Teaching is about the relationship. But there are tools that improve that relationship and help us teach better, faster, and have more fun as we're doing it. As part of Cathy Rubin's Global Search for Education, I've been asked to write this month on the tools that have dramatically supported and improved learning in my classroom over the past few years.
This could be a very long list, but I'm selecting a few of them.
1. PowerSchool Learning LMS
This used to be called Haiku Learning. I had tried lots of tools to bring everything together, however, this platform is the home of my digital classroom. Everything is together and we communicate and learn on this platform.
Read 5 Essential Effective Blended Learning Best Practices for more.
PowerSchool is a sponsor of my work.
2. Google Docs
My classroom has been using this tool since it was “Writely.” (way back in 2005!) But now, with Hyperdocs, we're going to the next level. Google Docs makes it lightning fast to give a detailed assignment and receive it back. It really makes things pretty paperless. I use this in conjunction with my LMS.
I also use plenty of Add-Ons with my students. They learn how to research, check work and more.
Read/ Listen to Hyperdocs: How to's and Tips for Teachers
I've been an in-flipped classroom for some time. Edpuzzle has become indispensable in the last six months. Edpuzzle lets me insert questions, directions, and even my own voice into videos from anywhere. I can make sure students are grasping the content, let them ask me questions during the video, and just make sure the whole process is going as planned. Edpuzzle is a fantastic tool.
You can see above a video I made with digital notetaking tips.
Edpuzzle sponsored a week of podcasts and a blog post this year.
When I give presentations to students and want interaction, I always use Nearpod. In fact, this is an example of a tool I learned about while doing interviews for the 10-Minute Teacher. I was looking to use PearDeck but Nearpod has all of the features that I need. For example, students can see the presentation on their phones. I can pose questions. They can write on a scratchpad and it is shown on the board. It is an incredible tool for presenting and sharing content and assessing formatively. I couldn't live without it.
My students all have their own YouTube channel. You can see in our 2017 “Invent This” Project that students embed their videos that they all create. Every student shoots video, makes video, edits it and creates it. When my students traveled to Dubai, several of them shot videos instead of blogging their trip. (See Good Bai by my student Perry as an example.)
I use YouTube for so many reasons, it is an essential tool. I upload videos to YouTube before putting them into Edpuzzle.
6. Hemingway and Grammarly
I'm combining these two tools together because I use them as one. Here's a quick video where I share how I use these tools and a few others. Hemingway makes writing more simple to read and understand. I use it to help my students learn how to make their writing more readable (particularly for the web.) Grammarly is indispensable. I pay for my son to have the pro version of Grammarly and also I have it too. I couldn't live without it.
7. My Personal Organization Tools
Admittedly, I need to blog more about my own organization system. I have my Amazon Echo Dot communicating with my iPhone and OmniFocus and Google Calendar. I use Evernote in there quite a bit as well as Apple Notes. I also write out my daily plan on my Happy Planner so I have it on paper. The Apple reminders goes into Omnifocus.
I think the key is to have the list one place (it all ends up in Omnifocus) and the calendar in one place (It all ends up on Google Calendar) and then to have a plan of action for the day based on those two things (it all ends up on my personal forms I've created and the forms in my Happy Planner.) And I love my Frixion erasable pens on it all.
Without an organization system that works for me, I couldn't get anything done. I think every teacher needs to have a simple system that works for them.
So, these are my seven “tools” improving my classroom now. Sure, I've given you a few more than seven, but consider it a bonus.
What do you use in your classroom every day?
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