By Bethany Petty
The classrooms of today have the potential to look vastly different than those of the past. Many teachers have access to a vast array of technology tools that can be used in the classroom to increase student engagement.
Sometimes, however, the world of educational technology can seem daunting and extremely overwhelming—especially for newcomers. Use this list of teacher tools to “techify” your lessons one step at a time. Each one has the potential to enhance your classroom biome and get students excited about your content.
$45/year after 30-day free trial
This is a collaborative tool that can be used in virtually any classroom. Teachers create a free “wall” where students can talk with one another. Teachers can customize a variety of features such as the wall background, image, title and URL, as well as moderate posts from their students. In this case, the teacher must accept each post before it’s visible to the entire class.
I love to use Padlet to encourage the backchannel while my students view content-related films. This activity encourages them to remain engaged in the movie and has allowed me to transition away from the typical “viewing guide.”
Toss out your PowerPoint Jeopardy template and try Kahoot instead. This is probably the most popular and requested tool in my classroom—my students love to review content with this tool, which is a gamified student response system that appeals to all students.
The competition between students can be tense at times, but students are reviewing content and staying engaged, which is amazing to see as a teacher.
Create a free account at getkahoot.com and begin making your games. Teachers can choose to create a variety of activities through the platform, the most popular in my class being the quiz option. After entering a question, response choices and the correct answer, your Kahoot is ready to be played.
Teachers can share the link to their game, which will allow their students to review material on their own.
This is fun review activity for students that increases their engagement in your content. Many individuals are familiar with this game from the popular talk show show, Ellen.
Heads Up works on Android and iOS devices, and requires participants to describe a word, which is displayed on the device, to their partner.
How can this be beneficial in the classroom? The Heads Up app offers “in-app” purchases, one of which is the “Build Your Own Deck” option, also $.99. Select this option and add the relevant terms to your deck.
This simple app was a huge hit in my classroom when we played with a deck I created to review for a course quarter final.
Free; Screencastify Lite
This is a tool that allows teachers to create screencasted videos for their students right from their Google Chrome browser. Currently, Screencastify offers multiple account options, including a “lite” version which limits users to creating videos of no more than 10 minutes in length.
If you’ve “flipped” your classroom, most of the instructional videos you create for your students will be less than 10 minutes long, so this tool will be perfect for you.
This tool is easy to set up and would be a simple way for your students to create their own videos. In my classroom, students use this tool to “techify” their traditional presentations.
Instead of creating a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation—projecting it on the whiteboard and reading words directly from the presentation—students create a screencasted video to prove they understand a concept. It’s also an opportunity to create engaging instructional content for their fellow classmates.
In my flipped classroom, EDpuzzle is an absolute necessity. EDpuzzle is free tool that allows teachers to embed questions and comments into videos, sourced from YouTube, Crash Course, Teacher Tube and more. The best part is that this tool not only requires students to interact with video content, but also provides teachers with feedback about about their students understanding of it.
Simply create an account with EDpuzzle, which you and your students can make using your GAFE account, and you’re ready to create.
Getting feedback from students is vital in any classroom. Teachers need to understand what concepts our students understand and what topics are still unclear.
Geddit is a well-rounded student response tool that can be used in classrooms with any electronic device, including Chromebooks, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
First create your free account (signing in with your GAFE account is an option), then add classes, and share unique course codes with your students. You can then create lessons and include multiple choice, short answer, or true/false question (Geddit also has mathematic characters) to assess comprehension.
When students access Geddit, they are first asked to rate their understanding of the concept being discussed and are then required to respond to questions written by their teacher. Teachers can easily download results of this activity providing invaluable data.
If you are a 1:1 classroom, or are moving in that direction, you should consider using a Learning Management System, like Schoology. Not only does Schoology allow teachers to create and assign tests and quizzes, it provides the option of a “discussion board,” an important feature for many online or blended classes in the higher education realm.
The discussion board is my favorite tool to use because it’s through these course discussion boards that I’m able to encourage students to interact with course material and discuss their ideas and opinions about that material with each other.
This not only encourages collaboration , but also motivates shy students, who don’t typically participate in traditional discussions, to voice their opinions as well.
Blendspace is a tool that allows teachers to curate and share resources with their students. After creating a free account, teachers can begin to compile resources on “boards” and share them with their students via email, URL or QR Code.
Blendspace is a worthwhile tool to for any teacher to have, and it’s especially helpful in my flipped classroom. At the end of every unit, I create a Blendspace board to share with my students that includes links to all of the instructional videos for the unit, as well as links to graphics I believe are helpful, and of course, the Kahoot unit review game!
Students can use Flippity to review course content with electronic flash cards. Students make their own flashcards by creating a copy of a Google Sheets template found on Flippity’s website. They rename the copied file, enter required terms and definitions, publish their link, and paste it in the designated cell.
Students are then provided with a link to their Flippity flash cards, and the Google Sheet which contains their original terms and definitions is saved in their Google Drive.
Flippity has recently added a quiz show template through which students can create their own Jeopardy-style review game, also done with a Google Sheets template.
Do you have an iPhone, iPad or android device? If so, Explain Everything is an inexpensive app you definitely need. Explain Everything allows anyone to upload, annotate and narrate virtually any file, including a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. Once edited, you can export the file and share it with your students through a variety of outlets, including Google Drive, Dropbox and as a link through email.