Lately Mr Jones wonders how he can use new tools in ways that matter. There are so many choices; he doesn't know where to begin. He’s too embarrassed to speak with the school’s technology coordinator. She might write him off as a dinosaur.
Don’t worry, Mr. Jones. We’ve got your back. Have a look at our list - ten digital tools we think will make an important difference in teaching and learning in your classroom.
Our Top Tools for Teachers
1. iVisualiser is a versatile tool created by UK educator Alan Peat. It offers teachers an app that allows them to project anything that’s on their iPad, such as photos and videos, onto a whiteboard (for example) for small group or whole-class lessons.
2. Edublogs, as the name suggests, is a WordPress blogging platform designed for educators. It gives teachers an easy way to share student projects on the Internet and keep families in the loop.
3. Socrative Teacher app is a tool that helps teachers create new ways to engage students through customised quizzes, question polls, and so on.
4. Bloomz is an app that allows teachers to communicate easily with parents in a safe environment. They can share class photos and updates, and even arrange parent conferences.
5. Google Apps for Education is a suite of free (and ad-free) productivity tools to support classroom collaboration. The tools make it easy for teachers to create, share, and edit files with their colleagues simultaneously whether using a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Nic Advises: There’s no substitute for observing good teaching in real time. Expert teachers can inspire you to get to the next level of technology integration. They can also demonstrate how to rescue a lesson when the technology goes awry.
Try to spend a day observing teachers at an innovative school in your area. What lessons can you take back to your school? What effective practices can you share with your new colleagues?
Top Tools for Student Learning
6. Mr Glue Stories are interactive and recordable stories for young children involving Mr Glue and the Glue Crew (just a name - no worries about sticky fingers!). Children can choose the story that interests them most and then dive in, so to speak. Once inside the story, they can select their own colour, voice, sound effects, and music. They can even record their own voice reading their story aloud.
7. Duolingo is a tool helps children learn a foreign language in an interactive context. Languages include French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and many more. Children begin by creating a profile, and then decide on the level of difficulty that’s right for them. Students can also select the number of times a day they want to practice their target language.
8. Mr Thorne’s Times Table Terra; Mr Thorne’s Divide + Conquer; Mr Thorne’s Addition Space Station - these three apps, designed by a London teacher for somewhat advanced students, help children learn times tables, division, and addition; all while virtually floating around the planets.
9. Scratch is a free Mac or Windows desktop tool that was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. Children learn mathematical and reasoning skills as they have fun creating and sharing their own interactive stories, games, music, art, and more.
10. Haikudeck is new type of presentation tool that children (and teachers) can use to design their own slideshows to share what they’ve learned with classmates and families.
Jules Advises: Teachers are right to be concerned about falling into the typical techno-newbie trap - using edtech tools for entertainment value rather than thoughtfully integrating them into their practice. The next time you plan a lesson involving edtech, filter it through this lens: Am I integrating the digital tool into the lesson? Or am I just giving in to the WOW factor - using an app, digital game, or website as a fun add-on rather than as a way to push ahead children’s thinking?
Being honest with yourself will help you step up your practice many times over.
So, now to revisit our fictitious Mr Jones. He remembered attending a talk by Alan Peat and decides to try out the iVisualiser app Peat created. Mr Jones uses it on his iPad to project and annotate images of ocean life.
Next he decides to introduce Duolingo to several children who are interested in learning French. Once he shows them how to set up an account, allons-y, they’re off and running. And so is Mr Jones, who is planning his next edtech move.
What’re your edtech picks? Let us know below!