Tools

haiku deckHaiku Deck:  For an English Teacher, Haiku Deck is a great way for students to present their work in a simple and elegant fashion. Poetry projects or summarizations of stories and narratives can come to life as students write short segments on the slides and then insert images of their own. This program is not meant for large amounts of text which makes it a great           presentation tool. It is user friendly and does give the student an overwhelming amount of editing options. (See example in Assignments under Quick Fire.) 

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Magisto: Magisto is a storyboard that allows users to share videos and images while it takes care of creating transitions and themes. A person simply plugs in their favorite images (up to ten in the free version), chooses from one of the many beautiful themes, and then inserts one of their favorite songs from their iTunes (or chooses one of the songs already available on the program.) This is a very user friendly program that creates beautiful videos in just a few minutes making it ideal for students to display images or art. There is not an area for text on this program, so it is strictly a visual display.

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Quizlet: Anytime vocabulary is involved in a lesson, Quizlet is a great tool to have. Teachers need to preload the vocabulary list, but then students can use the online flashcards when they are first learning the words. Then, after a few days of flashcards, student can play the fun, interactive games such as space race and scramble which make students feel like they are having a friendly competition as opposed to studying. There is also a team option for group work, and even an app. that students can download on their smartphones so they can easily continue studying even when they leave the classroom.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 5.52.49 AMKahoot: Kahoot is quite frankly, a hoot! It can be implemented into the classroom as a quick way to quiz students on something they have previously read for a formative assessment. The teacher may preload questions and add up to four multiple choice answers. They can also upload images to go with the questions. Then, students use a device and plug in the Kahoot code that will direct them straight to the game the teacher has specifically made for the class. This can also be played in a team version so teachers can group students together. Once students buzz in for a question, they receive points for getting the correct answer and also for answering the quickest. Before moving to the next question Kahoot shows all the responses that were entered, anonymously. The teacher can use this information as a quick assessment of students current knowledge on the subject while students participate in a fun, fast paced game.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 5.54.39 AMMindmeister: Mindmeister is an awesome mind mapping tool. It allows the user to create a series of webs and bubbles that connect common ideas. It also gives the user the option to color coordinate their thoughts, branch multiple bubbles to connected thoughts, and insert a variety of emojis to bubbles as well depending on the topic. It creates clean, brightly colored organizers which would be great in a classroom setting. Sometimes the zoom tools become frozen or zoom out too quickly so the mind map appears lost, but other than that, Mindmeister is a very user friendly website. (An example of my PLN Mindmeister is in assignments under Quick Fire.)

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 5.58.28 AMPiktochartPiktochart is an amazing infographic maker that allows the user to create beautiful infographics for free. It gives users variety of free templates to use that already have color schemes and patterns created. There are other infographic template options as well if you want to pay for the pro version, but I think the free templates look very nice. One of the challenges I experienced when using Piktochart was that it took me some time experimenting and becoming familiar with the process before I could actually use the tools. There are so many little pieces that can be controlled in the infographic it takes time to become familiar with each templates settings. This is important to keep in mind if you are thinking about introducing this website to students. It would be a great tool for them to have, but will definitely require some modeling and extra time to discover the ins and outs on their own. Once you explore though, the site becomes much more user friendly. I would definitely use piktochart as my go to infographic creator.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 5.57.02 AMGoogle Cardboard:  For an English teacher, I had never really considered a use for virtual reality in my classroom, but after playing with google cardboard, I think the uses for this tool are definitely cross curricular. I really like the use of this tool for giving students an idea of setting, especially when they are reading a story that takes place in a different location or time period. (They even have downloads for Shakespeare google cardboard experiences.) I also think it would be fun to have students write a narrative about a virtual reality experience they had because it’s not necessarily fantasy, but it is not their every day life either. This is a somewhat new technology, but because it is made from cardboard it is pretty cost effective. Some of the negatives are: some phones do not fit very well in the cardboard cases, so students might run the risk if they are not holding the cardboard goggles tightly. Sometimes the loading of the different versions can also take some time, and there are quite a few virtual reality options so it is important to view them before letting your students explore.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 6.00.06 AMThimble:  If I thought that virtual reality was out of my realm as an English teacher, the thought of bringing coding into my classroom seemed even more far fetched to me. Thimble is an introduction to coding cite that is very user friendly and helps users remix images that already exist. They can change the words and images on memes, and there is even a challenge that lets students code a six-word-memoir and add an image from the internet. This would be a great opportunity to talk to students about remixing and creative commons while giving them a new way to present some of their work. Some of the downsides are, coding can be difficult, and if a student erases the wrong part, they might not be able to find the changes they made, this might force them to restart a few times so the assignment might take longer. Depending on where the image is from can cause challenges on the site as well, but for the most part it’s a unique way to bring coding into classes.