Friday, May 04, 2018

Adding To Your Tech Toolbox

One of my favorite parts of my job is working with technology.  Technology is always changing, so I love the challenge of learning new technology tools and adapting when there are changes.  This continuous change can also be overwhelming, especially with all the other continuous change in education(and within our district!)  It can be difficult to know where to start, what to use, and how to use it. I want to share some of my favorite tools and how I use them with students.   Whether your tech toolbox is full or empty, hopefully you find a tool in this list that you can add to your toolbox, or if it is already in your toolbox, use it in a different way?  
  • Google Slides - It is common knowledge that Google Slides can be used for presentations, but it can be used for so much more!  I love using Google Slides for students to write stories - students see the slides like pages in a book and it is easy for them to organize and design a story with pictures and text.  I also like to use Google Slides to create interactive activities, similar to a workbook but way cooler! I create a set of slides with activities where students have to create or type something on the slide.  I got this idea from Eric Curtis and his blog Control Alt Achieve with an activity called Build A Snowman.  Eric Curtis has all kinds of fun and innovative ways to use Google tools, so it’s worth the time to look through his blog.
  • Google Forms- I like to create Google Forms to create assessments, mostly formative, that I use for many of my lessons.  They are easy to create and I can add in pictures and videos that cover some of the direct instruction I would normally do whole group with students.  By adding these visuals in a Google Form, students can view at their own pace and go back and look/watch again if they are unable to answer the questions.  This helps free up class time for the good stuff, like class discussion and putting our learning into action!
  • Google Classroom - This tool is a must-have if you are using any Google Docs tool with your students.  I used to cringe at the chaos of having students create something in Google Docs and then share it with me.  Both my students and I struggled with managing completion of work. Google Classroom has saved my sanity! It is so easy to share templates of assignments with students(it even makes a copy for each student) and all work is stored neatly in a file in Google Drive for each easy access.

Although I have many tools in my tech toolbox, these are some of the ones I use most often.  
As with any tool, with some use I worked out the bugs and learned how to use it to fit my
students and my teaching.  Our district continues to increase technology access in our classroom
so I encourage you to continue to keep building your tech toolbox and leverage these tools.
 It can be overwhelming to know where to start, but your building’s library media specialist would
love to help! Library media specialists are a wealth of information on responsible use of
technology and often know the best way to break in a tech tool with your class.  Plus, we love it when we get to work with teachers!

Twitter Tuesday Questions:
Q1:  What is your favorite tech tool and why?
Q2:  What is a barrier to using tech and how do you overcome?
Q3:  What is one way you stay current on tech?
Q4:  What is something cool that your students have accomplished using tech?

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