Nine Tech Tools for Classroom Use
June 2015, Volume 38, Issue 10
About 850 apps are downloaded from Apple’s App Store every second. Even with the plethora of options, some apps stand out from the crowd. Here are some top apps that can help educators accomplish their goals.
Obtaining a 1:1 device ratio for their school is the goal of many administrators. In the May/June 2015 issue of Principal magazine, Stefani Pautz, Douglas Elmendorf, and Jennifer Mullenax shared two schools’ challenges and successes when implementing a 1:1 strategy.
Central to both schools’ success was having a concrete plan to implement the devices and to articulate the purpose of moving toward tech-enabled teaching and learning. They also made sure the plan truly moved the schools toward the future, establishing a culture of innovation for their students and faculty. They also shared some of the apps that made those goals possible:
- Zite: A great way to find the research that makes sure the technology you’re implementing is still cutting-edge.
- Feedly: Collects blogs and articles and makes them easy to share with your faculty.
- Dropbox: Collaboration requires sharing documents. Dropbox is the leader.
Flipping Your Meetings
The flipped classroom has been a trend among teachers for a few years, but Peter DeWitt also advocates for principals to find a way to flip their meetings. Among the benefits is that the limited meeting time you have is used to facilitate meaningful discussions and share ideas rather than just analyzing data or research.
The basic idea is that the principal running a meeting sends out the articles, videos, or data that he or she would like teachers to study before the meeting, rather than during. Then teachers show up armed with ideas and points to discuss. Tech tools help this process and DeWitt brings up a few:
- Diigo: Social bookmarking site that allows you to share articles.
- TouchCast: Helps you create professional-quality videos.
- Movenote: Allows you to record yourself on video next to your presentation slides.
Students as Tech Leaders
When Katherine Smith Elementary School near San Jose, California, adopted a new, comprehensive technology plan, it quickly fell behind on the “techy” aspects of the implementation. Staff chose to focus on rebuilding the culture of the school, says principal Aaron Brengard, which led them to a creative solution: Tap into the 650 digital natives who call the school home every day.
Brengard tells the story of how they enlisted students to help in troubleshooting common tech problems like connectivity and printing, and in helping teachers discover unique, more engaging ways to use their classrooms’ new tools. This was all done over one summer with the help of a teacher leader. Basically, the school multiplied its IT staff with minimal investment. Some tools that really helped the program along include:
- Kidblog: A secure blogging space to share information among students, teachers, and parents.
- Common Sense Media: A go-to source for digital citizenship, including ideas on how students can help with digital learning and more comprehensive app guides.
- WeVideo: Easily create, edit, and share video presentations.
To learn more about how educators are using technology to elevate teaching and learning, read the latest issue of Principal, which focuses on technology and innovation.
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