One of the most popular topics in education is edtech tools for the classroom. A quick Google search of edtech tools yields “About 4,640,000 results (0.56 seconds)”! Here’s a list of my favorite websites and some ideas for how to use them meaningfully with your students.
3 of my Favorite Edtech Tools
This website uses Google maps to drop you randomly somewhere on planet earth. Students are then expected to use context clues to figure out where they are. For example, they move down the street until they find a street sign. The sign might be in a foreign language and that’s when their digital literacy kicks in. Ideally, they navigate to Google Translator and input the text to determine the language being used. Let’s say the result is Portuguese, another quick Google search tells them which countries speak that language. Students continue to use clues like climate, landforms, and architecture to collect more information to make an educated guess.
This site provides teachers with a diverse selection of non-fiction articles written at differentiated Lexile levels. Upon assigning an article, teachers have the ability to give formative assessments, comprehension and vocabulary based quizzes, provide immediate feedback, and assign writing prompts. It also offers content in Spanish for ESL students or those learning a new language. This might not have all the features and functionality of some websites like Newsela, but not every teacher/district can afford subscription services. I chose the Smithsonian Tween Tribune because this edtech tool is free!
Ever wanted to blog with your students? It’s a great exercise for writing, but the key is that the students have an authentic audience. If nobody besides the teacher is reading their work, they’ll quickly lose the motivation to write. The way Quadbloggin helps is that it partners your class with 3 other classrooms around the world. Then each class, or “quad,” has a coordinator to oversee communication among the groups. Each cycle lasts four weeks, with each quad having one week in the spotlight. During that week, their blog will be visited by the other quad members, who will leave feedback. In return, the class commits to visiting the other quads’ blogs when it’s their turn in the spotlight. The result is a fast-moving cycle of four weeks that is repeated two or three times and ensures that the blogs have an authentic audience.
Even More Edtech Tools!
It Can’t End with Tools
While edtech tools are fun and exciting to talk about, it’s also important that we consider how our instructional design, assessment, and grading practices change once we integrate technology in the classroom. We can’t simply use these tools to do old things in new ways. Think about what you want to accomplish from a learning perspective, and then choose a tool that supports your efforts!