Important Technology Tools
(all teachers should know about!)
LearnBoost is a tool that helps a teacher lesson plan, keep track of grades, and complete administrative tasks all in the same place. While exploring this tool in class, I was very pleased by all this tool had to offer. Teachers can add classes, take attendance, create seating arrangements, create lesson plans and search for the Standards that match up with it, keep track of grades in a grade book, and see class averages. Because of all these different features offered by LearnBoost, I think this tool could be a huge help to teachers in many different ways. Teachers should use this tool to take attendance, record grades, and keep notes on lesson planning in an organized way. By seeing class averages and individual scores on homeworks or assessments, the teacher can adjust and plan his or her instruction based on these numbers. LearnBoost calculates the grade percentage for you so you do not have to do it manually! It is important to keep information such as lesson plan notes, grades, class rosters, and more in a communal place, and LearnBoost provides that for teachers. It is a great tool to keep your plans and class data organized, which is a huge benefit for teachers of all grades.
Class Dojo is a classroom management tool that a lot of teachers use daily and rave about. Before taking this class, I had only heard briefly about what this tool was and did not realize how effective it really can be in elementary classrooms. Class Dojo allows teachers to take attendance, upload pictures, reinforce positive behavior, communicate with parents, and more. It benefits teachers in a way that they can complete administrative tasks and communicate with his or her student’s parents all from one location and it also benefits students by providing only positive behavior reinforcements. When a student does something well such as independent work or helping out friend, the teacher can click on that student’s name in Class Dojo and the student will be able to see what they did well that day. Teachers should incorporate Class Dojo into their every day routines by using it every morning to take attendance, using it regularly to positively reinforce students, and also communicate and keep parents posted about weekly activities and their child’s behavior in the classroom. This tool is really important because of all of its capabilities; teacher’s can assess student’s behavior, keep their parents updated, and complete administrative tasks all in one place, which is really helpful for teachers. Class Dojo is very easy to use and would be a great tool for a teacher who wants to incorporate technology into his or her classroom to start using day to day.
GoNoodle is another classroom management tool I have heard about that works wonders in an elementary classroom, and in homes too! GoNoodle can improve student behavior and attention, increase academic performance, and create an active learning environment by having students get their “wiggles” out through dancing, singing, and playing games. When students have the opportunity to let some energy out during their day, they will be able to focus and attend to learning better, which is why every elementary teacher should use GoNoodle. On a rainy day, during indoor recess, after lunch, at the end of the day, or when the classroom as a whole is distracted and wound up, the teacher should log into GoNoodle and have his or her class do some of the activities provided. There are many different categories of activities this tool provides such as guided dancing, sports and exercise, kinesthetic learning, calming, and more. Because of the many options, teachers can use it in almost any situation to let his or her student’s move around or calm down in an educational setting. It is really important to allow kids to be kids and let them burn off some steam during the school day, and GoNoodle allows them to do so in a school appropriate, fun, and engaging way. Using this tool will create a much more focused and engaged classroom in the long run which is why all elementary teachers should use it at least once a day in their classroom.
Prodigy is math gaming software for active engagement purposes targeted for elementary aged students. Some of the features of this game are the Common Core Standards for math included directly into the game, the student creation of an avatar to serve as their character throughout the game, earning coins and badges through “battles” where they must solve math problems to defeat their enemies, a student progress page for teachers to check, and also a planner for individual students so the teacher can choose what type of math he or she will be practicing while playing this game on certain days or weeks. I have seen this tool used in my CSL for EDU 260 (I am in a special education room for students with emotional behavior disorders) and the students love it because they do not even realize they are practicing their math skills because of the fun gaming aspect of Prodigy. This tool would also work well in a regular education room because all students love to play games on their iPads or on the computers. I feel like this tool is an important tool teachers should incorporate into their daily schedules because students thoroughly enjoy it. Students get the benefit of practicing their math skills while feeling like they are not even doing math because they are playing a game. This tool is a really great way to get students actively engaged in learning. The teacher should start using this tool by letting students play Prodigy for 5-10 minutes after lunch or recess to cool down, as a way to get their math brains working, or as a reward. My CSL teacher used it as a way to warm students up for math by allowing them to play for 5 minutes after lunch and she used it as a way to reward students when they finished their work or did something good. This tool can be really effective for building and practicing basic math skills for elementary aged students in a fun and engaging way!
ForAllRubrics is an online rubric-making tool that is very easy to use. The format of the rubric is already created and laid out for the teacher; all he or she has to do is input the categories, point value, and comments for a specific task that needs to be graded. Teachers can export the rubric, print it, or download it as a PDF to give to his or her students. I would recommend using this online rubric-making tool whenever students are doing a project or assignment that needs to be graded based of different categories of criteria. It is very simple to use and teachers can easily add or delete rows and columns to fit their grading criteria. This tool is important for teachers of all grades because of how easy it is to use and how it saves time because it is already formatted and set up for the teacher to immediately start inputting their criteria. It is very important to have a consistent, organized grading system, and using ForAllRubrics provides this for the teacher and student for any type of assignment. It is easy to comprehend and navigate for both teachers and students and is a great way tool to create an online rubric.
Here is a quick overview of what Stick Pick does:
Type of software: randomization and questioning app
Primary user: teachers
Appropriate Audience: teachers can use for any age range of students
- Insert students names and randomly draw a name by clicking on the can of sticks on the app
- Select a mode/level of questions you want to ask individual students based on their level of knowledge (see picture on right)
- This app provides a long list of questions and ways to phrase questions based on the student you randomly selected
- Insert whether the student answered the question correctly, incorrectly, or gave an opinion-based answer and rate their response (5= insightful, confident to 1= no understanding)
- E-mail the students their result of the questions asked in class by clicking on their name in the roster
Appropriate audience: this app is great because any teacher can use it for any age of students. From early elementary grades to high school students, teachers can find useful ways to use this app for questioning purposes. The options to choose the level of knowledge a student has for any concept or subject is what allows this app to be used across a wide range of grade levels.
Feedback provided: it is very easy for teachers to send student’s feedback about their answers to questions asked in class because all they have to do is insert their evaluation of the student’s response, click on their name in the roster, and send it to them via email. The teacher can add other comments if needed within the email to make the feedback even more specific.
- The options to customize questions based on the students level of knowledge
- The ESL mode is great so the teacher can ask students appropriate and understandable questions based on their level of English proficiency
- The randomization factor
- The option to send feedback
- Teachers wished they could add in their students from a word document or excel form because this app only allows teachers to manually enter all their students names (see comments in picture below).
- Although cheap, it does cost $3.99 to download
Teachers often find it hard to get students actively participating in class. With the use of this app, the teacher can randomly draw a name from the cup of sticks and ask that student a question that he or she would be able to answer based on their comprehension of a text or concept. This way, the student will not feel uncomfortable answering a question, but they will also be participating in a way that is not intimidating or difficult for them. All students will have the chance to participate and share their knowledge to the class when a teacher uses this app.
Getting ELL students engaged and actively participating in class discussions can definitely be a difficult thing, especially if they are Level 1 or 2 language learners. Using this app with the ESL mode can relieve some of the pressure and nervousness of the ELL student because he or she knows that the teacher will only ask them questions that they are able to comprehend and answer adequately based on their English proficiency. This app is a great way to get ELL students participating and engaging in class discussions.
What is Schoology? Watch this video to find out!
Type of software: cloud-based, management, and collaboration software
Primary user: teachers and students
Appropriate audience: middle school aged students through higher education
- Shows recent activity page (similar to Facebook) where teachers and students can post, like, and comment on each other’s posts
- A reminders and upcoming due dates tab so students can always see what their assignments are for the week
- Teachers can add assignments and lessons directly to his or her class page
- Embed content from Google, Microsoft, Youtube, and more
- Teachers can track students individually through the student analytics reporting and then post content that will better suit their personal needs
- Access grading tools such as written and video feedback and a specific tab for student grades
- Students can take quizzes from their page and get immediate feedback
- Works on iOS, Android, and Kindle devices
Age appropriateness: this tool is appropriate for middle school students all the way through college students. This site has no advertisements and is fairly easy to use and organized efficiently. As long as the teacher gives a demonstration on how to use this tool, his or her students, no matter what age, should be able to easily access their assignments and quizzes, as well as communicate with their peers and their teacher easily.
Feedback provided: students and teachers receive immediate feedback after students complete a quiz or other graded assignment. With access to immediate results, teachers can quickly provide targeted feedback to students and differentiate for them as needed. Everything on Schoology is organized in a way so teachers and students can see grades, progress, and feedback at any time.
Ability to maintain interest: since there are so many different ways to use Schoology, such as posting videos in a lesson, taking an online quiz, having discussions on a class page, and more, its ability to maintain student’s interest is high. Students are not limited to doing the same thing every day on Schoology, and providing variety in how lessons are presented or how assessments are performed definitely keep students engaged and interested.
Comparison to Facebook: Schoology has many different features for educational purposes, but it is very similar to Facebook in the discussion aspect it provides. The
teacher or student can type up a post in their class page containing an article or discussion question, and other students can reply, comment, like, and overall further promote discussion. This is very similar to Facebook, especially nowadays with all the political debates going on that almost everyone see’s on their Newsfeeds. Schoology is a great way for students and teachers to communicate, debate, and share ideas, only in a safer, less public space.
If a teacher is having a difficult time organizing his or her assignments, quizzes, grading records, etc. then he or she should turn to Schoology. This cloud-based software is organized in a way so that all of a teacher’s assignments, quizzes, grades, and more are in the same location. Instead of searching through endless amounts of papers, all the teacher has to do is log on to Schoology and can access anything that they need on any device, at school or at home.
If a teacher is struggling to track student’s progress in a visible way that is easy to access, Schoology can easily do that for them. With the analytics section of this site, teachers can easily see student’s strengths and weaknesses from their quiz scores marked by green (meaning they have mastered the content) or red (meaning they need help) coloring. It is very easy to see who needs more help and who can move on to new content with this type of technology.
Brain Pop Jr. (specific to math)
Type of software: math gaming software
Primary user: students, teachers
Appropriate audience: elementary aged students (grades K-3)
- Many different reinforcement games for math concepts
- Offers games in other subjects as well (English, social studies, science, health, etc.)
- Many math categories to choose from (number sense, measurement, fractions, time, geometry, multiplication and division, etc.)
- All games offered in different languages (ESL, Spanish, French)
- Videos explaining concepts offered
- Quizzes provided
- Lesson plan ideas for educators provided
- Audio voice reads aloud when mouse is over a word
Appropriate audience: this software is age appropriate for younger elementary students. It provides games/lessons that coincide with the Standards for kindergarten throughout 3rd grade. There are no advertisements and the pictures and animations are very kid friendly for this age group.
Ease of use: I had no trouble navigating my way through this website. Students will need a username and a password to login and the rest is very self-explanatory. For younger students, teacher directions of where to go will most likely be needed but everything is labeled clearly and visibly, and the topics are organized very well. For students who may have difficulty or have no learned to read yet, the audio feature is very useful. Students will just need to hover their mouse of the words and a voice reads the label out loud to them.
Ability to maintain interest: since everything on this website is very kid friendly and appropriate, I imagine it to be very stimulating and interesting to the students who use it. The colors, the playful animations and images, and games are all things that will keep students wanting to play while simultaneously learning and reinforcing math concepts.
- Concepts offered are only really appropriate up until 3rd grade, so 4th grade and up will not benefit from this site
- Need access to a computer or tablet with Internet to use
Struggling to find a way to reward your students with computer/iPad time that involves the reinforcement of concepts at the same time? Using this tool will eliminate the tough search! Students will play fun and stimulating games that allow them to practice their math skills across many different subjects without realizing that they are doing so. This site will serve as a great way to reward students or to fill empty time when students finish work without straying them away from learning math.
Teaching math strategies to students can be very difficult, but Brain Pop Jr. provides a whole section about math strategies! Teachers can have students log on to this site and learn about how to use different strategies to solve math problems without the difficulty of the teacher teaching them. This can also reinforce how to use math strategies and offers practice for students to do so. The different math strategies offered on this site are, choosing an operation, patterns, pictographs, solving word problems, and tally charts/bar graphs.
(ELA subject specific tool)
Type of software: ebook online reading resource software
Primary user: teachers and elementary aged students
Appropriate audience: elementary aged students (K-5th grade)
- 400+ leveled interactive ebooks provided
- 29 reading levels provided
- Open book eQuizzes that test comprehension
- ebooks in different languages (mainly Spanish)
- Online running records for teachers
- Students can listen to books while the text being read is highlighted
- Students can record themselves reading a book
- Can access through free apps for iPad, Android, and Kindle Fire
Age appropriateness: Raz-Kids is very age appropriate for students ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade. Not only is it age appropriate, but it is also appropriate for different kinds of reading levels since the books on this site are leveled starting from A-Z. Every child will be given books that are appropriate for their age and reading level based on their reading skills and can work their way up a level through practice and scoring high on the post-reading eQuizzes.
Feedback provided: Students and teachers are granted instant feedback from Raz-Kids. Directly after students take an eQuiz, they are told their score (ie. 10/10 correct) and they are also told if they have moved up a level. Teachers are also given feedback because Raz-Kids provides an organized tab where the teacher can view every student’s progress, scores, and reading levels. This allows the teacher to monitor and assess his or her students based on their online reading and quiz scores.
- Easily accessible through a variety of different devices
- All of the texts are leveled so the teacher does not have to level them his or herself
- Hundreds of ebooks provided
- Tools for students to use (ie. sticky notes to mark down unknown words, recording reading, etc.) while they are reading
- Teachers can easily keep track of student progress with the online assessments, running records, and student recordings
- Follows the ELA Common Core Standards
- Interactive books make reading enjoyable for students
- High cost, teacher might have to pay out of pocket if school does not provide the funding for it
- Not all students may have access to a device whether it be at home or in school since it is an online tool
Application Within Education:
Say for instance you are a new teacher who does not have a stocked bookshelf of age appropriate books for your student. Finding the readability level of each book is tedious and time consuming, but using Raz-Kids can eliminate all of these issues. Although the teacher (or school) must pay a yearly fee, Raz-Kids provides hundreds of age appropriate books that are easily accessible to students through popular devices. Each book is leveled A-Z so the teacher would not have to worry about doing that on their own time. This ebook software saves teachers time and money (buying hundreds of books will most likely cost more than the annual fee) and engages his or her students.
If students are struggling with fluency because they are not exposed to fluent readers enough during school or at home, Raz-Kids could serve as their model. Since this
software provides the option of having a book read aloud to a child by a fluent reader, the student could see how fluency works and acquire it on his or her own through recording themselves. Students are able to follow along with the voice that is reading the text through the highlighted text feature and they can experience a perfect model of what a fluent reader sounds like if they are not being exposed to fluency at home or in school as much as they should.
Type of software: productivity app
Primary user: adults, older students
Appropriate audience: anyone with a busy schedule and needs constant reminders and an organized To-Do list
Price: free or $4.99/month for advanced settings
- Add, organize and schedule your to-dos from your phone, tablet or computer
- Set due dates and reminders to ensure you never forget important deadlines
- Use subtasks, notes, files and comments to add important details to your to-dos
- Create lists to help sort your to-dos
- Star tasks that are really important so you know you have to prioritize them (task then shows up under Starred tab)
- Share lists and collaborate on your to-dos with family, friends and colleagues
- Can be used from all devices including computers, phones, tablets, etc.
- Swipe down from any app to get a glance of your due to-dos
- Save web pages and articles to your Wunderlist
Age appropriateness: this tool is appropriate from students in upper middle school to an adult age. There are no advertisements or distractions on this site, and it allows all users to easily organize and prioritize their daily lives. This could be really helpful for older students to set reminders about homework, projects, and other deadlines. It could also be useful for adults who have to set reminders about meetings, their children’s extracurricular activities, deadlines, and more.
Ease of use: this tool is very straightforward to use; everything is labeled and organized in a way that is very accessible to the user. It is easy to add new to-do tasks, manage lists, star important tasks, and share lists with others. It is easy to access your lists on any device by signing into the website or downloading the app and then signing in with a username and password. It’s very simple to star important tasks and to set alerts to remind yourself about important things that need to be completed.
Ability to maintain interest: if I used this tool to keep track of everything I had to do, I could see it becoming addictive! This tool would definitely maintain my interest because I would be compelled to add every little thing I had to get done into this app. It’s also so easy to access from every device that I would constantly be checking it. I can imagine this to be true with many other users as well.
- The user can’t add a location to their task, which could be very helpful so the user knows where this task needs to be completed (if it has a location)
- Constant reminders from this app could be very distracting, especially if they are being shown on all devices.
This video shows how to efficiently use Wunderlist and its many features:
Teachers are very busy, and often have to collaborate or co-teach with other teachers. Finding the time to sit down with them and communicate about their ideas and goals can be difficult. To solve this issue, Wunderlist could be a helpful tool for
collaboration and communication purposes among teachers. Teachers can share their lists on this app with other users so they can see exactly what must be done in preparation for the lesson. This would definitely give both teachers one less thing to do (meet up with each other) in their already busy day-to-day schedules.
Students also have very busy lives and often forget to jot down their homework in their planners or agendas. With Wunderlist, this problem could easily be avoided. The teacher can make it a priority in his or her classroom that the students download this app and put their homework in it every day. The teacher could also share a weekly to-do list with his or her students on this app so they can see their assignments and due dates that way as well. Having access to this to-do list on every device would be very helpful for students in this age of technology.
Universal Design for Learning:
After this week’s classes, I have learned much more about UDL than I had previously known. I always had a general sense that UDL was planning lessons that suited each child’s needs and learning styles, but now I know that it is much more specific than that. The three categories, representation, expression, and engagement are helpful to keep in mind when lesson planning. From now on, I will try my best to ask myself questions such as, how many different ways can I present this information to my students? How can I provide different ways for students to express their learning? What choices can I proved to further engage my students? Watching the video of UDL applied in an actual classroom really helped me to see how to successfully incorporate this design and how to meet the needs of all students by providing lots of choice. To really implement UDL, the teacher needs to know the different learning styles of his or her students very well, and I presume incorporating UDL into each lesson will take a lot of practice, but in a classroom full of students with diverse needs and learning styles, and possibly varying disabilities, it can only be beneficial for the class as a whole.
I have always known that assistive technologies existed, but I did not know about the wide variety of tools available to support people with all kinds of disabilities. From my tool evaluation presentation and my investigation of assistive communication technologies, I have learned how beneficial and supportive these tools can be for students with language disabilities or other disabilities that make speaking difficult. Technologies such as Word Talk, Verbally, and more allow students to express their feelings and needs through the touch of a button. These kinds of tools are really important because if a child cannot physically express their thoughts or feelings through speech, they will most likely get frustrated and have behavioral issues, which will make getting work accomplished difficult. Through the use of different apps and tools, the student with a disability is easily able to say what they need and want to say, which will ultimately make learning easier for them. I am excited to hear about other assistive technologies in our collaborative presentation on Friday!
Type of software: downloadable audio software plugin
Primary user: anyone with access to a computer and Microsoft Word
Appropriate audience: students learning to read and write, English language learners, a person with a reading disability, or anyone who could benefit from reinforcement of both print and oral reading.
- Need Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Word (2007-2011) and Computer Synthetic Voice (SAPI 4 or 5) to download
- Converts text to speech
- Added in toolbar in a Word document
- Speaks entire document, paragraph, sentence, word in a text (as long as it is copy and pasted or written in Word)
- Text is highlighted as the tool reads it
- Change the voice and speed of the tool to the user’s liking
- Change the color of the highlighting
Tool bar features and explanations:
Click here to watch a quick Tutorial video of how WordTalk works.
Age appropriateness: This tool is appropriate for students in elementary school, up to adults of any age with access to a computer and has Microsoft Word downloaded on their computer. This tool can be used to help young elementary students learn the sounds of letters and words while physically seeing the letter or word highlighted (adult help with directions will most likely be needed). This tool can help English language learners of all ages as well. There really is no age limitation to this tool because it can assist anyone who wants to listen to text rather than read it themselves.
Ease of use: This tool is simple to use; the user has to download this software to their computer and it will show up under the “Add-ins” tab in Microsoft Word. The tool bar is fairly easy to use and there are explanations of what each button does on the WordTalk website.
- Extensive toolbar
- Easy to access in Word document
- Can read any text in English
- Ability to adjust the voice and speed that it reads
- Highlighted text
- No cost
- Computer must have Microsoft Windows and Word installed
- This software does not work on Mac OS X, iPad, Android devices, or Chromebook
- If text is not found online, the user (or teacher) will have to type the text into a Word document (time consuming)
Applications Within Education:
A lot of times students are interested in reading a certain text that is above their reading capabilities, so when they read it, they are more focused on decoding the words rather than comprehending what is being read, which leads to frustration and the inability to recall or retell what they read. With WordTalk, the students could focus more on the meaning because the text is being read directly to them. If the text is digital, the teacher will just have to copy and paste the text into a word document, but if the text is from a book, the teacher will need to type it into a Word document so WordTalk can work.
WordTalk can be very beneficial for English Language Learners. The teacher could type up vocabulary words into a Word document and the ELL student could listen to WordTalk dictate these words and he or she can practice saying them while seeing how they are spelled. This will eliminate the problem of the teacher having to spend time helping the ELL student pronounce new vocabulary words while managing a classroom full of students. Instead, the ELL student can practice on his or her own with the help of WordTalk.
Social Media and Collaboration Tools in the Classroom
Merit: I really like how it is so easy to collaborate and communicate on Facebook. Posting a status, making a group with certain people, or direct messaging are all effective and easy ways to communicate with others on this social media site. Being able to “like” or even now “dislike” and add other reactions to someone else’s post and also add comments on it allows the user to see other’s ideas or receive feedback and input from their friends.
Drawback: There are a lot of advertisements on Facebook, and depending on who you’re friends with, your Newsfeed can get filled up with a lot of inappropriate or uninteresting things, especially if using Facebook in an educational setting. It is very easy to get distracted on this site.
My use of this tool: In an elementary classroom setting, I personally would not consider using this tool with my students. If anything, I would use this tool to communicate important information with the student’s parents. Every day (or week if once a day is too much) I could make a post in a private group page with my student’s parents about what the plan for this week is, what student’s homework is, and general announcements to keep open and clear communication with parents. If a particular student is struggling, I could directly message the parent(s) of this student to let them know what more they could be doing at home to help them.
Merit: The limitation to 140 characters on Twitter is probably the best thing about it. It keeps things short and direct; it also does not disengage the user because overall there is not much to read. If the user has something more to say, they can easily attach a video or link to another website or article.
Drawback: Twitter can be very distracting. One can easily get lost looking at a celebrity’s profile, or watching videos and meme’s that fill up on one’s newsfeed. There are also a lot of joke or fake accounts that Tweet information that is not true or relevant information.
My use of this tool: I would consider using Twitter in my future classroom, but only if I was teaching an upper elementary grade. I think it could be very effective for getting student’s opinions on certain topics. For example, I could Tweet a question such as, “What was your favorite part of our unit on volcanoes?” and students could reply to me and I could see what they took away from the unit.
Merit: The abundance of resources not only for educational purposes, but also for many other topics as well such as food, clothes, etc. The user can search anything and a large variety of pins will show up that the user can pin to their board. The ideas on Pinterest are endless and that is very beneficial to the user for many different reasons!
Drawback: The merit of having so many different resources in this tool can lead to the drawback, which is distraction. Personally, I get lost by the amount of pins I see on my board daily and get distracted searching for a lot of different things that definitely do not pertain to what I am doing in that moment.
My use of this tool: As a teacher, I would use this tool as a resource for myself rather than as a tool for my students. There are so many different lesson plan ideas on Pinterest for all ages, grades, and subjects that are so fun and creative! I could make my classroom a more positive environment with decoration ideas and classroom management strategies that can be found in many Pins. Teachers on Pinterest share their ideas so other teachers can use them in their classroom free of charge; this allows the teacher to make the lesson personalized to his or her classroom needs.
Merit: Wikispaces is a great tool to use for communication with other users through posts and updates on their page. In education, it is a great way to inform students of upcoming assignments, homework, and due dates. I also like the amount of control the creator of the page has over what is posted not only by the user, but also by others apart of that wiki to make sure that everything is appropriate and content related.
Drawback: The constant refreshing for new content on wiki is very tedious to the users. If there were a way to see real-time work of other users instead of having to refresh the page to access new content, wiki would be more beneficial.
My use of this tool: I see this tool as helpful for collaboration on assignments and for communication purposes. I do not really see myself using this tool in my elementary aged classroom, but I do see this as a useful tool for secondary education for collaboration on project ideas, class discussions, and as a way to access homework and other assignments in an organized fashion.