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Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

technology in the classroom

 

Courtesy of English teacher, Sarah Findlater:

 

Google Drive

Google Drive is a free online storage cloud that has Google’s version of Word, Powerpoint and Excel built into it. It allows students to create documents for free on the go. They can access and edit these documents on a tablet device or computer from various locations with their Google account login. They can share the documents they are working on with other students and can even work in one document at the same time to co-create pieces of work. They can also share the document with their teachers while they work or once they’ve finished to get instant feedback.

Teachers can help students with the creative writing process by getting them to share their stories as they write so you can feedback live without stopping their creative flow. You can give them quick and easy targets through the chat facility or highlight specific sections and create a comment – they have to respond to these otherwise the comment alert won’t disappear. You could also get students to co-create a presentation with one another on an element of the social or historical context of a text you’re studying, for example. Once finished, they can share the document with you, close down their computers and come up one at a time and simply click on their presentation now housed in your drive for instant feedback.

Edmodo

Edmodo is a free social learning platform for students, teachers and parents. It looks a little bit like Facebook so it is a familiar format for students to use. But before you run for the hills, it is very different to Facebook in that it’s completely controlled by the teacher and specifically designed for educational purposes – one of my classes has affectionately named it “Fakebook”. It has a shared timeline as a homepage where you and your students can interact and you can allow students to interact with one another, if you wish. Both teachers and students have a library where they can store documents and share them with others if they want to. The teacher can set assignments, students hand in assignments and teachers feedback on the work all within Edmodo. Two particularly useful functions are the quizzes and polls, and there’s also a built-in grade book that houses your teacher-assessed grades and quiz results for each student.

It really is a very useful all-round tool. You could consider saving essential documents – such as mark schemes, poems being studied and teaching presentations – in the class library to give students easy access to these at any time. You could also post photos of classwork completed by groups of students or individuals so all the students can see it for best practice. You could schedule weekly spelling tests – set as multiple choice quizzes – through Edmondo which will automatically collate the results so you can easily see trends within the class’s performance.

Screen casting

There a loads of tools out there that capture your computer or device screen and allow you to record your voice while you do so. Two that are often used are ScreenR which is free and Explain Everything, which is quite cheap. The idea is that you can take a picture of your computer or device screen and then set your voice against the website or pre-prepared powerpoint. If you collate these in one place, you have a bank of instructional videos.

A simple way to use this tool is to create short instructional videos to help your students study independently or revise a topic. For instance, you might create clips outlining different writing styles or perhaps your team can work together to create clips on themes you all think are important. You could get students involved and ask them to prepare a short videos explaining poems that you have been studying as a revision tool.

YouTube

One way to collate the videos created by a screencast tool is to start a YouTube channel and upload them all there. This is simply your own YouTube home page – you can style the background, upload profile information and follow other channels of interest. You can also create playlists within your channel to organise videos into topics and allow students to find them easily. If creating your own videos is not for you then you can create playlists of videos that are already out there that relate to the topics you are studying.

What about creating a channel for your department? Create a playlist for each topic on your curriculum map from myths and legends to war poetry and creative writing. All you would need to do is to drop in videos of your choice. The videos could be created by your students, staff or just found from educational sources around the web. The clips could help students get more from the topic or encourage them to read and research around the subject – a wonderful resource for years to come that you can regularly update.

Blogging

There are many blogging platforms around but the two that are most popular are WordPress and Blogger. If you’re looking for the easier of the two then Blogger from Google is the one. If you want a more sophisticated platform then WordPress is probably a better choice. A basic blog allows you to have a rolling front page of updating posts and static pages accessed via tabs, often along the top of the page. It is a great record of the year for the students to look back over.

Get your students to create their own blogs and use them as digital portfolios for the year, posting up their best work. Getting feedback from a real audience as well as peers, parents and teachers is a great opportunity for development. How about creating a blog for your class? You could update the main page with homework tasks, recommended reading and updates from your classroom. Try creating a post with a task or question based on the topic you’re studying and get the students to use the comments facility to respond. They could even extend their answers by responding to one another’s comments. You could use the blog as a record of lessons by uploading presentations and photos. If a student is ever absent, this is an invaluable tool to enable them to keep up.

 

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

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One Response to “Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom”

  1. kedavis99 Says:

    My whole district has gone with Google Drive for students and staff, personally I LOVE it! It’s so easy to use. My students are loving it too. They had fun playing and creating shared stories, and I think it will also help cut down on the issues we’ve had of students messing with others work saved to the student drive on the server bc in Drive it shows who has accessed your file and what they’ve done to it.

    My fifth graders have just started using a blog, we use Kidblog. The technology teachers at two of the other feeder schools for middle school my kids will go to next year and I setup a blog there so the kids can begin to get to know each other. It’s more of a digital community than a blog but it’s great way for them to practice keyboarding, online safety, and digital citizenship.

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