Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tech Tools For Teachers

I realized that I have done quite a few picture-heavy posts recently so I thought I'd mix it up with some words. My apologies to all the visual peeps out there. The past two days were spent at an awesome workshop put on by our district to help the teachers learn cool things to do with technology in their classrooms. Now this could go one of two ways: horrible because it's all superfluous information or superb because it's all super helpful stuff. Lucky for us it was the latter!

Our district is fortunate enough to participate in a 1:1 program. For those of you outside of the education world this means that every student has a laptop. Sometimes this can be stressful for those of us who like the "old school" method of pencil and paper, but 99% of the time it is awesome! There is a world of possibility at our fingertips the moment those kids log onto their computers. All types of learners are given an incredible opportunity that would not be available to them the "old school" way. For example, last year my students made their own "choose your own ending" stories in Keynote (powerpoint on Macbooks) with their own pictures and tales to show their knowledge of the elements of literature. How cool is that?!? Pretty freaking cool to this dork!

A downside to all the options out there is that there are so many. It can often be difficult to sift out the good among the bad. Thanks to all of the stellar tech people in our district, most of the work is done for us! Here is a list of some of the new tools I cannot wait to use with this year's kiddos:

  • SAS Curriculum Pathways: a totally FREE (a teacher's favorite words) tool covering all the major core classes. It even links up with the Standard Course of Study (now referred to as the Common Core here in NC) and shows lessons under each goal. Does it get much better than that? Nope!
  • Google Earth: Seriously awesome tool. I could probably write an entire post about the stellarness of Google (and I probably will one day), but this tool stands out. Want to take your kids to the site of a major battle? How about taking them on the path of a character in novel? Want to show them Japan before and after the tsunami? How about measuring the distance between two locations? You can do all of those things and more!
  • Poll Everywhere: Want to take a random poll of your students? Do it here! Could be used as a quick assessment of who is getting the material and who isn't or as an exit pass from class. Super easy to use. They can submit their answers on the website or through text messages. A teacher allowing texting in class? I'm pretty sure every kid would be on board!
  • Jeopardy Labs: Who doesn't love reviewing with jeopardy? This can often be a tedious (and not to mention time-consuming) activity for a teacher to create which can be a deter rant to using it in class. Not anymore! Kids can even create their own to quiz each other.
  • Xtra Normal: An awesome website that allows kids to create their own cartoons about any topic. Only downside to this is it can be super slow when you try to use it with an entire class at one time.
  • Prezi: An alternative the dull powerpoint. 
There were oodles more, but I don't want to bore y'all to death. Hit up Box of Tricks for an A-Z comprehensive list of more activities and websites. Not a teacher? Still lots of cool things you can do with your kids to enhance their learning, or your own school/work activities. Happy tootling around!

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