Tyler's Tech Tips

October 2017 Edition

Science Labs, Prodigy Math, iFake Text Messages, and Best Elementary Classroom Apps

Science Labs and Resources

While looking at one of my favorite tech blogs, I came across a post about using virtual and interactive resources in the classroom. Check out the original blog post by Richard Byrne at Free Tech For Teachers to browse through many virtual labs and resources.

Prodigy Math

Prodigy Math is a FREE math website geared towards grades 1-8 which allows the students to practice math concepts through games. Teachers can create a free account, have students log into their class with a code, and differentiate to each students' level. Teachers are also able to assign specific topics to students which are all practiced and played through games. Prodigy Math is FREE. The only way they make money is through a parent upgrade, which gives their child the ability to unlock characters, pets, treasures, etc. Check it out by clicking here and watch the promo video below.

iFake Text Messages

This fun tech tool came to me through Tony Vincent's website called Learning in Hand. The tool basically allows students to create fake text messages and develop a short conversation. The conversation is created all by the student, but they would need some sort of guidelines to make this a learning tool. For example, teachers could have students create a conversation about a few of their vocabulary words and include the definition and the word in a sentence. Or students could create a conversation with a historical figure. Teachers could also use this tool as a set of directions (which would be projected on the board) for the day as the students walk in. These fake text messages can then be downloaded and submitted to the teacher in several ways.

iFake Text Messages has a lot of customizable tools. For example, you can change the service provider, the time, the battery percentage, the name of the person you are texting, color of the text boxes, and much more. This allows students to make these their own and have fun with it.

To check out this tech tool, click on this link to make your own.

8 Apps to Use on a Daily Basis

While many teachers have a plethora of apps they use on a daily basis, some teachers may be unsure which to incorporate into their daily classroom. Here is a list and description of 8 apps that you may want to try if you have not already.

1) Google Classroom - This is a Learning Management System (LMS) which is used for districts that have the Google Suite district-wide. Google Classroom allows you to communicate with your students by sharing announcements, creating assignments, communicating with individual students, etc. Teachers are also able to collect, grade, and give feedback to assignments handed in. Google Classroom is very simple to work and connects with Google Drive for simple managing and sharing.

2) Quizlet - Quizlet is an app or website used to create and study flashcards. I first used it while teaching 5th grade over 5 years ago and my students loved it. When flashcards are created, students have the option to study them in many different formats. Many of the best ways to study them are by playing various competitive games which the students really get into. Not only is Quizlet used for individual students, Quizlet Live (a newer feature) is a formative assessment game for the whole class to play.

3) Edmodo - Edmodo is another LMS, but this can be used for the districts that do not have the Google Suite. Edmodo has many of the same abilities and features of Google Classroom, as well as a wide range of other functions. Edmodo works with any device platform.

4) Remind - This app is exactly what it sounds like. It is a simple program which is used to remind students and parents about anything going on in your classroom. You can send reminders about tests, field trips, classroom news, or even send a PDF of a study guide or spelling list. Through the app, you are able to message directly with parents. If you do not want to message parents, you can either turn that feature off or set hours in which you are available.

5) Kahoot - Yes, Kahoot has been out for a while and is a HUGE hit among students and teachers. Kahoot is a formative assessment tool that creates a class competition while students are sharing devices or have their own device. This program has been making a lot of new features and upgrades trying to keep it fresh. Some of the new features consist of Ghost Mode and Jumble. Ghost Mode allows your class to play against their old score, which is helpful to see if they are improving. Jumble allows you to create assessments in which students have to order a list of 4 answers in any way you tell them to. Instead of just selecting one multiple choice answer in the traditional Kahoot game, Jumble makes them think more about their answers and how to order them.

6) Seesaw - This app is by far one of my favorites! It is a digital portfolio which students run and create. They share it with the teacher and it can also be shared with parents. What a better way to show learning and engagement than by having students share what they know. Having a platform like this gives students the freedom to create and share what they have been doing in school. Teachers have the ability to easily see and manage what students are creating and they can approve it to be passed on to their parents.

7) Khan Academy - Khan Academy has been around for a while but is still an effective study tool for your students. This tool has hundreds of thousands of instructional videos on all the topics you are teaching in your classroom as well as practice questions on these topics. Students are able to go on and study without a login, or teachers can make an account for their students to better track them.

8) Class Dojo - Class Dojo is your digital behavior management system. Through this tool, teachers are able to give or take away points for positive or negative behaviors in the classroom. Student Dojo information can be shared with parents, letting parents know instantly how their child is behaving in the classroom. Not only is Classroom Dojo a great tool to use with your Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), but it also has its own student portfolio that students can work to build, and it too can be shared with parents.