Saturday, July 11, 2015

4 EdTech Tools that Win Wars

Managing a classroom is like going to war. Okay, it's not that bad. I mean, there are critical needs that must be met for success.


A successful army needs four things: (1) Communication, (2) Supply, (3) Movement, and (4) Engage the Target – or at least that's a heuristic I teach my history students.

I'm not a war supporter. Who is? But I admire the regimentation of the military to the extent that it doesn't inhibit my students' imaginations.

Here's the battle we try to win everyday. But first, a bit of reconnaissance with our favorite search engine.

Recon

Google Search can expose our kids to the vast amount of information the worldwide web holds for the curious and productive. The problem is that we often don't access much beyond our "backyards."

A lot of people know the basics, like using quotation marks and commas with keywords. But what about using filters, like "site:"? Or using different top-level domains to access Google results for other countries?

Here's a post about routines for searching the Web. "6 Classroom Routines to Search Like a Ninja"

1. Communication


Kids like to text. In fact, text messaging is the most used app among smartphone users, according to pewinternet.org

Remind is the app to use. While maintaining phone number privacy, students and teachers (parents too!) can send and receive messages in a variety of ways, which is critical if you plan to achieve every mission objective without leaving anyone behind. 

Take a look at these resources.

2. Supply


Quizlet can be used for more than vocabulary. Try using it to organize concepts or things that need to be categorized. Most importantly, it's easy to grab a short link to send via Remind.

Other features include:

  • Share to social media or email.
  • Add images to card decks.
  • Choose from a variety of print options.
  • Import word lists and definitions.
  • Export to quizzes to Moodle (using GIFT format and a few tricks).
  • Auto-define.
  • Sign in with Google account (like all four apps on the list).
  •  ... and more.

Try "Collaborative Card Decks with Quizlet."

At this point some readers are thinking, "Why apps? Why not an LMS?" 
More than 85 percent of my students use their phones for connecting with people and learning. Why would I interrupt that routine? For those students who don't have smartphones, they often have other mobile devices or choose to use a computer. 
3. Movement


Google Drive is the most efficient way to move documents. Whether you're using it to access your files anywhere (with Internet), share and receive files with folders, or using it as the back end of a website, you won't find a more affordable and reliable cloud computing platform.

Let's talk moving ideas in a classroom setting. Students can add information to one class doc – using tables to delineate typing space – or add an image to a folder where the teacher can display all of them as a slide show. Who needs PowerPoint, anymore?  

Here are 10 Google Drive Hacks for Education.

4. Engage the Target


Verso App is the best platform for developing student voice. It's designed to flow with the critical thinking process and safeguards individual identity. The anonymity the app provides allows users to focus on the ideas, which is important when students are struggling with understanding the content and their personalities.

Like in an ESL classroom, all learners have to cope with an affective filter – the wall we place between the input and ourselves when the conditions produce anxiety amid low self-esteem or lacking motivation. More on that another time.  

Here are 15 Ways to Use Verso App.

Mission Completion!

Did we hit the target? Will we have to organize another mission? We ask the same questions when we review formative and summative assessment data.

If you're still turned off by the association with military and war, the original title was "4 Apps I Can't Live Without." Perhaps that one was better suited for my audience, but thinking about managing a classroom according to the four needs of an army was more fun for me.