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Four must-have tools for improving children’s learning

Heather Williams and Emily Gooch of Sylvan Dell Publishing share their favorite tech gadgets used in education.

emily-gooch-heather-williamsHaving worked with teachers across the country to implement programs, served on literacy committees, and seen first hand how technology has allowed students to become more creative and talented, those experiences inspired Emily and I to collaborate on this list of classroom resources that will enhance any child’s learning experience.

Skype or Facetime

The ability to video chat over any WiFi network has changed how the world communicates. In today’s digital age, students and teachers can visit faraway places without tons of paperwork and travel expenses. Students can share creative work with a partner classroom or authors can visit from another time zone. It’s a world of possibilities where learning occurs across cultures and communities, students are empowered to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences, and a great way to being discussion on critical media literacy. Price: Free

Apple TV

All you need is an HDMI port and a building with WiFi to project your content. In class, teachers can read eBooks, watch educational videos, or show a Keynote or PowerPoint without being limited the length of a mouse or to the board in front classroom. A remote comes with the Apple TV and you can use any of your apple devices on the same WiFi network. The device is small enough to fit in your back pocket, so if it is a personal purchase it can easily go from the classroom to your living room for a little R&R. Retail Price: $99.

Kidblog.org

Not everything in school has to be work! This site is a safe and secure web platform where students are able to create their own blog and share thoughts on lessons, class, or life. Teachers have ultimate control over what is published, but a blog is wonderful because it lets students develop creative writing and discussion skills, and also allows students to own and share thoughts, and learn the ever-important online social skills that are a growing presence in our lives. It is amazing what ownership and freedom do for creativity.

Drawing Pad

Can you design a building? Identify the parts of a frog? Paint and colored pencils are usually reserved for art class, but with Drawing Pad, introducing STEAM-inspired lessons is much more efficient. This app is very user friendly even for the non-artist and it allows students to share their drawings via email or social media programs. This is a great easy to use tool for young children, but older students can also use it.

We are not in the classroom everyday, and we don’t pretend to understand the trials of a classroom teacher today, but at a local literacy event I showed a young girl a book on a tablet and how she could flip from Spanish to English, her eyes lit up. This was magical to a girl who was struggling to learn English. It is through these experiences and the wonderful help of the teachers that contributed their stories that we have developed this list, and our own eReading platform.

Have great tech essentials you’d like to share with readers? Send your contribution here.

Heather Williams is the public relations coordinator for Sylvan Dell Publishing. Emily Gooch is the Education Programs Mgr / School & Library Sales.

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