Thursday, February 18, 2016

Top Edtech Sites

     I love technology. Really, I do. But learning new applications intimidates me. I never feel as though I have enough time to actually learn them well. The nuances. The subtleties. The shortcuts. The result? I know many applications but know them poorly. So what are apps I use consistently and know the best? Not many, that's for sure. Here are my top five.
     1. Google Drive/Docs. Daily. Hour by hour, minute by minute. I'm constantly on Google Drive/Docs helping students with papers. This is by far my most comfortable application and the one I know the best. The functionality of it in the classroom is unsurpassed, in my estimation. Being able to communicate with students, answer their questions that they are shy asking in person, giving feedback, encouraging students to keep improving--all this is possible and more with Google Drive/Docs.
     2. Remind. I use this application weekly, sometimes more, sending out short missive to parents about things going on in school. Things with which they can talk to their teens. Fodder for conversations. I had a student ask me the other day why I sent his mom text messages. I asked him why not? He had no answer except to tell me that all his mom did with the information was want to talk to him about it. Heavens, that can't be good, right? I think if more parents and teens communicated, there would be far fewer problems in the classroom.
    3.  Screencast-o-matic. I may not use this weekly, but I am a frequent user of this application. Why do I like it so much? Because it's quick and easy to use, students quickly pick it up, and it allows me to expand on concepts that students can watch if I'm too busy with other students to help someone when needed. This way, my students know to check out my website to see if there are any video explanations for their current question. I can upload videos to youtube.com and link them directly to my website. Easy peasy, all the way around. This win-win situation is appreciated by the teens as they don't always want to ask for help.
    4. Google Sites.  This should probably be much higher on my list as it's a tool used daily in my classroom. Suffice it to say I may spend a few minutes each week tweaking content on my site, but it's one of the best investments of my time. It allows more independence on the student's part and gives them a feeling of autonomy that I believe is healthy for students to develop. Making them teacher dependent doesn't do anyone any favors. This dependence won't benefit them in college, at all.
    5. Easel.ly and Booksource Organizer. I probably access booksource organizer more often as it's the app I use to manage my classroom library, but my students probably use esael.ly more to generate infographics. This is one of those programs I wrote about above--I know it but I don't really know it. However, I have found students to be engaged, thinking and learning when doing an infographic.

     So there it is, the list of my top five used apps. I use other extensions and such from Google daily, but in this post I focused on larger apps that impacted the most. I do love technology. And learning new applications. If only I had more time. That could make all the difference
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