6 Top Tech Tools  

February 12, 2014
Wow! It is hard to believe that it has been 6 months since I became a member of the ESU 10 family! While I have considered myself a “techie” for quite some time, integrating technology into my science and math classes as well as using it personally, I can’t begin to describe how much more I have learned over these past 180 days! I have to give credit for that learning to the many talented teachers and Technology Integrationists with whom I have connected through my position at ESU 10. I would like to share with you six of the top tools that I have discovered (or rediscovered) since August 1, 2013!

1. ThingLink has been my favorite web tool for a couple of years now, but it is also available as an iPad app. We all know images tell stories, but ThingLink allows you to add rich content to make an image come alive. With this tool or app, one image is your background and you make it interactive by adding links. These links can take you to more information via websites, photos, music or videos, or simply be additional information in a text box. You can change the icons for the links and move them around. There is no limit to how many links you can add to your image. ThingLink could be a new way for teachers to present content, introduce a unit, or share their passion. Students can use it to create presentations, review material, or show what they have learned at the end of a unit. The possibilities are endless!

2. If you are looking for a great presentation tool for you or your students, you need to check out Haiku Deck. It has been around a while, but has recently become a web tool in addition to an iPad app. You can easily create a beautiful, concise slideshow, choosing from millions of free Creative Commons images while customizing the text with a multitude of fonts and colors, to tell and share your story online. Students love using it to demonstrate understanding of a concept.

3. As a fairly new iPad user, I have explored hundreds of apps and the one that has most impressed me is Pic Collage. It is an easy, versatile and intuitive app that allows you to create collages with images and text in any content area. The final projects can be saved to the camera roll on the iPad or emailed to anyone. One of my favorite lesson ideas is to have students use Pic Collage to describe similarities and differences, or create metaphors and analogies. This tool is an iPad app, but a comparable web tool that could be used is pizap.com.

4. If you are looking for a way to engage and assess your students, you should take a look at Nearpod. Teachers create enriched multimedia presentations with interactive features using the Nearpod tool online and share this content with students in the classroom. Students then access this content and submit responses on their mobile device or any web browser. There are several options in Nearpod which include creating new presentation slides or viewing powerpoint files, adding assessment questions, playing videos, and providing a blank whiteboard that students draw on, all in one lesson. Teachers can control the presentation and monitor student learning by viewing the individual student responses in real time or reports that are generated by Nearpod. I have seen it used to engage students in a powerpoint lesson, to assess student learning with quiz questions, or to have students solve math problems.

5. In the last few months I have seen a lot of creative ways that teachers use Google Apps for Education, in particular Google Forms. Google Forms can be used to collect all kinds of information and data from students or teachers, as well as to create student assessments. A form is a simple online survey that is easy to create, and the survey results are automatically provided in a spreadsheet as well as viewable in various graphic displays. Form questions include multiple choice, text, checkbox, choose from a list, grid or scale. I have seen teachers use forms to collect digital assignments, record physical education activities and heart rate data, gather science lab data, and generate a list of adjectives that students use to describe a character in a novel.

6. I can’t have a top tool list without including the one that really transformed my own personal learning: Twitter. The people that compose my Personal Learning Network (PLN) are all educators--science teachers, math teachers, PE teachers, kindergarten teachers, Spanish teachers, counselors, technology integrationists, administrators, college professors, educational bloggers and speakers--who share a common goal to improve student learning and share their stories with children. We collaborate and share and discuss every day! I participate in personalized professional development every day because of Twitter. As my esteemed colleague Craig Badura says, “Twitter is the world’s most positive teacher’s lounge!” Give it a try today! (@MrsCoover)

It is hard to stop at six, but I am nearing the end of my allotted space! Visit topsix.wikispaces.com to see some examples created with the tools described above. Be sure and check ODIE for workshops that will be scheduled for March and April, as well as this summer. I am sure by then we will have some additional tools to share! 

-by Peg Coover, Technology Integration Coordinator