Tech tools or Web 2.0 tools, is transforming our work as educators, and more specifically the way we support students in the classroom. As schools bring more technology into their classrooms, teachers will in turn work to put more technology in the hands of their students. That is, if they feel comfortable doing so.
We know that tech tools are online software programs that allow users to do a number of different things. They can be used to teach curriculum content, store data, create/edit video, edit or create photos, collaborate and so much more. These programs are often free and are used by teachers, students, and sometimes parents, both in and out of the classroom, on a pretty regular basis.
The question then becomes, are educators ready to use these tools? Are they comfortable using them in their classroom? How do they fit into their idea of classroom tech integration? How can they be sure that the tool supports their teaching and doesn’t replace it?
These are questions that we need to be able to answer for our own work so that we can continuously seek to be 21st century educators for our most important clients: our students. The use of Web 2.0 Tools to support instruction is vital. How we use these tools is going to make a big difference in how we measure our students success and how they are supported to meet 21st century skill sets.
Embracing the daily use of tech integration in our work should feel like fun! These tools go beyond word processing and power point presentations. However that idea may still seem new to some educators. So it’s important that we accept the fact that Web 2.0 tools are here to stay and learn to harness their wonderful power. I can guarantee you that doing so will bring learning alive in the classroom!
As we talk about Web 2.0 tools, a point I want to stress is that we need to remember that it's not about the tools themselves but how we use them with students. Ideally there also needs to be a culture within the school that values technology use in the classroom. As a former school principal, I can guarantee you that the leadership in the school must also be modeling the use of technology, providing professional development in this area, and seek to build a school community that enables and values the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.
In the spirit of technology for teaching, let’s look at 5 free education tech tools, that I encourage you to practice with and learn to incorporate in your classroom. Will it take time to learn to use these tools? Maybe. But the benefits will be worth the time!
5 Great tech tools to support you in the classroom:
Padlet is an online virtual bulletin board. It allows it’s users to collaborate, reflect share links and images in a secure location. You can create a hidden or public wall with a custom URL You can also moderate, remove and manage posts 24/7. Padlet is free and easy to use!
Livebinders was created so that anyone, but especially educators could do with digital information what we do with the papers on our desk - organize them into nice containers - like 3-ring binders on a shelf. With these online-binders you can also upload your documents and easily combine them with your links in a neat and organized way. (Here's one of my livebinders.)
Write About solves the problems of getting kids to write by providing students with an online space to write on high-interest topics and get feedback from their peers. Students browse through a collection of writing ideas, each one paired with a visually compelling image, and write about them. It could be a game changer for kids that are reluctant writers!
This is a fun and easy to use tool for creating short, visual stories. Students can select artwork, drag and organize photos, and add their own text. These creations can then be published on the web with adjustable privacy settings. There is also the option to allow comments, which is perfect for teachers to encourage student collaboration. (Here's one of my Storybirds.)
Adobe Spark is the integrated web and mobile solution that enables everyone, especially teachers and their students, to easily create and share impactful visual stories. Spark Page allows teachers and students to bring words and images together to create engaging visual stories. Spark Post lets you create stunning social graphics in seconds. Spark Video lets you turn your story into a captivating animated narrated video in just minutes! It’s free, fun and you will love it!
Still not sure where all these tech tools fit into your school or district standards? ISTE has you covered. They’ve developed a set of educational technology standards for teachers. These standards called ISTE NETS ,seek to move beyond the tool and address the bigger picture of technology in the classroom. Visit ISTE NETS here to see how they can support you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at these 5 tools! Are there others that you love? Leave us a comment! We’d love to know what you think.