5 EdTech Tools That Have Recently Caught My Eye

by Rachelle Dene Poth

*this blog was originally published at TeachThought.com

Starting to integrate technology can be intimidating.

So many choices, new ideas being shared all of the time through social media, blogs, books, teacher professional development, and more.

I find the best time to walk away with new ideas is right after a big event dedicated to edtech. With conference season upon us, maybe you recently attended a conference or edcamp or read something and now have a long list of new ideas which can be overwhelming. Or maybe you just are looking for something to change in your classroom or school and need some quick ideas for new, engaging elements to implement in your classroom or with your faculty even for professional development.

After attending and presenting at FETC, I thought about some of the tools that might be a great way to start with. So here are five fast ideas to try, in no specific order. The idea is to pick one, try it out and then move on to another on the list. After you’ve worked through all five, decide which one (if any) had the most impact, served the greatest purpose, and was most beneficial for your students.

A Reminder For Anytime You Try Something New

Whatever tool you decide to try, stick with it and see if you can then find new innovative ways to use it. It may not be the tool you thought it was, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful with a little vision and planning.

Speaking of planning, don’t forget to check in with your students or with your staff and get their feedback to. Even if you think that it might be working really well, always consider the other people involved in the process. It doesn’t make any sense to keep on using something, if in the end it is not really serving the purpose you intended.

This makes time for feedback, reflection, and plan the next steps important.

5 EdTech Tools That Have Recently Caught My Eye

1. TES Teach

If you are looking for a way to provide some different blended or flipped learning experiences for your students or even deliver professional development, then I suggest you check out TESTeach Resources and some of the lessons available in their library.

You can create your own lesson which includes your own materials, YouTube videos, Google search results, websites, PowerPoints and much more but you can also check out the free lessons available in the library. For a quick start,find one that is applicable to your needs and try it in your classroom, or as an assignment for outside of class.

Once you have worked through it, ask for some feedback and use it to guide your next steps.

2. Recap

If you want to know what students are thinking about a certain topic, have students reflect on learning or gather feedback about the methods you are using in the classroom, then take a look at Recap. Recap is a free video response tool that enables you (the teacher) to ask questions (through video or in a post) and have students respond by creating a short video response.

Once all responses are submitted, Recap composes a Daily Reel, with all of the responses. You can then listen and evaluate and provide written feedback. It’s quick to start and a way to provide comfort for students to respond and be involved in discussions, outside of class. My students like that they can respond anytime, in the comfort of their home.

Students chose to use it to reflect on Project-Based Learning experiences and really liked the platform and it was great to see their excitement and confidence when speaking.

3. Padlet

Do you want to way to have “back-channel” discussions occurring during or after class, maybe have students share resources as a group activity, help students to create a digital portfolio or a better way to present student projects, collected on one site and with one URL? If you answer Yes to any of these, then Padlet is a tool that you want to try.

Create a Padlet, design and check your settings and share the link. You can post discussion questions, even upload a video link or post a picture for students to comment on, and more. It can be used to curate resources or for students to create their own Padlet to share their work and track their progress throughout the year. It can even be used as your class website and post daily updates on what you have done in class, include any links or resources uploaded for students and parents to access.

Padlet has many possibilities for opening up communication and collaboration.

4. BunceeEdu

Are you looking for a more innovative and engaging way to create  presentations which include a lot of choices?

In creating with Buncee, presentations can include different elements with animations, text, uploaded photos, YouTube videos, add audio and have a fully multimedia presentations all in one. With BunceeEdu, students can quickly create engaging presentations, invitations, flyers and much more by creating one Buncee, and have a lot of fun in the process. Students are empowered in their learning and can be innovative designers and creative communicators, in line with the ISTE Student Standards.

Once created, Buncees can quickly be shared through social media, URL, through email invitation and more. There are many ways you can use this tool, regardless of content area or level. It is fun to create and will enhance the creativity of the students. As a teacher, you can even teach a lesson using Buncee, including your text, videos, audio and more in one presentation!

5. Formative

There is always a lot of discussion surrounding assessments and homework, and ways to provide more individualized instruction and have the data faster, so teachers can plan their next steps in the lesson. Using Formative, lessons can be done live during class or assigned for practice outside of the classroom.

This could turn out to be the one tool that you need. Create lessons for students to work through that include a variety of questions and content material, uploaded resources,embedded videos, links to other websites and much more. By integrating it with Google classroom or providing a join code, and you can track student progress, provide feedback instantly and have those real live results and data necessary to help students improve.

You can check out some of the lessons in the library to get an idea of what using Formative would be like, or feel free to contact me for a sample lesson just to see how it can work. Another idea for more personalized instruction, and for flipping roles in the classroom, is to have students create their own Formative to use and share within the classroom. It can be a great way for students to build their confidence and also they have a more meaningful, authentic learning experience.

If you need to create a professional development lesson, try creating a lesson using Formative, which includes text, activities, videos and more. By doing this, your professional development session is more interactive and engaging, and you also teach a digital tool that can be used in more classrooms.

Conclusion

In the end, it is simply about taking one step, going in one direction. Look to your environment and find one area that might need some “rejuvenation”. These tools were meant to be helpful, quick ways to get started using some tech. But there is another commonality among them: each can be used for flipping your classroom.

5 EdTech Tools That Have Recently Caught My Eye; image attribution flickr user vancouverfilmschool

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