25 Teaching Tools to Organize, Innovate and Manage your Classroom


25-teaching-tools-for-the-digital-classroom

25 Teaching Tools For The Digital Classroom: Tools To Organize, Innovate, & Manage What You Do

by Mike Acedo

Over the years, many of us have personally experienced the growth of technology in today’s classrooms. Instead of taking notes, students are now occupied by surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, and messaging their friends on their smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Instead of focusing on the instruction, teachers are constantly required to interrupt class in order to remind those students again and again, that class time is for learning, not texting. However, as today’s students are using more technological devices, it is imperative that teachers have access to the resources to keep pace with the growing tech culture.

The use of smart phones, tablets, and other tech items in the classroom do not necessarily have to have a negative impact on student achievement. On the contrary, the increasing accessibility and growth of technology presents teachers with the unique opportunity to take advantage of those once distracting gadgets, and use them to facilitate academic achievement in new and innovative ways. In this capacity, teachers do not need to be constantly fighting for student attention, but can freely accept it, by introducing a new educational environment that will automatically encourage student participation.

Below are some resources that teachers may find useful when attempting to implement technology into their classrooms, separated by 5 common areas that are increasingly important for teachers, and for an effective learning environment—Organization, Project Based Learning, Class Management, Presentations, and Assessment.

Organization

Engrade

This innovative platform provides teachers with an all-in-one grade book that offers attendance charts, grade books, calendars, seating charts, behavior tracking, and more. It also gives teachers access to 3rd party lesson content, the ability to create custom tests aligned with common core standards, and a way to track individual student progress.

TheTogetherTeacher

On this site, teachers can find multiple resources that will help them stay organized in their classrooms. Once registered to the site, teachers have access to lesson plan templates, to-do lists, sub plans, project ideas, and much more.

MyBigCampus

My Big Campus gives teachers, students, parents, and administrators unprecedented access to an endless amount of useful resources to raise student achievement. Through an interactive platform that can be accessed though mobile devices and tablets, My Big Campus makes it easy to engage with students, develop lessons, track student improvement, as well as connect with parents and other members of the learning community.

MySchoolBinder

My School Binder gives teachers the opportunity to easily add, edit and organize assignments on their class page. Students in turn, can submit completed assignments, ask questions, and receive instant feedback from their teachers. Additionally, students and teachers can view events and assignments on the Schoolbinder Calendar, and be reminded of upcoming due dates with custom notifications. Teachers also have access to teacher forums where they can receive feedback and tips for lessons and projects directly from other educators.

LearnBoost

Learn Boost helps teachers record, organize and sort individual student progress. It also allows teachers to develop and organize lesson plans, share student progress with parents and students, and can also be integrated with Google Apps, making it a convenient time saver.

Project-Based Learning

Glogster EDU

Glogster EDU is a global education platform that empowers students and educators to create interactive online posters that include text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, and much more. Glogster encourages students to take control of their own learning in a fun way by promoting independent thought, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Glogster also provides teachers with strategies to implement curriculum into projects, promote skill mastery, facilitate digital literacy, and encourage innovation and collaboration.

Mindmeister

Mindmeister is a great mind-mapping tool that can help students develop and organize project ideas. This free app encourages collaborative brainstorming, where students can wok together to plan and analyze potential projects.

SonicPics

SonicPics is a great app that allows students to combine pictures with recorded narration into a threaded story. There are multiple uses for this app, as students can share personal narratives, review curriculum, or create custom presentations for class.

Dipity

Through Dipity, students can combine images, photos, text and other media into a visually stimulating, interactive timeline. This is a great tool for students to creatively map out past or current events, add desired media or effects, and present them in a seamless, fun slideshow.

myHistro

MyHistro allows students to create interactive timelines by combining blogging, media, and Google maps to tell personal stories. Students can create personalized maps that tell about ones family, ancestors, special memories, or other aspects of their history and future. This can be presented in a slideshow and can be a great way to get students to creatively tell their own life stories or focus on historical events.

Classroom Management

CollaborizeClassroom

This is a great tool for supporting teacher’s in-class instruction or helping their flipped classrooms be successful. This free online platform allows teachers to quickly launch a personalized learning site that addresses student concerns outside of the classroom, leaving students more prepared for in-class activities. Collaborize Classroom encourages students to help each other through problems with the guidance of their instructors, and provides teachers with instant access to lesson plans and project ideas to implement into the classroom. Additionally, this platform gives teachers the ability to better identify and accommodate different learning styles by incorporating visual and audio into their lessons, and grouping students according to learning habits.

Edmodo

This social, Facebook-styled platform, allows teachers to continue classroom discussions outside of the classroom, check for student understanding, and get students excited about coming to class to learn. Teachers can connect students to resources and tools that will help them better understand classroom material, personally measure student progress, and enhance learning though integrating apps that amplify their lesson plans.

Socrative

Socrative is a great way for teachers to engage their students inside and outside of the classroom, as they can send out quizzes or other educational exercises that can be used to measure student understanding. Teachers can also take advantage of Socrative’s “Exit Tickets” which require students to answer a quick question before they leave the class that focuses on how comfortable they are in understanding the day’s material. This gauges student understanding of subject matter and informs teachers on what is working and what needs to be focused on.

Remind101

Remind101 is a simple, safe, and secure way for teachers to send mass text messages to students and parents without invading their privacy. Teachers can use this to send reminders and notification to students concerning upcoming tests, homework assignments, due dates, and events which students and parents will receive through text message or email. Teachers can schedule messages to be sent in advanced, which keeps students up to date with schoolwork and helps prevent forgetfulness.

ClassDojo

ClassDojo is a tool for teachers to quickly and easily improve classroom behavior. Teachers are able to reward points to students for good behavior, which they receive in real-time on their smart phones or laptops. This engages students in a new way, and incentivizes good student behavior. Additionally, ClassDojo can track student behavior, producing analytical reports, which can be shared with parents and administrators.

Presentations

Brickflow

Brickflow is an app where teachers and students can create presentations using content collected from social media. By searching the web through hashtags, teachers and students have the opportunity create a visual summary of a topic, building stories with content from Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. This can be a fun and innovative way to spruce up classroom presentations and keep students up to date with current events.

Empressr

Empressr is an easy to use presentation generator that allows users to easily incorporate flash and other media into their presentations. This is a free online application that can be used to help teachers and students create visually rich presentations.

Present.me

Present.me is a great tool for teachers and students that allow them to record presentations, lectures, or projects, and accompany them with visual content. This is a useful tool for teachers who wish to flip their classroom, and a fun way to encourage students to get involved in their own learning by creating their own visually rich presentations.

Projeqt

Projeqt gives students and teachers the opportunity to express creativity and learning through a simple, intuitive presentation platform. Students and teachers may combine information they find online with content they have created themselves, creating a dynamic presentation that can include live blog feeds, tweets, interactive maps, quizzes and much more. Users can access presentations from anywhere at anytime, and receive instant feedback from peers or teachers. This is a great tool for creating a social, interactive learning environment in the classroom.

Prezi.com

Prezi is a fantastic tool for changing the way teachers and students present, moving away from the standard slide-by-slide model, and using a visually stimulating canvas that moves from point to point. Prezi is simple to use, visually stunning, and includes all the standard components of a normal presentation. The variations of presentations are endless, encouraging students and teachers to creatively customize each presentation to enhance how the audience members receive the information.

Assessment

Kwiksurveys

This is a great tool for creating custom polls, surveys, and quizzes that can be instantly shared through social media, or posted to teacher websites or blogs.

ClassMaker

Through ClassMaker, teachers can create secure online quizzes and exams that feature multiple question types, such as multiple choice, short answer, and essay. Tests are automatically graded and are perfect for classrooms, online courses, E-learning, and study groups.

Testmoz

This free test generator offers multiple question types, automatic grading, detailed reports, and a simple design. Additionally, tests are pass code protected, but it does not require students to register to take the tests.

Mentimeter

Mentimeter enables teachers to send out questions to students and allow them to instantly vote on them or send feedback though mobile phones or tablets. This is a great way to democratize the classroom by voting on topics or activities, and a very effective tool for issuing pop quizzes.

Gnowledge

Teachers can create and share tests with not only students, but with other teachers as well. This gives teachers multiple test resources and also promotes student understanding, as it randomizes test questions and answers, allowing students to take tests multiple times without making the material stagnant.

Retrieved from: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/25-teaching-tools-to-organize-innovate-manage-your-classroom/

Competition: Microsoft vs. Apple


Comparing iPad to Surface RT and Surface Pro

Surface vs IpadWhich tablet is better for me?

 

While researching, I came across this video… Microsoft commercial – it’s really quite funny.  I currently now own both Surface RT and an iPad 2 (Second generation). I decided to do some research amongst the two tablets but since my iPad is only the second generation well… I thought it’d be better to do a comparison for the iPad 4th Gen instead.

I know there are many other tablets out there, but I’ll keep this post as Microsoft vs. Apple tablets. Below is a comparison of basic models of the iPad 32 GB 4th gen to the Surface RT 32 GB and Surface Pro 64 GB models. All entries in orange are common tech specs that can be found anywhere.  All entries in green are ones that are productivity related and not mentioned as often but are probably the most important aspects from a practical usability standpoint:

  Surface RT Surface Pro iPad
Purpose Tablet Laptop in tablet form Tablet
Operating System Windows 8 RT Windows 8 iOS 6
CPU Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 3rd Gen Intel® dual-core TM i5 (2.6 GHz)  A6X chip, dual-core (1.4GHz)
RAM 2GB 4GB 1GB
Weight (in lbs) 1.5 2.0 1.44
Battery Life 8 hours 5 hours 10 hours
Display size 10.6” 10.6” 9.7”
Storage 32GB, 64B – expandable 64GB, 128GB – expandable 16, 32, 64, 128GB
USB Port Yes – 2.0 Yes – 3.0 No
HD Video-Out Port Yes – microHDMI Yes – mini Display No
MicroSD Yes Yes No
Free Cloud Storage 7 GB 7GB 5 GB
Printing Yes – most printers Yes – all printers Yes – only AirPrint printers
MS Office Yes – pre-installed with Office RT Yes – Full No
Multi accounts Yes Yes No
Run two apps at once Yes Yes No
Number of Apps in Store 160,000 Almost any Windows app made in the past 10 years, probably millions. 350,000
Keyboard Attached or Bluetooth at an extra cost Attached or Bluetooth at an extra cost Bluetooth only at an extra cost
Camera Two 720p HD LifeCams Two 720p HD LifeCams two: 1080p  & 720p cameras
Adapters Only cables are needed Only cables are needed Everything must be connected via lightning adapters.
Price $304 for students and $349 for everyone else  $899 $599

The very simple answer that I can give to help you distinguish between the two tablets and which one is better suited for you: “it depends on what you want to use it for”.

For sheer availability of apps, surfing the web, and picture taking, I would say the iPad is the right device for you.

For school work, web surfing, MS Office applications, Xbox games, I would say go with a Surface RT. If for no other reason than for the price break Microsoft is offering students and schools. In addition, the inclusion of Office RT allows many students the ability to open and edit class materials given to them electronically. On the iPad you have to use programs that might cause compatibility issues and on the Surface Pro, you need to purchase Microsoft Office as an extra expense.

And if you need a device that looks and feels like a tablet but does everything a Windows laptop can do, then Surface Pro is the device for you.

Motion Math: Hungry Fish


Hungry-Fish

Motion Math: Hungry Fish

Motion Math: Hungry Fish is a software that is developed for iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads, the New iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch. It focuses on getting children excited to learn math in a whole new different way; by playing!

mmg-logo

Motion Math

“Your fish is hungry – hungry for numbers! This fun addition and subtraction game for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch has instant addition: touch two numbers together to instantly add. Most addition games teach in the form 3 + 4 = __; Hungry Fish challenges players to find different ways to make a 7 (1+6, 2+5, 3+2+2, etc.). There’s 18 levels of challenge (for 4-year-olds to adults) and bonuses to customize your fish with new colors and fins. Play this wonderful game with your students, family, and friends” (Motion Math, 2012).

Software Overview

Motion-Math-Hungry-Fish

Fish eating bubbles

I’ve chosen to evaluate this software because I love finding new ways on how to learn simply just by playing! When I looked at this software on the iTunes page, I figured it could be a fun and exciting game to get children to learn math at such a young age.  This software offered opportunities for practice and review. For instance, the child can practice as many times as he/she wants to by adding the numbers to match the one shown on this fish and then, by ‘feeding’ the fish in order to progress. It will allow the child to learn what number he/she will get when they combine two different numbers.

The child can review his/her own endeavour and review their points or levels that they achieve at the end of the game. I also enjoyed the graphics the software had to offer children. The 2D components consist of the words, title, the actual fish, and the various images given throughout the software. The 3D components consist of the corals, tube corals spitting out the bubbles, and the background images in the different levels. There are a lot of animations throughout the software such as the fins of the fish moving, the tube corals,

mzl.kwjhdehz.320x480-75glowing bubbles, corals moving as they spit the bubbles out, the eye of the fish and fish move, fish growing as it gets fed, fish shrinks when it doesn’t, and the sunlight shining through the water (glowing and dimming). In addition to these components, the software also has practice for children including the tutorial phase, but also in the standard levels. Within the standard levels, as soon as you lose, you get a message that pops up, “Uh-oh. Your fish needed more food. You earned 0 points!” and under the sentences, there is a circle that is an arrow and once you hit it, you restart the level. No matter the amount of times you lose in a level, there is always this hypermedia that will allow the child to begin the level again.

Software Recommendations & Limitations

motionmathhungryfish4

Hungry Fish

While playing the game, I’ve observed, experimented, and explored the game, and began writing down different recommendations to help improve the software; these recommendations are based from what I’ve seen and our personal experience with the software. Firstly, the graphics in the software are nice and vibrant, however, it could use more “real” colours or sea creatures. Such colours can be actual colour seen in the ocean to give the software a more “realistic” approach or life like sea urchins because the game doesn’t only focus on math, but your game also makes children learn about the environment in which fish live in. When it comes to the corals, you can provide some actual texture and pattern on

Customizing your Fish

Customizing your Fish

them rather than just having a flat solid colour. Secondly, the gameplay gets more exciting when children are able to gain a “reward” after they complete the level that is then used to customize their fish. Although they reach the reward when they complete the level, it’s limited to that one reward whereas maybe you could add a variety of different other rewards so that children can stay interested in the game because children will lose interest when seeing the same reward. Finally, the free version is very limited to what children can actually do with the game. Even though you’re a company and need to make money, you can provide the addition and subtraction levels in the free version or you could provide different “themes” or “levels” in the addition stage where we can choose which ocean “theme” we want to play in; by doing so you are enabling children to have multiple choices which then

Coloured Hungry Fish

Coloured Hungry Fish

gets them more interested in the game. There is also no voice audio for children to establish a relationship between the number and the way it is said. This would be great for those who are four and are newly exposed to numbers. For example if the child selects the bubble five the software could use audio and state “Five” so they can hear it. Lastly, another recommendation to improve this software would be to place the equation on the fish instead of the answer, for example 2 + 2=  and the number four would float around in the bubble amongst other numbers. This could be a setting that children could set if they find it easier for them to find the correct answer which would encourage more children to take part in the game.

My classmates and I did this software evaluation together and we managed to do a ScreenCast about it as well.

With the evaluation on the software, my group and I contacted the developers from the software and we were excited to have gotten a reply back from them. Such a reply meant so much to us just knowing that they read our evaluation and responded back to us.

Notice: parts have been blurred out due to confidentiality purposes.

Email from CEO

References

Motion Math (2012). Motion Math: Hungry Fish. Retrieved from http://motionmathgames.com/motion-math-hungry-fish/

iPads within Education


We as Early Childhood Educators and teachers are all looking at different possibilities on how we can expand a child or children’s learning through several different ways and implementations; why not start with something such as a tablet? iPads are amazing new tablets that was introduced in 2009 by Apple Inc. iPads are 241.2 mm in height and by 185.7 mm in width and weighing under less than two pounds. With such an outstanding breakthrough in technology, such a simple, light device, we can change the way education is taught to children.

As educators, we plant the seeds of knowledge and water the seeds with our scaffolding in the way we educate and practice our philosophy. 


Not only are iPads a great use for older students, but also beneficial to younger children. New applications for the iPad are being released, which are catered to educating young children. Such simple, yet enjoyable and interactive applications are: Word Magic, Clifford’s BE BIG, Toontastic, and Highlights Hidden Pictures. These applications for the iPad are developmentally appropriate, yet able to provide interactive hypermedia and hypertext.

When children are playing, they’re learning, whether we as adults don’t want to believe it or not. 

Times have changed where education was seen differently 50 years ago and the way education is seen now; especially since theres major differences in generations. For example, today, those who are over the age of 25 probably wear wristwatches while those who are under the age of 25 do not wear any wristwatches, but instead use a phone that is a multi-functional device whereas wristwatches are single function devices. Ken talks about how education is linearity meaning we just go from one point to the next. Today, we all live in a digital world whether we want to believe it or not. With so much new advancements in technology, we might as well use it to benefit ourselves by using it to evolve the way technology can be used inside the classroom. 

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 7.30.37 PM

FlowerPower Lite

Flower Power Lite is a simple game that is web-based. You are easily learning math, but at the same time having a fun,interactive time doing it. Nowadays, children play video games a lot when they get home, regardless. If they’re going to play games, if parents allow them, when they get home, why not allow your children to play educational, purposeful games?

Girl child with iPad

Children who are born now in the 21st century are born into the digital world where we can get information so quickly by mobile devices, especially ones at our finger tips. By providing children with such a tool, iPads allow such information to be accessed easily right at their finger tips.

Why the use of an iPad?
iPads are fitted with such a low screen, high pixel resolution, and don’t weigh a lot, they help a lot within the classroom or even at home. Since iPads aren’t any other normal tablets (that just act as e-readers), iPads are able to be formatted to actually play educational software applications or even become an e-reader. Since iPads are so light weight, it makes them extremely easy to carry around with no hassle at all, yet doubling as a portable textbook that doesn’t weigh over five pounds. A lot of older children use the internet a lot for homework, browsing, or even playing games. With the internet as a useful tool in our educational system, an iPad is a great benefit to enhancing the way children learn by providing new and engaging ways to understand and learn complex concept by gaining access to the internet.

Boy child with iPad

As educators, we can broaden the way we interact with parents throughout our childcare centres and schools. There is a lot of different views on integrating technology into our classrooms and with a lot of new breakthroughs in technology, we can easily incorporate technology in our classroom, however, that’s not always the case for certain educators since they’ve grown up in a century where internet and technology had no use, or has been expanded as to what it is today. According to a father, Avi Savar,

“I have come to enjoy the time my daughter and I spend playing together on my iPad.  We have curated a terrific library of apps that bring smiles, songs, new words, letters, shapes and colors into her world.  I am constantly amazed by how quickly she learns the nuances of a particular app and is able to fly solo within minutes of launching a new one.  She’s only two and half years old but can navigate an iPad more effectively than my mother in law” (Content to Commerce, 2010).

As an educator myself, I believe we can incorporate the way technology has evolved into are classrooms with such simple devices such as an iPad. If children under three years of age has the capability of playing around with an electronic device, what does that mean for children who are a lot older? I am a strong believer in play and how play allows children to learn; allowing an iPad to help children “play” indeed allows them to develop developmentally appropriate. With such a digital culture we are all in now, there is no way we as educators can ignore technology.

References

Davis, B. L (2012 March). Arguments for the iPad in Education. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://edtechpower.blogspot.ca/2012/03/arguments-for-ipad-in-education.html

Savar, A. (2010 November). Content to Commerce: 40 Educational iPad Apps for Kids. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://c2c.bigfuel.com/fuel/40-educational-ipad-apps-for-kids/