Sunday, August 18, 2013

Top 10 Tech Tools for Back To School

Well, it’s officially here!  Professional development starts this week, and then I meet my new super third graders next Monday.  My new classroom is looking snazzy, and lesson plans are planned!

I promised a TOP 10 list of the best tech tools to start school, so here goes!  It’s really hard to narrow it down to just 10, but these are just a few of my FREE favorites.  I’ve tried to include a nice variety of websites and apps that make day to day teaching tasks easier and more effective.  Brace yourself—this could be a long post, but I promise it’ll be worth it! J
1. Trello    planning made simple                 

I raved about this awesome website and app in my last post.  Keep to do lists organized or plan units complete with images, attachments or checklists.  It’s my go-to every day to keep myself organized!

2.  Symbaloo   sharing made simple

If you’ll have a class website this year, Symbaloo is an amazing thing to include!  It’s a digital bookmarking site that lets you post your favorite websites all in one place.  Kids can easily navigate the tile-looking screen to find the websites that you’d like to send them to.  You can color code the tiles or even add simple icons to help your students know which sites are which.  I like to make symbaloo boards for math, reading, and science/social studies, then embed these in my class website.  Parents love this too as they can quickly find my favorite websites for practicing skills. 

3.  Kaywa     QR codes made simple

QR codes… I love ‘em.  These handy things are quick and easy to create with this website.   Type in the text you’d like, hit the “generate” button, and you’ll have a code that can be used for class information scavenger hunts, book reports, and even “all about me” projects.  Kids love the mystery and fun!  Use free apps like i-nigma to read them on your iTouch or iPad.

4.  Class Dojo   Class management made simple   

Another favorite.  This website is truly amazing in the classroom management department.  They’ve literally thought of everything from fun avatars to automatic parent email updates.  Best of all the folks at Class Dojo are constantly adding new features.  Check out the full scoop here on one of my previous blog posts. 

5.  Google Docs   Information gathering made simple  

Never underestimate the help that Google Docs can lend in starting your school year!  Google forms can be a lifesaver in getting contact information for the students in your class.  With free education templates, you can create forms that collect your classroom parents emails, student interest inventories, and more.  I’ve even used Google forms as an online reading log!  All information exports to a spreadsheet that keeps your data at your fingertips while avoiding the paper piles!

6.  Three Ring   data collection made simple

If you teach, you collect data--lots of data!  Three Ring takes data collection to a whole new level.  This website and app lets you snap pictures of writing samples, record audio for running record, and upload other files to document student progress.  Create virtual portfolios for each student, and manage RTI data safely and efficiently.   Be sure to check this one out!

7.  Remind 101  parent reminders made simple

Communicate important news in a snap with Remind 101!  Parents sign up to receive text notifications of classroom news, and teachers can send news quickly and easily to the group.  A generic classroom account sends the text so that all phone numbers remain private.  Great for field trip reminders, gym shoe reminders, spelling test reminders and more!


8.  Ed Canvas      content delivery made simple

Whether you flip your classroom or just like to “bundle” key concepts across videos, interactive websites and more, Ed Canvas is incredible!  It allows you to create simple modules that pull in various media to teach with.  Create an EdCanvas quickly and easily, and embed in your website for easy use.  There are also LOTS of "canvases" that other teachers have made and shared!  Don't miss this one!

9.   Volunteer Spot     coordinating made simple

Got a class wish list?  Need to organize room moms, classroom parties, or volunteers to help in the classroom?  Have parent/teacher conferences to schedule?  Volunteer Spot is my favorite way to quickly communicate what we need and when we need it!  Simply set up a calendar, list the items or volunteer descriptions needed, and email the invitation link.  Volunteer Spot does the rest, with email reminders sent to both parents and teacher.  I received lots of positive parent feedback on this when we used it to schedule conferences!  So easy to do, and I found nearly 100% participation whenever I used it.

10.  Too Noisy    classroom expectations made simple   

We all know how important it is to set classroom expectations early on!  This handy app lets kids clearly see when they’re being TOO NOISY!    Click here for more details on this awesome tool!

Whew!  Well, that’s my list of awesome tech tools!  

This is just a drop in the bucket not only for what’s out there for teachers, but also for what these tools can do!  I’d LOVE to hear what other tech apps and websites you like to make back to school even better.  Please share your comments! 

I wish you all the very best as you start this new school year! J



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