My school district sponsored a fantastic technology conference this summer with ideas on technology for teachers and students. I was lucky enough to present at this conference, and you can find a video of my presentation in this past blog post. In addition to being able to share information about using technology in math instruction with other teachers, I was able to attend all of the other sessions. The amount I learned from the other teachers was tremendous. So today I'd like to pay that forward and share some of what I learned with you guys.
Here are 10 different tech tools that I'd never heard of before this conference.
1.) Peardeck - This presentation tool allows you to upload Power Point or Google Slide presentations. You can then share these presentations with your students in a format that they cannot edit. However, they can follow along on their own screen. Additionally, you can add questions and polls to make your presentation more interactive, as well as allowing for formative assessments.
2.) Adobe Spark - Getting students to work on graphic design is always a great way to add to research presentations because it increases engagement and exposes students to methodologies that they can use as grown ups. With Adobe Spark, students get to use graphic design to create webpages, images (think pinterest infographics), flyers, photo collages or narrated videos. It's almost like Publisher online! I'm going to have my students start out the year by creating a picture collage about themselves WITHOUT using any pictures of themselves. How could you integrate this?
3.) DeckToys - The big trend at my school for the one-to-one classrooms is hyperdocs. If you haven't checked out hyperdocs yet, they're worth a look and I'll have a blog post coming up shortly that addresses just them. However, at the conference we learned about a took that takes hyperdocs to the next level (and beyond), if you have the time to make them. In a hyperdoc, students use a document with embeded links to guide them through a lesson or a unit (similar to a webquest). With DeckToys, the students do all of the same things, but it feels to the students like they're playing a video game.
From the student side, they see a map with tasks that they have to complete in order to move on to the next task. As a teacher, you can embed videos, create drag and drop games, flash cards and questions as the tasks. It's a fairly straightforward system. I created a game for our first story in a couple of hours. While I probably won't use a DeckToys for every lesson, it's definitely something I want to include in my students' learning. I'd also love to turn the tables and get my kiddos creating their own games for each other!
4.) Scratch and Starlogo Nova - Coding! There are so many ways to work on coding with students, but these two sites were presented at the conference. Both allow students to use "puzzle pieces" to create code for a small avatar. This visual model guides students through boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and If....then statements. If only as an "early finisher" activity, these are great sites and every class should get a chance to experience them!
Learning & Practicing Websites
5.) Wordsmyth - Unlike the other websites on this list, this website was not the focus of an entire session. It was one of those websites that came up in conversation, but it's awesome. Wordsmyth is a great online dictionary that includes 3 levels of definition for each word, synonyms, pictures, pronunciation and word parts. I completely plan on using this website within my vocabulary instruction this year!
6.) Quizlet - With this website you can create and share flash card sets with your students. These can be vocabulary words or any other matching activity. Students can practice the flash card set in multiple ways including matching, typing, playing games and even taking a quiz. It's a great way to introduce students to a new topic or to review before a test. Students can even take a turn creating their own quizlets!
Google Chrome Extensions
7.) Google Keep - This is one of those tools that will truly change the way you organize your time. I have started using it at home, and it's incredibly helpful! But the truth is it's just a virtual form of post it notes. It's funny how the simple ones are always the game changers, right?
Within Google Keep, you (and your students) can create and share to-do lists or take notes. You can also save specific websites and documents as links into these online post it notes. And you can color code different categories or subject areas.
In the classroom, this means students can take notes on a research topic and share it with their group mates. It means they can create a group to-do list and each check off tasks that get done. It also means YOU can make personalized or group lists and share them with your students. You can then see their progress through the list.
Outside of the classroom, you can create and share lists with your PLC or grade level team. You can use different colors to quickly see school checklists next to at home checklists. I even use it for my grocery list! (It's so satisfying to see items I've purchased disappear from my list!)
8.) Stop Motion Animator - Stop Motion Animator is not actually new to me, but I've only used it on a tablet in the past. I had no idea that there was a Google Chrome Extension that would give you access to the program - as long as your computer has a camera. The presenter who showed us Stop Motion Animator was actually using it with PreK students and the results were amazing. The students used stuffed animals and their Chromebook to create a video re-telling of a story they had read. It was simple to do. They worked in groups, and they showed real understanding of the story. If PreK students can do that, I can't wait to see what my 3rd graders can do when I set them lose on it.
9.) Snap & Read - Another Chromebook Extension that will change the lives of your students, especially your struggling readers. This extension allows your students to have any website or PDF read to them. Read that sentence again - an extension that will read aloud to your students ANY WEBSITE, ANY PDF, ANY DOCUMENT. It also has a feature which will simplify texts, define terms and translate texts into languages.
Think about how much easier it will be for a student with dyslexia if they can have their exit tickets given to them in PDF format and then have this extension read it to them, as many times as they like. They can do research just like the rest of the class and they won't feel like they're different. Honestly this is the tool I got the most excited about because I had 4 students this year who could have benefited greatly from this tool.
10.) Co-Writer - This Chromebook Extension is the opposite of Snap and Read. Instead of reading for your struggling students, it will write for them. Students speak into a microphone and the program writes out the sentences they say. It will read it back to them and allow them to change their spelling and grammar as needed. But the idea is that students can go ahead and write out their essay without stressing out over every single word.
I know this is a long, somewhat overwhelming list. It's a whole conference full of materials! But please bookmark it so that as the school year begins you can revisit the list and see which of these tech tools will best help your students. Also, feel free to share it with your PLC or teaching team. The more we learn from each other the better we all do for our students!
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