A seating chart is one of the most important tools in a teacher’s arsenal in classroom management. Happy Class makes this an easy task and potentially saves hours and hours of work.
First you setup your classroom with the seats arranged they are in your classroom. Next you input the names of your students. Much like any other seating chart app, Happy Class automatically arranges all of the students in a random order. The power comes in teaching Happy Class the relationships of the students.
Happy Class allows you to teach it which students work well next to each other and which students should not sit next to each other. This is an awesome power to have! I have used it for one class so far and it helped me tremendously. I projected the seating chart onto the screen and had the students find their new seats. I was able to easily tweak the new seating chart on the fly by dragging the names of students to the corresponding seats.
Overall, Happy Class worked really well. I was very impressed with the interface and ease of use. It is free to use for one classroom and one roster of students. In my opinion the price of $15/yr is steep for the Pro account. The Pro account does allow an unlimited number of students, unlimited number of classrooms, and unlimited number of class rosters.
Again, for one teacher this seems overly expensive, however if you work in a team of teachers the $15 could be divided by the number of teachers on your team. My only concern would be as the number of teachers using the same account increase so do the chances that someone will accidentally mess up another teacher’s classroom.
Happy Class is a very cool concept and worth a look. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I have since run into problems using Happy Class. I have contacted tech support several times and alerted them via Twitter also. My problems have not been resolved. In a large class with many relationships, it is freezing on Achieving Happiness. This has been a huge frustration.
I’ve been using Nearpod in my classroom the past few weeks to enhance the old boring PowerPoint and get some engagement at the same time. Nearpod is an app for IOS or Android but you have to upload your content first using the Web Interface at http://www.nearpod.com
It is free to use with a limited amount of space to upload or create your own NPPs as they are called in Nearpod-ese. There are also many NPPs available to use for free that have been shared by other users. Some sets cost additional money, for example Time for Kids costs $14.95 for the set at the time of this writing.
I used Nearpod to check students’ understanding when introduce coefficients and subscripts for chemical formulas for chemistry. I had the original PowerPoint on my screen at the front of class while I created an NPP with, “draw it” slides where students could write and submit answers.
It worked well. I ran into two problems. The first one was that Nearpod kept complaining that I had over 50 students connected when in fact my largest class has 32 students in it. The second problem I had is when I shared out student answers. Some students just got a blank screen instead of the shared student screen.
Overall I think that it is an app I will use again. It does require some prep to use before class, but I think it can be worth the student engagement and results that I am able to get from the teacher app.
A few weeks ago I introduced my classes to a classroom economy. For those of you unfamiliar with a classroom economy, it is a system setup for classroom management and introduces students to how an economy works.
The system can be as simple or complex as you like. I am using the system available for free at http://www.myclassroomeconomy.org/
Everything you need is on the website, or if you don’t have access to a printer, they will mail you everything you need for free. I am mostly using the resources available for Grades 7-8 since I teach 8th grade science. I modified some of the jobs and added a few that are specific just to my classroom. For example I have an Entrance Door Monitor and an Exit Door Monitor. The Entrance Door Monitor makes sure students coming into the classroom get their daily warm-up.
The gist of a classroom economy is that every student has a job that they get paid for in classroom dollars. They are responsible for paying for rent of their desks and/or chairs. Most of the jobs pay around $150/week while rent costs $800/month. Students get paid extra for high scores on tests or participation in extra-curricular activities.
One thing that was keeping from trying this sooner was keeping track of what I called, “Kubala Dolla’s.” After much searching, I found an online bank created for this particular purpose. You can setup a free account at http://www.mykidsbank.org/ You will have to setup accounts for all of your students, but I find that this is much easier than keeping up with all of that paper.
One of the best things about mykidsbank.org is that you can print your own money in denominations of your choosing. Each bill you print will have its’ own unique code so students just can’t go and make copies of them. They will have to enter the code whenever they deposit their cash into the bank.
Since I use mykidsbank.org, the Banker’s job is a little different than what is described on myclassroomeconomy.org. My bankers are responsible for taking fines out of students’ accounts issued by the Police Officer. Bankers also make transfers when a student writes a check. I made my own check template which you can download from: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gjaqjbrf62416rk/Checks_template.docx
This upcoming week will be the first time students have to pay rent, so we will see how many students have saved enough money. I am still formulating a plan for those students who do not have enough money for rent.
I will post more about the success and challenges that I face with this system in the future.