging job hunt ahead of you. And for most young teachers, it’s hard to find a teaching job, in your subject, in your area. Basically, a veteran teacher has to retire for a spot to open up.

How do you find the teaching job you’ve always wanted?

The internet. Yes, while full of cats and really funny GIFs, there are useful websites out there. And here are 10 of them to help you find a teaching job before you have to move back in with your parents:

1. SchoolSpring

In over 30 states, international, and online, SchoolSpring is definitely a go-to source to find your first – or next – teaching job. The site is easy to navigate and comes with several drop-down selections to narrow your search. Plus, you can opt-in to get email alerts when new jobs you’re looking for get posted.

2. The US Department of Education

If it’s anyone whose looking for amazing teachers to fill America’s classrooms, it’s the US government. Packed with resources to find jobs in charter schools, colleges, and even libraries, it’s a wealth of information to help you land a great job in education.

3. Education America

Filled with domestic and overseas teaching jobs, Education America is a great site to quickly find the teaching job you’re looking for. There’s a prominent search on the homepage as well as latest jobs posted. And, there’s even a regional search just in case you don’t want to move too far away!

4. Indeed.com

Known for finding a job in any category, anywhere, Indeed can be used to find teaching jobs across the country or in a specific location. What’s great about it is it searches tons of other career websites for teaching jobs to give you all the results in one place. You can also get new jobs by email, too.

5. Teach.org

This sleek modern-looking site lays out jobs nicely. They’re easy to find, read, and apply to. Another benefit if  you’re looking out-of-state is Teach.org has licensing and certification information for any state right in their sidebar. How about that? All the info you need in one place!

6. Jobs4Teachers.com

As the site says, Jobs4Teachers.com finds you jobs. And they have a list that out-numbers this one! With great resources like state-specific teaching sites, Jobs4Teachers says it best: “Your complete source for all information that will help you find a job as a professional educator and teacher”.

7. GetEductaed.com

This site helps you find adjunct online teaching opportunities. While specific, it’s a way to teach without having to physically be in a classroom. Adjunct teaching, while mainly done in higher-ed is perfect for people who are looking at teaching as a new career, a second job, or they just want to experience college dining one more time (ok, I’m kidding :p)

8. GoOverseas.com

Easily the best resource to find teaching overseas, GoOverseas lays out jobs in a nice visual format. They also allow you to apply to teaching jobs directly on their website. A quick glance led to finding jobs in Vietnam, China, and even Colombia. What a fun way to explore the world and make a difference at the same time.

9. ESLJobFind.com

English as a Second Language is wildly popular. I’ve not only had many friends participate in programs across the globe, but they’ve become a changed person because of it. ESLJobFind shows you a map on their homepage. You get to choose which area you want to teach in. There are country guides, other teacher’s experiences, and more. It’s worth a look if you’re up for some globe-trotting.

10. Your personal network

Don’t rule out who you know. Your parents, friends, and family may be able to get you an interview in a local school system. The best part is you’ll come with a glowing recommendation. No pressure 🙂

See? There are tons of ways to land the teaching job of your dreams. Now go browse a couple of the websites for jobs. But remember — be flexible. The job you’re looking for may be a few towns over or even out-of-state. Embrace a new experience!

What about you? Where did you find your teaching job? Let us know in the comments below.

 


5 Reasons to Create a Quiz Online

Pencil and paper are a thing of the past.

There are tablets, iphones, smart watches, voice-recognition, etc. These devices have changed the way we communicate. Heck, even some schools are removing cursive from their curriculum. (I secretly still like to write capital G’s in cursive).

Whether you like it or not, tech is here to stay.

And one of the applications that has become significantly better because of technology are online quizzes. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to fill out the little bubbles on scantrons and the SAT’s when I was in high school.

But computers are way more awesome.

Let’s face it: you’re competing for attention every second of every day in the classroom. With phones vibrating, notes being passed, and even students storming out of class in revolt, it’s tough to get students engaged.

And that’s why online quizzes should be created online — they’re simply more engaging. And here’s five more reasons:

1. They are easy to throw together

With paper quizzes, you have to type up the questions, format the quiz, print it out, copy it, distribute it to your students, give instructions. Oh, and then you have to grade it. That’s a pain, isn’t it?

2. They can be automatically graded

Many online quiz applications have a feature that allows your quizzes to be automatically graded. This saves you a tone of time. No more hand-grading. And your students can know how they did after each question and at the end of the quiz. That’s a lot different than the week they’re used to waiting before you have time to hand them back. Automatic grading is a beautiful thing. You can thank the internet for that. 🙂

3. They can easily incorporate images

Visuals add so much to your quizzes. Whether you’re showing a picture of Rembrandt or adding a graph for your math quiz, it’s easy to add images to your online quiz. And visuals make your quiz more interesting. Plus they open you up to more question types, too.

4. They can be shared with other teachers

When you create a pencil and paper quiz, it’s your quiz. It’s hard to share. Unless, you want to copy your quiz for other teachers in your school. That’s old-school. The beauty of online quizzes is that they can be easily shared – via email, social media, or embedding your quiz in your blog. That way teachers can access your quiz for their own classroom – and you get credit. How cool is that?

5. They can be fun

Wait, what? Quizzes, fun? Yes – it’s true. If done right, online quizzes can be fun to take. Especially when there are animations, bright colors, and you get your score at the end rather than having to wait for you to grade it (yeah, see number 2). Once you’ve blasted through the boredom with fun online quizzes, you’re golden.

Online quizzes are quick, easy, and fun. They’re a heck of a lot more engaging for students and they don’t involve #2 pencils. What about you? Why do you make online quizzes?

Speaking of online quizzes, have you tried QuizBean? It’s freeeee.