January 2nd, 2009
When January 1st rolls around each year, I’m always prepared to answer the question of “Set any New Years resolutions?” In an effort to keep my classroom organized (a suggestion from an old friend of mine), the one consistent New Years resolution I’ve had for the past four years was to keep my SchoolRack page updated at least once a week. Luckily, this has been one of my easier resolutions that I’ve been able to follow, and frankly it has worked wonders in my classroom — I’ve certainly noticed a difference. Suffice it to say that nothing has changed this year except I have added two others to the list, let’s see if I can be as successful with those this time around
Hope you all had wonderful holidays and are prepared for a fantastic new year! In the meantime, anybody care to share their new years resolution in the comments?
December 16th, 2008
Well, hopefully you are up and running on SchoolRack. I just wanted to give you a few more pointers on how to get the most out of the site. One of the features is the calendar. I have found this to be quite useful for posting due dates that are coming up. I also use it for future test and quiz dates. This way the students (and parents) can see what is going to be due at a glance, instead of having to scroll through the material in the “Sections and Entries” category. If you are putting dates in different months, you will notice that the font changes. It looks a little funny when you are creating it, but on the actual website it looks normal. The main idea here is to let you distinguish between the different months.
The “view statistics” feature is always interesting to check out. It let’s you know how many people have checked out your site. Additionally, if you have multiple sections, it will let you know how many people have looked at each section. This way, if you have listed sections by periods, you can notice if one period in particular is not accessing SchoolRack and have a little “talk” with them! :-) I usually use the “reset all” on a weekly basis so that it gives me a clearer picture each week of how many students are using the site. I get an average of 500 hits a week; some weeks more, some weeks less. It does take a while to get the students used to using it, but once they do, it’s wonderful!
I teach on a block schedule, so many times I do not give the exact dates that we are having a test or a quiz. I do not want to tell the students the wrong date. Consequently, I always tell them to check SchoolRack. Most students are really good about this. Occasionally one or two students come in unprepared for a quiz, but they get the idea quickly enough.
December 12th, 2008
SchoolRack is an awesome tool for the classroom. It helps students, teachers and parents communicate via the internet. I am a firm believer in holding kids accountable and making them responsible, in part, for being aware of the requirements of my classes. This is where SchoolRack comes in handy. When a student is absent, they know that they are to look at the SchoolRack site to determine what they missed in school that day. They know better than to come to me and ask me “What did we do in class…I was absent.”
So, let’s begin. Once you have logged in, you will be on the SchoolRack Dashboard. On the left side of the page you need to click on “Design Website.” There you will need to select a theme for your site. Pick your favorite color or possibly even the color of your school. You will also need to pick a title, heading and a subheading. My heading states: “Welcome to Mrs. Howe’s Homepage” . In my subheading I have written my classroom motto: “Some people make an excuse, others find a way.” Have fun selecting a style and design that best fits you.
Now you are ready to start inputting your material. Click and ‘Sections and Entries” and add all the sections that you will need. Click on each section, individually, and input your material. I will admit, the first time that you do this it is a bit time-consuming. However, if you teach the same class year after year, you will be able to use the same material and just make changes. Some teachers choose to list weekly assignments, others do monthly. Personally, I have all ten months of the year set up. When I first started, I typed in my syllabus in SchoolRack. When I was finished I selected the entire page, copied it and pasted it into a Word document and saved it on my computer. The following year, I was able to make minor changes without having to retype the whole thing.
It is also possible to type your schedule into a Word document and then cut and paste it into SchoolRack. Formatting with tabs can sometimes pose a problem, so don’t get too elaborate with your Word document. You will notice that if you type in SchoolRack, when you hit the ‘Enter’ (return) key the document will double space. It is possible to single space in SchoolRack. The trick is to hold down the ‘Shift’ key and the ‘Enter’ key at the same time.
Well, I hope that helps you get started. Next time I will talk about some of the other features of SchoolRack. If you have any questions be sure to let me know.
December 8th, 2008
Now that all of us are back to school, how can we use SchoolRack to make our lives easier? Well, with a little organization, we can place a lot of the responsibilities back on our students! Now there’s a concept!
SchoolRack has made my life much easier in relation to my expections from the students. Now, when a student is absent, they have no excuse for not knowing what was accomplished in class during their absence. Not only that, parents can check the website to see exactly what homework there is. Now, when their child says that they have no homework, the parents have a way to verify this. Also, if a student forgot to write down an assignment they are not as stressed, because they have an easy way to find out what that assignment was.
I teach in a block schedule environment, so I have duplicate due dates for projects, tests, quizzes, etc. I have told the students (and the parents) from day one that I will not announce exact dates of tests and quizzes, because I do not want to make a mistake. Students know that they need to check SchoolRack for these items. It might take students a few weeks to figure this out but, believe me, they do. Inevitably I will say, “Don’t forget to study for your test for next time.” However, the responsible student that has been checking SchoolRack has already been studying in anticipation of the test, and not waiting until the last minute.
Next time I’ll talk a little bit more about the actual features on SchoolRack. If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way.
November 29th, 2008
Welcome to Educator’s Corner!
This blog has been set up for me by SchoolRack — a website where you can sign up for a free classroom website or blog — and is dedicated to helping you set up your free website, build it, and make it more effective. With a community of over 25,000 teachers, SchoolRack has set up this blog to bring users together and to share and learn from each other. That said, this blog is a crucial first step in building a community around SchoolRack, and I feel this will be a great place for discourse and new ideas for your website!
My name is Susan and I plan to share some helpful thoughts and ideas as I update this blog. I’ve been using SchoolRack for several years now for my classroom and absolutely love it! Not only does it place some responsibility on the student, it helps to keep the parents in the loop as well. And that’s just the beginning!
Let’s get started
This blog is not about me but about the community of educators using SchoolRack. This can be a forum for us to work together, share ideas, and build a community for us all to benefit from. I will often post tips, suggestions, and other worthwhile things to do with your SchoolRack website.
I’m excited to get started — we can make this a fun place for all of us and learn while we’re at it! Here are some things you can do to help us get started:
- What are your interests? What would you like to see covered here? Anything you’d like to tweak on your SchoolRack website? Leave a comment about it below and I’ll do my best cover it on the blog!
- Subscribe to Educator’s Corner by entering your email address in the textbox at the right of this page or via an RSS reader. Also, you can bookmark this page so its handy whenever you want to revisit.
Stay tuned and see you around!