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Paula Neidlinger (@pneid) is a seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher at Lincoln Junior High School in Plymouth, IN. She is a globally-connected classroom advocate, as her students have blogged and connected with people all over the world. Her personal blog, Literacy ShopTalk is focused on “fostering a literacy-rich classroom culture.” Paula’s philosophy is if you want to foster a literacy-rich classroom culture, you must embed emerging technologies using multi-streams of information. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or her class website- Neidlinger La 7 & 8-Globally Connected.
Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) is a high school Spanish teacher at Turkey Run High School in Marshall, IN. His students engage in Spanish through educational technology regularly, including tools like blogs, digital videos and photos, QR codes, Google Voice and more. He blogs regularly at Ditch That Textbook, which is dedicated to teaching with less reliance on the textbook with an emphasis on technology and creative teaching. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) — Google’s Blogger is an easy blog platform, as you can literally be registered and blogging in minutes. Blogger is so easy to use, that any teacher new to the digital classroom can be registered for Blogger and blogging in minutes. Blogger is a Hosted Blog: A hosted blog is one whose software is maintained by a company for its users. The advantage of using a hosted service is that you don’t have to worry about installing software, software updates, server maintenance, or bandwidth capacity. Blogger is Google’s free blogging service. It takes just a minute to start a blog through Blogger. Blogger offers a wide selection of colorful themes and templates to choose from. Customizing the layout of your blog is as easy as dragging and dropping elements into place. You can add additional authors to your blogs. If you have a Gmail account you already have a Blogger account. Just sign into your Gmail account and in the top menu select Blogger from the “more” drop-down menu.
Kidblog (http://www.kidblog.org) — Kidblog is a robust student blogging site. Create a class and individual blogs for every student. Then students have their own web space to journal, respond to writing prompts or just express themselves. Commenting on each others’ blogs is half the value of student blogging! Teachers have lots of control of blog privacy (public or private blogs) and comment privacy (public/private comments and previewing incoming comments before they’re seen by students). Check out my session resources on student blogging for ideas and how-to’s.
Symbaloo (http://www.symbaloo.com) — Symbaloo is a bookmarking tool, which enables students and teachers to organize and share the best of the web. This is especially a great way for teachers to organize all of their resources in one place. The tool is very easy to use. To get started you simply add tiles. Next, attach the URL address to your website- title it and categorize by color. These can also be created to use with units of study… the ideas are endless.
Diigo (http://www.diigo.com) — Diigo makes collecting, curating and commenting on information on the web easy in one place. Users can collect information and ideas in the cloud. They can sort and organize that information. It archives web pages, so even if they’re changed or removed users still have access. Users can annotate their resources using highlighters and sticky notes. Plus, they can be shared and commented on.
Answer Garden (http://www.answergarden.ch/) — Answer Garden is a digital “Scribble Space.” It can be used as a brainstorming or feedback tool in the classroom. It can be embedded directly into a website or blog. You create an Answer Garden by entering a topic or question. The next step is to share the garden live or embed within a site. As students begin posting answers, a word cloud begins to form. Students are limited to 20 characters. Results can be exported into tools such as Wordle.
TodaysMeet (http://www.todaysmeet.com) — TodaysMeet may be the easiest web tool you ever encounter, and it can be used in a variety of situations. Create a chat room with your own TodaysMeet URL (www.todaysmeet.com/yoursite). Distribute the URL to your participants. As they arrive in the room, they enter their display names and they add comments to the room. Comments can be 140 characters or less and can include clickable links. Comments appear instantly. TodaysMeet can be used for in-class backchannels, website link distribution, professional development and more.
Thinglink (http://www.thinglink.com/) — Every image tells a story. Begin by uploading an image. Next, add links to every site imaginable inside a ThingLink image. This can include websites, videos, music, poetry … endless possibilities. Finally, comment, embed, and share.
Aurasma (http://www.aurasma.com) — Aurasma is “augmented reality.” This tool allows users to lay “auras” — videos, animations and other rich media — over real-life objects through a tablet or smartphone. The device’s camera is activated, and whenever Aurasma detects an object or image that has an aura associated with it, it begins to play the video or animation, making it look through the device like it’s part of real life. Aurasma’s potential is limitless, connecting videos to class content, giving teacher explanations for student work or making bios come to life.
Piktochart (http://piktochart.com) — Piktochart is among the first online web applications to autonomize the creation of infographics. Why sit and read passively, when you can actively interact with information? The ultimate key is simplicity. All you need is to drag, drop and you’re finished. You can create stunning visuals with just a few clicks. Piktochart allows you to share the created infographics via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ with just a click away. Additionally, there is a presentation mode when sharing your product live.
Vialogues (http://www.vialogues.com/) — Vialogues (which derives from “video dialogues”) is a discussion platform utilizing videos. Vialogues provides a space for users to hold meaningful and dynamic time-stamped discussions about videos — another option to flipped instruction.
To get started, upload a video of your own, grab one from YouTube, or choose one from the growing collection on the Vialogue site. Once you’ve created a Vialogue, you can encourage thoughtful conversations by posing questions, adding polls, and replying to comments. You can even embed a Vialogue into your website, LMS, or blog! Vialogues can be made public (open to the world) or private (open to whomever you invite to join).
Backchannel Chat (http://www.backchannelchat.com) — Backchannel Chat is an easy option for getting a text-based conversation started inside or outside of your classroom. Backchannel Chat allows teachers to create basic chat rooms where students can join and add comments. Backchannel chats are great for conversation during movies and live events. They can also be used to host an online conversation over several class periods or days. Teachers can preview and control which messages appear to the group. Backchannel chats are only viewable to anyone with the link, and they’re easy to set up!
Google Voice (http://www.google.com/voice) — Turn your assignments into interesting audio presentations with Google Voice! Google Voice is, among other things, digital voice mail. Students can call and leave assignments via voice message. Those voice messages are handled by the teacher in an inbox similar to e-mail. Voice messages can be played back and even saved as an mp3 file. Google Voice transcribes every voice mail, so you can read the transcription and/or listen to it. Read my article about 15 ways to use Google Voice in class and check out my session resources on creating podcasts (shared digital audio) in class.
Subtext (http://www.subtext.com) — Subtext is an iOS (Apple) reading app where teachers and students can read an article, document or entire book and discuss it through comments. Think of it as a conversation by jotting notes in the margins. Subtext has class groups, which allow for private discussion among only students and teachers in the class. PDF files, online articles and purchased ebooks are some of the options for reading material. Teachers receive statistics on student reading (reading speed, word look-ups, what they highlight, etc.). Subtext connects with Edmodo, too.
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