Thursday, December 11, 2014

4 Apps You Can Sign Up With Google

Teachers need another thing to do like a dog needs a cat's tail. What we do need, however, are tools that make the work we do more efficient. And I don't think you'll find anyone who disagrees.

One of the things that drives me crazy is having too many users and passwords. Since Google Apps For Education (GAFE) has become more popular, many educational web tools and apps have provided account setup and log in access through your Google accounts.

As long as you are logged in to your Google account, you can enjoy one-click access to many apps and tools. Here's four of my favorites that I use almost everyday.

Remind
Most students communicate regularly through text messages. Remind provides users a way to send mass messages to groups without losing phone number confidentiality. Messages can be scheduled, attachments (and links) can be included, and an RSS feed is available to be posted on a teacher website for easy access or for those few without text messaging on their phones.

Be careful to not over do it, though. There is a happy medium between effective communication and so much that you're ignored.

Quizlet
Building background is critical to the success of every classroom. I started making card decks on Quizlet to help students study vocabulary. Now, I use it for any set of facts I need them to learn.

The study and practice tools are helpful and engaging for students, while the assessment making tools are convenient for teachers. Plus, many of the card decks that you might need have often been created by others.

Play with it a little. You will be pleasantly surprised about one feature or another. If you still like print materials, check out the print options.

Pocket
This app allows teachers who use a lot of articles from the Internet to keep a version in one place. If you have the Chrome extension in your browser, it's as simple as clicking the button in the upper right.

One of my favorite features includes being able to tag an article for organization. I use the mobile app more often than not and like to tag my articles based on the unit of study.

I also like that the articles are saved as a text-only version without ads and extra site clutter (on my iPhone). This is helpful when printing or mirroring my iOS device to the projector screen.

Padlet
My students do a lot of sharing through paper posts, either to a tack board, sticky note, or dry erase. Padlet is basically a digital version of a tack board, only this one allows students to add links, images, and experience viewing as a group.

A transcript can be downloaded as a PDF for formative assessment, and each wall an be shared via link or embedded into a website.  

Try these apps and extensions. I only shared a few of the features, so play around a bit without having to make another account (you'll see). They might facilitate a classroom routine more efficiently than otherwise.