5 Teacher Resource Edtech Tools

With the overwhelming amount edtechtools that can be found on the web, this is the first post in a series to highlight some that I

Classroom

Classroom (Photo credit: James F Clay)

have found useful in the classroom and are FREE!!

The focus of this post are some TEACHER Tools that I have found useful to use with my students.

  1. Dropbox:  This storage site has proved to be an extremely useful to store and access my files anywhere on any computer. Also the addon of DropitTo.me has been useful for my student to turn in their work. This is a must look at for all teachers!
  2. Classroom Timers:
     Classroom timers have become a staple in my class and are an excellent way to keep students on task. This website provides a list of different types of timers and all are free to use. online-stopwatch.com
  3. Duplichecker: This is a great plagiarism checker and will also check attached files. This is a free site and a great resource. I also have a list here of other plagiarism checkers.
  4. Testmoz: As they state on their website, ” Testmoz is a test generator that sports 4 question types, automatic grading, a really simple interface and detailed reports.” Have used this many times and found it to be very useful.
  5. QuizSnack: Is an easy way to create polls and surveys and post them to a variety of different websites.
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14 Student Favorite Project Websites

Over the past two years my students have been allowed to create their projects in any format or medium in which they choose.  This had led to some amazing and creative projects that have not only inspired me but opened my eyes to what my students are truly capable of creating. I have noticed however that there seems to be certain sites and programs that they gravitate to every year.  So the following list, are sites that my students seem to use at some point every year and really seem to enjoy.

  1. Glogster: is always a fan favorite since they can add music video and images all in one project.  This virtual poster site is always one that I see multiple times a year.
  2. Photo Story 3: has become a big hit over the past year and a half.  This is a simple video creator that allows students to take a series of images place them in any order and then narrate each image and/or add text to each image. It then generates a movie adding in transitions and panning automatically to the video.  It is simple and creates great short informational videos. They do also have a mac version.
  3. Museum Box: This is a great site for history classes.  Students place items in a box that would help describe a person or event. They can add video, audio, images and text.  This site has led to some great projects.
  4. Goanimate: takes a bit of learning but is a animated video creator that students love to create their projects with.  It generates great animated cartoons that my students have used to explain many different historical events.
  5. Google Search Stories: is a great video creator for quick informational video clips.  It uses the Google search engine and results to tell a story or explain and event.
  6. Picture A Story: allows students to tell stories about history, explain topics or concepts using preloaded images characters and objects.
  7. Flixtime: Is another video creator that allows students to take a series of images ad create great videos to explain concepts or historical events.
  8. Poster 4 Teachers: Is a free program that allows students to create online projects and reports in a poster format.  It also allows them to create simple websites to explain or discuss topics presented in class.
  9. Slideroll: This site allows kids to create simple slide shows to tell a digital story.
  10. Animoto: This site allows students o create professional looking videos projects.  This site is easy and fun for students to use.
  11. Alice.Org:  A animated story creator. That also teaches programming. I have had a few students really get into programming after using this application.
  12. Digital Story Teller: This is similar to Photo Story 3 students can add text and audio to their digital stories.
  13. Kerpoof: Always a favorite site for students to create movies and other digital media.
  14. Fotobabble: This is really a card creator but students have used it in a variety of ways to narrate  a digital story and have used it a segment in other digital projects.

 

Current Textbook Not Cutting It? Create Your Own Flexbook

The CK-12 Foundation was created in response to California Free Digital Textbook Initiative.   This organizations mission is to help reduce the cost of textbooks in education.  They are using an open-content, web-based collaborative model they call a “FlexBook.”   CK-12′s hope is to help teachers create a more focused textbook that will meet the needs of their unique students and state standards.

Currently they have many different “Flexbooks” available on a variety of subjects for teachers to use.  They also provide interactive webinars and video tutorials to assist teachers in creating their own “Flexbooks”.  This is a great resource for all teachers to assist them in creating content that is tailored to their state standards and curriculum goals.

Check them out at the following address.  http://www.ck12.org/flexr/

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A great resource I finally got to look at!

Now that school is out and I have a little time to look at some resources that I had bookmarked. I came across one that I wish I would have looked at during the year.  AVIARY is an excellent free resource to use in the classroom.  This site contains some great tools for students to use in their projects.  Such as image editors, audio editors, music creators, and a variety of other creative tools.  This is a great resource to get students to think outside of the box for their projects and promote creativity.  This site has a community of artists sharing ideas, images and music.  As I perused this site I found the content to be suitable for secondary education and think that it would be a great resource.  As with all communities however, you will want to monitor student activity and work on this site.

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Piloting 30 cell phones in the classroom: Test One “Twitter”

This past week I introduced my students to the 30 HTC Touch Pro2 I am going to test for the remainder of the year.  Each student was assigned their own phone.  After allowing the students a day to familiarize themselves with the phones I decided to try them out.

My first use with the phones, as a resource, in the classroom was to test out Twitter with my Jr. High Students.  As I presented information to them on Washington State history specifically the fur trade and missionaries.  They were allowed to participate in a back channel on twitter. If you are not familiar with back channeling is when people in the audience converse online about the topic being presented to them live.  To do this they use a designated hash tag in Twitter to see and respond to people in the class.  I was surprised by the by the results of my little experiment. Students were very engaged with the topic and obviously the technology.  I was also very surprised to see that they stayed on topic.   Not only were they on topic but they answered each others questions and posed other questions to each other.

On the second day, I decided to post questions to them on the topic and have them respond to those as well.  This really seemed to keep them engaged on the topic being presented.  I even had a student at home who logged on to Twitter and was participating in class from home. I did find that conducting a class and monitoring and posting to Twitter was quite difficult.  Although by the second day, I did see how it could be done.

While I was encouraged and saw the potential of this type of technology use in the classroom I am not sure if this would be a great fit for Jr. High students.  Some of the students a hard time using the phones and got frustrated with the technology.  As a result this pulled them off task as they tried to fix their phone or interrupting class to vent about their phone.  I felt that there is some true potential to using this type of social networking in class.  Will be revamping my use from what I have learned over the past week and giving it another try. Will post the results when I do.

One of the issues that I had was the Twitter client that I used.  I was using a Twitter client called MoTweets.  Does anyone know another mobile application for a windows mobile phone that that works better?  I felt that this client was not very reliable and often very slow to post to Twitter.  If you know of one please leave me a comment.

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Teaching Online vs. A Traditional Classroom: Are they really that different?

Teaching in an online environment contains many of the same issues found in the traditional classroom. Teachers must know their content area and be able to adjust curriculum to best meet the needs of their students. Over the past decade technology has grown tremendously and created new delivery methods that can greatly enhance learning for students. This growth in technology has created many new issues that teachers must consider before teaching in an online environment.

Teachers in must have a good working knowledge of their field of study. While this is a basic requirement of teaching any course, the online environment requires that teachers spend time developing good resources that can be accessed online. With the growth of electronic media the ease of putting information on the web has created many resources that must be screened before allowing students to use them. This requires the teacher to do more than a Google search and bookmark a couple of quick resources. They must investigate and research these sources of information to ensure that they are in fact worthwhile and credible. Along with researching and developing a good set of resources, teachers must be technically proficient in using technology to best meet the needs of their students.

As technology continues to grow, teachers must spend time researching new technologies that may enhance student learning. It is important for them to spend time learning about the various mediums such as: SCORMs, WIKI’s, Blogs, Forums, Chat, and Webquests to be able to use them effectively. Like traditional methodologies, online methodologies require time by teachers to study up on the new and latest developments in electronic media going beyond a word processor and PowerPoint to communicate with students.

The two most important issues to consider in teaching in an online environment are communication and organization. Just like traditional classrooms, lesson plans are critical. Getting the message across to students is the ultimate goal. With the limitations of communication with students, how you communicate in an online environment is critical. This requires teachers to be able to communicate effectively using technology and written word. What you say is as important as how it is organized and presented. Chunking information in small pieces and organization are key components of a good online course. Once a student is lost or confused, learning stops and may not start again for some time.

Online education requires teachers to go beyond just the traditional knowledge of their subjects, but to develop good resources, use the latest technologies, communicate and organize information to best meet the needs to their students and promote learning.

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3 Critical Components for Online Learning

When we consider successful qualities of online education, we find that they are not all that different to the traditional classroom. Like all classroom activities they must be well designed and challenging, so they engage the learner. I believe that there are three critical areas in any successful online learning environment: clear communication, engaging content, and time.

In order for students to be successful in any learning environment, they must have timely feedback. This not only promotes learning but encourages students, giving them a sense of ownership in their learning.

Like the traditional classroom, concepts must be clear and organized and students must be engaged in their learning. In fact, the online environment requires more organization and clarity. Easy navigation and consistent organization are critical to assist students in remaining engaged and motivated. Once a student is lost or confused, the attitude of the learner changes and the learning stops. Thought provoking questions and links to consider or review in answering these questions can promote excellent learning opportunities, as well as providing students with various points of view on topics.

Students must be provided appropriate time to complete their work and work with other students. Students must be allowed to pace themselves to best meet their individual needs. Self-paced learning with good communication from the teacher to keep students focused is what can make online learning so successful. Communication with other students in an online environment must also be timely and easy. This will facilitate learning between all members and for the individual learner.

To create any successful learning environment I believe you must have clear and timely communication, engaging activities that are clear and organized, and time for the learner to complete activities that best suit their needs.

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Three criteria for effective online learning

To create any successful learning environment I believe you must have clear and timely communication, engaging activities that are clear and organized, and time for the learner to complete activities that best suit their needs. We often think that just one type of student can learn online, but I feel that all students can learn online. In fact all students do! Interactivity and communication is the key to any good classroom and online learning environment. Technology has developed enough to engage all learners online. To say that a student has to be a self motivator can apply to any classroom. This is not the main criteria to be considered. What I feel we should be looking at is the communication and interactivity of these courses, gaining the students attention, and keeping it. We are at an age where we must develop online content that is entertaining, engaging and provides a sense of belonging.

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Teach Live Online with WiZiQ

This morning I ran across another great online tool.  WiZiQ allows teachers to teach live online, create tests and quizzes, upload and share content, and allows you to teach live in Moodle.   This service offers a free and premium service for its users.  The free service includes the following:

  • 500 attendees & 02 hours limit per class
  • 03 Class Recordings & Downloads
  • Class Statistics
  • Forever Free Account
  • Forum Based Support

In order to teach in Moodle or integrate with any LMS you must have a Premium membership.  However, If you are looking to try out a live online learning lesson this might be a great resource to give it a try.  The interface was quite intuitive and setup seemed fairly simple.

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Udemy and You (A Simple Online Learning Environment for Your Class)

Udemy

Looking for a simple way to create an online learning content for your students?  Look no further!  Udemy is an online learning environment that makes creating web-based learning simple and interactive.  With this service you can upload presentations and videos.  You can even host live chat sessions or write blog posts.  This site is simple and easy to use and full of rich media content that will motivate and engage your students.  Out of the  many content management sytems I have looked at ove the past few years this one to me seems to be the most intuitive and easy to use.  This would be a great resource for teachers who want to add an online presence to their classroom but are nervous about how to accomplish the task.

Check this great resource out at:  http://www.udemy.com

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