Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School with US Cellular

It is amazing how quickly this summer flew by, and now we are in the trenches of “back to school.”  I have to say that I really love this time of year, the weather has cooled down some (not that Maine is known for crazy hot weather, but humidity, yes), and we are ready to get back into a routine after a summer of doing whatever we felt like doing.

This year we started school a month earlier than normal, and I am finding that there are so many ways technology is helping me along this year!

In this day and age, technology is everywhere.  Kids are given laptops to use in middle school, and even some kindergarten classes in my state are giving kids Apple iPads to utilize with their classes.  What a difference from when I was in school.

According to a recent survey by US Cellular, 74% of households have at least one tablet.  Tablets and smartphones are becoming a simple tool which ensures students are staying on top of their schoolwork.  They aren’t just for entertainment!

Did you know that according to a Student Mobile Device survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 87% of students would prefer to have digital textbooks so they don’t have to carry so much in their backpacks?  Yes, I remember those first days of school quite well, coming home with a back ache because I had so many books to carry home with me!

I talked a bit on Tuesday about how we keep track of the kids work for homeschool reporting purposes, and I thought I would expand on that a bit today.  One of the biggest things that I do with my iPhone 5s is take pictures – a lot of pictures.  I’m sure I am not in the minority here.

When I was trying to figure out how to keep track of all of the work my kids do throughout the year, big projects, science experiments, showing that they are doing some sort of physical exercise, the easiest thing I could think of was to take a lot of pictures.  With the option of Instagram and their very cool filters, I know that at the end of the year I will have a ton of beautiful pictures that I can then use to show what my children have done throughout the year.

Pictures aren’t the only way that you can help your kids (homeschooled or otherwise) keep up with school.  There are so many great apps out there to help you keep up with all the paper that seems to come through the house.  One of my favorites is Dropbox.  It is a cloud-based file sharing and storage app, and it is free – we love free!  It is easy for students to save their work and just put it in Dropbox for the teacher to grab.  No paper!  I love that.

Another app that I just recently learned about is Notability.  It allows users to complete worksheets, sketch ideas, keep a journal, integrate photos and record a lecture, keeping it all in one place. 

The integration of technology into the classroom is incredibly important these days.  Our children are growing up in a completely new world from when we were going to school, and utilizing technology every day is a part of that new world.  I love that US Cellular has such great 4G LTE coverage, which makes keeping up with school on the go (for us homeschoolers) super easy.  When we are at the museum and the kids have more questions than the little plaque has answers, I can bring up my good friend Google and figure out an answer for them!

I’m happy to report that US Cellular is donating $1 million to fund teacher classroom projects through its Calling All Teachers program.  Last year, the company donated $500,000 towards educational materials for improved classroom performance.  US Cellular is working with for the fourth time and encourages teachers to post their projects on the site for potential funding. is a charity website that helps teachers identify funds from corporate and individual donations for classroom projects.

Through US Cellular’s ongoing commitment to the community and education, they have contributed more than $7 million through this and other philanthropic programming.  Starting today K-12 public school teachers can register online at and affiliate as a U.S. Cellular teacher. Then they can start posting their classroom projects for funding consideration. Through U.S. Cellular has funded more than 4,500 classroom projects to date, which included technology tools, art equipment and science experiments. All projects must be submitted by September 21 to be eligible for this year’s funding.  Selected projects will be in announced in October.

While kids have access to all of this technology to help them with school, it is also a good time to remember to have a discussion with your kids about what is acceptable technology usage – especially in a classroom environment.  A great way to start the conversation with your kids is to use the Parent Child Technology Use AgreementWe want our children to be safe while utilizing the best of what technology offers. 

I am a member of the US Cellular Blogger Brigade and was compensated for this post, however, as always, the opinions are my own.

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