The use of technology in the classroom no longer begs the questions if or when. The only question teachers ask now is which ones? In many schools, students at every level have access to tablets, laptops or desktop computers. Technology in the classroom is here to stay for the foreseeable future and teachers must be ready to make good use of its benefits.
Which Programs Can Benefit Your Classroom?
Given the number of computer, tablet, smartboard and smartphone applications for use in the classroom and at home, educators at every level have abundant choices for every area of teaching. Here are five popular applications available for free, in at least one format, for five different classroom uses:
LearnBoost: This multi-purpose teacher tool is recommended by Christopher Pappas, Founder of The eLearning Industry's Network as well as other tech-based websites. The program includes four distinct functions to make the teacher's life less complicated:
- Grade book - This function updates scores as grades are entered, updates student progress data and accommodates custom grading scales and weighted assignments.
- Lesson planner - Teachers build lesson plans with easy templates, common core standard tracking and the ability to list materials and attach media files.
- Communicator - Student progress is easily shared with both students and parents.
- Google App link - This program allows you to integrate Google calendars with gradebook and lesson plans as well as access documents.
Socrative: Making a quick assessment of student progress on a lesson-by-lesson basis helps teachers keep current with their students' needs. This app lets you "quickly assess students with prepared activities or on-the-fly questions to get immediate insight into student understanding." Teachers can design individual or group activities and quizzes. They can also ask and track a quick "exit-slip" question at the end of the lesson for instant student feedback.
Padlet: This program is another highly regarded app for encouraging and enabling student collaboration. The free version of this program can be used by older students to blog, bookmark and create discussion boards. It offers organizational tools, like Venn diagrams, sticky notes and to-do lists. When content is ready to be published, sharing can be from public to password-protected to private.
The school-friendly version, for a monthly fee, is equipped with administrative controls, more privacy, filters and security, and larger file space.
ClassDojo: This classroom management system has a simple plan: "connect teachers, parents, and students in every classroom, and work with them every day to bring the best ideas into their classrooms." It features four teacher-student-and-family-friendly products:
- Classroom: Individualized behavior tracking that can be shared with families.
- Student voice: Students personalize their own portfolios.
- Sharing: Teachers share photos, videos and classroom updates with parents. Instant private messaging is included.
- Original content: Big-idea videos teach important concepts about mindset and social-emotional skills, like perseverance and empathy.
Quizlet: Anabel Gonzalez, an ESL teacher in North Carolina, recommends Quizlet, saying, "Quizlet works for any curriculum, teacher or student. It is fun, simple and, best of all, free, although a premium version exists." Using the Quizlet program, teachers and students can create their own digital flashcards, including audio and images, and use them to study and play games.
Quizlet Live was created in 2016. This interactive program allows teachers to transform flashcards into games. Teams play against each other, fostering collaboration, communication and cooperation among students. It also builds vocabulary and promotes accuracy over speed. Finally, it provides quick and accurate assessment data to the teacher.
Why Is Technology in the Classroom Important?
As we prepare students for life after high school and college, we must consider the integral role technology will play in their futures. We must teach not only the basic skills of computer use but also how to select the right programs, guard against cyber threats and filter out inaccuracies when searching for information online.
Experienced teachers, looking to the future of education, may want to enhance their teaching practice with courses that focus on the qualities necessary to create a strong digital culture in their classrooms and schools. A Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction from Northwest Missouri State University offers classes to help you keep current with today's best instructional and classroom practices.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri's online MS Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.
Sources:The Techie Teacher: My Favorite Tech Tools for Communication and Collaboration
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