Reflective Teaching Day 13: Edtech

Here we go! I’m really looking forward to reading others’ responses to this one!

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

I know it says rank, but I’m really just writing about these in the order I think of them and commenting on their effectiveness, so, in no particular order:

As I’m sure many teachers who have the tech will agree, a projector connected to a computer is a huge boon in the classroom. As a language teacher, it offers me a window to the world and, in my rural area, is probably the biggest authentic source of other cultures that my students get consistent access to. I can show them music videos from Spanish-speaking artists, we can use Google Earth to visit places like El Morro or La Sagrada Familia. They don’t know what “oso hormiguero” or passion fruit are? Who needs English to explain it when you have Google Images?! I use my computer screen projector all the time. I know it’s not exactly a groundbreaking tool in education anymore, but I love it all the same.

This year, I’ve gotten a classroom set of iPads along with a set of wireless Apple keyboards. Some confusion with ordering means that I still don’t have a charging cart for them (it should be in this week!), so we haven’t been able to use them yet, but I’m very excited about them. My goal is to be paper-lite this year and have students turn in writing and speaking assignments on Google Drive. I’d also like to use them to link to authentic reading assignments (sometimes it’s better for the kids to have the printout to write on, but many times I think the iPad screen will be just as good), and listening activities so that, as long as they remember to bring their headphones, they can go at their own pace and not have to A)try to listen to the one, low-quality speaker I have in my room, and B) worry about how many times I’m going to play something before they’re cut off. And remember that window to the world thing I said about the projector? Times a thousand when it’s individualized to each student! The only concern I have about the iPads is the ease of access to Spanish dictionaries or translators at times when I don’t want them to have access to them. One student tried to cheat on my pre-assessment (at that point the iPads still had a charge) so I definitely need to give this one some thought. In the end, I can’t really say at this point how effective these iPads are for me, but I’m pretty excited about the opportunities they offer.

Along with the iPads, my school has begun using Google Drive this year. All the teachers and students have accounts, so students can easily share completed work with me and I can easily get feedback to the students. My only concern here is, my students tend to look at the overall grade (which I’ve stopped putting on the assignments I had back) and take little interest in the feedback. I’m worried that, if the only feedback they get is electronic, many students will rarely (if ever) bother to look at it. Maybe I’m not giving the kids enough credit, but so far I’ve been hesitant to actually have students turn things in this way.

Additionally this year, I’ve started using Edmodo for my students’ weekly real-world homework and blogging assignments. We don’t really use this in the classroom, but so far it’s been a pretty good tool for turning in these assignments. Some students are simply choosing not to do the work (I have a hard time believing they’ve forgotten their ONLY two assignments a week for four weeks when I REMIND them about them frequently), but in my experience, that happens regardless of whether the assignments are electronic or not.

And, when my iPads are finally charged, I have lots of apps I’m dying to try out. Educreations and Videolicious being right at the top of the list. How much more fun and interesting would that be than just having the kids come to the front of the room one at a time and “not read” a paragraph on some random topic. And they both offer so many opportunities for follow up opportunities in which students watch each others’ presentations! I also read the other day about a Sock Puppet app (I can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head) that might be a fun option for speaking assignments, and a Lotería app that I think would be a good possibility for the “fun” center on stations days, although I haven’t actually looked at either of these myself yet.

I was planning to get to the end and rank my edtech, but I don’t think I can. Partly because I’m not sure about the effectiveness of some of them yet, but mostly because I use (or plan to use) them all in such different ways! However, I can definitely say that, if you told me today that I could only keep one of the above, I would choose the projector without hesitation!

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