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Technology Resolutions

October 23, 2013

Next year, for the first time in six years, I will be a full-time middle school history teacher.  I cannot wait to have more time to devote to improving the quality of my classroom, and one of my major goals is to use technology more effectively.  As a stay-at-home-dad, I can see the value because the first assignments my kids attempt usually involve a computer.  So here are my goals for next year:

  • Socrative

    • This engaging app, which lets kids answer questions anonymously during class, is at the top of my list.  A few teachers at Carroll used this with great success.  Not only did it help shy students become more active in class discussions, but it also encouraged learners to take a guess even if they weren’t sure of the answer.  Finally, Socrative is a good way to ensure that everyone gets to participate at least once (or more) every class period.  Similar applications are Kahoot and Infused Learning.

  • Glogster.edu

    • Every time my sons complete a project involving poster board, I wonder why their teachers aren’t using Glogster.  As their website touts, “Teachers can use Glogs for presentations and posting interactive information about the class, and students can use Glogster to create a poster or web page containing multimedia elements including: text, audio, video, images, graphics, drawings, and data.” I’ve used it before and it’s fantastic!

  • Edmodo

    • Edmodo is Facebook for school. It allows teachers and students to communicate in a safe online environment.  As a teacher, I can post homework to a class calendar, notify students of upcoming assessments, and let students know when projects are due.    Students with EF weaknesses can use Edmodo to stay organized and download extra copies of any missing work.  I have used Edmodo for writing prompts and to allow students to exchange ideas with classmates.

    • While I’ve used this in the past, I want to take it up a notch by creating accounts for parents to keep them in the loop about what is being covered in class and about upcoming assignments.  I also plan on using it to exchange ideas with other educators.

  • Movie Maker

    • I recently asked a middle school teacher in New Jersey to name the type of technology that has made the biggest impact in his classroom and his answer was Movie Maker.  Students can use it to create visual reports that integrate pictures, video, audio, and text to show what they have learned about a particular topic.  Finished videos can then be shown to the class to create additional opportunities for learning.

  • Twitter

    • For professional development: Using Twitter for the past month has shown me the power of 140 characters.  I have interacted with more teachers, many from other countries, in the last month than I have in nearly nearly twenty years of teaching.  What a phenomenal way to collaborate and to develop professionally!

    • Teaching with Twitter:  Having not used Twitter in the classroom, I’ve asked some middle school students about it and they are already using it.  Why not then use it to help my students master the material? Not only will it provide me with the opportunity to continue the conversation after class, in terms of questions, reminders, and observations, but it would also allow students to communicate with one another in engaging ways.

  • Experiment with Remind101

    • I read an article on the effectiveness of this service that uses Twitter to remind students of upcoming assignments.  Again, since students are on social media so much, why not use it to create additional opportunities for learning

  • Becoming a Jedi Smartboard Master

    • Smartboards have changed the way I teach and the way students receive information.  Not only can I use them for visual presentations, but the saved files are perfect resources for my students when they are working from home or are reviewing for an assessment.  I realize that I have only scratched the surface of what I could do with this amazing device.

    • Instead of having to send messages via The Force, I can use Smart Exchange to exchange presentations with other educators.

  • Prezi

    • Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software that is far more engaging and dynamic than PowerPoint could ever dream of being.  Utilizing movement to create engagement, Prezi is perfect for creating visual presentations for students.  And, like PowerPoint, teachers can share presentations over the internet.

  • Bitstrips

    • I’ve never used this but I saw it on Twitter a few weeks back.  It looks like a great approach to get creative kids to think in new ways about material by creating online comic strips.  I’ve always had my kids draw pictures and create visuals including comic strips to show me what they know, (I once had them create comic strips showing the “humorous” side of Hammurabi’s Code) and they are a great way to make classwork and homework more multimodal.

  • Flipped Classroom

    • I am so intrigued by this novel approach to teaching where students watch presentations at home to learn the content while working on their “homework” in class.  As a skills-based educator,  providing students with time to practice their skills in a way where I can give more personalized guidance and feedback in realtime seems like a fantastic way to ensure students feel empowered while helping them learn skills necessary for their future academic success.

  • Blogging

    • I have always had students complete learning logs to record what they have been learning.  Having students blog online would be a great way of sharing information electronically while moving away from paper and pencil writing.

  • Using my iPhone for my gradebook

    • In the past, I have used my computer to keep track of grades and info about students but I need to take it up a notch by moving to something more portable.  Doing so would allow me to capture information in real time rather than gauging progress after class.

  • Taking notes with iPad

    • I can’t count the number of times I have said, “If I had had an IPad when I was in middle school, I would have done a whole lot better.”  Taking notes with the iPad allows students to use media to help them keep track of the most important ideas in class.  Students can even record discussions and take pictures of information written on the whiteboard.

  • Flashcard Machine

    • Teaching students how to study is an important skill.  These flashcards are the 21st century version of what we used when we were in school.  Since they are web-based, they are a great way to keep parents in the loop about the important concepts we are studying in class.

Interesting Links:

So now my question is: What technology should I add to the list and why?

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