The 3 Tech Tools You Need to Review Over Winter Break

It’s that time of year again – teachers are racing out the door for winter break. We all need it. We need a break from the children!!! – whom we love and adore!

keep calm

Winter break is a time to recharge and refresh before coming back in January. So many people I know also use that time to explore those 87 tech tools they’ve been meaning to look at all semester and develop a plan for what to do when they come back to school.

That’s what this post is all about. It’s the 3 tech tools that you need to explore if you are going to dive in. (I have a friend who swears everything must come in 3’s, so here you go.)


Google Classroom

If you haven’t really dived into Google Classroom yet you are missing out. It is a powerful tool that can really revolutionize your practice and engage your students. It creates a digital platform that creates an environment ideal for differentiation, provides a paperless alternative, and generates a way to track student work.

By using Google Classroom in conjunction with Google Drive, you allow your students to personalize their work in a different way than they could with a pen and paper. You create a safe space where your quiet students can have a voice, and where all students can help to drive their instruction.

google classroom

Just as teachable moments pop up in the live classroom, the digital one also creates a space where students can post digital content that can enrich and drive a discussion in a new and beneficial way.

If you haven’t explored #GoogleClassroom yet, over winter break is the perfect time. By following the hashtag on Twitter, it will give you hundreds of new ideas about how to implement and integrate Classroom into your practice. Teachers from all over the world continue to rave about how powerful an instructional tool it is and will constantly share new ways to use it.

For ways to get started, check out these links:

Five Reasons to Implement Google Classroom

A Deep Dive into Google Classroom

Understanding the Assignment Flow in Classroom


Padlet

This is a stand alone tool that I think is completely underutilized. It is so simple and yet can be used for so many things. Padlet (which is free) is a virtual wall that allows students and teacher to express their thoughts on a common topic easily.

padlet

Think of it like a giant digital poster where all students can post their thoughts at the same time in the form of video, images, and/or documents – but it’s so much better. People can put any content anywhere on the page and leave feedback for each other. It has a variety of settings to customize the experience, including the ability to turn on/off commenting, as well as an export feature.

Teachers can use Padlet for a variety of lessons…

  • Students can build a collaborative collection of information as research on a topic and which all students can access.
  • Students can have a discussion on a character analysis with a novel. Students post current celebrities that they feel portray a character.
  • In Science, students post about their designated Biome and provide video/images and descriptions. The teacher posts the topics in the Padlet and student share their corresponding video/images.

For ways to get started, check out these links:

Getting Started with Padlet

32 Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom

Useful Ways to Padlet in the Classroom Now


Video

Another underutilized tool is the power of video. Some kids hate it, but others love it. There is something about getting to share what you know on video versus on paper. Also, this is an easy one to do and can be as simple or complex as you want to make the assignment.

So many kids have smartphones that it’s easy to find a mechanism to record and they all know how to do it. Videos don’t have to be long – 30 seconds to a minute – but they have to demonstrate knowledge. It can be a student talking and showing something, or it could be a student drawing to explain a concept.

iPad video tape
Photo Credit: Wesley Fryer

One of the most powerful lessons I ever did with my students was on Mitosis. (Remember that concept from high school Biology? It’s the division of cells. It can be painful to teach and grade.) But, I gave my students the following stipulations – a) must be a video of some sorts and b) must contain self-generated pictures of the stages. I had projects ranging all ends of a spectrum.

Some students drew pictures on paper and videoed themselves pointing and talking about what was happening, while other student made their own digital images and created animations. It was phenomenal. Each student created a project to the extent they knew how to use video, and demonstrated real knowledge of the content. To talk about it on film, and teach the audience, they had to “get it.”

For ways to get started, check out these links:

Video in the Classroom

Next Vista for Learning


If nothing else, in the spirit of the new year and resolutions – resolve to try one new tech tool in your classroom this semester. It can be one of the above, or something new, but just try something to get your kids collaborating and creating!

Laura Bubnick

Laura Bubnick

Instructional Technology Consultant
513.674.4244
laura.bubnick@hcesc.org
Laura Bubnick

Laura Bubnick

Instructional Technology Consultant 513.674.4244 laura.bubnick@hcesc.org