A super nice member!
I teach: ELA
To ages: 13 to 14
SkyDrive is a wonderful time saver, and a lesson saver. Keeping my lesson plans, presentations, and other documents on SkyDrive has already saved me time and stress. No more worrying about whether or not I brought the right flash drive to work. My lessons are always available on SkyDrive, from my classroom computer, my laptop, my home computer, and even on my phone. I can also use SkyDrive to share my lesson plans with my co-teacher and colleagues in my department.
I use this tool to enhance my feedback for some of my online students in developmental composition courses. Students can be overwhelmed by comments, and sometimes don't understand the terms I'm using. For example, instead of simply adding a note that a sentence is a fragment, I can highlight it while I'm describing the sentence in a Jingo video and demonstrate to the student how it could be corrected. Each video has a URL, so I don't have to save the videos on my own computer, and students can link to them multiple times.
I work with a co-teacher for two of my five classes every day. At first, it was very cumbersome to collaborate on our co-taught lessons. We had to find common time, or stay after school, and edits or revisions required even more scrambling to find time. Now we share our plans via Planbook. It isn't a free resource, but for us, it is definitely worth the $10 to always have access to the same plans. We haven't used the function to make the plans visible to students, but that might be a good feature for students who are out of school for extended periods.
There must be a YouTube video for almost any subject. I use YouTube in a couple of different ways. First, it's a great source for short videos for flipped lessons. I've used videos on topics as diverse as WWI poetry and reference page citations. It can take some time to wade through videos on a topic, but there is almost always something that fits the topic I'm looking for. YouTube videos work well with Prezis and are easy to embed into Edmodo. Students also find it very useful for bringing in videos they've created for class. I remember years ago having to deal with different formats and students' DVDs and flash drives. Now a student only has to log into the computer attached to my Smartboard and he or she can present her video to the class without a glitch.
I've used StumbleUpon to help students begin research and brainstorm ideas. Students can work in groups during in-school library or computer time, or they can work at home and collaborate via social media. I've set up topics for Film Noir and Shakespeare in the past and asked students to gather facts and develop research questions based on a specific number of "Stumbles." Students find it engaging and fun and often go beyond the required number of pages as they become more and more engaged in the topic.
Ted-Ed is still developing content in the humanities, but I've used the Shakespeare Insult video as part of a flipped lesson. Students enjoy watching videos at home, and I add the link to an Edmodo post so that they can also discuss the video as they watch it. Keep in mind that watching a video alone does not a lesson make. The resources provided are great, but to make the connections to our in-class work, I add discussion topics to Edmodo as well.
It isn't intuitively obvious how Google Earth would be valuable to a literature teacher – but it is. I recently developed resources for both The War of the Worlds and Treasure Island. As both are set in England, students are not familiar with the locations of different settings. Using Google Maps, I created resources to help students track the progress of characters and to help them better understand the distances between different settings. Great tool – and as more and more street views are becoming available it is only getting better.
I use Microsoft Word every day to create lessons, worksheets, etc. The track changes feature is invaluable for my online classes, and is probably the best way to leave feedback on student papers. I really like being able to focus on very specific aspects of a text and add directed feedback. I've set up auto-comments so that I can add links to additional resources in my comments. For example, if a notice a student is having trouble with in-text citations, I use an auto comment that includes a link to the Purdue OWL website on in-text citations.
Students love Freerice.com because they feel like they are helping others. I love Freerice.com because students are enthusiastic about practicing their vocabulary skills. I try to develop a freerice assignment once or twice a quarter. For example, I'll hold a competition and ask students to submit screen shots with their progress and keep a leader board for a week tracking which students have donated the most grains of rice. I highly recommend this website.
I read about NoRedInk and couldn't wait to try it. On the downside, it's another website that students have to self-register with an access code. I already have my students register for Edmodo, and it can be cumbersome to get everyone on board for a second website. On the upside, however, students are far more likely to practice grammar with an online platform than they are to complete a worksheet. The Common Core standards for ELA include a focus on language and mechanics, and I'm excited to have a new tool to help my students meet those standards.
This is a great free resource for creating MLA citations. Students working on their first formal research papers can by stymied by all of the formatting requirements for their citations. EasyBib solves that problem. I especially like the feature that allows students to type in a title or link to an ebook to generate a citation. APA is a premium feature and requires a membership, but MLA is free, and most middle-school and high school students use APA.
While Khan Academy doesn't yet offer literature topics, they do have a great selection of art history videos that I've used in conjunction with my literature units. I place links to a video on Edmodo and assign the video as homework for students. The next day in class, we discuss the video and I lead students in making connections to literature. While this isn't a fully flipped classroom model, it's a very time-effective way to add interesting content to the class, and fulfill Common Core standards of integrating art into the ELA curriculum.
At the suggestion of a friend, I've recently started using Pintrest. It is an effective and easy way to gather resources for lesson planning. For example, right now I'm working on a board related to poetry to gather ideas about how to make poetry more relevant to students and present it in a more contemporary light. A colleague of mine has a board for her dream classroom. In working on her Pintrest board she's come up with some great new ideas for her room.
While I wouldn't use Facebook to interact with students because of the potential privacy issues, I do find it valuable in staying connected to colleagues. Teaching can be an isolating profession. Even though I may not have a chance to connect with all of my colleagues at work every day, I can look forward to checking to Facebook in the evening and visiting with friends from work I may not have seen all day. My colleagues and I have used Facebook to plan social gatherings, and to chat about school.
I really can't think of a better tool for collaborative writing and editing. Google Docs offers appropriate controls so that I can maintain specific groups and track the progress of those groups on cooperative research and writing projects. The writing tools are familiar to students, so there is no learning curve for any student who has ever used Microsoft Word or a similar program. Google Docs can get "glitchy" with longer documents, however. It can be frustrating for students when the doc reloads and work is lost. I hope as Google continues to work on it there will be more stability for larger files.
I love Zite! This is the first app I open on my iPad every morning and the last one I open every night. In a nutshell, Zite is the newspaper you wish existed. I have set up several categories based on topics I'm covering in class, and topics I'm personally interested in. Over time, Zite learns what is the reader is most interested in and the front page articles become more and more targeted. For example, because of what I've been reading and "liking," Zite now gathers articles on flipping classrooms for my first few pages. It is very easy to email articles to colleagues, or post them on Facebook or Twitter, and share information with others. I highly recommend Zite as a way to stay current on topics that are of particular interest to teachers.
One of my colleagues uses Class Dojo in his class every day and highly recommended it. I started using it recently, but found it rather cumbersome. I don't think it's an issue of the tool itself, but how I was using it. My colleague has it set up on his Smartboard so that students can check themselves in, and check in when they've completed specific tasks. It takes a bit of planning to utilize it successfully. I also found that some students became a bit obsessed with how many Dojo points they were earning in a single class, and how many they needed to learn. While I see the advantages in some classes, in some situations, I think it may cause students stress.
I've used Prezi to develop weekly guidance presentations for an online class in composition I teach. Because it is so easy to combine different resources into one friendly format, it's a great way to provide a wide range of resources in a single document. For example, I recently created a Prezi on APA style. I included YouTube videos, links to citation wizards, and links to webpages with sample style guides and formats. In doing so, I was able to provide content for all different types of learners.
Teachers pay Teachers is one of the first places I "stop" when I'm developing a new unit or preparing to teach a new novel. The lessons are developed by working teachers, who have tried and polished them in actual classrooms. I find the lessons are far more practical and much easier to implement than many commercially available teaching guides. It is very easy, and affordable, to purchase teaching tools and edit them to my own requirements. I highly recommend this website to both new and experienced teachers.
Next week I'll begin my third year using Edmodo in my classroom. My students have Edmodo accounts in both social studies and in English. I use the tool to post assignments, including links to videos and additional resources. Students submit essays and I use the comment features to score and provide feedback – so much easier than dragging a stack of papers back and forth from school to home. It's also a fantastic resource for group projects. The group feature allows me to assign students to reading groups or to project groups, which enables them to collaborate from home and asynchronously. It's a safer alternative to Facebook or other public social networking tools as only students on my team can join or participate. I highly recommend it for teachers in any discipline – and if you're thinking about flipping your classroom, Edmodo is a great place to get started.