Dear Future Teachers,
I am in week 8 of my internship in the 5th grade ELA classroom, and I feel that I have been able to learn and experience so much! I am currently teaching my second week of my very own lesson plans, which is super exciting! This week, my students are learning about Cause and Effect, and I have various activities to help them practice recognizing and creating cause and effect scenarios. Even though I've been dreaming about and working toward becoming a teacher for years, I had no idea how many different technological tools are available for learning.
When I was in the 5th grade, the most technology I saw in my classroom was the computer lab with the giant black Dell computers and the old overheard projectors. I understand that different school areas had different resources available, so there were probably students my age who had access to classroom computers/laptops or other tools. However, within the last ten years, the use of technology in the classroom has grown exponentially.
The school that I am interning at is very technology-focused, so all students have their own laptops assigned to them, and much of their school work can be accessed through Google Classroom. This week, I wanted to share some of the websites and tools that I've been using with my students that I feel are entertaining and creative.
First up, we have Google Classroom. Some schools may use this platform, while others use platforms such as Canvas. Google Classroom serves as a hub where students can see and submit their assignments, view announcements from their teachers, and access classroom materials. I had never used Google Classroom for my own courses, but I've quickly fallen in love with it. It's very user-friendly and is compatible with all of the Google Workspace applications. You can schedule announcements and assignments to come out at any time, you can grade assignments and send them back to students easily, and it has a very clean appearance to it. I've truly enjoyed getting to use it to post the schedule of the day, as well as links to the necessary websites and assignments my students will use throughout the day.
Nearpod is a neat, interactive website that I learned about in one of my college classes, and now I use it with my students every week! Students can click through the slides and participate in various activities, such as polls, quizzes, annotating texts, and collaboration boards. You can choose from a plethora of different Nearpods that are already made for almost any topic you want, OR you can make your own! I like this website because you can move through the slides as a whole group, or students can complete it individually at their own pace. It also grades their work as they go! There is a free version with limited functions on it but your school can also invest in one of the more premium plans for advanced capabilities. If your school doesn't have it already, try using the free version with your students!
I used to complete IXL assignments when I was in middle school, and my students use it in all of their courses today. IXL is useful in several ways. First, there are IXL assignments for any grade level K-12 in Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. You can assign your students to complete modules in any category for their specific grade level, or you can scaffold the modules by assigning students lower or higher grade levels based on their individual capabilities. What I appreciate most about IXL is that it is not punitive. Students can earn a 100 no matter how many questions they miss, and you, as the teacher, can see how long it took them and how many questions they had to answer to get to a 100.
Additionally, students can complete their Diagnostic testing which is personalized to their skill level and abilities. Based on their Diagnostic testing, IXL provides recommendations on which grade levels and skills they should be working on in each subject area. You can watch student scores live on your own device and students who appear to struggle will get flagged for you to go assist if needed. You can also download the analytics from the skills you want to focus on with your class. It's an extremely comprehensive website, but it can be pricy. Your school may or may not have access to IXL, but if they do, I highly recommend utilizing it in your classroom!
Study Island - Edmentum
I'm personally not the biggest fan of Study Island, but it does focus on test preparation for end-of-year exams. I don't like to feel that I am teaching to the test, but standardized testing is a reality that students face each year. It's important to introduce them to the format of questions they may be exposed to during their end-of-year tests. To create tests, you can select the grade level, subject area, and specific topic you want your students to practice with. Then you can determine how many questions they need to answer and what score they must obtain for credit. You can either have the website randomly pull questions from a topic, or you can personalize the test by selecting the specific questions you want yourself. It's not the most user-friendly application, but with a little practice it becomes easier to use.
One of my favorite websites to use for learning with games is Kahoot! It is an excellent website for reviewing content, and students seem to really enjoy it! You can create your own Kahoot! questions or you can play a public Kahoot! that has been published already. Kahoot! allows you to insert images and videos to enhance your questions. Students can compete in a live competition or they can play on their own time and the scores will add up as they go. It's fun to incentivize learning and see what all students have retained from their lessons that week, or prepare for an upcoming test! Kahoot! is free to use, but there are some features that now come with a paid subscription. Students can participate on their laptops or their mobile device. Incorporate Kahoot! in your classroom today!
Google Jamboard is part of the Google Workspace applications, and it is free to use. I've used it in different classes and it's a really neat tool to utilize in the classroom. Essentially, Jamboard is an interactive white board that students can edit and view in real-time. The creator can put up different slides and project it to the entire room, or students can view it individually on their own screens. Users can draw, type, add sticky notes, create shapes, and interact with each other on the Jamboard. I think it is a fun way to add something new and creative to your classroom space, and the possibilities for activities are endless!
Yet another Google Workspace application that can be utilized in the classroom is Google Forms. Google Forms can be used as an assessment, and it can be graded automatically. It's a great tool for data collection, whether that be through assessments, surveys, check-ins, and more! You are able to upload images, videos, hyperlinks, and you can choose to make the questions short answer, long answer, multiple choice, drop-down menu, or check boxes. You are able to design it to your specific needs. It's also relatively simple for students to complete on their ends! I definitely enjoy using Google Forms in my class lessons.
Last, but certainly not least, is Flocabulary. I absolutely love this website! Flocabulary creates educational hip-hop songs for K-12. My class uses it to catch up on current events that are happening around the world. It's fun and engaging for students, and it's just a different way to deliver information! You can even encourage students to create their own Flocabulary songs for class presentations! This website does require a subscription, but if your school is able to provide in it, I definitely recommend using it with your students!
These 8 resources are only scratching the surface on all the websites and technological tools available for classroom use. I hope to continue to update this list as I gain more experience using tech in the classroom and learning from my mentor teacher. I'm having a great time making lessons that utilize different tools and highlight various skills, and I think technology can greatly enhance the learning experience of our students if used correctly.
Have any other tech resources you want me to share? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message through the Contact Form on my Home Page!