Best Technology Tools for the Classroom

This week was a holiday week, so I took a break from my Google-a-Day posts to let you know about a Jedi Mind Trick, and share an oldie-but-goodie. I’d shared this list with several educators, but never formally published it before. So, here they are!

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From K to 12 and Math to Science, there seems to be a technological tool for everything! But what’s the most Useful? Customizable? User-friendly? Below, I list my favorite free-or-cheap tools.

 

For quick assessments

Why waste paper, time on marking, and the risk of you dog eating your students’ homework? Get immediate results about where your students are (also known as formative assessment) to be able to better target your lessons.

  • Edmodo and Google Forms both allow you to create diverse question types and give quizzes to multiple students at one time. Both collect and store results in accessible ways.
  • Jeopardy: a more public form of collecting information about your students’ knowledge, motivate your students with this make-your-own Jeopardy game. You can fill in the boxes with vocabulary words or short answer questions, and it allows for team play as well.

 

Reading & Writing

What better way to engage your students than having them interact with their reading? Research demonstrates that teaching reading comprehension strategies has a strong effect on reading, and technology can help (Shanahan et al., 2010).

  • Visualizing & Summarizing: Anything from Google Image Search to using imdb to cast actors in roles in your books is a valuable visualization tool. On top of that, you can use pixlr or Over to create movie posters or other visuals, and photopeach, animoto, or storybird to make slideshows that allow for visualizing and summarizing.
  • Organizing: The following sites and apps have interactive graphic organizers that allow your students to organize their ideas in a visual way. These can be valuable as a summarizing tool, a “making connections” tool, a questioning tool, or for use during the pre-writing stage. Websites like holt and readwritethink have multiple graphic organizers to choose from, and my favorite apps are: kidspiration, inspiration, corkulous, tools4students.

 

Research

As students get older, they are required to do more and more research. This requires lots of organization and tools that support writing dreaded bibliographies or works cited pages.

  • Easybib and NoodleTools are both excellent sources for creating simple works cited pages, and have places to write notes from your reading as you go along.
  • For those with media literacy that can distinguish helpful sites from uninformed sites, Diigo Library is a wonderful tool that allows students to annotate websites. Diigo lets students highlight and add post-its to websites, and all of their notes end up in their Diigo library for easy access.
  • For those without sufficient internet know-how, teachers can create Google Sites with information that they know to be valuable and useful. This video tutorial or this step-by-step guide teach you the basics.

 

Math

There are numerous math tools that are targeted at specific tasks, which can be useful. My favorites are usually apps or websites that address multiple skills (so students become familiar with them), and which allow for data collection. Most math apps and sites are also helpful for their provision of  “immediate, targeted, and timely feedback,” which is the most effective type of feedback for student progress (Goodwin & Miller, 2012).

  • The site iXL allows teachers to track their students, and any incorrect answers are immediately explained, so students can learn as they practice.
  • In the app store, the McGraw Hill apps and the iTooch elementary and middle school math apps are fun, interactive, and informative.

 

One-stop shop

Overwhelmed by the list above? Want sites with several, diverse tools all in one place? Along with readwritethink, iTooch, and iXL, the following sites cover multiple disciplines:

  • PowerMyLearning links to math, language, science, and arts interactive games. Highly motivating with lots of choices!
  • Noodle links to video tutorials across subject domains, which can help students learn, then practice their skills (Full disclosure: I write for the site).

 

Happy 21st Century Teaching!

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