As my first post discussed, it is important when taking the leap of bringing digital tools into your classroom to think about your learning goals first. However, how can you know where to put a tech tool in if you don't know what's out there?
There's no need for me to reinvent the wheel listing my favorite sites to use here, though I plan on sharing my experiences with specific tools as this series progresses. The resources below offer tools for every subject and grade level.
Tom Barrett's Interesting Ways
Tom's ever-growing list of Creative Commons licensed, crowd-sourced slideshows depict ways to use various digital tools in the classroom as well as many other ideas for your classroom.
Jerry Blumengarten's (Cybraryman) Technology Page
Jerry's impressive collection of articles, blogs and resources for using technology in your classroom.
Terry Freedman's The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book can be downloaded here.
Terry's free book (a downloadable pdf) includes projects collected by classroom teachers using technology in their classrooms and centered is around common classroom books and age appropriate activities.
The Emerging Top 100 Tools for Learning List.
This is a crowd-sourced list of technology tools ranked by number of votes.
To get started, I often peruse resources such as these to get ideas. I can then better choose a tool that meets my needs. These are some basic considerations I make when choosing a tool:
- Is it free?
- Do I need an account?
- Do my students need an account? If yes, what kind of information does the service ask for?
- Does it offer teacher accounts?
- What are the Terms of Service? Can my students legally use the site?
- Can my students' finished products be easily archived or shared?
Once I have considered these questions and find the tool to fit my criteria, I begin playing around with the tool to see what it does. This is the final test of a tool. Can I envision my students using the tool? Do I think it will meet the requirements of the learning goal? If yes, then I move forward with the next step?thinking through the management of the tool and what it will look like in the hands of my students. Some of the considerations I have while playing around with the tool are:
- How long will it take my students to set up an account or log in?
- What are the most vital workings of the tool that I will need to show my students to get them started?
- How long will it take to produce a finished product?
- How will my students hand in their work?
One of the struggles of integrating technology in the elementary classroom is finding tools that are simple enough for students to use and that do not require students to have an email address.
Here are some examples of sites that allow for teacher accounts or do not require students to have an email address to use them.
"Create, Play and Share." Students create their own animal and world. They can feed, bathe, clothe their animal, feed their animals, play games and create books. Has a social networking aspect that allows them to send their creations to their friends in a closed environment. Teachers create a free account here.
Create multimedia presentations that can be shared by link or embedded. Allows for commenting. Free teacher accounts allow for controls for privacy and for $60/yr or $10/mo you can create student accounts.
"Poster yourself." Create multimedia, embeddable posters. Teacher accounts allow for class creation. There are both free and premium accounts.
Create word clouds and then take a screenshot. No log in required.
Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to look through the resources listed above and find one tool or website to play around with. Once you are comfortable with what it does, figure out how it might transform a lesson or learning goal in your curriculum. It could be a website to reinforce skills or a tool your students could use to create a finished product. Go on, take the leap!
I'd love to hear about your experiences and about your favorite tool you explored in the comment area!