Today's kids, however, are not analog kids. Today's students have never lived in a world without email or laptops. Heck, today's K-6 students have never lived in a world without YouTube.
It makes sense, then, that it would be the teachers who need to adapt their styles and tools to the needs and norms of their students. This isn't always easy. We get that. That's why we've put together a list of some awesome tech tools for teachers that have caught our eyes and we think will help you more effectively teach and interact with your students.
Remember that notebook your school would hand out every fall, with the calendar and the room for class schedules and the pages of blank boxes in which you were supposed to write your homework assignments? Those are still around, but now many of them have digital counterparts. For example, Meridian is launching a new digital version of its planner called Meridian PRIME, which allows students to personalize their schedules while simultaneously making classroom management (like grading, giving/receiving homework assignments, etc) easier for you.
In your day, you had to make giant collages and tactile representations of content you'd curated around a single theme. That's harder to do in a world that increasingly values being as paperless as possible. Even so, a simple curation tool like Paper.li can be used to create the same digitally-based effect as those collages and boards you used to have to make as a kid. With online curation tools, your kids can create their own newspapers (like what Paper.li offers), etc. Pinterest is another useful tool here, but privacy issues will likely come into play.
Online Collaboration Tools
The group project is a tried and true tradition in the classroom. In the digital age, however, you don't want your students to have to waste time sending files back and forth while they are working together. Google has a suite of tools that are helpful with this like Docs and Hangouts. If you're looking for something more structured (and that will allow you to peek in on and help guide your students' progress), tools like ProofHub and MindMeister are great.
Power Point is dead! Long live Power Point! Yes, the widespread use of Power Point has made tools like overhead projectors almost obsolete. Even so, Power Point can only do so much. It's kind of boring. To make your classroom presentations more dynamic, use tools like Emaze or Prezi. These tools help you create presentations that grab attention. Prezi even allows you to move around, zoom, etc., within your presentation which is helpful when you're trying to keep your students' eyes from glazing over.
Setting up a classroom-specific social media platform is a godsend for teachers. Students can communicate with each other, ask questions, get help, etc. You can monitor these conversations and participate as needed -answering those questions, adjusting lesson plans when you see that everybody is stuck on something. Edmodo is a great tool for this. It sets up a simple, Facebook-like environment for your classroom, allowing students and you to connect with each other easily and quickly. Schoolology is another great tool, and has the added benefit of giving you a safe space in which to connect with other teachers.
There is still a debate over whether educational games are truly educational or if they are just a market for money grabbers. Like with most other genres w've talked about here, there are going to be games that help your students and games that are little more than distraction. Still, having access to games that help encourage and enhance learning is a great way to connect with your students. FunBrain, MangaHigh, Socrative are all great tools for helping your students learn and allowing you to assess their progress in certain subjects.
More and more the classroom is going digital. Students can even go to school entirely online now, via virtual K-12 schools. Instead of fighting against it, why not embrace all of the digital tools that will help you do your job and make the learning experience richer for your students? And don’t forget, there are also plenty of tools out there that are just for teachers to use as well! Don’t forget about the benefits you'll get from having better connections with your colleagues.
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Education & Tech