By:Nikki Schafer, Millard Public Schools
As an instructional technology facilitator, I am always looking for easy-to-use tools that can make a big impact on classrooms. I like to keep these in mind when working with teachers in case they are looking for that “one new thing” to incorporate quickly. One of my favorite questions when I meet with a teacher is “What should I know?” If you are looking for some quick tips to help you “Stretch Yourself” or “Level Up” your classroom, check out these five (FREE) go-to tools
The team at goformative.com has really built something fabulous. This assessment tool allows teachers to build their own assessments or use pre-created options. The thing I love most about this particular assessment tool is the ability to see student results in real time. While Google’s Forms will always hold a special place in my heart, Formative has features like standards integration and points adjustment that make it a serious contender in the assessment field. Add to that the fact that Formative can integrate with Clever, ClassLink, and Google Classroom, and most teachers are sold!
If you are one of the teachers who has not heard of Seesaw.me, you are in for a treat! Seesaw began as a digital student journal app, but has grown to be much more. Teachers can connect parents and guardians to their students (and only their students) to showcase the work being done in the classroom, send announcements or reminders, and generally improve the school-to-home connection. Seesaw also has an activity option that allows teachers to send activities to students for them to complete independently. In short, if you haven’t explored Seesaw, you should!
3.Google Classroom Tips
Google Classroom just celebrated their 5th birthday, but you would never guess it’s only been 5 years. I have yet to log into Google Classroom and not have something changed. The engineers at Google are constantly updating Classroom, usually for the better. In the 5 years Google Classroom has been around, I am sure that there have been quite a few updates that have made teachers excited to try the platform, but the number one feature I have heard the most excitement about is the ability to reuse posts. The “Reuse Post” option from the “+ Create” button allows teachers to pull posts from one classroom to another, whether that classroom is active or not. Don’t recreate the wheel, just reuse it.
4.Immediate Feedback Tools
Some of the biggest game-changers for teachers involve immediate feedback from students. Tools like Plickers, Peardeck, Nearpod, and Kahoot (among many others) can give teachers an immediate idea of which students have grasped the concepts or skills, and which students might need more help. Plickers are the least tech-y of the options, with printed-out cards that students hold up at different orientations to signify different answers to a teacher-prompted question. Only one device is needed to read the answer cards – which can be done through the Plickers app. Peardeck and Nearpod are both response to prompt options for Google Slides, Power Points, or other slide presentation options. Questions appear on the screen as part of the presentation, and students can answer on their own devices via a join code. Kahoot can be used as a game, but can also be used to gauge understanding and retention. Students are given a question and a range of multiple-choice questions to choose from. During game play, students earn points by answering quickly and correctly. No matter which tool you choose, immediate feedback can radically change the classroom for the better, giving teachers a chance to intervene and redirect quickly when necessary.
5.Google Applied Digital Skills/Workbench Education
These are newer options from Google, and just as powerful as other Google for Edu tools. Applied Digital Skills is Google’s option for teachers who are looking for pre-packaged lessons that help students learn to work within a digital environment. Lessons like “Create a Resume in Google Docs” and “Technology’s Role in Current Events” have guides for ideal student age range, tools used, and skills covered. WorkbenchEducation.com branches out a bit into pre-packaged lessons in the areas of Science, Art, and much more. While Workbench uses digital tools, the goal is on the content learning, not the digital tools themselves.
If you are looking for something you can use to stretch your teaching, or reinvigorate your classroom environment, one of these tools might just do that! Since time is at such a premium in education, hopefully one of these options will allow you to reclaim some of yours! Please feel free to email me at Nikki.Schafer@netasite.org with any questions or comments – and I will do everything I can to help you get up and running with any of these options! Happy teacher tech-ing!