Monday, September 15, 2014

My Favorite Ed Tech Tools

This post corresponds to day #13 of the +TeachThought 30-day blogging challenge, focused on reflective teaching through blogging.  Interested in joining the challenge?  It's not too late! 

It's difficult to narrow down or rank my favorite ed tech tools because there are so many good ones out there, however I can say with confidence that my favorites all fall under one category: non-content specific.

All of my go-to ed tech tools are effective to use no matter the subject area, and a few are also device agnostic, meaning they are not limited to usage on a single device, however, since my district is going 1:1 iPads, many of my top picks are iPad apps.

When I think about what's important to me when choosing ed tech tools I'd like to use, my top criterion is that the app allows for the creation of a product to demonstrate understanding.

A year or two ago, a colleague and I came across the Padagogy Wheel by Dr. Alan Carrington, which combines the SAMR model and Bloom's taxonomy with various ed tech / iPad tools that can be used at each level.   Just last week, I saw a new / updated version of the Padagogy Wheel, titled the iPadagogy Wheel by +Relton McBurrows on Google +.  What's cool about it is that is has the added layer of the ISTE technology standards, paired with SAMR and Blooms, and it also includes updated apps.  All of the apps listed on both wheels are non-content specific and make it possible for students to create something to demonstrate their learning.

So, clearly there are lots of great ed tech tools out there to choose from.  And, in the age of app smashing, there's no need to choose only one!

I do have a few favorites; a list that is fluid and never set in stone...
(in no particular order)

  • Google Apps for Education.  
    • Reasoning: They facilitate creation, collaboration and creativity across content areas and devices thru Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, and a variety of other add-ons.  And, they're free!
  • Screencasting Apps, such as ShowMe.
    • Reasoning: They give students the chance to be the experts, and to demonstrate their understanding of a concept by teaching it to an authentic audience.  Plus, they facilitate student self-reflection and self-assessment.
  • Scratch Programming.
    • Reasoning: Scratch (and other student-focused coding sites and apps) embraces student creativity and sharing through its easy-to-use coding platform, complete with a supportive and collaborative community of programmers of all ages.  
  • iMovie.
    • Reasoning: It's a great medium for pulling everything together and sharing out a final, polished project.
  • Other favorites: PicCollage, HaikuDeck, StoreHouse, AdobeVoice, ShadowPuppetsEDU

What are some of your favorite ed tech tools?  What helps you to narrow down your favorites?