5 Edtech Resources for Students

This year I have put together a list for my students of five sites that they might find helpful in their classes. These sites are ones that over the past few years my students have routinely used. I do not necessarily think that they are all great but there is something about them that students seem to like and have proven to be helpful in their studies.

Search Engines

InstaGrok: This is a great search engine that shows how facts and concepts are related. This is a great visual tool to teach kids about how searches are conducted on the web.

Fact Monster: This site allows students to find information quickly and keeps them on one site so that they do not get lost in a variety of links looking for information.

Images

Pics4Learning: Great website for students to use to find images for projects and other assignments. Teachers can use and feel safe that all images found on this website are appropriate for school.

Writing Tools

Wordsmyth: is and easy to use dictionary that provides definition pronunciation and alternative words for students to use.

Bibme: Is a great free citation and bibliography maker. It is simple easy to use and auto

Image representing BibMe as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

fills in a lot of details for the students.

 

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Tweet to Learn History

TwHistory is a great way to engage students in history using today’s social media.  This site allows teachers to conduct reenactments using social media like twitter. The great thing though about this website is that it allows you to use this type of media with out going onto Twitter. Everything is hosted on TwHistory so it is safe and accessible through school district servers that often block Twitter. This is a great tool that could be quite effective in teaching history to students. For more information on this website see the following article in Mind/Shift or check out Larry Ferlazzo‘s website and his “The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning” list

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Historic Witness Podcasts

I was reading one of my favorite blogs yesterday, Free Technology For Teachers, and came across a great resource post called BBC Witness Podcasts.  BBC Witness Podcasts provides first hand accounts of historical events.  This would be an excellent way to bring history to life for your students.  After listening to a few of these accounts I began to think of many ways to incorporate these historic podcasts into the classroom. They are engaging and provide insight and information about hisotoric events in a new light.

As they state on their website: “Witness – history as told by the people who were there. Five days a week we will be talking to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events.”

Check this site out at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/witness

If you have not read Free Technology for Teachers blog I highly recommend you bookmark that site check it out at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

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Great Teaching Resource “Teacher First”

This past weekend I found a great resource that I wanted to share “Teacher First”.  I have looked at this site before but never really took the time to look at all of the available content.  It is quite impressive and has some great units and lessons that are engaging and well developed.  This site offers a wide variety subject specific resources and can be a great place for teachers to bookmark and visit when developing their lessons. Check it out at www.teacherfirst.com.

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Fantasy Football Lessons for Education

2007 homecoming game at Northeastern State Uni...
Image via Wikipedia

So this past Sunday I sat down with a few friends to watch a football game.  As we screamed at each other and the TV I was struck by two interesting educational practices.  The first was was how the teams we were interested in watching were teams that until this year we would never have sat down to watch.  Being a teacher natural this intrigued me, why are we all so excited to see this game.  The answer was simple we were invested in this game.  We all had a stake in it because of Fantasy Football.  I immediately got to thinking about my class and how I could create this same type of atmosphere.  If I could get kids invested in a topic even a small portion of that topic I can keep them engaged and actively participating.  While it seems so simple it often is quite difficult for teachers and students to find that topic or subject that will captivate individual students.

As I continued to sit on the couch and tease and cajole  the others in the group another revelation hit me that made perfect sense.  Allow them to play.  So often we stifle kids creativity and do not allow them to play games and with each other in class.  If teachers are able to create an atmosphere of play and interaction among the students students would be engaged and actively participating in their education.  We live now in an ever increasing social world with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social websites.  Students need to feel connected. They are connected 24/7 to friends and family but at school often feel isolated and alone because they loose that connection.  If teachers can simply providing that connection in class they can help to create a learning environment better suited to the students of today.

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8 Great ways to Present Information to Your Students

Found a great link today on my PLN via twitter.  This site shows you 8 different presentation technologies.  I have used most of these and found the explanations and examples very good on this website.  This would be a great resource to show those teachers that are a little apprehensive to add technology to their classroom.

Take a look at this website. http://livebinders.com/play/play?id=8503#

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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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