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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!

 
 
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Flipgrid

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.

 
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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.

 
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padlet

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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Zipgrade

Do you want to be able to track students performance on certain tasks and skills? Do you like the idea of immediate feedback for students? If so, Zipgrade may be the app for you! Zipgrade allows you to print out customized answer sheets for multiple-choice tests and scan them for immediate scoring. While it does take time on the front end to input information, especially if you want to tag each question with certain standards and skills, it does save information about students performance over time since each student has a unique code. You can quickly see which concepts students found challenging and which ones they have mastered. One downside I have found is that no marks are made on the actual paper, so students might know their score, but not what they missed unless you sit down with them and show them or take the time to mark up the paper. Also, I haven't found an easy way to distribute progress reports to individual students about their performance over time on assessments in class.

 
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Kahoot

Kahoot's tagline is "make learning awesome" and I will certainly agree that it has made my class awesome many times. However, like with any new and exciting tool, overuse can take away the value by decreasing students engagement. Kahoot is a quiz game or trivia format that allows the teacher to input questions, with pictures and videos if so desired, and then students use a device such as their phone or computer to answer the questions. It calculates the leader board based on speed and accuracy and keep everyone updated on their progress. One thing that I love about Kahoot is that at the end of the game it saves the data into an excel file so that I can go back and reference it. I usually not interested in speed, but I do like to know if someone missed 7 out of the 10 questions on a reading assignment they were supposed to complete. I tend to use it as formative assessment and do include their score in their class grade, but I know other teachers who use it differently. There is a way to play with teams and their are resources available on the website that provide instructions on how to use Kahoot as a teaching tool when covering new information and concepts.

 
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Thinglink

This website allows you (and your students!) to annotate images with text, pictures, and videos. It is a great way to facilitate collaboration and the sharing of ideas and information. As a world history teacher, I have found that Thinglink is great for posting a pictures of a map of the world or region and then students can drop pins with information at the appropriate spot. While not always as easy to use as some of the other tech resources on this page, they have been making some updates to the site recently so hopefully that will improve.

 
 
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edpuzzle

Do you assign videos for your students to watch? Do you want them to take away main points and ideas? Do you have questions for them to answer while watching the video? Do you only want them to watch a clip from a longer video? Edpuzzle is your easy tech solution to all of the questions. With Edpuzzle you can choose a video, edit it to the exact length you want, and insert questions throughout for students to answer. While watching the video, students will not be able to continue to the next part until they have submitted answers to the questions. You can then login to your account and quickly grade all of the responses. It also allows you to leave feedback for students if you choose. It keeps your videos from year to year, so when you get a new group of students, you can assign past edpuzzle videos and you don't have to recreate it.

 
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Peergrade

While I have not actually used this with my students yet, I cannot wait to try it and have already set up my account. I occasionally have my students peer edit essays and free response questions and I feel I would do it more often if it were easier to do anonymously. I have a system that works somewhat but Peergrade.io looks amazing. Basically you create a class and students submit an assignment. It can be everything from a word document to a video. Then is assigns students to review their peers work and you can track their progress and feedback the entire time. In the end, all students receive their anonymous feedback and can then work to make improvements on their work. I will let you know how it goes!

 
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belouga

Belouga helps students from around the world connect, collaborate, and learn from one another. Teachers create accounts and then connect with other classes from around the world. You can video conference, have an online discussion, and even share resources about course content. Another plus is that the company will set up a video conference with you to walk you through the set up and how everything works. That was extremely helpful! While I have set everything up I have no had a chance to use it with my students yet.

 
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Google TOur Creator

I am wrapping up my first student project using Google Tour Creator and so far it has been easy to use and has accomplished my objectives. While I played around with virtual reality and Google Cardboard years ago, I never fully embraced it in my class because I felt like the content available was not a great match for my course. However, as of this past spring, students (and teachers!) can create their own tours using google maps 360 degree footage. You can also upload your own footage if you have it. My students are creating tours relating to the Asian empires we are studying and then we will all watch them using mobile devices and Google Cardboard. If you don’t have access to a VR viewer, students can still view the tours on a computer.

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Quizlet Live

I feel like I am constantly telling students not to study using quizlet exclusively. While it is great for some types of content, using “flashcards” that other students create and shuffling the information can lead to poor retention of information and a lack of conceptual knowledge and understanding of connections. However, for reviewing in class, Quizlet Live is great. The ability to collaborate and the competitive nature of this review game excite students and teachers!

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Insert Learning

Insert Learning comes highly recommended; however, I must confess that I have not personally tried it yet. That being said, it sounds amazing! Basically you can easily turn any webpage or online article into an assignment by inserting questions, videos, links to further reading, etc. The possibilities seems endless and it appears to be a great way to assess student understanding. I look forward to creating some lessons using Insert Learning!