We talked further about her students, the curriculum, and what I could do to help. At different points in my coaching practice I frequently rely on the SAMR and TPACK philosophies. SAMR, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, in association with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Kathy Schrock agrees), assists teachers in designing tasks that have significant impact on student outcomes along a logical, non-threatening continuum. The ultimate goal is to encourage teachers to create lessons and tasks for students that are unique to the technology and inconceivable without it. TPACK—Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge—is a framework that focuses on the interplay between content, pedagogy, and technology. TPACK works to ensure the development of effective technology enhanced lessons.

This situation, in addition to SAMR and TPACK, largely called for simplifying the selection of tools and distilling them down to meaningful choices. To assist her selection of appropriate technology tools, I offered three suggestions. I then provided four tool types that we would introduce to her students over the course of the semester. Of course, once she and her students became comfortable with these tools, they themselves could better select where each tool might work.

The 3 suggestions were as follows:

Select apps and tools that are not device-dependent. Meaning, students can get to the tool and create it regardless of whether they are using a PC, MAC, iPad, or Android. This considerably cuts down the options, but will be appreciated in the long run.

Understand the difference between free and freemium. This is not always easy to decipher. The best approach is to create an account and then follow the product process to completion. It does not have to be perfect. Then, learn how you share it as a free option. Many tools allow free creation but then require payment to publish or share.

Always check the Terms of Service (TOS). If the minimum age is 13 in the TOS, even if it is accessible in the district today, it can be blocked at any time and unable to be reopened. The filters do not catch everything, but if/when they do, there is no recourse if the TOS states that the tool is not permitted for children under the age of 13.

Next page: My 4 “Keep it Simple” tool categories