I have been attending many summer learning opportunities and I love that many include some wonderful tools, but sometimes I am left feeling concerns such as, “Why would I integrate this into my curriculum and classroom structure?” It’s not for a lack of the learning specialist explaining the critical information, it was a lack of my own personal connections.
There are always going to be new shiny tools to use within your learning environment, but sometimes you just have to work with a few with fidelity to implement them with your intended purpose at the forefront of these instructional decisions. I am happy to share 10 of my favorite tools that I have utilized with fidelity in my 4-5th grade classes within the last few years! I also wish to share the how and why I chose these tools. These are not ranked in any particular order. I also want to emphasize that I have never been have 1-1 devices, so please know utilizing each of these tools regularly IS possible!
I am always happy to collaborate about how to integrate technology and enrich student learning through technology, so please feel free to follow me on Twitter @AGlover4EDU, LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/AGlover4EDU, Instagram @AGlover4EDU, or follow this blog to email me!
Why? Personalized, Blended Learning and Family Engagement
PowerMyLearning is a nonprofit organization focused on involving all stakeholders in a child’s learning experience (teachers, child, family). This tool has a fully functioning, free platform which integrates with single sign-on systems such as Clever. I have incorporated PML into the core delivery of my instruction through personalized and differentiated playlists of digital content, and check points for the standards being addressed. The School Edition features allow for “Communities” where teachers can create an online space to facilitate PLCs, professional development, share resources, and so much more. The “Family Playlists” truly includes all stakeholders in the child’s learning process while at home.
Please watch this brief video to learn more.
Accessibility: I have found PowerMyLearning teacher functionalities to be better when on a laptop, tablet, or desktop. Student playlists can be done on mobile device, but are run optimally on most tablets, laptops, and desktops.
2. Microsoft OneNote/ClassNotebook
Why? Microsoft OneNote/ClassNotebook differentiated instructional delivery, student created portfolios
Microsoft OneNote is a part of the Office 365 suite which is also easily integrated into single sign-on systems such as Clever. You can create an account and work online, from any device, anywhere, or you can download the free app and updated content you create will automatically save and sync to all devices (when logged into Office 365 account). Think of this as a digital binder with endless tabs and pages! Here is an example of a ClassNotebook I created for my 5th grade science class. You will notice the Collaboration space where all participants in the notebook can modify content. Within the Content Library, the teacher can insert the activities, tables, or lesson materials for students to access, but not to be modified. Student have their own personal notebook section to complete assignments. The teacher can see all student sections in order to check progress and leave immediate feedback.
Accessibility: I have found OneNote online, app, or desktop to work on most mobile and laptop/desktops. For easier access, download the app on your mobile device or computer, or simply work from online.
Why? Promote student voice
Flipgrid is now completely free for all educators! Create an account, begin a grid, give your student’s the code and password, then get started! The directions and settings for beginning a grid and specified topics is quite intuitive. Students do not need to input any personal data in order to begin the process of recording their video responses. They simplify type the code/password into the website or app, and press the big green plus sign to record. You can also find tons of networking support by searching social media for #FlipgridFever.
This year my 4th graders and I used Flipgrid in order to get to know one another and share our spring break adventures. We also created boards in which my two sessions could post solutions to mathematical topics and then respond to one another with clarifying questions, compliments, or comparing strategies.
You can also learn more by joining the Microsoft Educator Community and taking the “Amplifying Student Voice” course free!
Accessibility: Flipgrid is available on all devices, however does require access to the devices camera and microphone for optimal use of features.
Why? Engaging online assessments
Kahoot has been one of my student’s and school’s favorite assessment tools. You could use both formally and informally, to review, preview, or guide instruction, but any way you use it, students love it. From the music, to the timer countdown, to the ability to intended collaboration, you can not go wrong. Through out the school year, one of my favorite things to do is allow students to create a Kahoot about themselves, and we will take time to learn about them through this engaging assessment. Also, students love to contribute to the creation of content questions- what a great holistic informal assessment- not only do student’s need to know the content, but they also need to understand how to analyze the answer options provided.
Watching this video to learn more about creating a Kahoot quiz, discussion, or survey.
Accessibility: Kahoot can be created or played through mobile devices or laptops/desktops.
5. Legends of Learning
Why? Gamify your science standards
Teaching science has never been more fun with using a skill my students are already proficient at- gaming! These in house curated games for grades 3-8 are unique and complete aligned to NGSS, TEKS, SOL, and GSE standards. Teachers can begin with a FREE trial and earn their Legends of Learning cape just by assigning student’s playlists and referring friends to join in the fun.
With their diverse group of super hero characters, attractive colors, and ease of use, it is difficult to stop when trying out the games before the students play! Join on Twitter the first Monday of each month for their #LegendaryChat from 8:00-8:30 pm EST.
Accessibility: Legends of Learning will work on Chromebooks, recent iPads, iPad Air 4, iPad Pros, and laptop/desktop computers. Android tablets and smartphones are not officially supported.
Why? Student Choice for content creation
Buncee explains Buncee best. “A creation and presentation tool for students and educators to create interactive classroom content, allowing learners of all ages to visualize concepts and communicate creatively.” Students love choices, and I love providing them, when it does not negatively impact their level of learning. Buncee definitely does not negatively impact, well anything! This tool’s rich graphics, background, and animations are a child’s instructional designing playground, and all are designed IN HOUSE (meaning they have some amazingly talented artists)!
You could also use Buncee for professional reasons such as PD presentations, business cards (such as mine pictured above), e-learning presentation, and so much more.
Watch this brief video for a tutorial from ambassador Stacy Roshan.
You can learn more by joining the Microsoft Educator Community and taking the “Digital Composition and Authentic Audience” course for FREE!
Accessibility: Buncee integrates with Google Classroom and Microsoft. It is available for use through the app version or the website which sync automatically when logged in!
7. Office Lens
Why? Digital organization for documents
I despise when I go into a faculty meeting for an hour or more and leave with 17,000 papers. Office Lens has saved my professional life because it helps me better organize those documents, instead of me loosing them in 0.5 seconds and feeling silly asking for it, again. Download the Office Lens app and snap a picture of a document. The app automatically crops the document so that it looks like a clear copy. Wouldn’t this be great for digital student portfolio evidence? Snap a picture, choose the location to send the photo to, and you’re done. I typically choose to place the picture into a current OneNote.
You can learn more by joining the Microsoft Educator Community and take the “Office Lens + OneNote” course for FREE!
Accessibility: The Office Lens app is available on HoloLens, laptop and desktop computers, and most mobile devices.
8. Makey Makey
Why? Hands-on Computational Thinking and Inquiry Based Learning
Computational thinking are fancy words for problem solving through decomposition, pattern matching, abstraction, and algorithms. By allowing students to make, like through using the Makey Makey kits, they are guiding their own inquiry (aligned with a standard or not) in order to find their desired solution. Specific kits are sold with varying materials, based on desired project based learning activities, and are very affordable with ranges from $20-50 per kit.
Watch this video for some amazing examples of what you can do with Makey Makey.
Accessibility: Makey Makey works with laptops and desktops, and needs a USB port.
9. SAM Labs
Why? Hands-on Computational Thinking and Physical Computing
Again, some fancy words for problem solving and using some hardware to bring your solutions to life. SAM Lab is a great way for students of all ages (recommended second grade and up) to play with the tools within the kit and make coding interactive. NO, teachers do not have to be a coding expert. If you understand that circuits need to be connected to work… you have down the basics already. With SAM Labs standard aligned, pre-designed, teacher vetted lessons (currently for ages 8-12, but more are coming) teachers from all subject areas could integrate these durable kits into their units.
Be sure to subscribe to their Youtube channel to take advantage of their video resources, tutorials and webinars. Kits range between $150 and up, however, the products are durable and long lasting, therefore the investment will have a long-term return. I loved it so much, I became a SAMbassador!
Accessibility: This is just too much to restate so here’s their recommendations! 🙂 “Windows 10 (Creator Update), MacOS (v10.7+), Chromebooks such as CTL J5, Samsung Chromebook Plus, Asus Flip C213N, Acer Chromebook 11, Dell Chromebook 11 318, HP x360 11 G1, Lenovo N42 Chromebook, Samsung Galaxy Tab (KitKat Android v4.4+), iPads only (iPad 3 and above), iOS 9 or higher, MacOS 10.10+ (Yosemite), ChromeOS, Android (6.0+)”
Why? Digital communication with families
One of my goals this year was to continue to improve communication with families about upcoming events, successes, academic deadlines or calendar events, and more. After downloading the Remind App, you simply give the parent an access code in which they type into their app which links your accounts. Think of it as a untraceable text to families. With our strict district policies about communication being conducted in our email, I had responses turned off, however, notifications could still be pushed out to families.
Oh and did I mention you can send messages in over 70 different languages? Use this in conjunction with the PowerMyLearning Family Playlist and your family engagement will be through the roof!
Accessibility: The Remind app is available on devices that have access to the App Store (iOS) and the Google Play Store (Android). We also have a desktop app for Mac’s”