Monday, November 23, 2015

The 3 Tech Tools I Am Most Thankful For

Every day I use technology in my work. Whether creating resources for teachers, supporting teachers with technology integration or helping students be creators, technology is an essential part. This post focuses on three of my most favorite tech tools that have had the biggest impact. While the tool is important, what is more important is how the tool supports my work in education.

5th grade student using Apple TV to share
a game he just created with the Hopscotch App

 1. Sharing student work with Apple TV 

In our district we have dozens and dozens of Apple TVs in classrooms. We plan to use Chromecast too, but are still working on getting our network able to allow them. Using Apple TV, or a similar tool, in the classroom is one of the most impactful ways to use tech to change classroom culture. Every time I have introduced Apple TV to a classroom I have seen a significant shift in how learners work together. Learning becomes more student centered, feedback is more encouraged and accepted as students are bale to easily and immediately share their work with others at all stages in the creation process. If you are considering using Apple TV in you classroom, here is a blog post I made a while back with information for teachers getting started.

 2. Collaborating with Google Docs 

Del Norte USD Google Activity
I can't even remember what life was like BG (before Google). Everyone was soooo isolated! Google has been integral in creating a culture of sharing and collaboration in our district. In any given week I probably collaborate with 10 or more people on a variety of projects. Google Docs allows me to get more done, faster and better. Here are some of my collaborations from last week alone. Knela Newton and I created a hyper doc of Hour of Code resources for teachers in our district. I reviewed a slides presentation created by Angie Marshall and Tracy Campbell about testing for the 3rd grade teachers. I used a Google form with teachers from a local charter school to get feedback on what they wanted to learn during an hour training. Working with our NGSS Implementation Team, we finalized our Engineering Challenges for K-8 which start in February. If you haven't looked at Google Apps for Education for your school or district, what are you waiting for??

 3. Connecting with Google Hangouts

There are a number of ways to facilitate virtual meetings, but I use Google Hangouts (GHO). Why? Well, it is FREE and simple to use.  In fact, I use it ALL THE TIME. I am on GHO at least weekly. The benefits of a GHO is that you can easily call and invite people to join, have a side chat during the call, and easily share your screen or files with participants.  In fact, just a few days ago one of my colleagues from another county office of education called me on the phone - and it felt weird. I am just so used to seeing people and talking with them face to face, even if it is virtual. Here are a few of the ways I use GHOs in my district:

  • Tech support - a teacher can call and show me the problem they are having either by screen sharing or holding a device or object in front of the camera. This eliminates so many questions and saves time.
  • Record meetings - recently we recorded our technology committee meeting using the Google Hangout on Air feature (GHOA). This allows people who are unable to attend the meeting to still get the information and stay involved.

Those are the 3 technology tools that I am most thankful for this year. What are your top 3? You can comment below or create your own blog post. I would love to know what you think.
Thank you to +Charlene Knowlton for this Thanksgiving break blog post challenge.