Too often, teachers think that integrating technology has to be a painful process, full of getting students logged in and trained to use a new tech tool
That doesn't have to be the case at all.
Of course, your first concern shouldn't be using tech just because you think it's cool. Tech, like pencils, rulers, and other awesome inventions used in the classroom, is just a tool. Using a smartphone, tablet, Chromebook, or an app in your class doesn't automatically make your classroom innovative, engaging, or a creative hub for your students.
Integrate tech wisely and use it when it makes sense to change what your kids are doing. However, getting them to use it early sets the pace for the year and lets them know the norm of using technology in your classroom.
Integrating Tech Quickly: 10 Tools to Make it Easy
Right now, you're probably concerned about how long it's going to take to get kids going with tech. Trust me, it doesn't have to be a painful process. I've assembled a group of 10 tools that require very little setup to get going almost immediately in your classroom AND they're great even if you're not so comfortable with using tech at this particular moment. In no particular order, here they are:
Tech Tool #1 – Google Classroom
New and improved for the 2018-2019 school year, Google Classroom is ready to help you organize your classes and manage student work more than ever. With a new Classwork page, streamlined class communication, class management, and quiz functionality, many teachers are itching to master this tool this year.
Tech Tool #2 – Plickers
I often feel bad for Plickers. It's a great tool and is so often overlooked. You only need one device (for the teacher) to get going and you can just print out the cards (or get a really nice laminated set on Amazon) for students to start using. Create questions on the fly in the app or build a library to assess your students anytime you like.
Tech Tool #3 – Kahoot
Kahoot! just keeps getting better and better all the time. With new features like team mode and a library of curated Kahoots in many subjects, this formative assessment tool still rocks. Your kids will love the infectious music and the gameplay.
It's simple enough for anyone to start playing and so addictive your kids will want to play it every day.
Tech Tool #4 – Quizizz
Quizizz is similar to Kahoot but just a tad bit cooler. Why?
Right or wrong, your students can get an entertaining meme after they respond. Also, they can work through problems at their own pace, which changes things up a bit from Kahoot. Yes, you can save results to Google Drive for grading or sharing with your PLC later.
Tech Tool #5 – Autodraw
I'm no artist. But that doesn't really matter anymore. With Autodraw, you can use Google's massive machine learning engine to predict what all those squiggles and lines you're drawing might be. It's an incredible way to get students creating something. Use it to start a lesson or even use it as a formative assessment to have students do a creative model of what they learned in class.
Tech Tool #6 – Remind
Yep. Remind. You've used it for years to send home updates and field questions from parents. But did you know you can add images, videos, files, and even Google Drive and OneDrive links to your Remind messages?
Remind doesn't have to be a news update tool. Ask your students and parents that are subscribed to answer some questions. Get them engaged in learning. Extend the walls of your classroom. And you can get rolling with this in the first few days of school. Have the instructions for joining your classes ready for Open House or the first day of school. Incentivize participation in your classes (if you're using Classcraft you could offer bonus XP or gold pieces for the first X number of students to sign up!)
Tech Tool #7 – Classcraft
Gamification can add such a fun element to your classroom that your kids sometimes forget they are learning. While there are many ways to turn your classroom into a game platform, Classcraft is the greatest.
Reminiscent of role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, Classcraft lets your students create a character with different powers that can be used in your class over the course of the school year. With random events, Boss Battles, Quests, and more fun tools, your students will enjoy visiting the world of Classcraft on a regular basis.
Tech Tool #8 – Formative
Talk about taking student engagement to another level. Formative allows you to distribute work to students and observe, in real-time, how they respond. Whether it's math work, an essay, or collaborative work, Formative lets you distribute work to students and they can write, draw, or answer questions and you see the results in real-time.
Tech Tool #9 – Flipgrid
OK, this probably should have been number 1 but I wanted to see how long I could keep from putting it in the list.
Flipgrid, what I consider to be the fastest growing, most user-friendly app in the edtech space is now FREE for everyone (thanks Microsoft!) so there's absolutely no reason why you're not using it this year.
Flipgrid allows students to create or share videos on any topic that you can dream up. It thrusts student voice into the forefront of your classroom and lets students share in a way that, before Flipgrid, was not really possible.
Tech Tool #10 – Pear Deck
Pear Deck is the easiest way to turn any slide presentation into an interactive lesson for your students. Now with a Google Slides add-on that makes creating a new Pear Deck incredibly simple, it's one of my goto tools.
Pear Deck allows you to conduct a whole class lesson or to have students complete tasks at their own pace. You can provide valuable feedback to the class as they work or review student work later. It's pretty darn great.
BONUS Tech Tool – Canva
As much as I use this incredible design tool, I maybe should have put it near the top! Canva is a web-based design tool that can turn anyone (and I mean ANYONE) into a graphic designer. With templates for just about every kind of graphic or document you'd ever want to create, Canva offers you the ability to make designs for your classroom, your lesson plans, and your school. I've used it to make everything from blog images (the image for this post was created using Canva) to graphics for projects in my Master's degree program.
If you haven't used Canva before, I invite you to try it out. You can get started with these templates to try it out but once you do, I know you won't stop designing for hours.
While this list contains some great edtech tools for your classroom, they are hundreds of others out there that teachers are using every day. What are your favorites?