Top Ten Favorite Tech Tools for the Classroom
From classroom management and quizzing tools to gamification and learning management systems. If you’re an educator, it’s more than likely that you’re using tech in the classroom. With thousands of new educational apps and a growing number of new devices making their way into classrooms around the globe, which of these tools should be familiar with and why?
As we’ve immersed ourselves in the world of ed-tech for the past decade, we’ve heard from thousands of educators about their favorite tech tools. Here at Kyte Learning, we also have a unique perspective gained from extrapolating the usage data from tens of thousands of educators on the tools they have viewed the most from our library of over 320 ed-tech-specific courses. From that data, we bring you the Top Ten Favorite Tech Tools for the Classroom:
- Google Apps for Education
More commonly referred to as, “GAFE” or, the “G Suite”, Google’s educational tools are super convenient and have a prolific presence in education worldwide. Google offers a suite of incredibly robust software tools to schools and districts for the always welcome price of free fifty free (that’s zero dollars). The G suite includes the following apps/softwares:
Google Drive– A one stop shop for all your files and documents. Google Drive keeps all your school’s data in one place and allows for quick and easy sharing, creation, and collaboration.
Gmail– An easy-to-use email client with 30GB of storage for all the parent emails and cat GIFs you could ever want to store.
Google Docs– A full fledged word processor that lives right inside your web browser. Docs automatically saves your progress as you work and allows for seamless collaboration with colleagues or, even better, amongst your students.
Google Calendar– An integrated online calendar that makes creating events and scheduling meetings a breeze.
Google Sheets– An online spreadsheet that looks and behaves just like you’d expect. Use all the functions and formulas you’re used to for advanced calculations and work with any of the familiar file types (xlsx, .csv, .html, .ods, .pdf or .txt). As always, sharing and collaboration functions are built right in.
Google Slides– An online presentation builder that allows you to build polished slideshows all from the comfort of your web browser. Google has added those wonderful collaboration tools here as well which make group projects and presentations a joy to work on.
Google Sites– A dead simple way to build beautiful websites with absolutely no prior programming experience. Google Sites takes care of all the tricky backend stuff like hosting and domain names and lets you build something from scratch with user-friendly drag and drop functionality.
Google Forms– Create custom forms for questionnaires and surveys with a variety of question types. You can add images, videos, and other media types and view response data in real-time.
Google Hangouts/Meet– Jump on a quick video conference from anywhere with a few simple clicks. Google Hangouts allow up to 10 participants to join a video call from either a desktop computer or mobile device.
Google Classroom– Managing your classroom has never been easier. Google Classroom is the hub for your connected classroom. Classroom lets you easily distribute assignments, tack student data, and provide feedback all from one place.
Kahoot allows users to create and share fun learning games in minutes. You can add a series of multiple choice questions that include audio, video, and images and track responses in real time as others participate in your Kahoot. Kahoot adds a level of gamification to an otherwise boring quiz and enables teachers to reinforce what is being learned in the classroom through interactive games. Kahoot is used by more than 50 million people monthly and their games are played in over 180 different countries.
3. Scratch and Scratch Jr.
From the brains of some of MIT’s brightest minds, Scratch and Scratch Jr. are free tools to help kids (k-12) get a jumpstart on learning to code. It allows anyone to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations and share their creation with the thriving community of other “Scratchers”. “Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.”
4. Apple’s iMovie
Whether you are working on an iPad or iPhone or straight from your desktop computer, iMovie packs powerful video editing capabilities into a straightforward interface that any budding videographer can use. With iMovie, you can capture content right from within the app, create riveting movie trailers in minutes with pre-loaded themes and templates, and add a variety of transitions and effects to any project. Goodbye traditional book report and hello movie book trailer!
Nearpod changes everything about presenting to students through their engaging and individualized delivery method. Instead of “sit and get” style presentations with the teacher taking center stage, Nearpod brings information to life by allowing students to access content right on their own device. Teachers can guide the entire class through a presentation or, allow students to watch at their own pace. With built in quizzing functionality, it’s a cinch to add a variety of question types to any presentation in order to analyze engagement and better judge comprehension of subject matter. In addition to embedding nearly any media type available (video, audio, photos, etc), Nearpod has recently added the ability to add both 3D and VR content to their slides as well.
Socrative is an efficient way to formatively assess students at the end of a lesson or unit without having to use those pesky clickers that rarely work correctly. Signing in is easy and anyone can participate using a cell phone, tablet, or a computer. Socrative offers four different assessments types including:
- Quizzing- Allows you to add pictures and insert different question types such as fill in the blank, multiple choice, and multiple selection.
- Space Race- Like a quiz, but gamified, Space Race allows students to participate in teams and race against other teams to see who can answer the most questions correctly.
- Exit Ticket- Exit Tickets enable you to assess for understanding at the end of each day through multiple choice or short answer questions.
- Quick Question- Sometimes, questions and discussions you don’t plan for naturally rise to the surface while you’re teaching. The Quick Question feature allows you to take full advantage of those moments and poll the entire class with a variety of question types.
7. Class Dojo
Class Dojo is a classroom management application that helps teachers create a fun classroom environment while also reinforcing positive classroom behaviors. In Class Dojo students are given an avatar that collects virtual points for good behavior. Teachers can create multiple classes, add students, view reports, and connect with parents, students and other teachers. Class Dojo can be used on any computer that has access to the Internet, and any device that can download the Class Dojo app. Classroom management can now be reinforced at anytime during the school day, and from any devices.
8. Brain Pop
Brain Pop is an animated video learning website. Videos are short, packed with great information, and separated into several categories (Science, social studies, english, math, arts, tech, and engineering to be exact) Brain Pop has different videos geared towards different ages groups. Brainpop Jr for K-3 and Brain Pop for 3-6. They also have a series for ESL students. For you Dual Immersion peeps, it’s available in English, French and Spanish as well. Each video has an assessment that can be set to hard or easy which can be taken online or printed to take on paper. Brain Pop has partnered with a plethora of companies to provide educational games that correlate with their courses and have aligned their courses with the various core curriculums to make finding the right video a lot easier. Brain Pop also has a word wall feature that highlights important vocabulary words used in the videos which students can review later on.
Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) that can facilitate all sorts of online learning in the k-12 space. Canvas allows for content distribution and management on the part of the teacher and simple content retrieval on the part of the student. Canvas gives educators tons of flexibility for organizing and tracking online learning.
Padlet has taken the age-old bulletin board and put a virtual spin on it. Instead of thumbtacks and stickie notes , Padlet allows you to “post” virtual stickies to an empty canvas with a few clicks. The app allows teachers and students to collaborate share ideas, links, photos, files, videos etc. to an online board that can be utilized in many different forms. Padlet is a great addition to any classroom.
BONUS- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) apps
AR apps like Aurasma and Star Walk do just that, they augment reality via the camera in your tablet or phone. Aurasma has everyday AR triggers built right into the app. Things like a dollar bill, for example. When viewed through the Aurasma app, you watch an ordinary dollar bill come to life as the imagery on the paper comes to life and music accompanies the animations. Similarly, Star Walk shows you outlines of the constellations as you scour the sky with your device.
Thanks to Google Cardboard, VR has also become an easily accessible technology in any classroom. With the cardboard mask/phone holder and accompanying, “expeditions” app, teachers can take their kids on guided virtual field trips anywhere in the world. This incredibly immersive experience engages kids on a level that wasn’t previously possible.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura would be proud of the widespread adoption of many of the technologies in this list and how they are bolstering each phase of his well-known SAMR model. If you are interested in learning more about any of these tools, Kyte Learning provides in-depth courses from a teacher’s perspective to aide in learning how these tools work and more importantly, how to apply them in the classroom.