The Teacher’s Tech Toolbox started out as page on my website Sugoiteaching.com. On that site I gave a list of the programs, websites, and technology tools that I used in the classroom. I also gave a brief description of what each of these tools were for and how I use them. In the following years the technology has changed, and I have changed many of the tools that I was using. In addition to that I believe that it’s time to step up the game, and make this a resource that is truly valuable to teachers. Over the next couple months I intend to make an intensive revision to the Teachers Technology Toolbox.
In the end I’m hoping that my finished product will consist of two primary parts. The first part will be a much enhanced website that lists each of the technology tools and has links to videos that walks teachers through the basics of using each of the tools. The second part will be a book, which will include a chapter on how I make the technology tools work in my schedule, in addition to a chapter with detailed instructions for each of the tools.
While it is impossible for any individual teacher, to review all of the different educational products out there, I have tried and experimented with many of the resources currently available. The tools listed are the ones that I chose, that work best for me in my classroom. It is not intended to be a list of all available software with reviews and analysis, but rather a short list of the software I actually use. In selecting the software there are some factors that are beyond teacher control, such as the SIS system the school provides. There are probably other situations where there may be a superior product than what I list, but I feel that the tools I list and use should be something that fits within what an individual teacher could buy. I’m sure their teachers that would prefer this list only include free software or resources, however sometimes free is not always the best, so some of my resources do include costs. I have not received payment by any of the tools providers to review their products. If a product does cost money it is something that I believe is valuable enough to spend my personal money on it.
In a few situations the choice between what I listed and its competitors were very close, I will included in appendix that includes a listing of these great alternatives. In this way if you don’t like the tool that I suggest you will have an alternative that may work better for you.
Khan Academy is best known for their large collection of math tutorial videos. The site however is far more. It has a math practice site where students work at their own pace through specific math concepts. As the students demonstrate mastery of a task they are moved on to more difficicult tasks and problems. If a student gets stuck their is a link to a video tutorial of how to solve that type of problem, and helps that will walk the student step by step through the current problem. The teacher tools allow you to quickly look over student progress and identify what skills students are stuggling with so you can provide assistance when a student is stuck. THis program allows students to progress at their own pace which allows for differentiation.
Spelling City has been around for years and has been a great tool to for students to practice their spelling words. My students do this for their homework and even take their weekly spelling tests on it freeing up a little time for other content. A teacher will put their lists on the site and students can take practice tests, write sentences, play games, and much more using the words. They offer a free and a paid version. The paid version allows you to give specific assignments to students and record scores from the tests. The site is also great for vocabulay practice and review.
class Tojo is a new site for classroom management. In this application you'll work points or take away points to students based on individual behavior. The students are doing well then you can select that student and give a point at which point an audible cue as well as a visual cue are given to let the students know what has happened. Class dojo is a web-based application with apps for the iPhone and iPad as well as a web-based mobile networks with android and Windows phone. You have the option of selecting multiple students and awarding them all at the same time. I was able to register, set up my class, and start using it in about 10 min. the results so far have been amazing. It doesn't matter whether students here at ding for success or a buzz or poor behavior, students quickly get back on task and work quietly. The reporting tools look great but are somewhat limited. Despite those limitations this application has ended my search for classroom management system.
I must begin by saying that I personally do not use Engrade, because I believe that it is important to use the school or district provided software in most cases. You should only need to input data in one system, and unless your schools or districts services unusable it is far easier to go with what they have. That being said if your school or district does not provide a grading system, or if that system is unusable, then Engrade is a great option for you.
For teachers Engrade is free, and is very quick and easy to set up an account and start grading. The software is very usable and can be used from any platform with Internet capability. In grade makes linking to common core and core curriculum subjects very easy. You may also customize the grading to match your needs with very little effort.
Master connect also fits into the gradebook category, however it is far more. Regardless of what great that you're using this system is a must for anyone teaching, Common Core concepts. Master connect has a huge database of teacher submitted assessments that are all linked to common core concepts. students complete assessments on a bubble sheet you're able to print out, and using any web cam or document cam, you can quickly scan the results into master connect. You then can view at a glance which students have mastered the concept, and which students need more help with the concept. Master connect starts out free and allows you to give assessments and grade them with the camera, for an additional fee you have many more options in grading ability and in reporting capability. Even the free version will save you a tremendous amount of time in developing assessments, and grading them. If you have open-ended questions or written questions on assessments there is an option on inputting those grades, but it does require additional effort from the teacher.