So many of these tools are essential to me. It is amazing how I use them every single day. Here’s what I’m using all the time in my classroom (and life) right now. Some even hum along and do their job and I didn’t do a thing but set them up.
36 Tools I’m Using Right Now in My Classroom and Life
As I was readingThe Teacher’s Guide to Tech last week, I realized that it had been a while since I’d shared my own favorite edtech tools. These tools are not in any particular order. They are part of my trusty toolkit. I’ve also shared any previous blog posts that will help you get started with the tool.
1. Haiku Learning (my LMS)
Haiku Learning is my Learning Management system. Now that it interfaces with Powerschool, it is so helpful. I just enter the data once. I log in and look at the “dropbox” (not to be confused with the product of the same name) and see what I have to grade. I grade it and bam – there you go. Great, stable system that the kids love.
2. YouTube (for Tutorials)
3. PowerPoint (for Handouts, Presentations, and Screencasts)
I use PowerPoint in 3 ways:
- Handouts. Perhaps because I’ve gotten cute fonts and downloadable graphics from Teachers Pay Teachers, but my handouts I now make in PowerPoint. They look better and it is just faster. I just never saw it before.
- Screencasts. On my PC, PowerPoint is the fastest way to make the screencasts I use in my blended classroom. If I need to change one slide or a word, I change it and hit a button to re-render the movie with the free Office Mix plugin. It is awesome. [See how I use Office Mix.]
- Senior Movies – In the past the seniors have just had a “goodbye slide.” This year, they’re including gifs and writing on the screen by recording their goodbye with Office mix and generating a short 15-20 second movie to put up on the server.
4. Wikispaces (for the Class Website)
Wikispaces is my go-to group editing website. Whether my class is uploading their Scratch video games, or linking to their website efolios, we post our group work on the class wiki. Wikispaces is also the backbone of my global collaborative projects since 2006, with MAD about Mattering as the most recent example.
5. Keynote (for Presentations)
Keynote – For my presentations, I use a technique that my friend George Couros has mastered. I include videos from many sources. I also love the magic move feature and use it strategically. It is taking me a while to convert my most popular speeches like “Differentiating Instruction with Technology” to the new software, but after I do, I’m so much happier with the flow of the presentation.
6. Crescerance and MAD-Learn (for Mobile App Development)
Crescerance and MAD-Learn are my tools for mobile app development. We’re in the midst of the MAD about Mattering project. The kids are programming apps and using the MAD (mobile app development) Learn platform. We love it.It is so simple. We have 14 apps we’re developing with other schools. From suicide prevention to domestic violence to poverty to stress in school – it is all there. While we’re excited, the issues the students are grappling with are among some of the most serious on this planet and we don’t take it lightly.
7. ClassCraft (for Tracking Game Based Learning Experiences)
Classcraft is awesome for making the class a game. I’ve used this to turn my keyboarding class into a game. They love it. We start class every day with the random event of the day. What a blast! If you use this link, you get two months free (I also get a free month.)
8. Trello (for Tracking Genius Projects)
Trello the project management tool the students are using for MAD about Mattering. It helps them organize their work and workflow and communicate with teachers. I recommend using Trello for genius hour work and tracking projects where students are all doing different things.
I’ve included the video above where I teach our students how we are using Trello for Agile software development, however, Trello has some incredible videos in their help files.
9. Slack (for managing my business, show, and just about everything)
Slack I use slack all the time to communicate with my team, Lisa Durff and Dr. Jim Beeghley. Lots of schools are using it to improve communication. It also links with Trello via ifttt.com so that when a card is moved, it notifies the appropriate “channel” in Slack. Think of it as messaging you can organize by hashtag and search. You can dm in slack too. Great tool!
10. Zoom Room (for online meetings and video recordings)
I use Zoom.us for my meetings now. Just quick and awesome. I also used this to record Angela Maiers’ keynote for MAD about Mattering and then edited in Screenflow. This tool is stable, quick and easy to use.
11. Day One (for journaling)
Day One is my personal journaling app. The new version of this app gives you separate journals. I have one for general journaling, another for prayers, another for blog post ideas and still another for accomplishments or wins. Using text expander, I store and use 7 questions I ask myself each morning to help me be more productive and focused.
12. Evernote (my digital notebook and filing cabinet)
Evernote holds all my notes. I link it with Omnifocus, my task manager, for my online “filing system.” When I research for Every Classroom Matters, I put an alarm on the notes so they pop up when it is time to conduct the interview.
13. Dropbox (for syncing files)
Dropbox just runs in the background. I never ever have to worry about it. I moved all of my documents to Dropbox. Dropbox is so fast and stable, it just works. It is totally worth the pro version. Love dropbox and use it all the time to move files.
A few years a go, I lost my hard drive on a computer just before a major book deadline. I fired up a laptop, installed dropbox and was back writing within an hour. No problem. What used to be panic was just a peaceful shift to a different device.
14. Screenflow (for capturing Mac screenshots, iPhone and iPad)
Screenflow – This is THE screen capture program I use on my Mac. It will even capture iPhones and iPads using the lightning cable. It can rip just about anything and I can pull the videos into Powerpoint. Thanks to Tony Vincent for this gem. I love it.
15. TextExpander (to make things faster)
TextExpander – I keep this running on my Mac, so if I type a quick code, it will expand it – if I type “semicolon ecm” I get Every Classroom Matters. I have lots longer snippets for blog post templates.
16. Canva (blog graphics)
Canva – While I know Photoshop and use it sometimes, Canva is just lightning fast. We use it for graphics in my classroom and I use it heavily for this blog.
17. Excel (for budget tracking and rubrics)
Excel – This workhorse is still often open on my computer. From forms to spreadsheets and budgets – I need excel.
18. Google Drive (Collaborative Writing)
Google Drive – My students get to choose what they will use for word processing and collaboration. They usually open a Google Doc and add collaborators and they are off to go. Many of them use Google Docs for everything.
19. Microsoft Word (Personal Wordprocessing for Basic Documents)
Microsoft Word – Lots of layouts, templates, and just heavy duty wordprocessing. Word has been my go-to tool since the 1980’s when I first used it.
20. One Note (Student Notetaking)
One Note – My students have their favorite notetaking app – definitely One Note. They sync it with their mobile devices. You can’t beat one note for student note taking.
21. Google Forms (Quick Surveys)
Google Forms – We are surveying our Project Managers and Assistant project managers for MAD about Mattering using Google Forms right now. The summarization aspect of this tool has improved so much in the past few years.
22. PhotoShop (Advanced Graphics)
23. Grammarly (Spell and Grammar Checking Everything Online)
Grammarly – My students love Grammarly and I do too. [Blogged it here.] It saves time by finding grammar mistakes. I also load and use it to check the app pages to ensure there is no plagiarism (a pro feature). This way I can know we’re not publishing work that is not original.
24 and 25. Amazon Prime and my Jtouch Multitouch Board
Amazon Prime – I have a monstrous JTouch Board that I adore. [Blogged about it here.] When I’m not teaching with the board or using it for announcements, we play these awesome screensavers with scenes of water, beaches, great places in the world, and just beautiful things. It calms the classroom and we get more work done when it is playing. It is amazing how a quick glance at a high def meadow or waterfalls just does something to you!
26. Omnifocus (Task Management)
Omnifocus – I use Omnifocus for my tasks. I went through an incredible course on Lynda.com in January to help me use it better each day.
27. Task Clone (Send Tasks from Evernote to Omnifocus)
Productivity Tip: I use Task Clone to send tasks from Evernote to Omnifocus. It even attaches the note. Task Clone works with omnifocus but also other task managers like Wunderlist and 40 other task apps. It works like this. I make a note in Evernote. When it has a checkbox for a task I want to do, I tag the note omnifocus. Task clone works behind the scenes to put this in my inbox in Omnifocus. Very cool tool.
28. Google Calendar (Appointments, Coordinating Times to Meet)
Google Calendar – Google calendar integrates with Haiku Learning and runs the calendaring on our school website. I couldn’t live without it. Shared calendars with me and Lisa Durff, who helps me with my calendar, make calendar management so much easier!
29. Audacity (Recording Audio)
Audacity – When we need to edit audio, this is our tool. We often record it and then pull it into our favorite movie program: Pinnacle Studio.
30. Pinnacle Studio (Video Editing)
Pinnacle Studio – Our preferred movie making program for the PC. Students who have macs may use iMovie but largely we just use Pinnacle. It has a quick learning curve but will let you add special effects, tracks, and so much more. My seniors are making movies with it right now.
31. Ning (Student Blogging)
Ning My students blog privately on Ning in the eighth grade. In high school we blog on WordPress sites depending on the project. Ning is a great private place for working together.
Snagit has a plugin for Chrome that my students and I use daily. I also love the feature that lets you grab a picture of the whole page. Snagit syncs with Google Drive so the pictures all go in there.
Extensity is the most important chrome app you can download. It lets you turn on and off all the other plug ins. Teach this to your students and stop fighting the battle of which plugin is causing the problem.
Make games and activities with Kahoot. I make sure my students know how to make and share kahoots so they can review any time they want.
Alfred is my Mac’s productivity superhero. I use it on my Mac or I use remote control on my iPhone to control things on my Mac. While this is for a more advanced user, this handy Swiss Army Knife app lets me set up work flows. For example, I can click “Start my day” or press Option space on my Mac (the keys to start alfred) and say “Start My Day” and BAM — it opens Pandora, my Bible App, Evernote, and Day One. I programmed it to do that. So, instead of deciding what window to open and clicking here and there before I get started, I hit a button or type a command and BOOM, I’m working.
Scrivener is my book writing, brainstorming tool. I use it for organizing all of my writing and especially for writing books. I love this tool and the easy way I can write and reorganize writing. Great tool.
How Do I Pick What Tool To Use?
Well the thing is, for most of these items, I don’t pick. At this point in the year, my students are fluent and just pick up whatever tool they want to use.
I’ve not even covered all my tricks and tools for blogging. Let me know if you’d like to know more tools for blogging, productivity, and more. I’m happy to share. (It just takes a while to write these posts which explains how long it has been since my last post.
Download a Free Sample of Jennifer Gonzalez's Technology for Teachers 2016
Here's a PDF with some favorite apps and new ones too. Thanks Jennifer Gonzalez for creating this freebie just for Cool Cat Teacher Readers.
This PDF includes Storybird, Kahoot, Google Drive, Formative and Trello. See if the Teacher's Guide to Tech is Right for You!