I have been in school for more than a month now, so I wanted to reflect a little bit on how I have used tech tools this year. It can be overwhelming to think about all of the tools out there, and it can seem like you are never doing enough. I am trying to fight against that tendency by thinking about the tools that I have started using and how they are improving my teaching, no matter how many other tools there are that I would like to use.
I learned about a lot of tech tools this summer through Jennifer Gonzalez‘s JumpStart course and TeachersFirst‘s summer book study. I tried out a lot of tools and made big plans on using them in the classroom. While all of those plans haven’t worked out, I have used some new tools this year that I am excited about.
Last year, the biggest tech tool that I used in my teaching was Google Drive: Docs, Slides, Forms, and Sheets. I used Slides to teach art history, Docs to make spelling lists, Forms to give formative assessments, and Sheets to keep grades and take attendance. This is an example list–everything I created I saved on my Google Drive. I also used Plickers for grammar instruction and other skills, including practicing author’s purpose. Occasionally, I used ShowMe to create videos to share with my parents to help with math homework. I would post videos walking them through how our curriculum solved certain problems so they knew how to help their children with their homework. Those were the three main tools that I used last year.
This year, I still use all of those tools, but I have added a few more. I created a Google Site for my classroom where I post pictures, videos, assignments, and other announcements for my students and parents to check out. I use Smore to make my weekly newsletter to share with parents. I think it is more visually pleasing than Google Docs, which I used last year. I have also added a video newsletter each week using Animoto. I take pictures of my students working throughout the week, and then I upload them into a video slideshow to share with my parents. I have gotten feedback from several parents, and students, that they really enjoy watching the video each week! I have also used Screencast-O-Matic to teach my students how to use some new tech tools themselves. So far, I have created screencasts for ThingLink and ReadWriteThink’s Trading Card. My students have used these videos to show some of their learning in creative ways!
So, I used three tech tools last year, and I have added three new tools this year. I think I am off to a good start. As for a plan for the rest of the year, I plan on teaching my students how to use Vocaroo to make some simple audio recordings. I would love to do some podcasting with my students since I love podcasts, but I want to see how they do/how they like audio recording with Vocaroo first. I also want to introduce blogging to my students–I think it might help encourage some of my more reluctant writers–using a no-login platform such as Throwww, Pen.io, or Loose Leaves. I have used BigHugeLabs to create some visual information about the IB program that my school is a part of, and I think it is a site that my students would like. My students are currently taking a photography workshop, so BigHugeLabs or Animoto would be great resources for them to share their photographs.
I’ll check back in a few months and see if I have added any more tech tools to my and my students’ toolboxes.