Welcome to the second episode of the Jersey Educator Podcast hosted by Jeff Bradbury. Please find us online at www.JerseyEducator.com. In this episode, we discuss the digital poster creation website called SMORE.com. I also tell you why TeacherKit is an app that I can’t live without. We end the show with an interview with New Jersey Administrator Jay Eitner. (@PrincipalEit)
Web Tool Of The Week
Every child, at one time or another in their school career is asked to do a project. Sometimes, these projects are in the form of dioramas, written reports and presentations. Quite often, students are asked to create an arts and crafts type poster that represents something from their history, or a book or other given topic. I recently had a student come to me with a project that she said took her over 8 hours to create. It was a nice poster with many colorful words and photos in it. However, the student didn’t have access to a color printer, and the printer she had at home wasn’t even of “modern quality” so the project wasn’t up to todays standards. I could tell that the student was happy with her project but knew she could have done better.
We talked about the project and what it took her to assemble it. I then asked her “What happens to it when you are finished presenting it?” She put her head down and told me that it would probably find it’s way into the trash.
I then showed her a website where she could create a very similar project, include digital photos and movies, and not have to spend 8 hours of her time doing. This site is called SMORE. Smore.com is an online digital poster creation tool. This free web app is great for both students and adults looking to highlight a given topic and then share it with the world.
To log in, simple sign up for free, or connect to Smore through your Facebook account. From there, the world is in your hands. It is very simple to create a dynamic, colorful poster. As I was showing my student this website, her eyes light up and she just kept repeating “I can do this”… I then showed her that once finished, she could share it with her friends on her social media sites. How cool is this???
I highly recommend Smore to any teacher looking to create digital posters.
Digital Suggestion: Have your students create a digital poster using Smore.com and then have them embed the poster into their Kidblog.org account. They can then write about their poster on their blog, and each student can then share their posters with the class.
App of the Week
As their motto suggestions: No Classroom should be with out it! This is true in my case. TeacherKid is a universal app that allows teachers to take attendance, set up seating charts, track student behavior and even keep a grade book. Many apps that attempt to be multifunctional fail desperately at doing all of these functions, TeacherKit however, does not.
When you first open TeacherKit, you are welcomed by shelfs where you create your classes. Student information can be inserted by either manual import, CSV file, or by adding names from your address book. Classes are set up easily to include a custom photo, class description and more.
There are four menu options on the home screen: My Class, Attendance, Behavior and Gradebook.
Seating Chart: If you import your students information to include photos, the seating chart feature can easily be created and adjusted. Teachers can view their students, and additionally, can see how each of them is doing based on the information in the app’s grade book.
Attendance: This section of the app can completely be customized to each teachers needs. Currently, I have my attendance set to: Unrecorded, Present, Absent, Science Lab, SGO and Trip. This helps me keep track of where each student is each day. This is an invaluable feature of a great app.
Behavior: Each student’s behavior and progress can be recorded by creating a personalized student note.
Gradebook: This is a fully functional gradebook where teachers can customize percentages and category weight. This is one of my favorite features of TeacherKit. If a student is not doing well in your class, this is automatically seen on their behavior and attendance panels. (see above)
TeacherKit is one of those “I Must Have Apps” that I recommend to all of my friends. App Sync is available through Dropbox. There is also an option for password protecting the app due to the sensitive data it may hold.
Where do I find TeacherKit?
New Jersey Administrator Jay Eitner
Jay Eitner is a product of New Jersey school, graduating from Union High School in 1997. After graduating with a BA from The American University in 2001, he began his educational career at St. Joseph the Carpenter School in Roselle, NJ. Teaching social studies, reading, computers, and other subjects ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade, Jay became known for integrating technology and ‘going outside of the box’ of a traditional classroom. Jay was passionate about bringing more technology for all, and leveling the educational playing field for all students, so he took up educational grant writing. Jay found a history grant to Germany, and met his future Supervisor on the trip. Upon receiving his Masters degree in 2004 from Kean University, Jay joined the teaching staff at Churchill Junior High School in East Brunswick, a blue ribbon school district. Eitner was quickly nick-named “the game changer” and “General Grant”, writing over $14,000 for classroom grants in just two years. Jay embraced more technology over the years, leading a series of professional development workshops on blogging, podcasting, and other 21st technologies that have since been cornerstones to every classroom. Jay was accepted into the NJ-EXCEL program and received his School Administrator, Principal, and Supervisor certificates. In 2010, Eitner became the Assistant Principal at Long Valley Middle School in Washington Township. In addition to his administrative duties, Jay brought in a wealth of experience and helped the school and its’ staff embrace and utilize 21st century technology. Jay was recently profiled on the Emmy Award Winning television show Classroom Closeup and has been a professional development instructor and consultant for over a dozen school districts throughout the Garden State. Focusing on technology infusion and social media integration, Jay has a blog (PrincipalEit.wordpres.com) that is read in over 72 countries and is constantly sharing new ideas and websites on his Twitter handle, @PrincipalEit. Jay is married to the most amazing woman in the world, Jessica, a fellow middle school teacher. Truth be told, their dog, Lola, runs the show at home.
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I Appreciate Your iTunes Reviews!
If you have ever read Cliff Ravenscraft’s blog post about how iTunes podcast ratings work, then you know just how valuable leaving a 5 star rating and/or a written review can be to a content producer.
I am very thankful to those who have recently gone into my listing in iTunes to provide a five start rating and a written review of The Jersey Educator Podcast and the TeacherCast Podcasting Network.