Transitioning in the classroom seems like a small thing. It only takes a few minutes to transition from one subject/class to another. If the kids are running a bit slow, 2-3 minutes might turn into 5-6 minutes or more. That is a small amount, right?
Take into consideration the number of times a day you are transitioning from one thing to another. Is it 4,5,6…more? Let’s settle on 6 transitions a day. At 5 minutes each you have just used a half-hour of teaching time…each day! That is 2.5 hours a week. For a 36 week schedule that is 90 hours a year. It adds up fast. Imagine being able to get even half of that time back…
Teachers are finding that music is a great way to make transitions smoother and more efficient in their classroom. By spending a few minutes to introduce the concept they are saving hours in the long run. Students will quickly associate the song to the task at hand and start the process as soon as they hear it. By utilizing the same song every day, students also start to understand how much time they have by recognizing how much of the song is left. Add in the fact that it is more fun than hearing the teacher say 25 times that “it is time to go” and I am sold!
I know what many of you may be thinking, “That is a great idea, but how am I going to get that done every day? I have enough trouble keeping up with what I am doing now.” I hear you loud and clear. You don’t need another thing to do every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to set your computer to automatically play your transitions every day? Let me introduce you to the Task Scheduler.
The Task Scheduler can be accessed through your start menu under accessories. It will allow you to set as many tasks as you want, as often as you want. All you will need to do is have your music files stored on your computer so they can be accessed by the scheduler. To learn how to schedule tasks, a cheat sheet has been created to walk you through the process on a Windows machine.
If you are looking for some music to use for this task or for any other projects you are doing in class, FreePlayMusic.com is a great place to go. All the music there is royalty and copyright free. It is all instrumental so you have no worries about lyrics either. To learn more about FreePlayMusic and how to download from the site, refer to this cheat sheet.
Both cheat sheets are located on the iCafe website.
Gain some of your valuable classroom time back. Give the Task Scheduler a try!
The beginning of another school year is upon us. It is time for you to get to know your students and your students to get to know each other! Find below three different app projects that can be done to help your students introduce themselves to each other.
Tellagami is a free app that can allows students to create a video up to 30 seconds long. They first create an avatar and can then add a background image. Record your voice into the app and your video is complete! Download it to your camera roll to view from there, email, or share through another avenue. To learn more about Tellagami check out this post.
Fotobabble is another free app that would be great for students to create their introduction. Take a picture or create one on the iPad, then use it as the background for your Fotobabble recording. You are not limited to 30 seconds with this app. The video will be uploaded to the Fotobabble site and a link can be provided for playback.
Chatterpix for Kids
A third free app I want to share is Chatterpix for Kids. It allows you to take any image you have and make it speak! It is very easy to use. Children of all ages are able to use it independently. Your video can be saved to your camera roll, so you have access to use it however you like. To learn more about this app, check out this post.
Over the summer, one of the books I read was Drive by Daniel Pink. It was a good read for me. Even though it is centered around the business world, there are many aspects of it that would greatly benefit the educational world as well. The one that stands out in my head most of all is the need for autonomy: giving people the freedom/independence to do something they find value in. He talks of companies allowing time for their workers to take on a project that means something to them and then, most importantly, allowing extra time for them all to share what they have come up with. Giving them this time has proven time and again to be beneficial not just for the employees but also for the company. Some of their new products, or fixes/improvements for some of their existing products, have directly resulted from this “free time”. It also gives the employees an investment in the company. They feel that they are part of the company, not just working for it. Isn’t this something every classroom, campus, and district should thrive for?
I am here to challenge every teacher and administrator. Find a way to incorporate this aspect in your classroom, campus, or district this year. As a teacher, try a genius hour or 20% time project with your class, whether it be finding an hour a week or maybe one day/afternoon a 6-weeks or 9-weeks. Give your students a chance to learn about something they choose. Let them find a passion that they can truly invest in, then let them take time to work to create or improve something related to that passion.
As an administrator, incorporate the same concept with your staff. Take a staff development day and allow teachers to team up and work together on an issue or passion that they feel would benefit your campus/district. Total autonomy to solve a problem that they see with the students, whether it be a teaching strategy, a schedule change, or a new bus procedure (to name a few) could reshape your campus. These people devote their lives to improving the lives of others. Give them a chance to invest in their campus…take ownership of it…and provide new, innovative ways to improve it. They know better than anyone where the needs are and may have the best way to address those needs.
Do not forget that there must be time allowed to come back and share, whether it be a classroom of students or a campus of teachers. Celebrate what they have accomplished. You may be surprised…the “problem” you have been working to solve for years just may appear.