Technology Evolves Quickly!
When I started teaching in 2004, I used any/all available technology. I had an overhead projector and a CD player. Then I scored an InFocus machine and a laptop because no one else in the social studies department had use for it. Afterwards, I graduated to a SmartBoard and “hoarder of laptop carts.” Even when I was a “floater,” without my own classroom for several years, I would wheel my own teaching cart and two laptop carts to all of my classes- without missing a beat. The only real issue with the method was how loud I was coming down the hallway. The laptop carts squeaked and the wheels always sounded like shopping carts that needed repair.
Teachers have wonderful tech tools to choose from these days. I am positively jealous that many of the tools below did not exist even three years ago when I left the classroom. As the E Learning Coordinator of my division, I get to review and train others on the latest tech tools, which I have to admit, is pretty fun!
All of the tech tools featured in this post are free, user friendly, and (likely) will be available on your school’s network. These tools are best for students in grades 6-12 but the teacher creation tools can be used for any grade/subject level.
So, here are my top 25 picks for digital tools for 2015!
Want an updated list for 2016? Check out the Top 16 Tech Tools for 2016.
For creating lessons to digitally share with students:
1. Nearpod– include already created presentations or start from scratch. Nearpod keeps students engaged and on the same digital “page” as their teacher.
2. OfficeMix– make your powerpoints interactive with polls, questions, videos, and more!
3. Prezi– creates awesome presentations. This is for you if you are sick of “plain old PowerPoint.”
Instant polling: perfect for quickly checking for student understanding, collecting quick data, and engaging students.
4. Socrative- ask true/false, multiple choice, and short answer questions to your audience! There’s a fun “Space Race” game that splits your group into two and puts them “head to head.” Whoever answers the most correct questions fastest, wins.
5. KaHoot– totally feels like a a game…but it’s a quick and fun way to assess students’ knowledge.
6. PollEverywhere– also asks a variety of question types to poll your audience and get immediate feedback.
Current Events: why not promote reading and a global perspective in any class you teach? Making connections to what’s going on outside the walls of your school is always a good idea to engage your students.
7. Newsela– provides current event articles on the students’ reading level and interests.
8. CNN Student News– quick 10 minute news video with discussion questions.
Connecting Home and School
9. Remind– have parents/students sign up for text alerts without having phone numbers. You can even schedule reminders in advance. It’s just one more way to connect and bridge school and home.
10. Edmodo– create an online community and practice digital citizenship at the same time. Students/teachers have access to subject content, polling, quizzes, discussion boards, badges, “snapshot” which assesses students competencies (VA Standards of Learning; Common Core), and more!
Videos and Resources for Video Watching:
14. Hippocampus– a wide variety of videos and interactives, best for upper level subjects/students.
16-20 Core APPS:
- Math- MangaHigh, IXL Math
- English- NoRedInk
- Science-simulations from University of Colorado
- Social Studies- StoryboardThat for digital storytelling
21-23 Productivity tools:
- Zipgrade– instantly grade assessment and get data quick!
- Evernote– organize everything, share notes/notebooks, create checklists, and more!
- Pinterest– create boards (like my TechnoED board) to organize awesome Internet finds!
24. Powtoon– create fun and easy animated videos.
Here is an example of a Powtoons video I made for our online summer school students to view.
25. PicMonkey– I love using it for simple graphics like the ones I use for my blog.
As you can see, there are plenty of free options to choose from when integrating technology into your classroom. The key is to use technology to enhance your instruction. Make sure the tool fits your final goal and serves a real purpose- don’t just use technology for the sake of using technology. All of the featured technology tools found in my blog fit into my criteria for recommending technology. See the list below!