What I learned this summer

As an educator and now administrator I have constantly worked to learn new things about education. Today’s access to technology has given educators access to so many great minds that learning new things seems to be getting easier every year. I spent a good portion of my “time off” trying to find new and better ways to incorporate technology into classrooms. I stumbled across so many great things I don’t know if I have the energy to write about all of them. Here is a short list of new things I will be working on incorporating into our school over the next school year:

Khan Academy

While I am not new to KA, I have used their videos for years, I am more convinced of the power this resource has. The data collected from just a few students over the summer has given me an incredible understanding of what information these students know and don’t know. Students come into classrooms today with a wide range of math skills. It’s hard to find a better, free, resource to help track that information to help guide your teaching. Parents can also log on and see their child’s progress, or lack thereof. This creates great information for future discussions about how students are performing in class.

http://www.khanacademy.org

Educreations

Where was this resource throughout my teaching career? This is one tool I really could have used to reach students, especially those students with attendance issues. The ability to make short videos with engaging visuals that you can store for years to come makes this resource something very valuable to schools, and it’s free as well!

http://www.educreations.com

Class Dojo

This classroom management tool gives teachers the ability to track behavior, both positive and negative, from their IPads or computers. This free tool is easy to use and now gives teachers the ability to share classes so you don’t have to take the time to put in every student for every class you teach. You can share each student’s information with their parents through email or parents can log in and see their students’ progress. We always talk about how much we would like parents to see what goes on with their students in the class and this is probably the next best thing to them sitting with their students. Another great way to keep parents involved and informed!

http://www.classdojo.com

Vocabulary.com

Ugh, another vocab list of words to remember? If I only had a dollar for every time I said this throughout middle school! Students often see vocab as another thing they have to cram for, regurgitate and forget. Vocabulary.com gives teachers and students the opportunity to make vocab an online activity, which generally sparks more interest in students. Teachers can share vocab lists with students or pick from the thousands of already public lists other teachers have created. These lists go with historical documents, books, and chapters and book units across all subject areas. As students correctly answer questions they make progress on word mastery as well as allocate points for their school. This could be a motivational tool trying to beat previous personal and school scores. Any way we can make vocab more like a game is probably going to get more students participating and lead to more student learning. There is also an app that can be purchased for students to work on the bus, in the car, or anywhere they can connect.

http://www.vocabulary.com

Blogs

Looking for a way to get students more interested about writing, have them blog. I was skeptical at first but found more information than I could digest about the success teachers have had with classroom blogs. The research shows that students write more and with better quality if they know more people are going to read their writing, especially if those people are their peers. My Big Campus gives students the opportunity to create those blogs so you don’t have to find any new resources to make this happen, but if you want to there are more websites than you can imagine available for you to use.

Hemingway app

Students regularly need feedback prior to handing in their writings and teachers are usually the only ones they go to for this feedback. Hemingwayapp.com gives students the opportunity to copy and paste their writings onto the website and get immediate feedback. Feedback is provided in the areas of readability, adverb use, use of passive voice are just a few of the areas they get instant feedback on. This can also be used as a tool for teachers to show students specific parts of their papers that are difficult to read or show examples of how their writings could be more polished.

http://www.hemingwayapp.com

Get Kahoot

Ever wish you could make review games that didn’t require you to spend hours making something that is never as engaging as you wanted it to be? GetKahoot.com helps you create those review games much quicker, saves them online, and keeps score for you. Along with other features GetKahoot.com gives you the opportunity to make more engaging classroom review games, discussions, and surveys. Now you don’t have to create teams where half the students aren’t playing, or only paying attention during their turn, because everyone in logged in and you can track everyone’s progress. Definitely a fun way to get students involved in the classroom.

Probably the best part about all these websites is that they are free. We all know there are lot of great things out there for educators but cost often prevents us from utilizing many of these resources. Access to free resources allows us to create a more engaging classroom, without straining already tight budgets.

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