Even though school is out, I have been busy attending conferences and prepping to present at one myself! The first conference I attended was an eLearning conference for our school district. This is the second time I’ve attended this conference. Both times, I’ve left with about 5 million ideas but an overwhelming sense of knowing there is no way I can implement them all!
After going through my notes, my goal is to take two or three of the ideas I found and try them this coming year. If I can do more, great! However, I would rather do a few things well then just try to cram everything in at once.
Here are the tech tools that made the top of my list! And I must mention that they are all free! I will definitely be trying these out once school starts again. Feel free to do the same!
Desmos and Desmos classroom
I actually had previously stumbled upon this website during the semester and loved it. After hearing more about it at the conference, I know I will utilize it more in my math classes! Lessons are already prepared on the site and include a variety of topics. Students are able to work at their own pace through the lesson answering questions and completing tasks. Questions require students to think and respond with sentences as well, so you can see their thought process as well. Teachers are able to monitor each student’s progress as well! I loved the fact that I could see who was struggling or not staying on task right from my computer! Whether a student needs extra practice or enrichment, Desmos can help!
Maybe you, like me, had already heard of Quizlet. I’ve had students use this app for a few years as an option to study their vocabulary words in science class. Students type in words and definitions, then can play review games such as matching, guess the word, etc. I’ve noticed that those students that have used Quizlet typically end up performing better on any vocabulary assessments.
The people at Quizlet really amped it up for Quizlet Live and made it a whole classroom experience! Students are randomly placed in groups and given an animal name. Why an animal? I have no idea, but being a Siberian Tiger or a Bald Eagle makes it that much more exciting! Each student must have a device within the group. The groups then must work together to find correct terms for the given definition. Since different terms are listed on different group member’s devices, everyone must participate in order for the group to finish first. What a great way to increase vocabulary proficiency!
This game is very similar to Kahoot (which I have used many times and love!). The difference though, is that students can go at their own pace and do the questions by themselves. You do not need to project one question at a time on the screen. The students still can compete against each other and see their scores (which is what they love about Kahoot). You can use the quizzes that are already on the site, or you can make your own. Adapt the quiz for whatever subject you need and use it for review, pretesting or just for fun!
Students truly need to understand how to become responsible digital citizens. How do we teach this? First of all, make sure we as educators are being good role models. Sometimes we assume students know how to be responsible in this area simply because they know how to work the apps and tools. Commonsense.org has developed several lessons for the classroom that hit on many areas of digital citizenship for all grade levels including strategic searching, cyberbullying, and copyright issues. The lessons include videos and activity ideas that you can download as pdf files. There is even a “Digital Compass” game where students choose what to do in a scenario and see the consequences of that choice. I have used bits and pieces of this in the past, but think I should do more with my middle schoolers.
So take a look! Maybe one of these will become your favorite tech tools this coming year too!