As we wrap up our summer vacations, it's time to start thinking about those smiling (hopefully!) faces that will be greeting us when we start school in a few weeks. The first few days and weeks of the school year can be a blur - organizing, re-calibrating our schedule, learning new names, picking out resources... each year September seems to fly by, at least for me.
I've picked out two easy-to-use tech tools to help you kick off your year. Of course, I'll be there every step of the way to help you become comfortable with these and any digital learning tool you use to enhance the learning in your classroom.
Did you know that your Google for Edu account has an incredible, robust note-taking app built in? Honestly, I just started using Google Keep (keep.google.com) and it changed the way I organize my digital short-hand, from conference and meeting notes to grocery lists. With Google Keep, you can quickly and easily create digital "post-it notes" that can then be shared with others. You can even have multiple people working on the same series of notes. What's even greater is that when you are working on a Google Doc, you can select "Keep Notepad" under "Tools" and your notes will pop up in an easy to use sidebar where you can easily integrate them directly into the document you are working on. I've used this with upper-elementary students as part of research-writing. Kids took notes in Keep, and then embedded them into their writing on Docs. What a great way to encourage 21st Century research and writing habits!
Padlet is one of my favorite tools - it is easy to use (kids and adults!) and it's simplicity lends to a smooth experience for all. The purpose? A digital wall of thoughts, ideas, writing, pictures, videos - whatever. It's a great way to create and maintain a digital "bulletin board" in your class, or to brainstorm ideas for writing, or to organize thinking during science or math. The teacher creates a Padlet, shares the link (using a link shortener works well, or sharing it on Google Classroom), and then students click and create. That's it. Let me know if you want to play around with it! The screenshot to the right is from a high school English class, but this tool is easily used by students at the elementary level.