- Teachers can leverage technology to work smarter–not harder
- Reach out to digital learning specialists to implement instructional technology
- See related article: With greater access to devices, teachers are folding more tech into instruction
Back-to-school and the first weeks of the new year are definitely busy for teachers as they are diligently preparing lesson plans and getting to know their students–all while building a sense of community in their classrooms. Teachers must meet the challenge of creating engaging instructional resources to support personalized learning, develop lessons to spark student curiosity, and facilitate opportunities for collaboration.
As an educator for more than 26 years, I understand the importance of leveraging technology to “work smarter, not harder” when planning and implementing lessons. As a digital learning specialist, I support instructional technology implementation in my district as well as provide training for teachers on edtech tools.
I am often asked for my favorite edtech tools to save time. When sharing with educators, I always focus on the task, not the tool. Here are five edtech tools to save time in the new school year:
Build a classroom community with Microsoft Flip’s Discovery Library
Flip is a powerful video tool that allows you to be creative and share your voice. Teachers and students can use Flip to create introductory videos, highlighting interests, goals for the year, and expectations as well. With more than 40,000 topics available in the Discovery Library, teachers can quickly assign a topic to one or all classes.
Topics include ELA, math, science, social studies, STEM/STEAM, digital citizenship, the arts, and more. How about assigning different topics to small groups or individual students for a jigsaw discussion? Prompts and video responses can be easily shared with students as well as parents and guardians. Flip allows students to share their voice in an authentic way. A few ideas to start the year:
- Meet the Teacher/Class
- How To Pronounce My Name/This Is How I Learn Best/Goal Setting
- Meet the Parents or Guardians
- A Few of My Favorite Things/Three Truths & a Lie
- Class Expectations
Spark curiosity with Discovery Education’s ready-to-use activities
Discovery Education’s ready-to-use activities provide teachers with self-contained lesson resources including standards-based digital media to engage students in all content areas. Their Ready-To-Use activities can quickly be assigned to students or modified as needed to provide differentiated resources. Using Discovery Education’s Studio, teachers can also upload their own content to enhance the lesson. The activities can be assigned within Discovery Education or shared to your school’s learning management system i.e. Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Schoology, and more.
Teachers can explore the Student Learning Activities channel to view curated content including virtual field trips, boards, and slideshows. Activities paired with the Spotlight on Strategies (SOS) are available in the Instructional Inspiration channel. The Ready to Use activities support various subject areas including language arts, math science, social studies, health, and more. With Microsoft’s Immersive Reader built in, studio activities are accessible with read-aloud and translation functionality. Be sure to check out:
- Monthly Activity Calendars
- Daily Fix-Its
- Choice Boards
- Studio & Video Quizzes
- Virtual Field Trips
Create classroom resources with Book Creator
Book Creator is a versatile creativity and publishing tool that has a number of customizable templates for developing classroom resources. With 100+ new graphic organizers available, focusing on reading, writing, problem-solving, planning, reflection skills, and more, teachers can engage learners in all content areas and grade-levels.
Students can add organizers to their own books or teachers can scaffold lessons by pushing organizers to books as desired. Teachers can easily add pages to all books in the library or only the books of specific students. Additionally, teachers can create template books and invite students to various libraries. Using Book Creator, teachers can create differentiated resources and students can use the accessibility features including read aloud, highlighting text, and translation. Books can be shared with a link or a QR code providing opportunities for students to showcase learning to an authentic audience.
- Meet the Teacher/Student
- Class Expectations/Newsletter
- Learning Journals/Goal Setting/Portfolios
- Station Activities
- Differentiated Lessons
Develop collaborative lessons with Canva’s whiteboard templates
Canva has more than 1,000 customizable whiteboard templates for all subjects. Providing students opportunities to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously is crucial, whether as a whole class, in teams, or in pairs in order to build communication and teamwork skills. Whiteboard activities are easily modified and allow teachers to interact with students real-time as well as for participants to provide feedback with the commenting feature.
With the addition of Magic Write (brainstorming with AI suggestions), it’s even easier to create and add instructional content. Built-in edtech tools and features like a timer with music allow teachers to facilitate engaging brainstorming and reflection activities with students. The whiteboard activities can be adapted for all grade-levels, and the flexible canvas size allows students to creatively demonstrate their learning. Just a few ideas include:
- Goal Setting/Reflection
- Brainstorming/Mind Map
- Cause & Effect/Flow Chart
- KWL/Venn Diagram
Facilitate AI-generated interactive lessons with Curipod
Curipod is a new tool that lets teachers quickly and easily create interactive lessons with the power of generative AI. Once you provide a topic and grade level, Curipod automagically creates an interactive lesson that includes the objectives, content, and images related to the topic, as well as student response opportunities such as drawing, polls, word clouds, and open-ended questions. Teachers can also explore other lessons through the Discover library.
Curipod’s lesson content can be easily modified and shared via a link or join code. During a teacher-directed lesson, Cuipod levels up engagement by providing immediate feedback. Teachers can analyze lesson results to determine next steps for instruction. You can also “Curify” an existing presentation, saving time and enhancing the learning experience. Check out a few quick create options:
- Activate Prior Knowledge
- Discussion Questions
- Drawing Prompts
- Would You Rather
- Exit Ticket with AI Feedback
Time is an educator’s most important resource. Utilize the above edtech tools and you will gain invaluable time you can instead spend working directly with students.