August 25, 2019

Family Fun Offers a Student Incentive

DODDs School Celebration

As an International Teacher  I created quarterly incentives that involved an interesting extra curricular activity to involve students and their families .  Students who kept their grades at a B average could participate in each Family Fun quarterly activity. Some of the regular quarterly activities included family picnics, hikes on Guam, beach picnics and BBQ;s at my home.

Because some students didn’t manage to keep the necessary grades to participate I also planned an activity once or twice  per school year related to a holiday and invited each student along with their parents. One particularly fun activity was a cookie baking party at my home. The kids and parents alike enjoyed that one and everyone went home with fresh baked cookies.

Requirements and activity parameters are different around the world so it’s important to plan activities through your administrator. I’ve been fortunate with schools and parents signing release forms and allowing participation in some unusual activities. My requirement has always been that at least one parent attend the event. Also on Guam when we went on jungle hikes we went with first aid supplies and a cell phone. We did some pretty amazing things, including a hike to Guam’s Pagat Cave. The cave contained a underground swimming hole and as I had been previously several times we hiked the mile or so into the jungle and swam in the cave by candle light. It was fun for everyone and the parents loved it. Today, I’m not sure I would plan such an extreme event, but it was well supervised with parents, myself, a DARE officer and release forms signed by every family.

The reality is that every student is not going to be able to earn incentives, so it’s important to plan at least one or two activities with your students outside the classroom where students, teacher and families can bond and enjoy wonderful day together. My years as an International Teacher created friendships with my students and their families that continue today. The activities and events I planned brought my students closer together and helped us bond each year as a class.

Pagat Cave You Tube video

Flickr Creative Commons Photo By: USACE Europe District

10 Free Tools for Parent Communication

Keeping parents up-to-date on what’s going on in the classroom can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately, there are many free tools on the web that can help teachers streamline the communication process and get parents the information they need. Here are 10 online tools that are free, helpful, and easy to use.

Edublogs – Created specifically for educators, Edublogs makes it easy for teachers to create free and fully customizable classroom blogs. Edublogs uses WordPress technology and provides technical support through their forums.

GroupTweet – GroupTweet is a unique Twitter application that can turn any Twitter account into a group communication hub that allows direct messages and group updates. Updates can be kept private with a protected profile.

Engrade – Used by 150,000+ teachers around the world, this useful suite of tools can keep parents up-to-date on assignments, grades, class events, and other important information. Engrade is private, free to use, and available to parents 24/7.

KeepandShare – KeepandShare is a free file sharing service that allows users to share files, slideshows, photos, online calendars, and other materials online. There is no software to install and all group members are automatically notified when a new file is added. KeepandShare also offers users complete control over who sees what within a group.

LearnCentral – This social network for education allows teachers to post learning content and host virtual meetings with two-way VoIP, multipoint video, an interactive whiteboard, application sharing, and other handy features.

Yugma – Yugma is a web conferencing and screen sharing service that works across multiple platforms. Teachers can use it to conduct free meetings with up to 20 attendees.

Phonevite – Phonevite is an award-winning web application that allows users to send free phone reminders and alerts in three easy steps. The app is a great for reminding parents about parent-teacher conferences and other special events.

Remember The Milk – Remember The Milk is a free, web-based task manager that works with Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, and other popular tools. Teachers can use it to share, send, and publish tasks, lists, and other information for parents.

Microsoft Office Online – Microsoft Office Online is a good place to find parent communication templates and forms. Some of the documents available for download include permission forms, progress reports, and parent message templates.

Education World – Education World also offers several useful templates for parent communication, including assignment notifications, conference reminders, permission slips, and progress reports. The templates can be edited, emailed, and printed.

This has been a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degrees for

Photo Credit: ChrisL – AK

3 Online Resources for the Modern High School Teacher

In the world of online teacher tips, high school educators often get the short end of the academic stick. For whatever reason, many of the lesson ideas tend to be geared towards younger students. Secondary educators, this article’s for you. [Read more...]

Learning Centers on the Cheap: Clothespin Math

Need a basic math center activity for multiple grade levels that will cost you next to nothing? Try this affordable idea that requires nothing but clothespins and index cards. [Read more...]

Physical Education: 7 Pieces of Equipment for a Frugal Program

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How To Work Around Paper and Copy Limits

Teachers are used to working with limited resources, but few issues impact your daily instruction as much as limits on paper, the number of copies you can make, or both. [Read more...]

20 Professional Development Resources for Teachers

For most teachers, education doesn’t end when a degree is earned. The teaching profession demands continuing education, and in certain cases, advanced education. Fortunately, there are many online resources that can help teachers with professional development. Here are 20 resources for educators to explore:

NCATE – The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredits schools, colleges and departments of education. The NCATE website is a good place to find lists of accredited institutions and scholarship resources.

NEA – The National Education Association (NEA) is an advocate for teachers and students. Members can access classroom management and professional development resources as well as web and print tools.

AFT – The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a teacher’s union that offers many interesting resources on their website. Teachers can view salary surveys, education news, and publications and reports on a wide range of topics.

ASCD – The ASCD is a non-profit organization with members in more than 100 countries. The organization offers an excellent professional development survey on their website as well as several other professional growth resources for teachers.

NBPTS – The National Board for Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a non-profit organization that was formed to advance the quality of teaching in schools. NBPTS offers information about education standards on their website and provides numerous development tools for teachers.

RISE – RISE (Resources for Indispensible Schools and Educators) is a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to connecting teachers with low-income public schools. Teachers can use the RISE site to search and apply for jobs.

PBS TeacherLine – This PBS site is an online professional development resource for teachers. TeacherLine provides standards-based graduate-level courses for credit as well as a few free resources to encourage professional growth.

Thinkfinity – The National Verizon Thinkfinity Training Program provides many free training opportunities and resources for educators and after-school practitioners. Offerings include state-specific professional development, instructional videos, and free courses for graduate credit. – offers many free professional development video courses to teachers. Courses cover a wide range of subjects and provide information on how to teach today’s standards-based curricula.

Teachers Network – The Teachers Network is an advocate for teacher leadership and student learning. The organization provides many free professional development resources for teachers, including articles, how-to’s, and lesson plans.

Teacher’s Domain – This online teacher library provides free digital media for the classroom and professional development. Teachers who register for a free account can store and share resources online.

TeachersFirst – TeachersFirst offers a series of free online education sessions for teachers. Known as OK2Ask, these sessions last approximately one hour and can be attended from any computer with an Internet connection.

The Teacher’s Podcast – The Teacher’s Podcast provides PD resources for teachers who are interested in integrating technology into the classroom.

We the Teachers – We the Teachers is a social network for teachers. It is a great place to meet other educators and discuss professional development opportunities.

The Apple – Created for current and future educators, this social network provides career advices, education resources, message boards, free job postings, and many other online resources.

Applebatch – This K-12 teacher community was created to help teachers advance their careers. Teachers can join groups in their profession, share resources, build their network, and apply for new jobs.

TeachAde – TeachAde is a social networking site for teachers and other education professionals. Members can network with other educators around the world, search for resources, and create resources of their own.

FolioSpaces – FolioSpaces is a unique social networking system that can be used to create free electronic portfolios.

Fund for Teachers – Fund for Teachers is a non-profit organization that provides teacher grants and other professional growth resources. New grants are awarded each year.

Scholarships and Grants for Teachers – This blog post provides information on a wide range of grants and scholarships for future and current teachers who are pursuing continuing education or degrees in education.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about online colleges for

Other articles from Karen:

Tuition-Free Education Courses for Teachers

25 Free Apps and Web Sites for Tech Loving Teachers

40 Places to Find Free Lesson Plans

Photo Credit: Trek Hound

Inexpensive Classroom Supplies for Teachers on a Budget

Times are tight for schools everywhere. Teachers who do have a classroom supplies budget with their school or PTO are needing to pare things down as much as possible. Most are still dipping into their own monies to make ends meet in the classroom. With the economy as sluggish as it is, purchasing classroom supplies with take home pay is getting harder and harder to justify on the home front. Need some ideas for teaching on the cheap? Here’s a list of articles on supplies, resources and project ideas for saving money in the classroom.

Other ideas would include checking out the classroom cheapies at Dollar Tree, or using the inexpensive classroom hacks suggested in this article, such as art smocks and hula hoops. Do you have a great idea for affordable classroom supplies or resources posted on your blog or web site? Our goal is to turn this page into a comprehensive resource for teachers searching for cheap teaching ideas. Contact us with your site’s URL, and we’ll be in touch about a link exchange. In the meantime, please feel free to post a comment below. We love to hear from readers.

Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet

6 Strategies for an Inviting Classroom

While structure and the feeling of a serious learning environment are important, an inviting classroom where students feel secure and welcome is also critical to achieving inclusion for all students. Here are six different strategies for increasing the comfort factor of your classroom. [Read more...]

Spelling Activities: 27 Ways to Practice in Style

Spelling lists are a necessary part of our weekly routine. We all want our students to do well, but still need to spend time creating exciting lessons for the rest of the curriculum. So how do we keep the spelling activities familiar enough to allow for self direction, yet fresh enough that the students won’t balk at the idea of doing them? Here are twenty-seven tips for primary through high school to help get you started. [Read more...]