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Freebee Friday: Book It

PlannerThe days of the bound calendar planner with scribbles everywhere are long gone, but nothing good enough has replaced it. That is, until now with PlanBook. The browser-based system can streamline planning a week, a month or the entire school year. It can handle everything from classes and meetings to sports and school activities. The free version works with just about any computer or phone and can rotate classes weekly or on a variety of other popular schedule formats and the software even integrates into Google’s Education apps. Upgrading to the Premium product adds the ability to attach files and put your planner online for others. It costs $25 a year, although that drops to $16 per user a year for schools with 250 teachers.

The New Classroom

Google classroomThe latest version of Google’s Classroom software is out and it updates the classroom management program with 20 different major changes. Many are very exciting, including the ability to create, edit, distribute and even grade assignments from your phone so you can catch up on work at home or even on the bus ride to school. Plus, grades are now automatically saved, so nothing gets lost and an entire year's worth of assignments can be archived for class for next year’s batch of kids.

Emotional Learning

AppersonA child’s emotional health is just as important as his grades at school. Apperson’s Evo Social & Emotional Learning assessment lets you track their emotional well-being and receptiveness to school over time to identify trends and progress. Based on the 8-point DESSA criteria, from self- and social awareness to goal-directed behavior and decision-making, the software can store the results locally or at the district level. It costs $400 for up to 150 students, and there’s a two-month free trial.

Freebee Week: Snap and Grade

QuickkeyWhat’s better than grading multiple choice tests? How about having your phone or tablet do it for free? If you can snap a picture of the test, then the Quick Key Mobile app can turn any completed test into a grade that’s automatically placed in your school’s gradebook or an Excel spreadsheet. There are free apps for Android and iOS devices that come with QuizBuilder software for creating new assessments. The free version is for occasional use, while the $2.50 per month Pro version is for everyday use.



Freebee Week: Speak Up, Anonymously

Attentiv aAll too often, the loudest and most talkative kids aren’t the ones with the best ideas, a problem that Attentiv software is trying to solve.  The idea is that in an anonymous forum, the best and most articulate ideas will rise to the top and become the objects of serious discussion. To the kids, everyone in the forum is anonymous and only the teacher knows who’s typing what. The software is a beta freebee at the moment, but the company plans a commercial version soon.

The New Permission Slip

Permission click Shot 1We will never be able to get rid of signed permission slips for after-school activities or field trips, but Permission Click has an app that can make getting permission the easy part. The software can create regular old paper (actually .pdf) forms or digital ones that have embedded routing information. The blank gets emailed to parents who return it with their approval as well as any fee that the school is charging. 


Hear it All

Pa283As classes get bigger, the danger is that the teacher won’t be heard by all, but Califone’s VoiceSaver PA283 can make sure everyone can listen in. The $150 kit is all you need to get the word out with a 3-watt amplifier and built-in speaker that can be clipped on a belt and connects to a headset via a Bluetooth link. It has a lithium ion battery pack that should last the whole school day. 

One Stop Classroom

Engrade aYou can end the wasted time and effort of logging into every classroom activity separately with McGraw Hill Education’s Engrade. The software lets you consolidate lesson plans, while interacting with educational software and online apps. There’re places to post grades and go over results as well as a behavior section for tracking trouble-makers.

Freebee Friday: TabPilot’s Sneak Preview

Tab manThe next step for iPads is using them to control all aspects of digital education and that’s the idea behind TabPilot’s Tablet Manager for iOS. The software is under development and combines classroom management with Mobile Device Management (MDM) techniques for allowing a single log-in for multiple online activities. The software is free for schools that use 25 pads or more until the end of the school year. The final app should cost between $5 and $10 per pad when it’s released.


Mimio Goes Mobile

MimiomobileWith the latest updates to Mimio Studio and Mimio Mobile, the teaching software now runs on Android and iPad tablets.  In addition to providing a classroom space for collaboration, MM3 can control an interactive whiteboard and put any student’s system on the big screen as well as let kids answer quizzes using MimioVote. It’s a free upgrade for Mimio users.



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