Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ClassCharts - A Classroom Management Tech Tool Worth a Look

If you have not checked out ClassCharts yet, it is worth giving it a look. This past year in my school my special area teachers were looking for a mechanism to provide consistency with behavioral expectations across all classes.  ClassCharts is a tool that can give them that consistency in a unified fashion without unending meetings and set-up time.  I intend to suggest it to them when they return for next school year.

I had an opportunity to test drive the Website with a free account. ClassCharts is a free teacher tool created by teachers in the UK. As one who finds visuals very appealing when working or learning, this tool is well suited for my needs.  The ClassCharts interface provides teachers with a data-rich seating chart that provides  flexibility and customization for various classroom needs and functions.

At its core, ClassCharts is a seating chart, into which you can import pictures of the students and arrange them according to your classroom layout.  The system then allows you to add specific data about your students that can appear on the seating chart.  Some of the built-in fields include, behavior data, aftercare status, free meals, gender, group, literacy target, and reading age.  Fields can be added to meet the data needs of your classroom.  A teacher can then have the 4 most pertinent pieces of information visible on the chart, which can be printed or viewed on the computer or mobile device, while all of the other data can be seen in reports or other views on the computer.

It is a rather simple set-up and the knowledge base section of the website is quite well done. There are video tutorials for some of the main functions and informative descriptions to help with most questions. There is a digital brochure that discusses some of the major components, but I suggest setting up a free account and taking it for a test drive.

Two of the features that I was most impressed with include the collaboration tool and the ability to upload students via excel spreadsheet. Collaboration allows teachers to be consistent over the course of a day, a week, a month, etc.
By sharing students with colleagues teachers can have a fluid view of various data, including behavior.  This enables them to respond appropriately. The system allows teachers to award points for positive behaviors and subtract points for negative behaviors. Depending upon your philosophy with this type of information their are also functions that allow for giving access to real-time data to parents and the students via individual accounts. From a practicality perspective, the ability to upload a spreadsheet of students is very important since most districts can provide teachers with a CSV file that would be easily uploaded from Excel.

I can't stress enough the flexibility of the tool and its visual nature. It makes the data easily accessible and user-friendly. The long and short of it is that I recommend taking a look at this versatile tool.  It will be a wonderful way to manage some key classroom data, collaborate with colleagues, and provide substitute teachers with printed visuals that they need. Also, as a teacher created tool, using it supports innovation among educators world-wide.

Also, if you are an edmodo user, it is currently (as of this post) the #1 free app in the edmodo store and can be downloaded right into edmodo! (Note - you do not need to use edmodo to use ClassCharts)

After you try it, I'd love to hear your comments below!

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