Thursday, June 23, 2016

Straight Outta the Classroom - My Favorite Tech Tools


My name is Fern Johnson and this is my inaugural blog post as the new instructional technology specialist!  As the new kid on the block (ahem...kid might be stretching it), I wanted to share 5 tech tools that transformed my classroom management, students, and even parent communication.  I challenge you this summer to explore just one new tool or get a deeper understanding of a tool you might already know how to use.

A highly engaging quizzing tool designed to be used for quick assessments both in and out of the classroom.  I especially enjoyed the ability to assign a "Quizizz" as homework and then use the immediate feedback to formulate my small groups the next day. And did I mention that Quizizz grades for you!

This is a very user friendly and low-tech tool that has endless possibilities for classroom use.  Basically, it is a roulette wheel where you can customize the choices on which the spinner will land.  I initially used this as
intended to randomly select students for various classroom activities, but I quickly discovered this could be so much more.  Think of any activity that can give students a choice (independent work problems, scavenger hunts, tutorial times/days, book selections, etc...), and use the wheel!
If you haven't heard of Google Classroom, then please check it out as soon as possible.  If you tried it a few months ago, but it wasn't quite your thing...try again.  Google has listened to us teachers and have made this learning management system better than ever.  Students are able to get their own copy of the assignment, turn it back in, and then you can grade and give meaningful feedback.  All without using one piece of paper!
Want to give students an avenue to communicate with you and others in the classroom without interrupting the class flow?  Today's Meet is your perfect solution.  Very useful in a BYOD environment, this back-channel tool provides a safe environment for students to answer questions, ask questions, make meaningful connections, brainstorm, etc.  Also a very low-tech tool.
This is the only tool that costs some money, but if you want to make your own tutorial videos, paying $5.99 is a very small price to pay for this substantial app.  Expect to have a bit of a learning curve and spend some time getting used to the sound of your own voice.  My parents really enjoyed the videos because they were able to brush up on their math skills and help their children.  If you want to get started on creating a blended classroom, I highly suggest researching this app.

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