I am an English teacher, turned freelance editor, turned homeschool mom of 4. My life is continuously moving and I try to always remember to stop and appreciate it, and learn many things along the way.
I teach: English/Language Arts, Creative Writing, Gifted English
To ages: 6 to 18
For the aspiring writer in your or in your students, if you are a teacher, iBooks is great and very useful tool to utilize. When using iBooks, you are given the opportunity to tap into the market of book creation and selling. Students can start from the very beginning of book creation by typing in the book's content. Then, they can create images to go on each page, and a cover and back cover design for their new book.
Creating a book through iBooks puts you in the driver's seat, if you will, because you do it all on your own and based on your own personal preferences. I think this tool could definitely be used in the classroom as a group project or an individual project.
Microsoft Excel is a very useful tool used to create a database or file of information collected. Now this can be done in a number of ways. When utilizing this tool for the classroom, a teacher can be really creative with the students to develop a number of projects to input into an excel file. For example, Excel can be used to track the data of information collected for a science project, history project, or even an English project. Once all of the data is put into individual cells, rows and columns in Excel, then students are able to compare their findings and give a conclusion based on them. Excel even does computation by adding columns of information or numbers to come up with a total amount. Then, a chart or a graph can be created from this data.
Goalbook is a great tool to use for students in a classroom for whom you have an individualized education plan. Every teacher has a certain set of goals that they set for each student, and Goalbook provides a way for teachers to set educational goals for each students and track the progress of those students meeting their educational goals. Teachers, students and parents alike can help to set the individualized goals and continuously see the progress being made to reach those goals. The best part is that everyone involved in creating the Goalbook is able to see what tools and resources are working positively towards reaching the goal and those that are not working.
As a homeschool teacher, I think this is a great tool to use for a homeschool program, especially because of the frequent opportunity of one-on-one attention from teacher to student.
Gone are the days where you have to upload your digital photos and hope that you did a great job of taking the pictures because you can't enhance or change what you've already done. With iPhoto there are many options available for you to enhance your uploaded digital photos and you can also create collages from the photos. Students can perhaps use iPhoto as a part of a class project displaying their photos, or using their photos to tell a story related to the project.
Google Earth is a great tool for personal use so that students can explore various parts of the Earth on an interactive map just for fun. Then, it can also be used in the classroom as a teaching tool, especially for History/Geography teachers. In English classrooms, teachers can think of creative ways to implement Google Earth to look for countries or places of origin where a novel takes place.
There are only advantages to using Google Earth in the classroom. I would highly recommend it.
Another useful tool for a school and the classroom… after studying Edmodo and questioning teachers who have used it, I received quite a lot of positive feedback about it as well as a few cons of using this tool.
-students are familiar with social media already, so "figuring out" Edmodo is not a problem.
-good amount of school/teacher control without feeling like teachers are trying to control everything
-great way to give written feedback to specific students privately, without other students knowing.
-badges give a way to recognize students quickly & easily
-quizzes are graded & can be added to grade book – takes away grading time for me
-one localized place to upload class files like syllabus, handouts, etc. for students to reference
-and the big thing is that all of these features are in one place. As in any tool, there are some setbacks. Teachers have reported a few cons in using Edmodo for their classroom.
-because it is so robust, it can be intimidating for some teachers & students.
-iPad app isn't quite as nice as desktop web version & is not updated to all the new features yet.
-more difficulties in implementing in a K-12 school for elementary students because it assumes students will us it, but many parents maybe don't want their first grader on it.
Overall, Edmodo is an excellent tool to utilize in a school and classrooms. Given time and practice, teachers and students can utilize it very effectively.
What question you can think of there is someone on Quora who can answer it. No, this is not a new tool, because there are resources like Google and Yahoo Answers. However, the difference with Quora is that you get real answers from people who are actually in the field that you are inquiring about. They have the real life experience.
Quora, however, is definitely a tool that I would recommend be used by only teachers. Teachers can ask questions about topics pertaining to their subject matter and be able to give answers to their students. For example, an English teacher can ask questions about eBook publishing and relay that information to their students interested in that topic. For students, it runs the risk of becoming a free-for-all that can lead to chaos because of the types of non-educational questions students may ask that could render inappropriate responses.
I must start off by saying: "What teacher wouldn't love to use Quizlet for their classroom?!" As an English teacher I would use this to implement the use of flash cards to prepare my students for an upcoming test or quiz and also as motivation to keep building on their strengths in the content because they can see how they are progressing with their percentage of questions correct each time they quiz themselves using the tool. A friend of mine who is a Science teacher uses this tool to prepare her students for upcoming tests and as a way for them to master the Periodic Table.
I wouldn't say that it could be used for every subject matter, but certainly the majority of them. I think the main reason they Quizlet has the appeal it does is because of the ease of use for teachers and the ability to create tests/quizzes from it, but also that for students it is not your typical flashcard.
Google Docs is used by professionals, teachers and students alike. It is a great tool for creating spreadsheets, written documents and presentations. But it's not like using Microsoft Word to create a document. When Google Docs is used by teachers and students, teachers are able to review what students are writing at the exact moment it is being written and subsequently they are able to comment on the content basically in live time. Moreover, Google Docs allows you to share your documents, any of your content with anyone else using Google Docs at the same time for them to be a part of what you are doing. This is then ideal for a classroom group project or assignment.
This is yet another great tool and resource for the classroom.
Grammar App is a tool that both a teacher and a student can use. As an English teacher who regularly teaches grammar skills, any supplemental tool that can be used outside of the classroom to help students improve upon their grammar and writing skills is a plus for me. Grammar App is set up like a question and answer game, which makes it fun for students.
However, although this tool is very useful, those that have used Grammar App do say that it does have its kinks to work out, like spelling typos and freezing while using the app.
There is never a day that goes by that I don't have my computer open to Microsoft Word. There is always a document that needs to be typed, a lesson plan to complete, or an essay to be edited. Word is the best tool to use to do all of these things and more. When I use it to edit a student's work, I can track all of the edits I make with red ink so that the students can retrace my steps and see what I've edited in order to learn how to adjust and improve upon their writing.
For both teachers and students, Microsoft Word is the absolute best tool to use for creating documents, cards, tables, posters, virtually anything that can be written.
Blogs have become extremely popular; almost everyone has one or knows about the most popular ones. But when using blogs in the classroom, it's not about a popularity contest. It is about creating a virtual learning environment that is controlled and organized for and by educators and their students. This is how Kidblog works. It is a blog created by educators and maintained by students. I really like how Kidblog allows students to have a blog to share their personal thoughts and/or respond to class discussions, all while under the control and security of their teachers. Kidblog is not public on the Web and doesn't allow anyone outside of teachers and classmates to see whatever another student posts on their blog.
Facebook, of course, is a great resource for connecting with old and new friends, and also colleagues. But for education purposes Facebook can also be a great resource used within the classroom. One way that a teacher can use Facebook with her students is when assigning tasks or projects like something related to history or politics. For example, a teacher can be studying poverty in America and countries overseas and the teacher can set up a Facebook page for students to "Like" and begin discussions, like a forum, to discuss the topic of poverty in these countries.
This is a great tool, using social media, to generate discussions and action within young people.
The only limitation I would note is that the Facebook page could also attract outside viewers, with inappropriate material/feedback, unrelated to the school. So there would have to be some parameters set up for this, if possible.
In this case, a tool like Edmodo may be a good choice.
As a teacher, I am always an advocate of resources and/or tools that work as a supplement to academic material or textbooks. The Spelling Test app/tool is no exception. With this tool, students can test themselves with vocabulary words from homework lessons or prep themselves for standardized tests with words commonly found on the SAT exam. The tool uses a spelling test format as a game to help students test their spelling abilities and how well they can remember their homework spelling words. Since the format is set up like a game, students don't feel as if they are in a classroom, they just feel as if they are having fun while sharpening your spelling ability and tracking how many words they get correct or incorrect.
My first encounter with Dropbox was when a friend of mine wanted to send me a pdf file that contained many images and after 4 failed attempts at sending it through the classic email address he finally asked me if I had a Dropbox account. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I quickly looked it up and them downloaded it. After I did that, I was able to view his pdf file quickly and easily.
In this same way, Dropbox can be used in the classroom. Currently many schools are going completely digital by also supplying classroom textbook in pdf format on the iPad. Dropbox is one of the tools that can be used by students to view/download the textbook content. All that someone has to do is create a free Dropbox account, with username and password, and then download any new content that is made available. Once you have an account, you are able to download the new content once the person sending you the content "invites" you to view it. Also, Dropbox is not just for pdf files but also for pictures and videos, so that you can store large amounts of them.
There is a limit, however, to how many files a Dropbox account can hold. Once you have downloaded a lot of files to your 2GB Dropbox account, you will have to increase your GB to be able to hold more files. This is when you will have to pay a small monthly fee. But your students will be able to store lots of files with the free account.
Overall, Dropbox is a great tool for the classroom.
One part studio recording suite and one part live performance tool, Garage Band makes for a great teaching tool. I have this tool on my personal computer and I have personally watched this tool in use when my school's music teacher used it to work with his iBand class. They used the multiple instruments included in the program. Whether students learn to play with the band using the 'Smart Instruments', that do most of the work for you, or if they play any of the virtual instruments onscreen they are able to learn by doing. The accuracy of the virtual instruments is quite impressive and the Smart Instruments still affords students a good bit of musical education even though they highly simplify the process. A simple sound board and speakers is all that's needed to get students amplified and playing together.
Garage Band also has an 8-track recording studio, complete with a sampler, drum machines, loops and tons of options for other instruments, this app packs a great punch. You can also look forward to the ability to connect real instruments such as keyboards or guitars through devices such as the Alesis IO Doc or the iRig. Trust me, for only $5 for the iPad, this app is one of the best bargains around.
Another great tool created by Apple to bring the world of media right to your fingertips. The iMovie tool can be used for personal home movies, for business presentations, and of course for the classroom. A former colleague of mine used it with her students. The same benefits he found with it, I found as well. Here's what he had to say about it:
"iMovie is a great tool to begin teaching students the concepts of video editing. It's features are effective at what they do, yet simple enough that the beginner with no video editing experience can use them. Students will be exposed to the concepts of importing video files, cropping sections of video, crossfading and adding video effects just to name a few. Although it's definitely not a pro suite by any means, iMovie allows students to explore, learn and produce, using a very basic, yet capable software. Once they've completed their projects, they can export them as different file types or burn directly to DVD. It is versatile, simple and reliable, iMovie makes a great teaching tool."
So teachers, introduce your students to video editing and help them gain a good foundation to go to the next level using iMovie. But of course, you must follow the instructions in the tutorial first to ensure you are doing everything the right way.
Blogging is a wonderful medium for any and everybody to use to share their lives with friends and family near and far and to utilize as a personal soapbox to share their opinions on lifestyle, fashion, and politics.
But the best way that I have used the medium of blogging through the tool Blogger is in the classroom. I encouraged my middle school students to keep a digital journal, also called a blog, that I would have be able to check on the Web (with the proper use of privacy settings). The students had to keep a blog on various topics that I would give them. These topics or prompts would have to be answered, or addressed, by the students in their blog.
My students thought it was a great way to complete their journal writing that was different from the conventional pen and paper. They were also able to see the blogs of other students to read their thoughts. Blogger is easy to access and to use. Teachers and students alike will find it very useful and effective.
Who doesn't like using PowerPoint?! PowerPoint is such a useful tool in and outside of the classroom. I even know of business professional who regularly use it. For the classroom, I have used it during my lectures for my English and Creative Writing classes so that students can copy the notes as I teach the lesson, and I can easily move from one slide to the next, or even go back to a slide, with the click of a button. In addition, I always enjoyed incorporating visual images or brief videos into my PowerPoint slideshows to make the lectures more interesting. You definitely can't do that when you're just writing notes on the board.
When I taught middle school and high school, I encouraged my students to complete their class projects using PowerPoint so that they could do it as a presentation. Most times they did use it and did a great job of it as well. However, like any tool used by students to do presentations in class, it can turn out to be a long process viewing every student's PowerPoint presentations.
Using Pinterest to display your favorite sites, recipes, or decorations has become a popular trend. And like so many other people, I have jumped right in. I've found that Pinterest is useful inside the classroom as well. For a teacher, Pinterest becomes a tool to display educational resources pertaining to a variety of subjects for both students and parents. I use it to display resources like grammar pages, writing tools, spelling websites, creative writing apps, and sites for cool science experiments.
Students can also use it to create their own creative cork boards with pins for a lesson or class project. I would recommend it for both a classroom and for a homeschool setting. All in all, Pinterest is a valuable resource for any classroom.