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Freebee Friday: Classroom Cornucopia

EducentsWhile most of the items on Educent’s Web site are have price tags, they are discounted teaching resources and there are several freebees for the classroom. Discounts range from a few dollars off a set of workbooks to manipulative items for less than half price. The recent scanning of the site found items like Blue Manor books and a typing course for free. Better head there quickly because each product has a time limit.



Freebee Friday: Supplies

Office max depotThe school is starting and it’s time for teachers to get the supplies they need, regardless of whether there’s a budget for it. Most teachers go out of pocket for items from pencils and paper to tape and rulers, but Office Depot and OfficeMax will give a lucky teacher a $500 school spending spree while six others get $100 in company gift cards. The contest runs through the end of September.


Freebee Friday: Admin on the Cheap

AlmaWith schools spending too much on administration software, Alma comes to the rescue. The free student information system can not only track student grades and attendance, but align the school’s curriculum to state and Common Core standards. It integrates a student dossier, scheduling and lets a school import digital records. There are paid options that include migrating paper records and setting up emergency notifications.

Freebee Friday: PDFs For Free

SmallpdfWho needs expensive Adobe software when you can make a class full of Acrobat files for free with Small PDF? The free site has advertising but it’s unobtrusive and easily ignored. It works within a Web browser and can not only turn text and or images into .pdf files that will open on any computer but you can combine .pdf files, split ones or delete parts from others. About the only you can’t do is directly scan to a .pdf file, but you can turn an image file into an Acrobat document.

Freebee Friday: OSX +

Osx yosemiteIf your school has a lot of Macs, you’re going to want to download and try out the new software, OSX Yosemite. It’s a step up and includes some interesting updates, like the redesigned Safari browser and the ability to move schoolwork among a Mac, iPhone and iPad. The beta software is free for you to try. All you need is a system running Mavericks (it’s also a freebee) and an Apple ID to grab the software and give it a test drive.


Freebee Friday: Early Warning Radar for Drop-Outs

Mind shine white paperThe ultimate expression of failure for a school and its staff is a kid who drops out, but it doesn’t have to happen. MindShine Technologies has a white paper on identifying those at risk and keeping them in school until graduation day. “From Early Warning to Professional Development: Streamlining the Process and Expanding the Scope of Dropout Prevention” looks at all the risk factors and the warning signs so teachers and staff can concentrate their attention where it will have the biggest effect.



Summertime, and the Learning is Easy

The months of July and August don’t have to be a dead zone for learning because there’s a multitude of online educational activities that can keep kids from forgetting their math facts or backsliding on grammar. Most subjects are included and many of the items are structured like games, so they’re not painful to play with.


Free world uTo start, Free World U has a basic curriculum that’s free, although the online school has packages that cost up to $90 a month that add things like exams and accreditation. The basic package is flashcard based and is delivered over the Internet to just about any recent computer. The program can take a child from colors and numbers to algebra, and along the way the program has progress chart, tutorials and classical music selections.

Pbs learningmediaPBS LearningMedia has a summer full of learning potential with its Got Game library of 35,000 online educational activities. From Hip Hop (musical theory) and Fizzy’s Lunch Lab (farming) to the Mission US (marine studies), there’s sure to be something for every age and area of interest.

Smithsonian questsMeanwhile, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access has several online summer Quests that can enrich a student’s the time away from the classroom. There will be more than 100 programs available that range from exploring the implications of climate change to a look at the Civil Rights movement. Along the way, kids can earn badges ranging from Arthropod Agent to Tree Hugger.

Knowledge adventureIf you’re looking for a little bit of everything for summer enrichment, KnowledgeAdventure.com has an excellent assortment of educational games for grade 1 through high-schoolers. There’re games for English, math, social studies, spelling and science that’s categorized by age, subject and grade. My favorite is Drum Beats that gets kids to think about patterns by repeating a drumming sequence.   

Common sense mediaFinally, Common Sense Media has put together a guide to summer education. The items work on a variety of hardware platforms and cover the gamut of educational subjects, from geography to math. Each item is rated with stars based on its educational content and the apps are arranged by age group.

ISTE FREEBEE: Software Try Out

Corel free softwareCorel and Kivuto are giving away a slew of software to teachers so they can have the latest tools to work and teach with. Called Teacher-Try-It Program at ISTE 2014, the program allows them to download a variety of software, including Corel’s PaintShop Pro, CorelDraw and others. They are fully functional and licensed version for teachers to use at school, at home and in-between. All told, it’s $400 worth of useful software, all free.

Freebee Friday: Where Science Meets Art

Sciart juneMost teachers fail at one thing: teaching kids that the details of science can be beautiful. Whether it’s stop-action photography of the way a cheetah runs or sculpture made from cast-off electronics, there is subtle beauty in how our world works. That’s the idea behind SciArt in America, a bimonthly online publication that revels in these extraordinary images. Each story is lavishly illustrated and has explanatory text that can go a long way to creating a lesson plan. SciArt America should be required reading for any science teacher and available to any student. It’s a freebee, but they need donations to survive.

Freebee Friday: Education’s Future

Sttelcase white paperWe all know that technology is changing the way we teach and learn, but how far can it go and what can we do to help it along a little. Steelcase has surveyed students and teachers at 16 schools in the U.S., 10 of which were high schools, and found that many were creating their own digital content. Most classrooms are today a mix of high- and low-tech and that won’t change anytime soon. As a result, tomorrow’s classroom needs to accommodate both methods with flexible space management rather than a rigid grid of desks. You can read the company’s white paper “Technology-Empowered Learning: Six Spatial Insights.”



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