When I started teaching at my high school twelve years ago, we had to fill in bubbles on forms to take attendance, complete progress reports, and complete report cards. Today, we have one integrated web-based system for such student records. Implementing technology previously meant incorporating a laser disk player or displaying a presentation on a small TV. Now, most classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, or are even 1:1. Certainly technology has made teaching easier in some aspects.
Here are my favorite apps and sites that can enhance teaching:
1. ClassDojo: ClassDojo is available on the web and as an app for iOS and Android. ClassDojo allows me to record student behaviors (which are customizable) in real time. Students and parents can either log in to the website or download the app to track student behavior. I can generate individual or class reports to share, and even more exciting, I can instantly message with parents!
2. Easybib: Easybib is my go-to site for students working on a research paper or project to aggregate and properly cite their sources – essential to avoiding plagiarism. It also features an Educator’s Portal, which has free lesson plans, flyers, citation guides, and more.
3. Google Products: Where to begin…Google seems to have a product or app for everything! Many Google products can enhance teaching and learning:
- Chrome is the browser my students and I use. I find it the most powerful and it is extremely user-friendly.
- Google is the most popular search engine in the US. There are so many useful features that my students love exploring.
- Google Books allows users to search for books. If the book is out of copyright or if Google has obtained permission, users may see a preview or the entire text. If the book is in the public domain, users can download a PDF copy.
- Google Calendar allows you to create a schedule that can be shared with colleagues and students! This is also a great tool for teaching organization and time-management.
- Google Drive has changed the way students and I share information and work. We are collaborating more than ever. With a suite of products that rival Microsoft Office, students can create documents and projects and then share them with others. I often create documents for class notes and save them on Drive so they are easily accessible for all my classes and easy to print out for students with IEPs.
- Gmail: My school uses a customized form of Gmail as our official email. I require all of my 12th graders to create an address suitable for contact with teachers and colleagues, and I encourage my 9th graders to do the same. Gmail is widely used and highly customizable, with filters, tabs, and a powerful advanced search feature.
4. YouTube: Students, from preschoolers to high schoolers, love activities involving YouTube. Common Core Standards require close reading of texts and analysis of video; I’ve been using YouTube clips to introduce topics. I create a list of questions based on the clip and students are responsible for answering the questions as we watch. They are interested and engaged, actively seeking answers. Active watching with YouTube is a lot more interesting than a presentation, for both the students and me.
5. Wikispaces: I maintain two class websites on Wikispaces – one for my AP English Language and Composition students, and another for my 9th and 12th grade Regents classes. It’s free for educators and students and is very user-friendly! Keeping up this website is great for teaching responsibility for students who need to find a handout or any other assignment they might be missing.
What do you use to enhance teaching?