learning, students, technology, tools

The Tools We Use (and Those We Don’t)

                    Photo courtesy of I Can Read

As I get ready to write my second set of report cards, I realize 2/3’s of the year has passed and I have some very technology savvy 4th graders.  And by savvy I mean critical, knowledgeable, and demanding tech users.  So what has stood the test of time in our classroom and what has died a silent death:

Some Favorites:

  • Kidblog – hands down the most useful tool we have integrated this year.  Through this blogging platform we have reached out to more than 20 countries around the world, have had an intimate view of the revolution in Egypt and created an ongoing writing portfolio.  I cannot believe something like this is free.
  • Animoto – a tool favored by my students to present video or still pictures as a way to give an inside view of our days and of our doings.
  • Flip Camera’s – Our fantastic PTO donated 8 new cameras to our school through the Digital Wish buy 1 get 1 fee program and we have one permanently on loan in our room.  Students have created grammar videos, learning snapshots and just documented really cool things.  
  • Glogster – some of my students have the glogster bug, begging to create projects using this medium, and one even created his own glog Christmas contest.  They have gotten more creative, and better at citing through this site.
  • Google Suite – well duh, most might say, but my students have become very savvy Google users, taking initiative to search for life cycle of the crayfish when our crayfish exhibited some peculiar behaviors, as well as creating Google maps of students they speak to, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  
  • Skype – oh yes, we skype and as the year progresses we do it more and more often.  From a quick check in with my husband (just to see what he is doing, they say) to classrooms around the world, we are bringing the world into our room.  Interested in skyping with us – let me know!
  • Wordle – ahh, yes we love our word cloud generator.  This tool has been used from everything to research, overused words, to poems about parents.  This free tool is pretty amazing.
  • Twitter – while my students are not on Twitter, this social phenomenon colors much of our every day learning.  From finding out about World Math Day to the Global Read Aloud Project, what I gain from Twitter is invaluable.
And some that seemed fun and then not so much:
  • Edmodo – this very cool social interaction site took off like wild fire and then died out with my students.  At first, they loved speaking to each other through the site from home and then they simply got bored.  Now, I think our last update was 2 weeks ago.
  • VoiceThread – I know of many educators that successfully implement this in their curriculum, but in my classroom, it wasn’t wort  it.  Perhaps it was because we didn’t have a paid for account and so it was rather limited usage or perhaps I didn’t give it enough of a chance, whatever the case, it has been months since we used it.
  • Voki – yes I know there is a Voki for education as well, and while my students loved creating avatars of their friends, saving and uploading them was cumbersome and time consuming.
  • ToonDoo – again, I do not have an educator account for this, which means I cannot provide the safe environment that I need for my students, however, students did do a test run and while some loved it, most found it ineffective and that they could do the same work by hand much easier.
What am I missing out on?  What do you love in your classroom?  What did you give up on?  Share, share, share.

4 thoughts on “The Tools We Use (and Those We Don’t)”

  1. The issue with Voice Thread is probably the free account problem. Our World Language department loves it and the students enjoy the work they do with it, but we have a paid school account. Functionality is much better and many more features. If I had a free account, I wouldn't use it either.

  2. Wikispaces by far is my favorite. We use it to share, author, communicate, collaborate and it is the perfect way to share all other creations made in other Web2.0 tools.Voki I do love Voki. I find it easy. Make a class account for students to save Vokis in. We use our iPods with recording devices to record and upload to the Voki. Then, simply copy and paste code to wiki or blog.iPods For listening to stories, recording, interviewing, listening to podcastsFlips and cameras Integral to our daily classroom lives, capture happenings, make videos of our learning to share, green screen productions, interviews, endless usesBookr Love Bookr to use photos in Flikr. Easy to make a book about a science experiment, a topic you are researching, your life…Storybird Fun way to make stories onlineCoolMath.com The best strategy games on the webAnimoto and Magtoo Easy and professional looking slideshowsLarry Ferlazzo's best of the web lists The place to keep up with what is out there!

  3. I'm curious…why do you think your students took off with Kidblog.org and not Edmodo? Both are secure blogging sites for students.

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