Learning to Drive

In February, our district will begin state testing.  Once testing begins, there will be at least one grade level in at least one school in our district testing every single school day until May.  This big span of time marks the third round of testing this year. We are not alone. Toss that around in your head for a minute or two.

I’ll spare you my soap box about too much testing and where the focus has gone in education; you likely feel the same way (if you’ve got some time, or you’re just as passionate as I am about these issues, I do suggest you head on over to Nancy Chewning’s blog response to TIME Magazine’s Rotten Apples article that was featured in the Washington Post).  However, it is worth mentioning for the point of this blog post that with so much time dedicated to state testing, which influences districts’ report cards and teachers’ evaluations, there obviously becomes a heavy focus on testing and preparing students for the test.

Teachers are working so hard not to teach to the test, while at the same time making sure students are as prepared as possible for the tests- the scores of which will directly impact their own livelihoods.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions the past few months for websites that teachers can use with students to help them practice the PARCC tests and the digital skills needed for these tests. Many students in our district have had very little experience with technology outside of the school building. Even inside the buildings teachers have to share carts, so it is possible for students not to use any devices for a day or more at a time. Teachers and administrators want students to practice skills like typing, using the trackpads, dragging and dropping, typing in text boxes, etc., so they are prepared for test day since they have had such limited experience with these skills. Many have asked for practice test sites, which mirror the actual tests in order to practice these digital test skills.

I wholeheartedly agree that students should be exposed to these types of activities before seeing it for the first time on a high-stakes test. But I do not think students should be practicing these skills alone, with the exception of learning to keyboard initially.

Take the following example. When you learned to drive, you learned what to do at a traffic light: red means stop, yellow means slow down (or speed up for some lead-footed folks), and green means go. You did not have to practice driving in a new city before you could actually drive there and navigate those traffic lights, right? You now apply your traffic light knowledge when you approach all traffic lights, even though they may not be on the exact streets where you initially learned to drive.traffic light

If I am creating a digital learning environment for my students to the best of my ability and with the resources available to me, at the very least they will have experience with text boxes, dragging and dropping, using a trackpad and more. If I’m a math teacher, I can create lessons where students are measuring the angles of a baseball field using a protractor and other digital manipulatives. If I’m an English teacher, I can have students use the TextHelp Study Skills add-on in Google Docs to highlight certain parts of speech in certain colors to practice using a highlighting tool. These examples would give students real experience using those specific tools on a regular basis- not just experience using them on a practice test question inside of a practice test.

Students will learn digital test skills when they are infused in instruction; those skills do not need to be practiced in isolation. When students are familiar with digital tools and skills in your classrooms, they will be able to navigate and use the tools on any assessment- even if they look slightly different. After all, we still know what to do at street lights when the colors are slightly brighter or more dull, the posts in which they hang on are higher or lower than what we’re used to, or the traffic lights are hung on a street post near the sidewalk or above the street, correct? Our memory recall kicks into action and processes what to do at the lights, even when they are slightly different from our own home towns. The same thing goes for using digital tools on assessments if we use them in daily/frequent classroom activities and then see them on an assessment.

We learn through experience. We apply what we know. We adapt when necessary.

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me about practicing “digital test skills?”

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

5 EdTech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 8

Okay… so it’s less than six minutes!  During June and July (and almost August), I put the 5 in 5 screencasts on hold.  Well, it’s that time of year again.

By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about. I’m all about helping teachers save time where they can!

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. ThingLink
  2. NearPod
  3. Remind
  4. Print Friendly
  5. One-Click Timer

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

Tech To You Later!
Katie

5 Reasons Kahoot & Infuse Learning are the Perfect Formative Assessment Pair

Formative assessment word cloudThis week we (myself and the elementary instructional technology coach in my district) are leading a number of educational technology PD sessions about many different topics for teachers to attend before going back to school.  The more I interact with some of these tools, the more I really love and swear by them to be used by any age or subject area.  Two of the tools I’m teaching this week, Kahoot and Infuse Learning, make a perfect formative assessment pair. I just had to share them!

Kahoot turns your normal questions into a fun, interactive game that kids of all ages really do love to play! It is similar to the trivia game at BW3’s; the quicker you answer the question correctly, the more points you are assigned.  To see Kahoot in action with students, watch the short video below.

Infuse Learning can be used on the fly for a number of quick questions throughout a lessons or you can save and distribute quizzes. Question options include students’ drawings, multiple choice, true/false, extended response, Lickert scale and more.  For a quick overview of Infuse Learning, watch the video below.

Below are the following 5 reasons I think these tools are fabulous and realistic formative assessment tools.

  1. Instant access to detailed results– No need to collect a bunch of papers, take the time to grade every students’ response, put the results in a spreadsheet and analyze the results yourself, and the other timely things teachers have to do to get meaningful information about students’ progress with more traditional classroom techniques. Kahoot gives you a break down of how many students responded with each answer choice after each question, allowing the teacher to address any common misconceptions on the spot. At the end of every Kahoot game, the teacher can download the results.  The results will tell you how long each student took to answer each question, their response, how many students responded correctly and incorrectly to each question and more.
    Infuse Learning results essentially tell you the same thing when you save students’ responses.  When using the quick assessment tools, you can quickly save the results to the results section and keep moving so your teaching isn’t interrupted. Being able to look at students’ responses as they come in allows you to address any errors or misconceptions on the spot.
  2. Kids are engaged and interested– I’ve seen kids at the high school level and at the grade school level have a blast with Kahoot. They will be begging you to play the game again, so they can increase their score and beat their classmates next time. If you don’t go over an explanation of the correct answers with them right away, kids will be looking up the answers on their own in between rounds of playing the game to improve their score.  The time limit keeps kids on their toes and prevents them from looking up answers as they go.  Kids enjoy Kahoot, so they stay engaged with the game, and ultimately the content.
    When using the quick assessment tools in Infuse Learning throughout a lesson, students must be following along and paying attention in order to answer.  The teacher can see the student’s responses, so it is clear who is paying attention and who may be daydreaming in the back.  The teacher can also see who has responded and who has not responded to any question, so no student can get out of answering a question.
  3. Simple to set up and navigate the teacher’s side– What teacher has time to learn another complicated tool or software?  The easier the better when it comes to saving time, and these two tools couldn’t be easier to navigate and set up. Since it shouldn’t take an overwhelming amount of time to get your quizzes set up in these tools, teachers will be more likely to use them on a daily/weekly basis.
  4. Students (or participants) don’t need to have an account & password- they will just need the room pin number provided by each site once you are logged in as the teacher.
  5. Will work on any device- this makes these tools useful in any setting: BYO, 1:1or checking out labs/carts.

So how do they go together? I would use Infuse Learning in my classroom on (almost) a daily basis to establish a routine with students (you can also import class lists and use Infuse Learning to take attendance based on students “entering” your class) and keep my lessons interactive. I would try to use the quiz feature to set up exit slips as frequently as I could.  Kahoot would come into play in my classroom for review sessions before tests and to check understanding for more complicated or dull topics that need a little spicing up to keep students interested.

What are your favorite formative assessment tools to use in todays classroom? What do you think of Kahoot and Infuse Learning?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Lunch & Learn: Teachers Spotlight EdTech Successes

April marked the last of this years monthly Lunch & Learns, where teachers were invited to bring their lunch to the library during their lunch bell on a designated Thursday each month.  I wanted the last session to spotlight some teachers throughout the building, and allow them to present some of their edtech success stories.  I’m happy to say that I had trouble narrowing it down to 4-5 teachers from each lunch bell!

lunch and learn informationTeacher presenters ranged from 5 to 40 years of experience teaching, and the tools they presented on also ranged in tech-ability level. I asked teachers to answer the following questions in an 8-10 minute presentation of the tool.

  • What was the activity/project and how did you decide on having students use this particular tech tool? How was this different than the traditional project/activity you previously used? How would you change the project for future use?
  • How much were you involved with setting up the technology portion of the project for students? How long did it take? How difficult was it?
  • What were the results? How did this improve/enhance student learning? How did the students respond?
  • If there is an opportunity to quickly interact with your tech tool, I’d like to do that with the teachers.

I filmed each of the teachers’ presentations and uploaded them into the corresponding Lunch & Learn resource folder on Schoology.  Teachers asked the presenters a lot of questions, and there was a lot of great brainstorming going on.  I know some teachers have already implemented some of these tools after seeing them presented at the Lunch & Learn.  A brief summary of each of the highlighted tools are below.

Word track changes/review tools– Word has a handy feature that allows you track your and student changes, add comments and more. This is a great way to grade papers, so your students can easily see all your comments and suggested changes. It’s also a great way to see peer-editing progress.

Screencasting– Screencasting records whatever you’re doing on your screen and you can also record your voice giving instructions. Screencast-o-matic (screencasting tool) allows you to download your video to your computer or upload your video to the their website or YouTube and share the link with anyone.

VoiceThread– VoiceThread is like an audio discussion board. You can upload a picture or even a PowerPoint presentation and record your voice over each slide. Students can create audio comments on each slide too. Both you and the students also have an inking option that is recorded/played back as you speak as well.

Weebly– Weebly allows you and your students to create websites/portfolios. It is an extremely easy platform to use. There is also a blog feature. You can manage your students sites and they can be password protected.

Symbaloo– Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking site. It’s an easier way to keep track of all your favorites and website resources for students.

Kahoot!– Kahoot is an awesome, interactive, quiz game. It’s similar to a BDubs trivia game; the less time you take to answer the questions, the more points you get. You can download the results to see what each student answered, how much time they took, etc. It’s really easy to set up and the kids LOVE it!

Wikispaces– Wikispaces has a great educational side to their wiki platform. Wikis are a great place for students to complete group work because you can track all the changes they make and students can work on the wiki from anywhere-they don’t have to be together. They have a project side to the wiki that allows you to put students into groups, and only those students have access to their group pages.  Wikispaces was highlighted at a Lunch & Learn earlier in the year and caught this teacher’s eye to implement.

Blogs– Our creative writing teacher showed off her student created blogs in WordPress and how she manages them.

Minecraft– Our Latin teacher talked about how letting his students use a tool they were comfortable with (and he was not) transformed an okay project into a really awesome experience. His students researched important buildings and places in Roman/Latin history.  Previously they had to create the building out of a clay, a diagram, a drawing, etc.  He allowed his students to use Minecraft and was blown away by the detail they were able to put into their creations.

Read about all the Lunch & Learns this year by clicking here. How do you spotlight teachers and encourage teachers from different subject areas to engage in conversations about best practices together?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

5 Edtech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 5

With our school-wide Digital Citizenship Day, February was a little crazy and I never got around to making a 5 in 5 episode for February. Now that things have calmed down, I can resume making the monthly 5 in 5 screencasts, which highlight 5 edtech tools teachers can use with students in 5 minutes (okay you caught me-less than six minutes!). By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about.

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. Big Huge Labs
  2. Kahoot!
  3. Pinterest
  4. Visuwords
  5. Piktochart

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

Tech To You Later!
Katie

Facilitating PD in my PJs: Moderating my First Twitter Chat

Tonight I had the pleasure of moderating my first Twitter chat: #1to1techat (1:1 teacher chat).  This has been my favorite Twitter chat, professional development, and weekly motivation for a long time now.  I was flattered when Shaelynn Farnsworth asked me if I wanted to moderate this week.

You can check out the archive of #1to1techat on 2/19 by clicking here.

Before I answered her, I got very nervous. What if I didn’t have a good answer to someone’s question? It only took me a few minutes to calm down and realize, she wasn’t asking me to be an expert at anything.  The beauty of a Twitter chat is that it is a bunch of educators and practitioners coming together to exchange their expertise, brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another. I’m sure someone learned a thing or two from me, but I bet I learned the most from everyone else!

If you’ve participated in a Twitter chat before, you get the benefits.  If not, don’t worry-they happen every week day, so you have time to see it for yourself.

#1to1techatA Twitter chat is the easiest, most affordable (free!) and convenient way to connect with other educators across your state, the country, and even the world.  You use a program like TweetDeck, or even the Twitter search feature, and follow the chat by setting up a column (or searching) the designated hashtag (in this case, it was #1to1techat) at a specific time.  They usually last an hour.  A moderator poses questions to facilitate the conversation, and you- as a participant- include the designated hashtag in all tweets to keep it in the stream for others to see and respond to.  Twitter chats are like the best faculty room/hallway conversations and brain storm session you’ve ever had… on steroids!

“…until you look at Twitter, you won’t realize the sheer volume of conversations that are happening without you… It was kind of scary and awe-inspiring at the same time: the education world had been going on without us, and it was going really fast.”
Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters

Some Tips for Moderators and Things I Learned Along the Way:

  • I invited some individuals, (Twitter) lists of people, and  other common hashtags/chats to join us. The more people that are involved-the more fulfilling the conversations!
  • I had my questions pre-typed and double checked for the 140 character limit. This made it a lot easier to copy & paste the questions from a Google Doc (which I was also able to easily share with Shaelynn for feedback prior to the chat).
  • I used TweetDeck on my Mac to keep track of everything going on during this fast paced chat. I had multiple columns dedicated to the chat based on replays, RTs, favorites, etc.
  • I kept a notepad and pen near by to jot down any new tools, sites and go-to gurus that I want to investigate after the chat. HAH! I did not write one thing down because I didn’t have time. I’ll have to go back through and re-read the tweets and check out the archive.
  • Chats go fast and it’s easy to lose track of which question you’re on or what the question is.  After participating in #NTchat (new teacher chat-another inspiring chat) a couple of times, I borrowed Lisa Dabbs idea of pointing out the question as the moderator like so,
    —>Q1: question here. #hashtag.”
  • As hard as it will be, pay attention to time. I got caught up in conversations and didn’t leave as much time for some questions as I’d have liked.

Overall, I’d say it went pretty well. Well after the hour was up, people hung around to keep talking and sharing ideas (no thanks to me, but rather the people who participated and shared their experiences and ideas). When is the last time you were a part of “sit & get” PD where teachers weren’t looking at the clocks and ready to race out the second it was over? When was the last time people were actually bummed PD was over already?!  All of these people will continue to check out the ideas and tools shared on Twitter and implement them into their own classrooms to improve their instruction/facilitation.

This is the power of twitter chats, my friends!

Have you participated in a Twitter chat before? What did you think? What tips do you have for moderators?  What are some of your favorite Twitter chats?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Busy as Can Be? Time for Online #EdTech PD!

Cheesy, I know.  I can’t help myself if there’s a good rhyme to be made!

blizzard

Photo taken by Al Camardella Jr.

If you’re reading this from my part of the world, you’ve had more snow days than you can count, too. And it’s only the beginning of February!

Mix that with retreats, conferences, calamity days, Digital Citizenship Day, make-up games, tutoring students, meetings, teaching, grading, the other 300 things on a teacher’s plate each day, and oh yea, your personal life… and where in the heck do you have time to fit any educational technology professional development?

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been holding monthly Lunch & Learnswhere teachers bring their lunch to the library to learn about (or refresh their memory on) something edtech. We’ve had a session on tools for collaboration in the classroom, DyKnow,  and every other month is dedicated to our new LMS: Schoology. Based on availability and pre-existing events on the school calendar, there would have only been a couple of weeks between the January and February Lunch & Learn sessions.  I just couldn’t add that additional stress to people, or myself, right now in the midst of the overwhelming schedules and make-up schedules. I couldn’t cancel the February session either.

What to do?

In the spirit of the students using Schoology to make up snow days, I decided to put the February “Lunch” & Learn (Schoology Analytics and Student Completion Rules) online in the teachers’ Schoology PD course. I still sent the pre-survey to teachers, asking them to complete it by a certain date, so I could have the material ready based on their needs. I took a screencast of the usual presentation and how-to’s I would have shown on a big projector screen.  At the points I would have normally had teachers stop to do something on their own tablet (tablet PC), I asked teachers to pause the video and do the task themselves in one of their Schoology courses. I included the normal links to resources and added a discussion board for them to ask questions and share experiences since they wouldn’t have the opportunity to discuss face to face.  I also included a brief online screencast “tutorial” of the course. At the end there was a five question quiz to make sure teachers had actually “attended” and understood the content. Finally, the session ends with a post-survey as always.

Lucky for us we had another snow day and I was able to get everything posted and made available to the teachers a day early. Instead of one lunch period on a certain day, they now have the entire month of February to complete the session and receive credit for “attending” the Lunch & Learn. There have been about 15-20 out of 45 teachers attend each face to face session thus far.  Nine people have already completed the online session, and they still have three weeks to go! I’ll have to wait until the end of the month for the feedback to gauge how well this format worked for them.  If an overwhelming majority really liked this format, it might be something to think about for the future.  At the very least, I hope it alleviates the stress of making another meeting during this busy time while still getting the same PD time.

Click to view the screencast how-to overview of the online session on screencast.com.

The video Lunch & Learn session:

Have you taken or prepared an online edtech course before? What did you think?

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

Experts in the Trenches: Teacher Led EdTech PD

This year I decided to implement a new plan for teacher edtech PD to try to accommodate their schedules as best as possible.  I came up with the monthly Lunch & Learn idea, and so far it’s gone over pretty well!

Word cloud of teachers' pre-survey respopnses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Word cloud of teachers’ pre-survey responses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Today was our January session. We focused on revisiting DyKnow, which is very versatile software that we have on all student and teacher tablet PCs. Most notably, DyKnow allows teachers to view and “monitor” students’ tablet PCs in real time and control (or “block”) which student applications they choose for that particular lesson. It does a lot more than monitor and block, though. Our teachers were all trained on this software a while ago, but haven’t received “formal” training as a refresher in a while.  It’s always good to refresh!

This Lunch & Learn session was called DyKnow: More than Monitoring and Blocking.

I asked one of our experts in the trenches, math teacher Jack Kaniecki, to take the lead during this session because he uses a lot of the interactive features with his students on a regular basis.  He did an incredible job, and I wish I had thought far enough in advance to video record this session for those teachers who were unable to make it.  Duly noted for next time.

Prior to this session, Jack and I met a couple times to discuss what he would show the teachers.  He taught me a couple new things about DyKnow during these demo sessions- thanks, Jack!

As always, I started out by sharing with teachers the results of their pre-survey, so they know why I chose to highlight certain features.  To see those results and the Prezi that was used during the presentation, click here.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

I made a Lunch & Learn class in DyKnow and added Jack as the instructor.  I made six new student accounts and added each “student” to the new course in DyKnow.  Teachers teamed up with at least one other teacher to use the tablet PCs that were already set out and logged into DyKnow as one of the six new “students” and took on the role of students in Jack’s classroom. Jack was able to show his teacher view on one projector screen and interact with the “students,” just like he would on a normal day.  While interacting with one another, Jack walked them through how to do/set up each task. I had set up a resource folder in our Schoology PD Course ahead of time with links to instructions and videos for each of the tasks preformed during the Lunch & Learn (and then some), so teachers can refer back to them at a later date. While Jack had his tablet PC projected on one screen, I had the Prezi with the corresponding how-to instructions up on another screen.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Between the two of us (mostly Jack) and some input from other teachers, we went over how to use the following features: filter URLs; submit, collect, grade, send back and retrieve students’ panels; send polls; use the “private ink” to avoid writing over students’ work; embed a web page on a panel; place students in groups and work on group panels; and the chat feature- whew!  I haven’t checked out the results to the post-survey yet, but judging from the interaction, engagement, and “ohh’s!” from the teachers, I’d say it was a pretty successful Lunch & Learn.

I definitely plan to utilize more teachers in future edtech PD sessions, especially after todays session seemed to have gone over so well. After all, they are the experts of their content area in the trenches with the students day in and day out!

If you’re interested on other Lunch & Learns I’ve put together, click here.

How do you utilize and encourage teachers to lead edtech PD sessions at your school? If you use DyKnow at your school, please share your favorite feature by commenting on this post.

Tech To You Later!
Katie

5 Edtech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 4

In October I started these monthly 5 in 5 episodes to help teachers quickly learn about available tech and web tools they could use in their classrooms.  By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about.

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. TodaysMeet
  2. Cue Prompter
  3. WordPress
  4. Infuse Learning
  5. Storify

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

13 Best Multi-Platform EdTech Tools of 2013

13 best edtech tools of 2013It’s the time of year for ‘Best Of 2013’ lists, so I thought I’d create my own.  This list contains the 13 best multi-platform (web, iOS, Android, etc.) apps and sites for the classroom (in my opinion).  Whether you’re a BYOT, 1:1 iPad, 1:1 Chromebook,  1:1 something else, or still convincing the movers and shakers in your building to switch to a BYO or 1:1 program, you’ll be able to use all 13 of these sites with your students!

13: YouTube: With over 6 billion hours of video being watched from the site every month, there is no explanation needed for the video sharing giant.  However, it is worth putting on this list for many reasons.  You can enrich your classroom with TED talks, Kahn academy videos, and much, much more coming from YouTube. Your students can upload and share their own video creations to reach a much broader audience than the 20-30 kids in your class. It goes without saying that YouTube has become a very powerful tool in education.

12: Skype: Has your field trip funding been cut? Bringing in a guest speaker not feasible because of the cost and distance?  Then give Skype a try! Skype has literally removed the walls, roads, mountains and oceans from our classrooms. Your students can now connect, face to face with anyone in the world. Their website has a lot of lesson ideas, volunteer guest speakers, and more.  Check out PD I did with my teachers about Skype here.

11: Evernote: Evernote is like having every notebook you’ve ever created, every idea you’ve jotted down, and every resource you’ve collected with you at all times.  You can share notebooks you’ve created with other people to view or collaborate with you.  You can snip webpages, upload photos and so much more.  Their enterprise has expanded to additional apps to make Evernote even more powerful, and they’re even making hardware now.  Evernote kept me organized as a varsity cheerleading coach. You’ll never run out of uses for Evernote.

10: Linoit: Always coming up with new ideas on the go? Looking for a space where your students can collaborate and brainstorm? Then Linoit may be just what you need!  Linoit is an online bulletin board that you can keep private or share with others to collaborate with you.  You can post stickies, photos, videos, documents and even post to your boards via email. To create a board, you will need an account, but (depending on your settings) you can allow your students to post to the board without an account- one less password to remember! Check out PD I did with my teachers about Linoit here.

9: StudyBlue: These online flashcards will help your students study & produce less paper waste! Based on the flash cards you create, or use from the millions of other sets already uploaded, study blue will quiz you and give you progress reports and feedback.  It syncs with Evernote and you can collaborate and share your set of flash cards with others.

8: NearPod: With all this talk of flipping the classroom, making classrooms student centered as opposed to teacher centered, I think some teachers get the idea that people expect them to remove all lecture from their classrooms.  While I agree with making our teaching more student centered, I think there is still a need in each classroom for some good old lecture sometimes.  NearPod takes those traditional boring, dis-engaged PowerPoint lectures and turns them into a whole new experience for kids.  You control what slide your students see and there are many different activities you can embed in the presentation for formative assessment.

7: TodaysMeet: This backchannel is a great way to answer questions, or better yet, have students answer other students questions (or teachers answer other teachers questions during PD), without interrupting the entire room.  It allows you to continue flowing with your lesson without leaving others behind who may be confused about something.  It has also become a powerful tool used at conferences. There is no app for iOS and Android as of now, but the mobile web version still functions on those devices.

6: InfuseLearning: Talk about a formative assessment revolution! InfuseLearning is similar to Socrative; there are a number of different question types you can use with your students throughout a lesson.  Teachers need an account to create and save their questions ahead of time, but students do not need an account! They simply use an access code to get to your questions. The reason I like InfuseLearning more than Socrative is the draw feature (at least at the time this post was written, Socrative did not have this feature to my knowledge). Once you’re finished with the lesson, you can download students’ responses for immediate feedback on your lesson and their understanding.

5: WordPress: This is a powerful, free, blogging platform with many different privacy settings to keep your students’ thoughts as private or as public as you want them to be.  Blogging is an incredible way for students to practice their writing skills, collaborate with other students, connect to others outside of the building, and really begin to take their writing seriously.  One of the teachers at my school has really done some incredible things with WordPress and class blogs. Even if you’re not ready to take the step to get your students blogging (I promise it’s not as tough as it may seem.  Here are some resources to get you started!), I would highly recommend blogging yourself.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve done, remember what worked & what you need to change this time next year, and share resources and ideas with other educators.  Don’t keep all those great things you’re doing in your class to yourself!

4. WeVideo: This video editor makes it easy for students to upload, edit and share impressive videos.

3: Google Drive: This list would be nothing if it didn’t contain Google Drive and Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and Forms. The Drive allows you to upload and share documents with anyone in the world.  Docs, Spreadsheets and  Presentations allow your students to create, share and collaborate with others on their work. Group activities, peer editing, and collaborative work takes on a whole new meaning with Google Drive apps.  Forms allow you to create surveys, quizzes, collect contact information and more very easily, and it automatically puts the responses in a Google Spreadsheet to easily analyze the information.  I couldn’t say enough positive things about these innovative tools.  Check out PD I did with my teachers about Google Drive and Apps here.

2. Twitter: Who would have ever thought 140 character thoughts would become such an important part of the education process? Whether you use it with your students or not, you’ve GOT to get on Twitter and start connecting with other educators for yourself! I’ve learned more and gotten more ideas from my PLN on Twitter than any single undergraduate and graduate course or school provided PD session. The real power of Twitter comes from weekly chats, where educators come together on the same day/time every week using a #hashtag. It’s now, it’s immediate, it’s relevant, it’s people who are experiencing the same things as you, it’s easy and it’s free. Read about the PD I put on for my teachers here. For a list of my Twitter resources, click here.

1. Schoology: I picked Schoology as the number one, multi-platform edtech tool because of it’s versatility.  In one place, you can organize your classroom with the easy to use LMS, have online discussions with your students, collect and grade work from students, create and grade with rubrics, give tests & quizzes and receive immediate data about students’ performance, reward students with badges, and SO much more!  I very much prefer Schoology to Edmodo for a number of reasons, click here to read why. Schoology brings a whole new element to your classroom!

So there you go- there’s my top 13 multi-platform edtech tools of 2013 list! What multi-platform tools would you add to the list?

Happy Holidays!

Tech To You Later!
Katie