Technology for the Win!
Admittedly I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love when technology generates excitement for learning, redefines how things are done in the classroom, and makes my life, or the lives of my students, easier. I really dislike technology when it is not user friendly, is too time intensive, and when the same goals could be accomplished without its use. Here is a list of technology resources that either I have personally tried (and liked!) or that have been recommended by a trusted friend or colleague. Hopefully this will inspire you to try something new in the classroom!
So long back row! As their website says Flipgrid is "where social learning happens and every student has a voice." This is a platform that allows students to film themselves giving a response (it could be an answer to a question you pose or their thoughts on a reading, etc.) and then their classmates can film responses to that post. It is very easy to use and visually appealing. My students were hesitant at first (because let's face it, most people don't like to look at themselves while they are talking) but once they got used to it, it was a hit. There are fun graphics and clip art for students to add to their posts and you can easily monitor your classroom. Settings can be customized such as requiring your approval before a video is made available to the class. There is a free version with some of the basic options, but from my experience it is not worth using unless you get a subscription that comes with all of the bells and whistles.
Diigo Teacher Classroom
While this is not one of the newer resources on this list, it has become a staple in my classroom so I want to share it. Diigo is a social media bookmarking website that has excellent features for teachers. You are able to create closed classrooms so that you and your students not only share resources but can have a discussions about them. I use this as a way to house and manage our coverage of current events. While I often don't have as much time as I would like to devote to current events and new scholarship during class, this allows us to have those conversations outside of the school day.
Padlet is a virtual bullet board, but not only can you post comments (like on post-it notes) you can also post images and videos. This super easy to use website is a great place for students to share ideas, resources, information, etc. Others can then add comments or give feedback. I have used padlet in many different ways in my classroom. For example, my psychology students have posted pictures from a "perceptual concepts" scavenger hunt assignment so that everyone could easily see images from other groups and I could also assess their work. My world history students have used it as a place to leave an "exit slip" at the end of class so I can see if they understood the lesson or had any questions. I have even used padlet several times with colleagues as a way to share ideas and resources about specific topics, most recently for a proffessional development field experience in Senegal.
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