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It’s in the Cards

Scholarchip carA plain old school ID card can identify students and teachers, but not much more. With the digitally-aware ScholarChip card, every student is not only identified but can provide access to a variety of school services. In addition to automatically doing attendance and accounting, the ScholarChip can be set up for field trips, school supplies and even school lunch payments, It can even anonymously identify those whose meal is subsidized.


String Along Schools

TwineAs its name implies, Twine can be the string that binds a school together into an educational community. In addition to the expected (attendance, grades and schedules), Twine can handle lesson plans and assessments. If you want to, it can be where reminders and messages are kept and sent. Based on Edsby’s technology, the key is that every user, from students to teachers to administrators, can have different permissions and access to data.

Freebee Friday: Toward the Enlightened Classroom

Classdojo empathyThe ClassDojo app is more than a way for teachers and students to effectively communicate by sending out text, photos and videos. The Android and iOS apps can also be a tool for tolerance and emotional growth at school. The Empathy and Perseverance sections have cool animated videos as well as activities. The section were created with help from Stanford and Harvard Universities and can make the classroom a more equitable place.

Label Everything

Label printersNothing says classroom organization like a well-labeled classroom and these label printers bring out the best. They are all easy to use, efficient and don’t waste a whole sheet of label stock for just a single label. A big bonus is that most are small and can be stashed in a cabinet or drawer when not on use and many of them don’t require a USB cable to print.

Whether they’re used to mark boxes of educational items for summer storage, first day name tags or for a PTA mailing, any of these label printers can fit right into the classroom.

Epson ColorWorks C3500

ColorWorks C3500P Image 2The newest of the labeling bunch is Epson’s ColorWorks C3500. At $2,500, it’s also the most expensive and the biggest of the five but it can do it all, In fact, the C3500 can be a shared school-wide resource that’s used when needed. While most of the competition stick to low-resolution monochrome labels, the ColorWorks printer is able to work with a variety of paper types and thickness in four vibrant colors at 360- by 720-dots per inch. The best part is that you can not only set the C3500 to cut each label individually but the printer can separate the label from its backing, making it ready for use.

Brother QL-1060N

Brother 1060nBy contrast, Brother’s $300 QL-1060N excels at speed and value with a thermal monochrome print head that will never need ink cartridges. Able to pump out up to 69 labels per minute, the QL-1060N delivers 300 dots per inch prints. It can create everything from bar codes to address labels on a variety of available spools of labels and now includes Brother’s P-touch software for printing just about anything, even a screen capture.

      Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo

Dymo twin turbo 450The most economical of the five could be Dymo’s LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo. At about $200, it’s a label-making powerhouse that doesn’t require expensive ink. The thermal print head can cover a variety of label types up to 4- by 6-inches and hold a pair of label rolls. In addition to printing address label and postage at once, it means that you won’t run out of labels at exactly the wrong moment. It can pump out up to 71 basic address labels per minute, comes with more than 60 label styles and designs and is among the quietest label printers available.

     Zebra GT800

Zebra gt800At over $500, Zebra’s GT800 printer uses a ribbon to transfer an image or characters onto a label that’s up to 4.1-inches wide. It’s 203 dot per inch resolution can’t touch some of the others here, but it is sharp enough for address labels and name tags. It offers the best choice of connection interfaqces with old school RS-232, Centronics parallel port as well as USB connections. There's also an optional Ethernet interface kit. It has 16 fonts built-in as well as the ability to print bar codes or directly from an iPad or iPhone.

                 Leitz Icon Smart Wireless 70013000 Label Printer

LeitzFinally, the Leitz Icon Smart Wireless 70013000 Label Printer is like no other. At $125, it could be the value king, here. Able to connect over WiFi, it makews labeling quicker and simpler. With a 600 dot per inch head, the Leitz printer can deliver up to 3.5-inch wide labels at up to 200 simple labels per minute. The key is that everything you need to print labels is in Leitz’s unique drop in cartridge. It works with everything from PCs and Macs to iPads and iPhones.


It’s About Time

Simplex clockFrom when the first bell rings to start the school day we all have too much to do, but there’s not much more you can do to squeeze 60 minutes of solid work into every hour. Or is there? The following programs take different approaches to making every minute in the classroom count by scheduling and prioritizing the day’s tasks and events.

None of the four programs that follow are made specifically for school use, but are flexible enough to be adapted. In fact, they are just as useful for students as for teachers and a school’s administration –- maybe more.

You can’t be in two places at once, but any of these programs can make you more efficient at school and hopefully a better prepared educator. Regardless of whether you use a iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Chromebook or Android, there’s something here to make every minute count.


30 30 gestureThe 30/30 app can efficiently plan your day down to the minute and stuff more into the day without ever leaving your phone’s screen. That's because it runs on an iPhone and lets you do more with gestures than any other program does.

For instance, rather than digging through nested menus, if you want to delete an item, just swipe to the right or shake the phone to undo something. A two-finger tap moves the current task to the top of the list.

The big difference with 30/30 is that the interface is like no other app. To set up an item, like a reading period, type in its name (like “independent reading”), how long it will last and what icon you want it to show when time is up. The main screen always shows what the current task is and how much time is left.

To get the most out of 30/30 you need to buy in to its philosophy of 30 minutes of uninterrupted work is about all anyone – teacher, student or staff – can efficiently put up with. It’s a little looser than that because events and activities can be set to any length up to an hour, so it’s perfect for setting up classroom periods.


2doGot a Mac, iPhone or Android, but are always late for classes, meetings and parent conferences? 2Do can help with a rigid schedule that tells you what you should be doing. Utterly conventional in its look and feel, the system is both local and online with the ability to synchronize your schedule and too-do lists with Dropbox, CalDAV and iCloud as well as Toodledo.

It’s quick and easy to add items and you can create a task directly from an email, like a parent meeting. The program’s lists are deep and you can organize them into groups as projects, perfect for long term tasks like curriculum development or field trips. The best part is that 2Do is part nosey parent with the ability to continue to nag you until a task is finished.

Mac users can always have the moment’s pressing business in their faces with the included Widget that places items in a right pull out list. If you can’t always have your computer by your side, 2Do can print its lists the way they look on-screen. Unlike some of the others here, 2Do is not free, with Mac programs costing $50 and those for Android or iOS devices, $10 and $15. There is a three-week trial, but nothing for PCs.

Google Suite Calendar

G suite calendarIt may not have the features and slick widgets of the others, but Google’s Calendar integrates well with email. For good or bad, Calendar is part of the Google ecosystem that bases everything off of a Gmail email account.

In addition to showing your daily schedule, Calendar can set up events from Hangouts and see if infrastructure items –- like projector carts or the computer lab -– are available. Best of all, Calendar lets you coordinate calendars of others and search for free time when you have a must-finish task. You can move your present calendar from iCal, Outlook or Exchange directly and publish your calendar online so your students know when they can contact you.

It works with anything that can run any of the most popular browsers and unlike some other Google products G Suite and the Calendar isn’t free and you can’t just buy the Calendar portion. The entire suite costs $5 a month with a business email account that has your school’s name or district as its domain. You also get unlimited video and voice calls as well as 25GB of storage space. If you move up it to the next level, $10 gets you a terabyte of storage space, advanced controls and a way to retain and archive every email ever written.


WunderlistFinally, as more schools switch to inexpensive and rugged Chromebooks, the software is catching up. Wunderlist can help squeeze in an entire day without you raising a sweat. It’s three pane interface has the most pressing items front and center with details of any item on the right and your main categories on the left.

Best of all, Wunderlist actually works on just about any platform out there because there are versions of PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, Chromebooks as well as Windows Phones and Apple’s Watch. There’s one more: an online version does everything through a browser window. The basic app is free, but the Pro version costs $5 a month and allows you unlimited file sizes, break down large items into sub tasks and have the ability to assign some of them to others.


Paper Plus

Wacom babooSeeking to bridge the gap between actual ink on paper and digital bits stored in the cloud, Wacom’s Bamboo Slate and Folio (photo, left) pads not only let you scribble and draw with a real pen on actual paper, but the system saves what’s written for transfer to a computer. It all starts with Wacom’s Bamboo Slate (notepad) and Folio (letter-size) pads on which you can write anything from class notes and maps to geometry figures. The Bamboo pen saves it all and lets you send it to the company’s iOS or Android Inkspace app for editing and sharing. It all works with Evernote and One Note with Wacom’s free Basic subscription provides 5GB of online storage. The $3 a month Plus service adds workflow and 50GB of online storage. The pen and pad sets cost between $130 and $200.


Freebee Friday: Collaborate with iWork

Iwork cloudThe latest version of Apple’s iWork lets kids, teachers and even parents work on a single document at the same time. It’s a big step towards catching up with Microsoft and Google software that makes it easy to invite people to work with you. For example, one student can insert a lab’s data chart, while a fellow student pops in images from the experiment and a third kid types the procedures and analysis sections. Everything is live and multiple students can edit anything they want to on the fly. It works with iWork software on iPads and Macs as well as those who use iWork for iCloud. Best of all, the new capabilities are free and should be available as an upgrade soon.


Two-Way Classroom Street

ClassflowThe essence of ClassFlow is that teachers can not only nose around and pick the classroom activities, lesson plans and assessments that suit them, but they can also contribute to this online warehouse of curriculum. The marketplace is new but there’s already a slew of lessons, quizzes, presentations and ActivInspire flipcharts. Everything is rated by grade and carries a star rating. It’s free to join, but you’ll need to pay for those items you purchase


Freebee Friday: Back to School Images

Back-to-school-graphic_23-2147487097Making kids feel welcome after a long summer break isn’t easy and a slew of back-to-school posters can help. Freepik has a good selection of thousands of samples of school art, including back to school posters for classes, hallways and libraries. They’re free if you credit the artist but you can fully license the collection for $10 a month.



The Myth of Running on Everything

MythwareGetting a classroom management package that runs on every platform used at school can seem like something dreamed up by Sisyphus, but Mythware (formerly Nanjing Universal Networks) can work just as well on Windows and iPads as Macs, Androids and Linux systems. That said, the Windows software is the most extensive with the ability to not only monitor and control individual student systems, but broadcast audio and video or create quiz question. Administrators can also set USB thumb drive policies as well as remotely start any system or close any app that’s running. You can try it out for a month with the ability to connect with up to 5 student systems.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.