Vol.#49: 14 Classroom Tech Tools for 2014

2014keyboardAs we prepare to enter 2014, I’ve been reflecting on what technology tools have served my students well in 2013 and which tools are on my list to add to my repertoire moving forward in the new year.

The Present: My favorites from 2013

1. EdmodoI love this Facebook-like environment where my class continues online after the bell rings. The mark of a good tool: I continue to find new ways to incorporate it regularly.

2. PreziHaving students create a Prezi is so much more engaging than a PowerPoint. Embedding video and pictures is simple. Also, students share the link with me on a wiki or via email and presentation day does not involve lots of hunting for files on flash drives.

3. EducreationsEducreations is my favorite app for students to create something to show off on my Apple TV in the classroom. It is intuitive and has more capabilities than “Show Me”, such as inserting text.

4. Dropbox: I can easily store, share, and access any kind of data from anywhere with the easy-to-use and free Dropbox service.

5. DropItToMe: Any size file can be submitted into my Dropbox, which means I can have students turn in work electronically. While some suggest Google Drive replaces these two together, I don’t see dropping them just yet. They are very convenient and I’m comfortable with them.

6. Actively Learn A free online e-reader that bills itself as “able to transform reading for your students by empowering teachers to reach students inside a digital text”. I have used their questions as well as embedded my own, and the ability to track mastery of common core standards is a nice feature.

7. Subtext: An iPad app very similar to Actively Learn, it has the advantage of requested texts being made available in the same day.

8. Screencast-o-Matic: I regularly use this for creating quick videos I want to place on YouTube and/or Edmodo for a flipped lesson. I haven’t found a tool more simple or more free.

9. Pic Collage: I had students use this app to create a collage related to a story, insert text to state the theme, and save as an image on the camera roll of the iPad which they shared on the Apple TV. I’ve tried several apps for this assignment and this one is simple, intuitive, and free.

The Future: Tools I plan to explore in 2014

10. EvernoteThis tool has been on my list to conquer for quite some time. It’s openness and flexibility has been somewhat intimidating when deciding how best to set it up. As I understand it, one can organize notes (scans and documents) into notebooks and tag items for easy retrieval. I have been seeking the wisdom of Andy Traub and Daniel Gold and their podcast “The Productive Life Show” for how to get started.

11. SocrativeI have not used Socrative, and since I have both a clicker system in class and use Edmodo out of class, I have not been sure where its capabilities would best suit my class’s needs. However, it tops so many Edtech lists I would really like to give it a go this year.

12. Teachers Pay TeachersI have found some wonderful resources there and have been encouraged by this guy that my materials would do well there. He’s brilliant, so I tend to listen to what he says.

The Past: One tool I used in 2013 I definitely won’t be using in 2014

13. GlogsterPart Glog, part poster; in November I had my students complete their “One Pager” assignments on a short story using this tool. I wanted to like it. I really did. However, it was glitchy and cumbersome. Students got lost in the bells and whistles instead of content. It was not intuitive. And it’s not free. I will not be revisiting this tool.

Past, Present, & Future: One tool that belongs on all lists

14. Google Apps: These encompass so much that I am forever learning new uses. I often use google forms and love the grading capability of Flubaroo. I have not (yet) used  Hangouts in the classroom and have always wanted to try Amy Mayer’s method for video grading writing in Google Docs since the day I read it. I found this presentation on the web on 40 uses of Google Apps in the classroom that includes both things I’ve tried and things I’d never even considered. Google Apps are destined to be ubiquitous in modern classrooms.

What are your favorite tech tools that should be on my list?

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10 thoughts on “Vol.#49: 14 Classroom Tech Tools for 2014”

  1. Hi Erica,
    Thanks for giving me some new tech ideas to try in the classroom! I have to encourage you to become a seller on teachers-pay-teachers. I joined a little over a year ago with a set of free math word wall cards for k-2nd graders. I’ve had over 15,000 downloads for that item and plenty of thank-yous from teachers. I find it very rewarding to think that something I created could be helping so many students! I have a couple of paid products as well, which helped me be able to invest a little more in my classroom (hey, we’re NC public school teachers, every little bit helps!). Happy techy-teaching in 2014!

    1. Hi Mel,

      I really appreciate the encouraging vote of confidence! It seems so daunting to get started as a seller, but I know that even things I don’t plan to charge for need to be out there for others. TpT is such a great hub of resources. Many times I’ve searched and found many wonderful resources on there when I haven’t found anything searching the same thing on Google. It’s also great to know those dollars are going to a teacher, not a big corporation. Thanks so much for your comment!

      ~Erica

  2. Evernote is a must for every teacher! I’ve been using Evernote since last spring to record all my lesson plans. Just before the break I started introducing it to students. For now some of my classes are creating digital portfolios. They create a notebook and share it with me. Edmodo has a lot of new features and apps that are fun to use. We collaborate with a class in California (I’m in South Korea) using Edmodo. Educreations is great! However, Explain Everything is much better. As a whiteboard app Explain Everything is great. But it is so much more than that. We use Explain Everything for creative projects. For example, my students are using it to create instructions for teaching grammar. Once we create a screen cast the student export the video and create an augmented reality experience (Aurasma).

    Good luck with all your tech adventures!!

    Richard

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment! I will have to try Explain Everything, although I do not have a whiteboard. (Not a smartboard or a whiteboard. Black chalkboards.) I’ve had my students come up with the screencasts, but I wonder about putting them in the Edmodo library for others to use. If different groups became experts in different areas (one group for each of the eight parts of speech for example) they could create the library of tech materials for the unit. Hmmm….

      Cheers!

      Erica

  3. Hello!
    I enjoy reading your posts. I teach high school so this may not apply to younger students, but this year my favorite online tool is Remind101. I’ve been using it all year, with much success. It’s FREE! You can use it online or on your phone. It’s essentially a one way text messaging service, where I can send out reminders about hw, tests, quizzes, etc., and the kids receive the messages on their phone or via email depending on how they set up their account. Parents can also sign up for the messages. It’s great because they don’t see your phone # and you don’t see theirs. I had tried Twitter for this a couple years ago, but really don’t like it. I’ve found that Remind101 is so much more streamlined & you can even see which students/parents have signed up for your “class”, and you can delete kids as well. It’s also great b/c the kids do not need an app for it, and if they don’t have phones, they can sign up for email messages instead. All I do is post messages & the program sends them out to whomever is subscribed.
    Thanks!
    Tracy

    1. Hi Tracy!

      Actually, I’ve never used it as a teacher, but this year I am receiving them as a parent. My son’s second grade teacher sends them to parents who sign up. In high school you are sending texts to the students and in Elementary school the teachers’ audience is the parents. I guess the Middle School teacher is truly in the middle. We’d likely have some of each sign up. It makes me wonder which way to phrase the texts. (ie: Bring your earbuds tomorrow. vs. Have your child bring his/her earbuds tomorrow.)

      I’ll be adding Remind101 to my future list! Thanks!

      ~Erica

  4. Hi, Erica,

    You have a chalkboard?! I am sincerely jealous. Fond memories of elementary school (and getting to “clap erasers” outside after school) are coming back to me now… ahhhh.

    What are your thoughts on Class Dojo? I’m torn. On the one hand, it seems very engaging. (My daughter’s class lives and dies by it, and it works very well for them.) But then again, it seems labor-intensive on the part of the teacher. I’m not about making more work for myself, that’s for sure. :)

    HB

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