Believe it or not, the start of a new school year is just around the corner, and co-teaching partners Dyane and Vanessa are setting up their own one room schoolhouse classroom at Technology-Rich School of Tomorrow. Like many teachers, these two have been attending PD all summer, and they are still having trouble identifying the perfect digital tools and resources they need for their 21st Century Classroom. They are now asking for your expertise to help fill their digital toolboxes and kick start the school year on the highest note.
What are some apps that you use that would help Dyane and Vanessa build a 21st Century classroom? What are some Web 2.0 tools or mobile apps that will help them accomplish this goal? They have included a virtual blueprint of their classroom. Notice the several color-coded leaning areas in their classroom. We need you to first identify the area you want to help them with and then share the tool that you would suggest. Be sure to share the pros and cons of these tools and how they have helped you in your classroom.
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My favorite tools are:
This site allows me to categorize my resources as well as create a folder just for trainings. Documents, links, pictures can be saved. Thus accessing them from anywhere.
I also love
This link is similar in which you can save your favorite websites and categorize by color or icon. Looks much like an apps area.
When I train, I use both of these resources. I love their capabilities.
Livebinders is a great tool especially with the ability to add the shortcut button to your active toolbar. It's a great resource to share links with students quickly.
Question on Symbaloo for you - is this something teachers can setup and make public Symbaloo pages for their students, or do the students need a login to access them all?
I will suggest using Wordle. This incredible tool should be used in BOTH the Group area as well as the Language Arts Center. The biggest "pro" for this tool is how easy it is for all students to use. The big "con" I see is not all Wordles on the site are appropriate for student viewing. I ALWAYS sent students to the link I provided to "create" so they do not see all examples. I have two examples of how Wordle can best be used in the classroom.
I am going to say Edmodo (like faceboook but for education) which could be used with the mobile lab. We use Edmodo as a school so I have been working with the 6th graders to get their accounts and add their class codes this last week. Edmodo allows discussion that possibly would not happen face-to-face. I have my facebook account for my library but it has mainly parent followers so I decided after working with the 6th graders that I would create an Edmodo class which all 750 students could connect. I currently have 400 of the students in my class and I have had digital discussions with more students in the last week than I did in a month last year. Edmodo would be perfect for a classroom teacher since students can respond to discussion prompts or homework assignments posted by the teacher (in class or at home). There is a con....you must keep up with your class. I have been periodically watching posts to make sure the students know that I am watching and keeping up with the posts. It can be time consuming but it has been totally worth it.
I'm a super fan of Edmodo, Susan Gauthier. I did find it's easier to do the "pop-out" into a new window while evaluating discussions. I could print, if needed, but I usually use the CTRL-F feature to see who is talking to whom.
I think google docs would be an excellent thing to use in the mobile lab. Students can all be working on a paper at the same time. It would also be great for sharing data in a math or science project. The only problem with google docs is if your students have access to it. They have to have a google account...
It's such a wonderful tool for our kiddos to use in writing and collaborating. Until my students had access, I did create public documents for group projects and sent the link to the doc to the students via Edmodo. Hooray!!! Project plans in group work were something all of us could see without a hitch.
In the math center, I would have iPads with math strategy game apps and logic game apps including:
Mancala, Nine-Men's Morris, Hex, Connect 4, Chess, Mastermind, Towers, Quell, Laser Logic, Graphene, Cut the Rope, Unblock Me (and many more)
Pros: students develop strategies for winning and for completing a task more efficiently, students collaborate and compete, students develop/practice logical thinking and planning ahead, and students have a lot of fun
Cons: students may be less-motivated to practice other essential math skills
Uses: students can set goals for the logic games and can practice the strategy games for classroom tournaments. Students write about their strategies, their difficulties, and their successes. Students collaborate on strategies and problem-solve solutions together.
One more that I'm going to add to the list for the teacher is weebly.com as a great classroom website tool. I downloaded the free app that partners with the site. Talk about brilliantly easy! I can take a quick photo with my phone in the classroom it uploads the class blog. Love it! You can check out my website if you'd like to see a sample of a basic site. mrssmoke.weebly.com/.
What I do love most is the drag and drop web design features. Ready to add a slideshow, text element, or even a video? Just drag the element to the page, and it's ready to go.
Provided computers are available at each learning center, I'd say hooking the kids up with education based weebly.com accounts for their own personal blogs would be a great tool! They can easily give reports and updates on books as they read or when they are finished. The teacher still has control of the pages, and can create objectives that the student must complete to show not only reading comprehension, but computer literacy with regard to simple web design!