You’ve reached the time of year that EVERY teacher dreams of from the first day of school: summer break. Now, as you pack your bags and head for that beach vacation and some quality “you” time…
Don’t forget that another school year is quickly approaching. Yes, you should take some time off, but you should also prepare for the new year by learning some new tools.
Trust me, you’ll have plenty of time to finish that pina colada in your hand…
Each of these tools can help you in some way in the classroom, whether it’s just getting organized or making assessments easier and data more relevant.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #1 – Google Drive
I know, I know. I keep beating this one over your head. But you need to know how to use the set of tools that make up Google Drive. Docs, Sheets, and Slides in particular have so many uses inside the classroom and out. You don’t need to be an expert, by any means, but you should know how to use these tools. Google Forms can be the answer to so many questions about assessments and data if you just take a few minutes and learn how to use the app and the add-ons available (Flubaroo, anyone?)
Spend some time this summer getting to know Google Drive and I promise your teaching life will get just a little bit easier.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #2 – Evernote
As much as I love Google Drive for document creation, I love Evernote as the keeper of all things and my digital brain. I use it to upload student work (thanks Scannable), save project and lesson ideas I find on the Internet with the Web Clipper, organize my conference notes, keep track of PD certificates, share conference notes, share project notes, share entire notebooks with other teachers, keep my car insurance cards handy, the list goes on and on.
I get how many people don’t know what to do with Evernote when they first start using it because it’s such a powerful tool and is completely customizable to each person that uses it. How you use Evernote is different from how I use it, which is why it’s such a great tool. Spend some time this summer getting to know Evernote. If you need some ideas, here’s a few to get you started.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #3 – Kahoot!
Of all the different tools I’ve used in the classroom, NONE of them have been a bigger hit with my students than Kahoot!. A simple assessment tool, Kahoot! adds a fun twist to the standard clicker interaction with a game show style. With the ability to add your own images and even videos, Kahoot! is a great way to engage your students in what might otherwise be a really boring activity.
Did I mention that you get tons of data for each quiz you run as well? Yep, that’s pretty cool, as well. You can see how each student did and how the class did as a whole and learn what concepts they are locked in on and what concepts you might need to go back and review or reteach. Good stuff.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #4 – Canva
If you ever create any sort of images for your classroom or have students that do so, Canva is the tool you need. Even if you are just wanting to make some really AWESOME looking slides for a presentation or a lesson, Canva makes graphics that you would normally need a very expensive software program to make.
Heck, they even offer lesson plans written by teachers that show you and your students how to use Canva to add some flair and pizazz to projects (all while learning some valuable skills that might come in handy later in life) that are free for you to use.
I’ve been using Canva since they launched (have you noticed the graphics on this blog?) and honestly don’t know what I’d do without it at this point.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #5 – Voxer
Voxer is a digital walkie talkie app that not only lets you communicate in real time, but also stores all the messages you send and receive. There are 2 reasons you need to know how to use this tool. Reason #1 is that there are a number of “Voxer chats” that have sprung up around the teaching community that you can join and actually TALK to people, which is nice. You can also set up chats with teachers in your school and/or district, so it’s a great way to extend PD beyond school walls.
Secondly, you can use Voxer as a tool for students to communicate with you when they need help outside of school. No more sitting around, frustrated about a math problem or that darn thesis statement for a paper. Now, a student can simply send you a question and you can answer at your leisure, or immediately if you’re able.
Voxer is a great tool that you should add to your digital arsenal.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #6 – Socrative
Yes, I know that I’m throwing a lot of assessment tools at you. I believe that teachers need to assess and they need to assess more often, and I’m not talking about giving more quizzes and tests. I want to know what my students know just about every day and I need tools that will help me do just that.
Socrative is a great tool that not only allows you to create quizzes in advance, but to ask questions on the fly. You can use the “Quick Question” option or the “Exit Ticket” option to gather responses from your students quickly, even if you didn’t know the question you wanted to ask before you walked into school that day.
Plus, the Socrative Garden is a place where you can find assessments other teachers have made that you might find useful, many of which are aligned to Common Core standards.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #7 – Plickers
Another assessment tool, but this one isn’t quite as digital as some of the others, but it’s still pretty stinking cool and works REALLY well. WithPlickers, your students use a card with a code printed on it. They can respond with one of four answers. You scan the answers with an app on your phone and BOOM! instant formative assessment.
And, Plickers often works better than other tools due to it’s simplicity. You only need one device (yours) and you can come up with questions on the fly. You keep your students engaged and you are assessing constantly.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #8 – ZipGrade
I’ve tried several different digital grading tools and I have to say, ZipGradeis KING. First, they have several different forms that you can use from 20 questions up to 100 (I used it for a final exam in Algebra 1 and LOVED it). And they offer the forms in not only a PDF format but a PNG format so you can embed the forms in another document if you wanted.
Again, this tool is more about the data it collects than anything else. You get reports of each student, class averages, and a question by question breakdown, all invaluable information if you’re trying to figure out what your kids know and don’t know.
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #9 – Twitter
Twitter is the digital PD tool of choice for every connected educator. If you’re not on the Twitter bus by now, you really should be. From following the best and brightest minds in education to connecting with other leaders in your own state and region, Twitter is the place for teachers to be at to share ideas.
Find a chat in your local area (Here’s a list of all the chats we know about) and join in!
Digital Tools for Teaching – Tool #10 – Flipboard
Another great tool that teachers can use to collect ideas and share them isFlipboard. Now available on the web, iOS, and Android, Flipboard lets you curate articles, images, and more from around the web. You can follow magazines from others and create your own magazines.
Heck, you could even create your own digital textbooks as a magazine and share them with your students!
I know I’ve thrown a lot at you in this post, but if you can take just one of these tools and fully implement it in your teaching over the next year, you’ll be amazed at how your life will change.